The Academy Awards nominations have been announced. I’m gonna read the nominations and type out my thoughts, category by category. This should be fun. Then I’ll nose around the internet and see what people are saying about snubs. The devastation and horror about snubbing is the most fun part of Oscar nominations. Unless you happen to be the one feeling it….
Actor in a Leading Role seems fair; no real surprises. Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon, Sean Penn for Milk, Brad Pitt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler were all givens. I’m pleasantly surprised to see the fifth name, Richard Jenkins for The Visitor. However, if you’re going to include wonderful, understated performances, then where’s Dev Patel for Slumdog Millionaire? He did a great job and deserves a nomination, so I’ll call that a snub.
Actor in a Supporting Role will go to Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), but thanks for coming out Josh Brolin (Milk), Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt), and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road). And you know what? Ledger deserves it. This is not a posthumous honouring of someone simply because they’re dead. He legitimately gave what many believe is one of the greatest performances ever captured on film. The Dark Knight overall doesn’t deserve a best picture nod (I’m not there yet!), but his performance certainly deserves best actor. Revolutionary Road got a supporting actor nom, but not leading actor for Leonardo DiCaprio. Hmmm…Kate?
Actress in a Leading Role. Kate Winslet did get nominated (yay!), but for The Reader. It should have been Revolutionary Road. Did you see that performance? It may have been overwrought, but it was still gut-destroying. It’s what’s known as a tour de force. Maybe Ricky Gervais was right when his Extras script made Kate Winslet (playing herself) earnestly admit that the only way to get an Oscar is to do a Holocaust movie. Okay, who else? We’ve got Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), Angelina Jolie (The Changeling), Meryl Streep (Doubt), and Melissa Leo (Frozen River). I haven’t seen Frozen River yet, but I really want to. I think this is a very interesting category. No Sally Hawkins? Maybe she’s in “supporting”—I really don’t know how they decide these things. Given that Kate Winslet has been nominated for the wrong movie (and maybe the wrong category—should it be supporting?), I’d say this one will go to Meryl Streep. Can’t argue with the Streep.
Actress in a Supporting Role. And the nominees are: Amy Adams (Doubt), Penélope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Viola Davis (Doubt), Taraju P. Henson (Benjamin Button), and Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler). Where the freakin-ass-hell is Sally Hawkins for Happy Go-Lucky!?!?! Holy crap in a hat! That’s highway robbery. Snubbery McSnubby Snub. (See, isn’t the horrified outrage fun?) Seriously, come on! Happy Go-Lucky is one of the strangest, quirkiest films I’ve seen. It’s hard to describe, which is why it doesn’t sound appealing right now. While I was watching it I was completely irritated by the character, but it is one of the few movies I’ve seen this year that has actually stuck with me (Wall-E and Slumdog are the others). I find myself thinking about that character all the time, and I like her very much now. It was an amazing tightrope performance by Sally Hawkins. She added so many layers, and so much depth and complexity to a seemingly superficial role. She was robbed.
Sigh. Okay, now that I’ve got that over with, on to the actual nominees. I gotta be honest here—I haven’t seen Button or The Wrestler yet. I think Viola Davis was amazing in Doubt, but she really only had one scene. (Not that it’s unheard of to give this award to someone with a tiny bit of screen time.) Amy Adams was also good. Penélope Cruz was the very best thing about Vicky Cristina Barcelona. I loved her performance, but I hope the film doesn’t get a best picture nom. Without Kate Winslet (or Sally Hawkins!!!) in this category, it could really go to anyone.
Animated Feature is a lock for Wall-E, but thanks for playing Bolt and Kung Fu Panda. I liked Kung Fu Panda (“noodles, don’t noodles”), but Wall-E is one of the—if not the—best films of the year! Or many years! I have been heard to say that anyone who didn’t like Wall-E doesn’t have a heart, or has a cold, cold heart. And while I say that in jest, I really don’t understand how anyone could not like this movie. It’s a beautiful, sad, heart-warming, mournful, funny love story. It’s a character movie. People hear “love story” and “character film” and say, “It’s a cartoon!” But trust me. And every film critic on the planet. I so hope that by the time I get down to Best Picture, Wall-E will be listed there. But in my heart of hearts I know it won’t be because it’s here, in “animated.” Sigh again.
Skipping the boring categories…la la la….
Directing. David Fincher for Button (haven’t seen it), Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon (kind of requisite), Gus Van Sant for Milk (nice!), Stephen Daldry for The Reader (What!?! Wrong film again!), and Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire (yaaaay!). I think Sam Mendes should have gotten a nomination for Revolutionary Road. I guess this means it won’t be in Best Picture either. Really, is this a case of who campaigns the best? I don’t think anyone would claim that The Reader is one of the best films of the year. It wasn’t even critically acclaimed—it got 60% on Rotten Tomatoes and 58 on Metacritic. And what about Andrew Stanton for Wall-E? That movie is all about the direction since there’s very little dialogue throughout a good portion of it. At any rate, I hope this one goes to Danny Boyle or Gus Van Sant.
I’m gonna skip Documentary for now because I’ve only seen one of the nominations (Encounters At the End of the World). I love documentaries, though, and will make it a goal to see as many as I can before the awards. Ditto for Foreign Language.
Score should go to Slumdog Millionaire—the only score from any film I saw this year that really made me take notice and excited me. No Bruce Springsteen for best song (“The Wrestler”)? I don’t know, but that seems like a snub. From what I’ve heard it’s a pretty modest and pat Springsteen film song, but surely it has to be better than the Peter Gabriel song from Wall-E?!?
Best Picture! Hmmm. Well, I can’t say I’m surprised, based on the other nominations. Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Reader. Again, I say it should have been Revolutionary Road and not The Reader, but that line’s getting worn. I can imagine some people saying that The Dark Knight is a snub (maybe for director, too), but I think it’s fine to be left out. It was simply a really good action movie (the Academy doesn’t tend to go for action movies), but the film wasn’t amazing. Maybe we’re just so used to action movies sucking that when one is actually good people start chanting Oscar, Oscar! Also, I think Heath Ledger’s definitely Oscar-worthy performance is getting all mixed up with the movie itself. Slumdog Millionaire better win this category. And I will never get over Wall-E not being nominated for best film. Just because it’s animated doesn’t mean it has to be in the “animated” category! Right?
And now the writing categories. For Adapted Screenplay there’s Benjamin Button, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, The Reader, and Slumdog Millionaire. That’s a tough category. I can’t predict a winner. I’d be happy if it went to Doubt or Slumdog. I’d be fine with it going to one of the other three.
Original Screenplay nominees are Frozen River, Happy Go-Lucky, In Bruges, Milk, and Wall-E. FINALLY A NOMINATION FOR HAPPY GO-LUCKY! I don’t know if it’ll win, but I want it to just because Sally Hawkins got so beyond snubbed. But I think Milk could (and also deserves) to win. Wall-E is an amazing, brilliant movie, but I don’t know about “screenplay.” So much of that movie is about the direction and the animation. I think it should have gotten a best director nod. And where is Revolutionary Road? Again, absent.
I’ve just cruised the “comments” section on a bunch of different articles about the nominations, and it seems the biggest outrage, in no particular order, is for Kate Winslet not being nominated for Revolutionary Road (and that film’s general snubbing), The Dark Knight and Wall-E not being nominated for best picture (can’t agree with the first one, but Yes! to the second), and Sally Hawkins not being nominated (Could not agree more. I share the outrage. I’m gonna give her my own award.).
There you go. Another year of snubbingly fun Oscar nominations. I think the awards will be kind of boring this year, unless Slumdog Millionaire pulls off a clean sweep. I think people could really get excited about that.