It is that time of year. When the little golden guy beckons us back to the Kodak Theatre where we can crown the best of American cinema.
Oscar is one crafty guy. Even during one of the weakest cinematic years in recent memory, he finds a way to push some films onto a pedestal and makes us want to take a look at them once again.
When the nominations for Best Picture were announced, I wasn't that surprised. Like it has been with every awards ceremony this season, I felt that the films selected were not a direct reflection on what were the best films of the year. I agreed with the nominations for The Departed and Letters from Iwo Jima but not the rest. I would have rather have seen Blood Diamond or Little Children up there. Or how about nominations for Ben Affleck in Hollywoodland or Ken Watanabe in Letters from Iwo Jima?
I was shocked to see so many nominations for Babel and Dreamgirls, which were both average films as I saw them. But that is just one opinion.
You do have to hand it to the Academy this year for slipping in some dark horses into the acting nominations, though. It was a wild delight to see the heartbreaking performance by Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson, the rough and rugged cop Mark Wahlberg in The Departed, sweet and innocent Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine, and Jackie Earle Haley as the trying-to-reform pedophile in Little Children. All these were bold choices and in some ways I have to agree.
Then you have to look at the "bridesmaid" nominations. In other words, people who have been nominated a bunch of times but have never won. Bridesmaids include Peter O'Toole (8 Best Actor nods), Judi Dench (5 Best Actress nods), Kate Winslet (5 total Oscar nods), and Martin Scorsese (7 Best Director nods). It is still amazing to me that none of these great talents have won.
As I do every year, I will start off with my "Dream List" of people I would love to see win, then finish off with strategically who will win.
Winner: Forest Whitaker for THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
Worst Case Scenario: Will Smith for THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Why?: I really like Will Smith and I really think that one day he will win, but this year just isn't his year.
Winner: Kate Winslet for LITTLE CHILDREN
Why?: As I said in my review, Winslet's performance was the best performance I saw from an actress all year. She was bold, innocent, magical, and heart-wrenching. I also would like to see Cruz win because she is utterly brilliant when she acts in Spanish. Also, Volver is probably the best she has ever been. Mirren has this category locked and no one has a chance of upsetting her.
Worst Case Scenario: Meryl Streep for THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
Why?: 'Nuff said.
Winner: Djimon Hounsou
Why?: I do have a soft spot for Murphy and Wahlberg, but Hounsou's performance in the Oscar-neglected Blood Diamond is riveting, and what his character has to go through is such a revealing journey. Hounsou has been so good ever since he burst onto the scene in 1997's Amistad. This is his second Oscar nomination in this category.
Winner: Adriana Barraza
Why?: I think Hudson winning here is practically a given. But for me, I would have to go with Barraza only because her nanny role in Babel for me was the best performance of the film. She was brilliant.
Winner: Martin Scorsese
Why?: Marty has a string of nominations reaching all the way back to 1981's Raging Bull. The man is a legend and it is time to honor him for the man he is.
Winner: THE DEPARTED
Why?: The Departed is the best film of those nominated. I will be really surprised if it wins director and picture given the recent track record of splitting up director and picture. I really do hope so, though.
There were some but this one stuck out...
Winner: Meryl Streep for THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
Why?: Do I really have to explain myself? The woman makes a movie and no matter what it is she seems to get a nomination. That theory is now proven right with this nomination. The academy should be ashamed.
Best Actor: Forest Whitaker for THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
Best Actress: Helen Mirren for THE QUEEN
Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy for DREAMGIRLS
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson for DREAMGIRLS
Best Original Screenplay: BABEL
Best Adapted Screenplay: THE DEPARTED
Best Director: Martin Scorsese for THE DEPARTED
Best Picture: BABEL
In conclusion, all I have to say about the nominations this year is that I hope that some "bridesmaids" finally get their chance to become brides. There are so many great talents out there that need to be cherished and we often neglect just how great they are.
So Says the Soothsayer.