Friday, March 03, 2006

REV: Some Oscar Notes

I guess it’s time to talk Oscars. Normally i would have done this in a huge post after having most if not all of the nominees. But, i live in podunk texas, and none of the best flick nominees came here. so, my plan would be to run around to San Antonio or Austin at the turn of the calendar catching up. well, the regular reader here will know that my first couple of months of ’06 were so mangled that my year started in March, and thus i didn’t see a single best pic nominee until this week when i picked up Crash on dvd.

Oh well. I can say this: Crash was a superb piece of work, if occasionally operating on the edge of seemingly ridiculous coincidence/deus ex machina. I would not be embarrassed for it to win the Oscar. I still intend to see the other nominees, and am especially eager to see and analyze the fuss over all four of the other nominees – but think, based on reviews and buzz, that wins in any of the categories for Munich, Brokeback Mountain, and/or Capote would send some serious messages to the world about how we view and treat humanity – which is why Crash also represents an excellent nomination despite its providing no satisfying answers.

In the best actor and best actress nominations, i’d have to say that i feel Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Heath Ledger both overdue. Weighted by his rep as a one-time teen-heartthrob, and handicapped somewhat by occasional script-choice misfires, Ledger has demonstrated some seriously nuanced acting chops over time. I’m impressed by his early 10 Thing I Hate About You perf, and his turns in Monster’s Ball and Lords of Dogtown. Those roles were undoubtedly overlooked because of the nature of the films. 10 Things misfired on several counts, Monster’s Ball was about some other folks, and Lords of Dogtown was simply not taken as seriously as it should – it was a fine film. So, in the Academy tradition of catching up too late, and based on media buzz about his Brokeback performance i’d have to pull for Ledger. But i’m expecting Hoffman to win. Then there’s Terence Howard, who not only was brilliant in Hustle & Flow (another overlooked film), but was superb in Crash. I’d stand up and cheer if he wins.

Of all the nominees, the only other one i’ve seen in the nominated film is Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line. First, Walk the Line was an excellent film. I thought it was superb. My only issue with the movie was that Phoenix was not convincing to me as Johnny Cash – at least not in the way that i bought into Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles (in a significantly lesser vehicle). Now the shame of it is that it was a Cash bio, because Phoenix gave a fantastic performance as a songwriter and troubled being. But of course, if it wasn’t a Cash bio, and didn’t have all those Cash songs, would anyone have gone to see it. So, Phoenix would have my vote for a top performance in a fine movie, but not as Cash.

My best actress vote has to go to Reese Witherspoon in a wholly convincing performance in Walk the Line. Period. I enjoyed Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice, but i’m not sure the character lived up to the performance. Charlize Theron, Felicity Huffman and Judi Dench could all earn my vote based on their body of work, but i did not see any of the nominated performances.

For best supporting actor, Matt Dillon is the only one i saw, and he shone in Crash, but once again there are four others with a body of work, and a lot of buzz.

And i saw none of the films with a supporting actress nominee.

I feel so in the dark this year compared to recent years.

Here’s some shots in the dark, based on my meager experience and opinion mixed with some gut feeling and a dash of buzz:

Best Picture: Brokeback Mountain
Best Actor: Phillip Seymour Hoffman
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon
Best Supporting Actor: William Hurt
Best Supporting Actress: Michelle Williams
Animated Feature: Wallace & Grommit
Cinematography: Brokeback Mountain
Costuming: Memoirs of a Geisha
Directing: Ang Lee
Documentary: tossup -- Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room or Murderball
Original Song: Hustle & Flow
Visual Effects: King Kong
Adapted Screenplay: Brokeback Mountain
Original Screenplay: Crash

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