Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Low Res Oscar Week: Continues!

Why, yes, it IS Oscar week. So glad you asked. I promise to to my level best to provide six full days of content, leading up to the big show on Sunday. It's my chance to pretend I'm a real, live blog.

So anyway, there are enough places on the internet where you can find analysis of the current Oscar nominees and who's going to win. Places that do it much better than I do. So while I plan on tossing up a predictions column by the end of the week, the bulk of my postings will be presenting my own personal ballot for the best of the year. Why? Because this blog is all about meeeeeee!

And if you thought I could resist calling these Low Res movie awards the Rezzies, well, you obviously overestimated me.

This installment: Cinematography, Ensemble, Breakthrough

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Matthew Libatique - The Fountain
Emmanuel Lubezki - Children of Men
Guillermo Navarro - Pan's Labyrinth
Wally Pfister - The Prestige
Rodrigo Prieto - Babel

Matches with Oscar: 3/5. Oscar liked The Illusionist's Dick Pope and The Black Dahlia's Vilmos Zsigmond better than Prieto and Libatique.

Past Rezzie Winners: 2005: Rodrigo Prieto (Brokeback Mountain); 2004: Robert Richardson (The Aviator); 2003: Anthony Dod Mantle (28 Days Later); 2002: Conrad L. Hall (Road to Perdition); 2001: Roger Deakins (The Man Who Wasn't There)

Why These Five? I always feel like I'm trying to catch flies with chopsticks when I talk about cinematography. It looks...pretty? No, because that's not exactly it. I can see a movie that looks pretty without necessarily praising its cinematography. Navarro created fantastically creepy and threatening environments, both below ground and above. Pfister, among other virtues, had those awesome shots up on Tesla's mountain. Lubezki's camera never seemed to stop moving and almost told more of the story than the actual script. Libatique had a lot to work with -- who wouldn't love to fill a floating golden Buddhist orb? -- but also lived up to high expectations. And Prieto -- who should have won the Oscar last year -- seemed to take pity on the Babel characters when the story did not.

Who Wins? It's a strong field, but not much of a competition, either. Lubezki's work was breathtaking, on more occasions than I can mention.


BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE
Lindsay Beamish - Shortbus
Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada
Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
Dominic Cooper - The History Boys
Shareeka Epps - Half Nelson

Past Rezzie Winners: 2005: Amy Adams (Junebug); 2004: Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria, Full of Grace); 2003: Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) and Shoreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog); 2002: Alison Lohman (White Oleander); 2001: Naomi Watts (Mulholland Dr.)

Why These Five? Beamish created a character who rode the tough/vulnerable line and made her funny without being mockable. Blunt -- have you heard -- stole scenes from everyone, not only in The Devil Wears Prada but in other movies she wasn't even in. Breslin also stood toe-to-toe with an impressive cast, stole a few scenes of her own, and displayed a wherewithal that allowed her to show off as an actress while still portraying a child. Not an easy task at 10 years old. Cooper...well, I'm certain he's a fantastic actor, too. But I was more taken with the unholy amounts of charisma that kept radiating from him. Dude's a star in the making. Shareeka Epps performed a hell of a performance duet with Ryan Gosling.

Who Wins? The casting directors have already borne this out, to an extent, but Emily Blunt's dance card is going to be mighty full for a long, long time.

BEST ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
The Departed
Little Miss Sunshine
A Prairie Home Companion
Shortbus
Volver

Past Rezzie Winners: 2005: Happy Endings; 2004: I ♥ Huckabees; 2003: 21 Grams; 2002: The Hours; 2001: The Royal Tenenbaums

Why These Five? The Shortbus cast, full of people I didn't know who aren't big-time actors, really came together (har har) and committed to the film's concept. The Departed, on the other hand, had a big cast full of big names, and they all got their chance to show off, and while I wasn't entirely wild about all of them, enough of them worked to have been worthy of a nomination. The women of Volver proved to be a funny and familially credible group. A Prairie Home Companion was the latest (and last) Altman cast to run like a well-oiled machine. And I believe I've said enough about the Little Miss Sunshine cast to fill a VW bug.

Who Wins? Okay, I guess I'll have to say a bit more. Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin, Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano, Beth Grant, guy who played the biker dude who went "YEAH!"...I salute the lot of you. I loved your movie, and y'all are the reason why.

1 comment:

Deirdre said...

You know how you haven't been able to see what everyone else (apparently) sees in Eddie Murphy's performance in Dreamgirls? I'm having that same problem with Blunt. People keep raving about how good she was in Prada and I'm like, yeah, she was fine, but I barely remembered the character existed once I left the theatre. The put-upon assistant who's threatened by the newcomer is such a stock role and I didn't think Blunt did anything extraordinary with it.

Otherwise I agree with pretty much all your choices.