So the nominations came in yesterday for the 80th Academy Awards. There were some definite surprises as far as I was concerned, like Juno nominated for Best Picture and several other awards including Best Direction. I really enjoyed the film, but wasn't expecting this degree of adoration.
I thought there was a disappointing lack of nominations for Into the Wild beyond a richly deserved nod for Hal Holbrook in the Best Supporting Actor category. Iâm very glad to see two of my favorite actresses in films this year, Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose and Julie Christie in the wonderful Away from Her, nominated for Best Actress awards. The ceremony will take place Sunday, Feb. 24. Awards junkies who get all hot and bothered debating what will, should and should not win can get their geek on and take an IMAGE class on the Academy Awards with Executive Director Gabe Wardell and festival director Dan Krovich Saturdays through Feb. 23.
I am going to prematurely prognosticate and list what I want to win in the big categories. I do this with full knowledge I will be sorely disappointed.
Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood is phenomenal, both tragic and vile. I will go out on a limb and say he WILL win, though I am very happy that Viggo Mortensen's fine turn as a Russian wise guy in Cronenbergâs Eastern Promises was acknowledged. Girls and gay men around the world let out a collective sigh when the tattooed Mortensen escaped mortal injury after that grueling, strangely erotic sauna scene in Eastern Promises.
Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild is my sentimental favorite, though I also loved Philip Seymour Hoffman in the otherwise bubble gum Charlie Wilsonâs War, who delivered all of his lines as wonderfully breathless asides. He was an utterly charming academic mess in The Savages, and if the opening, oh. my. god. coitus in Before the Devil Knows Youâre Dead didnât convince you this was The Year of Hoffman, I donât know what would.
Tough. I loved both Julie Christie in Away from Her and Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose. Both actresses handled old age with skill and aplomb, one for real and one just pretend. I am not going to choose because I love them both.
I have often been mystified by those who have proclaimed Cate Blanchett the thespian second coming. But I thought she perfectly captured the androgynous shock of the new that was early Bob Dylan in the otherwise disappointing Iâm Not There. I am a big Tilda Swinton fan and loved the way she laid out a flat woman on the bed and practiced her game face to prepare for corporate battle in Michael Clayton. I was otherwise irritated with the white-collar harridan she played, a definite low in film representations of women this year.
If Paul Thomas Anderson isnât cradling something golden and naked in his arms come Feb. 24, I am going to weep.
There are still a few, like Operation Homecoming and Taxi to the Dark Side (opening Feb. 8 in Atlanta), I havenât seen yet. But of what Iâve seen, War/Dance, which opens Friday, Jan. 25, at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, is notable for fascinating subject matter, about how dance and music transform the lives of war-damaged Ugandan children in Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fineâs War/Dance.
There Will Be Blood. I still get chills when I think about it.
At only 29, Sarah Polley did a superb job at both adapting Alice Munroâs short story and directing Away from Her. I hope this will not be Polleyâs last turn as director.
Despite rumors of a Diablo Cody backlash, I still applaud her combination of acid, pop-culture-infused wit, righteous female characters and surprising shows of tenderness in Juno. I think, though, that I have to go with Lars and the Real Girl by Nancy Oliver â also tender, also funny, but so delicately done. Lars was a far more difficult notion â a boy/man who loves a sex doll â to pull off, and Oliverâs script made it happen. Can I just say how pleased I am that three women, Cody, Oliver and Tamara Jenkins (The Savages) are nominated? All crafted really vivid characters of both genders and tapped into something real about growing up today.