The Oscar Nominations are so paint-by-numbers this year. I guess this year the academy decided to forgo actually watching the movies that came out in 2008 and listen instead to the hype that was out before the movies.
I could have predicted six months ago that a paint-by-numbers Oscar year would be giving major nominations to:
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard for Best Director? The guy who thinks the main job of the director is to choose where to point the camera? Were the pickin's really that slim this year? Was there no one with vision?
Oh wait? Didn't visionary Christopher Nolan have a movie out this year?
What about PIXAR's Andrew Stanton? I heard he's had something on the back burner for a while.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised by now. The Academy has a poor track record when it comes to recognizing films of merit and artistry.
Things I'm happy about:
Performance by an actor in a leading role:
Frank Langella in "Frost/Nixon" (Universal)
Performance by an actor in a supporting role:
Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.)
Achievement in art direction:
"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.)
Achievement in cinematography:
"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) [WALL-E should also have received a nod here. The painstaking detail the filmmaker's went to to create bring a "filmic" quality to this animated feature is astounding.]
Achievement in film editing
"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) [Think of the briskness of the opening sequence. It would have been very easy to lose us during this or any of the other (numerous) action sequences in this film. Christopher Nolan and his editor Lee Smith don't let that happen. Bravo.]
Achievement in makeup:
"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) [Heath Ledger's makeup is almost a main character in this piece.]
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" (Universal) [Del Toro deserves any recognition he receives in this area. He is visionary.]
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
"WALL-E" (Walt Disney) [A lovely score from Andy Newman! Glad to see it recognized here.]
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Down to Earth" from "WALL-E" (Walt Disney)
Best animated short film
"Presto" (Walt Disney)
A Pixar Animation Studios Production [I haven't seen the other shorts from this year, but the storytelling and technical execution on this one were top-notch.]
Achievement in sound editing:
"WALL-E" (Walt Disney) [Ben Burt! The inventor of the light-saber's hum! Of Darth Vadar's breathing! Yes! Yes! Please please give this man an award! (Not to mention that this film's decision to reject dialog as the main form of communication made EXCELLENT sound design a must, and Ben Burt achieves that in spades. WALL-E essentially says one word over and over again [Evvv-a!], and vast the panorama of emotion that is displayed is a tribute to excellent sound design. Well done.).]
Achievement in visual effects
"The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.) [One more push for this film here. Christopher Nolan's decision to take the hard road and go with as little computer-generated special effects as possible is praise-worthy.]
"WALL-E" (Walt Disney) [Yes! Yes! This would almost make up for your earlier snubbings! Please do honor this bold, non-dialog driven screenplay!]