Tuesday 22 January 2008

80th Annual Academy Awards Nominations

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.


Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

I'm still having trouble understanding the Norbit nomination myself. I don't know if I can bring myself to watch it.

It totally pains me to see that Transformers got the same number of nom's as Sweeney Todd. So bizarre.

On the flip side I'm thrilled for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and now have numerous more films to add to my list!

Bob Turnbull said...

Though I haven't seen Norbit, I think I can safely recommend that you do NOT subject yourself to it...

And Transformers? Yeah, some of the visual effects were cool, but they weren't used well by Bay. The transformations (except for a couple) all happened too fast and the fights were just blurs. Bah!

I haven't seen either Sweeney or Diving Bell. Hoping to catch There Will Be Blood this weekend!

Anonymous said...

Whaa?! Norbit. My God.... I didn't notice that one when I read through the nominations the other day.

I'm a bit upset about Into The Wild completely getting shafted. At least Hal Holbrook squeezed out a nomination.

Madame Tutli-Putli sounds mesmerizing. Any idea how I can see it?

Chet Mellema said...

Just a few thoughts...

-- The Once soundtrack is incredible and pretty much all original songs if I'm not mistaken. I'm not even sure if Falling Slowly is the best one, but it's very good nonetheless.

-- Knowing you like Magnolia, I'll be very interested to see what you think of There Will Be Blood.

-- The Academy has a checkered past with the Foreign Language award. The problem is that if France has the best two films for that year, only one of them will get to compete for the Oscar. Shifting gears, last year I was really pulling for Pan's Labyrinth and was really bummed when The Lives of Others took home the gold...But after seeing the latter several weeks ago I think they made the right choice. It's terrific.

-- I'm the most bummed that pretty much my three favorite films from 2007--The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Zodiac, and I'm Not There--almost got shut out entirely and received no recognition in the major categories (Film, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress). Just a reminder that the Oscars usually only get it about 25% right. Just enough to keep you watching, but far enough off the mark so we can profess our superior intellect and opinions (for better or worse).

Bob Turnbull said...


I found the "Norbit" nom even funnier since many said that he lost his shot at an acting nom last year because of his participation in it.

I haven't seen "Into The Wild", but I expected a few more nods due to the write-ups I had read.

As for "Madame Tutli-Putli", short of catching it at Cinematheque Ontario this season (it's part of the Canada Top 10 series in the short films segment) or finding it at a film festival, you could buy it from the NFB web site (which also has the trailer and other details about it).


I actually prefer the first song the full band does in the studio in "Once", but I'm OK with Falling Slowly getting the nomination since it's the moment where the two of them realize they have something special...

I love "Magnolia" and pretty much everything Anderson has done, so I'm pretty much frothing at the mouth waiting to see "There Will Be Blood". I'm actually hoping to go see it tonight (in about an hour).

I totally forgot to mention in my half-assed comments that there were no nominations for "Zodiac". Not that Fincher's film was my favourite from the past year, but it was a huge achievement with a great script. And I'll likely never listen to a Donovan song the same way again...