1/22/2008

2008 Oscar Nominations

Yes, it's that time of year again, when talking heads the world over prognosticate and erudiate their choices for the best movies and actors of the past year, like so many bloviating blowhards who think their opinions actually matter. Much like the upcoming presidential election, the coming weeks will be filled with discussion and debate, and while I usually like to think of myself as above the usual fray of Hollywood gossip, Oscar time is something else entirely.

And so, without further ado, here are the nominees in the major catagories (film, actors, writers, directors), along with some pointless commentary. My picks are in bold. (For a complete list of this year's nominees, click here.)

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

From the moment I walked out of the theatre on Thanksgiving, No Country for Old Men has been my favorite movie of the year, and while I saw a lot of really amazing movies in 2007, Michael Clayton and Juno among them, nothing quite topped the Coen Brothers' film. Of course, I still have to see Atonement and There Will Be Blood, which hasn't opened here yet, so I reserve my right to change my mind. But I don't think I will.


Best Actor
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

Clooney may be the safe choice amidst such an amazing array of talent, but I do think his performance in Michael Clayton was the best of his career to date. Viggo was extremely impressive, too, in Eastern Promises, and like I said above, I haven't seen There Will Be Blood yet, and I've heard great things about Day-Lewis in that movie. So, again, I reserve the right to change my mind.


Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno

Juno ran a very close second to No Country for Old Men for my favorite movie of 2007 and Ellen Page was a big reason why. She was so funny and endearing as the title character that even if I had seen any of the other films from which actresses were nominated, Page would still top my list.


Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Both Hoffman and Wilkinson were wonderful in their respective roles, but Javier Bardem was such a monstrous force of nature in No Country for Old Men, I can't imagine anyone else winning.


Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

Amy Ryan took what could have been a cartoonish, stereotypical character, the alcoholic, drug abusing, neglectful mother, and turned her into a real person, someone with whom we could identify and understand, and ultimately care about.


Best Director
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Jason Reitman, Juno
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood

Best movie of the year generally, though not always, equals best director of the year. This is one of the years in which it most certainly does.


Best Adapted Screenplay
Christopher Hampton, Atonement
Sarah Polley, Away from Her
Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood

I've always thought it was difficult to have a best movie without also having the best screenplay to work from.


Best Original Screenplay
Diablo Cody, Juno
Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava & Jim Capobianco, Ratatouille
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages

I cannot express how extremely heartened I am to see Ratatouille, an animated film, on this list. As comics are more and more garnering respect as a true art form, so too are animated films, which I one day hope to see included in the discussion of best picture instead of being lumped into a separate category. That being said, Diablo Cody has such a strong and unique voice. She took her first screenplay and really knocked it out of the ballpark.


Best Animated Feature Film
Persepolis
Ratatouille
Surf's Up

Persepolis has not come to Omaha yet, so I haven't had a chance to see it, and while my head might lean toward it, due to its graphic novel roots, Brad Bird's Ratatouille is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen, and probably one of my new favorite films. It's full of such wonderfully imaginative characters, and you can really feel the sheer, absolute joy the filmmakers must have felt while creating it. Ratatouille is easily one of the best movies of 2007 (and it would have made my list of best movies of the year had I actually seen it in the theatre last year, instead of having bought and watched the DVD only a few weeks ago).

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