Thursday, January 15, 2009

BAFTA Reactions

Scroll down for the nominations list.

 - Slumdog Millionaire will win everything and there will be much rejoicing.  But not by me.  Don't get me wrong, I love the film, but WHY are Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto nominated in acting categories?  Why is this film in the production design category?  Why is it everywhere?  There were other films this year, and I should have expected so much because it's a British production and naturally they're hyped about it, but why can't we have more diversity?

- Why is Benjamin Button nominated for 11 awards?  It's a technical wonder, I know, but can someone please explain how the Achilles Heel of this movie - its dreadfully archetypal, hokey, and confoundingly melodramatic screenplay - getting nominated for every award?  It single-handedly keeps the film from being a masterpiece, and flaws it at every turn.

- WHY IS FROST/NIXON HERE?!?!  Even with movies like Juno, I've read lots of people explain to me why they like it so much.  As of yet, I've had no one explain to me why Frost/Nixon is being considered for Best Picture.  There are few-to-no critics backing it.  Why must we salute mediocrity because it's in the mainstream?  I wasn't a fan of 2008 overall, but this was a great year for independent works.  Let's notice them!  And why is Ron Howard nominated for directing and Chris Nolan isn't?

- The Reader surges forward.  Gotta hand it to Harvey Weinstein, he can pull the strings like no one else.  If it throws out something at the Oscars, it would be pretty unreal.  All the Globes love from Kate's double win is only helping it at this point.

- Dark Knight gets nine nods but not a Director or Picture slot.  And yet Clint Eastwood does.  That sounds about right.

- Good to see love for Burn After Reading and In Bruges.  Misanthropy isn't lost on everyone.

- The love for Changeling is disconcerting, mainly because I can see the Academy doing this.  Come on, Best SOUND?  You're kidding.

- Iron Man DOESN'T get nominated for Sound, and the aforementioned Changeling and Quantum of Solace do anyway.

- Indiana Jones gets a nomination for Best Visual Effects and George Lucas creams.  

- Happy-Go-Lucky is shut out.  Hunger is not far behind.  Apparently the Brits don't like honoring their own this year.  But they were fine with singing Atonement's praises *insert rolling of the eyes*

- I AM glad that Milk caught on with them for Best Picture.  Goes to show the universality of the film (maybe?)

Maybe I wasn't upset last year because I loved No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, even if Jesse James and Zodiac got too little attention.  But this year I just feel like we're saluting mediocrity.  It was a mediocre year, so duh, but why is it that everyone is simultaneously going after the same 5-6 films as if they were the only things to see this year?  What I liked about last year's awards were that even though the winners were consistent all year, the nominees covered a wide range of films; I don't think any film at the Oscars had more than 7 or 8?  I can't see that happening this year.  Slumdog, Button, and Dark Knight will be gargantuan.  This even furthers my theory that we are entering the death of film criticism.  While I want to salute this year as the rise of Boyle, Fincher, and Nolan as part of the New Ascendancy of directors (since I've been singing their respective praises for at least five years), I can't help but think that we're simultaneously experiencing a very radical and very important New Wave - Charlie Kaufman, Courtney Hunt, Kelly Reichardt, Andrew Stanton, Darren Aronofsky, Martin McDonagh - are all starting to emerge as really vital and important directors.  If they all get crammed out of this year, fine.  I want Christopher Nolan to win Best Director anyway, provided he's nominated.  But I can't help that this entire year has been spent glossing over very important people, especially after last year was such a salute for DIRECTORS and really individualized pieces of filmmaking.  I get that vibe from Nolan, from Boyle to a degree, and definitely from Van Sant.  I get it kind of from Fincher, even though Ben Button is far from his best work.  These new directors are going toe-to-toe with Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard (gag me), Mike Leigh, Oliver Stone, the Coens, Baz Luhrmann, Ben Stiller, Ed Harris...and that to me is VERY exciting.  And yet, no one is talking about it.

I'll be doing a more precise piece about all of this in my 2008: A Year in Review this weekend, which will bleed into my Top 10 (that is actually different slightly from the one in the paper today, since I saw Synecdoche New York after publication of the article), that will bleed into my Awards Nominations.  Stay tuned.

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