Sunday, January 28, 2007

SAG(gy) Indeed

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role: Forest Whitaker, The Last Kind of Scotland (Alternate: Peter O'Toole, Venus)

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role: Helen Mirren, The Queen (Alternate: Alternate: Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada)

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine (Alternate: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls)

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls (Alternate: Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine)

Best Ensemble Cast: Little Miss Sunshine (Alternate: The Departed)

Fairly standard selections here, but I'm not really "feeling" anything else. The only big change from my prior predictions is Alan Arkin for Supporting Actor, and even that's conventional by most standards. I figure that Forest Whitaker repeats Philip Seymour Hoffman's hat trick; sure Peter O'Toole is a real threat, but I figure if there was so much support, he would have won at least a critics' prize or something by this point. Even Jack Palance won a Golden Globe for City Slickers before getting a "career Oscar". Whitaker is, after all, playing a real-life personality in a showy performance - in today's awards norms, that's a big help (also see last year's and this year's Best Actress winner and winner-to-be.) I realize that O'Toole is playing a struggling actor, which obviously caters to SAG's voting demographic, but I'm thinking everyone stays safe this year. I don't think I need to say anything about my Helen Mirren prediction, while Jennifer Hudson looks likely to follow in the aforementioned actors' footsteps - Breslin will get an Actor when her film wins the Best Ensemble prize. Eddie Murphy could win for his memorable work in Dreamgirls, but he didn't have to compete against Alan Arkin at the Globes. And finally, Little Miss Sunshine takes home the ensemble trophy/ies in the tradition of Sideways and The Full Monty.

Post Ceremony Thoughts:
- 4/5; I guess Eddie Murphy's our front-runner after all.
- Anne Hathaway is an impeccable public speaker and knows how to work a crowd; just recall how she was able to deal with the unexpected standing ovation in the middle of her presentation. Very classy handling.
- I'm not for winners reading their speeches off a sheet of paper, but I'm hoping that Forest Whitaker does so for Oscar night (he's so adorable, but he needs structure to keep him organized. As well, it's so startling to see how soft-spoken and painfully shy he is in real life compared to the very scary and loud Idi Amin on-screen.) And yes, Whitaker will be winning the Oscar - if O'Toole isn't even showing up to these things, it's not looking good (not a criticism; I know he is in poor health and cannot easily travel, but it's the way this awards stuff works.)
- I don't know why Rachel McAdams continues to pink-streak her hair, it just looks plain silly and childish. Like she got bubble gum stuck in it.
- Helen Mirren = vast, vast, vast improvement. Vast. If she works in more anecdotes like the tweed costumes, I'll be happy.
- I found it so funny how none of the Best Actress nominees showed up besides Mirren (I know that Streep had a valid excuse - what about the others?) It's like all of them knew that there was no point.
- Abigail Breslin is so cute, but that outfit was so blaaaah. I'm not expecting a ball gown dress on her (a Dakota Fanning clone in other words), but it was just really drab.
- Greg Kinnear is great in front of the microphone.
- I loved Chandra Wilson's speech (well, specifically the end of it.)
- I should provide mention fashion commentary after mentioning Breslin; I think all the Grey's Anatomy girls looked smashing tonight (with the exception of Kate Walsh's yellow-dyed bed sheet monstrosity, and Ellen Pompeo's weirdness, because while I like the dress, I'm not sure I like it on her specifically; Walsh's hair/makeup solid tho.)
- Helen Mirren looked great, a big improvement from the Globes (maybe she's building up to the Oscars, improving her ensemble and speech with each successive awards show? Let's hope so...)
- Other faves: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Vera Farmiga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Michael C. Hall, Anne Hathaway, Mark Wahlberg, Rinko Kikuchi (how glam rock-ish) and Jennifer Hudson (if only for that generous cleavage display.)
- Ehhh: Cate Blanchett, Mirren (in terms of her makeup - too painted), and Kyra Sedgwick/Mary Lynn Rajskub (cute, but lose that poodle hair!)
- Not hot at all on: Eva Longoria, Demi Moore, Rachel McAdams (I know I already mentioned her, but it's just so freaking hideous), and Jeremy Irons (a mess, actually.) And please eat something Heather Graham!
- Oh yeah, and- *snooooooooooooooooore*

Friday, January 26, 2007

Proof that Kate is God.

"A film about the Holocaust? Guaranteed an Oscar. I've been nominated four times. Never won. The whole world is going, 'Why hasn't Winslet won one?' That's it. That's why I'm doing it. Schindler's Bloody List. The Pianist. Oscars coming out of their ass."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

And the reactions are:

What a glorious, glorious morning. When the film leading with the most number of nominations only gets eight (and doesn't receive a Best Picture nod), you know the Academy is doing their homework.

- Dreamgirls gets totally bitch smacked out of the main categories, recalling the mixed showing of Cold Mountain a couple of years ago (lots of nods in the Original Song category, two acting nods and a smattering of support in the techies.) Even though practically everyone was predicting Condon's writing and directing to be snubbed, I am really still shocked by the Best Picture omission. I was thinking that the hype would be enough to sustain the film at least for this round, even if a win was totally out of the question.
- Letters from Iwo Jima is this year's Munich, while Clint Eastwood is similarly this year's Steven Spielberg. What lesson are we to take from this? Never count against these two beloved filmmakers in any Oscar year, even if (a) they are over-rewarded by any standard, (b) the buzz seems to have quieted during ballot-filling time, and (c) box-office numbers are not encouraging. I wasn't surprised to see Eastwood on the Director's shortlist (you bet I'm going to be gloating about my 5/5 predix there; thanks Javi), but I thought he would be the only representative of the film. Letters didn't exactly sweep, but the support is definitely there (screener DVDs were certainly spinning during the last few weeks, because it's made less than five million at the box office.) Our Best Picture winner? I don't know. I certainly prefer the film to Dreamgirls, but I by far prefer Marty's The Departed over either. But why do I feel like Little Miss Sunshine is the film everyone loves and will vote for?
- Click for Makeup? Okay, sure. I won't make any judgments because I haven't seen it, but it certainly sticks out like a sore thumb.
- SAG categories are basically 99% copied and pasted for the Academy's roster; what does that mean?

- Nobody knows which film will win Best Picture. And that's pretty damn cool.
- Half-Nelson's Ryan Gosling gets that nod he so well deserves, even if it is several years overdue. Is he going to show up? Meanwhile, it's too bad Anthony Mackie and Shareeka Epps never got any traction.
- Cruz! Lubezki! Cuarón!
- The Black Dahlia's Cinematography nod.
- Jack Nicholson's hit-and-miss Departed work gets passed over in favour of the far more deserving Mark Wahlberg, who is my favourite pick in the Supporting Actor category. I would have preferred the citation for his I Heart Huckabees performance, but I'll take what I can get.
- No mention of the word "Bobby" anywhere in today's shortlists, even in the Song category, which you'd consider an easy get.
- How exciting to see no overlap between Best Picture and the Lead Actor or Cinematography categories. Usually, the latter two are crampacked with several names associated with one of the big five, but this is the first time in decades - possibly ever - that this has happened (I'll let trivia braniacs figure out the stats on that one.) Even in the Editing category, where we usually have the same thing happening (see the year of Gangs/Pianist/Hours/Towers/Chicago in 2002 - total match up; snore), we solely have The Departed and Babel represented, making room for deserving nominees like Children of Men and not-so-deserving ones like Blood Diamond. Yikes.
- The Prestige, a superb-looking film in every respect, shocks everyone with nods for Art Direction and Cinematography. Like I said, the voters were spreading the wealth this year; nice to see.
- Kate Winslet earns a well-deserved sixth nod for her Little Children magic, which saved the film from black hole nothingness for me. It will be hard to watch her lose again though.
- Marie Antoinette gets some love for Costume Design; I want more but, again, I'll take what I can get with this underloved, misunderstood masterpiece.
- The gorgeous Pan's Labyrinth is able to win more nominations (six of them) than Letters (four), The Departed (five) and Little Miss Sunshine (four). Nick D. was certainly onto something with his predictions...
- The Illusionist's D.P. Dick Pope, to whom I gave a shout-out earlier this year, earns a well-deserved nod in the Cinematography category. Contrary to what I said, his work wasn't forgotten.

- No Clint Mansell for The Fountain, that film's only chance for a nod. But I guess that was to be expected, since the music is so unconventional, and the Academy branch so rarely takes chances. (Do I have to see The Good German now?)
- Djimon Hounsou keeps getting rewarded in these noble savage/native informant/mystical "other" type roles, which will only type-cast him even more than he already is now (if that's possible.) Sigh.
- Gustavo Santaolalla's hodge-podge score for Babel gets placement.
- Philip Glass's annoying, intrusive score for Notes on a Scandal gets placement.
- Despite The Queen's popularity, the film's most interesting performance (Michael Sheen) is overlooked.
- The Departed *only* secures five nods, which makes me scared for its Best Picture prospects. I feel somewhat confident that it is Marty's year, but the repeat of him versus Clint makes my blood turn cold. Will this be a repeat of the Bening/Swank tragedy? Will Nathaniel live through such a thing happening?
- Cate Blanchett, I adore and worship you, but we both know that the nomination for your bland work in Notes on a Scandal belongs to Emily Blunt.
- Volver's only nod is for the darling Penelope Cruz, although it should have earned boatloads more. But I was correct in thinking that the Academy probably feels Pedro is overloved - then again, why doesn't that extend to Clint Eastwood (and Paul Haggis), both of whom seem to pop up every other year? Hypocrites, you voters are.
- Canada's Water gets a Foreign Film nod, but despite director Deepa Mehta and her team/cast doing some things right, the film will only serve to perpetuate stereotypes into the mainstream even further.

- Mel Gibson's disgusting Apocalypto manages three nods, three too many. The film looked good, yes, but in service of what? I can't comment on each filmmaking element separately when all of them add up to such an offensive, simplistic discourse.
- Again, no Emily Blunt despite the fact that her film was widely-seen and even awarded beyond Meryl's assured acknowledgment (see Costume Design.)

... and worst of all:

- Alexandre Desplat gets snubbed for The Painted Veil (perhaps the greatest score of the new milennium tied with his own Birth), but makes it in for The Queen. I suppose it's wonderful at long last to call him an Oscar nominee, but why do they keep ignoring his greatest work?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Final Oscar Predictions

Here we go again. As always, I'm only playing with the first eight categories, as I really have bad luck with the tech races (so why even try?) I've limited myself to only two runner-ups per category (hey, it's hard!) * = correct prediction

1. *The Departed - Warner Brothers
2. Dreamgirls – Dreamworks SKG and Paramount
3. *The Queen - Pathé/The Weinstein Company
4. *Little Miss Sunshine - Fox Searchlight
5. United 93- Universal, Studio Canal
6. *Babel - Paramount Vantage
7. *Letters from Iwo Jima - Dreamworks SKG, WB

As many others have predicted, these first four plus Babel look to constitute our final five. The Queen is the only film that has failed to win a big precursor (BFCA, GG and PGA have all been distributed to the other four), but the critical support and prestige factors (acclaimed lead performance, respected director, popular) cemented its position here months ago. Yet contrary to what the consensus suggests and my own safe predicting habits, United 93 definitely could be a spoiler in this race. Critics have been just as vocal about their admiration for it in their year-end citations, and I feel that enough love exists to propel it onto #1 status on many ballots. I wouldn't count it out, and furthermore at the expense of Babel, as both fit that "timely" world affairs label. Because of all these factors, I'm still wavering on that last spot, especially since Babel's Golden Globe win occurred after ballots were due. Don't be surprised if I change the order at the last hour though... Letters from Iwo Jima is next in line, and despite its wins at NBR and L.A., I think the release timing worked against it here. Despite Eastwood's name attached here, I don't think enough voters have seen it by this point, and the foreign language obstacle is certainly a problem. This could potentially rebound like Munich did last year, but I think the film has a better chance with the Directors' branch than with the overall voting community.

BEST DIRECTOR (5/5; I am amazing.)
1. *Martin Scorsese, The Departed
2. *Stephen Frears, The Queen
3. *Alejandro González Iñárritu, Babel
4. *Clint Eastwood, Letters from Iwo Jima
5. *Paul Greengrass, United 93
6. Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris, Little Miss Sunshine
7. Guillermo del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth

This race may feel obligatory since everyone thinks it's going to Marty, but if precedent has shown us anything, voters aren't afraid to stick it to the man when it counts. I'll be wary when this category is called on Oscar night. Meanwhile, I'd say the first two are locks, while Iñárritu looks very likely considering the GG/DGA nods, even if I think his film will be passed over in the main race. Similarly, I think Letters from Iwo Jima will fare best with the directors' branch, as it's unlikely that Eastwood will be ignored for his double whammy this year. He gets the votes on the respect factor alone. After those four, I think the last spot is very much up for grabs - Greengrass would be my primary pick, for obvious reasons. Dayton and Faris get a boost from the DGA mention, but I think the film's likely appearance in other categories will make something like this overkill for the directors. It's not the kind of film that screams genius in this department (the cast and screenplay are seen as doing most of the work.) One must also mention del Toro and the apparent love for Pan's Labyrinth; because of Peter Jackson and his team, fantasy is no longer the dreaded genre to avoid. As for the Dreamgirls' beloved leader, I think that film's momentum towards gold gets a flat tire here first.

1. *Helen Mirren, The Queen
2. *Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
3. *Penélope Cruz, Volver
4. *Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
5. *Kate Winslet, Little Children
6. Annette Bening, Running with Scissors
7. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Sherrybaby

No comments necessary, I presume. Winslet is probably most vulnerable here because her film is little-seen, but if that argument holds any water, then Gyllenhaal is a definite "no". A surprise Bening nod is entirely possible, but if SAG (a crowd that apparently liked Running with Scissors) could not be moved, then how can we expect the same for Academy voters? I can't think of anyone else with much of a chance... Miller or Zellweger? You can never underestimate the power of the Weinsteins.

1. *Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
2. *Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
3. *Peter O'Toole, Venus
4. *Ryan Gosling, Half-Nelson
5. Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America...
6. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed
7. *Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond

First three actors can rest easy. Normally, Gosling would not be this secure, but considering the weak year and the vote splitting likelihood I see happening with DiCaprio, I think his chances are decent. The last time I predicted a Leo snub with SAG, he ended up getting three; as such, this is probably a very stupid move (even if the category fraud helped matters significantly there.) Plus, I can't imagine Cohen's shannanigans are popular with everyone. Still, if you're going to be gutsy...

1. *Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
2. *Adriana Barraza, Babel
3. *Rinko Kikuchi, Babel
4. *Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
5. *Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
6. Emily Blunt, The Devil Wears Prada
7. Toni Collette, Little Miss Sunshine

Standard five here, but I really can't find anyone to eliminate. I don't understand why Blanchett's mediocre work in Notes on a Scandal is so consistently rewarded, but I suppose you can't argue with the combined power of GG, SAG and BAFTA. I love Blanchett, and always thought each successive nomination would be cause for elation, but I'm pretty apathetic right now. That said, I think Blunt and Collette easily could break into this race due to starring in extremely popular crowdpleasers. I'm tempted to change the order to factor in Toni, but I'll stick with my first picks.

1. *Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
2. *Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
3. Jack Nicholson, The Departed
4. *Mark Wahlberg, The Departed
5. *Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
6. *Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
7. Michael Sheen, The Queen

This category has me tearing out my hair. Not to mention the fact that I've done pretty poorly with this lot (see SAG - 1/5.) Why does no one look secure to me besides Murphy and Arkin? Besides those two, this list could feature any combo of names, even ones that I haven't mentioned (Affleck, Carrell, DiCaprio even.) In danger? Hounsou, but I'm holding onto the fact that NBR has shockingly good accuracy with predicting nominees. He also managed to get a SAG mention when the film looked like a dead duck floating in the water. Then again, Earle Haley also got a mention from the same group, suggesting that Little Children has an audience after all (probably mostly through screeners.) Ugh. I'm wavering back and forth on these two, and it's going to drive me insane when the one I don't pick gets mentioned tomorrow. Just watch it happen now.

1. *Peter Morgan, The Queen
2. *Guillermo Arriaga, Babel
3. *Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshine
4. Paul Greengrass, United 93
5. *Guillermo del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth
6. Zach Helm, Stranger than Fiction
7. Pedro Almodovar, Volver

Missed: Iris Yamashita, Paul Haggis, Letters from Iwo Jima

I'm thinking that Helm is dismissed as Kaufman-lite, while Pedro has already received love here recently. The WGA mention for Greengrass indicates support for the seemingly little-seen film.

1. *William Monahan, The Departed
2. *Patrick Marber, Notes on a Scandal
3. Peter Morgan, Jeremy Brock, The Last King of Scotland
4. *Todd Field, Tom Perrotta, Little Children
5. Jason Reitman, Thank You For Smoking
6. *Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, et al., Children of Men
7. Aline Brosh McKenna, The Devil Wears Prada

Missed: Sacha Baron Cohen, et al., Borat: Cultural Learnings...

I'm thinking that Prada is dismissed as too fluffy, even with WGA attention. Children of Men looks like a good bet, but I don't know what to trade it in for... the other children (little ones)?

* Note: I will likely be making some changes right up until tomorrow evening. The Cohen nod over DiCaprio is bothering me the most presently.

OVERALL: 33/40 = 83% (Big Eight Only.)

Movie thoughts going through my head today

1. How on earth did Wojciech Kilar's music for Bram Stoker's Dracula fail to receive an Oscar nomination for Original Score? Because it should have been acknowledged, and the composer should have won for it too (he currently stands at "zero" for nods overall.) This has been bothering me since I re-watched the film for Nathaniel's Vampire blog-a-thon and did research on its awards history. I only ask because the film itself was able to receive so much love in other categories, so it's not like no one had seen the film or outright snubbed it (you're telling me that Basic Instinct was more deserving of a nod that year?) The oversight is pretty mind-boggling, considering it's one of the greatest background scores ever written for a film, let alone a horror picture. On every listen, it succeeds in scaring the holy bejeesus out of me, and I get the ominous feeling that something horrible is about to happen. What a thrilling experience it is! And it's even disturbing in its quieter moments, like the "Lucy's Party" track, which sounds like a fairy tale gone horribly, horribly wrong. Just listen to the first track - "The Beginning" - before bedtime tonight and try not to get nightmares for the rest of the month. Just try.

2. I've been unhealthily obsessed with another film score lately, and that is Alexadre Desplat's marvelous, genius, Golden Globe winning, (and hopefully soon to be rightfully Oscared) work in The Painted Veil. It thankfully avoids the exotic and epic-like inclinations of similarly-themed scores (Europeans venturing out into foreign lands to "find" themselves) and instead delves itself deep into the mysterious, playful and melancholy highs and lows of the relationship between the film's main characters Kitty and Walter. What I love about Desplat's scores, and the thing I can't put my finger on, is how fantastical and dreamy they are while completely complimenting what is happening on-screen. I can't articulate it well obviously. I've been arguing on the merits of the film itself with Nick M. (I'm not really keen on how the Chinese characters are depicted in the film), but we both agree on Desplat's absolutely heavenly music. Go see the movie right now for a sharply-etched Naomi Watts performance (I'm not a fan usually, so that's a recommendation if there ever was one) and buy the soundtrack immediately thereafter. Trust me, guys. The best tracks: the title number, "Promenade", "Kitty's Journey", and "The Water Wheel". Amazing.

3. For two months, I forced myself to stay away because I wanted to watch the film (somewhat at least) outside of the insane media blitz and waves of public discussion. I'll also admit that my own snootiness prevented me from wanting to give the film a chance, since I am a little uptight about this kind of humour. I finally got around to seeing Borat: Cultural Learnings of America... (Larry Charles, 06) this weekend, and I now must admit that Sacha Baron Cohen has the biggest balls of any comedian in recent memory. I spent a lot of the film looking down at my feet because it was just too painful watching the character make a complete ass of himself, or - even worse - the everyday people around him taking him seriously and offering horrifying perspectives of their own. This is the scariest film of the year, in many ways more hard-hitting than the The Descent, because this is a reflection of actual prejudice, ignorance and hatred operating in our midst. Anyone who claims that "things are better now" should be pointed in Cohen's direction. That said, the film often goes too far beyond making its points, reveling in childish and toilet humour for no apparent reason (the bag of feces at the dinner table?) Even more problematic: I also think this kind of satire is dangerous, because as brilliant as it is at times, it can be abused for other reasons. Take my adolescent cousins for example - they think Borat the reporter is funny for his outlandish and disgusting behaviour, and regularly repeat quotes from the film with the "Kazakh" accent. Do they necessarily understand what Cohen is trying to do here? After asking them questions, I suspect not. I think to categorize the film as a comedy is a little misleading - where can you draw the line between laughing with or at a certain type of characterization? I'm still wondering myself. B

4. Holy crap, Sienna Miller can actually act! I saw Factory Girl (George Hickenlooper, 06), and it ended up much better than I thought it would be. Lesson to me (again) is to resist the urge in pre-judging a sketchy-looking biography, no matter how tempting it may be to do so. Certainly not biopic, but at the same time not free of some of the conventions of that genre, this study of Edie Sedgwick's life during the famous Andy Warhol years is consistently illuminating. It's certainly not boring to look at either, that's for sure - it kind of reminded me of Bailey and Barbato's Party Monster, a really underrated film in my opinion. It maintains a nice pace until hitting the Billy Quinn romantic track (a figure based on Bob Dylan, played unevenly by Hayden Christensen), which brings the film to a screeching halt. But as I said before, Sienna Miller is fantastic as Sedgwick, making us understand what was so alluring and hypnotic about the muse. Even in the scenes depicting Edie's spiral into hard drugs and depression are never overplayed on her part. It certainly helps that most of the time, she is a dead ringer for the fashion icon - the transformation holds up throughout. Perhaps even better is Guy Pearce as Warhol, who with his dry and deadpan delivery, makes the case for creating an entire film around his character. B-

5. PGA goes to Little Miss Sunshine, and the Best Picture race gets even more hazy. My prediction was with Dreamgirls since it's big and splashy, but the voters clearly went in the other direction this year. I love it. Even though I'm not a fan of the Dayton/Faris film, I'm really excited to see some variation in the winners being called out. Let's see how this affects the next few weeks in terms of speculation. Meanwhile, the Academy reveals its picks Tuesday morning - my predictions of the big eight categories will be up later tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Douse her in rum!

From imdb:

Dame Helen Mirren fuses to battle awards show nerves with alcohol - because she is afraid she'll embarrass herself. The British star, who picked up two Golden Globe Awards on Monday night for her performances in The Queen and Elizabeth I, admits she gets tipsy easily, and would never want to appear intoxicated onstage - even though a few glasses of wine would help calm her nerves. She explains, "It's a bit of a roller coaster ride... and you can't drink. I can't anyway. I'm too scared to drink and then make a t*t of myself. It's much too scary to do that. Some of the award shows you do there is alcohol on the table, there's wine and things. You have one afterwards and drown your sorrows usually. I've lost a lot of awards in my life. I'm brilliant at going, 'Oh, I'm so glad she won! She's fantastic! I'm a worm by comparison! I don't deserve it at all! I don't know why I'm here!'" Mirren also refuses to eat at glitzy awards shows, adding, "You're too nervous and excited and insecure; you don't want beans in your teeth."

*slaps forehead*

No, she's totally got it wrong! That's the whole idea, Helen. A little loosening up would undoubtedly result in a stronger and more memorable acceptance speech next month (see "tits over ass" line while picking up the Emmy for Elizabeth I.) Someone get her a flask right this minute and refill accordingly throughout the ceremony. By the time her category is announced, I want her utterly shit-faced and practically crawling up that staircase.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Golden Globezzzzzzzzz

--> Now! New and improved with post-ceremony comments.

So, the usual suspects again?

(Mirren/Whitaker/Hudson/Murphy/Scorsese, rinse, dry, repeat.) I'm sorry, I just don't care - at least the comedy/musical categories will provide some different names. Does anyone else sort of feel like the races feel more obligatory than exciting this year? Aside from Mirren and Scorsese, I just can't get on board with any of the frontrunners here. With practically every category sewn up, are there going to be any huge shockers here or at any of the upcoming ceremonies? I think not. I liked it much better when the critics and guilds made choices of their own rather than simply going along with the studio-produced hype and general trends. Or am I imagining that ever happened once upon a time? Oh well, drunk celebrities are always worth watching I guess.

* = correct prediction

Best Picture (Drama): The Departed (Babel may have more nominations, but see Cold Mountain for precedent - only 1 win out of 8 leading nods. I can't see the Marty flick *just* picking up the Directing prize.) Winner - Babel!

*Best Picture (Comedy/Musical): The singing 'girls (A Little Miss Sunshine upset is not out of the question, but I'd still place it far behind. Prada and Borat will get love elsewhere - in the lead comedy acting races specifically.)

*Best Actor (Drama): Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland (Leo splits his vote, while O'Toole doesn't enjoy the "owed" status here that he does with the Academy - he's won three Globes. Easy, The King reigns again.)

*Best Actress (Drama): Helen Mirren, The Queen (The Queen reigns again, and she'll scoop up another Globe tomorrow night for Elizabeth I too.)

*Best Actor (Comedy/Musical): Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat: Cultural Learnings... (The only question is, will he be accepting the award in character?)

*Best Actress (Comedy/Musical): Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada (That's all... I can't see anyone else here winning this, even Bening.)

*Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls (A repeat for Jack is probable, but I'm thinking that Murphy adds the first of the big three prizes towards the golden boy.)

*Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Jennifer Murphy, Dreamgirls (Please let it be someone else, PLEASE.)

*Best Director: Marty Scorsese, The Departed (Perhaps the most unpredictable race of the night aside from Screenplay, since Marty just won not too long ago for Gangs of New York. Then again, Ang Lee was able to win two of these in close proximity, so I don't think that should be a problem for the overdue director. Iñárritu is a threat, while Eastwood - hopefully - cancels himself out.)

Best Screenplay: Guillermo Arriaga, Babel (Dead heat between Babel, The Queen and that roadtrip movie. Another toughie, but the former needs love somewhere, seeing that it's the leading film in terms of nominations, and this is the best place for it.) Winner - Peter Morgan, The Queen.

Best Song: Honestly, who cares? That Beyoncé stinker. Winner - Prince, Happy Feet

Best Original Score: Gustavo Santaolalla, Babel (I hope Clint Mansell upsets - hopefully voters will make the correct choice on their ballot.) Winner - Alexadre Desplat, The Painted Veil (Finally, some love!)

*Best Foreign Film: Letters from Iwo Jima (Aside from Apocalypto, any of these are a possibility. Crossing fingers for Volver, while Pan's Labyrinth is probably next in line after the Eastwood film.)

Best Animated Film: Happy Feet (The penguin love continues.) Winner - Cars

EDIT: Post-Ceremony Random, Stupid Thoughts

Score: 9/14 (64%)

- Overall, it got better as it went along, although the first half hour was excruciatingly painful. Only after the Best Actress (Comedy/Musical) gave her speech did things pick up for the better.
- Speaking of the devil, can the hysterical, sexy and very tipsy Meryl Streep ("Oh shut up, it's not that long") give every acceptance speech on behalf of all winners from now till the end of eternity, or at the very least this awards season? That's all.
- Would it kill William Monahan to smile at least once?
- How come all the actors and big names get to tediously ramble as much as they like while Peter Morgan (actually going somewhere interesting with his speech) has to wrap it up within mere seconds? And although the writing of The Queen has not held up for me with distance (that annoying stag!), I'm really glad that Morgan was able to beat out Little Miss Sunshine's Michael Arndt. Hopefully this situation will repeat at les Oscars. The fact that he wrote The Last King of Scotland too only sweetens the deal.
- Jamie Foxx, please, please shut the hell up.
- Someone needs to cast the brilliant Djimon Hounsou in as the lead in a film now, now, right now. No more of this native informant/noble savage nonsense.
- Did Felicity Huffman get some... "work" done? She looks about ten years younger. I thought she was Vera Farmiga for a second.
- What is with Will Ferrell's hair? Although I guess it doesn't look half bad.
- Why can't anyone pronounce "Alejandro González Iñárritu" correctly? It's not *that* difficult, trust me. It's not like you didn't have time to practice beforehand (I'm looking at you, Naomi and Spielbergo.)
- I love Marty's bushy eyebrows, and the fact that he acknowledged Infernal Affairs in his acceptance speech. It will be so sweet when he picks up the Academy's prize next month.
- Could Aaron Eckhart be any more good-looking?
- The love and praise lavished upon Bill Condon tonight has me convinced he's this year's Jim Mangold. I call snub, and a 3/5 Picture/Director lineup this year a la 2001.
- Least deserving winner of the night? Say hello to "Grey's Anatomy". Now say goodbye.
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, shave that moustache immediately! But bonus points for pronouncing Volver correctly.
- I freaking love Helen Mirren, but her speeches have left something to be desired tonight. Will this work against her with Oscar voters (who love sobs and mini-breakdowns)? Eh, perhaps not. They did give it to Jennifer Connelly that year after all, and she continually looked as excited as a teenage employee working the night shift at McDonald's while picking up her prizes through the precursors and on the big night itself.
- Forest Whitaker = this year's PSH. But as with Mirren... that speech. ARGH.
- Was Peter O'Toole even present tonight?
- Well, at least one prize tonight was a jaw-dropper (at least for me.) I really didn't think Babel would win a Best Picture nomination (too difficult, too dark), but I'm eating my words tonight.

Okay, that's it. Night!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Return to (Some) Reviews

Even though it hasn't been that long since my last capsule review rundown (September), I still feel pretty rusty. This post has been in editing-limbo for more than two weeks now, and in the time since, I just feel that each commentary gets progressively worse. Some of them have been reproduced and revised from other forums.

Tideland (Terry Gilliam, 2005) - Grainy, crude and pretty much always incomprehensible, I simply cannot understand why Gilliam thought this would be a good idea, or that audiences would even sit through it. Even an hour into my screening, I was at a loss to understand what was happening and more importantly why I should care when there was so much effort on his part to distance me from it. Of course, that is very well his purpose here, but it still counts as a failed experiment that should have never been realized as anything longer than a ten minute short. I can imagine it would have worked much better in that medium than stretched out to a feature-length film that cannot accommodate it. Although Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly receive high billing here, but they only appear for about fifteen minutes or so. The lead here then is young actress Jodelle Ferland, playing Jeliza-Rose, a chatty young girl who creates her own fantasy world out in the Prairies once she is abandoned by her junkie parents. She spends her days chatting with a host of finger puppets and befriending strange and disturbed townsfolk from the estate next door. One might expect something along the lines of a darker and more violent "Alice in Wonderland" or "The Wizard of Oz" re-visioning, but there is little such magic or mystery here (del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth accomplishes much more with a similar concept.) Even Ferland fails to make her character worth rooting for; she screams, giggles and feigns through every line of dialogue, making Jeliza-Rose one of the most excruciating movie characters in recent memory. Her diction certainly does not help, so her line readings simply play as high-pitched squawking. I suspect many will try to gather the clues here and decipher the film's garbled plot turns, but I will not be wasting my time. Although there are some interesting moments here and there (Brendan Fletcher and Janet McTeer are quite good as the creepy neighbors next door), overall the intent feels too flippant and insincere to be taken seriously. More murky than visionary. C-/D+

The Sun (Aleksander Sokurov, 2005) - I may not have seen the first two installments in Sokurov's "Power" trilogy, but I am confident in suggesting that The Sun stands completely on its own. This is a solemn, deeply unsettling film that takes its time in establishing a mood, immersing us minute by minute until we are just as lost and anxious as the characters that miserably glide across the screen. Set towards during the last days of World War II in Japan, Sokurov unobtrusively captures the final few hours of Emperor Hirohito's claim to power before victorious American forces enter and place him under house arrest. Sokurov begins with a meditative sequence in the Emperor's personal quarters, as his servants read out to him the day's itinerary. Everyone is aware that the enemy is due to descend at any moment, but the schedule is kept in place as per usual. He will first meet with his cabinet, have a few hours to dabble in biology research, take time for a nap and then enjoy some personal time (to perhaps write letters to his wife and son, who have been moved into safer territory.) Sokurov follows Hirohito's actions closely, studying the defeated leader bravely maintain a sense of regiment and ascendancy. Yet the Emperor begins to doubt his position as the hours pass, calling into question the "fact" that he is divine and the country's "sun" (much to the dismay of his assistants). This intimate portrait is never made redundant, but always revealing something to us (if one is willing to invest in the character here). The second half of the film focuses on his capture and interrogation by General Douglas MacArthur (who expects to see an Emperor and gets something of a Charlie Chaplin clone!). Issei Ogata in the lead helps considerably in allowing us to understand this neurotic mess of a disheartened leader. Always seeming to mumble or mouth his words before he gathers up the conviction to speak, Ogata is eerily convincing as a man questioning his identity and position hitherto so clear to him and his subjects. Sokurov hardly missteps here; the only flaw is how he endlessly keeps mining Japanese custom and etiquette for laughs. A-

Manderlay (Lars von Trier, 2005) - Ladies and gentlemen, forget everything negative you've heard about the second installment in Lars von Trier's exciting USA - Land of Opportunities trilogy. Personally, this is far from a disappointment - it only may seem that way when compared with Dogville, which was an admittedly stronger effort (especially in terms its lead performance.) But this is nonetheless a shocking and blistering study of establishing "democracy" in a community otherwise enslaved. There are obvious parallels to "Operation Iraqi Freedom", whereby von Trier critiques the United States' handling of this shattered country and its flimsy rhetoric of liberation. It also stands in for colonization of any "Third-World" or developing country. But the can also be viewed as a discourse about power and subjection, whether we are privileged or disenfranchised (in every sense of the word.) Here, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard, taking over for Nicole Kidman) is very much empowered and feels that she will teach the newly-freed population, once slaves, of the Manderlay plantation about emancipation. Her intentions are certainly noble, but ultimately she has surprises in store about how the new citizens react to their unfamiliar situation. In Manderlay, von Trier asks us: is democracy really the only way we can organize nation and community? Does freedom allow for the right to sell yourself into slavery if you wish it? Fundamentaly, what does freedom entail, and who has the right to practice it? Are you (and when are you) allowed to exercise your rights if the establishing, "fixing" power states that you are not ready? Perhaps most importantly, does one have the right to enforce one way of life and condemn another that is other? By the time we leave Manderlay (both the film and its titular setting), we are left in more doubt and disarray than when we first arrived. Lars von Trier has once again crafted a challenging moral dilemma about our notions of equality, justice and liberalism. It is certainly not a friendly or warm picture, but certainly offers a lot of welcome gray zone complexity. B+

The Devil Wears Prada (David Frankel, 2006) - Really now. Who cares about Andy's alleged descent into assumed self-interest and the film's heavy-handed finger wagging when the performances and quips on display are this entertaining? This adaptation of Jessica Warner's book is essentially Mean Girls played out in New York's fashion magazine world (and certainly not as sharply written), but the true draws of Prada are clearly its upbeat soundtrack played over multiple montages, the designer porn and an excellent ensemble cast meticulously polished. To be sure, the conclusive moralizing is an unfortunate turn in the frivolity, but even at its most predictable, this picture is fluff cinema at its best. While Meryl Streep is a mortal Best Actress Oscar nominee lock for her refreshing take on the boss from hell, all the cast members here are on-key and deserving of praise in their own right. Anne Hathaway has received the most flack for her characterization, especially considering her apparent betrayal and abuse of morals are not quite reflected in her sweet and innocent face. But it must be stated she is also handed the least interesting role, for Prada's sideline figures are the real stars of the show with great material to work with. Take for instance Stanley Tucci's original and generous portrayal of Nigel, an overworked assistant editor who has sacrificed his personal life for a chance to one day assume a greater degree of professional power. Emily Blunt's elitist assistant is my personal hero of this film, taking an otherwise thankless part (the evil bitch who makes our heroine's life hell and then inevitably gets a comeuppance) and putting her own spin on it. Always snippy and condescending, the icy-cold Blunt is hysterical as she attempts to hold onto her position on the fashion hierarchy at any cost. Every line - even a mere throwaway line - is gold: "Okay, I am hearing this; and all I want to hear is *this*." Blunt plays the character completely straight; when she asides to Andrea, "I'm one stomach flu away from my goal weight", there's no winking at play. The character is at both a ludicrous and terrifying portrait because it is so convincing - this could be a real person. It is telling that despite having a fraction of the screentime that Hathaway and Streep enjoy, Blunt walks away as the film's star. It may be the best performance of the year. B- (up from a C+ on a second viewing.)

Stranger than Fiction (Marc Forster, 2006) - As many critics of this film have pointed out, it plays much better in concept than in execution. Outside of the nifty Kafka-esque premise and one spot-on supporting performance, there is not much else operating here besides the gimmick stretched (woefully) thin. Zach Helm's overpraised screenplay is stitched together on a series of convenient plot turns, which make little sense when placed together in the end. For example, (plot spoiler here), the majority of Harold Crickman's life-altering decisions and risks are made directly because of the narration he hears in his head - it is the very reason he breaks his monotonous routine. If Kay Eiffel's novel accurately reflects what is happening in Harold's life, wouldn't she have written his predicament (specifically her own narration) into the story? This is a gaping plot hole the film cannot - nor does it attempt to - resolve. Helm is more interested in keeping the novelty going as far as he can, which becomes less convincing as Crick navigates the unfamiliar terrain over and over again. Given the likable talent assuming these characters, one would expect the cast members to fill in the dead space, but the results are uneven. Will Ferrell is asked to carry the film in this regard, but despite an earnest attempt to give his sad-sack character some shape, the figure as written is just not intriguing. Dustin Hoffman's downer reading of I Heart Huckabees' Bernard is cutting, but his character serves no purpose other than to open up the dilemma at the end. The usually-reliable Emma Thompson plays her manic novelist in so many different directions, one is left with little confidence as to who Eiffel is and what she is suffering from. Queen Latifah manages to steal a few scenes from her on-screen partner Thompson, but it's a negligible part. The best-in-show distinction then goes to Maggie Gyllenhaal as Crick's radical anarchist baker girlfriend, a character that makes absolutely no sense on paper, but is admirably filled in by the actor. Gyllenhaal also has two of the film's best line readings: the first is when she initially jeers Crick the "tax maaaan!", and second, a monologue about cookies that is utterly wacky but completely sold on her dedication to the project alone. C/C-

Thursday, January 04, 2007

#9 (Male Performances in Review 2000 - 2004)

Oh Jude. How many ups and downs you've had since breaking through to celebrity status with your Oscar-nominated turn in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Things were going quite well for you up until the fall of 2004 when - through no fault of your own - a whopping six films of yours landed at roughly the same time. Then your "reel" life (Closer's Dan, the title character in Alfie) began to catch up with your non-actorly actions once your affair with the kids' nanny was exposed. After the tabloids swooped in, your reputation as an artist isn't quite what it used to be (*coughSiennaMillercough*). Your career choices also leave much to be desired. Even now, some years later, your latest film Breaking and Entering (which you admittedly have some nice moments in) has you starring as a cheating spouse! What gives? I'm hoping that in the next few years, you enjoy something of a creative Renaissance, but in the meantime, at least I have your amusing, smartly-played turn as the smarmy Brad Stand in I Heart Huckabees to keep me occupied. In an ensemble this good, I'm aware it's quite the statement when I declare that Law's caricature is the standout here (barring several glaring accent slips.) It is a performance that starts out fully detestable (taking over the Open Spaces coalition from poor, unpopular Albert), turns blisteringly funny ("What - what - what - what... whooa, whaaat?"), scarily tragic (two words: chicken salad) and then makes us laugh all over again ("Shania cares!"; also see picture.) Throughout the film, Bradley - a sales executive at the Walmart-like Huckabees Corporation - has one priority: to ensure the continuation of the franchise. Even if it means lying, exploiting and cheating his way to the top, and having no qualms about doing so. Obnoxiously patronizing everyone around him and smugly taking pride in his seemingly brilliant ploys (note how often he smirks and rolls his eyes), Law makes every single moment count.

But I think we all know why Law appears this high as opposed to simply making the runner-up list or taking a slot in the 'teens. It is that knockout scene late in the film, equal parts hysterical and devastating, in which the existential detectives (Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman, a most appealing duo) confront Brad with evidence of his desperate attempts to hide his deep-rooted depression. Initially, Brad is able to dodge their advances, mocking and bullying them by playing copycat and threatening to sue them. He even feigns sobs when they bring up his "fat sad" gecko-obsessed brother, but this proves to be the chink in his armor. When they accuse him of using an anecdote over and over again to impress clients and friends ("the mayonnaise story"), he vehemently denies the charge. But then the audio tape starts playing - "Shania's there, promoting her apparel..." Date after date, excerpt after excerpt plays, and Law's sunshine-boy exterior visibly begins to melt before our very eyes. Watch how he begins snickering at his own presumed hilarity, giggling away and anticipating the best parts of the joke. Then his grin fades, the laughs subside, he grows concerned, his eyebrows furrow... He bites his fingernails, plays with his hands and even takes a small nibble out of a stretchy plastic gecko (a gift from his brother.) It's a fascinating moment to watch, so detailed and internalized, with Law letting go of his arrogance and sense of superiority. The tape ends, and then the detectives reassert their offensive, dismissing his lame efforts to defend himself. And once he utters the dreaded words ("How am I not myself?") he is a total and utter goner. Even though it is hard to deny that the guy definitely had it coming, this comeuppance is no less heart-wrenching and difficult to watch.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

SAG Predix

Because I'm so predictable. Ballsiest prediction? A DiCaprio individual nod shut-out. Now watch him get two tomorrow (three actually, with the Ensemble nod for The Departed.)

1. *Helen Mirren, The Queen
2. *Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
3. *Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
4. *Penelope Cruz, Volver
5. Annette Bening, Running with Scissors
Alternate: *Kate Winslet, Little Children

No commentary necessary here, I presume. EDIT: I've switched Winslet for Bening. Why not?

1. *Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
2. *Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
3. Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat: Cultural Learnings...
4. *Peter O'Toole, Venus
5. *Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Alternate: *Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond; Aaron Eckhart, Thank You For Smoking

I'm thinking that Borat has enough takers to make the Cohen nod a sure thing. Very iffy both on O'Toole and Gosling, especially the former; have enough voters seen their films?

1. *Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
2. *Rinko Kikuchi, Babel
3. *Adriana Barraza, Babel
4. Emily Blunt, The Devil Wears Prada
5. *Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Alternate: Maggie Gyllenhaal, World Trade Center; *Abigail Breslin and Toni Collette, Little Miss Sunshine

Very tough call(s). I'm feeling a Blanchett snub, but they do like her a lot (Bandits nod in 2002.) I realize it's dangerous to leave out the Sunshine girls, but I feel that the Babel duo is in a much better position. Praying that Blunt makes it through.

1. *Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
2. Jack Nicholson, The Departed
3. Mark Wahlberg, The Departed
4. Steve Carrell, Little Miss Sunshine
5. Ben Affleck, Hollywoodland
Alternate: *Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed; *Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine; Michael Sheen, The Queen; Brad Pitt, Babel

Hardest category - so many competitors. Expect to do pretty badly here, although I'm really feeling the Wahlberg nod. Not expecting either *Earle Haley or *Hounsou to show up.

1. *Dreamgirls
2. *The Departed
3. *Little Miss Sunshine
4. The Devil Wears Prada
5. *Bobby
Alternate: Half-Nelson (a la Hustle & Flow last year); Running with Scissors; A Prairie Home Companion; Little Children

Don't think The Queen will make it. How come no one else is predicting Bobby? Don't you know that a big cast = nomination?

EDIT: Hah, Leo did end up getting three! Hilarious. Did pretty poorly as expected (17/25 = 68%), but I'm proud of the fact that I called the Bobby ensemble nod in place of The Queen, as well as predicting both Babel girls getting in. Most embarrassing is Supporting Actor, where I predicted that "[n]either Earle Haley or Hounsou [would] show up." Dang.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Year in Review: The 2005 Marigold Petal Awards

Imagine Judi Dench's Barb in Notes on a Scandal: "The first day of a new year; and they flock to him..."

Look, don't even start with me, okay? I realize these awards are a gazillion months overdue (and furthermore the irony of posting this on January 1st.) I also intuit that many of you have made peace with all that was film in 2005 (except, you know, the holdovers that are appearing right now.) And I furthermore acknowledge that there has been way too much award discussion on this blog lately in lieu of actual film criticism. But I want to do some spring cleaning with the blog, so finishing this and the Male Performances in Review are major priorities for me. You can't imagine how many posts are "save[d] as drafts" presently. I know we have recently been overloaded with information on awards and "best of" lists as 'tis the season, so this might come as unwanted reading material (because I think myself such a popular blogger ;)... But this list is much more personal, and I feel like this might undo my writing block of late. I want to do a lot of writing in the coming days and weeks, so let's get started by handing in these late assignments!

* I was going to do this all the way and post all my nominees, but for the sake of saving space and (your) time, I'm just posting winners and runner-ups like the critics' groups do. Let me know if you want the entire list (it's simply a matter of copying and pasting.)

My top ten list by Canadian/Toronto release dates (as I felt it to be around April 2006; it has changed since):
1. A History of Violence [David Cronenberg]
2. The Best of Youth [Marco Tullio Giordana]
3. 3-Iron [Kim Ki-duk]
4. Grizzly Man [Werner Herzog]
5. The New World [Terrence Malick]
6. Me and You and Everyone We Know [Miranda July]
7. Capote [Bennett Miller]
8. Caché [Michael Haneke]
9. The Squid and the Whale [Noah Baumbach]
Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit [Nick Park, Steve Box]
10. Yes [Sally Potter]
11. Pride and Prejudice [Joe Wright]
12. Clean [Olivier Assayas]
13. Last Days [Gus Van Sant]
14. Murderball [Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro]
15. Brokeback Mountain [Ang Lee]
Brothers [Susanne Bier]

Honourable Mentions: Junebug, Mysterious Skin, Munich

Best Picture: A History of Violence (New Line) [Runner-up: The Best of Youth (BiBiFilm, Rai Cinemafiction)]

Best Director: Kim Ki-duk, 3-Iron [Runner-up: Michael Haneke, Caché]

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role: Maggie Cheung, Clean [Runner-up: Jennifer Connelly, Dark Water]

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role: Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain [Runner-up: Jeff Daniels, The Squid and the Whale]

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Maria Bello, A History of Violence [Runner-up: Amy Adams, Junebug]

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Owen Kline, The Squid and the Whale [Runner-up: Mathieu Amalric, Kings and Queen]

Best Ensemble Cast: The Best of Youth [Runner-up: Brothers]

Best Original Screenplay: Miranda July, Me and You and Everyone We Know [Runner-up: Sally Potter, Yes]

Best Adapted Screenplay: Dan Futterman, Capote [Runner-up: Deborah Moggach and Emma Thompson, Pride and Prejudice]

Best Animated Film: Steve Box and Nick Park, Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit [Runner-up: -]

Best Documentary Feature: Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man [Runner-up: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shaprio, Murderball]

Best Original Score: Dario Marianelli, Pride and Prejudice [Runner-up: Gustavo Santaolalla, Brokeback Mountain]

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, The New World [Runner-up: Christopher Doyle, et al., 2046]

Best Make-up: Patrick Baxter, et al., A History of Violence [Runner-up: David Watherton, et al., The New World]

Best Art Direction/Design: Sarah Greenwood, Pride and Prejudice [Runner-up: Alex McDowell, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride]

Best Costume Design: Jacqueline West, The New World [Runner-up: Sabyasachi Mukherji, Black]

Best Editing: Michael Hudecek, Nadine Muse, Caché [Runner-up: Ronald Sanders, A History of Violence]

Best Sound Mixing: Christopher Boyes, et al., King Kong [Anna Behlemer, et al., War of the Worlds]

Best Sound Effects Editing: Richard King, War of the Worlds [Runner-up: Mike Hopkins, Ethan Van der Ryn, King Kong]

Best Visual Effects: Brad Alexander, et al., Revenge of the Sith [Runner-up: Joe Letteri, et al., King Kong]

A History of Violence - 3
The New World - 2
Pride and Prejudice - 2
3-Iron - 1
The Best of Youth - 1
Brokeback Mountain - 1
Caché - 1
Capote - 1
Clean - 1
Grizzly Man - 1
King Kong - 1
Me and You and Everyone We Know - 1
Revenge of the Sith - 1
The Squid and the Whale - 1
Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - 1
War of the Worlds - 1

Comment, discuss, challenge, ignore.