Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nomination Breakown, Pt. 2: My Picks

What a hypocrite I would be if I were to unceremoniously criticize the Academy's nominees without providing some of my own in return. Listed below are my answers to the 81st Annual Oscar nominations.

As you'll soon see for yourself, I altered the categories a bit to suit my perspective. For one thing, my acting nominations are not split into "Leading" and "Supporting"sub-categories. I've never really bought the whole "supporting actor/actress" thing. Separating one performance from another based upon screen-time differential or perceived role significance is silly; great acting is great acting. So four categories become two, Best Actor and Best Actress. (Yes, I've kept Actor and Actress separate. Call me sexist if you must; it makes sense to me in this context.) Similarly, Best Screenplay is one category; no more of that Original vs. Adapted nonsense. Since my noms are highly unlikely to become awards, I see no good reason to attempt spread the nominations among increasingly specific categories ("And the award for Best Hair Lighting by a Ugandan in a Comedy set in Antarctica goes to...").

Also, if I feel that any given nominee has turned in a memorable effort in more than one film during the past year, that nominee's nom will reflect as much. (You'll see what I mean.)

Okay, here we go...

  • Jonathan Demme - Rachel Getting Married
  • Jon Favreau - Iron Man
  • Hou Hsian Hsien - Flight of the Red Balloon
  • Charlie Kaufman - Synecdoche, New York
  • Gus Van Sant - Milk & Paranoid Park
  • Andrew Stanton - WALL-E


  • Josh Brolin - Milk
  • Tom Cruise - Tropic Thunder
  • Robert Downey, Jr. - Iron Man
  • Colin Farrell - In Bruges
  • Andrew Garfield - Boy A
  • Emile Hirsch - Milk
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman - Synecdoche, New York & Doubt
  • Bill Irwin - Rachel Getting Married
  • Frank Langella - Frost/Nixon
  • Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
  • Sean Penn - Milk
  • Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler
  • Michael Shannon - Shotgun Stories & Revolutionary Road


  • Juliette Binoche - Flight of the Red Balloon
  • Rosemarie DeWitt - Rachel Getting Married
  • Anne Hathaway - Rachel Getting Married
  • Sally Hawkins - Happy-Go-Lucky
  • Catherine Keener - Synecdoche, New York
  • Melissa Leo - Frozen River
  • Samantha Morton - Synecdoche, New York & Mr. Lonely
  • Kristin Scott Thomas - I've Loved You So Long
  • Meryl Streep - Doubt
  • Catinca Untaru - The Fall
  • Michelle Williams - Wendy and Lucy & Synecdoche, New York


  • Brandon Drake - Visioneers
  • Charlie Kaufman - Synecdoche, New York
  • Eran Kolirin - The Band's Visit
  • Jonathan Levine - The Wackness
  • Jenny Lumet - Rachel Getting Married
  • Martin McDonagh - In Bruges
  • John Patrick Shanley - Doubt
  • Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon - WALL-E

Okay that's all for now. Please feel free to weigh in on my picks. Who am I giving too much credit? And who have I snubbed? Tell me what I got right, and tell me what I got wrong. (I know what you're thinking: "Got wrong?! Your taste in movies is impeccable, Colin, you'd never get something like this wrong!" I appreciate your honesty.) Seriously, be blunt with me. I can take it.

Regarding the absence of a Best Picture category: well, something much better than a simple list is forthcoming. Assuming I find the time and dedication, it is my intent to spend the last 1.5 weeks leading up to the Oscars counting down my favorite movies of 2008. As of now, I've got nine worthy films on my list. What does that mean to you? Nine straight days of cinematic praise, one movie at a time, that's what! I think (and hope) it'll be a lot of fun.

But don't wait for the countdown to check in again. There'll be more from me between now and the day I reveal the 9th-best film of 2008. So stay tuned!


  1. My take on your list:
    1. Too much credit for Iron Man. I mean, I like it ok but it's sort of like how we both feel about Slumdog and how you feel about Benjamin Button. Robert Downey Jr. for his performance is ok in my book but Jon Favreau for director, really? It's not like it's a poorly directed film but in a year with Kelly Reichardt's masterful direction of "Wendy and Lucy" and even Steven Soderbergh's admirable job of manhandling all 5 hours of "Che" it seems like a questionable choice to me. Explain yourself, Thiel!
    2. Much love for the Emile Hirsch shout-out for "Milk". I thought his performance as Cleve Jones was a work of genius and definitely underrated. Ditto for Bill Irwin for "Rachel Getting Married".
    3. While "Syncedoche, NY" is my favorite film of 2008 I have to say that I think you might have been a little overzealous with the "nominations". Obviously, Charlie Kaufman and Philip Seymour Hoffman deserve every award available to them but Michelle Williams? I loved her in "Wendy and Lucy" and think she deserves a nod for that but her performance in Synedoche, NY was a little flat to me and likewise Catherine Keener (who is barely in the film). Samantha Morton I can live with.

  2. My take on Jason's take:
    1. I've been sold on Downey's Tony Stark performance ever since the first time I saw the movie. The movie is called IRON MAN, but the heart of the film was Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark. I know, I know...Stark IS Iron Man, but in this movie each character is his own entity. I chalk that up to Downey, Jr.'s performance. Add to that the surprising depth and dynamism of the Stark character and you've got what I found to be one of the year's best performances. Regarding Favreau: he was a late addition to the list (and, admittedly, the weakest pick of the bunch), but I couldn't leave him off. My reasoning: superhero comics are nearly always turned into notoriously crappy movies. IRON MAN, on the other hand, is a very good movie. It is my sincere belief that IRON MAN would have looked a lot like THE INCREDIBLE HULK if not for Favreau. The dude's got some directing chops and I think he really proved it with this movie. Bottom line: IRON MAN was one of my favorite movies of the year and I've got Jon Favreau to thank for it.
    2. Word. Thank you. It's an absolute shame that Hirsch isn't getting more love for his performance in MILK. Truth be told, I didn't much like Hirsch before seeing MILK, but like you said, his Cleve Jones was absolutely on-point. Consider me a converted Hirsch fan. Not unlike Favreau, Bill Irwin was nearly cut from my list. I thought I had way too many actors as it was, but I couldn't deny Irwin in the end.
    3. Oh, SYNECDOCHE. Here's the thing: I feel that Caden Cotard's life--and thus, the whole of SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK--is largely driven by the women in it. As such, I feel completely confident defending the three women I "nominated" from the film. Firstly, Samantha Morton is incredible. I know you didn't take issue with the pick, but let me just say that her Hazel is a complete and perfect complement to Hoffman's Caden. I'd go as far as saying that she might have given the best female performance of the year. Secondly, though I do believe that Michelle William's part in SYNECDOCHE was deserving of recognition, I "nominated" her more for her role in WENDY AND LUCY. Between the two roles, I think she had the best complete year. Which brings us to Catherine Keener. I do not fault you in the slightest for questioning this pick. Like Favreau and Irwin, Keener almost didn't make the cut. But while you see her lack of screen-time as a deal-breaker, I see it as a deal-maker. Keener's Adele is a commanding presence throughout the film's first act, but disappears completely from sight after leaving for Berlin. But the character manages to permeate the film via Caden's memory, phone calls, and voice-over readings of faxes and letters/notes. Caden's downward slide is instigated by the loss of his wife and child, and his thoughts and actions revolve clumsily around that loss for the remainder of the film. That Keener was able to lend such strength to an invisible character through voice-acting alone blows me away. I couldn't help but acknowledge her work.

    Thanks for the comment, Jason. I'm glad we're forging a new avenue for film discussion despite the transcontinental gap. And I must note that each and every criticism you threw at my irrelevant noms was more than warranted, as far as I'm concerned.

    (PS: Though I loved WENDY AND LUCY, it didn't grab me in quite the same way some other films did. Which isn't to say that Kelly Reichardt didn't cross my mind as I made the Director list. For me, though, the allure of W&L was in its acting, not its direction. And CHE hasn't come anywhere near Savannah yet. I won't be surprised if it never does (but I will be very disappointed).

  3. I really wish my blog comments weren't as long as my blog posts. Something to work on...