Archive for the ‘Oscars’ Category

Oscars revisited

February 27, 2007

Well, that was fun. Sort of. Okay, the scuttlebutt is that the Oscars were a pretty dull affair, partly because there were no huge blockbusters up for awards. And it was Ellen Degeneres’ first shot at hosting.

I enjoyed them. They weren’t awful – about a million more viewers than 2006’s – but they weren’t bombastic or full of surprises.

In my last entry, I predicted the winners for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress. Five out of six, baby! The winners:

Best Picture: The Departed
Best Director: Martin Scorcese, The Departed
Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
Best Actress: Helen Mirren, The Queen
Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls

Arkin was a surprise to me; I thought there was quite a groundswell of support for Eddie Murphy. Still, he did a great job, even if his character wasn’t in the movie as much the other main characters.

I was glad to see Pan’s Labyrinth win a few awards, too; damn good for a film not in English. (Incidentally, a good portion of Babel was not in English, either.)

I still don’t think Scorcese deserved this award. The awards are for the best movies of the past year, not careers. Just because he didn’t win before is no reason to give him one now. This just goes to show you what good PR can get you. The Departed was cheesy, with vascillating accents, hammy performances, and stilted dialog. Take out the name recognition and you had a standard cops-and-robbers movie.

And a final note on hair. Jack Nicholson’s shaved pate was due to an upcoming role as an escaped cancer patient – what, you thought he’d be Bald Jack for the hell of it? But what was up with Phillip Seymour Hoffman? Someone should have grabbed him and combed his unruly mane – he looked like he just woke up from a deep slumber.

But all in all, I can’t say I was disappointed in the selected winners.

Oscars 2007

February 25, 2007

Last year, I got it in my fool head to see as many of the Oscar contenders as I could in the interest of gaining a better-formed opinion. But that was dumb, because it turned out that a lot of those contenders weren’t my kind of movie in the first place, so when I saw them I wasn’t too impressed. (I really detested Crash, for one thing.)

So this year, I decided I’d go see the ones that kind of looked appealing to begin with. I mean, heck, I’m not paid to see these, and I’m not an Oscar voter, so why should I see them in the theater? I might see them later, but my main focus here is to predict which ones will win, and I don’t need to have seen them to know that.

Without further ado:

Best Picture


Babel
The Departed
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

What will win: It’ll be The Departed, I think. A couple of years ago, Scorcese was up for The Aviator, and everyone said This Is The Year. It wasn’t. Scorcese, who’s never ever won, despite a lot of great movies, was shut out again. He’s the sentimental favorite this year, almost universally. It’ll be a huge upset if he does not win.
What should win: Personally, I think Babel, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, was much, much better. Honest, gripping performances by everyone, well shot, well edited, everything. The Departed, to me, felt like a bunch of big-shot actors being hammy. It just didn’t work, and it paled even more when compared with the director’s other tough-guy films, like Goodfellas.

Best Actor


Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Peter O’Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland

Who will win: Whitaker was apparently phenomenal as Idi Amin. I heard one industry insider say that because in real life Whitaker is a soft-spoken nice guy, watching him play a despicable, amoral tyrant is a real treat – it’s called acting.
Who should win: From what I’ve heard, ditto. DiCaprio and Gosling (a first-time nominee) were good; O’Toole, who’s never won, doesn’t seem to stand a chance here, either. And Smith, as good as he was, unfortunately in a lesser film – it was sold as an Oscar hopeful and did not meet expectations, so he might suffer a backlash.

Best Actress

Penelope Cruz, Volver
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Helen Mirren, The Queen
Meryl Streep, The Devil wears Prada
Kate Winslet, Little Women

Who will win: Almost certainly Mirren, who played Queen Elizabeth perfectly, according to Everyone in the World. Mirren’s been nominated three times, and this should be her first win.
Who should win: Who am I kidding? I saw one of the films. I will say this, though; Dench was beyond superb as the confused teacher. Great, great performance. Cruz won’t win, because actresses in foreign-language films almost never do, and not against this competition. Streep’s won a lot; Winslet has never won, despite five nominations. This won’t be her year.

Best Supporting Actress

Adriana Barraza, Babel
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

Who will win: Hudson was apparently stunning in her role, both singing and acting. There’s a strong wave in her favor at the moment, and it’s hard to believe she won’t come away with the prize.
Who should win: Since I didn’t see Dreamgirls, I can’t say Hudson should win; however, of the others, I’d say Blanchett would be most deserving. It’s hard to say, though, because both Barraza and Kikuchi were tremendous. They sort of cancel each other out, though. I had my doubts about Blanchett playing a sorta-dumb pedophile schoolteacher, and she aced the role.

Best Supporting Actor

Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Mark Wahlberg, The Departed

Who will win: Barring a huge upset, it’ll be Murphy, who knocked ’em dead with his singing – you can forget “Party All the Time” ever happened.
Who should win: Probably Murphy. I didn’t like Wahlberg in The Departed; hammy does not equal awesome. Sorry, Marky. Wish I’d gotten to see Little Children and Blood Diamond.

Best Director

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel
Martin Scorcese, The Departed
Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears, The Queen
Paul Greengrass, United 93

Who will win: Scorcese, easily. If we got to see the voting breakdown, it’ll be something like 95% Scorcese.
Who should win: Inarritu, for reasons explained above. Excellent film. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the juice that Scorcese does at this point, since it’s such an early movie for him. And Eastwood won in this category just a couple of years ago with Million Dollar Baby. Greengrass’s film was (apparently) heartfelt and sincere, two characteristics the Academy loves, but he’s up against some stiff competition here. And many people believe that The Queen’s success was due more to Mirren than to director Frears.

So there you have it. Mark your ballots accordingly; the shindig begins in under two hours!

Oscars 2007

January 27, 2007

Have you heard that the Oscar noms are out? I think there was something about it in the news recently.

Anyway. Do you like to pick things randomly? Boy, are you in luck! I began a group on Oscar.com; you pick the winners and sit back and relax. Pretty simple.

Oh, and I can hear you guys now: “I haven’t seen ANY of these!” I don’t care! You know, every year someone wins who no one expected to win – the so-called experts are only sometimes right. So it’s a crap shoot of sorts. You can pick whomever and still have a great shot at winning. Plus if you do this group, you’re automatically entered into some kind of sweepstakes.

Log on to OSCAR.com, make your predictions, then join your group
using the information below:

URL: http://predict.oscar.go.com/predict/frontpage

Group Name: Unsightly Blemishes
Group Password: dantehicks

Then tune in Sunday February 25, 2007 at 5PM PT/8PM ET to see if your predictions come true!

Oscars 2006

March 4, 2006

For many years, Oscar night would come and I’d have seen maybe two or three of the nominees, total. Part of the reason was that I’d watch them on video, and the movies weren’t released on video in time for the Oscars.

This year, I decided to be more proactive and watch as many of the nominees – many in the theater – as I could. So I do feel qualified now, in some regard, to pontificate on the awards.

Best Picture

What should win: Good Night, and Good Luck
What will win: Brokeback Mountain

I thought Brokeback Mountain was pretty bad, all things considered, with poor acting and poor directing. This wasn’t a romance story – this was a story about getting two guys to have sex on the screen. But there’s a huge amount of momentum in this movie’s camp, so I think it’ll sadly take the prize. Capote was a bit more interesting, but there wasn’t much to the movie other than Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Method acting. So how could it be among the best of the year? Crash was stunningly awful, a mere pastiche of funky coincidences in which bad people do good things but are still sort of bad. Senseless and slapdash, it was among the worst of the year. Good Night, and Good Luck, on the other hand, was perfectly assembled, focusing on the battle between Murrow and McCarthy instead of just Murrow. It’s perfectly honest, straightforward filmmaking about an especially shameful time in American history. Munich, directed by Academy favorite Steven Spielberg, was a humane treatment of another terrifying moment in recent history, the kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes at the Olympics. It’s a passionate, morally ambiguous tale that belies its own complexities.

Best Director

Who should win: George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
Who will win: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain

I didn’t thnk that Lee’s approach to Brokeback was particularly effective. It seemed to me that the director equated a laconic attitude with deep soulfulness. He did know enough to zoom in on his studly stars, but the movie was deadeningy paced. Clooney, on the other hand, showed a much surer hand with Good Night, showing us only the facets of each primary player that we needed to see for the purposes of the film; that is, he didn’t indulge in fluff. One notable touch was that he showed producer Fred Friendly crouching down right next to Murrow, giving him instructions – this showed how cramped the studio was (especially then) and symbolized the symbiotic relationship between the two men.

Best Actor

Who should win: David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck
Who will win: Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain

Ledger’s Ennis del Mar spoke seldom, and when he did he mumbled through a mouth of chaw. This limited his abilities somewhat, but he didn’t exactly overcome the limitation through other means, such as an expressive face. del Mar was a cipher and a poor excuse for a human being – he lied to, cheated on, and otherwise mistreated everyone he came in touch with. And for this he’s the hero. Strathairn’s Murrow, though, was intrepid, honorable, and honest at a time when such journalists weren’t easy to come by. Strathairn perfectly embodied the role, right downt to Murrow’s omnipresent cigarette.

Best Actress

Who should win: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
Who will win: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Hooray, we agree! Witherspoon really was dead on as June Carter Cash, and who could have seen that coming? Her voice, her look, everything about her seemed perfectly sincere. It doesn’t hurt that she played a strong (if slightly vulnerable) woman who help poor ol’ Johnny when he most needed it. And there’s quite an upswell of support for Witherspoon for this, her breakout role. Plus, she sang her own songs. (Note: Why not also pick Joaquin Phoenix, who played Cash? He was fantastic, but not quite as good as Strathairn – still, it would be no huge surprise if he did win it.)

Best Supporting Actor

Who should win: Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Who will win: George Clooney, Syriana

First there was this outrage because Giamatti didn’t get nominated for Sideways last year. Then Cinderella Man came out, and people said, “Well, he darn well better get nominated!” And he was. But then public opinion forgot him and instead focused on Clooney, mainly because his character is tortured. It’s not a fun scene to watch, but it is a short scene; in fact, he’s not onscreen all that long, all told. But conventional wisdom is that Clooney will get this win to make up for not getting Best Director for Good Night, and Good Luck. That’s the thinking, anyway. I’d give it to Giamatti, who was inspiring as James Braddock’s (Russell Crowe) manager. Giamatti’s a great actor, and he really nailed this one.

Reviews of other nominated films:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Constant Gardener
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
A History of Violence
Hustle and Flow
Junebug
King Kong
Match Point
North Country
Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
War of the Worlds

I’m interested in knowing who of you is actually going to see the Oscars (any of it) tomorrow night. And, of course, in knowing what you think of the above picks.