Friday, February 23, 2007

Low Res Oscar Week: The Lead Performers

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.

Next up: Best Actor and Actress

Matt Damon - The Good Shepherd
Will Ferrell - Stranger Than Fiction
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Brick
Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson
Hugh Jackman - The Fountain
James McAvoy - The Last King of Scotland

Matches with Oscar: 1/6. Ryan Gosling brings people together, y'all.

Past Rezzie Winners: 2005: Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain); 2004: Paul Giamatti (Sideways); 2003: Bill Murray (Lost in Translation); 2002: Daniel Day Lewis (Gangs of New York); 2001: Guy Pearce (Memento)

Why These Six? I chose six because I couldn't choose between MacAvoy -- who carried a good deal more of Scotland than I expected he would, though I've been trumpeting his talent for years -- and Ferrell, who I thought was underrated for the strong work he put into his film. I continue to be amazed at the direction Gordon-Levitt's career is taking. He just impresses me more and more each year. Gosling was exhilaratingly natural and unaffected in his performance. Damon had a fantastic year, between Shepherd and The Departed. Hugh Jackman knocked me the hell out with his deep he burrowed into his character. He really got to the heart of both his character and Aronofsky's overall vision.

Who Wins? In a close race with Jackman, Ryan Gosling pulls it out. I love how he played drug addiction and disaffectedness without the usual brooding tics.

Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal
Shareeka Epps - Half Nelson
Maggie Gyllenhaal - Sherrybaby
Helen Mirren - The Queen
Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada

Matches with Oscar: 3/5. Maybe Kate Winslet cracks this lineup if, oh, maybe her movie opened anywhere at all. Oscar opted for her and Penelope Cruz (a close sixth here) rather than Gyllenhaal and Epps.

Past Rezzie Winners: 2005: Joan Allen (The Upside of Anger); 2004: Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind); 2003: Charlize Theron (Monster); 2002: Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven); 2001: Naomi Watts (Mulholland Dr.)

Why These Five? Dench gave a capital "P" performance and I loved every single second of it. Epps held her own with Gosling's award-winning performance. Gyllenhaal was the best I've ever seen her as a tough, flawed, sympathetic, and maddeningly difficult woman. Mirren anchored a film whose flaws were certainly not in her performance, which was dignified and convincing. Streep hit all the right notes as the icy queen bitch Miranda Priestly. A big diva performance in a big diva role.

Who Wins? This is another incredibly close contest that I changed my mind on several times. I thought Dench was astounding in a way I don't always think of her. But I'm giving the award to Gyllenhaal for bringing so many facets to her character and never once letting her off the hook.

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