Friday, January 23, 2009

Oscar Nominations Are In

...and "The Dark Knight" fans are hopping MAD...Lots of nods, including one for Heath Ledger, but none for Picture or Director. (Full list of nominations here.)

While I'm a bit surprised, I can't say I'm at all disappointed, let alone outraged. I know I'm in the tiny, tiny minority that dares to say this, but peeps, "The Dark Knight" just wasn't all that good. (I've given my reasons why, and I stand by them.) The amount of passionate adoration that movie elicits - IMO out of all proportion to its merits - beats anything I've seen since, well, "Titanic," though "Slumdog Millionaire" is giving it a real run for its money.

I'm already seeing the usual media and internet chatter about the Academy being culturally irrelevant and hopelessly out of touch with the times and moviegoer tastes. Also many dire predictions (which may well be accurate) of record-low TV ratings for this year's ceremony. To all of which I say: So be it. I'm certainly not one to praise Hollywood for artistic integrity, but I respect the fact that the Oscars represent their one attempt to honor filmmaking merit beyond commercial appeal. Even if they do so often get it wrong.

And at first glance, I don't think they got it too terribly wrong this time. While I haven't seen "The Reader," I think the rest of the Best Picture nominees constitute a perfectly respectable lineup for a weak year in movies. "Rachel Getting Married" should have been there, but I knew that wasn't going to happen. As it is, I'll be rooting for "Milk" - by far the strongest film among the four contenders I've seen - though there's no way it will prevail over "Slumdog."

As for the other awards, a few random observations:

-Very glad to see Frank Langella get the Best Actor nod for "Frost/Nixon" (though he really deserved it last year for his beautiful performance in the little-seen "Starting Out in the Evening"). However, unless I'm much mistaken, Best Actor this year is going to be a two-man race between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke. Both of whom were superb in their films, so I'd be fine with either of them winning.

-Brad Pitt, though? He was serviceable, and nothing more, in "Benjamin Button." WTF, Academy?

-Kate Winslet will win Best Actress. Finally. And Ricky Gervais will demand a commission.

-In the bag: Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor. The other guys don't even need to show up.

-Rosemarie Dewitt ("Rachel Getting Married") was robbed for Best Supporting Actress. She definitely deserved it more than Amy Adams, and I love Amy Adams. "Rachel Getting Married" generally deserved a lot more Oscar love than it got.

-Hurrah for "Encounters at the End of the World" getting a Best Documentary nomination!

For more astute analysis of the nominations, check out the always-reliable Film Experience. Several spirited discussions going on there that miraculously haven't been hijacked by the pro-Batman militia.

That's all for now...tune in closer to February 22 for my final predictions!


Blogger EC said...

I loved Frank Langella's performance in "Starting Out in the Evening" too, but his Nixon lacked a certain mean-spiritedness that matched the real Nixon (and even though, I connect Nixon will "mean-spiritness," I actually liked him as a President, except for that whole Watergate thing.

For best actor, I'm rooting for Penn, though, I still need to see "The Wrestler".

2:59 AM  
Blogger lylee said...

I know what you mean. He was almost too charming - sexy, even - to make me really believe he was Nixon. (Though I have a friend who actually thinks Nixon was sexy.)

I'm rooting for Penn, too, though like I said, I wouldn't be sorry to see Rourke win, either.

Off-topic, I enjoyed your Sundance recaps!

4:21 AM  
Blogger EC said...

Funny, I think I have an inkling of the identity of the friend mentioned in the first paragraph of your comment.

12:51 PM  
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