Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Oscar Nominations

Well, the Oscar nominations were released today. They pretty much conformed with expectations. I was glad to see the screenplay nods for Eternal Sunshine and especially for Before Sunset. I don't see much chance for either, but at least they got some love. One thing that bothers me is most of the movies that were nominated in the upper categories were good movies, but they weren't the sort of movies you get really passionate about. Now, I'll admit I haven't seen any of the best picture nominees other than Sideways, but taking Sideways as an example, it's a really good movie, but it's not great. Before Sunset, Eternal Sunshine, even Garden State, these are movies that really stick with you, really personal and emotional movies. Sideways, and the other nominees feel like they're well made, but they're not auteur movies. There's not one original screenplay among them, and three of the five are biopics. Generally speaking, a film's going to work better if it moves from director's head to screen, rather than from reality through team of writers through director to screen. So, as I said when I was talking about Mystic River a few weeks ago, they may be good movies, but they don't feel personal and inspired. They aren't movies that make me as a viewer want to go out and make a film.

So, enough of that. Since the academy didn't give me all the love, here's what my nominees would be if I had my way of things.

Jim Carrey - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Min-Sik Choi - Oldboy
Paul Giamatti - Sideways
Ethan Hawke - Before Sunset
Tony Leung - 2046

My winner here would be Jim Carrey. It's a character so far removed from anything he's played in the past, and he just becomes Joel. He's the invisible center of the movie, and if he hadn't worked, the whole thing would have collapsed

Julie Delpy - Before Sunset
Nicole Kidman - Dogville
Natalie Portman - Garden State
Uma Thurman - Kill Bill II
Kate Winslet - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Julie Delpy gets it. This is actually the catergory I had the toughest time filling, other than Julie and Nicole Kidman, no one was really essential. However, Delpy definitely is. For all I know, she is the character, she's that good. She makes a simple reach into an absolutely heartbreaking moment. She has to lie in character, and also spend a lot of time dancing around the truth, in massive five minute single take shots. Her singing scene, her dancing at the end, she totally is this person, and that's what acting's all about.

Supporting Actor
David Carradine - Kill Bill II
Thomas Haden Church - Sideways
Michael Madsen - Kill Bill II
Peter Saarsgard - Garden State
Mark Wahlberg - I Heart Huckabee's

Carradine here hands down. The Bill character very easily could have been a let down after a movie of buildup, but Carradine completely pulls it off, and makes someone so nice and gentle, you can't help but like him, while at the same time hating him. It's a tricky line, but in the end, despite the movie being called Kill Bill, I really wanted him to live.

Supporting Actress
Maggie Cheung - Hero
Natalie Portman - Closer
Naomi Watts - I Heart Huckabee's
Faye Wong - 2046
Zhang Ziyi - 2046

Faye Wong for 2046. While Zhang Ziyi has the bigger role, in many ways she's even the lead, it's Faye who owns the movie for me. She's good in the present, but in the short robot story within the movie, she's breathtaking. It's purely visual acting, but she conveys so much emotion in a brief time. I think those robot scenes are the best thing Wong Kar-Wai has ever done and that's largely because of Faye's performance. Even in this future setting, she keeps things emotionally centered. There's a scene with intertitles that gets to me so much. I need to see more Faye Wong movies, since she's been the highlight of both WKW movies she's been in, and elevates his already amazing work to another level.

Zach Braff - Garden State
Charlie Kaufman - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy - Before Sunset
Quentin Tarantino - Kill Bill II
Lars Von Trier - Dogville

This one goes to Richard, Ethan and Julie. Their movie is literally just people talking, so the screenplay is the movie, which isn't to knock the directing, which has some awe inspiring dolly shots, but it's in the words that our joy lies, and o, what words they are! You can tell so much of each of them has gone into the script, and it wonderfully plays off of Sunrise, while at the same time crafting a deeper and richer film. The dialogue sounds like real people talking, and even in the first part, where they're sort of lying to each other, we can understand what they really want to say. And then in the end, it's just a torrent of unrestrained emotion. This is one for the ages.

Zach Braff - Garden State
Michel Gondry - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Chanwook Park - Oldboy
Quentin Tarantino - Kill Bill II
Wong Kar-Wai - 2046

Gondry gets it here. He brings the crazy visual style developed on years of music videos, and applies it to a brilliant narrative. It's not surprising that Gondry pulls off dazzling effects, what surprises is how he fuses the craziness with very real emotional content. Other than Before Sunset, this is the most emotionally relevant film of 2004, and Gondry pulls it off. The man can barely speak English, and yet he gets brilliant performances and incredibly real character interaction. Word.

Before Sunset
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Garden State
Kill Bill II

I've got to give it to Eternal. Visually amazing and emotionally engrossing. That's what film should be.

And in the other catergories, I'll just give a winner.

Cinematography - This belongs to 2046 and Christopher Doyle. Every frame is gorgeous, be it the future or the 60s. Visually, this surpasses In the Mood for Love and that's saying something.

Editing - Oldboy. Park's film has an incredible pop, and that's largely due to fast paced editing, that works perfectly with the music, and uses a lot of nifty narrative tricks.

Art Direction - 2046, and Chang once again works his magic. The cinematography is gorgeous, but that's largely because of the phenomenal sets. Both the future stuff and the 60s are pure eye candy.

Costume Design - 2046 again. The people look great, no matter how bad things get, they can still dress well. Extra props to the future stuff, which goes a long way to helping the performances.

Music - Jon Brion's score for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind sets the right mood for the film, and is very listenable on its own.

Original Song - I'm not sure if it qualifies, but Julie Delpy's 'Waltz for a Night,' is both a great song on its own, and great in the context of the movie. An excellent use of music to convey narrative information.

Makeup - Um, Shaun of the Dead I guess. Those were some good looking zombies.

Sound/Sound Editing - Kill Bill II. The buried alive sequence was one of the greatest uses of sound ever in a film.

Visual Effects - Sky Captain. Say what you will about the film, it was very cool looking, and those effects were pretty damn seamless.

Animated Film - The Incredibles. I think it may have been a bit overhyped, but it was a really strong movie. Pixar's third best film, behind the two Toy Stories.

Well, there you are.

Related Posts
The 2005 Oscar Nominations (1/31/2006)
My 2005 Oscar Nominations (1/31/2006)

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