And the Nominees Are…

I always mange to forget it’s Oscar nominations day until I see one of my usual morning reads (i.e. blogs) mention something about it, then bolt immediately to the Oscars site to see what the hell is going on. This year, well, frankly I just need to see a lot of movies. But naturally I have opinions even about the things I haven’t seen. So here are my thoughts at present. A bit off the top of my head, sure, but we’ll come back to this. Probably. (Confession: I took the short film nominations out of this list, at least for the time being.)

For those keeping track, the bleak male-driven films got eight nominations apiece; the less bleak Atonement and Juno seven.

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Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises
• I’ve only seen two of these, but given a choice between Depp and Viggo, well, honestly I’m not so sure Depp should be in this lineup. I’d like to replace him with James McAvoy’s understated, affecting turn in Atonement, really.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson’s War
Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton
• I’m just not on the Hal Holbrook bandwagon. He was good, and effective, and one of the best things about that film, but … I still don’t think this is his award. But I’ve not yet seen enough of the nominees to have an opinion on it otherwise.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie in Away from Her
Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose
Laura Linney in The Savages
Ellen Page in Juno
• What I find interesting and, honestly, rather depressing about this list is that while some of the roles are good, few of the movies are otherwise recognized. I’m not sure what that means, but it seems in keeping with this year’s trends; the “big” movies are extremely male-driven and the non-girlfriend parts for women are … in films that are perceived to be smaller and often less attention-worthy. (More on this is percolating in my head.) I adore Laura Linney, but her role in The Savages, though she’s quite good, isn’t anything new for her; it’s a lovely performance, but there ought to be something braver in this category (not on Linney’s part, but on the Academy’s). What there really ought to be here is a nomination for Keri Russell for Waitress. No, I’m absolutely not kidding.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in I’m Not There
Ruby Dee in American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan in Atonement
Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton
• Just give this one to Cate Blanchett already. I’m sure the other actresses are fantastic — and I know Saoirse Ronan ought to be cast in, well, everything in the future — but Blanchett absolutely electrified I’m Not There (and yes, there’s sort of a play on words in that sentence somewhere).

Best animated feature film of the year
Persepolis: Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
Ratatouille: Brad Bird
Surf’s Up: Ash Brannon and Chris Buck
• Dear Academy: You will not be forgiven for nominating Surf’s Up and not Paprika. Do you hear me? (That said, I’m excited to see Persepolis, but can it stand against the popularity of Ratatouille? I think the rat movie is so good it might have deserved a Best Picture nomination.)

Achievement in art direction
American Gangster: Art Direction: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
Atonement: Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Golden Compass: Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
There Will Be Blood: Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson
• Buncha gorgeous movies, here. I think this will go how the bigger awards go, meaning it’ll be Atonement or There Will Be Blood, but the opposite could be true. And regardless of its many other flaws, The Golden Compass did have some truly beautiful stuff going on.

Achievement in cinematography
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: Roger Deakins
Atonement: Seamus McGarvey
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Janusz Kaminski
No Country for Old Men: Roger Deakins
There Will Be Blood: Robert Elswit
• It’d be interesting to look up how often one cinematographer gets nominated for two films in the same year, as the talented Roger Deakins is here. Kaminski might take this one, though, for the striking effectiveness of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Achievement in costume design
Across the Universe: Albert Wolsky
Atonement: Jacqueline Durran
Elizabeth: The Golden Age: Alexandra Byrne
La Vie en Rose: Marit Allen
Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Colleen Atwood
• Without even having seen it, I’m certain there are some stellar costumes in Elizabeth. But oh, the dresses and gowns of Atonement! It would be interesting to see the award go to something more subtle and less … costumey that it often does. But the bleak, tattered garb of Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett and the uptight clothing of Judge Turpin is also pretty grand in Sweeney Todd. Tough call.

Achievement in directing
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Julian Schnabel
Juno, Jason Reitman
Michael Clayton, Tony Gilroy
No Country for Old Men, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson
• Ouch. Totally unpickable. Notable, though, that there’s no nomination for Atonement’s Joe Wright, and I wonder if that bodes poorly for his film. I’d love Best Picture and Best Director to go in different directions, though, for fun. Jason Reitman and Tony Gilroy probably don’t need to write speech notes, but the rest of these guys (and of course they’re guys) might want to be prepared.

Best documentary feature
No End in Sight: A Representational Pictures Production: Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience: A Documentary Group Production: Richard E. Robbins
Sicko: A Dog Eat Dog Films Production: Michael Moore and Meghan O’Hara
Taxi to the Dark Side: An X-Ray Production: Alex Gibney and Eva Orner
War/Dance: A Shine Global and Fine Films Production: Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine
• I’ve only seen one of these, and I really want it to win: No End in Sight! No End in Sight! Of course, I also want to see the rest of ’em.

Achievement in film editing
The Bourne Ultimatum: Christopher Rouse
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Juliette Welfling
Into the Wild: Jay Cassidy
No Country for Old Men: Roderick Jaynes
There Will Be Blood: Dylan Tichenor
• Based on what I’ve seen, I’d guess Diving Bell, for the tiny hitches and jumps that are so effective in putting the viewer into the perspective of its subject.

Best foreign language film of the year
Beaufort, Israel
The Counterfeiters, Austria
Katyn, Poland
Mongol, Kazakhstan
12, Russia
• Well, this is interesting. I haven’t seen — or even really heard of — any of ’em. The Academy has some weird rules about what’s eligible for this category, which is, I’d guess, why Persepolis and Diving Bell (and Lust, Caution) aren’t included.

Achievement in makeup
La Vie en Rose, Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
Norbit, Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Ve Neill and Martin Samuel
• Rick Baker wins a lot of awards, but I really hope I never have to hear the phrase, “the Oscar-winning Norbit.”

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Atonement, Dario Marianelli
The Kite Runner, Alberto Iglesias
Michael Clayton, James Newton Howard
Ratatouille, Michael Giacchino
3:10 to Yuma, Marco Beltrami
• It’s too bad Johnny Greenwood’s There Will Be Blood score was deemed ineligible, simply because I like it when pop music and the Oscars meet. But though it wasn’t to my taste, I think Atonement might take this one. Be interesting, though, for an animated film to win a score rather than song award.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
“Falling Slowly” from Once, Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
“Happy Working Song” from Enchanted, Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
“Raise It Up” from August Rush, Nominees to be determined
“So Close” from Enchanted, Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
“That’s How You Know” from Enchanted, Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
• More than anything, I want “Falling Slowly” to win. But it’s up against the Menken/Schwartz juggernaut, which bodes poorly. Still, a girl can dream that the Enchanted votes will cancel each other out and the beautiful song from Once will win that indescribably deserving film its lone Oscar.

Best motion picture of the year
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
• I’m just going to throw out there that I don’t think Juno has the proverbial snowball’s chance of hell here. But beyond that … well, until I see the rest of ’em, I’ll be in my corner rooting for Atonement.

Achievement in sound editing
The Bourne Ultimatum: Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
No Country for Old Men: Skip Lievsay
Ratatouille: Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
There Will Be Blood: Matthew Wood
Transformers: Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins
Achievement in sound mixing
The Bourne Ultimatum: Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
No Country for Old Men): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
Ratatouille: Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
3:10 to Yuma: Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
Transformers: Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin
• Sound categories: often hard to get as excited about as some of the others. Given what I’ve heard about There Will Be Blood, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it take the first of these two.

Achievement in visual effects
The Golden Compass: Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End: John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
Transformers: Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier
• Tough call between the latter two. While some of the effects were stunning, I just don’t think Compass’ sometimes-fake-looking daemons are going to win the day here.

Adapted screenplay
Atonement, Screenplay by Christopher Hampton
Away from Her, Written by Sarah Polley
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Screenplay by Ronald Harwood
No Country for Old Men, Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood, written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
• Yikes.

Original screenplay
Juno, Written by Diablo Cody
Lars and the Real Girl, Written by Nancy Oliver
Michael Clayton, Written by Tony Gilroy
Ratatouille, Screenplay by Brad Bird; Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
The Savages, Written by Tamara Jenkins
• Confession: I want Juno to win because Diablo Cody is kind of awesome. Barring that, Ratatouille, because it deserves lots and lots and lots of awards despite falling into a few typical Disney traps.

Did I mention I’ve got a lot of moviewatching to do?