Saturday, January 24, 2009

Film Review: Oscar Nominations Announced

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

by Eric Green

Each year, at 8:30am Eastern Standard Time and 5:30am, Pacific Time, the Academy announces their Oscars. Time stands still for the studios; all of the actors, directors, and everyone else associated with individual films; and filmgoers.

Like with previous nominating announcement the results are a strong mixture which doesn't make much sense. Afterall the voters are members of the Academy with varying interests. It would be nice to see the breakdown on their interests.

The Good

The Good in the Oscar nominations this year is the nominating of Mickey Rourke for his stellar performance in "The Wrestler." And, of course, the nomination of Sean Penn for "Milk." And, the other side, that Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolle and Kate Winslet were nominagted for best actress in "Rachel Getting Married", "Changeling" and "The Reader, [and not Revolutionary Road]" respectively.

In the supporting category, Heath Ledger for "The Joker and Josh Brolin in "Milk;" and, Marisa Tomei, in the "Wrestler." It is a shame that Ledger's last performance wasn't in a leading role or as a director, a direction he was headed.

The Good news continues with the director of "Slumdog Millionaire," Danny Boyle being nominated as well as the directors of "Milk", Gus Van Zant, and "The Reader" Stephen Daldry.

Nominated in the best Foreign Language Film, the one entered by Israel, is the anti-war film, " Waltz with Bashir." The director and creator of this film, Ari Folman, has said that he is happy to be received accolades, like the Golden Globe Awards, but he hopes that people pay attention to the anti-war, and human suffering, message of the film.

The Best Picture category nominates the anti-Fascist, Anti-Nazi film, "The Reader" which was not expected in the official film reviewers' circles. But, the Good continues with the nominating of "Slumdog Millionaire" and "Milk."

Nominating two African American women in Best Supporting roles, Viola Davis in "Doubt" and Taraji P. Henson in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was well done.

The Bad News

The Bad news started with the snubbing of "The Wrestler" in the best film and best directing categories. Darren Aronofsky deserved the nomination.

The total snubbing of films like "Cadillac records," "Iron Man, " "Red Belt" and "Gran Torino" is unfortunate.

Jeffrey Wright worked in four films in 2008, but was left out completely from any nominations.

Bruce Springsteen's, original song, "The Wrestler," more than deserved nomination. Only three songs were nominated.

The film that I thought would get broad recognition was, "Synecdoche" the Charlie Kaufman film that featured Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was totally wrong. The film did not get even one nomination for any of the categories.

Neither Good Nor Bad

The dumping of "Revolutionary Road" for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" --- they seemed on the same "Hollywood" high publicity path is just noteworthy.

If "The Reader" does get the recognition is deserves, I can only hope that the discussion will focus on its anti-Fascist and anti-Nazi intent. Winslet's nomination for this film, one of many nominations, deserves the Oscar.

Comments to Look For

Oscar viewers are always looking for targeted comments from Oscar awardees. For example, if Winslet wins, will she comment on the purpose of her film? Also, will Folman's "Waltzing with Bashir's" creator and director, make some comments about peace in the Middle East if he wins?

Will any of the actors say something about the need for more diversity for these selections? Will they say something about the economic crisis filmmaking is and will be in for the next years?

It is said that there were 650 films made in 2008; but only about 450 are expected in a couple of years. Will this mean less opportunities to African-American, Latins and women actor and directors?

The entertainment industry must be included in the economy of our country. Just as the arts and humanities were included in the 1930s federal support. It made it possible for a whole generation of culture workers to be borne; it should be done today. Any federal support cannot be given over to the big industry studios, on the contrary. There is enough truly independent filmmaker to allow them to document the growing suffering taking place across our country. And, allow these workers to document the suffering across our northern and southern borders. This message given on Oscar's night would be well received in that audience and across the country.

The international film world, tuning in across the world, would also give a collective support.