It is hard to believe that with television viewers of the Academy Awards® consistently decreasing over the past decade, the members of the Academy did not nominate DREAMGIRLS for Best Picture of 2006. What were they thinking? The awards will lose even more viewers this year because of this oversight. I have seen it, and it is an audience pleaser with a powerful message, and great music. I watched the nominations today on Good Morning America, and the first thing out of Diane Sawyers mouth was, "No DREAMGIRLS for best picture?"
DREAMGIRLS, the motion picture, is nominated for art direction, costume, sound mixing, and three original songs, "Listen," "Love You I Do," and "Patience.” Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy are nominated for best acting in supporting roles. Surely, Hudson and Murphy will each sing one of the nominated songs. That could be a tiny crumb of saving grace for the Academy's best picture snub.
Martin Scorsese vs. Clint Eastwood for best director, again? Looks that way. If Scorsese does not win this year, many will be disappointed. I have seen THE DEPARTED and Eastwood's FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. I am rooting for THE DEPARTED to win best motion picture on the merits of the film itself, best adapted screenplay, and Scorsese is way overdue that best director nod.
I know, too, that LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA is a huge achievement, a film in Japanese with a Japanese POV made by an American director, but that film will not play in Peoria. The smaller theaters rarely show films with subtitles. BABEL screened in my area for a only a shortened booking, a few days. I missed it because of bad weather.
VOLVER. The situation here is that two excellent Spanish-language films were submitted for best foreign language film, VOLVER (Pedro Almodóvar, director) from Spain and PAN'S LABYRINTH (El Laberinto del Fauno, Guillermo del Toro, director) from Mexico. The first in Castilian Spanish and the second in South American/Mexican Spanish. Guess which is more understood in New York and L.A.?
Plus, Almodóvar has won at least two Oscars® with a number of nominations, and VOLVER is visually much the same as his other films, while del Toro's LABYRINTH is something new visually, and this is his first nomination. Two films containing the same language, in this case technically Spanish, and the Academy must choose one to nominate. They chose LABYRINTH, and I am not surprised. Of course, neither film will screen anywhere near me. I must wait for the DvD.
I think LABYRINTH will win the best foreign language film, and possibly more, because it has five other nominations: art direction, cinematography, makeup, original score and original screenplay. Penélope Cruz is nominated in the best actress in a leading role category for her performance in VOLVER but if I were betting, I would go with Helen Mirren for her performance in THE QUEEN.
Other than the three nominated films mentioned above, I think THE QUEEN will be a strong contender as best picture and in other categories. The sleeper film could be LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE because of big splits in the votes for the other four nominees. Remember CRASH and SIDEWAYS? Will it happen with SUNSHINE this year? I think it is possible. It is available on DvD and in my queue at Netflix, as are THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, CARS and MONSTER HOUSE. See Netflix link on the right sidebar.
The ABC-assisted Official Oscar Web site, http://www.oscar.com/, is now up and running. See all the nominees by category listings as well as by film. There are direct links to the films, categories, and much more, plus the printer-friendly options for the full nomination list and a handy ballot!
I will be writing more on the major categories in the days to come, but I must give a nod to Al Gore's AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH for its nomination in the best documentary category. I have seen it, and it is available on DvD. So, get it and watch it!
The Oscars® will be televised live by the ABC Television Network at 5 p.m. PST (8 p.m. EST), beginning with a half-hour red carpet arrivals segment, “The Road to the Oscars.”