Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tues Top Ten: Oscar Nomination Talking Points

There will be thousands of threads to Oscar nomination conversations everywhere but here are ten things that stood out for me...

10 Penguins are unstoppable with Oscar.
First March of the Penguins and then Happy Feet... and now Surf's Up ???? beating the often brilliant The Simpson's Movie for an Animated Feature nominati
on? Whatever AMPAS. I know you're supposed to wear tuxes to the ceremony but you shouldn't win automatic points for wearing them year 'round. ba-dum-dum (I'm here all week)

Marit Allen received a posthumous nomination.
This hardworking costume designer was most famous for her work with Ang Lee (including Brokeback Mountain --those shirts, one inside the other -gah!, Ride With the Devil, Hulk) and on stylized fantasy projects like The Witches and Little Shop of Horrors. She
was finally honored with a nomination (for recreating Edith Piaf among others in La Vie En Rose). I had been rooting for this to happen but I didn't expect that she wouldn't be alive to celebrate it. So sad. Here's my tribute page from 2005 (not yet updated)

The Academy unfortunately reinforced studio paranoia about release dates.
Michael Clayton
was the earliest Best Picture nominee to open and that came as
late as October 5th. Zodiac, the third biggest critical champ of the year from a director (David Fincher) who is more than ready for his Oscar moment, received not one nomination after opening in March. Once and Into the Wild, also deeply loved by their constituencies and in the top ten of critical champs, opened in the summer and early fall respectively and neither did well. Expect next year's December glut to get even worse. sigh... moviegoers who go to the cinema year round (like us) are just not rewarded properly for doing so.

Best Actress remains the safest big six category for early releases.
We knew Cotillard and Christie were getting nominated way back in the summer
and Angelina Jolie, also a summertime girl, was undoubtedly in the just-missed sixth spot. Since movie studios refuse to release the prestige films all year round at least movie lovers can console themselves with the great ladies of the cinema in months that aren't named December. And, as previously discussed, whoever wins Best Actress will make history in one way or another.

06 Naked fight club.
While many attribute Viggo Mortensen's successful Oscar bid for Eastern Promise
s to that very nude and very violent bathhouse scene, it isn't actually common for male nudity to be rewarded by the Academy. Alan Bates famously tussled in the nude in Women in Love (1969) but only received a BAFTA nomination. Oscar passed him by. Richard Gere and Ewan MacGregor, two famous actors who haven't been shy about disrobing have never been nominated, whether clothed or un... even when they appeared in Oscar-beloved pictures. This film year, dubbed by at least one snarky writer as "the year of the wang", didn't arouse Oscar either. Frank Langella (Starting out in the Evening) and Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) couldn't convert their buzz into a nomination now could they? Methinks Viggo, who turned down Academy membership quite recently, can thank his own actory skill (considerable), the accent (Oscar Bait) and, most importantly, the media friendly double dipping with director David Cronenberg (perhaps the Academy feel guilty about their treatment of A History of Violence?) for the nomination. Director/actor pairings are inherently cool, are they not?

Will Enchanted's Amy Adams be singing at the Oscar ceremony?
With her two big numbers both making the original song cut it's a possibility. Tho
ugh it seems too good to be true. Especially considering the ongoing writers strike and screen actors guild support of the same. Will anyone show up to the Oscars?

Atonement survives the guild cold shoulder.
What does it mean exactly? I'm tempted to say that the "pre-ordained" nominee always survives (think Steven Spielberg's Munich, too, which had a rocky pre-nomination showing) no matter how rough the pre-season is... or Lett
ers From Iwo Jima subbing for the non-starter Flags of Our Fathers. But then, Dreamgirls didn't, so... Maybe a high Golden Globe profile still retains more Oscar-influencing power than people want to admit. At least if it's in the dramatic race. You can probably blame them (partially) for Cate Blanchett's revival in the lead category. Speaking of...

03 Cate Blanchett is now plotting to unseat Kate Winslet as Oscar's favorite actress whose name is not Meryl Streep. The glorious Ms. Winslet has amassed the most nominations (5) at the youngest age of any actress ever. But Cate Blanchett, who is only six years her senior, has now tied her for nominations. To give you a bit of perspective about how big an accomplishment this is on both of their parts, consider that in the 80 year history of the Oscars, only 16 women have more nominations for acting. Kate and Cate, both in only their second decade of screen acting and likely to be acting until they're taking Judi Dench style roles and beyond, are already in the top 25 of all time. If Cate keeps up her cast-in-everything default-nominee pace she may eventually knock Kate out of the record books in this particular way (Winslet doesn't work as much). A further annoying note: I haven't yet done the research but I believe The Golden Age is now the worst reviewed movie in decades to receive a lead acting nomination.

40%ish of the nominated screenplays are written by women.
Tamara Jenkins (The Savages), Sarah Polley (Away From Her) -yes!, Nancy Oliver (Lars and the Real Girl) and Diablo Cody (Juno) are all in the mix. Bonus points: All of them are first time nominees and one of them will clearly win... though 'honest to blog' [gag] isn't a win really overdoing it for the very clever but overwritten Juno?

01 All the directors are first time nominees.
Well, sort of. Previously the Coen Bros were viewed by the Academy or guild rules or whatnot as a director/writer pair and not just "The Coen Bros" so essentially you have six directors nominated, five of whom are officially first timers. Hey, it's a stretch yes but isn't that what statistics are for: bending them to serve some talking point purpose? Ta-da! I'm a talking head.

previous top tens
film experience greatest hits of 2007
ways to make the oscars entertaining w/out film clips
black actresses who deserve bigger careers


Nick Davis said...

These are fantastic (and so fast!), but I'm surprised you didn't include the fact that Michael Clayton is the only movie with more than one acting nomination. That seems insane. I'd love to believe that the actors actually watched all of their screeners this year, but I'm sure the explanation has more to do with hype and groupthink. But still: I dig the trend.

You also didn't refer to Evening's sixth-place finish in Sound Editing.

Anonymous said...

Your ability to digest, interpret and comment on the nominations so quickly is testament to how essential your site has become as a reference point for all things Oscar. Huge kudos.


Nick Davis said...

Also, given how many people are apathetic or full-on put out by the Juno script, it doesn't seem impossible to me that Ratatouille or even Michael Clayton could purloin the trophy.

adam k. said...

Well I gotta say, I'm more than happy with these noms overall, especially the big ones. Cate Blanchett aside, there were many pleasant surprises (even Laura Linney!). And Nat, when's the last time 4 best pic nominees were on your top ten list and the 5th was one you also honest-to-god really liked??? Has that ever happened?

And might Juno actually win? That'd be a little disappointing, but for the fact that it's a teen comedy and a populist choice and it would be a fun and unexpected thing to happen.

adam k. said...

Nick, I suppose Michael Clayton could possibly win the screenplay prize for Gilroy (more deserved, I say), but now that Juno's gunning for best picture, I feel like screenplay's even more in the bag.

Though it would be kind of sad if Michael Clayton won nothing.

Nearly Anonymous said...

I don't think the Munich / Atonement "default nominee" comparison works. Munich was considered default before anyone had seen it because of the director and the subject. Atonement didn't get it's status until after it was actually shown.

I think Atonement's seven nominations probably show that the story about them sending screeners to the guilds probably has some validity. And perhaps a bit of Brits voting for the home team as well.

Nearly Anonymous said...

That should have been "not sending" in my above comment, obviously.

Nick Davis said...

@Adam: I see your point, but I'm just wondering about a BBM/Crash situation, where the folks who hate Movie A rally around the other candidate who can actually win. (Dare I call this a Hillary/McCain dynamic.) Between now and February 24, the media will kindly inform us which script, Pixar's or Gilroy's, is the right place for the Juno skeptics to invest their energy. I'm not saying it's likely, but I don't think Cody should assume 100% that we'll be seeing her dress on TV.

Anonymous said...

I'm rooting for Blanchett and "There Will Be Blood".

Luke said...

I second Rob's kudos.

I know you hate Oscar's love for penguins, but Surf's Up is, for a change, honestly good. Not brilliant, not as good as Simpsons movie perhaps (I haven't seen it), but a more worthy nominee than any other non-Pixar CGI comedy this year (and than Happy Feet) for sure.

Also, now that she wasn't nominated, could someone explain why was ever Jolie considered a lock for nomination (and now apparently a near miss)? I was putting her in "strong contender but who knows?" category, together with Viggo.

StinkyLulu said...

Excellent talking points, sir.

I did some quickshot thoughts.

I love the problem of "worst reviewed" film to score a lead acting nom.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of your "Elizabeth II" observation, I believe "For the Boys" (1991) may qualify as the most recent previous example of a poorly-reviewed film scoring a lead-acting nomination (Best Actress, Bette Midler).

Dan E. said...

If last year was the year Pan's Labyrinth broke out of the Foreign Film box to earn 6 noms, then this should be the year that Ratatoille broke out of the Animated Film box to earn 5. Nevermind that it would be so much more exciting if we saw Brad Bird's name instead of Jason Reitman's.

Jürgen said...

These are surprisingly solid nominations, I have to say. Glaring omissions include Paul Dano and Jonny Greenwood, whose amazing score for There Will Be Blood was just declared "ineligible" a few days ago.

And hey, I really enjoyed enjoyed Elizabeth: The Golden Age -- in the same way that I enjoyed Revenge of the Sith...

adam k. said...

I also have an oscar nominations predictions/reactions post over at the blog.

Nick, I would assume the Clayton script is the only viable challenger, since it is in fact a best pic nominee and seems to have no other oscars coming. Whereas Ratatouille is animated , has the animated oscar in the bag, and probably won't make history by becoming the first animated screenplay oscar winner (shocking upsets usually aren't the history makers... inevitable winners are... i.e. Hillary Clinton again... let's hope she and the Juno script both win, if they have to be analogous).

Anyway, it seems rather like an LMS vs. The Queen situation. The more "writerly" lovable script always wins.

Anonymous said...

probably the most exciting best supporting actress race of the decade! it's SWINTON VS. BLANCHETT!


adam k. said...

What makes you think Swinton would win?

A little overly optimistic, I'd say.

moses said...

Totally thrilled Tommy Lee Jones was nominated Best Actor for In the Valley of Elah. Most of the nominations were spot on expect no Best Director for Tim Burton for Sweeney Todd. No original song for Eddie Vedder for Into the Wild. The worst nominations are Surf’s Up for Animated Feature Film and Makeup for Norbit. A film that will clean up the Blue Razzies gets on Oscar Nomination. However Rick Baker is damn good at what he does. Surprised Cate Blanchett was nominated for Elizabeth: The Golden Age. I’m a huge fan of Cate Blanchett but I don’t think she deserved a nomination. Much better in I’m Not There but nonetheless glad she got it.

Woodstock said...

i'm really happy about the atonement's love; even if i still hadn't watched most of the other best pic films, i would be really sad if it was snubbed.

the best actress race got me even more excited after i watched juno last night. page is delicious and i wouldn't mind if she became a big surprise and beated the asses of the other two finnest frontrunners. i loved marion, but la vie en rose was rough to watch; and christie was simply perfect! so, my disappointment would be if cotillard won, even if she's superb as beloved piaf.

it'd be my 2008 oscar dream come true if amy adams showed up to sing that's how you know.

and cate's nod for the golden age pisses me off, even if she's g-d! i'm also pissed about surf's up.

moses said...

Also Roger Deakins got two nominations. Hopefully he will finally win his Oscar. Should've won years ago for The Shawshank Redemption.

Jason said...

I agree about Juno's script problems -- I completely concurred with the Chicago Sun-Times music critic who said he had never met any high school kids like this in his life. It's just barely more realistic than an average episode of "Dawson's Creek."

HOWEVER. It's hellaciously funny; the lines themselves are pitch-perfect, even though I can't believe these characters should be saying them.

Cody will win -- she's the It Girl. She's doing Letterman, for god's sake -- Mike Arndt didn't get this much publicity for his first script, did he? And he still won. He, of course, was never a stripper, though (to my knowledge). It is unfortunate that Gilroy will be sacrificed for Cody's superb sitcom spec script; the more I think about MC, the more I realize how much I enjoyed it, and it will be sad when it goes 0-for-7 on Oscar night. We probably won't get to see it, though, so meh.

Sid said...

SO... TWBB and NCFOM split the votes and Juno wins BP! Likely?

Peter said...

Is Blanchett really the frontrunner for S. Actress? Didn't she just win for doing famous-person-mimickry? I have a hunch Swinton might be the token Michael Clayton winner.

Quick predictions and spoilers:

Pic: Atonement (No Country)
Director: Coens (Schnabel)
Actor: Day-Lewis (probably locked up)
Actress: Christie (Linney??)
S. Actor: Bardem (locked)
S. Actress: Swinton (Blanchett)
O. Screenplay: Juno (Ratatouille)
A. Screenplay: No Country (TWBB)

I have a hard time not seeing Atonement win in that field. No Country...'s chance I think is hurt by the inclusion of There Will Be Blood in the field.

Anonymous said...

@adam k.

i'm not saying that. even if they both lose. it's still the most interesting actress mano-a-mano this year.


adam k. said...

Well, I'll give you that. I'd like to see 'em mud-wrestle.

I guess maybe the wider academy membership might be angry/embarrassed at the hard core Blanchettophile actors nomming her in lead for that shite film, and throw the supporting oscar to someone else. But would in be Swinton or Ryan? It could even be Dee if she wins the SAG, and that could happen.


I think DEE is going to win myself but I don't wanna go to "winners" just yet.

Let the nominees have their day of "i could win" enjoyment ;)

vv said...

I'm scared about Juno. Ellen Page's performance in Hard Candy was one of the most annoying I've ever seen, and I'm worried her performance in Juno won't be much different. I hope she won't get the Oscar anyway; I'll be happy if Linney or Cotillard do.

Anonymous said...


my theory: they didn't bother seeing it or even read the reviews. but culling from memory how great she was in the first one (and how greatly inappropriated the actress win was for that year) they blindly gave it to her. truth be told, even if you just see a flash of her "i too can command the wind, sir!" monologue, it'd be hard not too think of how powerful(forceful?) she might have been in the film.



that sounds entirely plausible

pity that there are so many of them that don't take it seriously (and we know from many years of quotes and hollywood scuttlebutt that some people are more than careless about it)

Anonymous said...

Yes! Im so HAPPY that Blanchett did get nominated for her forceful performance in The Golden Age. She's is phenomenal!

Anonymous said...

OK, I pretty much loathed The Golden Age too, but to be honest I thought Blanchett was doing what the diabolical script asked her to do for the most part, so I'm not mortally offended by her inclusion. I just thought there was better work they could have picked up on, had they bothered to make the effort. So, for now, it feels like a "default" nominee when they could have thought outside the box.


jimmy said...

bravo jack fisk - art direction for "there will be blood"....long time hubby of sissy spacek. book-end oscars???

Anonymous said...

People really need to get off cates back. I hate to break it to you, but even though the film was poorly reviewed she wasnt. In fact she got mostly raves for her performance. It makes sense that shes been nominated everywhere people. It was a great performance in a mediocre ass film. I actually wish people would have the balls to nominate more performances like this one. Even bad movies can have some great acting in them.

Sean Knight

Anonymous said...

also, add 'hairspray' to the early release films that were looked over...

John C. said...

As for poorly reviewed films with lead acting nominations, may I kindly submit I Am Sam?

Anonymous said...

Cate Blanchett earned both of her Oscar nominations, and I like that the voters are playing catch-up to her after snubbing her for years in films like "Veronica Guerin", "Bandits", and "Little Fish". She was excellent in "The Golden Age", and I'm glad that voters could recognize her worth despite the shortcomings of the respective film.

Anonymous said...

heath ledger is dead? oh god no


sean i agree that people who are great in bad movies should be honored more often.

i just don't think Cate was in the ten best this year let alone the top five.

i'm frustrated that they don't watch enough movies.

Anonymous said...

CNN just reported that Heath Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment. Please don't let this be true!!!

Robert said...

It is true. A day that we started off celebrating the movies, is now a very sad day.

Rest in Peace Heath Ledger

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

@sean knight

i like blanchett. a lot. but, sadly, i didn't see anything new with her elizabeth in this one. same performance. not even halfway into the film, i was already second guessing the little "humanitising ticks" she'd come up with. she's still amazng though.


Rich Aunt Pennybags said...

Oh, this was the first place I heard about Heath Ledger. I thought it was a bad joke at first. :( It's so sad that all these talented young actors keep dying like this, and they'll never learn.

On a happier note, I'm glad that Laura Linney snuck in. I love that you went out on a limb like that and turned out to be right. The Academy really does love you. It's just too bad that they don't love you enough to not nominate Cate Blanchett for The Golden Age. That's a depressing thought that she could eventually pass Kate Winslet's record. Don't get me wrong, I love both of them, but Winslet should have an Oscar by now too. So I think she should get something until she finally gets that Oscar. Plus, while it's very difficult to judge both of them, I think Winslet is the all around better actress. I don't know maybe it's because I'm getting tired of all the camp and mimicry lately.

Finally, I just want to say that I wholeheartedly agree with Rob's statement on why your site is so essential.

sweeneyrules said...

Good point:
- The Golden Age is now the worst reviewed movie in decades to receive a lead acting nomination -
Terrible over the top flick
I'd offer up
2003 Diane Keaton - Something's Gotta Give
2001 Sean Penn - I Am Sam
1991 Bette Midler - For the Boys

Barry said...

I knew those raves for Tommy Lee Jones wouldn't go to waste =)

Emma said...

This might be a dumb thing to say, but is Saoirse the first irish child actress to have gotten nominated?

Anyway, I'm really hoping she'll beat Blanchett!

Ron said...

Nat, I've done the research on that (just partly). What I know at least is that Blanchett is the only actress to have been nominated for a performance in a film rated Rotten by Rotten Tomatoes, at least since 1995.

But I LOVE her, so I'm happy about the double nod


but why be greedy? If there is an Oscar ceremony it only takes one nomination to get a big star there. I'm sad for Angelina. Hollywood should be encouraging her to do serious work when all she has been doing is those silly action movies.

Brad said...

I know it was predicted by most, but it's still such a great feeling to hear Viggo Mortensen's name called on nomination day.

Anonymous said...


on the bright side, i'd rather have blanchett win for a hundred elizabeth 2s than for one "million dollar baby" hillary swank. :)


Anonymous said...

i meant, than one "million dollar baby" hillary swank.



i understand the sentiment (believe me i do) but I think Swank is better than MDB than Blanchett is in E2 not that one serviceable but ungreat performance being better than another is any great shakes.

i just feel for JOLIE (an easy looking performance that couldn't possibly have been easy to give) WEI (a debut that charts an amazing trajectory of character in all sorts of nuanced ways), ADAMS (doing the mimicry thing as well as Blanchett can do it) among others...

grumble. grumble.

but i can live with BLANCHETT double nodded since i got some other things i love.

press and repeat: you win some you lose some


brad YES. that felt so great. I'm having trouble concentrating on other work and deadlines right now (due to Heath Ledger... I'm reeling) and Viggo as a first time nominee is a happy feeling from earlier today.

Anonymous said...

i know i'm repeating myself but still...



Anonymous said...

I thought Cate Blanchett was great in "The Golden Age", so I'm happy for her nod. I think that that lead support will help her win supporting actress this year for "I'm Not There".

sean said...

so nat is cate blanchett a favourite of yours anymore? can u look past her undeserved double nod our has it kinda soiled the love? cos even if it is undeserved i think she is without a doubt one of the best actors, male or female, working today!



i think it's clear that i've soured on her. she's just in too many movies and just as with any actor or actress (or human for that matter) the quality of her work varies yet everything is greeted with hosannas like its the freaking second coming.

i'm afraid it's the rabidness of her fandom that spoiled her for me (there are certain stars that inspire more insane devotion than others you know). i just can't take her acclaim all that seriously since nobody seems to be able to differentiate between her good, her ok, and her great stuff. If they could I would be more willing to climb on board. ;)

moses said...

Like Nathaniel I too am a huge fan of Cate Blanchett. However she has had many roles that were just okay. However I always respected for her diversity of roles and her professionalism. I'm gonna give a scale of 1 to 10.

Elizabeth - 9
The Gift - 4
LOTR: TFotR: cameo, too small to rate
The Shipping News - 3
Veronica Guerin - 8, Amazing!
The Missing - 4
The Life Aquatic - 4
The Aviator - 8
Babel - 6
Notes on a Scandal - 6, not sure if it deserved a nomination but she was really good but Judi Dench had the better role
Elizabeth: The Golden Age - 8, a very good performance despite the movie was critically panned
I'm Not There - 10, her best role to date! Riveting! Saw Gone Baby Gone don't see what all the fuss is about for Amy Ryan. The Oscar should be hers! A actor's performance should not have anything to do with a film being good. A actor's ability is what I look for.

Anthony JX said...

Cate Blanchett is lucky, i have totally no mood in commenting her undeserving double nomination with Heath's passing

Anthony JX said...

Just give Cate B her best actress oscar this year and we are done with her...