If I picked the Oscars (it would be ridiculous because I haven’t seen all the movies in any category)

This has been a crazy busy weekend – I’d like to blame the writers’ strike for our rushed preparation for this year’s Oscar party but I think this happens every year. A few people have asked how we did seeing the nominated films this year –

Shaun and I usually make a pointed effort to see all of the films in one major category (for what it’s worth, this category hardly ever ends up being Best Picture. It’s usually an acting category, sometimes directing, and one year was even cinematography). We didn’t have time to do that this year, an experiment that proves that that kind of deliberate plan is necessary. Because I don’t think we’ve seen all of the nominees in any category.

(ETA: it’s confirmed, we haven’t)

ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett
Julie Christie
Marion Cotillard
Laura Linney
Ellen Page

Easily our worst showing of the major categories — 2/5. Which isn’t unusual – the Academy usually has to dip into movies with very limited releases to get their five nominees for lead actress – and Tucker Carlson still says there is no patriarchy anymore.

I didn’t like the first Elizabeth movie very much (though Blanchett’s performance in it, I did like) so we weren’t going to see this one which didn’t get the good reviews. La Vie en Rose opened when there were a lot of things in the theaters we needed to see. And the Julie Christie movie didn’t get a wide release, even though she’s clearly going to win the Oscar.

The two I did see were worthy nominees. I appreciated the Linney nomination, because it seemed obvious to me that despite the “sibling story” wrapping, The Savages was clearly about her. And Ellen Page honestly carries Juno on her shoulders. A different actress in that role, and that movie could have gone from entertaining all the way to unwatchable.

ACTOR
George Clooney
Daniel Day-Lewis
Johnny Depp
Tommy Lee Jones
Viggo Mortensen

3/5 — I’m not sure we had much of a chance to see the other two yet. If those movies played down here in the Valley, I don’t think it was for long. Of the other three, they were all great, but I think DDL is a pretty obvious choice. He’s in almost every scene of an old-school epic-style story and his narrative counterpoints are written to be overwhelmed by him. Not to mention, he might not make another movie for five years so you have to grab your chance to give him awards.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett
Ruby Dee
Saoirse Ronan
Amy Ryan
Tilda Swinton

4/5 here. I don’t know when we’re going to get around to seeing Atonement. I haven’t read the book yet, which has been one hesitation. Ruby Dee won the SAG, but everything else has gone to Ryan or Blanchett and I think this award has to go to one of them. I did love Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton, though, really loved her.

I honestly have a hard time choosing between Ryan and Blanchett. These were two really brave performances, for different reasons. Ryan was brave enough to play an unlikable character with unflinching honesty. Nothing in her performance tried to make us like this woman – and that honesty in the end makes her sympathetic in a way she never would have been if Ryan had hedged her performance. Blanchett is astonishing as the one Dylan most of us are most familiar with. I would imagine that many in attendance Oscar night will be thinking that they would have never even taken that role. I was mesmerized by her, and would easily throw down my non-existent vote for her — except she’s already won an Oscar for being brave enough to play an icon and hitting the performance out of the park. Yeah, I still don’t know which way I’m leaning in this category.

SUPPORTING ACTOR
Casey Affleck
Javier Bardem
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Hal Holbrook
Tom Wilkinson

4/5 again. Philip Seymour Hoffman was my favorite thing about Charlie Wilson’s War. And Tom Wilkinson was great as usual. But neither of these performances holds up to the ones from the Westerns in my eyes. I loved Javier Bardem’s performance in No Country a LOT. But for me this category is all Casey Affleck. Luckily, I had already seen Gone Baby Gone at this point, so I didn’t spend half of this movie saying “where is this coming from?” I mean really, before this I pretty much only knew him from the Oceans’ movies and while he’s totally hilarious in those – I had no idea he had this in him. But this is really the lead role in a very good movie and he nailed it; it’d be hard for any other supporting role to match up to it.

DIRECTOR
Julian Schnabel
Jason Reitman
Tony Gilroy
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Paul Thomas Anderson

4/5. The subject matter of Diving Bell kind of freaks me out. Shaun would have seen this by now if it was just up to him. Of the others, I think I have to go with the Coens for this one. I really liked Juno and Michael Clayton both, but for me this comes down to the two western stories. Paul Thomas Anderson put together a mid-century type movie epic, and did so brilliantly. But I can’t separate this movie from it’s central performance to see the whole as well as i can with the Coens’ film. I can see so much of them in the film, and at the same time see the actors, the source material and more in it.

PICTURE
Atonement
Juno
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood

4/5. Basically, I feel the same way about this category as I do about Director. I’d probably vote for No Country if I could, but if There Will be Blood goes on a tear, I won’t lose any sleep over it.

We tried a new invite service for the party this year, so I’ve been stressed that some emails might not have copied over. If you’re in cosmopolitan Monmouth next Sunday – welcome!

One thought on “If I picked the Oscars (it would be ridiculous because I haven’t seen all the movies in any category)

  1. I’m not sure I’m going to do a pre-Oscars post. In fact, I’m pretty sure I won’t. Partly, this is a function of time and other priorities, but also I’m just not moved to write. For starters, the best film we saw during the Oscar year – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford – isn’t nominated for much, but of the films that do have a chance at a big night, none would make me feel particularly enraged. Juno would be the minor exception here, but not only do I think that it won’t rule the evening, it’s a more interesting than usual self-consciously “Indie” movie, and it wouldn’t be a total travesty if it picked up one or two of the bigger awards for which it is nominated.

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