I'm not a big Oscar buff nor do I really care a great deal who wins (OK, somewhat - I think I threw a shoe when I heard "Crash" won Best Picture), but I always enjoy watching the telecast. Yes, that 4 hour onslaught of self-congratulations? I enjoy the hell out of it. Mostly because we watch it with friends and just end up talking about movies. I also love those clip portions of the show that so many people want to toss away in order to shorten things - it just always re-establishes my love of film (that Film Noir one from a few years ago was great if I recall).
Anyhoo, the nominations were announced today for this year's awards. There's already been some hub-bub regarding the run up to the nominations in several categories - namely Best Documentary and Best Foreign Language Film - as some of the obvious choices were left out and didn't even make the cut before the final nominations (e.g. In The Shadow Of The Moon, "4 Months 3 Weeks And 2 Days", etc.). But it shouldn't really be overly surprising given the convoluted process for nominations, typically conservative tastes (of older Academy members) and personal agendas that are all part of the yearly tradition of the Oscars.
My favourite nomination of the bunch is actually for one of the Short Animated films - Madame Tutli-Putli. I've actually seen it twice now and it's an amazing creation. I previously wrote about it:
It's "Nightmare Before Christmas" meets early Tool videos - and the most amazing eyes you'll ever see. After the screening, one of the filmmakers spent a good 3-4 minutes trying to explain how they created the effect. He lost me, but it didn't matter...There were times during the film that I actually wondered if maybe the woman was an actual woman and not some stop motion creation. Simply because the eyes looked so incredible...
The film itself is a dark tale of a train ride and some unexpected visitors. It's creepy, funny and ends with a beautiful if slightly puzzling image. With this award, the film becomes eligible for next year's Oscars.
That comparison in the first line doesn't really do it justice...It's a great deal more. And it's also from the NFB which would allow us Canadians to crow "Our Film Board won another Oscar - Ha!". We're petty like that...
Other random thoughts about the nominations:
- The folks at Edward Copeland On Film did an awesome job predicting the eventual nominees (on the major awards anyway). I don't know if they were privy to the short lists for all the categories, but they had a really high hit ratio.
- Though I haven't yet seen Sarah Polley's "Away From Her", I was kinda hoping that Gordon Pinsent would sneak in a nomination for Best Actor. He's been a staple on Canadian TV and film for decades and just so damn good in anything he touches.
- Yet again we see a nominee for Best Film not getting a Best Director nod. I suppose they don't have to line up, but Joe Wright must be wondering why the heck the Academy loves his film, but not his directing of said film...
- Up for Best Documentary - 4 war-themed films and Michael Moore (that's not to give short shrift to any of the nominees).
- Without having seen any of the Documentary Shorts nominees, I'd wager a large sum that the winner will be "Sari's Mother" - the story of a woman in Iraq struggling to get Health Care for her AIDS stricken son, but having to deal with the mess left from the occupation. That's not to say it isn't deserving, but it certainly has a subject matter that one would expect to appeal to voters (ie. an important current topic with tragic overtones).
- Another Documentary Short sounds terrific. The synopsis for "Salim Baba" from the Oscar site: "Using a hand-cranked 1897 projector, Salim Muhammad offers his neighbors in the slums of Kolkata, India, a chance to view scraps of films. Although collectors have sought to buy his rare projector, Salim refuses to part with it, as his street shows are often the only films the local residents can afford to see."
- The Russian nominee for Best Foreign Language Film ("12") is somewhat of a remake of "Twelve Angry Men", so I have a soft spot for it. I've heard that "Mongol" (from Kazakhstan) is terrific.
- "Falling Slowly", the nominated song from the film "Once", absolutely must win. Not just because it is a great song (and it is), but because of how integral it was to the film.
- Painful truths: 1) Oscar Nominated - "Norbit", 2) "Transformers" - multiple Oscar nominee. Ouch.