Wow. What can I really say? All in all, I think the picks are pretty lousy. Not that some of my favorites didn't factor into this morning's announcements, but overall, an uninspired group of selections. Here's the link, followed by my comments:
Zero nominations for the best film of 2008, THE FALL. Not even a cinematography or costume nomination. Completely fucking pathetic. A travesty in my opinion.
How did Clint Eastwood not make it in for best actor for GRAN TORINO? Ditto Philip Seymour Hoffman for SYNCECDOCHE, NY? Pitt was solid in BUTTON but I would have gone with those two over him in a heartbeat. And while I enjoyed Frank Langella's performance, it was nowhere near as rich as Eastwood's or Hoffman's. Pitt did however have that amazing role in BURN AFTER READING, so I guess the cumulative effect played some part in his getting nominated for best actor.
No Sally Hawkins for best actress for her amazing work in HAPPY-GO-LUCKY. How could this be? Did Merryl Streep really need another nomination? She was good but Hawkins was much, much more deserving.
How could MILK get an original screenplay nomination over a film like RACHEL GETTING MARRIED? MILK was a paint-by-numbers, highlight reel writing effort, boosted by terrific direction by Van Sant and a magnetic performance from Penn. RACHEL GETTING MARRIED was a brilliant dissection of a family and a wedding and something truly original and special. GRAN TORINO should also have gotten an original screenplay nod. And WALL*E, a film I loved with all my heart, had a better, richer screenplay than SYNECDOCHE, NY? Not a chance. WALL*E is, first and foremost, a brilliant technical achievement, but on paper, it consists of two characters repeating one another's names throughout much of the film. This is a major oversight. Kaufman's work on SYNECDOCHE, NY will be studied and admired for decades to come; it's one of the most original pieces of writing ever put up on the big screen.
I thought THE READER was excellent and better than many people have been giving it credit for being, but under no circumstances was it a better or more accomplished film that THE DARK KNIGHT, SYNECDOCHE, NY, or any number of movies from 2008. Again, not saying I don't respect THE READER, because I do. It's just that I don't think it was as good as some others.
Same with FROST/NIXON. A solid, entertaining movie. But best picture and best direction? I don't f'ing think so.
Also, Kate Winslet. She should have gotten her nomination for her blistering work in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. Not that she's bad in THE READER but her work in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD was even better. And Leo got snubbed for his riveting work in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD -- when will the Academy come around on him as a leading man?
Where is Bill Irwin (RACHEL GETTING MARRIED) or Eddie Marsan (HAPPY-GO-LUCKY) in the best supporting actor category? Michael Shannon was electrifying in REVOLUTIONARY ROAD but he didn't have enough screentime to warrant a nomination. If there was a best cameo performance then fine. Same with Viola Davis in DOUBT. Great work, but not enough. Nominating her over Rosemarie DeWitt in RACHEL GETTING MARRIED is head-scratchingly stupid.
The only nominations I can really say that I am excited about are as follows: Robert Downey Jr for best supporting actor for his incredible performance in TROPIC THUNDER. Martin McDonagh getting a well-deserved best original screenplay nomination for IN BRUGES, one of the most underrated films of the year. Werner Herzog finally getting some Academy love for his brilliant documentary ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD. And it was nice to see Fincher get his first directing nomination.
So, as usual, I am left with an irritated feeling with the nominations. Next week I will be posting my "IF I HAD A BALLOT" column which will run down each category with what I feel are the year's best efforts.