31 January 2006

Initial Oscar Thoughts

This is not who I think will win, but rather who I feel should win in most of the categories, based on the films I've seen and the nominations and whatever other factors come into my head. For the sake of brevity, we'll stick to the bigger categories.

My preference in Bold

Best Motion Picture of the Year
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Capote
  • Crash
  • Good Night, and Good Luck
  • Munich

  • So I reviewed 3 of these (and have seen all 5), and only one stood out as a great film, so that's the clear choice. I'll quote my own review: "it is a worthy heir to the Best Picture title and a piece of cinema you can ill afford to miss."

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote)
  • Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow)
  • Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line)
  • David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck)

  • Poor Joaquin. Any other year and he'd be the front-runner, but he had to get stuck behind Ledger and Hoffman, who easily gave the two best performances of the year. I keep going back and forth. On one hand you've got Hoffman, who completely captured a historical figure so different from him in so many ways that you can hardly believe it's him, but on the other you've got Ledger, who layered his performance with so many small details and nuances and manages to break your heart. I'll probably change my mind 5 or 6 times, but Hoffman. I imagine this race will be very, very close.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
  • Judi Dench (Mrs. Henderson Presents)
  • Felicity Huffman (Transamerica)
  • Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice)
  • Charlize Theron (North Country)
  • Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line)

  • I've only seen two of these films, and Witherspoon is much better than Knightley. But beyond that, she manages to sing better than June Carter ever did, which for someone with no voice training, is really something.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
  • George Clooney (Syriana)
  • Matt Dillon (Crash)
  • Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man)
  • Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain)
  • William Hurt (A History of Violence)

  • Gyllenhaal has an outside chance, but he doesn't deserve it. I'd love to see Giamatti win, but I haven't seen his film. Regardless of what you think of Crash, Matt Dillon is very good. But I think this is Clooney's year. He put on weight, grew a beard, and gave a very good performance. That's what we call the trifecta.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Amy Adams (Junebug)
  • Catherine Keener (Capote)
  • Frances McDormand (North Country)
  • Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener)
  • Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain)

  • Weisz is getting all the awards, but I just don't see it. Nothing about her performance left much of an imprint on me. But Williams has a handful of great scenes, including the best moment of the film as she accidentally sees her husband kissing another man.

Best Achievement in Directing
  • George Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck)
  • Paul Haggis (Crash)
  • Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)
  • Bennett Miller (Capote)
  • Steven Spielberg (Munich)

  • Ang Lee should have won this for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and he deserves to win here, too. Honestly, I don't know that there are too many directors working who I would trust to handle this subject matter and story, and few of them would have been able to do it with Lee's sensitivity and still make a great film.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
  • Crash
  • Good Night, and Good Luck
  • Match Point
  • The Squid and the Whale
  • Syriana

  • I'd like to see Woody Allen win, but his script isn't good enough and he won't show up anyway. So, I'll throw my support to Noah Baumbach because he hasn't got a chance, but his screenplay is too good to ignore. No other film had more lines and moments randomly pop into my head this year for weeks after I saw it, and it's also mature and heartbreaking sad.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Capote
  • The Constant Gardener
  • A History of Violence
  • Munich

  • The Munich screenplay is quite good, very good, actually, and Capote surprises you with how well it's written, but Brokeback Mountain is clearly the best written film here. It takes a short story and expands it without feeling as if they're just throwing new material in to make it longer. But even aside from that, it is a expertly-crafted script.

Best Achievement in Cinematography
  • Batman Begins
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Good Night, and Good Luck
  • Memoirs of a Geisha
  • The New World

  • Never bet against the film done entirely in black and white, but the visuals in The New World are truly beautiful. Even Malick's harshest critics would have to agree the film at least looks fantastic.

Best Achievement in Editing
  • Cinderella Man
  • The Constant Gardener
  • Crash
  • Munich
  • Walk the Line

  • Huh. Well, this is wide-open. Usually the Best Picture winner takes this, but no gay cowboys, so who knows? Munich covers a great deal of ground efficiently and mixes in a lot of archival footage. It isn't all that flashy, but it gets the job done.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
  • The Chronicles of Narnia
  • King Kong
  • War of the Worlds

  • This may be the easiest call in years.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
  • "In the Deep" (Crash)
  • "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" (Hustle & Flow)
  • "Travelin' Thru" (Transamerica)

  • I so want Hustle & Flow to win this, and I don't even like rap.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • The Constant Gardener
  • Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Munich
  • Pride & Prejudice

  • A beautifully haunting score that does exactly what a score should do. It enhances and deepens the experience without calling attention to itself.

Best Documentary, Features
  • Darwin's Nightmare
  • Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
  • March of the Penguins
  • Murderball
  • Street Fight

  • It's really too bad Grizzly Man didn't make the short list. I've only seen this one, so I'm easily biased, but how can a film that turns a bunch of penguins into a convincing love story not win?

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
  • Don't Tell (Italy)
  • Joyeux Noel (France)
  • Paradise Now (Palestine)
  • Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Germany)
  • Tsotsi (South Africa)

  • I haven't seen any of these, but I've got Joyeux Noel in my pre-nominations pool, so I'd like to see it win.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
  • Howl's Moving Castle
  • The Corpse Bride
  • Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

  • Wallace and Gromit is the clear front-runner, and since I haven't seen all of them, that's good enough for me. Plus, there's the nostalgia factor.


Levi said...

hear hear to Kong's effects. good grief, it was spectacular.

johanna said...

it was pretty good. but i liked that movie by that indie filmmaker who made fun of both the oscars and the local filmmaking climate when he said, "...it's not like we're all up for oscars." that was effective.

lucas said...

i'm confused. what movie was that?

johanna said...

edit: take out the "that movie by"

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