Oscar Nominations

Jeff Alworth

[Although this post is about neither politics nor Oregon, I justify it knowing that you're all movie fans.  You are all movie fans, right? ]

So the Oscar nods are out, and as always, they're a mixed bag of surprisingly courageous selections and boneheaded omissions.  You may have your own peeves, but here are a few of mine. 

Best Picture
Nominations: The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Million Dollar Baby, Ray, Sideways

Comments.  The biggest omission is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which was easily the year's best movie.  Finding Neverland was a flawed minor movie at best, so what's it doing here?     (Washington Post: "You're expected to weep, and perhaps you will weep. But if you do, it's not likely that you'll respect yourself in the morning.")  Clint gets the automatic wave through.

Best Actor
Nominations: Don Cheadle "Hotel Rwanda," Johnny Depp "Finding Neverland," Leonardo DiCaprio "The Aviator," Clint Eastwood "Million Dollar Baby," Jamie Foxx "Ray"

Comments.  Best evidence that Hollywood is America's most intact adult high school.  All the popular kids get nominations, but the talented oddball gets snubbed.  Paul Giamatti deserves not only a nomination, but arguably the award (full disclosure: I still haven't seen Hotel Rwanda, starring one of America's best actors).  And while we're at it, where's Liam Neeson?

Two questions.  1) Guess how many previous nominations Alan Alda has received?  2) Quick, who's Catalina Sandino Moreno?  (Answers: Zip and the first-time actress who will lose to Hilary Swank in the Best Actress category.) 

Looking through the nominations, I wonder--perhaps an indication that this might be a life's-work kind of year?  Alan Alda, Morgan Freeman, Marty Scorsese.  Oh yeah, Marty.  He got his usual nod.  But will this be the year he finally takes home the statue?  I'm beginning to hope he never wins, so that we have a permanent lesson about why the Oscars really are just a popularity contest.  I mean, the greatest American film director never wins, but Robert Zemekis does?  You can't take things too seriously, after all.

What do you think?

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    I think Don Cheadle is a great actor and Hotel Rwanda a good movie but not so sure his performance was Oscar winning. I watch a lot of movies and am still a little confused as to a few of these nominations. in fact. Also, I'm shocked at how many movies I've seen this past year yet still hadn't heard of at least one of the best picture nominees.

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    The overlooking of Giamatti was the most glaring slight of this year - there always is one (at least) at the nomination phase, then occasionally some more on statue night (Can you say The Color Purple? I know you could...). Hell, he was worthy of a nom for American Splendor (of those who got it, Law's turn in Cold Mountain could probably have been bumped to get G in.)

    I am saddened at how many of this year's nominees I haven't yet seen, as I lost so much of 2004 movie-going time with ehem politics :)

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    Yeah, American Splendor was sublime. Obviously no one anywhere near Southern California saw it, and those that had the misfortune of nearing a theater showing a movie about a working-class Clevelander were knocked back with shock. He deserved an oscar for that, for sure.

    If you had to miss a year, this was the one. Stinko.

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    Um, don't forget the big snub here... Fahrenheit 911 didn't make the Best Picture list... I know Moore couldn't submit it for both Best Documentary and Best Picture, but it strikes that it ought to have been on one of those lists....

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    OK... I'll grant F9/11 missing is something, but it suffers from not clearly fitting either catagory. Giamatti's catagory was crystal clear and deserving, especially given his exclusion last year, too, in an outstanding performance.

    The People's Choice win is rarely a reliable harbinger for AMPAS recognition... Moore was recognized recently and the current piece is incindiary enough that H'wood is steering clear. You might notice Mel's Passion was largely left out, too... (Music and Makeup aren't much for such a "compelling" piece :))

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    911 didn't belong in best picture, and Moore's ego probably thought it was too big for the best documentary category.

  • steves schopp (unverified)

    It's my understanding that the peoples choice awards, for their first time, used internet polling. Moore launched a campaign to get his folks to vote, preferably repeatedly. He stacked the deck, but now the real unworthiness of his works is now being revealed in a real awards process. I also noticed, or at least it appeared that, at Hollywood video, Moores film remained on the shelves.

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    I agree that Fahrenheit 9/11 didn't deserve to be in the top five. It should have been in the doc category--but Moore decided during the election that he'd remove it from contention in hope of broadcasting it. There's a reason there are two categories for fiction and documentary--they're totally different forms. I could see a doc making the best pic category, but it would hvae to have been a really extraordinary piece of filmmaking. Even parisans should agree--the power of F 9/11 wasn't in the filmmaking, it was in the content.

    As for Steve's comment: shocking--shocking!--that Moore should be playing politics in Hollywood. Someone oughta make a documentary about THAT egregious, unprecedented act.

  • steve schopp (unverified)

    Jeff says, """As for Steve's comment: shocking--shocking!--that Moore should be playing politics in Hollywood. Someone oughta make a documentary about THAT egregious, unprecedented act.""""

    Come on Jeff, at least try and grasp the point I was making, versus the nonsense you came up with. NO, there is nothing "shocking", "egregious", or "unprecedented".

    My point was Moore's film and his effort to have it acclaimed was and is phony. The peoples choice awards' new methods seem to demonstrate this.

    You and relatively few folks may believe the F911 to be a stellar work of film making, is some category, but it's total absence as a nominee seems to substantiate your nano-minority fringe status.

    Of course I could be wrong. Now wouldn't that be "shocking".

    Be sure and tune into tonight's cable access show 8:00 channel 11. South Waterfront, Good-bye Mt. Hood

  • iggi (unverified)

    i didn't think F 9/11 was as good as Bowling for Columbine. there were better documentaries about Iraq that came out last year.

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    The push to get a movie a People's Choice win started LONG before Moore moved on F9/11, when the American Family Association started the push for The Passion on December 1.

  • Joshua (unverified)

    Who would have guessed that this Oscar talk would immediately devolve to spirited defenses of Moore's little movie. I imagine that RedOregon would have a similar thread decrying The Passion's failure to be nominated for Best Picture. The fact that neither film was very good, and that the Oscars are ostensibly about quality, doesn't seem to matter.

    I think the nominations are mostly boring. Only certain kinds of films win Oscars, and some years are good for Oscar movies and some are bad. This was a definite off-year as far as Oscar-bait goes. The only things of interest are that many of the categories don't have true front-runners and that there was a record number of nominations for black actors, and with so little of the usual cynicism attached to what Cintra Wilson has calls the ocassional "year of the gasping retard and negro." Jamie Foxx is a lock for best actor, and while the other nominations (including Foxx's second nomination) are unlikely to produce awards, it's interesting that Hollywood is finally getting serious about giving black actors Oscar-worthy (if not interesting) roles.

    As for Don Cheadle, easily the finest actor in the lineup, isn't it at least a little aggravating that he's nominated for a genocide movie (a genre of film most notable for relying solely on the unimpeachable morality of the filmmakers for its reputation) and not for any of the complex and interesting turns he's made in films like Traffic?

    Here's to praying that Cheadle wins anyway, and that Kate Winslet surprises us all in what is, I think, her third or fourth nomination.

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    I thought American Splendor was overhyped and not very good, and while I enjoyed Sideways, I don't believe the hype on that one either.

    American Splendor seemed to me to be less a working-class apology than a whiny success story of a guy too determined to be depressed despite his not-so-bad-at-all life. How very artsy.

    Sideways was enjoyable to watch, but Giamatti's performance didn't strike me as groundbreaking or earthshaking. Not to typecast, but perhaps he's just good at playing bummed out middle aged men.

    For an impressive performance, I like Jamie Foxx in Ray. Granted, I haven't seen many of the other movies. But Mr. Foxx conveyed all the complexities of his character in a way that was deep and believable and moving. Isn't that what Best Actor is supposed to be about?

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