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Oscar Notes

By admin Published: January 22, 2009

"Is it because I'm animated? Because I made too much money?"

Oh, well. No best picture nomination for "The Dark Knight." And "WALL-E" was nominated for screenplay but not for a best picture nomination. (I would have picked either over "Frost/Nixon," for one thing.) "Slumdog Millionaire" is up for best picture, director and adapted screenplay but no acting nods; but, as I noted in my post about it below, you've got three different actors playing the main roles at different ages.

Oscar still has an art-house feel, although "Benjamin Button" has made more than $103 million and some of the other contenders will get a chance to boost their box-office returns starting tomorrow.

Nice to see the nomination for Robert Downey Jr.; as I've said before, when Will Smith was in Cleveland, he used the word "genius" to describe Downey's performance in "Tropic Thunder." I've been a Taraji P. Henson fan for some time, and thought Oscar should have looked closer at her for "Talk To Me," so nice to see her get some recognition. Viola Davis is also a solid actress with a long resume; not long ago I saw a nice turn she did awhile back on "Criminal Intent," and she was really good in that Fantasia Barrino TV-movie. And, of course, Melissa Leo did righteous work for years on "Homicide: Life on the Streets."

Complete list of nominees is here. I'm also posting the list after the jump. And if you want to see the list by film, it's here.

Also, since Angelina Jolie got a nomination for "Changeling," after the nominations I have posted a column I wrote last year about Clint Eastwood's knack for directing actors to awards. And you can see one of the two Oscar segments I did for Channel 5 before the announcement here.
(More about that early-morning adventure is the "Cleveland Before Dawn" post below.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Richard Jenkins in “The Visitor” (Overture Films)
Frank Langella in “Frost/Nixon” (Universal)
Sean Penn in “Milk” (Focus Features)
Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Josh Brolin in “Milk” (Focus Features)
Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder” (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt” (Miramax)
Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.)
Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Anne Hathaway in “Rachel Getting Married” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Angelina Jolie in “Changeling” (Universal)
Melissa Leo in “Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Meryl Streep in “Doubt” (Miramax)
Kate Winslet in “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Amy Adams in “Doubt” (Miramax)
Penélope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (The Weinstein Company)
Viola Davis in “Doubt” (Miramax)
Taraji P. Henson in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
Marisa Tomei in “The Wrestler” (Fox Searchlight)

Best animated feature film of the year
“Bolt” (Walt Disney), Chris Williams and Byron Howard
“Kung Fu Panda” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount), John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Andrew Stanton

Achievement in art direction
“Changeling” (Universal), Art Direction: James J. Murakami, Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt, Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Art Direction: Nathan Crowley, Set Decoration: Peter Lando
“The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Art Direction: Michael Carlin, Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway
“Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Art Direction: Kristi Zea, Set Decoration: Debra Schutt

Achievement in cinematography
“Changeling” (Universal), Tom Stern
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Claudio Miranda
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Wally Pfister
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Anthony Dod Mantle

Achievement in costume design
“Australia” (20th Century Fox), Catherine Martin
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Jacqueline West
“The Duchess” (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films), Michael O’Connor
“Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Glicker
“Revolutionary Road” (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage), Albert Wolsky

Achievement in directing
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Fincher
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Ron Howard
“Milk” (Focus Features), Gus Van Sant
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Stephen Daldry
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Danny Boyle

Best documentary feature
“The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)” (Cinema Guild), A Pandinlao Films Production, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
“Encounters at the End of the World” (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment), A Creative Differences Production, Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser
“The Garden” A Black Valley Films Production, Scott Hamilton Kennedy
“Man on Wire” (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn
“Trouble the Water” (Zeitgeist Films), An Elsewhere Films Production, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal

Best documentary short subject
“The Conscience of Nhem En” A Farallon Films Production, Steven Okazaki
“The Final Inch” A Vermilion Films Production, Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant
“Smile Pinki” A Principe Production, Megan Mylan
“The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306” A Rock Paper Scissors Production, Adam Pertofsky and Margaret Hyde

Achievement in film editing
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lee Smith
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
“Milk” (Focus Features), Elliot Graham
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Chris Dickens

Best foreign language film of the year
“The Baader Meinhof Complex” A Constantin Film Production, Germany
“The Class” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Haut et Court Production, France
“Departures” (Regent Releasing), A Departures Film Partners Production, Japan
“Revanche” (Janus Films), A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production, Austria
“Waltz with Bashir” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production, Israel

Achievement in makeup
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Greg Cannom
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army” (Universal), Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.),Alexandre Desplat
“Defiance” (Paramount Vantage), James Newton Howard
“Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Elfman
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
“Down to Earth” from “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyric by Peter Gabriel
“Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar
“O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman andMaya Arulpragasam

Best motion picture of the year
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), A Kennedy/Marshall Production, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), A Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment and Working Title Production,Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Eric Fellner, Producers
“Milk” (Focus Features), A Groundswell and Jinks/Cohen Company Production, Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, Producers
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), A Mirage Enterprises and Neunte Babelsberg Film GmbH Production, Nominees to be determined
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A Celador Films Production,Christian Colson, Producer

Best animated short film
“La Maison en Petits Cubes” A Robot Communications Production, Kunio Kato
“Lavatory - Lovestory” A Melnitsa Animation Studio and CTB Film Company Production, Konstantin Bronzit
“Oktapodi” (Talantis Films) A Gobelins, L’école de l’image Production, Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand
“Presto” (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Doug Sweetland
“This Way Up”, A Nexus Production, Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes

Best live action short film
“Auf der Strecke (On the Line)” (Hamburg Shortfilmagency), An Academy of Media Arts Cologne Production, Reto Caffi
“Manon on the Asphalt” (La Luna Productions), A La Luna Production, Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
“New Boy” (Network Ireland Television), A Zanzibar Films Production, Steph Green and Tamara Anghie
“The Pig” An M & M Production, Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh
“Spielzeugland (Toyland)” A Mephisto Film Production, Jochen Alexander Freydank

Achievement in sound editing
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King
“Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Tom Sayers
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
“Wanted” (Universal),Wylie Stateman

Achievement in sound mixing
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney),Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
“Wanted” (Universal), Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

Achievement in visual effects
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
“The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
“Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan

Adapted screenplay
“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), Screenplay by Eric Roth, Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
“Doubt” (Miramax), Written by John Patrick Shanley
“Frost/Nixon” (Universal), Screenplay by Peter Morgan
“The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), Screenplay by David Hare
“Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

Original screenplay
“Frozen River” (Sony Pictures Classics), Written by Courtney Hunt
“Happy-Go-Lucky” (Miramax), Written by Mike Leigh
“In Bruges” (Focus Features), Written by Martin McDonagh
“Milk” (Focus Features), Written by Dustin Lance Black
“WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter

Here's the Eastwood piece:

When Clint Eastwood's considerable success as a director is assessed, it has to include admiration for his work with actors.

Much has been written about Eastwood's financial caution and his brisk efficiency when making films, as well as a visual style that is effective without being showy.

But that approach has also proven very good for the people who perform in his films. Even well-liked actors can look more formidable in an Eastwood film.

And that, as much as anything, may explain why Angelina Jolie is starring in Eastwood's latest project, Changeling.

While Jolie won a best supporting actress Oscar eight years ago for Girl, Interrupted, she has had an erratic movie career since, as well as a lot of tabloid attention for her personal life. Nor has her stardom gotten her close to an Oscar for lead actress; in fact, Girl, Interrupted, is her only nomination.

A Mighty Heart, which starred Jolie as journalist Daniel Pearl's widow Mariane, was considered a major Oscar contender a year ago, and Jolie was on a lot of short lists of Oscar favorites. But neither she nor the film was nominated.

While it's possible that Jolie's at times eccentric public behavior has hurt her with Oscar voters, it is also likely that many simply did not find her performance Oscar-worthy.

We could argue at length about the justice of that assessment, or of the many times Oscar has slighted this actor while overly honoring that one. Still, in putting herself in Eastwood's hands, Jolie has connected with a director who has a solid record at the Academy Awards in recent years.

Eastwood broke through more than 15 years ago when his Unforgiven won him best director and best picture honors. Even more significant was Gene Hackman's performance, winning for best supporting actor; in spite of a long and distinguished career, that was Hackman's first Oscar win since The French Connection more than 20 years earlier.

After a stretch of interesting but not entirely successful movies, Eastwood hit his stride about five years ago, reeling off, in chronological order, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima.

Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and Letters From Iwo Jima were all nominated for best picture in their respective years, with Million Dollar Baby winning — and Eastwood getting his second directing Oscar.

But look, too, at what he did for other actors in two of those films.

Mystic River boasted two Oscar-winning performances, by Sean Penn as best actor and Tim Robbins as best supporting actor. (Marcia Gay Harden was nominated for supporting actress, but lost to Renee Zellweger.)

Penn in particular had long been acclaimed as an actor, with three Oscar nominations before Mystic River. Robbins at the time was well regarded as an actor and as a director, but not an Oscar winner before working with Eastwood.

With Million Dollar Baby, Eastwood had a serious contender in Hilary Swank, who had won an Oscar five years before for her performance in Boys Don't Cry. But she did not get another nomination until Million Dollar Baby, which also resulted in her second win.

But let's talk about Morgan Freeman. Great actor (Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption, Se7en, among other films). Long career. And what did it take to finally get him an Oscar? Eastwood and Million Dollar Baby.

Now, when considering Eastwood and actors, it has to be admitted that he hires top-shelf people like Freeman, Hackman, Penn, Robbins and Swank. But fine actors don't always give great performances (look at Robert DeNiro's resume), or they do so in movies that are otherwise undistinguished.

So there's something to be said for working with a director who has both a knack for getting acclaimed performances and a record of being taken seriously at awards time.

Not a perfect record, of course. While it had some excellent performances, Flags of Our Fathers did not resonate with Oscar voters, and Letters From Iwo Jima's four nominations did not include any for acting.

Still, Clint Eastwood's name on a movie is a pretty big seal of approval these days. Just the kind that Jolie could use.

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