Edgy picks 2007

So here we are on the eve of the Oscars. As I think about it, I wonder why I obsess over the Oscars. I mean, I don't really care all that much about movies. But something with the Oscars compels me to spend February cramming in as many movies as I possibly can.

I think it goes back to the first Oscar party I went to a number of years ago. That was where I was introduced to the two-ballot system: one ballot for who will win and one ballot for who should win. As I recall, it was the year Moulin Rouge was up for awards. I say that because I remember some of the girls at the party getting indignant that it wasn't nominated for best original score, and we had a dilly of a time convincing them that none of the music was actually original, no matter how creatively it was used to help move the story. But since then, I've just wanted to be prepared for whatever party I attend, and that requires seeing lots of movies.

This is the first year that I'm not actually going to an Oscar party. Instead, we'll probably lounge on the couch and munch snacks. Absent's coming up. It'll be fun, especially because the three of us have seen a bucketload of the 58 nominated films. Personally, I'm at 27 (and if I really wanted, I could watch United 93 tonight to up that to 28, but I don't think I will). That's a personal best for me. Granted, it helps to discover a theater that plays all the shorts.

Anyway, here is my ballot and rationale for tomorrow. This year, I've chosen to rank the films within each category. If I haven't seen a film, it won't be ranked.


  1. Little Miss Sunshine
  2. The Departed
  3. Letters from Iwo Jima
  4. The Queen
  5. Babel
After seeing all the films, I can't say there's a film that truly strikes me as the Best of the year. So I'm just going with my favorite. I will say that Letters and Departed and Queen were also quite good. Babel was boring as hell. You do not want to be watching the counter on the DVD player, yearning for the end of the 143 minutes you've subjected yourself to.

  1. Martin Scorsese for The Departed
  2. Clint Eastwood for Letters from Iwo Jima
  3. Stephen Frears for The Queen
  4. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Babel
  • Paul Greengrass for United 93
I think what made Departed good was how all the elements were pulled together, and I attribute that to the director.

  • Leonardo DiCaprio for Blood Diamond
  • Ryan Gosling for Half Nelson
  • Peter O'Toole for Venus
  • Will Smith for The Pursuit of Happyness
  • Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland
I haven't seen any of these, but all the money is on Forest Whitaker.

  1. Helen Mirren for The Queen
  2. Judi Dench for Notes on a Scandal
  3. Meryl Streep for The Devil Wears Prada
  4. Penelope Cruz for Volver
  • Kate Winslet for Little Children
I've had to go through mental gymnastics on this one. Mirren has won every other award this season; personally, I enjoyed Dench's and Streep's performances more. Dench was able to go wherever the emotion led, and she was brilliant (which is, of course, expected of her), and Streep was phenomenal with her facial acting (she doesn't need dialogue to be brilliant). But as I've considered it, you have to give Mirren props for injecting emotion and sympathy into a character who doesn't believe in any public display of emotion.

Supporting Actor
  1. Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine
  2. Mark Wahlberg for The Departed
  3. Eddie Murphy for Dreamgirls
  • Jackie Earle Haley for Little Children
  • Djimon Hounsou for Blood Diamond
I must confess that although I loved Arkin's performance, my primary love for him and desire for him to win stems from his behavior at the SAGs. When Sunshine won Best Ensemble (their equivalent of Best Picture), Breslin got to the mic and was preparing to ramble and said, "I don't know what to say." Arkin leaned down to her and told her, "Just say thank you." Then he heeded his own advice and just said, "Thank you." To me, that is a touch of class and elegance that has been sorely lacking from awards ceremonies for quite some time. Despite my feelings, most other sources give Murphy the win, which I guess I would be okay with, because it was a good performance, and you don't usually get those out of him.

Supporting Actress
  1. Adriana Barraza for Babel
  2. Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls
  3. Cate Blanchett for Notes on a Scandal
  4. Rinko Kikuchi for Babel
  5. Abigail Breslin for Little Miss Sunshine
Most money is on Hudson for this category; in reading news stories and internet gossip and what not, I don't think she was acting for this movie--she was just herself. My vote is for Barraza. Of all the characters in the boredom that was Babel, she was truly the only character you developed any form of sympathy for.

Foreign Language Film
  1. Pan's Labyrinth
  • After the Wedding
  • Days of Glory
  • The Lives of Others
  • Water
Labyrinth really is an exquisite film. Loved it. Though I will say that I'm disappointed that Volver didn't get a nod in this category.

  1. Pan's Labyrinth
  2. The Prestige
  • The Black Dahlia
  • Children of Men
  • The Illusionist
EW is putting its money in this category on Children. Having not seen that one, I'm still going to go with Labyrinth because it's just quite beautifully done. I think I've mentioned that already though.

Original Screenplay
  1. Babel
  2. Little Miss Sunshine
  3. The Queen
  4. Letters from Iwo Jima
  5. Pan's Labyrinth
The one thing I will give Babel despite its boredom is the intriguing weaving of the story and the interconnectedness of everything.

Adapted Screenplay
  1. The Departed
  2. Notes on a Scandal
  • Borat
  • Children of Men
  • Little Children
I don't get how a mostly improvised movie can be up for Adapted Screenplay. (Bear in mind that I didn't see Borat because I found myself rather turned of by the marketing and the concept.) Departed is so well put together in terms of movement and dialogue, even if the language has a tendency to be profane.

Documentary Feature
  1. Jesus Camp
  2. An Inconvenient Truth
  • Deliver Us from Evil
  • Iraq in Fragments
  • My Country, My Country
I'm not sure if Camp was supposed to be humorous or chillingly scary; for me, it was both. To think that people like this exist . . .

Documentary Short Subject
  • The Blood of Yingzhou District
  • Recycled Life
  • Rehearsing a Dream
  • Two Hands
EW says that Hands will win this one.

Live Action Short Film
  1. Helmer & Son
  2. West bank Story
  3. Binta y la Gran Idea
  4. Eramos Pocos
  5. Th Saviour
My gut reaction after seeing the shorts was to favor West Bank Story, a parody of Westside Story focusing on competing falafel stands in the West Bank. It's absolutely hilarious. But in letting the films settle in my psyche, I think I now favor Helmer & Son, even if you do have to see a naked old Norwegian man and a naked old Norwegian woman.

Film Editing
  1. The Departed
  2. Babel
  • Blood Diamond
  • Children of Men
  • United 93
I think the end experience with Departed was cleaner. And I guess that my take on editing is that if the final project is BORING, you didn't edit enough out of it.

  1. Pan's Labyrinth
  • Apocalypto
  • Click
According to EW: "Did any Academy member see Click? Would any vote for Apocalypto? Chalk this one up for Pan's Labyrinth."

Art Direction
  1. Pan's Labyrinth
  2. Dreamgirls
  3. The Prestige
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
  • The Good Shepherd
EW considers this to be one of the tougher races because the top two contenders are equally beautiful but rather different. They went with Dreamgirls, whereas I'm going with Labyrinth.

Sound Mixing
  1. Dreamgirls
  2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
  3. Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Apocalypto
  • Blood Diamond
Tradition has it that this award goes to music-oriented films.

Sound Editing
  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
  2. Letters from Iwo Jima
  • Apocalypto
  • Blood Diamond
  • Flags of Our Fathers
EW says that Letters and Flags will split votes, throwing the booty to Pirates.

Visual Effects
  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
  2. Superman Returns
  • Poseidon
Is there even a contest with this one?

Costume Design
  1. The Devil Wears Prada
  2. Dreamgirls
  3. The Queen
  • Curse of the Golden Flower
  • Marie Antoinette
The money for this one seems to be for Marie, considering that costumes is really the only thing that most people, including Absent, think is of any worth in this film. Personally, just the sequences in Prada where you see all the obsession with fashions--the introductory bit as the girls get dressed for work, the montage where Streep dumps her purse and coat on Hathaway's desk, and the post-fashion transformation of Hathaway--really should earn this one.

Original Score
  1. Pan's Labyrinth
  2. The Queen
  3. Notes on a Scandal
  4. Babel
  • The Good German
I like my score to enhance the movie without drawing attention to itself; I think Labyrinth did the best with this.

Original Song
  1. "Listen" from Dreamgirls
  2. "I Need to Wake Up" from An Inconvenient Truth
  3. "Our Town" from Cars
  4. "Patience" from Dreamgirls
  5. "Love You I Do" from Dreamgirls
Personally, the only song deserving to be in this category is "Listen." I'm just hoping that having two other nominations from the same show doesn't split the vote.

Animated Feature
  1. Cars
  2. Happy Feet
  3. Monster House
Cars is truly a gem, and its animation and storyboard are truly worthwhile. Feet is a message (after message after message after message) movie if ever there was one, even if the animation was delightful. Personally, House was okay, but I still think there were better animated films this past year.

Animated Short Film
  1. The Danish Poet
  2. Maestro
  3. The Little Matchgirl
  4. No Time for Nuts
  • Lifted
Dec disagrees with me on this one. Personally, I loved the animation style of Poet. Dec thought it was amateurish; I thought it was reminiscent of picture book illustration. I also enjoyed it because it had the best story to accompany it. Maestro was cute, and I think it could actually take the award. EW is actually putting their money on Matchgirl, which I truly didn't like because I don't like them casting the story in turn-of-the-century Russia, especially if they're not going to take advantage of the rich Russian architecture to highlight the povery of the matchgirl.

No comments: