Yes. Impossible as it is to believe, The Simpsons Movie was not nominated for Best Animated Movie, in favor of Ratatouille, a revolting movie about vermin running a French restaurant (Albeit, certainly true to life. They serve garden pests as a delicacy! Rats serving snails. Yum.), Surf's Up, a computer animated bore about surfing penguins that no one went to see, and weirdest of all, Persepolis, and artsy-fartsy critic's darling French animated movie set in Iran, about a girl who doesn't like being subjected to fundamentalist Muslim repression (Who does?), which isn't even in color! Who on earth besides a film critic would ever see that? For these, The Simpsons were frozen out?
The poor Simpsons Movie was merely the funniest film released all year, featured gorgeous animation far beyond what's done on their TV show, artfully satirized enormous chunks of American culture, and - what? Oh yes - Made about $500,000,000 world wide. This must be the first time the Oscars penalized a movie for making money. (And what do you want to bet that Ratatouille, which was also a big hit, and probably made more money than the other two nominees combined, wins?) But then, one can see how confused one gets when one goes to McDonald's, and has to wait to get served behind all the hoards of little schoolgirls clamoring for their Ratatouille Happy Meals of Breaded Rat Droppings (How lucky that, after serving them for years, they finally have a legitimate movie-tie-in to create a demand for them.), and to get their Persepolis black & white action figures, with the whole line of Barbie Fashion Bhurkas.
Cate hasn't a shot at winning Best Actress though. Her Best Actress nomination is just a retread. She was already nominated for playing Queen Elizabeth, a decade back. If they didn't give it to her for that performance then, they won't now. Besides, they gave The Oscar for that role shortly thereafter to Sir Judy Dench, so clearly the increasingly-gender-confused Academy prefers men playing queens. (Who doesn't?) Besides, they just gave the Best Actress Oscar to Helen Mirrin for playing Queen Elizabeth last year, and they never give the Oscar for the same role two years in a row.
(Cate is wearing prosthetic mantits in her Brando outfit, I hope.)
The Quick-Before-He-Dies award could go to Hal Holbrook, of course, but then, he is a few months younger than Ruby Dee, so she has the edge there. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is nominated in Best Supporting Actor against Hal, for his patented Horribly Obnoxious Guy portrayal we've all seen him trot out a dozen times before. (Remember Matt Damon clubbing him to death in one of those performances back in The Talented Mr. Ripped Abs? Did anyone not cheer? Is killing one of Hoffman's slimeballs a crime?) I think the whole reason he won an Oscar for Capote was that, for once, he was playing a charmingly obnoxious - ah - person. ("Guy" just never seems like the right word to describe Truman Capote.) Casey Affleck is nominated simply for not being his better-looking-but-less-highly-regarded-for-acting-these-days brother. No chance. As it is, they all now regret giving an Oscar to Ben (Albeit for Best Original Screenplay, a minor, unimportant category, like Best Live Action Short Subject.); they're not about to risk giving one to another Affleck. But I think Javier Bardem is a shoe-in. I'd vote for him for ANYTHING, as he is a Sex God! Best Supporting actor? Check out this yummy picture of Bardem. If nothing else, he is the Best Supported Actor, as look at the support his tighty whitey is giving him, despite his clearly having a lot to support! WOOF!
Oh my God, that photo should be nominated for Best Picture! Who cares about No Country for Bloody Old Men? (Shouldn't Hal Holbrook be nominated for that?) And as for Atonement; it's based on a novel by Ian McEwan, who is no relation to Little Dougie McEwan, my amanuensis, but obviously, Ian has been trying to capitalize on Little Dougie's name and literary reputation for years, and I think the academy will see through this ploy and not reward him for trying to fool people into thinking Atonement is just an unauthorized film adaptation of Dougie's book, which is also my book. For shame, Ian McEwan! As for Juno, who wants to see a movie adaptation of my Internet service?
In Best Actor, Johnny Depp is nominated for playing Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which I reviewed a few columns back, in Harry Razorhands. This nomination makes no sense to me. If you play a role that is almost entirely sung, and you don't sing very well, how can it be considered for Best Performance by an Actor? I know that Rex Harrison won an Oscar for playing Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady when he couldn't sing at all well, and Yul Brynner won an Oscar for The King and I when Marni Millhouse Nixon had to dub all his singing for him, but in neither case were the roles all-singing. They had mostly dialogue to deliver, in Harrison's case, a lot of dialogue written by George Bernard Shaw. But Depp's Harry Potter only speaks about four words in the whole movie; it's all singing, and no one is going to be buying a CD of Johnny Depp Covers the Classic Ballads anytime soon. Frankly, not only would he never make it past Simon Cowell, but Randy Jackson would say, "Sorry bro, it ain't happ'nin' for me, dawg." to Depp as well. Paula, of course, would spread her legs and slur "Welcome to Hollywood, Johnny."
Tommy Lee Jones is finally nominated, after having been snubbed a few years back, for his magnificent, subtly-nuanced, underplayed performance as Two-Face, one of the tiny handful of truly great screen performances, back in Batman Endlessly, or whatever that awful movie was called. I'm sure that all academy voters who remember that performance will be marking their ballots --- for George Clooney.
Actually, Tommy Lee Jones aside, look at the other nominees in this category: George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Johnny Depp, and Viggo Mortensen. This category should be renamed Dreamiest Actor! Hubba! Hubba!
In Best Direction (Much as I love West, North, and Up, I prefer "Down" for Best Direction, as I am always happiest when going down!), should No Country For Bloody Old Men win, the big question will be, who will win: Joel or Ethan Coen? Nominating brothers against each other for the same film; this should spark some nasty sibling rivalry. My pick for this award is Paul Thomas Anderson. Oh, I haven't seen There Will Be Bloody Old Men (Make up your minds, guys!), but Anderson's father was Ernie Anderson, and among his other gigs (Such as his years as the guy no one had heard of whom Carol Burnett pointed out in her TV audience each week.), Ernie was a TV horror host. Back in 1963, when Ghoulita was entertaining Little Douglas on Jeepers' Creepers in Los Angeles, Ernie Anderson was Ghoulardi in Cleveland, Ohio. So all power to Ghoulardi Junior. And also, back in his film Magnolia, he actually made me forget how insufferable I find Tom Cruise for a bit, and that takes a Master Director. Stanley Kubrick sure didn't manage it back in Nose Clamped Shut.
But to raise interest in this increasingly irrelevant award show, I propose adding a new category. We're all agreed, aren't we, that the above photo of Javier Bardem is the Best Picture, but I think we should add the category Best Pecture, and there's no question who the 300 nominees should be: the greatest, if the goriest, softcore gay porn movie ever made, 300, which should also be the winner. I'm going to enjoy a fifth of vodka now, and then watch my DVD of 300 again, while touching myself inappropriately. Busy hands are happy hands.
But we will always remember his Oscar-nominated Ennis Del Mar (Yes, if this were a different posting, on a different day, I'd probably wring some sort of variation on the joke that name screams) in Brokeback Mountain. He truly touched our hearts in a way that his earlier, more boisterous, exuberant performances in A Knight's Tale and 10 Things I Hate About You never suggested he could do. He was in other Oscar-bait movies, such as the acclaimed Monster's Ball, and his Terry Gilliam movies, The Brothers Grimm and the unfinished The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Good Heavens, that title. Terry darling, do you want your movies to fail? That would explain a lot! Are you trying to be confused with that unwatchable Dustin Hoffman bomb?), not to mention Brokeback Mountain, showed that Heath was willing to make daring, risky choices. And here's an odd irony; he is also in I'm Not There. Maybe Cate Blancett can win that Oscar for him.