Here are my thoughts about Oscar nominations in the main categories.
It might be the first time in my history that I have not seen any of the films that these men are nominated for. That being said, although it is great to see that the very talented and underrated Ryan Gosling has been recognized, my money is on
Helen Mirren has all but walked off with the golden guy already for The Queen. I really enjoyed both Mirren and the movie, but my favorite performance of the entire year was Kate Winslet in Little Children. This is her record-breaking fifth nomination at only 31, so I have no doubt that a few of these statues will be on her mantle in the near future. As we all know, Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal) is a beloved and seemingly perennial Oscar contender, but even she can’t top the year of Queen Mirren. I have not seen Volver yet, and although I’ve never been on the Penélope Cruz bandwagon, I hear she is damn good in this role. As for Meryl Streep, who is now the most nominated female of all time (14!)…she was fantastic in The Devil Wears Prada, but the fact that the film was a popular comedy may hurt her chances. Her international counterparts all tackled darker material, which may be interpreted as more challenging.
Although I would love to see Alan Arkin win for Little Miss Sunshine, I believe he is the underdog in this category. I do not understand the logic behind the nomination of Mark Wahlberg (The Departed) over Matt Damon or Jack Nicholson. At all. His role was brief and memorable, but certainly not as meaty in terms of screen time and screenplay significance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Eddie Murphy win for Dreamgirls, but I hope he conveys more surprise and joy and less indifference this time if he is indeed victorious (see: his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes). I was very disturbed by Jackie Earle Haley’s character in Little Children, but his nod is well-deserved considering that this film marked his return to the big screen 30 years after his big break with The Bad News Bears. Djimon Hounsou, who has already won several critics awards for his role in Blood Diamond, could be the one to steal the win out from under Murphy. Many were surprised that Hounsou didn’t win in 2004 for In America.
Similar to Arkin, I would be shocked if Abigail Breslin won for Little Miss Sunshine. But she certainly shined in the title role, and this was the perfect role to jumpstart a long career (she stars alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart in her next film, No Reservations). I already like her more than Dakota Fanning. But my vote is for Jennifer Hudson, who made her co-stars look like amateurs in Dreamgirls; an amazing feat considering this was her first acting role and she was discovered on a reality television show. Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi truly deserve their nominations for their work in Babel, but only Kikuchi poses a real threat to
Bill Condon won an Oscar for writing Gods and Monsters, which I loved. Then he wrote Chicago and Kinsey (which he also directed), so I added him to my short list of favorite screenwriters. But I was less than thrilled with Dreamgirls on the whole. I am not surprised that Condon was denied a nod in this category, nor do I mind that Dreamgirls was shut out of Best Picture contention. The Academy is quite fond of Clint Eastwood (Letters from Iwo Jima), but my vote is for Scorsese (The Departed) or Iñárritu (
Based upon last year’s unfortunate victor (Crash), I have a feeling that
Little Children absolutely deserves to win. I’m frightened that Borat might, and frankly it would be a disappointment considering the amount of improvisation. My gut feeling is that Notes on a Scandal will prevail, but The Departed is as deserving.