Sunday, February 25, 2007

My Academy Award Nominations 2006

Best Actor
Gael Garcia Bernal – Science of Sleep
Sacha Baron-Cohen – Borat
Daniel Craig – Casino Royale
Leonardo Dicaprio – The Departed
Keanu Reeves – A Scanner Darkly


This was a tough category to narrow the choices down in, but there was only one choice for the winner, Gael Garcia Bernal. He anchors the whole film, his performance brings humanity and accessibility to a character who could come off as closed and unlikable. The final scene with him and Charlotte Gainsbourg is truly powerful.

Best Actress
Asia Argento – The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
Laura Dern – Inland Empire
Bryce Dallas Howard – Manderlay
Ellen Page – Hard Candy
Kate Winslet – Little Children


A lot of good performances here, but Laura Dern’s work in Inland Empire is on an entirely different level from every actor out there this year. She completely immerses herself in the role, going on a metaphysical journey through different worlds and identities. Her breakdown on the streets of Hollywood is the high point, phenomenal acting.


Best Supporting Actor
Alec Baldwin – The Departed
Alain Chabat – Science of Sleep
Brad Pitt – Babel
Jack Nicholson – The Departed
Mark Wahlberg – The Departed


No actor was more entertaining this year than Mark Wahlberg in The Departed, with surging fury and the word “fuck” in virtually every line, he stole the film. His scenes with Alec Baldwin were a particular high point.

Best Supporting Actress
Adriana Barazza – Babel
Macy Grey - Shadowboxer
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Science of Sleep
Rinko Kikuchi – Babel
Gong Li – Miami Vice


Gong Li may have struggled with speaking English, but her face told us everything we needed to know about the character. Her relationship with Colin Farrell is what makes Miami Vice so special, and few actresses could pull off what she did. No one can look at someone the way she can.

Best Animated
A Scanner Darkly


I only saw one animated film this year, so this one wins by default. But, it is a great film and an interesting use of the medium, certainly a better direction than yet another talking animal film.

Art Direction
Children of Men
Funky Forest
Inland Empire
Marie Antoinette
The Science of Sleep


I’ve got to give this one to the endlessly inventive world of Funky Forest. There was a ton of crazy stuff going on in this film and I was consistently wowed by the weird worlds that they created.

Cinematography
Children of Men – Emanuel Lubezki
Inland Empire – David Lynch
Marie Antoinette – Lance Acord
Miami Vice – Dion Beebe
The Fountain – Matthew Libatique


Miami Vice is the first film that truly embraced the digital aesthetic, and in doing so crafted a movie that captures the world like no other before it. Beyond the quality of the image, the framing and movement was superb. There was the beauty of boats sailing across a seemingly endless ocean, and also the closeness of Sonny and Isabella, dancing together, in a moment together, outside of the world. This is how movies should look.

Costume Design
Funky Forest
Idlewild
Marie Antoinette
Miami Vice
The Fountain


Marie Antoinette managed to convey a period feel without the stodginess sometimes associated with period pieces. The film’s emotional narrative happens in the clothes, and these were good enough to make that work.

Editing
Babel
Inland Empire
Marie Antoinette
Miami Vice
The Fountain


No other film this year had storytelling as economical and groundbreaking as Miami Vice. And on top of that, the editing created an immersive rhythm right from the first scene. The film is infinitely rewatchable primarily because the editing just gets you to a wonderful, dreamlike place.

Foreign Language
Funky Forest
Time
The Science of Sleep
The Great Yokai War
Pan’s Labyrinth


Science of Sleep is what everything Gondry has done before was working towards. You can see pieces of nearly every music video, a lot of Eternal Sunshine and a lot of the man himself. It’s a fantastic achievement.

Makeup
Funky Forest
Marie Antoinette
Pan’s Labyrinth
The Great Yokai War
The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things


Pan’s Labyrinth’s most iconic images were created through the fantastic makeup. The Faun is incredible, as is the guy with eyes on his hands, thoroughly convincing and otherworldly.

Score
Babel
Casino Royale
Rocky Balboa
The Fountain
The Science of Sleep


Babel’s rhythmic, looping music united all the stories, and added momentum and heft to the film. It does exactly what a score should, enhance the emotion of the moment and add another layer of aesthetic beauty to the film itself.

Song
‘You Know My Name’ – Casino Royale
‘PJ & Rooster’ – Idlewild
‘Idlewild Blue’ – Idlewild
‘Polish Love Poem’ – Inland Empire
‘Strange (What Love Does)’ – Inland Empire


I’m not sure if it’s the exact title but ‘Strange (What Love Does)’ provides one of the most surreal moments in an already crazily surreal film. Lynch himself does vocals with a classic 50s from hell accompaniment. It’s a great track and works perfectly in the film.

Sound
Children of Men
Inland Empire
Miami Vice


It’s difficult for me to assess the different sounds categories, so I’m just doing one. The best sound this year was in Inland Empire, right from the booming, otherworldly tone playing as the title comes up. While you could legitimately take issue with the quality of the PD-150 image, it’s clear that Lynch is still working on a whole different level than everyone else when it comes to sound.

Visual Effects
Children of Men
The Fountain
The Science of Sleep


The Fountain’s crazy bubble imagery was unlike anything I’ve seen before, and the shots at the end were just mindblowing. This is original, beautiful work, that does a lot more than just a bunch of CGI.

Screenplay – Original
Babel
Inland Empire
Manderlay
The Fountain
The Science of Sleep


It was written in an unconventional way, but Lynch’s sprawling, epic Inland Empire was the most imaginative, challenging film of the year. It is like anything else I’d ever seen, and that’s reason enough to win the best original screenplay award.

Screenplay – Adapted
A Scanner Darkly
Casino Royale
Little Children
Miami Vice
The Departed


While I loved Miami Vice, it’s not particularly due to the writing, so this award goes to Little Children, a film that was full of ambition and created some of the most fully realized characters I’ve seen in recent films. It never condescended to the audience, letting us fill in gaps and come to our own conclusions. It’s a really strong film, definitely worth looking at.

Director
Babel
Inland Empire
Miami Vice
The Fountain
The Science of Sleep


Michael Mann took his art to a new level with Miami Vice. The film is visually beautiful, capturing endless nightscapes in a way that hasn’t been done before, and he allows these beautiful images to tell the story. Dialogue is kept to a minimum, everything we know about these people comes from what we see, and that’s refreshing. I love the fact that he took what was meant to be a summer blockbuster and made a $135 million art film as complex and emotional as a Wong Kar-Wai film. Two directors this year stretched the boundaries of what the medium can do, Mann and Lynch. But, Mann did it just a little better.

Picture
Babel
Inland Empire
Miami Vice
The Fountain
The Science of Sleep


Well, if you’ve read my top ten list, this is no surprise. Miami Vice was the best film of the year, I’ve seen it five times, and each viewing is a different experience, I’m constantly seeing new things and understanding better how Mann was able to create such a hypnotic work. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing out on the best film of 2006.

Totals:
Nominations (Wins)


Inland Empire – 9 (4)
Science of Sleep – 9 (2)
Miami Vice – 7 (4)
Babel – 7 (1)
The Fountain – 7 (1)
Marie Antoinette – 5 (1)
The Departed – 5 (1)
Funky Forest – 4 (1)
Children of Men – 4
Casino Royale – 4
A Scanner Darkly – 3 (1)
Idlewild – 3
Little Children – 2 (1)
Pan’s Labyrinth – 2 (1)
The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things – 2
Manderlay – 2
The Great Yokai War – 2
Borat – 1
Hard Candy – 1
Shadowboxer – 1
Time – 1
Rocky Balboa - 1

6 comments:

Mega said...

Something about Bernal is just grating to me, at least in Science of Sleep (the only film I've seen him in.) That's the main reason I'm a bit iffy on the film (overall, I really liked it... but couldn't love it): at least a third to a half of Bernal's performance blocked me out of the film, hampered the accdessibility -- and in those moments, a character I wanted to like did become closed and unlikable.

I know a lot of people already who disagree with me on this, so your choice is understandable. I also know quite a few who agree with me entirely. In fact, everyone I know who has seen the movie either loved the guy's performance or swung wildly back and forth between hate and like. Weird.

Of your list, I'd probably choose Leo in The Departed. I tend to think he's alright, but when we saw The Departed one of the previews was for Blood Diamond and Dicaprio's accent for whatever reason inspired laughter. Seeing him in the feature right after that preview was like night and day; he was my favorite part of the movie, so much so that when he dies I was just shy of pissed off -- a testament to his performance and the filmmaking in general, I think. It was one of those moments when you're made to feel a certain way but you're sitting there trying to think your way out of the feeling -- you (think you) understand the film, you instinctively tense up, you don't want to be worked on in this way... it always reminds me of the effect Blue Velvet has on me, and on most of the friends I show it. Actually, that might be apples and oranges, there... but at least both fruit. ??

And Laura Dern in Inland Empire -- right there with ya. Last night I was able to meet her, briefly, and with a buzz from free vodka, at the dinner/party following the Tibet House Benefit Concert (we volunteered.) She happened to walk right by me as we started breaking the room down, and I said hi and basically that she was fantastic in Inland Empire. She was incredibly nice, thanking me, and said we've got to get more people seeing the movie, get your friends to go, etc. No exact quoting, re: vodka haze. But it was nice. I mean, I don't know much of the realities of the Academy's selection process, but regardless it's just a damned shame Inland Empire seemed entirely unconsidered. I don't care too much for the whole award thing regardless, but -- you saw the film and her in it, I mean, holy shit.

Still haven't seen Miami Vice! Got to be selective about theater-going, what with lack of funds and all... and my netflix queue is a disparigingly disorganized 415-or-so movies. I need to remember to bump it to the top some time.

While I'm posting: I've been skipping the Invisibles posts, even though it wasn't that long ago (OK -- last May, apparently a good deal of time... how it flies...) when I last read the series, my second read through in total. I plan to follow your probably-then-completed series of posts when I launch myself into a third reading of the comics, but wanted to say now that I do very much look forward to that.

Patrick said...

Was that Tibet House concert the one with Sigur Ros and Patti Smith? I would have loved to been at that, I really want to see Sigur Ros live, but I'm never in town when they're playing. That's awesome that Laura Dern was there, just hanging out.

And I'd agree that Bernal is definitely a love it or hate it thing in Science of Sleep. I watched the movie with my friend and he said the same thing you did, that he just didn't like the character and couldn't get into it. But, I think that's more Gondry's writing, Bernal's completely different in some of his other roles.

And, I'd highly reccomend bumping Miami Vice up the netflix queue. It got unfairly written off as a TV show remake, but recently it's been getting a nice critical reevaluation.

And with The Invisibles, I'd agree that it's tough to go in depth with analysis when you're not actually reading the series. I was following a guy who was reviewing Buffy through, and I would just skim them because I wasn't in the mental place where I could totally commit to it. Plus, I wanted to keep some things fresh for when I did reread.

Mega said...

Yup, that's the show. I'd never heard Sigur Ros, only heard of them, and they were really great. Dern was there because Ben Harper played, and it turns out they're married.

When Miami Vice was coming out, I basically blew it off as just that, one of the many new films based on an older TV show. Suddenly (and maybe it's just because in the last couple of months I've been reading much more film blogging) I'm hearing such great things about it, intelligently, and I'm psyched. Who would've known? I'm not much of a film buff, and am almost always out of the news loop... you see that a movie of Miami Vice is being made, what are you supposed to expect? With everything I've been hearing about the film it's hard to believe that I turned down seeing it in the theater when my brother invited me -- he would have paid for my ticket, even... he's got a Commando poster, laminated, on his wall. I don't know what that says, but he's the last person I'd expect to see a movie with critical acclaim that wasn't a three-hour war epic. For the record, I'm pretty sure he gave an uncharacteristically quiet (and perhaps signaling thought, confusion, and/or wonderment) "it was pretty good" verdict on MV.

Patrick said...

I feel like there's always been movies that are audience favorites and critical favorites, but lately there's been a new category of film blog favorites emerging. The New World was a great example of this, and Miami Vice is another recent one. In both cases, those are films that deemphasize traditional narrative and prefer to engage in a more dreamlike, visual storytelling, emphasizing emotion over narrative clarity.

Vice was marketed as an action movie, but it's really not, and that's why I think it got a lukewarm reaction from the mainstream audience. This article is a great example of the kind of criticism that's reevalutating the film and seeing it for the wonderful piece of art that it is.

J said...

Macy Gray! Amazing. I agree with just about all of your choices, except for Ellen Page for Hard Candy. I thought she was merely "passable," and I urge you to read my Hard Candy review for more fleshed out thoughts on that matter.

Patrick said...

I just read your review, and I'd agree about the filmmaking technique, in future years, the film's style is going to declared "so 00s." But, I think with Page, her character is supposed to be acting like the too cool teenager, picking the exact things that would make him think she's smarter than she is, hence the whole Goldfrapp thing. It is a bit showy, but her intensity made the movie work for me, so she got the nod.

And, I'm eager to see what she does next in Juno when her and George Michael Bluth have a baby together.