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Now in our seventh calendar year!
PCR # 306  (Vol. 7, No. 5)  This edition is for the week of January 30--February 5, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
The Academy Award Nominations

Commentary by:
Michael A. Smith

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LA FLORIDIANA
La Floridiana Lite: Will to Appear at Florida Collectibles and Vintage Memorabilia Show....Fall Debut Shows Redux<  by Will Moriaty
MOVIE REVIEW
The Academy Award Nominations  by Mike Smith
SPLASH PAGE
MegaCon 2006: Looking Ahead, Part 1....Profanity in "Deadwood"....Remembering the Challenger  by Brandon Jones
MY MIDDLE TOE
Oscar Snub  by Mark Terry
MATT'S RAIL
Wal-Mart Mess....Rondo Reminder....Bush: The Liar....Masters of Horror Update  by Matt Drinnenberg
MIKE'S RANT
Reunited....But Then He Lost Me....Oscar Time....My Favorite Films--Chapter 5  by Mike Smith
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And The Nominees Are...


Not only does January signal the beginning of the new year, film fans wait anxiously for that January day when Academy Award nominations are announced. That day was this past Tuesday and, as always, there were some surprises. The nominees for the six major awards are:

BEST PICTURE: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich.
With "Brokeback Mountain" garnering almost every award given so far this year, it surely looks like the film to beat. The surprising nomination of the little seen "Capote" seems to have pushed out the Johnny Cash bio "Walk the Line," which seemed a lock. This is one of the few years where I really can't argue with any of the nominated films. I chose "Munich" as my best film of 2005 but I think the prize will go to "Brokeback Mountain."

BEST DIRECTOR: Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain, Bennett Miller for Capote, Paul Haggis for Crash, George Clooney for Good Night and Good Luck and Steven Spielberg for Munich.
Last week, Lee was named Best Director by the Director's Guild of America, which puts him in the front running for this award. In the past 50 years, only seven directors have won the DGA award and not gone on to win the Oscar, so Lee's chances are good. Of course, he is one of the seven (he won for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" but lost to Steven Soderbergh for "Traffic") so nothing is in stone. Clooney joins the list of actors getting Oscar nods for their directing, including past winners Robert Redford, Warren Beatty and Ron Howard. Haggis and Miller have struck gold with their first features (Miller's only previous film was a documentary about a tour guide called "The Cruise") while Spielberg picks us his seventh directing nomination and eleventh nomination overall. He owns two directing Oscars ("Schindlers List" and "Saving Private Ryan") already. I'm going to bet the DGA won't be wrong an eighth time and put Lee in the lead.

BEST ACTOR: Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote, Terrence Howard in Hustle and Flow, Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain, Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line and David Strathairn in Good Night and Good Luck.
If you had asked me in November, I would have put my money on Phoenix, who captured the essence of the man that Johnny Cash was. If you ask me today, I'd vote for a five way tie. After 15 years in Hollywood, Howard exploded this year with a supporting role in "Crash" and his star making performance as a street pimp who longs to be a rap star in "Hustle and Flow." Ledger aged 30 years before our eyes in "Brokeback Mountain' while long time character actor Strathairn seemed to channel Edward R. Murrow in "Good Night and Good Luck." But Hoffman captured the spirit of Truman Capote, showing the author at both his best and worse. It's now January and Hoffman is the man to beat.

BEST ACTRESS: Judi Dench in Mrs. Henderson Presents, Felicity Huffman in Transamerica, Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice, Charlize Theron in North Country and Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line.
This is basically a two woman race. Previous winner Dench is revered in Hollywood and would probably be nominated for a video of her reading the phone book. Theron's nomination allows her to forget the car wreck that was "Aeon Flux" while Knightley's nod proves she's more then just a pretty face. Check that...a gorgeous face. Huffman and Witherspoon have pretty much shared all of the major critics awards. Huffman has the more showy role, that of a man about to undergo a sex change operation. But Witherspoon, like her co-star Phoenix, not only brought June Carter to life, she learned to sing and play the auto harp as well. Right now it's too close to call. Ask me in March.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: George Clooney in Syriana, Matt Dillon in Crash, Paul Giamatti in Cinderella Man, Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain and William Hurt in A History of Violence.
Alone with his directing nomination, Clooney was also nominated for co-writing the screenplay for "Good Night and Good Luck," giving him the opportunity to be the first person to win three Oscars on the same night since Marvin Hamlisch in 1974. Though more of a lead role, the studio wisely submitted him as a supporting performer and the decision paid off. After almost 30 years Matt Dillon is finally getting recognized for his work, though I'm afraid the nomination is as far as that recognition is going to go this year. Hurt returns to the dance after a long absence since his run of three straight Best Actor nominations in the 1980s (he won for "Kiss of the Spiderwoman" and Gyllenhaal caps off a great movie year that also includes his work in "Jarhead." In my opinion the award is Giamatti's to lose, especially since he was overlooked the past two years for his great work in "American Splendor" and "Sideways."

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Amy Adams in Junebug, Catherine Keener in Capote, Frances McDormand in North Country, Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener and Michelle Williams in Brokeback Mountain.
OK, let me say here that I haven't seen "Junebug," so I can't really comment on Adam's performance. Keener has a previous nomination for "Being John Malkovich" and is a favorite of her fellow actors. Former best actress winner McDormand ("Fargo") is also popular but the awards are often more then a popularity contest. Weisz makes the use of her limited screen time in "The Constant Gardener," justifying her selection. But Williams, more then Ledger and Gyllenhaal, is the true emotional tragedy in "Brokeback Mountain." Though the award could go to any of these talented ladies, right now I'm leaning towards Williams.

Among the other awards are two feats of distinction. With his two nominations for Original Score this year ("Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Munich"), John Williams earns his 45th overall nomination. He has won five times (best adaptation for "Fiddler on the Roof" and best original score for "Jaws," "Star Wars," "E.T." and "Schindler's List.") in the past but that pales in comparison to the fact that in the thirty eight years between 1967-2005, he has failed to earn a nomination only eight times! On the other side of the scale, "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" became the first film in the "Star Wars" saga NOT to be nominated for best visual effects. Whether that sends a signal that the academy is tired of computer generated effects in favor of other methods or not, it certainly is surprising.

The 78th Academy Awards will be presented Sunday, March 5th.


This week's commentary on the Academy Award nominations is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.