Monday, February 26, 2007

5 nominees, only 1 winner: Best Picture

OK, so the Oscars are now underway as we speak. This year's race for Best Picture is one of the most interesting in years as, for the first time in a while, there is no clear frontrunner. Nearly every year there is either a clear frontrunner (e.g. Brokeback Mountain last year ... oh, except it didn't end up winning!) or a race to the finish line between two films that are neck and neck (e.g. Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator the year before). Neither situation applies this year.

Here's the five Best Picture nominees and some brief thoughts on each and their chances:

1. Babel - I reviewed this film in my last post. Great film, though possibly not quite as good as I was expecting. Very similar in many ways to last year's Best Picture winner Crash. It has won a few pre-Oscars awards, such as the Golden Globe for Best Drama, and is definitely in with a chance. Deals with all those "serious" issues that the Academy likes.

2. The Departed - I haven't seen this but want to. It's a gritty crime story and one of the main things going for it is that it's directed by Martin Scorcese who has never won an Oscar despite being nominated 459 times, and the feeling is that this is finally his year (they were saying that 2 years ago with The Aviator but apparently this is a better film). Regardless of which picture wins, Scorcese will almost certainly get Best Director, but the film is definitely in with a chance too.

3. Letters from Iwo Jima - this is meant to be brilliant - has only just been released in Australia (got 4.5 stars from Paul Byrne in the Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend). It's Clint Eastwood's Japanese language WWII story. It tells the Japanese side of the same battle recounted in Eastwood's other recent film, Flags of our Fathers, which told the American side of the story. Eastwood is a brilliant director and seems to be just getting better with age. This is unlikely to win though. Doesn't have a very high profile, and Eastwood and his Million Dollar Baby won only 2 years ago.

4. Little Miss Sunshine - went to get this out on DVD the other night but it hadn't been released yet. Quirky disfunctional family comedy. This is also in with a real shot. It won the Screen Actors Guild award for best ensemble cast and the Producers Guild Award for best picture, which are often good signs for the Oscars. However, it didn't get nominated for direction or editing - not good signs. It is rare for a movie to win Best Picture if its director doesn't get nominated. But it still could be the little film that steals the show tonight.

5. The Queen - I've seen this, and everything they say about Helen Mirren and her portrayal of QEII is true - she is brilliant. She is completely believable, right down to simple mannerisms like the way she turns her head. Some other good acting in it too (how on earth did they find an actor like Michael Sheen who, without any use of make up or wigs, looks exactly like Tony Blair??), and a good script and story. While Dame Mirren is guaranteed success tonight, the film won't win.

It's pretty much a race between 3 horses here - Babel, The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine, with the first two more likely. It really could go any way but I'm going to go out on a limb and say Babel will take it, though don't be surprised if Little Miss comes from behind.

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