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 nomination? 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)
09 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)
08 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.
07 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 Promises 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?
05 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. Though 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?
04 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 Letters 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.
02 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
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ways to make the oscars entertaining w/out film clips
black actresses who deserve bigger careers