The Oscar Nominations

The gay cowboys did indeed get their pudding, leading the Oscar pack with 8 nominations.

BROKEBACK is also just $2 million away from being the highest box office grosser among the nominees. ($51 million, compared to $53 million by CRASH). Good luck to ABC, trying to get ratings with 5 movies hardly anybody saw.

But the box office could get interesting. MUNICH ($41 million) scored important nominations, and maybe this will be the spark to finally bring in audiences. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK stands at $25 million, but despite all the acclaim, awards and potent box office, Warner Brothers still hasn’t given the film a worthy release (803 screen at its peak). I say get that amazing trailer back into theatres and give the film a proper launch. Something in the 1400 range.

As for the individual nominations, here are my Strong Opinions.

Brokeback Mountain - Focus Features
Capote - Sony Pictures Classics
Crash - Lions Gate
Good Night, & Good Luck - WIP
Munich – Universal

BROKEBACK has the momentum right now (even while their Actor and Supporting Actress chances continue to fade.) CAPOTE and CRASH has pretty much maxed out their Oscar credit, but MUNICH and GOOD NIGHT can still gain a lot of ground in the next few weeks.

I have read that MUNICH’s Oscar campaign has been low key both at the request of Spielberg and because Universal was putting most of their money behind CINDERELLA MAN. I say it’s time for the gloves to come off and let’s make this a good clean fight. (Of course, if MUNICH and Spielberg defeat BROKEBACK and Lee, the outcry from the gay community will be deafening.)

I’m a bit surprised to see WALK THE LINE lose out to CAPOTE and MUNICH, but it is my least favorite of the three, so that’s okay. (I’ll be rooting for CRASH, but I just don’t see it happening.)

Other wild cards that didn’t make it to the cut off include THE CONSTANT GARDENER, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and SYRIANA.

George Clooney - Good Night, And Good Luck
Paul Haggis - Crash
Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
Bennett Miller - Capote
Steven Spielberg – Munich

Just yesterday I envisioned a world where the only movie to score both Picture and Director would be BROKEBACK. (I thought Cronenberg, Meirelles, and Woody Allen would be in while MUNICH wouldn’t get a Picture nomination.) It turns out, for the first time since 1981, all 5 Picture nods come with their director’s attached. This is only the 4th time in Academy history.

For those of you keeping score, this is Spielberg’s 5th directing nomination, and the 3rd for Ang Lee. Everyone else here is new to the party, and none of them pose much of a threat. Even Spielberg is fairly outdistanced by Lee’s momentum, although after Eastwood upset Scorsese and Polanski upset everybody you can’t pick Lee to be a mortal lock.

Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix - Walk The Line
David Strathairn - Good Night. And, Good Luck

There were some excellent choices this year, but it’s always come down to Ledger vs. Hoffman. I’m very happy to see David Strathairn, but I’m ecstatic that the Academy didn’t overlook Terrence Howard, who I seriously hope pulls an Adrian Brody.

Of the expected picks, I’m glad Russell Crowe didn’t replace any of the 5 on the ballot.

Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman - Transamerica
Keira Knightly - Pride & Prejudice
Charlize Theron - North Country
Reese Witherspoon - Walk The Line

The murmers have begun. Will Judi Dench upset the group in a film hardly anyone saw simply because she’s Judi Dench. No matter what anyone at Miramax tells you about Felicity Huffman’s chances, it’s not happening. This is Reese's prize to lose.

Keira is kind of a surprise, but the pickings were so slim this year it was down to her, Joan Allen (THE UPSIDE OF ANGER) and Q’Orianka Kilcher (THE NEW WORLD). The only difference with picking Knightly is that now we have to take her more seriously as an actress, - excuse me while I suppress a giggle – and the DVD release for DOMINO can boast “Academy Award Nominee Keira Knightly.”

Matt Dillon - Crash
George Clooney - Syriana
Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt - A History of Violence

Bill Hurt? Really? We can’t do any better? Obviously I missed whatever magic Hurt was doing, unless it was juggling chewing up scenery with struggling against an accent he clearly didn’t have a handle on. How about Terrence Howard or Don Cheadle for CRASH, or Bob Hoskins for MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS? We could have had Frank Langella for GOOD NIGHT, Clifton Collins Jr. for CAPOTE, or even Ed Harris who truly deserved the nod for VIOLENCE. Bill Hurt? Aw, man.

This is going to come down to Golden Boy George Clooney and America’s favorite schlub, Paul Giamatti, and this will be THE TIGHTEST RACE OF THE NIGHT. Clooney made 2 well-respected films this year. He writes, he acts, he directs, he looks great on magazine covers and he’s very funny in interviews. However, everyone feels Giamatti got burned by not winning for SIDEWAYS. He’s loved by Hollywood and everyone feels we’ve yet to see his best work.

Of the two, I’m pulling for Clooney, who did some of the best work of his career. I’m a big fan of Giamatti, but CINDERELLA MAN felt like he was playing himself with the charisma turned up high. He was more of a great sidekick than a character, and handing him the trophy would be like when Russel Crowe won for GLADIATOR instead of THE INSIDER or A BEAUTIFUL MIND.

Amy Adams - Junebug
Catherine Keener - Capote
Frances McDormand - North Country
Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain

This is one category where my pick (Rachel Weisz) will probably win. I’m a bit surprised (in a good way) to see McDormand made the cut. She beat out Maria Bello (A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE) and Laura Linney (THE SQUID AND THE WHALE). Actually, of the full list of expected nominees, these are the 5 names everyone thought they’d see.

Match Point - Woody Allen
The Squid & The Whale - Noah Baumbach
Good Night. And, Good Luck - George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Syriana - Stephen Gaghan
Crash - Paul Haggis, Robert Moresco

I’m glad that after the Academy tried to screw SYRIANA, it scored the nomination anyway. And I figured if SQUID was eliminated for the other major categories, its name wouldn’t show up here either so, hooray! Some people thought they’d see CINDERELLA MAN here, but I’m not one of them so let’s just move on. (As for a pick, if it doesn’t go to CRASH it’ll go to GOOD NIGHT, but that would be a crime.)

The Constant Gardener - Jeffrey Caine
Capote - Dan Futterman
Munich - Tony Kushner, Eric Roth
Brokeback Mountain - Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana
A History Of Violence - Josh Olson

These were the 5 movies everyone expected to see, but I thought WALK THE LINE was going to get in there instead of CONSTANT GARDENER. If MUNICH beats BROKEBACK during the telecast, it will be the first indicator that there might be an upset at the top.

Darwin's Nightmare
Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room
March Of The Penguins
Street Fight

I’ve heard of most of these movies and they’re said to all be excellent. I’ve seen PENGUINS and MURDERBALL and between the two I choose the ball.

Howl's Moving Casle
The Corpse Bride
Wallace & Gromit

Interesting how 2 of the nominees this year are stop motion and the 3rd is old fashioned cell drawings. (No CGI nominee). I did not like THE CORPSE BRIDE at all, and I love Hayao Miyazaki, but I’m rooting for WALLACE & GROMIT.

Before we get into the technical categories I want to let off a little steam. MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA was a giant whiff with critics and audiences, yet managed 6 nominations in the technical categories. I’m not saying bad films can’t be technically great. (Look at THE CELL.) But GEISHA wasn’t nearly as accomplished as HARRY POTTER, REVENGE OF THE SITH and BATMAN BEGINS (which each scored 1 nomination.) Those films were well-reviewed, and hit big with audiences, so how in the hell did GEISHA score 6 noms??!!??

Good Night, And Good Luck.
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
King Kong
Memoirs Of A Geisha
Pride & Prejudice

KONG and POTTER are the most worthy nominees. I like seeing GOOD NIGHT, which was very precise and highly authentic. I wasn’t expecting SIN CITY, but I did expect BATMAN or CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY to be here over PRIDE & PREJUDICE, which was filmed in actual cottages located all around England, furnished with items from the local surplus store.

Batman Begins
Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, And Good Luck.
Memoirs Of A Geisha
The New World

Of the Technical Noms there is no bigger crime than the exclusion of THE CONSTANT GARDENER from this list. It is better than any of the nominees by leaps and bounds. If 2046 were to put in an appearance, here’s where I thought it might be (you know…being the best shot movie of the decade and all.) Right now my money’s on BROKEBACK with its iconic photography.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
Memoirs Of A Geisha
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Pride & Prejudice
Walk The Line

While watching MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS and WALK THE LINE, I actually wasn’t paying attention to the costumes. Seeing the nominations, I’m thinking back and actually, they were pretty interesting. I also agree with GEISHA and CHARLIE, so a good list overall, and this is one place where I won’t be upset to see GEISHA take the win.

Cinderella Man
The Constant Gardener
Walk The Line

I love CRASH a lot, but it really doesn’t belong on this list. The editing flows, but is very average compared to the other nominees. THE CONSTANT GARDENER is my fav. of the picks, but I think it will come down to MUNICH or WALK THE LINE.

The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
Cinderella Man
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge Of The Sith

The Academy never gets this one right. STAR WARS is fine and CINDERELLA MAN is interesting, but NARNIA’s makeup was one of the film’s weakest aspects. (It never blended properly with the effects.) I would have scrapped the entire list in favor of THE NEW WORLD, HARRY POTTER and SIN CITY.

Brokeback Mountain
The Constant Gardener
Memoirs Of A Geisha
Pride & Prejudice

I know it’s cliché to see John Williams nominated again and again for Oscars, but his two nominations (MUNICH and GEISHA) were both well done. CONSTANT GARDENER is my selection, but I think the BROKEBACK train will stop at this station.

"In The Deep" From Crash
"It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp" From Hustle & Flow
"Travelin' Thru" From Transamerica

I like that there are only 3 song nominations this year. (This category always stops the Oscar telecast dead.) I so wanted HUSTLE to grab a nomination (or 2 or all 3.) Everyone thought it would be the mellow “Hustle & Flow (It Ain’t Ovah)”, but instead the rawkus “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” grabbed the nomination. Terrence Howard will be singing on Oscar night. (Now, how will the Academy clean up the lyrics for the telecast?)

Does anyone know who votes for the Best Song nominees and how they’re selected? It seems that unless the song really makes an impact, the nominees are always established celebrities (like Dolly Parton for “Travelin; Thru”.) That leads me to believe that a list is sent out of eligible songs. But who gets that list? Do they get a set of CD’s containing the songs themselves so they can listen? And if not, why not? Wouldn’t that help with selecting better songs?

King Kong
Memoirs Of A Geisha
War Of The Worlds

The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
King Kong
Memoirs Of A Geisha
Walk The Line
War Of The Worlds

One of these things is not like the others. How did GEISHA end up here over STAR WARS, BATMAN BEGINS, NARNIA and every other movie that heavily relied on special effects?

The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
King Kong
War Of The Worlds

EPISODE I lost to THE MATRIX. EPISODE II lost to LORD OF THE RINGS, now EPISODE III (which had the best effects of the trilogy) doesn’t even get to compete. Poor George Lucas must be drying his tears...with $1000 bills.

NARNIA and WORLDS should have given up their slots to STAR WARS and HARRY POTTER. However, even if they all were nominated, don’t bet against the monkey.


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