The Flick Chicks

01-28-08 Mad About The Oscars

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Judy Thorburn

Mad About the Oscar Nominations

Las Vegas Tribune -
Las Vegas Round The Clock

The Women Film Critics Circle -
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I have a bone to pick with the 2007 Academy Award nominations that were announced on January 20, 2008. This year, more than ever, I see plenty of reasons to voice my complaint at the list of chosen nominees. It is obvious that some of the best performances of 2007 have been snubbed by the Academy voters. Also, it comes as no surprise that the voters are, once again, suffering from short term memory as they can’t seem to recall many of the best performances or movies that were released during the earlier part of the year.

Let me begin with the best picture category. Ignored was the riveting, Eastern Promises, although its star Viggo Mortenson received a much deserved nomination for best actor. Instead of that film, we have Juno, a drama some regard as a comedy that frivolously makes light of unwed teenage pregnancies, is deplorable and without merit, but yet made the best picture category. The way overrated film also garnered a best actress nomination for Ellen Page’s cocky performance that many teenagers who are not actors, but have an attitude, could have pulled off. The film received multiple nominations including best director and best screenplay. Mind you, it was written by a former stripper, Diablo Cody whose so called hip “voice” resonates throughout the script. I was not impressed!

On the subject of best actress, I am happy about the nominations of Julie Christie for her moving performance as a victim of Alzheimers in Away From Her, Laura Linney for The Savages and Marion Cotillard, electrifying as the mentally tortured late French singer Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose, but I can’t understand how strong performances by Angelina Jolie as the real life wife of American journalist Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped and beheaded by Arab terrorists, Jodie Foster in The Brave One, or Nicole Kidman’s multi faceted performance in Margot at the Wedding, was overlooked in place of the aforementioned Ellen Page, whom Hollywood has embraced as this year’s darling. Don’t get me wrong. Page is a fine actress and a rising star, but Juno was not a role that could compare or come close to the other outstanding female performances. On the other hand, Page’s edgy, excellent performance in her previous indie flick, 2006’s Hard Candy, was something to rave about and should have warranted the attention she is getting from the less worthy Juno.

Many male performances stood out in 2007. Philip Seymour Hoffman is nominated for best male supporting role in Charlie Wilson’s War, but as I see it, he left a more memorable stamp in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. In fact, I would have nominated Ethan Hawke, his costar in BTDKYD for Best Actor in place of Johnny Depp. Depp is always good, but it wasn’t his best work compared to Hawke’s brilliant, Oscar worthy work in the startling film about a robbery gone bad and its tragic consequences. Other worthy Best Actor contenders include James McAvoy in Atonement and Gerard Butler in my numero uno film of the year, the splendid “300” that neglected to make the best film category according to the Academy.

Josh Brolin made a mark for himself last year, delivering a powerful performance in No Country for Old Men that should have, by all means, garnered him a best supporting actor nomination. His co-star in the film Javier Bardem, is my bet, and rightfully so, to walk away with the golden statue. But, Brolin and the breakout performance of Paul Dano who doesn’t deliver a false note in There Will be Blood should have filled the slots given to veteran actor Hal Halbrook for his small role in Into the Wild and Hoffman in BTDKYD.

The Academy likes to honor those with a long career and a great body of work, never mind if the movie performance they are being recognized for is Oscar worthy or not. Sentimental favorites have claimed the coveted prize many a time. For example, John Wayne won Best Actor for his cowboy role (give me a break – what kind of a stretch is that?) in True Grit, an unworthy choice over Dustin Hoffman’s astounding performance as Ratso Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy. This year Halbrook as well as Ruby Dee, for her even smaller supporting role in American Gangster, fits the bill when it comes to sentimental favorites. So I wouldn’t be too shocked if either or both of their names are called when the envelopes are opened.

Michelle Pfeiffer was deliciously wicked as a conniving witch in Stardust and Helena Bonham Carter stole the thunder from Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd, yet he was nominated and she wasn’t.

Hey, I could go on with names of several other actors and movies that were dissed by the Academy, but I think I made my point. For what it’s worth I still look forward to watching this years Academy Awards when it is aired on TV, that is, if the writers strike has ended and the show will go on. I expect Daniel Day Lewis to win Best Actor for There Will Be Blood and Julie Christie to win Best Actress for Away From Her. But nothing is certain. An upset or two cannot be dismissed since that happens quite often.

It is always fun watching the faces of the losers who walk away empty handed. Many an actor need their inflated ego brought down to size. When all is said and done, it goes to show that movie stars are people like you and me, a lot more glamorous, make lots more money, but are just human. The difference is their reactions at the award ceremonies are in the public eye and get to be seen worldwide. And, that is when we get a chance to see some of the best performances ever.
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