This maybe the year remembered for most films recognized by Oscar that weren't formulaic Hollywood Oscar bate fare but made with the artistic intent of the filmmakers in the forefront and not the studio. Let's just hope Atonement doesn't win the top prize just for that fact as it is the only quintessential Oscar bate film nominated this year. (I actually haven't seen it, but that's the impression I get.) It shouldn't win, as it was the only film nominated for best picture and not nominated for best directing as well, which "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" was nominated for instead. A film about a man paralyzed by a massive stroke whose only form of communicating is through blinking. (Seems perhaps reminiscent of "The Sea Inside" which stars the same Javier Bardem who gives the chilling and haunting performance in "No Country for Old Men".)
I like films as much as the next gal, and everyone likes it when a film that isn't Oscar bate gets nominated for best picture. I haven't seen Juno yet, but apparently the director wasn't really thinking his movie was Oscar material. I mean, after all, it was written by a stripper:
Another film I was sort of surprised got nominated was "There Will Be Blood" by Paul Thomas Anderson, director of films like Boogie Nights and Magnolia. If you like watching fervent, possessed evangelical type characters freaking out in more terrifying ways than anything in the Exorcist then you'll like "There Will Be Blood." While not quite as disturbing and effecting as the Cohen Brothers' "No Country For Old Men" (also nominated) for me it was Daniel Day Lewis' performance, not the demented evangelical's, that made the movie for me. Mr. Lewis' was so sensationally compelling and entertaining it sort of makes up for the film's muddled purpose and nowhere going plot about a greedy oil man who loses sight of what's important (if he ever had sight of what was important)--basically his character goes from bad to worse and crazy). Both movies take place in the desert west, both eschew typical Hollywood story arcs, both films dominated Oscar nominations with 8 nods a piece, and both movies just end . . . with any pretense of film formula never surfacing--and questions lingering. The desert scenes; the cinematography and subtle artistry in No Country For Old Men are exquisitely done, though, and at the very least should make the film a cult classic.
The final film to be nominated was Tony Gilroy's "Michael Clayton" starring George Clooney which apparently was too high brow for me because I found the film utterly unengaging.
On to the predictions:
I suppose Hollywood has a precedent for giving top prize to horror flicks (Silence of the Lambs). So even though No Country ends on a flat note (some critics argue this is part of its artistry and genius. << spoilers.) I say this film wins Best Pic followed up in order of likelihood: Juno, There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton, Atonement. It really is a testament to the cinematic accomplishment of No Country that a film that can end so anticlimactically without conclusion the way it does can still garner a 95% rating on www.rottentomatoes.com. Btw, No Country is not for the faint of heart. I doubt I could sit through this film again. A good film does not necessarily mean a likable film!
Missing from the list of nominees was "Into The Wild" which I wasn't really surprised by (although I did like the film) but other pundits expected it to be recognized.
In other Oscar news, Aragorn, I mean, Viggo Mortensen has been nominted for Best Actor for his performance in Eastern Promises! and Lady Galadriel from Lothlorien-- I'm sorry... I mean Cate Blanchett has been nominated for Best Support Actress in "I'm Not There", the creatively realized biopic about Bob Dylan's life as well as best actress for Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
And now for the random video of the moment:
Why college students of all political affiliations pull for Texan (*gasp!*) Republican (*gasp!*) Ron Paul for President.
"U.S. Representative Paul (R-Texas) is running for the Republican presidential nomination on a platform of restoring the country to the values of the Constitution and founding fathers. Specifically, he wants to pull troops out of Iraq, repeal the income tax, abolish the Federal Reserve and put America back on the gold standard." quoted from the above "college students" link.