I was up bright and early to watch them live, and my what a shock! Some people are calling this "dull", but you gotta admit, no one saw this coming. There were surprises in nearly every category.
First of all, there was the surprise domination of The Reader, a film which no one expected to get much besides Supporting Actress for Kate Winslet, and maybe Adapted Screenplay. In fact, yesterday, I told someone I expected Revolutionary Road to get in over The Dark Knight, and we all saw Kate getting double-nom'd. Then, lo and behold, the Academy decided "To FUCK with category fraud!!!" And, because they don't have to follow everything the studios ask them to consider, they nominated Kate in lead Actress -- for The Reader. And while many were predicting a 5/5 match-up for Picture and Director, you can bet no one was expecting Stephen Daldry and The Reader to be that fifth slot.
This is particularly upsetting because, on occasion, I like the feeling of having seen every film nominated for Best Picture. And while it's not too late, I always hate feeling proud of myself, only to be shocked by a movie that I could have seen the night before if THE SCHEDULE WASN'T ALWAYS CHANGING. I mean, it's exciting, and I can't wait to see it, because I love all of Daldry's films, but oh, I wish The Dark Knight could have snuck in.
Best Actress made me feel schizo. Yesterday, I told Ben Melissa Leo and Kristin Scott Thomas would never get the nom, I've been saying it all year, this is a pipe dream. So, imagine how thrilled I was when Hollmann Award Nominee Melissa Leo wound up getting a surprise nomination for Frozen River!!! The only downside, of course, is that it meant one actress I was sure would get a slot was left out on the cold -- Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky. Obviously, I think her work is superior to Angelina Jolie's in Changeling, or even (gasp!) Queen Meryl in Doubt. This was just so...disappointing. I hope The Reader rocks my socks, because if it's another disappointing Kate performance instead of Saly Hawkins' greatness....no. No, Walter, don't get angry yet. Daldry is King.
No real surprises in Best Actor. Hollmann Award Nominees Sean Penn (Milk) and Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler) got in, Brad Pitt got in for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Frank Langella for Frost/Nixon. And even Richard Jenkins in The Visitor wasn't a huge shock, but it was pleasant nonetheless. For Jenkins, I mean. I like ot think it's just as much for Step Brothers.
Original Song is a travesty. "Down to Earth" from WALL-E, and "Jaiho" and "O...Saya" from Slumdog Millionaire. That's it. Nothing for "The Wrestler". At all. Which is stupid, because that song is amazing. Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder should form a support group. The Dark Knight was shafted in Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Original Score. You know, going by Academy history, I can understand the first two, maybe three. But Score? You gotta be kidding me. Defiance's better be fucking epic and memorable, and not like every other Slavic-set film. You know what I mean.
The Supporting Categories were huge loads of fun. Michael Shannon got recognition for his work in Revolutionary Road. Ho-hum. I was hoping for a shut-out, but alas, I have no say in these matters. I mean, he's good, but he's not better than Ralph Fiennes, Brad Pitt, Bill Nighy, John Malkovich, Gary Oldman, etc., etc., etc. Besides, he can do this kind of thing in his sleep (Bug, anyone?). I'm fine with Brolin, Hoffman and Ledger, and I'm still thrilled to death that they nominated Downey's work in Tropic Thunder. Awesome. As for the female equivalent, AMY ADAMS got the nom. Suck it.
Adapted Screenplay was as it's been. Now I can officially say, Academy Award-nominated FSU alum Robin Swicord, which is AMAZING. She got the nom alongside Eric Roth for Benjamin Button, with fellow nominees being Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog, David Hare for The Reader, John Patrick Shanley for Doubt, and Peter Morgan for Frost/Nixon. Also, freekin' love the support for In Bruges and Martin McDonagh, who appeared alongside Dustin Lance Black (Milk), Courtney Hunt (Frozen River) and Andrew Stanton and Jim Reardon (WALL-E). Also, it was only here that Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky could get any love. Oh, well.
It's really not that bad. Some surprises, some letdowns, some great Christmas presents. Except for Sally and Springsteen, I have no true beef with this. This should make for an interesting broadcast.
Now, will Hugh Jackman please perform each Best Picture nominee as a musical number? His Nixon must be awesome to behold.