Tuesday, January 22, 2008


The Plainview performance of 1972? Is this an Oscar I hold before me, and if so, did it just morph into a chittering mammal meant to signify my descent into madness? And if so, does that mean I didn't win?


Well, here it is, the earliest hours of January 22, and I just finished vacuuming up the last of the crackling-dry pine remnants from my carpet. The Christmas tree finally came down tonight. Whether it was an act of denial, an attempt to extend the holiday season well beyond its rational limits, or just an act of indifference and/or laziness, the damned thing managed to go about two weeks past its expected shelf life (or stand life, I guess), providing delight for the kids well into 2008 as well as a shower of dead needles grand enough to make Charlie Brown himself envious. I’m sure it’s just a holdover from the Werner Herzog kick I’ve been on all weekend, but the existential numbing that is part and parcel of tree-dismantling did take on an added tingle due to the fact that I was absorbed in Grizzly Man while eliminating ornaments. (I managed to fit in Aguirre the Wrath of God and Stroszek after I finished studying on Saturday, so I guess the holiday season really is over. But, like a cleansing sorbet, I counter-programmed What’s Up, Doc? and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break as second features on the successive dark nights of the German New Wave’s soul, so all was not terminal.)

Anyway, I had planned to spend a little more time throwing around some general observations and thoughts on some of the ways I’ve been spending my time since I last posted, but time has definitely gotten away from me tonight. And before I seal myself up in the bed chamber, I really wanted to make some off-the-cuff Oscar nomination predictions. Well, the hour is literally growing near—we’re just under four hours away from the big reveal as I type this—so my predictions this year are going to be even more off-the-cuff, last-minute and undoubtedly ill-informed than usual. I’m just going to jump in there and see what I can come up with, sans crutches like David Poland’s so-well-chewed-over-as-to-be-pulverized Oscar analyses or even last week’s breathless issue of Entertainment Weekly, which dared to pose the question, Will the Oscars happen?

Well, yes, they will, I dare say, and probably in a more entertaining fashion than thet embarrassing press conference format that recently exposed the Golden Globes as the meaningless charade we’ve always suspected they were. (All those entertaining TV specials featuring drunken movie stars behaving in unseemly—or un-Oscarly—but usually revealing and appealing ways tended to obscure that particular truth.) There’s just too much at stake, prestige-wise as well as local Los Angeles economy-wise, for Gilbert Cates and company to not carry on the annual back-pat. I wonder if there might not even be significant progress in the writer’s strike motivated by an Oscar deadline. As for me personally, I think Conan O’Brien, hilariously bemoaning Life During Writer's Strike in this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, put it best: “The Golden Globes are canceled and the Oscars might be next. I want no part of a world that refuses to congratulate itself.” Zing! Will all things be merry and bright by February 24? I know I’ll stay tuned.

But for now, time is tight, as Booker T. used to say, and I must get these posted before 5:30 a.m. Sure, I could just wait until after 5:30, get the nominations, then make my predictions based on what I already know and adjust the time stamp on my post to make it look like I guessed real good. But no, I won’t do that. And you will know my integrity by the conspicuous lack of accuracy of the following guesses. At this late hour, if I wanted to be revered as an Oscar savant like David Poland, or Rod Lurie before him, wouldn’t I do the cheat to make myself look better? Yes, I would. But when it comes to Oscars, unless there’s big money in an office pool involved, there’s something, I think, to be said for ignorance.

It’s 2:01 a.m. The vibe emanating from Wilshire Boulevard and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is translating, through the Glendale drizzle, a little something like this:

UPDATE 8:25 a.m.: * indicates "Whoops!" (Full list of nominees and some snide commentary coming up as soon as I can wolf down my meager breakfast.)

Into the Wild *
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Atonement will be this year’s Dreamgirls surprise-- for all the money Universal spent convincing TV watchers that everyone loved it, no Best Picture nomination. * And Juno began to peak at just the right time—there's no way it misses getting in on the Best Picture action. My wish: some room at the Kodak Theater for Zodiac.

George Clooney
Daniel Day-Lewis
Johnny Depp
Frank Langella *
Viggo Mortensen

Yeah, I know—nobody can even remember the name of the movie Langella was in (Starting Out in the Evening), but I just can’t believe they’d nominate Ryan Gosling for that inflatable doll movie, or Denzel Washington for American Gangster. It’s a stab in the dark, a shot at how’d-he-ever-guess that? glory. I want my moment. My wish: Christian Bale in Rescue Dawn.

Amy Adams *
Julie Christie
Ellen Page
Marion Cotillard
Angelina Jolie *

Keira Knightley will get thrown under the Atonement bus. And I just don’t believe people liked The Savages enough for find room for Laura Linney, who, frankly, is less interesting to me with each new performance. (She’s never matched her amazing work in You Can Count on Me, in my humble estimation.) * Maybe Nicole Kidman (Margot at the Wedding) sneaks in there and bounces Amy Adams. My wish: Carice van Houten in Black Book.

Cate Blanchett
Catherine Keener *
Amy Ryan
Tilda Swinton
Saoirse Ronan

Even if you chalk up Ronan’s appearance as the token under-age honoree here, this is a very strong category, the equal, I think, of the group of excellent best actor nominees. I thought I’d pick Blanchett in a walk, but that was before I saw Keener’s work this past weekend. And Amy Ryan is still sitting on my desk (in digitized form, of course), so who knows where my allegiance will ultimately fall. My wish: Kelly MacDonald in No Country for Old Men.

Javier Bardem
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Charlie Wilson’s War)
Hal Holbrook
Tommy Lee Jones *
J.K. Simmons *

Bardem’s the lock (friend-o), Hoffman, Holbrook and Jones are pretty sure things, and only J.K. Simmons, who everyone has relegated to overlooked status, will be the surprise here. This Juno hater was more generous to the movie’s actors across the board, but many who loathe the movie still think Simmons was the bomb, home skillet. Tom Wilkinson could also sneak in. This category, however, is the one with the most bounty in terms of possible dark horses, and their all on my wish list: John Travolta (Hairspray), Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma), Casey Affleck (Jesse James), Steve Zahn (Rescue Dawn), and the darkest horse of all, Barry Corbin (No Country for Old Men).

Paul Thomas Anderson
Joel and Ethan Coen
Tony Gilroy
Julian Schnabel
Sean Penn *

Yes, I’m predicting a duplicate of the Director’s Guild nominees, which falls perfectly in line with the annual predictable divergence in the line-up of Director and Picture nominees. Juno gets a Pic nomination, but there’s no way even the most rabid fan of the movie votes Jason Reitman a director’s nod. * And Schnabel, whose Diving Bell and the Butterfly is stuck in the no-man’s-land between Best Picture (eligible) and Best Foreign Language Film (ineligible) fills the void beautifully. Everyone else lines up quite well. My wish: David Fincher, plus hidden-camera video footage of Ridley Scott when he finds out he’s been passed over this year.

Away from Her
Charlie Wilson’s War *
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Atonement could sneak in here and save a little face for the movie at large, which will probably be amply represented in the cinematography, costume and art direction categories. But I think not. I’m hoping the Academy will save a spot for Sarah Polley, since a director’s nomination is never gonna happen, and encourage the empathy, sensitivity and storytelling discipline she displayed in her screenplay (and her direction) of Away from Her. Other than that, my wish: Another writer-director, Sean Penn, who provided palpable tension in his presentation of the story of Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild. You could practically feel Penn in there fighting with himself over whether or not to submit to his protagonist’s romantic disillusionment, which makes McCandless’s final realization of the necessity of human connection even more devastating.

I’m Not There *
Michael Clayton
The Savages

My wish: That Ratatouille might actually get nominated and win. My second wish: That Juno might not. My third wish: The sudden, unexpected delivery of $10 million on my doorstep tomorrow morning. Which of these is least likely to come true? Yeah, I know….

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Couldn’t they just give it to Roger Deakins for Jesse James and No Country for Old Men? My wish: Harris Savides for Zodiac.

All right, that’s as far as the hour and my drooping eyelids will allow me to go. It is now exactly 3:00 a.m. and in two and a half more hours you’ll all be able to laugh at me with no shame, yet a sliver of pity, and cry out, “What the hell was he thinkin’?” with genuine concern and moral certitude. But by then no one will care about the two-bit soothsaying of a fella like me. We’ll have moved on to the big questions like: Who was left out? Who got gypped? What were the big surprises? What is lining up to be the biggest embarrassment of the Oscar season? And will there even be a show to tout the eventual winners? I will tack on a complete list of the nominees as an addendum to this post after the sun rises. But until then, let’s get the conversation rolling. The Oscar Nominations Edition of the SLIFR Forum is now officially open!


UPDATE January 22 11:41 p.m.:

In the light of this morning’s nominations, I was talking today with a friend who tends to be pretty wise when it comes to the Oscars. He’s wise in that he tends not to pay too much attention to them at all. “The Oscars don’t exist” is, I believe, how he put it. Insisting that they did, on some very real level, exist, I persisted in what I was now sure was going to be a very short conversation. I was right. I expressed my happiness over the double nomination for the cinematographer of No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and said something to the effect of, “Roger Deakins did pretty well for himself today. My friend, without missing a beat and betraying no interest in exploring the subject any further, simply said, “Roger Deakins did well for himself by shooting the movies.”

The brevity of my friend’s water cooler manner notwithstanding, it’s hard to disagree with the baldly stated fact or the sentiment behind it. The Oscars are what they are, but this year they tend to be reminders not of embarrassments, as they so often seem to be, but of the riches the movies had to offer in 2007. It is to be giddy when one realizes that not only did two of the honest-to-God best pictures of 2007 actually make the cut, pictures that might, in a “normal” year, be thought to be too difficult or nihilistic or relentlessly violent for Academy tastes, but that those two same pictures appear to be, barring a swell of support for the Little Home Skillet That Could, the front-runners. But it would do good to also be reminded that the eventual winner is often not one for the ages, often not the one movie of five that people end up remembering fondly or with reverence (Anyone up for a screening of Gandhi at the home theater tonight?). The Oscars give us something to talk about in the early part of the year, usually centering on how they’re really not worth talking about. I can’t disagree. But I also can’t deny the charge I get thinking that something or someone I really like might get honored, or the disappointment I feel when someone or something really great gets snubbed. (Catherine Keener, the cast, crew, screenwriter and director of Zodiac, this Big Gulp bicarbonate of soda is for you.)

To force the ceremony into further perspective, the nominations were today unveiled in the shadow of our continued plunge down the rabbit hole of Iraq, the WGA strike and, for shocking, sobering good measure, the sad death of Heath Ledger at age 28. So you didn’t get that expected Oscar nod. So your favorite candidate for Best Makeup won’t be invited to the big dance. Kiss your wife, your husband and your kids and continue living a good life. When it’s all said and done, honored or not, in a world that sometimes seems insane and/or incomprehensible, we still have the movies that mattered there to help us try to make some sense of it all. The year’s best movies did that, and some of them are actually on the following list. Salute!

Best Picture of the Year
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

It was just simply too much to ask that Zodiac, a box-office dud that opened in March, would make any waves in the major categories. Obviously I would have tossed Juno out on its ear to make room for Fincher’s brilliant film, or The Assassination of Jesse James or, if Oscar wanted so badly to honor a great film about today’s troubled teens, Superbad. But Atonement has been, over the past few weeks, gaining ground in my rear-view mirror—I’m actually looking forward to finally seeing it now, and I wouldn’t mind giving Michael Clayton another try either. My preference: No Country for Old Men

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
George Clooney Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen Eastern Promises

If Day-Lewis promises, should the show actually take place, to hurl a bowling ball in the general direction of Gilbert Cates, I say just give him the statue now and get it over with. Cheers to Viggo Mortensen, and to Tommy Lee Jones for being good enough to keep a movie few saw and fewer liked on the radar. My preference: Daniel Day-Lewis

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie Away from Her
Marion Cotillard La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney The Savages
Ellen Page Juno

Kudos to Cate Blanchett for inspiring young British actresses everywhere to insist their agents get them an opportunity to play Queen Elizabeth at some time in their careers. It should be obvious by now that the quality of the film doesn’t matter. You plays the queen, you gets nommed, and you maybe even get the statue itself, right, Dame Judi? But the only scenario I can imagine that will muss Julie Christie’s hair this year is a surprise attack by Edith Piaf. Ellen Page and Laura Linney are just honored to be, you know. My preference: Julie Christie

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Casey Affleck The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson Michael Clayton

I really do need to see Charlie Wilson’s War, I suppose. I liked Hoffman’s other two performances, though I was underwhelmed by Sidney Lumet’s movie I enjoyed how he seemed to physically channeling David Huddleston throughout. And the actor’s branch is really forcing my hand as to a second screening of Michael Clayton, which I saw the first time while extremely drowsy. I would love to see either Casey Affleck or Hal Holbrook win here, but my heart again matches up, as it has I every category so far, with who I think actually will win. Step on up, friend-o. My preference: Javier Bardem

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Cate Blanchett I'm Not There
Ruby Dee American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan Atonement
Amy Ryan Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton Michael Clayton

I like the idea of Ruby Dee being nominated, but really, American Gangster was nothing special and her role was slight at best. I have yet to check in on Saoirse Ronan or Amy Ryan, and I do remember Tilda Swinton translating her emotional flop sweat very effectively. But how do I feel? How do I feel? Blanchett in a walk. My preference: Cate Blanchett

(Gee, this is shaping up to be a happy year in front of the TV for me, if it all turns out like I think it’s going to so far. As a reality check, though, I need only refer myself to my list of predictions above.)

Best Achievement in Directing
Paul Thomas Anderson There Will Be Blood
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen No Country for Old Men
Tony Gilroy Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman Juno
Julian Schnabel The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Despite the presence of Reitman (hunh?) and Gilroy, who match up with Best Picture nominees, and despite Julian Schnabel’s strong showing down the stretch, this looks like a two-movie, three-man race to me. Will the Academy decide that the Coens are too cold and calculating, favoring the shaggy epic canvas of Anderson? Or will they find Anderson’s work too bizarre for Oscar tastes and award the Coens for more than just their film’s technical mastery? My preference: Ethan and Joel Coen

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Juno Diablo Cody
Lars and the Real Girl Nancy Oliver
Michael Clayton Tony Gilroy
Ratatouille Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco
The Savages Tamara Jenkins

This is the only one Juno gets. There Will Be Quirk. My preference: Ratatouille

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Atonement Christopher Hampton
Away from Her Sarah Polley
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Ronald Harwood
No Country for Old Men Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson

I’m so happy to see Sarah Polley among the final five that it totally offsets the reality that she has absolutely no chance to win. Harwood has a shot if voters decide to give bleak nihilism a pass here, but I think the Coens’ model of literary adaptation will be too irresistible. My preference: No Country for Old Men

Best Achievement in Cinematography
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Roger Deakins
Atonement Seamus McGarvey
No Country for Old Men Roger Deakins
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Janusz Kaminski
There Will Be Blood Robert Elswit

Can’t Deakins win for both movies? Come on! Can’t he? Just this once? And wherefore art thou, Harris Savides? My preference: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Best Achievement in Editing
The Bourne Ultimatum Christopher Rouse
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Juliette Welfling
Into the Wild Jay Cassidy
No Country for Old Men Roderick Jaynes (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
There Will Be Blood Dylan Tichenor

This one usually goes hand in hand with the Best Picture winner, which, barring heavy influence from the actors branch for Michael Clayton, suggest that the Picture category really is a two-movie contest. And though this wouldn't be the first time a pseudonym was nomijnated (anyone recall P.H. Vazak?), does anyone know if this would be the first time one actually took the award home? My preference: No Country for Old Men

Best Achievement in Art Direction
American Gangster Arthur Max, Beth A. Rubino
Atonement Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
The Golden Compass Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Dante Ferretti, Francesca Lo Schiavo
There Will Be Blood Jack Fisk, Jim Erickson

This is the one category outside of Best Actor where There Will be Blood has a decent chance to reign supreme, unless Oscar goes for the more obvious company of Atonement or Sweeney Todd. My guess? They won’t. My preference: There Will Be Blood

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Across the Universe Albert Wolsky
Atonement Jacqueline Durran
Elizabeth: The Golden Age Alexandra Byrne
La Vie en Rose Marit Allen
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Colleen Atwood

Yikes. My preference: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Best Achievement in Makeup
La Vie en Rose Didier Lavergne, Jan Archibald
Norbit Rick Baker, Kazuhiro Tsuji
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End Ve Neill, Martin Samuel

Wouldn’t it be just too delicious if the movie that allegedly killed Eddie Murphy’s chance to win an Oscar himself last year ends up winning one itself for making him up in the year’s most foul and contemptuous drag? The other choices are a man with an octopus face or a crooner with shaved eyebrows. Can’t we just retroactively nominate Rob Bottin for John Carpenter’s The Thing in honor of that movie’s 25th anniversary last year? My “preference”: Norbit

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
Atonement Dario Marianelli
The Kite Runner Alberto Iglesias
Michael Clayton James Newton Howard
Ratatouille Michael Giacchino
3:10 to Yuma Marco Beltrami

My preference: Ratatouille

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
August Rush Nominees to Be Determined ("Raise It Up")
Enchanted Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz ("Happy Working Song")
Enchanted Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz ("So Close")
Enchanted Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz ("That's How You Know")
Once Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová (“Falling Slowly”)

My preference: “Falling Slowly”

Best Achievement in Sound
The Bourne Ultimatum Scott Millan, David Parker, Kirk Francis
No Country for Old Men Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland
Ratatouille Randy Thom, Michael Semanick, Doc Kane
3:10 to Yuma Paul Massey, David Giammarco, Jim Stuebe
Transformers Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell, Peter J. Devlin

My preference: No Country for Old Men

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
The Bourne Ultimatum Karen M. Baker, Per Hallberg
No Country for Old Men Skip Lievsay
Ratatouille Randy Thom, Michael Silvers
There Will Be Blood Matthew Wood
Transformers Mike Hopkins, Ethan Van der Ryn

My preference: No Country for Old Men

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
The Golden Compass Michael L. Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris, Trevor Wood
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End John Knoll, Hal T. Hickel, Charlie Gibson, John Frazier
Transformers Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl, John Frazier

My preference: Transformers

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Persepolis Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Ratatouille Brad Bird
Surf's Up Ash Brannon, Chris Buck

I hope to see Persepolis this weekend. Until then… My Preference: Ratatouille

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Fälscher, Die (Austria)
Beaufort (Israel)
Mongol (Kazakhstan)
Katyn (Poland)
12 (Russia)

Best Documentary, Feature
No End in Sight Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience Richard Robbins
Sicko Michael Moore, Meghan O'Hara
Taxi to the Dark Side Alex Gibney, Eva Orner
War Dance Andrea Nix, Sean Fine

Best Documentary, Short Subjects
Freeheld Cynthia Wade, Vanessa Roth
Corona, La Amanda Micheli, Isabel Vega
Salim Baba Tim Sternberg, Francisco Bello
Sari's Mother James Longley

Best Short Film, Animated
Même les pigeons vont au paradis Samuel Tourneux, Vanesse Simon
I Met the Walrus Josh Raskin
Madame Tutli-Putli Chris Lavis, Maciek Szczerbowski
Moya lyubov Aleksandr Petrov
Peter & the Wolf Suzie Templeton, Hugh Welchman

Best Short Film, Live Action
Om natten Christian E. Christiansen, Louise Vesth
Supplente, Il Andera Jublin
Mozart des pickpockets, Le Philippe Pollet-Villard
Tanghi argentine Guy Thys, Anja Daelemans
The Tonto Woman Daniel Barber, Matthew Brown


UPDATE 1/23/08 11:35 a.m.: Just when the glow of the Juno nominations was beginning to get too much, here comes David Edelstein to restore some perspective to the nominations, to grumble about some omissions (Frank Langella!) and remind everyone again why Juno is no good. The only problem is, he makes a chilling and believable case for how No Country for Old Men vs. There Will Be Blood might split the vote and create a crevice for you-know-who to crawl through, big belly or not. Read it and weep.



Greg said...

What time do you have to be at work anyway, noon? Man, I have to be up by 5:30 every morning, if I stayed up until three I'd be clubbing people to death with bowling pins the next morning.

Anyway, I gave an Oscar watch update myself last night (but just some general Best Picture thoughts, that's all) and commented on your last post (go check it out Dennis, there's some other info there for you).

So the noms will be out within the hour and I will see how you did. I still think NCFOM and TWBB are the two front runners. I haven't seen Juno but judging by the trailer it looks insufferable. The kind of movie I might want to own if I ever want to become a bulemic but don't have the nerve to stick a spoon down my throat. But I'll see it as I see every well received movie to see what I think. Who knows I may like it but it feels like there's a 99.9 percent chance I won't and 0.1 percent chance I will.

Other than that I just want to say you made me think of The Odd Couple with your post. I don't know how many people ever notice it but in the beginning when Felix first shows up at Oscar's apartment and Oscar and the boys are playing poker, it's July and they're complaining about the heat. In the corner of the room is a dead, brown Christmas tree that Oscar still hasn't taken down.

Anonymous said...

Well, you didn't embarrass yourself, although Jason Reitman and "Atonement" did make it in. I'm really surprised that Mortensen got nominated, although I guess I'm the only one. I'm also apparently the only person who expected Tim Burton to get a nomination (I also think he deserved one).

Anyway, the door is wide open for "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country for Old Men". None of the other Best Picture nominees have half the heat those two do. I'd be cool with either one, although "No Country..." is still my favorite.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and "Zodiac" gets completely shut out. Man, that is such bullshit!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Holy smokes! Did Jason reitman just give me the big F.U. or what? Atonement avoided the Dreamgirls-style embarrassment I had envisioned for it as well. Well, I'll have some further comments later, but right now I just have to say:

Jonathan, you are a gentleman's gentleman. Thank you very much for the Blogger Award nomination! In the spirit of the season I must say that's it's an honor just to be nominated!

Bill: I did think Burton had a shot too. There are so many better picks that could have been inserted in the Reitman slot. But I'm with you on Zodiac. If this movie had made three nickels instead of none at the box office, undoubtedly the story would be different. But any roster than includes No Country and There Will Be Blood can't exactly be considered loaded with Oscar-friendly fare.

Two final comments before I get into this more at length:

1) Roger Deakins! Roger Deakins!

2) Let this be a lesson to all aspiring young British actresses: make sure to sometime in your career convince someone to let you play Queen Elizabeth. You will get nominated, and you just might win.

Greg said...

Zodiac in my humble opinion could / should have accounted for at least four of the acting nominations (Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., John Carroll Lynch - maybe even Brian Cox). They were all terrific.

And not nominating Fincher for Best Director is a big stinking load. Again I know I haven't seen Juno yet but it looks like Reitman's being nominated for sustaining a two-hour sitcom/movie up on the screen and I can't imagine his work matches the directorial imagination of Fincher in Zodiac.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I am pretty surprised that "There Will Be Blood" did so well. I figured it would get a couple of token nominations in the big categories, and not have a shot at anything, like "Munich". But if they're going to give it so many nominations, why not throw Paul Dano a bone? He was terrific.

"Zodiac" will be remembered a lot longer than "Juno" (which I haven't seen, and therefore bear no ill will towards it), but I was starting to think that the support for "Zodiac" had grown to the point that it might do pretty well, at least as far as nominations go. Guess not. Sorry, David Fincher. The first time you make a movie that makes me begin to understand why everyone likes you so much, and what do you get for it? Bupkiss.

Still, the fact that "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" are not only nominated for Best Picture, but might actually be the frontrunners is kind of crazy and hilarious, and it makes me happy.

Anonymous said...

By the way, Dennis, how are you liking your Herzog marathon? If I remember correctly, you hadn't been overly familiar (or overly fond?) of him before. He's one of my favorites, so I'm curious.

PS - Be sure to make room for "Even Dwarves Started Small"!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Herzogmania is going very well, actually. I had seen a ton of his films in college, either in classes (the earliest ones, like Signs of Life), or ones like Aguirre, Woyzeck, Nosferatu, Fitzcarraldo and Kaspar Hauser in revival theaters or as they became available upon release. Much like my early experience with Altman, I just wasn’t ready for Herzog’s films in college, even though I felt compelled to go see them. (This has been a recurring motif in my filmgoing life, which is why it’s been so rewarding for me to go back to movies I’ve vehemently disliked as a young man—more often than not I was either blind or full of shit the first time around.) Aguirre is flat-out brilliant, mesmerizing stuff, full of images of the kind Herzog talks about in Grizzly Man that, when left alone to be absorbed on their own, take on a kind of cinematic magic all their own. (I’m thinking right now of the muddy rapids that have their own eerie moment on screen near the beginning of the movie, just as the expedition has made its way down the Cliffside.) I’d never seen Stroszek, and I liked it a lot, though it didn’t have the power or urgency (by design, I suppose) of Aguirre. Next up is Kaspar Hauser again, which I’m very excited about, and Even Dwarfs Started Small, which I’ve never seen. I love Herzog’s great recent documentaries too. And I can’t wait to lay hands on that short documentary he did on Dr. Gene Scott. Discovering that all those people who swooned over Herzog in college weren’t poseurs (well, maybe some of them were) after all has been one of the best things that has happened to me, cinema-wise, in a long time.

P.S. Have you, or has anyone, seen When the Green Ants Dream? Is there anyone willing to recommend it?

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen "Aguirre" since college, and back then I didn't like it, so I definitely need to check it out again. "Stroszek", "The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser" and "Nosferatu" are all terrific, as is "Dwarfs", which is sort of indescribable. "Nosferatu" has one of my favorite final images of all time. Actually, that one is chock full of amazing images.

I've never seen "Where the Green Ants Dream". I keep meaning to bump it to the top of my queue, but then I don't do it. Maybe it's time for that.

Anonymous said...

I didn't expect to see Zodiac show up anywhere except maybe adapted screenplay. I don't know if it'll be remembered long after Juno - I don't see why they won't both be remembered by the people who like them well into the future - but it didn't get any of the attention that might have made the academy remember it now. Box office flop. Good reviews and some top ten lists but no critics awards. But it took Fincher out of the ghetto most critics had put him in (flashy but souless) and I bet he gets a little more love on his next movie if it's any good at all. It's a transitional film on the level of something like Heat was for Michael Mann.

To the actual nominees, I think it's exciting to see challenging, ambitious films like No Country and TWBB in the best picture category, and quality genre films like Juno and Michael Clayton finding a place at the table. The only nomination I really dislike is the picture nomination for Atonement, and mostly because I fear a Crash-like elevation as a safe, consensus alternative to the edgier films filling out the category. I wish The Diving Bell could've found the votes to overtake it, but that assumes that Atonement was #5 in voting and who the hell knows if that assumption is correct?

My long shot, no hope in hell nomination was best supporting actor for Michael Cera (not for Juno specifically, although I thought he was terrifice in it, but for a standout year in general, a la Casey Affleck). Oh well. He's got time.

The Siren said...

Maybe I would not be the cool-headed Academy voter I imagine in my dreams, because I would not be able to resist voting for Ruby Dee. And that's without having seen American Gangster.

Yep, the dreaded Sentimental Vote. But ... but ... it's Ruby!!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Softie! I'll look away while you vote for Ruby Dee if they'll just let me write in Catherine Keener and Barry Corbin, or perhaps John Carroll Lynch.

Anonymous said...

I finally saw Juno this past weekend, and I must say that I don't see what the fuss is all about. It was pleasant enough (despite the god-awful 'music' that made the first half hour pure torture for me), but hardly Oscar caliber. As for the other contenders, I've seen Atonement (meh), but will not go anywhere near No Country for Old Men or There Will Be Blood. Neither hold much interest as 1) I'm not a Coen brothers fan and, 2) I've not heard good things about Blood.

Other random thoughts (keeping in mind that there are many of these films that I have not seen):
Was thrilled that Viggo Mortensen was nominated. I really liked Eastern Promises.

I hope that Ratatouille wins original screenplay and animated feature. This despite the fact that Chris Buck (of Surf's Up) is a good friend of my friend Susan.

Is it just me or is this year’s crop of contenders particularly dour? The frontrunners in most categories deal with subject matters and/or situations that are just plain unpleasant. I predict this will be one of the lowest rated telecasts ever, should the WGA strike end in time.

In writing this, I've come to realize that for the first time in my life, I don't give a rat's ass about who will win. I may not even watch the telecast, no matter the format. I don't have strong feelings, positive or negative, about this year's crop of films. Usually there are several that I feel got jobbed at award time, but this year I'm just meh about the whole thing. Once again I ask the age old question -- is it me or is it the movies?

Lastly, yesterday morning, I was listening to Mark & Brian on KLOS radio (like I do), and they spent some time going over the nominations. A couple of segments later, a man identifying himself as a striking writer called in. He pointed out that when M&B named the nominees for Best Actor, Actress, Director, they noted the names of the individuals as well as the name of the films. However, when it came to the writing categories, they only said the film. They were quite chagrined by the oversight (or dare I say slight), and vowed to not let it happen again. Things really got interesting when the called indicated that he was one of the nominees, but declined to give his name. M&B tried to best to get it out of him, but he wouldn't budge. He did, however, agree to call their show again the morning after, win or lose.

After another commercial break they announced that the thought they had figured out the name of the incognito writer. They had found an interview on line with the person in question, and believed that the voice of the caller matched the voice on the interview. Who is the shy writer, you ask? None other than Brad Bird (allegedly!). If/when I get confirmation of his identity, I'll let everyone here know.

Anonymous said...

I suspect Langella was overlooked because he's reprising on film his extraordinary stage performance as Tricky Dick himself (this president has become a great role for actors, right up there with Hamlet, Lear and, come to think of it, Queen Elizabeth) in FROST/NIXON last year. Langella's having a great run in his old age, and he'll probably be walking away with one of those statuettes whenever the film version comes out.

Anonymous said...

H'mmm...THERE WILL BE BLOOD isn't even playing in Eugene yet, but I guess I'll screw up my courage (and pack away my prejudice against P.T. Anderson) and go see it as soon as it arrives. I always look forward to seeing Daniel Day Lewis at work.

I am sorry not to see ZODIAC, its director or actors among the nominees, but as Grover predicts, he'll probably be getting lots more attention for future movies if they're as excellent as that one was.

I still haven't seen JUNO (well, "still"--it's only been out here about two weeks), but I've heard so much negative stuff from people whose opinion I respect that it's almost bound to be a pleasant surprise for me, if that makes any sense!

Dennis, I hope you do catch another showing of MICHAEL CLAYTON...if I had been anywhere near as drowsy as you were the day we saw it, I'd have been impatient with it--or I'd have been asleep!--but as it is I really loved it, and find in retrospect that it's one of the most memorable films I've seen in the past year--with some of the best, most interesting performances. Don't remember the music, so it was a bit of a surprise to find it was nominated...guess I should be grateful it wasn't a bunch of grating songs.

Hey, I looked up some of the nominees on the oscar.com site, and doesn't it seem weird that, under such categories as "Directing," they list only the title of the movie???

As for Herzog, you all are making me awfully curious about what my own reaction to revisiting some of his films might be; I remember having fun mocking them, and yet images and sensations from them still haunt me. Might be a good project for this year! (Are they a good candidate for Dirty Dishes Cinema, or must they be watched in a dark room with full attention?)

Anonymous said...

Dirty Dishes Cinema? Herzog?

Are you trolling?

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Sharon, dm494, Blaaagh: I've got a deadline this morning, so it won't be tonight till I can leave an actual comment.

But just to ease Frank's mind, Blaaagh, I would say Herzog's movies would not be good Dirty Dishes Cinema fare simply because of the subtitles. I know when I'm scrubbing the pot or wiping the spoon, my attention is diverted. It's hard to keep track of dialogue you have to read when you're constantly slipping something in the cupboard or reheating the dishwater. I usually favor something in English, dialogue-heavy, without a lot of visual flourishes, which would, in my book, count Herzog out. I hope I've made this clear and also infused it with enough double entendre to make Frank take an extra heavy hit off of his gas mask out of sheer confusion and worry.

The Wrong Box said...

For what it's worth, I've seen all 5 Best Picture nominees from 1982, and Gandhi is the only one worth watching more than once. And yes, I would be up for a screening at the home theater tonight.

The Wrong Box said...

Oh, and with regard to the pseudonym question, during the blacklist Dalton Trumbo won a writing Oscar as "Robert Rich." (There were also several cases of "fronts" winning Oscars, as with Roman Holiday and The Bridge on the River Kwai.)

Anonymous said...

I'm taking a hit out of sheer excitement. Erotic dishwashing? And I thought I was sick.

Yes Blaaagh, Herr Herzog's film deserve your full attention, beyond the need to read the dialoge. Even if you speak German or put the English dubbing on, you have to really focus to fully benefit from on the hypnotic intensity of his work. He's a creator of worlds, and his delicate spell requires total immersion.

I recommend turning out the lights, locking and chaining the door, combining cold medicine with a triple-espresso and sitting naked, 2.5 feet from the television in the lotus position with your eyes taped open -- ideally, on a bed of nails.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Haha! Frank, I am going to take your recommendation to heart. Lying 2.5 feet from the screen on a bed of nails with my eyelids taped open sounds like the perfect way to see The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, which is next up!

Anonymous said...

Hahaha! Frank, thanks for the tip. I'm going to schedule a day off and take your advice. It somehow seems like just the way to experience Herzog's films. Now, where can I find a bed of nails?