Thursday, January 22, 2009

Academy Award Nominations

Oscar's no grouch this year. At least not in terms of superhero movies, fantasy and science fiction.

As I predicted, The Dark Knight received a surfeit of Oscar love - a total of eight nominations it looks like upon a quick glance. The late Heath Ledger was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, while the Batman movie also picked up nominations for art direction, cinematography, film editing, make-up, sound editing, sound mix, and visual effects. The only nominations I quibble with are film editing and sound mix. The action scenes in the film were incoherent (especially the Bat sonar sequence,) and the sound mix was an aggressive, non-stop cacophony designed to rattle audiences senseless. Even when the action on screen was underwhelming, that sound kept on rattling and shaking, injecting the movie with a false sense of urgency and importance.

My personal favorite film of the year, Wall-E, also picked up an impressive half-dozen or so nominations. It was nominated for best animated feature, best music, best song, sound editing, sound mixing and, impressively, best original screenplay. I would have loved it if Wall-E had been nominated for Best Picture, but the glass ceiling for animated films in that most-prized category remains intact. If Wall-E can't shatter that boundary, I don't know what animated film can.

And the fantasy film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which I haven't seen yet...) appears to be the "big" movie for the Academy this year. It was nominated for Best Picture, art direction, cinematography, film editing, costume design, best music, best sound mix, best screenplay (adapted), and best visual effects. Brad Pitt also picked up a Best Actor nomination.

Other genre films nominated: Iron Man (for sound edit and visual effects) and Hellboy II (for make-up).

I must admit, I'm disappointed (though not surprised) that Speed Racer didn't pick up a nomination for film editing or cinematography, or even visual effects. I realize the movie was a "bomb" and most critics hated it to pieces, but it was certainly the most revolutionary film of 2008 in terms of how it utilized visuals. It might have been nice to see the Academy go with an unpopular choice for a change, instead of making this a popularity contest.


  1. joey_bishop_jr.11:47 AM

    I absolutely loved Speed Racer, and agree that it should have gotten a nod for the visuals it presented.

    And as far as the sound mix for Dark Knight, me and my friends have a running joke...whenever we want to imitate Batman, we just clench our jaws and try to shrie and growl at the same time- he was almost unintelligible. My buddy CVhris also complained that at home, you hav eto turn the sound all the way up to hear the dialogue, then 2 seconds later you risk ruptured speakers when something goes boom....

  2. I'm with you on Wall-E. The original screenplay is impressive, but what made Wall-E so special to me was that it felt like a film, not just an animated movie. Six nominations is impressive, but I really felt like it at least deserved that best picture nod even if it didn't have a chance of winning.

  3. I agree with you, Bobby.

    Wall-E is an impressive film in any category: dramatic, comedy, genre, or animated. It deserves be recognized in the best picture cateogory.

    I hate to see Wall-E pigeonholed as just another great Pixar animated film. It's actually one of the best films I've seen in a long time.

    And hell, I liked a whole lot better than The Dark Knight! :)