Thursday, January 22, 2009

Academy Award Nominations 2008

The Academy Award nominees for 2008-09 were announced this morning.

I'm neither an industry insider nor one with insider access, so I don't have any inside scoop. A preliminary look at the nominees suggests to me that the one trend I see is the tendency of the awards to be used to acknowlege career milestones rather than judge best performances or films of a year. The other is that, judging from what I read in entertainment reporting, popularity within the industry continues to have some affect on the process. (I believe the largest chunk of the voters are the actors, and so think of it as athletes voting for the all-star team or hall[s]-of-fame.)

Certainly the elevation of Benjamin Button feels a bit like an elevation of David Fincher to canonical status, and the nomination of Frost/Nixon confirms that Ron Howard is sort of a young Clint Eastwood (apparently has vast resources of good will within the community).

There is a lot of awards creep fatigue these days, and the emphasis on Benjamin Button in the awards may also be the Academy's way of saying they aren't going to be pushed into a corner by the momentum of Slumdog Millionaire or a way to make it look like there is more drama or uncertainty about the results than there really is.

Mickey Rourke and Kate Winslet appear to be heavy favorites for acting awards, and for the latter one senses that she is at the point in her career where people believe she ought to have an Oscar and start looking for something to give her one for. Not that I necessarily disagree with that estimation of her talent or body of work--but such motivations are the seeds of "what were they thinking?" comments years later. Of the former, I can't really complain about his nomination, but one does feel bad for Richard Jenkins, who I think really deserves it.

It feels, similarly, that Heath Ledger has already been given the award, doesn't it?

I don't have a lot invested in the Oscars, so its hard for me to manufacture serious umbrage or disappointment at any of the categories. I bummed that At The Death Hosue Door did not receive a nod in the Best Documentary category, but the inclusion of Man on Wire and Encounters at the Edge of the World points to a reminder that in many of these categories marketing and distribution plays a heavier role than critical judgments about the films themselves. I mean, you can't like it if you can't see it.

All in all, not the worst year of screw ups as far as nominations go, but nothing that I'm really excited enough about to actually watch. Predictions are as follows. (W)=Will win; (S)=Should win (by which I mean, of course, of these nominees, not necessarily that it is the best of the year).

Best Motion Picture of the Year

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role


Meryl Streep for Doubt (2008/I)

(W)(S) Kate Winslet for The Reader (2008)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role


Viola Davis for Doubt (2008/I)

Taraji P. Henson for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Marisa Tomei for The Wrestler (2008)

I confess in this category, I don't really feel a strong sense that any "should" win, so I give the (S) to Cruz as a sort of career achievement tiebreak.

Best Achievement in Directing

(I don't really have much of a feeling between these five who "should" win. I suppose if I have a vote I'd choose Van Sant, both for getting the damn film made, selecting material, and as a career nod, with bonus points for doing Paranoid Park in the same year.)


peter said...

Yeah, I can't get too worked up either, especially considering how few current films I've seen this year.

But shouldn't Van Sant lose a few career points for his pointless re-shoot of "Psycho?" :-)

becky finken said...

I'm with you 100% on your "should" win for best supporting actor!

Kenneth R. Morefield said...

Figgers, the one year I don't join a pool, and I go six for six.