Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Oscar nominations were announced, and, as usual, this isn't the cutting edge. Still, there were some good inclusions: Sofia Coppola becomes, finally, the first American woman to be nominated in the director's category (no, Streisand was never nominated), which is both deserving for her effort but also especially fitting in a year where more women behind the camera produced great films. It's great to see Bill Murray nominated, but sad not to see Scarlett Johansson get a nod for anything, though it's probably best for her career this way. (Remember Hillary Swank?) It's nice that Keisha Castle-Hughes got nominated--she was fantastic. I'm thrilled that Johnny Depp got nominated for Pirates--he had a double handicap: comic performance, summer popcorn movie. (So, of course, he won't win.) The Best Song category is one of the strongest in recent memory and is helping to wash away the memory of those icky years when Disney's end-credits ballads dominated. A song from A Mighty Wind was nominated! That rocks!! Lord of the Rings and its director were nominated, which I was happy about, however expected it was.

I'm disappointed, however, that Oscar is still taking the bait with such obvious ploys as: Miramax's Cold Mountain (at least Nicole was shut out), The Last Samurai (aka Dances with Wolves in Japan--at least Tom was shut out), and to some extent The House of Sand and Fog. Also, Charlize Theron's nom, though I'm sure she's strong, was predictable: first, the makeup job (like Kidman in The Hours), second, the serious serial killer film (yuck--when will this cycle run its course?), and third, the violent queer theme (Boys Don't Cry, anyone?). When will the Oscars stop sending the message that movies which batter and punish the audience are better than films which entertain? Kill Bill was completely shut out (even Uma!), which is probably in the best interest of Tarantino's career, anyway. He looks better as a rebel outside the Hollywood gates. Maybe voters are waiting for vol.2? I'm so glad Seabiscuit was nominated for best picture, even though it came out in the summertime, but where were the nominations for its incredible cast? What about Gerry or Elephant for Cinematography? It's strange that Fernando Meirelles (City of God) got the director nom over Gary Ross (Seabiscuit), which once again opens up the charge: did the movie direct itself? Ah, the vagaries of voting.

Actor--Penn (but I'm hoping Murray)
S. Actor--Robbins
Actress--Theron (maybe Keaton)
S. Actress--Clarkson (this is tough to call)
Animated Feature--Finding Nemo
Picture--The Return of the King
Director--Peter Jackson, The Return of the King
Score--Howard Shore, The Return of the King
Song--Into the West, The Return of the King


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