ANALYSIS: THERE'S MEAT ON OSCAR'S BONES.
Looking a little more like critics' lists -- or, at least, stuffy critics' lists -- than expected, the field of nominees for the 79th Academy Awards is at least respectable.
This is mainly due to the biggest surprise in Tuesday's announcements. The highly enjoyable, empty-headed ``Dreamgirls,'' the presumptive best picture shoo-in since last February, was bumped from the top category by the dour, arty ``Letters From Iwo Jima.''
The musical beloved by gay and African-American audiences was bumped by 76-year-old perennial Clint Eastwood's umpteenth lesson that violence is a bad thing. Looked at that way, it was not so radical a decision.
As for this particular critic, here are my comments on the choices for some key Oscar categories:
``Babel'': My second-favorite movie of the year.
``The Departed'': Without the ultra-glittery cast and director Martin Scorsese, this marvelously profane, gratuitously bloody entertainment probably wouldn't have had a chance.
``Letters From Iwo Jima'': Clint's an academy darling.
``Little Miss Sunshine'': Neither as funny nor as edgy as ``Borat.'' ``The Queen'' beats it on both those counts, too. So you can probably bet this smug little comedy wins best picture.
``The Queen'': My favorite movie of the year.
Leonardo DiCaprio (``Blood Diamond''): I liked the accent.
Ryan Gosling (``Half Nelson''): Carefully calibrated performance, deserved nomination. But inner-city teacher who's also a stone junkie?
Peter O'Toole (``Venus''): My favorite male performance of the year.
Will Smith (``The Pursuit of Happyness''): Has anyone seen that Internet video of the real guy complaining about racism and bragging about how rich he is?
Forest Whitaker (``The Last King of Scotland''): Admired him for, like, ever. He's great as Idi Amin. 'Nuff said.
Penelope Cruz (``Volver''): The best thing about this film.
Judi Dench (``Notes on a Scandal''): Automatic nomination for geriatric pinup girl.
Helen Mirren (``The Queen''): My favorite female performance of the year.
Meryl Streep (``The Devil Wears Prada''): Her 14th nomination, and she actually keeps earning them.
Kate Winslet (``Little Children''): Difficult role in an off-putting movie. < SUPPORTING ACTOR
Alan Arkin (``Little Miss Sunshine''): The only adult member of this ensemble who made his contrived character somewhat persuasive.
Jackie Earle Haley (``Little Children''): Empathetic portrayal of a creepy sexual deviant.
Djimon Hounsou (``Blood Diamond''): Liked his accent, too, if not so much his over-ennobilized character.
Eddie Murphy (``Dreamgirls''): Slightly overrated.
Mark Wahlberg (``The Departed''): The coolest thing that academy voters did.
Adriana Barraza (``Babel''): Loved her.
Cate Blanchett (``Notes on a Scandal''): I preferred her in ``Babel.''
Abigail Breslin (``Little Miss Sunshine''): The ensemble's only other persuasive character.
Jennifer Hudson (``Dreamgirls''): It's about the singing.
Rinko Kikuchi (``Babel''): Really, really, really loved her.
Clint Eastwood (``Letters From Iwo Jima''): Other critics were more impressed.
Stephen Frears (``The Queen''): Year's smartest film.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (``Babel''): Year's finest example of directing craftsmanship.
Paul Greengrass (``United 93''): One word: Respect.
Martin Scorsese (``The Departed''): OK, not his greatest movie, but it's time.
Bob Strauss, (818) 713-3670
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Jan 24, 2007|
|Previous Article:||ESSENCE OF A NOMINATION-WORTHY FILM.|
|Next Article:||WOMEN OF A CERTAIN AGE.|