[Commentary made after the 2007 Oscars]
While there were a few good movies in 2006, the overall quality of movies continues to sink. I've been finding television (with things like Rome and Battlestar Galactica) to be much more interesting and challenging than movies.
For the first time in many years, I've only seen two of the nominees for Best Picture: Little Miss Sunshine and The Queen. I liked both of these movies very much, but The Queen is way too subtle and quiet to win a Best Picture award and Little Miss Sunshine is a comedy, which means it has almost no chance to take Best Picture. I don't like graphic violence so I haven't seen Babel or The Departed. I'm usually not overly fond of war movies, so I haven't seen Letters from Iwo Jima. I regret not having seen Dreamgirls or Venus. The movie that impressed me the most last year, Children of Men only got some technical nominations.
The show itself was pretty good. Ellen Degeneres did a fine job has host, and the tribute segments were better than usual.
I will note what I haven't seen and will go ahead with my predictions anyway. For the last few years, I've been hedging my bets with a "will win" (WW) & "should win" (SW) before the Oscars actually start!
A really uninspiring year. Of the five, I liked The Queen the best, but it's way too quiet and subtle for a Best Picture win. Little Miss Sunshine was probably the quirkiest and most original in the bunch, so that's the movie I'll support.
Scorsese is so owed... I'd rather see Stephen Frears win this year because The Departed doesn't sound like Scorsese's best work and The Queen is a quiet little masterpiece. Still, I'm a realist, and I can't complain too much if Scorsese wins.
I have always had a soft spot for Peter O'Toole, another person who is so owed. But I would certainly have no objection is Forest Whitaker wins, who probably gave the strongest performance of the year. Still...O'Toole's of an age where he may have given one of his last performances.
There usually aren't too many locks, but this is certainly one of them. Helen Mirren has had such a brilliant year. She is completely magnificent in The Queen. Judi Dench appears to give a great performance in Notes on a Scandal, but the movie just seems oh so stupid - I hate it when the trailer gives away every twist of the movie. Meryl Streep was terrific in The Devil Wears Prada, too.
This isn't quite the lock it appeared to be a few weeks ago. I think Abigail Breslin could win. But the other newcomer, Jennifer Hudson, is more likely.
This is another category that might not be quite the lock it once appeared to be. Alan Arkin has had a great career, and, like Peter O'Toole, never won an Oscar. Eddie Murphy is a wildly erratic actor, who keeps keeps making brain-dead movies for the money. It's of course a wonderful thing that Eddie apparently has given a fine performance in Dreamgirls. But, for the Oscar voters to be voting at the same time that they're seeing constant ads for Norbit, one of the most awful movies I've ever seen ads for...gaak. So I hope Murphy might have gotten enough backlash for the award to go to Arkin. [[About the only winner that could make me happier is Peter O'Toole.]]
While a bit too violent for my taste, Pan's Labyrinth was an incredible visual feast of a movie, with great performances all the way around (especially from the young Ivana Baquero as Ofelia). There might be a chance that The Lives of Others could sneak in, but I doubt it. [[Well, I was wrong there, which is kind of fascinating because it really looked like Pan's Labryrinth was going to walk with most, if not all of its awards.]]
I don't have really strong feelings about any of these movies. I've only seen Happy Feet, and while it was a charming little movie, it didn't quite work for me. Cars looks silly, but it keeps winning awards, so it will probably take the award.
Children of Men was the best movie of last year. Clive Owen deserved an Oscar nomination. I'd like to see it win this Oscar, but I have the bad feeling that Borat (which was simultaneously clever and stupid) will win.
This may be the trickiest category of them all. While last year was a rather weak year for movies, the scripts for Sunshine, Queen and Pan were all quite good, and I've heard interesting things about Iwo Jima. So while I think Sunshine was a little more original (and gleefully subversive), the script for The Queen was an amazingly restrained exercise in showing and not telling. [[Can't complain about this win!]]
I haven't even heard any of these songs, except for, maybe, Love You I Do. So I'll select that one. [[Can't complain to see anything from An Inconvenient Truth win!]]
So what will Al Gore do with his minute on international television?
I also have no idea about this one, either.
It's rather appalling that Pan's Labyrinth is not in this category. The effects in Pirates, like the rest of that movie - are a bit of a joke. Superman Returns is probably a less objectionable choice. [[This elicited my only BOOOOO of the night - OK, the effects were good but they were also completely illogical!]]
People are still talking about some of the amazing shots in Children of Men. Pan's Labyrinth probably had a little more "stylish" photography, but it just wasn't quite as interesting as the photography in Children of Men.
I'm sorry to see that The Illusionist, which I felt had a better look than The Prestige wasn't up for Best Art Direction. However, this award should go to Pan's Labyrinth. [[Excellent!! The art direction was quite beautiful in this film.]]
No Time for Nuts is the only one of these I've seen, and it's quite clever.
[[The winner gave a very amusing speech - good for him!]]
Dreamgirls did the best job at showing the fashions of the time. [[Well, if you really think sneakers during the 19th century was appropriate...]]
Apocalypto's make-up is so good that it's painful to watch and convinced me not to see the movie. [[While I think Apocalytpo was better, I can't complain when Pan's Labyrinth wins!]]
Sound Engineer Kevin O'Connell is the Susan Lucci of the Oscars. He has now been nominated for the Best Sound Mixing Oscar an incredible 19 times over the last 23 years. He was part of the Sound Mixing team for Apocalypto, and I think his team may walk away with one this year. [[Well, he's now "out-lost" Susan Lucci.]]
War movies or big action/adventure movies tend to take the sound awards. I expect one of Clint Eastwood's two war movies to win this one.
People consistantly praised the editing and direction of United 93, which was probably one of the most claustrophobic movies of last year. Since Greenglass is unlikely to win Best Director, perhaps the movie will take Film Editing. Still, I think I'd rather see Children of Men win.