Just a few quick links to other people’s observations.
Brian D. Johnson of Maclean’s notes that this is turning out to be a very good year for Canadian films and nominees:
Some statistics wiz will have to do the math to confirm it. But at first glance this looks like the best year on record for Canada at the Oscars. With this morning’s announcement of the 80th annual Academy Award nominations, we can celebrate a whopping 10 citations for films directed by Canadians. They include four nominations for Juno, directed by Montreal-born Jason Reitman, including best picture, director, original screenplay—and a best actress nod for Halifax sensation Ellen Page. In a classic showdown between punk ingenue and iconic elder, Page will be competing against Julie Christie, named for her role as an Alzheimer’s patient in Sarah Polley’s directorial debut, Away From Her. The film also earned Polley a personal nomination for best adapted screenplay. Now a ridiculously mature 29 years old, Polley seems to be surrendering her “Canada’s sweetheart” title to the 20-year-old Page. But hey, there’s no reason Canada can’t accommodate two sweethearts; it’s a vast, cold country.
Other Canadian-directed movies honoured include David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, with Viggo Mortensen up for best actor. And he’ll be competing with Tommy Lee Jones, who stars in In the Valley of Elah, directed by that Canuck scientologist, Paul Haggis. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t remember the last time two nominees in each of the major acting categories were in films directed by Canadians. Ever since Haggis rudely stole Cronenberg’s title for his Oscar-winning feature debut, Crash, Cronenberg has harboured a justifiable grudge against this Hollywood Canadian. Now they can play out their rivalry once more. Too bad Eastern Promises didn’t get recognized for best picture or best director. What does Cronenberg have to do? Wait for a lifetime achievement Oscar?
Completing the Canadian nominations are two animated films shorts: Madame Tutli-Putli, a thrilling masterpiece of railway suspense from the NFB, directed by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski; and Bravo!FACT’s I Met the Walrus, an inspired piece of baroque whimsy by Josh Raskin, which animates an audio interview by Toronto teenager Jerry Levitan with John Lennon during the fabled Toronto bed-in. . . .
Meanwhile, Variety notes that virtually all of the war-on-terror dramatic films, having already been snubbed by audiences, got snubbed by the Academy today, too — though war-on-terror films are well-represented in the documentary categories:
An entire subgenre was pretty much shut out: Aside from Tommy Lee Jones’ surprise nom for “In the Valley of Elah” and Philip Seymour Hoffman for “Charlie Wilson’s War,” the slate of Mideast-topical movies were ignored by Academy voters. That list includes “Rendition,” “Lions for Lambs,” “A Mighty Heart,” “The Kingdom,” “Redacted,” . . .
However, Kyle Smith notes that, even without the so-called war on terror, there was still lots of death and murder to go around:
This year the Oscars turned bloodier than an emergency room on a Saturday night in Detroit. All five of the Best Actor nominees are from movies about murder; four of the five Best Picture nominees are about bloody slaughter and in the sweet, nurturing Best Actress category we have a movie about a woman butchering Catholics, one about a tortured drug-addicted singer who dies in her 40s, and two about dying in a rest home. In the Supporting Actress category, there’s a film about a cold-blooded gangster who shoots people in the head in broad daylight and one about child kidnapping and murder. In the Supporting Actor category, there’s one in which the good guy is a mass killer called Jesse James.
If it weren’t for the movie about a guy in his 20s who starves to death, a lighthearted look at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and a romp of a tale about a 16-year-old’s unwanted pregnancy, there wouldn’t be anything happy about this year’s slate at all.
Elsewhere, Jim Hill notes that Miramax, a Disney subsidiary, got lots of nominations for four of its recent films, but Disney itself did only so-so, bagging five nominations for Best Animated Feature nominee Ratatouille — which happens to be the only Pixar film that went into production without Disney’s approval — as well as a few nominations for Enchanted and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. But the biggest slap in the face to Disney may be the absence of any nomination for the animated short How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, which stars Goofy and was widely seen as a return to classic Disney form, being both hand-drawn and an old-style short cartoon that played before the main feature (the feature in this case being National Treasure: Book of Secrets).
And speaking of animation, here’s an observation of my own: The original Shrek (2001) was the first film to win the award for Best Animated Feature — which was seen at the time as yet another Disney snub, given that Disney’s success throughout the ’90s had stimulated interest in creating that award, and given that much of Shrek was devoted to spoofing Disney movies; the film was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, but it lost that one to A Beautiful Mind. Shrek 2 (2004) was also nominated for Best Animated Feature, as well as for Best Original Song — but it didn’t win either, thanks to The Incredibles and The Motorcycle Diaries. And now, Shrek the Third has been nominated for … nothing.