Friday, January 26, 2007

Best Picture breakdown

Well, now that the Academy Award nominations are in, we can look at the big surprises. First of all, Dreamgirls, the clear favorite in everybody's mind to take home the trophy, wasn't even nominated for Best Picture, Director or Adapted Screenplay, even though it received the most nominations with 8 (even though 3 of them were for Best Original Song), which proves how great a year this has been for movies. Instead, we have one of the most interesting Best Picture races in recent memory. Leading the pack is Babel with 7 nominations which took the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama, with one of the best writing-directing pair of the 21st century in Guillermo Arriaga and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, both picking up nominations in their respective categories. Following closely with 6 nominations, The Queen has proven to be one of the strongest competitors this season, with a strong script by Peter Morgan, an excellent direction from Stephen Frears and a stellar performance from Helen Mirren who will win the Best Actress in a leading role Oscar with her eyes shut. My favorite to win Best Picture is The Departed, picking up only 5 nominations which is a little disappointing, especially since Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson failed to pick up nominations for this film, but it should not be surprising if they pick up 4 of them, especially since this has been most definitely Martin Scorsese's year, and William Monahan's screenplay should win and I expect this film to win the award for Best Film Editing. It will be a tight race between Babel and The Departed, but Scorsese's picture will not be ignored this year. Mark Wahlberg picked up the only acting nod for this film, and he should be the closest competitor for Eddie Murphy in the Supporting category, but I don't think it'll be enough to knock him off. Next, we have the Cinderella story of the year, Little Miss Sunshine, which came all the way from the Sundance Film Festival to the Top 5, picking up only 4 nominations, but all of them are in the Big 8, as Alan Arkin and Abigail Breslin were nominated in the Supporting categories, and Michael Arndt for his original screenplay. Although it's the best comedy of the year, the nomination is the film's win since it failed to pick up a directing nomination and it faces some very tough competitors, but make no mistake, it deserves it's place. Finally, we have Letters From Iwo Jima, the latest picture by Clint Eastwood which was supposed to be released this year but they advanced the screenings just in time for Oscar season, and we have one of the most touching war films ever made, in the lining of Doctor Zhivago and Saving Private Ryan. With 4 nominations, this film could be an upset winner come Oscar night, and has everyone talking about a second round between Eastwood and Scorsese, but I believe Scorsese will not be snubbed this time. As for Paul Haggis, a threepeat for him seems unlikely as his script is in a category with Little Miss Sunshine, Babel, The Queen and Pan's Labyrinth. I expect either Babel or the Queen to win that category, but we can't count out Little Miss Sunshine either.
Maybe this is a new tendancy for the Oscars, but in the past few years, with the exception of the sweep by the Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, no film has received more than 6 Oscars in the last 8 years, and it seems more difficult to pick a clear winner for the Best Picture Oscar which impresses me since it keeps a very good level of suspense throughout the evening, and it drives the Academy to produce better shows every year to impress its public, to give them a worthy Award ceremony. Indeed, it's been two years in a row since everybody picked a clear winner but the Academy chose otherwise for Best Picture (Million Dollar Baby over The Aviator and Crash over Brokeback Mountain), even though the favorites received the most nominations among Best Picture nominees, so those of you who pick Babel to win simply because of its 7 nods, be careful since the Academy won't only look at the technical aspect of the film but the storytelling is the most important criteria, so choose your predictions wisely, and good luck to everybody.

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