The Oscars are tonight. I’ve always been a big fan of the movies and used to try to at least see most of the films nominated for the major awards. In the past several years I have been disappointed by just not being that interested in the films. Not this year! I think this was a great year for film, I have seen most of those nominated for major awards, so I offer my picks…
The nominees: “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote,” “Crash,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Munich.”
My pick: “Brokeback Mountain” – I know this is the heavy favorite and that I’m biased, but I saw it again yesterday and it’s a beautiful film. I really love everything about it. The sparseness of the dialogue, the landscape and even the score all brilliantly contribute to the essential theme of loneliness and isolation. And, having read the short story (by Annie Proulx) on which it is derived, I believe it is one of the best, most true adaptations I’ve ever seen.
Descending order: 1. Brokeback 2. Capote 3. Crash 4. Good Night and Good Luck 5. Munich
Disappointment: I really liked “Walk the Line” and would rank it close to Crash and Good Night and Good Luck. I feel like if it hadn’t been for “Ray” a few years back—a similar film in so many ways—it might have been nominated.
The nominees: Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Capote”; Terrence Howard, “Hustle & Flow”; Heath Ledger, “Brokeback Mountain”; Joaquin Phoenix, “Walk the Line”; David Strathairn, “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
My Pick: Hoffman for Capote. The other four are great, and each could be a winner in any other year (particularly Ledger and Phoenix, making me wish they weren’t up against Hoffman this year because they were so good). But Hoffman’s portrayal of Capote, going beyond impersonation to find the writer’s troubled spirit, was a marvel to watch. Plus he’s been such a consistently brilliant character actor in so many previous roles and so is deserving.
The nominees: Judi Dench, “Mrs. Henderson Presents”; Felicity Huffman, “Transamerica”; Keira Knightley, “Pride & Prejudice”; Charlize Theron, “North Country”; Reese Witherspoon, “Walk the Line.”
Can’t Pick: I confess to only having seen two of these movies this year so I really shouldn’t pick. Of the two I saw, I thought both Felicity Huffman and Reese Witherspoon were excellent, and would probably tip it to Witherspoon. Actors should get credit for singing—and singing so well. It adds an extra degree of difficulty to their craft.
The nominees: George Clooney, “Syriana”; Matt Dillon, “Crash”; Paul Giamatti, “Cinderella Man”; Jake Gyllenhaal, “Brokeback Mountain”; William Hurt, “A History of Violence.”
My Pick: The favorite seems to be Matt Dillon, and I agree he was very good, but I’m going to pick Jake Gyllenhaal for two reasons: First, because it’s really just a charade that he’s nominated as supporting actor. He was no less a lead than Heath Ledger, so his role was more substantial than any of these others. And he is really, really good—every bit as good as Ledger, but for the latter’s deliberate accent and affectation—gimmicks which the Academy seems to love.
The nominees: Amy Adams, “Junebug”; Catherine Keener, “Capote”; Frances McDormand, “North Country”; Rachel Weisz, “The Constant Gardener”; Michelle Williams, “Brokeback Mountain.”
Again, can’t say: I didn’t see even a majority of these. Nothing against the actresses this year, I just didn’t happen to catch most of their films.
The nominees: Ang Lee, “Brokeback Mountain”; Bennett Miller, “Capote”; Paul Haggis, “Crash”; George Clooney, “Good Night, and Good Luck”; Steven Spielberg, “Munich.”
My Pick: Ang Lee – Not only because I think Brokeback was the best film and it’s rare that the director of the Best Picture winner doesn’t also win. But I think this film is a little more courageous than the others. Lee tackled a taboo-breaking topic with sensitivity, by not treating it like a taboo at all.