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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

entry arrow9:52 PM | Fresh Oscars in the Air

[turning off TV]

Oh my God. Oh my God. Catalina Sandino Moreno just got nominated for Best Actress. Her fresh turn as a Colombian mule in Maria Full of Grace was so understated, and yet full of quiet tension, she had to snag at least a nomination. The rest? The usual suspects of Hilary Swank of Million Dollaw Baby, Imelda Staunton of Vera Drake, Annette Bening of Being Julia, and Kate Winslet of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In a historic rematch, Swank will probably get the Oscar (M. says because she has great fashion sense), but I want Bening to win because ... well, I still can't forget her "You smell like Catalina" line in Postcards From the Edge.

But where's Neve Campbell from When Will I Be Loved? Or Julie Delpy from Before Sunset? And for the supporting players, where's Meryl Streep from The Manchurian Candidate? The amazing cast (composed of Regina King, Sharon Warren, and Kerry Washington) of Ray? And Irma P. Hall of The Ladykillers?

Virginia Madsen's supporting actress recognition, for Sideways, is particularly giddy because she's been around forever, she even got slashed to pieces in the original Candyman. But, oh, I so wanted Sandra Oh from the same film to get a nod, too. Oh has been a constant source of inspired performances, from the days of Double Happiness, to her supporting turn as the best friend in Under the Tuscan Sun. But, nevertheless. There will be other movies. At least, here, she got good press coverage, too. (She must feel terribly left out though, together with Paul Giamatti, to be one of two cast members out of four who didn't get an Oscar nod.) Who are the rest of the supporting best? Sophie Okonedo as the Tutsi wife from Hotel Rwanda, Natalie Portman as the American prostitute in London in Closer, and Laura Linney as the beleaguered wife in Kinsey. Who will win? Cate Blanchett, because she gives an ethereal Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator. And because Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love robbed her of her Oscar when she played the Virgin Queen in Elizabeth.

And yet, it's really a lean year for female actresses. The Best Actor race, on the other hand, has a herd going on a stampede, thus, many great performances have been laid to waste in the wayside. Virtual reel roadkill. This is Jamie Foxx's year, however, getting both leading and supporting nominations in Ray and Collateral, respectively. He will win, of course. The Oscars will want the same kind of teary/jazzy acceptance speech he gave at the Golden Globes. Some friends are ecstatic that Titanic's Leonardo DiCaprio, deprived of a nomination for that movie, is now back in the nomination roll, with a spirited performance in The Aviator. Sometimes I want to remind them he already got a nomination from way back, as the retarded boy in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. In that movie, he played Johnny Depp's brother, but now, they are both facing off each other, awards-wise. Depp was last year's surprise but most welcome nominee for Pirates of the Carribean; this year, his performance in Finding Neverland as Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie is more muted, but that, nevertheless, got him this latest nod. Everybody loves a beautiful bad boy. Clint Eastwood is also here for Million Dollar Baby, but being a multinominee (as director and as producer for Million) may hurt his chances. Not that I care. He has already gotten recognition as auteur, anyway, for Unforgiven. Thank God, he wasn't nominated as well for his original score. (How talented can you be ba?) And Don Cheadle of Hotel Rwanda ? Not your typical leading man, at all. He will probably be happy for just getting nominated. Cheadle is a welcome nominee, him being the consummate professional (watch him steal most of the films he's been in, like last year's Ocean's 12). Paul Giamatti of Sideways was supposed to be a shoo-in last year for American Splendor, but that speculation went nowhere. This year, that went nowhere again. Poor guy. (And why Clint Eastwood instead of him?)

Let's not talk about Foxx for his supporting actor nomination anymore. Alan Alda's nomination for The Aviator was something nobody saw coming. But it makes perfect sense, and the old man's been around for so long. Sideway's Thomas Haden Church and his real-life story of obscure TV sitcom talent now hot film property will carry him, and probably give him the Oscar, but if everything is right in heaven, Morgan Freeman will win for Million Dollar Baby. (Heck, he played God once, in Bruce Almighty, and did the role well. I hope God enjoyed that performance, too.) Why Morgan? Because his is that acute, effortless performance that gives definition to grace in movies. Consider his star turn in The Shawshank Redemption, or even in something like Driving Miss Daisy. That's perfection. Clive Owen, on the other hand, has gone a long way, from that dreary Holocaust film Bent, to this biting playboy in Mike Nichols' Closer. Oh, but where's Peter Sarsgaard for Kinsey? This is his second snub, after his brilliant performance last year in Shattered Glass. And where's Freddie Highmore of Finding Neverland?

Where's Kevin Bacon's reformed child molester in The Woodsman? Or Christian Bale's thinning insomniac in The Machinist? Or Javier Bardem's cheerful suicide in The Sea Inside? Or Al Pacino's famous Shakespearean Jew in The Merchant of Venice? Where are the musical renditions of Bobby Darin for Kevin Spacey in Beyond the Sea, or Cole Porter for Kevin Spacey in De-Lovely? And somebody just asked me, where's Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Alas for poor Jimmy, comedy still gets no respect in the Academy.

Martin Scorsese, the greatest living director, should get his Oscar now for The Aviator. Like what Leo said, "This is the longest practical joke, not giving him an Oscar." True. He has given us gems like Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and Mean Streets. Even his lesser efforts like Gangs of New York, The Age of Innocence, The Last Temptation of Christ, Casino, and New York, New York are still virtual masterpieces. Really, it's about time to give this film master a break. Consider the others in his company: Alexander Payne still has years of productive work ahead, and judging from the roster of films he has made (such as the brilliant Election), there's no sign of him slowing down creatively anytime soon. So goes for Taylor Hackford of Ray (who also gave us the surprising 8 Mile, and the dreamy Wonder Boys). As for veterans Clint Eastwood for Million Dollar Baby and Mike Leigh for Vera Drake, recognition may be enough.

And finally, we get to the Best Picture nominees. Which is a showcase of glaring omissions. Where's Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which won the Cannes Palme D'Or? He took it out of the running in the Best Documentary race, hoping for a Best Picture nod. The gamble did not pay off. So did Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 2. Him chopping it to two movies may have proven to be box office bonanza, but straddling it between two Oscar years perhaps forfeited his chances at full honors. Where's Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ? The movie was not that good. It was only controversial. Where's Brad Bird's The Incredibles? Confined to the Best Animated Feature ghetto, together with Shrek 2 and -- I can't believe it -- Shark Tale. (Shark Tale? That horrid film?) So finally, we have Million Dollar Baby. The Aviator. Sideways. Ray. And Finding Neverland. I do not get the last one at all. It's an admirable film, yes, but Neverland is not Oscar material. It meanders, it makes pa-cute, but there is no backbone at all to this handsome picture. Take it from me, come February 27, The Aviator will fly over them all.

[the complete list of nominees can be found at the Oscar website]

If you were wondering, did the Philippines get the nod at last in the Best Foreign Language Film category? We sent Mark Meilly's Crying Ladies. We ended up crying with nada instead.

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