Tuesday, December 19, 2006

All Hail The Queen (and other tales of year end prizes)

[There's an animated gif in this post so give it a minute to load -Nathaniel]

Greetings awards watchers. With over a half dozen critical prizes already announced, one thing is still as certain as it ever was: Helen Mirren is going to win Best Actress. To save her money on airfare can't they just ship it to her now?

Anyway here is how the chips have been falling

Best Picture: Echoing what looks to be a highly contentious Oscar Best Picture race, critics in a rare episode of “I have a different opinion than my colleagues,” seem split. The current tally (counting only critical prizes) is as follows:
United 93 and The Departed: 3 each Letters From Iwo Jima, The Queen, Little Children: 1 each

Best Actor: Forest Whitaker Last King of Scotland: 7.5 Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat: 1.5 (they tied once. very niccccce) Poor Leonardo DiCaprio has yet to be honored despite the double dip.

And now, enjoy, this mini film I've made for you, awards junkies:

Best Actress "Helen Mirren is the poo. So take a big whiff." Though I think her star turn in The Queen is a swell performance I’m still a little alarmed at the ease in which she wins everything. It's like it's the greatest performance of all time or something? Where are the critics with a differing opinion? Or do media outlets only hire critics with interchangeable aesthetic taste? The tally as it stands so far: Mirren: 9 Dench, Streep, Gyllenhaal, Winslet, Bening, etcetera: 0

Best Director: Martin Scorsese The Departed: 6 Paul Greengrass United 93: 2, Stephen Frears The Queen: 1. I’m not going to say that “it’s __________ year!” because who wants to jinx that?

Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Little Children: 4 Djimon Honsou Blood Diamond & Michael Sheen The Queen: 2 each Mark Wahlberg The Departed: 1. The movie stars (Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Eddie Murphy) that were early expected leaders for the actual Oscar (and who dominated the Globe nods) are still nowhere in sight.

Best Supporting Actress Jennifer Hudson Dreamgirls 4.5 Adriana Barazza Babel, Shareeka Epps Half Nelson, Luminita Gheor The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, Cate Blanchett for Notes on a Scandal: 1 each and my beloved Catherine O’Hara For Your Consideration .5 (tied with Hudson once)

My Oscar Predictions will be updated Friday. The Critics Pages (they’re missing NYFCO & Vegas currently) will be updated tonight.


Anonymous said...

How *bizarre* will it be for the Academy to actually award a woman over 40 in the Best Actress catagory. That hasn't happened since the Regan administration.

Something will probably happen last minute that will foil poor Mirren. Hilary Swank probably has some movie thats going to come out at the 11th hour.

Or Jennifer Hudson will get nominated in lead (which she really is...)

After BBM's critic sweep last year and sad showing at the Oscars: I don't give too much credit to the pre-cursor critics awards: especially when they are all clearly so much the product of group think...

mistyh92104 said...

Poor Helen Mirren continues to get all the guff because of another boring year on the trail to Oscar. Yes, it would be nice to have a more exciting race, but it ain't Mirren's fault.

When it all comes down to it, in ten years time, I'll be WAY happier to hear the words "Academy Award winner Helen Mirren" than to hear "Academy Award winner Halle Berry" or "Academy Award winner Helen Hunt" or "Academy Award winner Charlize Theron"...you get the point. I have a feeling that if Mirren were playing a British serial killer with ALL THE BIG ACTING MOMENTS she'd be getting a lil' bit more respect. If only she were chewing more of the scenery. Sigh.

Believe me, I'd love nothing more than to have a real horse race, especially in a year of fairly strong female lead performances; it sucks when things are this predictable. But if Hilary f-ing Swank can have two Oscars, let's let Mirren have her day and get over it, huh?

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Mirren's victory would probably be the best since Susan Sarandon's. As much as sweeps are bothersome, I can't help but be pleased and impressed for this phenomenal actress.


don't get me wrong. I LOVE Helen Mirren. But I'm just cursing Oscar for not giving it to her instead of boring Jennifer Connelly in 2001(also a sweeper --for reasons that are still unfathomable to me) than we would have more of a horse race this year. And when a year is great for a particular category... It SHOULD be a real competition.

that's all.

Anonymous said...

Oh I still think Connolly's BM win was somehow a posthumous recognition for her largely unrecognized (at the time) work in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM...

Anonymous said...

Mirren has now won best actress from the African American Film Critics Association. Forget best actress - they might just given Mirren best director and best picture as well.

All joshing aside, despite the strength of the category, it's easy to understand why Mirren's dominating. No one dislikes really anything about her performance. I know there are a number of people who don't like Streep's performance (they find it shallow); I can imagine people decrying Dench as histrionic (the film moreso); Winslet's film had an offensively bad release strategy; as good as Cruz is, there's a reason Cannes went for a group award over an individual one; Sherrybaby's release was also negligible; and quite frankly, Bening's performance/film didn't get good enough reviews to get major consideration (and I don't think Bening is particularly well thought of by American critics: she's only won 2 awards in her career - National Society for The Grifters and SouthEastern for Being Julia. No, the NBR doesn't count). Mirren represents a great consensus choice as well as a strong individual "number one" choice.

Let's pull up a question you asked a couple years ago

"The current backlash-generated question is: Are critics wrong to have been so unanimous in declaring Sideways, a light angsty middle age buddy comedy, the best film of the year?"

J.J. said...

The Oscar climate is still nine weeks from congealing. This degree of early momentum might ultimately undo Mirren.

Anonymous said...

Re: "How bizarre...for the Academy to award a woman over 40 in the Best Actress catagory...hasn't happened since the Reagan administration."

Not true. There actually have been several (e.g. Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, etc.) since the '80s -- including the late Jessica Tandy, the old biddy who stole Michelle Pfeiffer's Oscar when the first George Bush was in office -- but indeed the last decade has been reserved for the under-40 set.

I too love Helen Mirren, but her total domination of the critics awards thus far reeks of "due" momentum. While her performance was nearly universally acclaimed when 'The Queen' came out months ago, so was Meryl Streep's for 'The Devil Wears Prada,' but I guess she's had her fill, hasn't she?


P.S. Elisabeth Shue or even Meryl Streep deserved the '95 Oscar over Susan Sarandon.

P.P.S. So true, Jennifer Connelly's win for 'A Beautiful Mind' was definitely influenced by her superior work in 'Requiem for a Dream' the year prior.

Why does AMPAS continue the vicious cycle of ignoring many actors' best performances, then finally rewarding them for inferior ones? (Ugh, see all of the above.)

Anonymous said...

Has the actual Queen Elizabeth II commented on the film? If she were to somehow come out publically against the movie or Mirren, that would probably be the only thing to derail her at this point

Anonymous said...

Don't you think that with the golden guy for "Gosford Park", Helen Mirren wouldn't seem so spectacular in "The Queen" /to critics, I mean/?


well that's always the case. momentum means so much for Oscar... which is one of the reasons that it always looks so weird once distance has set in. like "really, that performance won?" --not that Mirren's will be an embarrassment mind you.

just, yes, her past nomination has something to do with the dominance. If Dench and Streep had never won (god forbid in the case of the latter) this would be a vicious battle.

Gilidor said...

This is hilarious! Great work on the animated gif!

Paxton Hernandez said...

Yeah, great animated micro film! Freaking Hilarious!

Now a personal pledge to Nathe. Do NOT make your top ten list so boring. Most of the critics´ lists seem to me like a wishlist FYC list to AMPAS than truly their favorite lists. The Critics' group are on the same boring trail as well. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Most people forget the release calendar actually has 12 months instead of 3.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Nah, it's Mirren's.

Genius gif BTW.


Craig Hickman said...


Wrong post, but here goes:

For Your Consider - Film Bitch Awards

Spike Lee as director of Inside Man, as well as Jodie Foster for supporting actress.

RC said...

thanks for your Talley's-- I love the little video.

brad...maybe MTV will bump up Freedom Writers or something and Swank will win for that - ha...she's doing some horrible movies these days.

Anonymous said...

Okay, now make a similar GIF with Forest Whitaker dominating everyone in his category even though the best actor awards had a much greater chance of being spread out among many (DiCaprio, Gosling, O'Toole, etc...) than actress.

Anonymous said...

Y que tal les sucede a Forest Whitaker y helen Mirren como a Daniel Day-Lewis y Julianne Moore en el 2002. Daniel day-lewis perdio el oscar frente a un "desconocido" (Adrien Brody) y julianne Moore frente a otra estrella renaciente y mas joven (Nicole Kidman), a quien le debian la nominacion por "To die for" y el oscar por "Moulin Rouge" a pesar de todos los premios que se llevaron por la critica. Ahora Whitaker puede perder por 2 potenciales "desconocidos" (Gosling y Cohen) y Mirren frente a otra estrella a quien le deben el Oscar desde hace mucho tiempo y mas joven (Winslet)

Anonymous said...

Mirren's performance is astonishing and, if she wins, she'll deserve it. It screamed instantaneous greatness. But Kate Winslet's turn, which I only saw a week ago, has been gestating in my mind ever since and is growing richer and richer in hindsight.

Dench I haven't seen yet. Cruz is fun and does brilliantly with the material. And don't get me started on Streep's one-note (yes, it is a good one-note) supporting performance. There isn't enough there for me, I'm afraid.

I'm SERIOUSLY getting worried for DiCaprio and his double-dipping. Kidman managed to escape it with an Oscar nom in 2001, Johansson did not in 2003. If his mesmerising Departed turn is not Oscar-nommed, I will lose faith completely.

Craig Hickman said...

You don't need to be a great actress to win an Oscar. But almost without exception you do have to give at least one great performance, and if you're lucky, you'll win for that one.

Charlize Theron did it. Halle Berry did it. Gwyneth Paltrow did it. Julia Roberts did it. Helen Hunt did it. Hilary Swank did it twice. These are not great actresses, but they've all won Oscars.

Still, some of flatout lucky. It will always pain me to say Acacemy Award winner Nicole Kidman. She hasn't been good since "To Die For", and that was simply an entertaining performance. She's just not that good.

adam k. said...

Mirren has many many things going for her. It's the biopic factor along with the "due" factor. And the momentum from the Elizabeth I movie.

And as great and fun as Streep's perf is, it is still a borderline-supporting role in a summer chick flick, and that just doesn't win lots of critics' awards. Too mainstream. Plus she's probably splitting her votes between categories at the critics' awards (she's been runner-up in both categories).

I do think, though, that Streep has the potential to win the oscar. She'll probably win the globe, and then she could EASILY surprise for the SAG, and suddenly we'd have a race on our hands. Perfs everyone has seen do well at SAG. Plus, at this point, Streep might as well have never won. She's lost 9 times in a row now since the last time she won, i.e. more than any other actor in AMPAS history. Will they really wanna make it ten?

I think Streep is the only one with a chance of stopping Mirren. But more likely, Streep will lose and then win next year or the following year (momentum!).

Anonymous said...

If Streep wins an Oscar for The Devil Wears Prada, it will be the worst performance to take Best Actress since Jessica Lange in 1994. And that'd be an unfortunate, ironic turn of events seeing as we're talking about an actress of such a high calibre.

Please, let's not even entertain the thought...

adam k. said...

Oh yeah, and the flash animation is hilarious.

Anonymous said...

I most definitely second that. But you forgot one name, you know, begins with 'Be,' ends with 'yonce,' sometimes confused with 'bouncy.' Performer of our generation? I'm sure she's sitting pretty at 6th position in this race at the moment.

Beau said...

Mirren deseves it. No doubt.
I just wish that it would've been less dominating than it's become. Throw Penelope Cruz a bone, for Pete's sake. Girl gives what I think is the Best Actress performance, (not to diss on Mirren's grand acheivement, but i'm overdosed on performers winning Oscars simply because they take on roles of public figures. Example? Jamie Foxx in 'Ray'.) Winslet is terrific in "Little Children", (and, IMO, "The Holiday", but that's a horse of a different color) but I still believe her best work was in "Eternal Sunshine". Streep was phenomenal, Gyllenhaal was the only reason I'd recommend "Sherrybaby" at all, Kirsten was delightful in "Marie Antoinette" and I've yet to see Dame Dench kick the shit out of Blanchett...
but I'm really looking forward to it.

I must say, however, that while Whitaker did a very nice job, I'm still stunned to see his dominance over the field. DiCaprio surely deserves some credit, O'Toole as well. (Where did his buzz go??) I've yet to see Smith in Happyness (staying away from it for as long as I possibly can)... honestly, the only real performer this year who astounded me that can be considered in this category is Joseph Gordon Levitt in "Brick". Seriously. That's the only perf coming to mind.


The intent of this post was not to say she's undeserving. I would rate her work in The Queen above most recent actress Oscar winners.

But I'm just a little surprised that no association has a differing opinion. It's not like a vote elsewhere would change the outcome of the Oscar race. Critics don't have that much power. Plus they don't owe her like Oscar does ;)

Javier Aldabalde said...

"You're not young. I say this to help you".

"Ahem... I'm winning it all".


Anonymous said...

My question is...will the SAGS give her the win???? Many of them are young (from babies to pre-teens to teens---let's just say that SAG has all different ages of voters) and they might not get the performance...That's another reason why Johnny Depp won for Pirates instead of Penn or Murray, becuase of those younger voters.

And what do you think of Jackie Earle Haley?? I think that he has a chance!

And just one side-note...Mirren was also nommed against Winslet who both lost to Connelly and now three of the 5 performances in lead actress were nommed in the same year...and Winslet played a younger Dench in the year she was nommed against Mirren!

Anonymous said...

Meh. While the SAG do enjoy the bigger hits (Walken over Cooper; McKellan over Broadbent; Depp over Penn/Murray), if the winner is clear and obvious, they go for it (Theron, Hoffman). While Streep will win the Globe (which will be her 6th Globe), does anyone really want her to have a third oscar for this role? It's not as if she's gonna stop working any time soon (she has four films slated for release in 2007) - and the roles she has up ahead are some sensational ones, and it's unlikely that Mirren will ever have another year comparable to this one. If Mirren loses - I'll be very surprised.

Craig Hickman said...

I just saw Devil Wears Prada tonight, and I was not impressed with a single performance in the film, or with the film itself. Any adept drag queen coulda played Streep's role better than she. And Emily Blunt? Yawn.

I don't understand the hype.

adam k. said...

I don't at the moment think Streep will actually win the SAG, but I do think it's possible... unlike say, Winslet, Bening, Cruz, Dench, etc. It's a big hit AND it's Streep. They love them some Streep.

Also, they've been known to do some strange things, like giving Berry her first win since the NBR after Spacek had been steamrolling. And Berry's film had made practically no money. A Streep win there would not be that shocking. But it also wouldn't guarantee an oscar win for her. Not at all.

Anonymous said...

*Oscar often overlooks magnificent performances--particularly in films not produced in the U.S.: Think of the heartbreaking Charlotte Rampling in the Ozon films, Cate Blanchett in the little-seen Heaven, or Maribel Verdu in Y Tu Mama Tambien. Even a filmography like Catherine Deneuve's, Liv Ullman's, or
Jeanne Moreau's won't guarantee an Oscar.

*I would love for P. Cruz to be nominated if it means more people will see an Almodovar movie. But Carmen Maura has never had a date on Oscar night, so it will have to be "star power" in the U.S., whatever that is, that lifts Cruz in award season

*If I had a vote at Oscar time, I'd choose Isabelle Huppert in Gabrielle. Her performance is far better than those of recent Oscar winners (for instance, Roberts, Hunt, Swank 2) and that's not to say those winners weren't deserving.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God! The picture is awesome... so creative. I love it! I just feel bad because Nicole Kidman is not ON this year. But so happy for the British Dames including the future one, Kate.

Anonymous said...

Do you have to portray a real person these days to win any acting award? Sheesh..it's like you get bonus points or something. It's getting so predictable.

Anonymous said...

Don't mean to bash -- everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion...yada, yada, yada -- but oy on Mr. Hickman's:

- Jodie Foster for best supporting actress for 'Inside Man'? (Enjoyed her scenery-chewing but really "best"?)
- Helen Hunt gave a great performance in 'As Good As It Gets'? (Good but seriously "great"?)
- Nicole Kidman hasn't been good since 'To Die For'? (P.S. Guess he hasn't seen 'Birth,' 'The Others,' etc.)
- A drag queen could of played Streep's role in 'The Devil Wears Prada' better than she did? (Not any drag queen I've seen.)
- Emily Blunt in the same film...yawn?! (To each his own, but really "yawn"? She was hardly sleep-walking through it.)

I understand people resond differently to films and performances, but that's just crazy talk. (Geez, and I thought Kris T. had bad taste.)

Big kiss!


Anonymous said...

In The Others, Dogville, Birth, The Hours and Moulin Rouge, Kidman gave the best female performance ever. I also saw Fur and man... she was great but the movie is not the Academy's type. It's kinda weird.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, FUR is Nicole's lowest grossing pic with only 250 K in BO.

Craig Hickman said...


Saw The Others, but not the other one. Kidman was fine in the former. But the children stole the show.

Jodie Foster's performance is to be considered. That was my request.

Yes, Helen Hunt gave a great performance. I like actresses who play "de-glam" roles with that kind of realness. I can't even remember where it came in the film or the scene itself all that much, but Hunt has "scene" where she's so theatrically ordinary I was deeply moved.

I've apparently scene more talented drag queens than you, and a slew of them coulda easily outperformed Streep's one-note cliche.

Blunt may not have been sleepwalking, but she doesn't do anything special. Yawn. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I'm talk sane talk. And I've got great taste.

Thanks for sharing.

Beau said...

Oh no! My intent wasn't to diss her achievement at all, I believe she fully embodied the character and delivered a living, breathing performance unlike anything I've seen in years.

I just wanted to reitorate how frustrating it is for me to see the voters go for some performances simply because the actor is personifying a public figure, whereas those individuals whose achievement in creating a character from scratch go unrecognized because their efforts are seen as being of a lesser merit. I disagree entirely.


saying that a drag queen coulda played Streep's part better is crazy talk -sorry. The great thing about it is that for all it's one liners and imitable quality, it's completely simple. Imagine Glenn Close in the same role (no offense to Glenn but it's just acting style) and you woulda had what a drag queen woulda done with the role: too much.

Meryl Streep is better in Prada than Helen Mirren is in The Queen --that's my story and I'm sticking to it ;)

also. i've noticed that nearly everyone who hates Prada are people coming to it on DVD who missed out on the initial rush of seeing it. That must say something...

i know: backlash.

Yaseen Ali said...

Hysterical! I was giggling like an idiot while watching yesterday. Great usage of movie quotes ("I say this to help you.")

Anonymous said...

Prada is great and Streep is always great. She's the best actress in the history of mankind... everybody knows that.

Oh Jeez! Hunt??? She was good... ok, but not as good as Dame Judi in Mrs. Brown or even Kate in Titanic. They gave her the Oscar that yeat because she was the only American among four British nominees...
This is the truth... "I say this to help" :)

Anonymous said...

anyone who's read the mediocre prada book can see how meryl totally created a complex, interesting character from something that could have been one-note or "drag queen"-like on paper. she was the movie. i know much of this is a a matter of preference, but based on his comments, i gotta question craig's self-professed "great taste".

and kidman has done some amazing work in her career-- i'm okay with her oscar win, even though it wasn't for her best performance. but i mean, c'mon, how rarely does that happen?

anyway, HIL-ARIOUS animated work here, nate, truly

Craig Hickman said...

I say it's sane talk, Nate, even if my typing sucks.

Streep's performance is pure camp. Not my thing.

And I know several drag queens that could've done it better. The drag queens I know would never be too much. That's not their particular appeal.

I don't do backlash. I just call it like I see it.

It's really not that deep.

Craig Hickman said...

I agree, though, your animated gif is priceless.



craig, living in NY I've seen my share of very very talented drag queens so I hear you that they're not all bad actors ;) but better than Streep? yeesh. there's only been a few dozen actors ever who can touch her so


this is like (did not. did too. did not. did too. infinity!)

Craig Hickman said...


IMO, the best drag queens are from the south. The more repressed the culture, the better the drag.

What I find interesting, is that the crux of your post bemoans the fact that no critic groups have expressed a different opinion about who was best actress this year. Yet, I've gone against the grain (or so it appears...though I'd bet there are others who didn't find Streep's performance all that great but refuse to speak up about it...) and voiced a different opinion and you dismiss it as "crazy talk" simply because you don't agree.

Hmmmm. Interesting.

I've seen drag queens who coulda played that role better than Meryl Streep played it. Try as y'all might, no one can refute that because no one has seen the exact same drag queens I've seen in my life. And not every talented actor in the world gets the opportunity to shine in a major motion picture, now does he?

Meryl Streep is a great actress. And even though I'm not a huge fan of her approach to the craft--she's too cerebral for my liking--she's perfected that approach better than just about anybody who's had the opportunities she's had. But that doesn't mean every performance she turns in is alla that and a shoo-in for an Oscar.


And I'm a Sadge, so I can go on with this as long as you like, or until you delete my posts.

I'd say we just agree to disagree. But it would be nice to do so without all the judgment.


craig, i was hoping you'd get that i'm being silly. "crazy talk" is not a judgement. it's just goofing about disagreements.

Craig Hickman said...

nate, I don't know you well enough to get that.

Got it now.

(And you weren't the only one who said it, so I was talking to another as well.)

So, how about that Dreamgirls review?

Anonymous said...

Since when did drags queens become relevant to the Best Actress race? The only "Queen" that counts here is Mirren.

But, Streep was simply fabulous. Emphasis on the "simple". Like the stereotype of drag queens, they are an exaggeration of female sexuality transposed in a male form. Streep was "acting", she had that icy and restrained air, and made her character infinitely memorable. You can say that any comic actress' performance could have been done by a drag queen, because we associate drag queens with ridiculous/comical/exaggerated behaviour. They're not to be taken seriously, and I'm sure those of you who KNOW them will agree that they'll be the first ones to tell you that.

A 17-year old Oscarwatcher.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to toss in "Eragon" for a Best Makeup prediction. If you've seen it, you probably know Durza looks pretty frightening at the end...

Sadly, I can't find any photos to prove my point...:(

Anonymous said...

I can't even BEGIN to emphasize how strongly I disagree with Craig Hickman about Nicole Kidman. Her performances in Birth and Dogville are two of the greatest performances I've ever seen from any actor.

Also, BIG shouts an' hollers to whomever mentioned Charlotte Rampling and Isabelle Huppert. If we're going to throw about "greatest actress in the history of mankind" talk, let's do it up righteous-style. Also: There is NO GREATER OUTRAGE than the fact that after 55 years, I STILL cannot say the words "Academy Award nominee Jeanne Moreau."

Cinesnatch said...

I could be wrong, but I'm gusessing Brad's comment about the Regan administration was either reaching beyond accuracy towards sarcasm or perhaps alluding to the 80's as a time when the young nominees were in their 30's, not in their 20's like they generally are today. And women in their 40's as winners (and nominees) weren't such an odd sight. Maybe, maybe not.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's obvious helen will win. i just love how passionate you all are about movies. i doubt there will ever be a unanimous winner where everyone agrees should win. that would make it boring. the noms that interest me this year are for supporting.that's anyone's race.
(by the way, i'm still P.O.'d Naomi Watts wasn't nominated for Mulholland Drive..the best movie ever!!!)

Beau said...

Ellen Page did end up winning a Best Actress award from Austin for her work in 'Hard Candy'.

just saying, The Queen didn't win it ALL.

ann said...

Just to settle the issue who is better between prada and queen. Well, switch their roles and see how mireen would suck at being the devil boss in prada while streep would equally excell as the queen. That simply shows who the real better actress is. Hence, I think Meryl will or should win the best actress at the Oscars. If she does, I can die in peace. Holy cow, when was the last time meryl won? It's her year now.

ann said...

Let us settle once and for all the issue between who the better actress is between streep and mirren. Here is the solution: just imagine switching their roles and clearly mirren would have sucked at being the devil boss while streep would have equally excelled at being the queen. That is how you know who the real better actor is. I trust that that is how the Oscar voters shape their criteria of who is better.