- BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
- GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
Overall Thoughts: This fell pretty much in line with most people’s predictions, a theme that spread throughout this year’s list of nominees. Of the five, Brokeback Mountain still has the edge, though a surprise win by Crash at this weekend’s SAG awards paints the ensemble drama as a late dark horse.
Biggest Surprise: Munich
Most critics and pundits left this film for dead after the film was crucified for the way it was alternately pro and anti Palestine. Dim audience reaction also did nothing to help the film’s cause, and the film was virtually shut out by the Golden Globes. Bravo to the Academy for recognizing the second bravest film of the year (after Brokeback), and Steven Spielberg’s strongest effort since Saving Private Ryan.
Biggest Snub: Walk the Line
This is only a snub because people were to afraid to support Munich. This is not a snub in my mind because the film is two great performances caught in a mediocre story. This is not Ray, don’t let anyone tell you different.
Biggest Snub, #2: King Kong
Universal banked on the past-Oscar success of director Peter Jackson and probably assumed they could rent their tuxes the day they green lit this picture. Too bad it was twenty minutes too long, poorly structured, thinly characterized and worst of all, kinda boring. The only thing that could have saved this film was a Titanic-like surge at the box office (and $200 million doesn’t cut it).
Best Actor in a Leading Role
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, CAPOTE
- Heath Ledger, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
- Terrence Howard, HUSTLE AND FLOW
- David Strathairn, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
- Joaquin Phoenix, WALK THE LINE
Overall Thoughts: Like the Best Picture race, this slot had four obvious choices and one surprise. It’s always been a three man race between Hoffman, Ledger and Phoenix, but the surplus of nominations for little indie Capote probably signals a larger support base for Hoffman, than for the other two. Look for him to steal the Brokeback limelight, if only for a few minutes.
Biggest Surprise: Terrence Howard
This feels like a thank you nomination, more than a specific deserved performance nomination. Howard was admittedly stellar in Hustle and Flow, but also gave great supporting performances in Crash and Four Brothers. I think this is the Academy’s was of thanking Howard for finally giving them another suitable African American actor to give awards to, after the whole Jamie Foxx thing hasn’t panned out too well (Stealth, Jarhead).
Biggest Snub: Russell Crowe, CINDERELLA MAN
This is what happens when you attack one too many people, and are surly to one too many Academy voters. He gave a fantastic performance, but Terrence Howard’s grace and charisma stole the gruff and unforgiving Crowe’s nomination.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
- Felicity Huffman, TRANSAMERICA
- Charlize Theron, NORTH COUNTRY
- Reese Witherspoon, WALK THE LINE
- Keira Knightley, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
- Judi Dench, MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS
Overall Thoughts: The most boring race of the year. Everyone in the world knows that the Academy has decided to give this to Reese, so I’d bet none of the other actresses are even preparing a speech. Strong support for the little scene Transamerica may give the impression that the luminescent Felicity Huffman may pull the upset, but I’m telling you, Reese is Hollywood royalty at this point, and the same way the Academy was waiting to give Julia an Oscar, they’ve been waiting for Reese since Election.
Biggest Surprise: Keira Knightley
This is only a surprise because Domino sucked so badly, and because she’s never really been given the chance to show she could act (Pirates of the Caribbean wasn’t exactly a tour de force of acting, Johnny Depp aside). Though it is worth mentioning that I predicted this only minutes in watching Pride & Prejudice, and that this better mean that Keira becomes more selective about the film’s she makes (a la Scarlet Johansson).
Biggest Snub: Maria Bello, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
She’s been so good lately (The Cooler), and so disrespected. Critics have drooled over her performance in A History of Violence, and too many seemed a shoo in. I think the unwavering support and respect that the Academy has for Judi Dench (I mean has anyone seen Mrs. Henderson Presents? Anyone?) caused them to pass over Bello. But sooner or later (hopefully sooner), she’ll get herself nominated.
Biggest Snub, #2: Gwyneth Paltrow, PROOF
I guess this means she’s not the Academy’s little darling anymore. Paging a humble pie.! Humble Pie, you have a two o’clock with Mrs. Paltrow. Treat her well.
- Steven Spielberg, MUNICH
- Ang Lee, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
- George Clooney, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
- Paul Haggis, CRASH
- Bennet Miller, CAPOTE
Overall Thoughts: What is with the Academy and its love for Paul Haggis? Crash was amateurishly directed at best, and the only reason it’s garnered the response it has, is because of its great cast. But no matter, this is Ang Lee’s race to lose anyway, and he’s not gonna lose.
Biggest Surprise: Steven Spielberg
Say what you will about the content of the film, but the one thing you can never say is that Munich was poorly directed. Munich was easily the most technically masterful film of the year, and also one of the most thought-provoking. Also, at this point, it should just be mandatory to nominate Spielberg whenever he decides to saddle up and make a drama, because no one else does it better.
Biggest Snub: Fernando Meirelles, THE CONSTANT GARDENER
The most inventive, energetic and smart director working today not named Steven Spielberg. It’s crazy that he got passed over by a hack like Paul Haggis. At least he was recognized for his debut masterpiece City of God a few years back. I’m telling you now, that sometime in the next ten years Fernando Meirelles will win an Oscar for Best Director.
Biggest Snub, #2: Woody Allen, MATCH POINT
It’s hard to judge the merits of a filmmaker that refuses to give us time to breath between his work. Allen does a movie every year, which makes it difficult to focus on a particular film. Yes, Match Point was well done and Allen’s best film in a decade, but more than a few Academy members are probably still sour on his last few films (Anything Else, Hollywood Ending, Curse of the Jade Scorpion).
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
- Paul Giamatti, CINDERELLA MAN
- George Clooney, SYRIANA
- Matt Dillon, CRASH
- William Hurt, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
- Jake Gyllenhaal, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Overall Thoughts: Finally, the nominated Paul Giamatti. Even though I hated Sideways, his snub for Best Actor last year was one of the most egregious mistakes in Oscar history. Look for him to get the Oscar he so richly deserves. Though due props must be given to Matt Dillon and George Clooney for finally getting over the hump of their leading man good looks and actually convincing us they could act.
Biggest Surprise: William Hurt
I guess ten minutes of screen time is all you need to impress. After all, Judi Dench won in 1998 for her three scenes in Shakespeare in Love.
Biggest Snub: Don Cheadle, CRASH
He’s so good in everything he does, that’s it’s a shame he doesn’t have at least two Oscars by now. His haunting work in Hotel Rwanda should have properly rewarded. Unfortunately, when you’re in an ensemble drama with fifteen parts, it’s hard to single out anyone, and Dillon only got the leg up because he was on the poster.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
- Rachel Weisz, THE CONSTANT GARDENER
- Frances McDormand, NORTH COUNTRY
- Michelle Williams, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
- Amy Adams, JUNEBUG
- Catherine Keener, CAPOTE
Overall Thoughts: The coolest race of the year (and always my favourite category), as it features five interesting, likeable actresses. Rachel Weisz is the likely winner, but it’s great to see so many smaller actresses get recognized.
Biggest Surprise: Amy Adams
You can probably pin this on Roger Ebert who gave Adams the Charlize Theron in Monster treatment for her work in Junebug. The famous critic pretty much gave her a sponge bath in his review and put her name on the award map. I dig that the Academy gave a flier on an unknown actress in a little seen film. She may prove to be the dark horse in this race, usually the one most notable for upsets (Marisa Tomei, anyone?).
Biggest Snub: Scarlet Johansson, MATCH POINT
She was good, but not that good. She has to prove she can play more than a femme fatale, if she wants to get serious Oscar attention. Doing back to back Woody Allen films is a good start.
Best Original Screenplay
- Woody Allen, MATCH POINT
- George Clooney & Grant Heslov, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
- Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco, CRASH
- Stephen Gaghan, SYRIANA
- Noah Baumbach, THE SQUID AND THE WHALE
Overall Thoughts: This race played out exactly like everyone thought it would. The right films were nominated, a rarity in any year. Even though Syriana is a braver script, look for Clooney to get the nod for Good Night, and Good Luck. After all, the Academy loves to give actors a writing Oscar (Matt and Ben, anyone?)
Biggest Surprise: None
Biggest Snub: Cinderella Man
This is what happens when you release a great film too early in a bad year, it gets forgotten about come awards time.
Biggest Snub, #2: The 40-Year Old Virgin
Was it one of the five best written films of the year? Probably not, but the commercial success of the film indicates that it touched a nerve in a lot of people, which warrants mentioning. At least the WGA was brave enough to nominate it.
Best Adapted Screenplay
- Dan Futterman, CAPOTE
- Josh Olson, A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
- Jeffrey Caine, THE CONSTANT GARDENER
- Tony Kushner & Eric Roth, MUNICH
- Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
Overall Thoughts: See above. The ten films represented in the two screenplay categories are the ten best films of the year. I congratulate the Academy on recognizing the best of the year, and not forgetting smaller films like A History of Violence, something they have a tendency of doing.
Biggest Surprise: None
Biggest Snub: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
This is a personal snub for me, as it was my favourite film of the year. Evocatively written, almost illegally fun to watch, and so obviously written with love, Shane Black’s homage to film noir is my favourite piece of cinema released in 2005. And if I was in charge, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang would be my pick for Best Picture of the year.
Tell me what you all thought of the nominations by leaving a comment. Did you favourite films get recognized? Was your favourite actor snubbed? Let me know…