Oscar Nominations Coming, Monday, January 19, 2009, 8:30am EST;
A Change Is Needed in Hollywood; and the Indies
by Eric Green
Two dates loom on the filmgoer's horizons:
Monday, January 19, 2009; 8:30am Eastern Standard Time
NOMINATIONS FOR OSCARS
Sunday, February 22, 2009; Evening
ACADEMY AWARDS EVENING
It is that time again. A time that many of us decry and bad mouth; but, in the end, come around to listen closely to who the peers of actors, directors, etc. choose to be nominated for the 2008 motion pictures annual Oscars.
Clinton Eastwood has two films, again; Changeling and Grand Torino. When he did the two WWII films and was past his 70th birthday, Warren Beatty said at the Awards, "How do you do it?" Well, he did it again.
You have Kate Winslet probably being nominated as best actor for the two films she worked in: Revolutionary Road and The Reader.
Robert Downey, Jr also did double duty this year with The Iron Man and Dark Thunder. Both performances were highly acclaimed.
Jeffrey Wright was working overtime in FOUR films: Cadillac Records, Quantum of Solace, W, the Adventures of Young Indiana Jones, Scandal of 1920s. He delivered great performances each time.
Philip Seymour Hoffman as did yeoman work with Doubt and Synecdoche, New York. The latter film should garner a number of nominations.
It was an interesting, challenging year following on the 2007 year. The Waltz of Bashir reminded many of the fabulous Iranian film, Persepolis. They both used forms of animation. They are very different, but similar in that they gave US filmgoers an insight into the troubled worlds of Israel and Iran that few travel.
Other international films were very well received by audiences in the US: The Indian film, Slumdog Millionaire; the English/Russian film, Transsiberian; the French films, Tell No One and A Christmas Tale.
You had Cadillac Records with the continuing brilliance of Jeffrey Wright, Beyonce and Eamonn Walker, an English trained actor from the Caribbean, in a strong supporting acting role as Howlin' Wolfe. Beyonce could qualify in the best supporting actor position.
The best performance by a woman actor in 2008 will be Ann Hathaway in the film Rachel Gets Married. Although, Angelina Jolle deserves to be nominated and seriously considered for her work in Eastwood's Changeling.
Milk and the Wrestler
But, when it comes to the movie of the year and the performance of the year you have two films that could not be more different, yet, share a brilliance that no other films rise to.
They are: Milk and the Wrestler.
In Milk you have the Oscar winning performance of Sean Penn; and, in the Wrestler, the Oscar winning performance of Mickey Rourke.
In the Wrestler, you have probably the best director's job in 2008 by Darren Aronofsky; but Gus Van Zandt's Milk was also at the highest level.
What might overshadow the Oscars this year is the performance of Heath Ledger in Dark Knight. I would remove him from competing in any of these categories and award him a special Academy Award and tribute. His body of work, including but not just Broke Back Mountain, as a 28 year-old is what legends are made of. And, you can be sure Ledger showed the brilliance that will gain a James Dean following.
What is Missing; Once Again
AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT!
The year 2008 films once again will draw legitimate fire with the severely obvious lack of Black actor and actresses; directors; etc. in the mix. With the exception of Cadillac Records where Jeffrey Wright does a great job as Muddy Waters; and Mos Def is Chuck Berry [Already drew attention to Eamonn Walker and Beyonce]; something must be done to correct what is certainly a structural racism of the film industry. This includes the independent filmmakers who have to go to the same producers and funders and beg for distribution venues.
Jeffrey Wright's four films is a good thing, but not a substitute for a far broader opportunities for others
Our federal government must take action. The National Endowment of the Arts must step in. When you see films from Canada, England and other countries you will see financial support coming from the federal treasuries. This may not be an economic stimulus package issue, but the use of federal dollars to the entertainment industry; specifically film and theatrical productions can bring great opportunities to Black, Latin and other racial and minorities, both men and women. There is a far greater opportunity for fairness in the choosing of a director, actors and other key film positions if you remove profit from a portion of the equation.
This is part I; tune in after the nomination are announced.