Sunday, February 22, 2009

Adar's Picks for Oscar

As usual, Catattack and I disagree on a lot of things. That's one of the things that makes this blog fun for us, after all! I confess that I haven't been as diligent as she about seeing every nominated film; I suspect that a significant slice of the Academy doesn't see them all either, so I won't let that stop me.

Best Actor: Should win: Sean Penn. Will win: Sean Penn. For once, Cat and I agree. His turn in Milk was moving, surprising, and completely believable. I didn't know the guy could even smile, for crying out loud, and when I heard he was cast, I thought, well, I can see the physical resemblance, but he doesn't have that expansive spirit that was the essence of Harvey Milk. I was wrong! Give the man a statue!

Best Supporting Actor: Should win: Philip Seymour Hoffman Will win: Heath Ledger. I don't think that Oscars should be awarded on the basis of the acting career someone didn't live long enough to have. Ledger showed great promise, and this role was the ultimate in scenery-chewing dramatics, but playing flat-out evil is a piece of cake compared to the balancing act that Hoffman performed in Doubt. Hoffman is likeable but worrisome as a popular young priest who may have molested a child, flawlessly walking the knife edge that that role demanded.

Actress in a Leading Role: This category is the one where my lackadaisical movie-watching really catches up with me. Let' s just say that it's going to take one heck of a performance by any of the other actresses to touch Meryl Streep, and leave it at that. Maybe Kate Winslet really out-matched her, and if she did, give her the Oscar.

Actress in a Supporting Role: Should win: Viola Davis. Will win: Penelope Cruz. Viola Davis owned the screen in her few moments of screen time, investing Doubt with whole new vistas of, well, doubt. Moreover, in doing so she evoked not only the drama at hand, but the nuances of an era, playing the protective mother of a possibly molested child in the racially imposed straightjacket of the early 60's. That she conveyed the intensity she did, and stole her one brief scene from Meryl Streep, without raising her voice or hardly moving a muscle makes this one of the astonishing performances of all time, let alone this year.

Best Animated Feature: Wall*E should and will win. It should have been nominated for best film, too, but the Academy doesn't go there, so thank goodness for this category.

Cinematography: Again, my evil ways are catching up with me -- should have spent more time at the movies! -- but this is the category where The Dark Knight really shines, in my opinion.

Best Costume Design: A tough category, but I agree with Cat. Revolutionary Road should win, but the costume historical, The Dutchess, will probably get the statue.

Best Director: Frost/Nixon should win, but Slumdog Millionaire will win. Ron Howard did a magical job of bringing the "unadaptable" play to the screen, and it was more by way of direction than by way of screenplay.

Best Editing: oooh, this one is hard! I am torn between The Dark Knight and Frost/Nixon (how's THAT for strange bedfellows?) No idea who will really win it, though.

Best Picture: When I think about "Best Picture" I ask myself: which of these films is still going to be worth watching, will still be the best of the bunch in 20 years? I confess that I am torn, again, between Frost/Nixon and Milk. Both of them are time machines that take us back to a significant time, and significant people. Both of them contain acting performances that stop the heart, and do so recreating figures that were known to us. Both are films about which someday I expect to say to a grandchild: "want to know what it was like? Watch this film!" I am going to give Milk the edge here, because it tells a story that hasn't been told before, and it tells it darn near flawlessly. Even the smallest parts are spot-on. And for everyone who isn't part of the LGBTQ-whatever "community" -- this IS what it was like, is like, to be not-straight in America. It conveys the heart and soul of lesbian and gay San Francisco at the time before "B,T and Q" were not yet on the radar.

Best Music: Score: I love the music from Slumdog Millionaire, but when I listened to the critic on NPR this morning, he made a great argument for Defiance.

As for the rest, no public opinion; I'm just rooting for favorites and I won't inflict that on this blog.

Catattack, there you have it! No real surprises: we mostly don't agree.

On to important business: where's that popcorn?


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