Well, it’s kind of an interesting Oscar year. While last year was generally a weak movie year, there were some fine movies out.
The biggest Oscar omissions for me were Constant Gardener and History of Violence. Both were strong, fascinating movies, in a genre (“thriller”) that I normally don’t much like. While I’m happy for Rachel Weisz, Ralph Feinnes gave a brilliant performance in Constant Gardener. I’ve always had mixed feelings about David Cronenberg as a director, but History of Violence was such a well-constructed movie, I was hoping it would get a little more notice. Both Maria Bello and Viggo Mortensen were incredible. Keira Knightley probably got an Oscar nomination for being a better actress than people expected in Pride and Prejudice, but as far as I’m concerned, she took Maria Bello’s spot. William Hurt, who gave a small and over-the-top performance, did get a supporting actor nomination for History of Violence.
I adored four of the “top movies” of last year – Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck and Walk the Line.
This will probably be a “catchup” year – Ang Lee has been owed a directing Oscar for a while and will probably win for the fine Brokeback Mountain. Brokeback is a painful, austere little movie, and Lee has shown himself to be the master of fine photography with repressed characters.
I’d like to see Reese Witherspoon win for actress as she really energized Walk the Line. Amazing to think she didn’t believe she could sing and had to be convinced by director James Mangold that she should. I liked Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line, but I do think Philip Seymour Hoffman deserves the award for Capote. Nothing against Heath Ledger, but he seems so laconic in real life that he’s really not too far divorced from Ennis.
George Clooney will probably wind up winning for Best Supporting Actor because he got so many other nominations and is very unlikely to win for screenplay or direction. Supporting Actress category is tricky. I liked Michelle Williams in Brokeback Mountain, but Catherine Keener plays so far against type as Harper Lee in Capote that I’d like to see her win.
The biggest “surprise” nomination for me was for Woody Allen’s Match Point script. It was a good script but not a great script; his Crimes and Misdemoners was a much better interpretation of many of the same themes.