The Patch

January 26, 2007

Friday 26th January

Filed under: Music & Film — Free Edinburgh Podcast @ 3:30 am

Oscar Preview Special.  Woo hoo! 

After weeks of ‘umming’ and ‘aahing’ and ‘maybeing’, the nominations for the most important and well regarded film awards of them all are out as anticatiopn for the 79th American Academy Awards hots up. Now I’m sure you’re all running about in a wild state of excitement now, clutching pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio, Helen Mirren and Bill Corso to your chest, proudly proclaiming them to be the greatest in their respective categories, but who else is up for contention, and, more to the point, what are their chances. For the love of God, what are their chances!?!?!?!?

 Commencing with the ‘Rick Wakeman’ of awards categories that is Best Film, the chosen five are:

The Queen

Babel

The Departed

Letters From Iwo Jima

Little Miss Sunshine

Husband and wife team, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris are newcomers to the film directing game and will be pleased to follow up their Golden Globe nomination for their charming take on family life that is Little Miss Sunshine, with a chance to win the big one. I adored this film, finding it to be heart warmingly amusing, yet with a depth to it that perfectly portrayed the hardships of making a little girl’s dream come true. And what a spectacular ending. My tip for the win for sure.

The others are commendable efforts of course. The concluding part of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu’s ‘death trilogy’ (with Amores Perros and 21 Grams preceeding it) Babel has already won the Golden Globe for best drama, and has had its fair share of critical acclaim. A likely contender.

As will be Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. A stellar cast, including Jack Nicholson and Leonardo Di Caprio bolster William Monahan’s adapted script, which partnered with Scorsese’s masterful direction to wondrous effect.

The inclusion of such relatively unknown films as The Queen and Letters From Iwo Jima may have raised a few eyebrows, the latter especially due to its focus on the Japanese side of World War II and use of the Japanese language. However, director, Clint Eastwood appears to have pleased many a critic with this complimentary work to the American focused Flags of our Fathers. Those singing its praises include A. O. Scott of the New York Times who described it as “close to perfect”. Dhalsim Smith from Bath also interjected with an, as yet unwelcome, spontaneous wailing of ‘It’s one of the seven greatest movies ever!!!”. No-one knows why.

Some notable exceptions include the highly regarded Children of Men, with its apocalytic take on the world maybe a bit too much for the Oscar panel.  My personal favourite film of the year Casino Royale was also left out of the running, though it was always unlikely for a Bond film to be up for such an honour.  Pan’s Labyrinth has also been universally loved by everyone I know who has seen it, and every critic who has reviewed, but there’s no place in this year’s list for the dark fairytale.

 

Onto the ‘Rick Parfitt’ of awards that is Best Actor then:

Leonardo DiCaprioBlood Diamond

Ryan Gosling Half Nelson

Peter O’TooleVenus

Will SmithThe Pursuit of Happyness

Forest Whitaker The Last King of Scotland

Will Smith and Leonardo are both handsome faces who tend to pull in the big audiences, and will find it hard to be taken as serious contenders. However, DiCaprio has impressed with his last few serious roles, and Smith was outstanding in Ali, so they do seem to be on course for gaining that respect in a few years time. But not this year. And it’s HappIness. Tossers.

Well regarded mormon Ryan Gosling has already won the Best Kiss award at the MTV Movie Awards, though its doubtful he’ll add a statuette of a blad man to that collection. Sadly the same could well be said of Peter O’Toole, for whom this is his 8th Best Actor nomination. He famously nearly turned down an honorary award, with his aim to win one for his performance, but in what may well be his last chance at such an honour, it’s Forest Whitaker looking set to win.

The Golden Globe has already gone to Whitaker, and little I’ve witnessed has done anything to convince me that he won’t repeat that success here. Such a powerful and believable performance has made the result an almost certainty

 

Joan Collins once described the Best Actress award as the ‘Rik Waller’ of awards. Who are we to see otherwise?

Penelope Cruz Volver

Judi DenchNotes on a Scandal

Helen MirrenThe Queen

Meryl Streep The Devil Wears Prada

Kate WinsletLittle Children

Three times ‘razzie’ nominee Penelope Cruz has finally got herself a nomination for their more prestigious cousins, though up against very stiff competition, it’s hard to see her coming away with the prize.

Helen Mirren leads a very strong British contingent in the category, and would appear to be the prime suspect (get it? HA HA HA HA HA!!!) to walk away with a grin on her still rather wholesome face. Her dignified performance has already seen her win top acting awards at the Cannes film festival and the Golden Globes so don’t be surprised if she adds to that tally.

Not that the others did not give commendable performances. Judi Dench is a national icon and has yet to give a less than captivating performance in anything she does, and I am quite a big fan of the lovely Kate Winslet.

I did not see The Devil Wears Prada yet every positive comment I’ve heard about it had been solely Meryl Streep’s performance, and I have no reason to assume it was anything other than brilliant. But this is Helen’s year.

 

When you think of Best Supporting Actor, one can only think of ‘Rick Moranis’, and his lovably goofy features:

Alan ArkinLittle Miss Sunshine

Jackie Earle HaileyLittle Children

Djimon HounsouBlood Diamond

Eddie Murphy Dream Girls

Mark Wahlberg The Departed

My personal favourite for this category – the brilliant Steve Carell – was sadly not chosen as part of the final five, however, his co-star in the excellent Little Miss Sunshine, Alan Arkin, has found his way into the hearts of the panel, even if he was dead for most of the film. And in a mixed bag of talent and experience, he has as good a chance as anyone to win.

The Golden Globe found it’s way to Murphy, and he has been nominated for this award before, playing a donkey, so some may favour him. His amusing past may however count against him in terms of the integrity and respect needed to obtain an Oscar. Mark Wahlberg may face similar problems, overcoming people’s perceptions of him as a rapper extraordinaire.

One time Murder, She Wrote guest star, Jackie Earle Hailey and Russel Crowe’s former tiger punching buddy Djimon Hounsou are the least well known of the nominees, though should still have as good a chance as the competition to book their place in film history.

 

Women shave their legs and underarms, and end up going through the menopause, thus it’s no surprise that that the Best Supporting Actress award is often known as the ‘Rick Allen’ of awards:

Adriana BarrazaBabel

Cate BlanchettNotes on a Scandal

Abigail BreslinLittle Miss Sunshine

Jennifer Hudson Dream Girls

Rinko Kikuchi – (Ba Ba Ba, Ba Ba) Babel

Babel sees two of its lucky stars up for awards in this category, though they’re both up against their fellow star of the highly praised film in the form of Cate Blanchett, nominated for her role in the rather less well known Notes on a Scandal. This is Barraza’s second Inarritu film having previously been in Amores Perros, but this is the first one that has seen her gain international recognition and even if she doesn’t win, her stock in Hollywood will have risen greatly thanks to the nomination. Similarly for Kikuchi, with her role as a promiscuous, deaf Japanese girl her breakthrough into the big time.

Indeed, Cate Blanchett is the only actress of the nominees with great experience at this level, as both Abigail Breslin and Jennifer Hudson have found their big breaks in their respective roles. Her past as a cruise ship entertainer must seem like a lifetime away for Hudson, though her stint as a finalist on American Idol will have prepared for the big lights and crowds that Oscar fame will bring.

Child star Breslin faces a different prospect however. At 10 years and 11 months she’s the 4th youngest actress ever to be nominate for an award at the Oscars, and given the charm in which she executed her role, there’s not reason why she can’t get her career off to a flyer. Of course, she’ll then spiral into teenage years filled with drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex and Courteney Love, but at least she’ll have a good time. Bless her.

 

And onto what’s universally known as the ‘Rick Dangerous’ of awards that is Best Director:

Clint EastwoodLetters from Iwo Jima

Stephen Frears The Queen

Paul GreengrassUnited 93

Alejandro Gonzalez InarrituBabel

Martin ScorseseThe Departed

Go on. Just give it to Scorsese. You know you want to. The Academy were foolish enough to let the likes of Fellini, Altman, Hitchcock, Kubrick and Welles pass on without rewarding them for their directorial work, and Scorsese is just as legendary as those esteemed figures of the movie world. Though competition is stiff, Scorsese’s ideas are driven by a great passion for film and controlled with a great knowledge of the art, perfectly conveying any story he tells in an intelligent, meaningful manner.

Two times winner, Eastwood, is probably Scorsese’s biggest competition in the field, with his work holding an undoubtedly high sytlistic quality. A smaller, more personal venture as Letters for Iwo Jima may also be favoured upon.

Though only with three feature films under his belt, Inarritu has seen himself win the Best Director Prize at Cannes Film Festival and should certainly not be discounted from the running for its glitzier American cousin.

Paul Greengrass and Stephen Frears keep up the strong British contingent at these awards. Both have worked their way up to Hollywood’s elite from humble beginnings in independent British cinema. Greengrass’ early work tackled similar gritty subjects, based on real events such as Bloody Sunday and The Murder of Stephen Lawrence. Such dramatic incidents to focus on will surely help his integrity and chances of winning, and such accolades as ‘Best Director’ of the year from both Total Film and the National Society of Film Critics suggest he, like all the others are in with an excellent chance.

Frears may be the least fancied nominee, but his work is still well-respected. From My Beautiful Launderette to High Fidelity, he has focused on turning realistic situations into fantastic pieces of drama that relate to every viewer. However, it’s doubtful that this will be his year.

 

There are plenty of other awards of course, but it’s probably best not to pretend that either you or I care about who wins best make up or whatever now, isn’t it? Even Click is up for an award, and I’d rather not discuss that. Dream Girls is naturally up for the music ones, so expect that to win big there. But it’s the big six that most care about, and with such a talented array of actors and directors on display, and some excellent, thought provoking films to choose between, this Oscar night looks like it will be a dazzling spectacle. Each nominee is well deserving of their place in Hollywood history and it’s of no doubt that each winner will have earned their success.

 

Phew.  And you’d better make use of those links.  It’s taken nearly two hours to put them all up.  Because this week’s look at movies as been rather lenghty, part two of my Greatest British Band of all time feature thing shall be up next week.  Next week should also hopefully see a look at one of the greatest films of all time that is Hercules In New York, and we’ll find out why it has a special place in my heart.  Oh, and Hired Guns as well.  I shall leave you with this weeks…

 

Record of the Week

Ramming it’s way into my ears and heart this week at a startling pace is the distorted alt-rockathon that is Everyone Choose Sides by the spacking fantastic Wrens. From their much delayed, much adored (by me) album The Meadowlands, this is just one of the many songs that was worth that near ten year wait to hear. As funked up as a pop song could be before it’s unlistenable, this catches that perfect moment when art is at its most reckless before it becomes a wreck. An unfathomable joy to hear, with lyrics and vocals full of a passionate aggression and venom.  A song to numb the mind.

 

 

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2 Comments »

  1. Little Miss Sunshine! Little Miss Sunshine!!! BEST movie ever. oh man. that’s all i have to say.

    Comment by Amie — January 26, 2007 @ 5:31 am | Reply

  2. Ditto Amie, God I love that film! It better win something or I will not be impressed. Almost as unimpressed as when Crash won last year. ANY of those films but Crash. No, I am still not over it beating Brokeback Mountain. But I digress…

    Wasn’t Pan’s Labyrinth nominated for best foreign language film instead of ‘best film’??

    Comment by amyfeldman — January 26, 2007 @ 11:18 am | Reply


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