East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Stone the crows, it's the Fifth Annual Utopian Oscars

As always, I didn't get to all the likely contenders. This year, I skipped many titles with acclaimed performances when the rest of the movie didn't sound that interesting: Grace Is Gone (Shelan O'Keefe and John Cusack), Starting Out in the Evening (Frank Langella and Lauren Ambrose), The Savages (Philip Bosco, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney), The Iceberg (Fiona Gordon), Sweeney Todd (His Deppness), and The Mist (Marcia Gay Harden, according to Edelstein). Also, I only saw one of the three movies shot by cinematographer of the year by quantity, Roger Deakins; I regret missing Jesse James but not In the Valley of Elah.

Best cinematography:
Charles Burnett, Killer of Sheep
Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood
William Lubchansky, Regular Lovers
Martin Ruhe, Control
Robert Yeoman, The Darjeeling Limited

Black-and-white rules this year. Best of these was Ruhe's Control, which gorgeously adapted director Anton Corbijn's rock photo style to the moving image.

And the Topie goes to... Martin Ruhe

Best adapted screenplay:
Tony Gilroy, Scott Z. Burns and George Nolfi, The Bourne Ultimatum
Michael Goldenberg, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Matt Greenhalgh, Control
Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis
Sarah Polley, Away from Her

A pretty soft category: Goldenberg's Potter work isn't as tight as Steve Kloves's, while the script for Control, though fine, isn't its strength. Persepolis might've won if I hadn't read some of the comics before, whereas Away from Her clearly added to its source material.

And the Topie goes to... Sarah Polley

Best original screenplay:
Judd Apatow, Knocked Up
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Todd Haynes and Oren Moverman, I'm Not There
Richard Kelly, Southland Tales
Tsai Ming-liang, The Wayward Cloud

There are two nominees that might make many say what the hell, but the real contest is between Apatow and Haynes/Moverman. Apatow would've pulled it off if he didn't sidestep around shmashmortion.

And the Topie goes to... Todd Haynes and Oren Moverman.

Best supporting actor:
Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men
Marcus Carl Franklin, I'm Not There
Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Superbad
Gordon Pinsent, Away from Her
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Young McLovers vs old men. Let's call it for Wilkinson for making the truth-telling madman type overused in fiction for centuries seem plausible.

And the Topie goes to... Tom Wilkinson

Best supporting actress:
Charlotte Gainsbourg, I'm Not There
Taraji P. Henson, Talk to Me
Valerie Lemercier, Avenue Montaigne
Leslie Mann, Knocked Up
Samantha Morton, Control

A very deep category, with arguably the two should-be gigastars (Gainsbourg and Morton) and the two wittiest character actresses (Henson and Lemercier). Beating them all is an underused talent who finally got the role she deserved by being married to her director.

And the Topie goes to... Leslie Mann

Best actor:
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Glen Hansard, Once
Lee Kang-sheng, The Wayward Cloud
Henry Gale Sanders, Killer of Sheep
Song Kang-ho, The Host

As much as I've dissed him, Daniel Day-Lewis didn't miss this list by much, but the nominees here all act with a small "a". And there's no greater advantage in small-a acting than preternatural coolness.

And the Topie goes to... George Clooney

Best actress:
Drew Barrymore, Music and Lyrics
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Chen Shiang-Shyi, The Wayward Cloud
Julie Christie, Away from Her
Sienna Miller, Interview

My goodness, this is a shitty category, and it would be worse if I didn't draft Blanchett out of the clump of supporting actresses who should be playing leads. Still, the winning performance might be the finest by one of the greatest actresses of all-time, and better than anyone male came up with this year.

And the Topie goes to... Julie Christie

Best director:
Charles Burnett, Killer of Sheep
Todd Haynes, I'm Not There
Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis
Richard Kelly, Southland Tales
Tsai Ming-liang, The Wayward Cloud

There's no way I can't give it to Burnett, thirty years late. Though To Sleep with Anger is a more accomplished work (with an actual budget), Killer of Sheep is an unparalleled ghetto picaresque that one hopes another film student will someday match.

And the Topie goes to... Charles Burnett

Best picture:
Away from Her
I'm Not There
Killer of Sheep
The Wayward Cloud

If I had seen Persepolis before this week, the race might've been closer. But I saw The Wayward Cloud nearly two years ago, and I haven't seen a more memorable new movie since then.

And the Topie goes to... The Wayward Cloud



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