Hey, remember the Oscars? They happened last year? They might get cancelled? Sometimes women win them by pretending to be ugly, even if they aren’t ugly, and sometimes if they are? Well, the nominations came out today (surprise! No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood led the tally) and Bwog awards show correspondent Daniel D’Addario puts on his best Mary Hart to tell you that there will indeed be blood – and Oscars! First up: the acting categories.
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises
Will Win: While I’m glad that Oscar voters looked past the general hackiness of Paul Haggis’s film to see Jones’s great and dignified performance, this is Daniel Day-Lewis’s to lose. His delivery of the line “I drink your milkshake!” alone would have earned him a SAG Award.
Should Win: I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!
Robbed: This category seems pretty solid – although I haven’t seen, and will not likely see, Sweeney Todd, and think that George Clooney has gone from being an affable, good-looking guy to an awards-season threat that must be contained (fuddy-dud Michael Clayton for seven nominations – really?!). If I had to toss another nominee on the pile, I’d take out Clooney and nominate Emile Hirsch for his nature-obsessed, Thoreau-spouting man-child whose glaring immaturity provides Into the Wild with a welcome dose of moral ambiguity (seemingly against the director’s will, making Hirsch’s performance a masterful act of subversion). Or perhaps Javier Bardem, who was nominated for supporting but played the lead role as a superhuman killer in No Country for Old Men. Especially on the men’s side, 2007 was nothing if not a year of obsessions.
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno
Will Win: Wow. Although it’s good that Angelina Jolie didn’t get nominated (I love her as a person and a persona, but A Mighty Heart was ill-advised in every way), I still think all the movies with good parts for actresses in them were released last year. Of this list, I’ve only seen two and about a tenth of the movies (I turned off La Vie en Rose twenty minutes in, after about the third scene involving a good-hearted prostitute). So, the legend takes it – Julie Christie, take your Oscar and go; Marion Cotillard, making ugly faces into the camera as you lip-synch is not acting, and seriously, just go.
Should Win: Seriously, this list is like the multiplex from hell for me – except The Savages, which was good, and Laura Linney good in it – the times she was onscreen were the times when the movie didn’t just feel like a reprise of Todd Solondz’s Happiness. So, you know, go Laura Linney, and don’t make a sequel to The Nanny Diaries.
Robbed: I would say Nicole Kidman, who was so fantastically Upper-West-Side-witchy in Margot at the Wedding, but I have utter faith that this time next year, the bitch will be back. Tang Wei, unlike Kidman a total newcomer, owned Lust, Caution in a way that was almost unfair to whomever she shared the screen with – her journey from cynicism to lust to something like love was the most remarkable trajectory I’ve seen in years, and certainly could stand up against Cate Blanchett in a ruffled collar.
Best Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War
Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton
Will Win: Javier Bardem; this is so obvious that I can’t think of anything witty – or even “witty” – to say about it.
Should Win: Javier Bardem is great but really more of a lead performance; in terms of a true supporting performance that contributes to the film without pulling focus, Hoffman and Wilkinson are fine if uninspired choices, but Holbrook shows up, seemingly at random, two-thirds of the way into Into the Wild, does a fine little acting duet with Emile Hirsch, and then leaves, having fundamentally altered the film – which to that point had been a capable tearjerker lacking a human touch. I suppose he’s a legend (though I’d never seen him on film before), but his performance is
the kind of thing Hoffman will be doing in forty-five years, and Wilkinson in twenty-five (I guess?).
Robbed: Nothing comes to mind right now – this truly is a very solid category. If Javier Bardem were moved up to the Best Actor category, it might make room for Vincent Cassell, who gave a performance as good as Viggo Mortensen’s in Eastern Promises, with the added bonus of being sleazier, and a total sociopath in a way that Bardem’s Anton Chigurh wouldn’t even get.
Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, I’m Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Saiorse Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
Will Win; A personal note about Cate Blanchett: I sort of think the backlash to her performance, such as it is, has been “It’s a woman in a man’s role,” which leaves unsaid but implies that every performance of hers is something of a parlor trick. Of her five Oscar nominations, four are for playing real people (Elizabeth I twice, Katharine Hepburn, Bob Dylan) and one is for playing a female pedophile from a widely-read novel. I don’t think that Cate Blanchett could have played the Tilda Swinton part in Michael Clayton, or the Laura Linney part in The Savages – women who are interesting because of how they are played rather than who they just inherently are. I respect Blanchett, but she’s very hard to like as an actress because all you see are the gears working, the spectacle of Hepburn or Dylan or the Queen recreated either magically or ghoulishly. That said, parlor tricks do inspire slavish devotion (as her random double-nomination this year, not to mention the entire career of Meryl Streep, can attest), and I do think she will win.
Should Win: How random is that Ruby Dee nomination? American Gangster feels like a lifetime ago. Tilda Swinton and Saiorse Ronan are both very good choices – if I were pressed, I guess I’d go with Swinton, who is the best part of Michael Clayton by a mile and really sells every sweaty, guileful inch of her character. The scene where she’s rehearsing her interview about how fulfilling her work is should become a small classic.
Robbed: Jennifer Jason Lee was quite good in Margot at the Wedding – all neediness and weird sublimated spite. She’d be a perfect fit for the spot Ruby Dee sits in right now – she did more to impress me than just slap Denzel Washington, and she fits the tone of the year as a woman driven less by her own emotions than by an obsession – in this case, with what others think of her.
The hour draws late – in part two, I’ll talk about Best Picture and Director and the screenplay, animated film, and foreign film categories. Welcome to the inner recesses of my mind, where the constant, chilling refrain is “Oscar, Oscar!”