Whoah ! My last post was in October last year. Gaaaawd, I have been busy (and lazy).
Anywhoo...Oscar week is here. Before the Golden statuettes are handed out this coming Sunday, here are my picks.
Performance by an actor in a leading role
Leonardo DiCaprio - BLOOD DIAMOND
Ryan Gosling - HALF NELSON
Peter O'Toole - VENUS
Will Smith - THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS
Forest Whitaker - THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
All of the nominations in this category except Leo, seems well deserved. Blood Diamond was very much an average movie and too soap-box rhetoric for its own good. A forced romance, cliched lines just continued to spoil a movie which could have been so much better.
Where is Matt Damon in this list? His performance as Edward Wilson was one of the best. he potrayed a man struggling to maintain his convictions with such precision. It was a shame that he was not nominated.
Where was Jack Nicholson? No other actor could have brought Frank Costello to life in such a humorous and menacing manner.
My pick : Foresh Whitaker
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Alan Arkin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jackie Earle Haley - LITTLE CHILDREN
Djimon Hounsou - BLOOD DIAMOND
Eddie Murphy - DREAMGIRLS
Mark Wahlberg - THE DEPARTED
Eddie Murphy won the Golden Globe and he is being picked as the favorite. And with lobbying getting stronger, Mark Wahlberg's name is also getting mentioned. But none of those two performances have anything on Jackie Earl Haley. His portrayal of the sex-addict/pedophile in 'Little Children' made me squirm in my seat. The uneasiness he was able to evoke in me (and am guessing, rest of audience) is more than good reason for why he should win.
Adam Beach's portrayal of Ira Hayes in "Flags of our Fathers' definitely deserved a nomination. His portrayal of the moral conflict of a soldier thrust into limelight for political reasons was a very good one. Djimon Hounsou is a good actor. But Blood Diamond was not one which showcased his skills.
My pick - Jackie Earl Haley
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Penélope Cruz - VOLVER
Judi Dench - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Helen Mirren - THE QUEEN
Meryl Streep - THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
Kate Winslet - LITTLE CHILDREN
This is one category where one of the nominess so ahead of the rest that if any of them win, they may not have prepared an acceptance speech. Helen Mirren's performance in "The Queen" is one which trancends the movie screen. The performance is so original and believable that you cease to realize that you are watching a movie.
My Pick: Helen Mirren
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Adriana Barraza - BABEL
Cate Blanchett - NOTES ON A SCANDAL
Abigail Breslin - LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Jennifer Hudson - DREAMGIRLS
Rinko Kikuchi - BABEL
Jennifer Hudson won at the Globes, but I am not sure if she deserves it. For me the performance of Abigail Breslin the adorable "Little Miss Sunshine", was so nuanced and convincing that I feel she deserves the Oscar.
My pick - Abigail Breslin
Achievement in directing
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
Lot of people have been saying that Marty should win because he hasn't won all this time. I feel this is just absurd. Don't get me wrong, 'The Departed' was a very good movie. But was it the best of 2007? Probably not. And where is Alfonso Cuaron in here? 'Children of Men' has to be the most under-rated movie of the year (and Babel the most over-rated movie of the year).
There must have been very few movies which have been so difficult to make than 'United 93'. To make a movie surrounding sucvh a huge tragedy without coming of as patronizing or Hallmark-ish is a very difficult task. Paul Greengrass did that to perfection.
My pick: Paul Greengrass
Best documentary feature
DELIVER US FROM EVIL
AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH
IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS
MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY
I have only seen two of these documentaries - 'The Inconvenient Truth' and 'Jesus Camp'. Inconvenient Truth is the crown favorite but let us face it for what it is. It was mostly a video-taping of Al Gore making a presentation. While I love Al Gore and his efforts to fight gobal warming, it doesn't necessarily mean it is a good film.
Jesus Camp on the other hand dealt with a subject which plagues this country - evangelical christians, in such an even handed way. The film makers did a spectacular job of ensuring that both sides are heard.
My pick - Jesus Camp
Best foreign language film of the year
AFTER THE WEDDING
DAYS OF GLORY (INDIGÈNES)
THE LIVES OF OTHERS
I have seen last three listed in this category. All three are good movies but Pan's Labyrinth and The Lives of Others outrun 'Water'. Out of these three, Pan's Labyrinth's marriage of fascistic regime with a Gothic fairytale was cinema at its best.
My pick: Pan's Labyrinth
Best motion picture of the year
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE
Where the heck is 'Children of Men' in this list? Little Miss Sunshine was adorable and wayyyy better than Babel. But maybe it was not good enough to get an Oscar. The Queen was a good movie in terms of the acting and direction but the 'best movie' needs a more than that. Babel was way over-rated and Letters from Iwo Jima was average.
My pick: The Departed