Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Five surprises from the Oscar nominations

OK, I did warn you I was an Oscars junkie. Expect a few Oscars-themed posts in the coming weeks.

The nominations were announced this morning and, as usual, while there were lots of obvious choices (Helen Mirren might as well write her acceptance speech now!), the Academy still likes to surprise us. Here's five surprises for this year.

1. The BIG surprise - Dreamgirls misses the boat! Considered the frontrunner for best picture, it didn't even get nominated in that category, nor for best director. This morning's headlines still put the movie forward as the most successful with 8 nominations, but 3 of those were in the same category - best original song (and you would hope a musical would have some decent songs!). This leaves the race for best picture wide open - it's probably between The Departed and Babel, although I reckon the surprise inclusion Letters from Iwo Jima (which no doubt grabbed Dreamgirls' spot) could have a shot at it. The Academy loves Clint Eastwood after all, and what a daring move to make a picture in Japanese, an American director telling the "other side" of a World War II story.

2. Leonardo nominated for Blood Diamond. Leonardo Di Caprio seemed sure to get a nomination, and there was a bit of debate over which movie it would be for, but the consensus seemed to be he would get a nod for once again teaming up with Martin Scorcese in The Departed (Leo is Marty's new Robert Di Niro). But the Academy chose his other role in Blood Diamond instead.

3. Volver misses out on best foreign language film. This film has had rave reviews and seemed to have been considered a sure thing for a nomination in this category. It still managed, as expected, to help Penelope Cruz to a nomination for best actress.

4. Technical categories filled by "other" films. By that I mean that the technical categories are dominated by films other than those nominated for best picture. This is unusual - usually a best picture contender has many elements in its production working towards it's status as an Academy favoured film - good acting, direction, cinematography, art direction, editing, sound etc. For example, in the cinematography, art direction, make up, sound mixing and visual effects categories, none of the nominees are best picture nominees. In other categories, there is only one or two best picture nominees. The Academy seems to like spreading the love around these days. No one epic picture is dominating all categories in the way films in the past have (like Titanic, Lord of the Rings).

5. Paul Greengrass gets a nod for best director for United 93. I just saw this recently on DVD, and this is a great decision by the Academy in my humble opinion. A great film, and brilliantly directed. He was not completely off the radar, but I don't think this nomination was really expected by most Oscar watchers.

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