Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Academy and What I Say (Because it Matters)

So I thought I'd share with you my reflections on some of the Oscar nominations. I'll let you know who's nominated, (or at least) who I want to win and who I think will win. I may also offer some justification, or force you to take my word as truth on its own, with no reasoning. That's how the internet works, anyway.

Best Picture:
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Who I want to win:

Who will win:
No Country for Old Men

Two of this year's nominees have really long titles. That doesn't matter, I just thought I'd point it out. It is a little odd. So, this year's batch has some fine films, to be sure.
Michael Clayton was pretty impressive, with a narrative style growing in popularity. It was an important, moving, complex film. Even so, it was accessible and interesting. I liked it, but it didn't resonate with me like others on the list did.
No Country for Old Men
was remarkable, with vibrant characters, disturbingly precise shooting (film, that is. Not guns.), and a style pushing the envelope. The acting was also top-notch; after all, Tommy Lee Jones. The Coen Brothers should be proud.
Even so, my pick for the year is Juno. A movie like this only comes along once in a very great while. Few screenplays are sa imaginative, poignant, clever, thought-provoking and just plain good. It's funny, but not flippant. It's powerful, but not overbearing. It's delightful, but not condescending. It's everything we miss about movies from years gone by, with the edge we need in modern cinema. It also has an outstanding soundtrack, emotionally grabbing you and augmenting the overall experience. Also of note, the acting is so well-done. Ellen Page is flawless in her titular role. You cannot tell where she ends and Juno begins. You fall in love with the character, the movie, you believe in love after seeing all sorts of love gone wrong. It's intelligent. It's good. It's important. Thanks, guys.

Seeing as how I've only seen two of the Best Actor noms, I'll only share thoughts on those two.

George Clooney is up for Michael Clayton. Viggo Mortensen for Eastern Promises. Now, George did a great job, and, out of the two, I think it's the more "Oscar friendly" role. I watched that movie and, well, honestly I was thinking about how great that scowl would have been when he was Batman. I give an audible sigh.
That said, I'd love to see Mr. Mortensen win. Eastern Promises was a terrific movie, and Viggo played his part with such precision. Also, he had the (forgive me) balls to do a whole fight scene nude. "I'm a driver. I go left, I go right, I go straight. I know nothing." He's just too damn cool.

For Actress, I want Ellen Page to win. I detailed earlier her work as Juno, and why it was so splendid. As for who will actually win, I cannot even begin to speculate.

The Academy and I should both pick Javier Bardem for his work in No Country for Old Men. He invested himself entirely into the role. He made a character who is pure evil, yet human in his depravity. He was vivid and believable, yet beyond the realm of human emotion. Bardem did such a great job just making you feel what the Coens wanted you to feel. I think he'll get it, and he did so very well.

Original Screenplay and Best Director are just the Best Picture category. Best adapted, though, should be (I think will be) No Country. Come on. Just accept it.

For animated, I want Persepolis to get it, as the graphic novel is a masterpiece of coming-of-age literature. It captures the humanity of a people oppressed, given from the point of view of a child who doesn't understand. It's this naive nature that makes so clear the ridiculous nature of hatred and war.
Ratatouille will win. It's American.

That's all I really care to write about. Not that cinematography, for instance, doesn't matter to me, but those categories generally get mopped up by the winners of the big ones. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this look at the awards, and that your favorites win.

Take care.