New York film critic David Edelstein and Hollywood producer Lynda Obst discuss the Oscar nominations by e-mail each year. This year, Daily Intel gets to host their thoughts. Check back throughout the day for updates.
From: David Edelstein
Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 9:28 AM
To: Lynda Obst
Subject: 'Girls' Gone Bye-Bye
Unbelievable! Incredible! Astonishing! The absolute shoo-in, Dreamgirls, has been dealt a devastating blow. Nothing for Best Picture, nothing for Best Director (Bill Condon) — not even that consolation nom, Adapted Screenplay! (The unkindest cut?) I thought Dreamgirls was thoroughly mediocre (with one song, "We Are Family," among the most eardrum-lacerating things I've ever heard), but the dis is stunning. Did anyone see this coming?
Whew. Deep breath.
Does it seem to you as if this race has been going on for nine months? There are Websites that function year-round for nothing but Oscar prognostications. And yet, the one film that was supposed to top the list of noms (if not win) was Dreamgirls. Was it edged out by Little Miss Sunshine, the Broken-Down Little Bus That Could? Or was it my personal fave this year, The Queen — a movie that managed to be subversive and royalist at the same time, as well as deeply thoughtful on the subject of our modern celebrity culture? (Helen Mirren a lock? Peter Morgan for Best Original Screenplay?)
Will Little Miss Sunshine pull off one of the great upsets in Academy history? Whether or not it was the best film of the year, it seems the least controversial of the nominees — the only movie on which everyone in the Academy can agree.
I am delighted — delighted! — that Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for his cock-of-the-walk turn as a smuggler in Blood Diamond instead of his tediously irresolute undercover cop in The Departed. Great and unexpected wisdom! On that subject: While Scorsese was going on and on while accepting an award at the New York Film Critics' Dinner ("Ireallydidn'texpectthistIhoughtTheDepartedwouldbealittle genrepiece..."), I was getting drunk at the bar next to Paul Schrader and babbling that it would be so horrible if the director of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull got an Oscar for The Departed, a piece of campy hackwork to which I was far too kind in New York's pages. But Scorsese will win, won't he? No way Eastwood gets it for a Japanese-language picture, especially after his upset over Scorsese two years ago. And with Condon consigned to oblivion …
If your studio (Paramount) is in an uproar over Dreamgirls, there is good news for Babel, another film I disliked for its over-the-top and unearned emotional cruelty. No nom for Brad Pitt, deglamourized and making a George Clooney–esque Oscar run. But the two supporting-actress noms are something — shutting out poor, dear Catherine O'Hara in For Your Consideration. (It's Jennifer Hudson's prize, though, isn't it? She made the rounds, looking like the proverbial deer in the headlights — and very beautiful — at the NYFF dinner. I loved EW's Lisa Schwarzbaum — who was chatting with me when Hudson was introduced — for telling her, simply, "Enjoy this.")
Happy to see Ryan Gosling in there for Half Nelson — but devastated there's no Maggie Gyllenhaal for Sherrybaby, the performance of a lifetime … were there not so much of her life yet to come. How could work that transcendent be ignored? Much as I loved Penélope Cruz and Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep, their work pales on every level next to Gyllenhaal's. (Dames Helen and Judi, though: What can you say except "wa-hoo"???)
The other interesting race is foreign-language film. Days of Glory (a.k.a. Indigenes), The Lives of Others, and Pan's Labyrinth are major works (I haven't seen After the Wedding); I suppose it will come down, as it always comes down (sigh), to which film has the higher profile.
Finally: Are the phone lines in L.A. burning up? What breakfasts there will be in Park City this morning!