2007 Verve Awards

2006 Verve Awards

Best Arts and Culture Blog 2005 Queer Day Awards

Best Gay Blog Nominee 2004 Weblog Awards

Best Arts and Culture Blog Nominee

Monday, February 25, 2008


Oscars: The Winners, The Losers, and The Tragedy of John Travolta's Hair

Thanks to everyone who participated in our totally fun Oscar chat last night...we'll definitely do another chat again soon! For those who weren't with us, you missed John Travolta's totally tragic hair-don't, Marion Cotillard's upset win, The Bourne Ultimatum's surprisingly strong showing, Ellen Page's unfortunate gown, and five or six montages too many. Here are the winners...and my brief thoughts closing up the year in cinema that was 2007...

Best motion picture of the year
Michael Clayton
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

One has to wonder...was there really ever any question? In retrospect, one can say that it was never really much of a race; No Country dominated the precursor awards, the critics' battles, etc. It's a great movie. No one can be too upset that it crossed the finish line in the lead.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marion Cotillard, La Vie En Rose
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, Juno

Honestly, I didn't see this coming. Sure, Cotillard did a lovely job of mimicking Piaf, and she's a good actress. But how did she escape the juggernaut behind Page and the legend of Christie? The Academy has shown in recent years a disturbing trend toward honoring biopic performances at all costs, and this seems to be further evidence of that. Sorry Julie, you wuz robbed.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney, Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd
Tommy Lee Jones, In The Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises

No surprises tonight (well, none that really mattered). Day-Lewis' performance is one for the history books, and I hope future generations of actors will study it at length. It's also interesting that all four acting awards at this very American ceremony were won by Europeans: two Brits, a Spaniard and a French chanteuse.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Sairose Ronan, Atonement
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton

This was perhaps the category I cared most about all night, and the girl I was pulling for actually overcame the critics' darling (Ryan), the semi-legend (Dee) and the Oscar magnet (Blanchett). That, in itself, is a remarkable achievment. But after the career Tilda has had, the genius she's given...this is so, so, so deserved.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War
Hal Holbrook, Into The Wild
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Surprised? Neither is anyone else with a pulse. He deserves it, of course...well, Affleck deserves it more, but since I have a major case of the hots for Bardem, I'm fine with anything that gets him more screen time in America.

Achievement in directing
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Jason Reitman, Juno
Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Congrats to the boys, who really are some of the world's most stunning practitioners of the form. It's without a doubt their masterwork (I rank it above Fargo and O Brother Where Art Thou?, my favorites), and I'm guessing it will stand the test of time remarkably well. (I hope people will remember the runner-up here as well, There Will Be Blood.)

Original screenplay
Brad Bird, Ratatouille
Diablo Cody, Juno
Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl

Maybe now we can stop talking about this movie. Rarely have I seen a good film get so wildly overpraised. Oh wait, there was Little Miss Sunshine.

Adapted screenplay
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
Christopher Hampton, Atonement
Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Sarah Polley, Away From Her

What I loved about the script for No Country was its minimalism, its spare and yet unrelenting dialogue, its dependence upon silences. I think it shows enormous sophistication on the part of the Academy to recognize these skills. Good on ya, Oscar!

Best foreign language film of the year
Beaufort (Israel)
The Counterfeiters (Austria)
Katyn (Poland)
Mongol (Kazakhstan)
12 (Russia)

Fine with me...it's not like the best films were nominated, anyway. (Sorry, 4 Months...)

Best animated feature film of the year
Persepolis (Sony Pictures Classics)
Ratatouille (Walt Disney)
Surf's Up (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Truth is, Persepolis was always a bit too classy for the room in this category, and mainstream success is the bill of fare here. Enjoy.

Best documentary feature
No End in Sight (Magnolia Pictures)
Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience (The Documentary Group)
Sicko (Lionsgate and The Weinstein Company)
Taxi to the Dark Side (THINKFilm)
War/Dance (THINKFilm)

Looks like Oscar voters are never giving Michael Moore another chance to speak publicly. Nor do they want much of a political discussion...picking the weakest of the three Iraq documentaries seems a bit like cowardice, especially with the buzz surrounding No End In Sight.

Achievement in cinematography
Roger Deakins, The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford
Roger Deakins, No Country For Old Men
Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood
Seamus McGarvey, Atonement
Janusz Kaminski, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

In a category of spectacular achievements -- really, the Rolls Royce of the Oscars this year -- I would have been happy with any one of these films winning. But There Will Be Blood is an astonishing achievement, and needs to be remembered for more than just Daniel Day-Lewis' performance. So I'm thrilled.

Achievement in art direction
American Gangster, Art Direction: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Beth A. Rubino
Atonement, Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
The Golden Compass, Art Direction: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Sweeney Todd, Art Direction: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
There Will Be Blood, Art Direction: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Jim Erickson

As I said last week, you can only bet against Dante Ferretti...at your peril. There simply wasn't a more evocatively-designed work last year.

Achievement in film editing
The Bourne Ultimatum, Christopher Rouse
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Juliette Welfling
Into the Wild, Jay Cassidy
No Country For Old Men, Roderick Jaynes
There Will Be Blood, Dylan Tichenor

A very nice night for Bourne, which emerged as the unquestioned leader in the technical categories. Naysayers will criticize its frenetic editing, but I thought it was incredibly exciting.

Achievement in costume design
Across the Universe, Albert Wolsky
Atonement, Jacqueline Durran
Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Alexandra Byrne
La Vie En Rose, Marit Allen
Sweeney Todd, Colleen Atwood

Really? They were so over-the-top, so large, so costume-shticky. But they were memorable, and Cate looked like a million bucks, so...whatthefuckdoIknow.

Achievement in makeup
La Vie En Rose, Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald
Norbit, Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Ve Neill and Martin Samuel

Perfectly thrilled by this win...given the competition.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Marco Beltrami, 3:10 To Yuma
Michael Giacchino, Ratatouille
James Newton Howard, Michael Clayton
Alberto Iglesias, The Kite Runner
Dario Marianelli, Atonement

With none of the truly great scores of 2007 even nominated, I probably shouldn't be surprised that the most obvious, the most shtick-laden, the most overdone nominee took the prize. The only small silver lining? The Kite Runner can now forever fade into the mists of history, unnoticed.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Falling Slowly" from Once, Music and Lyric by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
"Happy Working Song" from Enchanted, Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"Raise It Up" from August Rush, Music and Lyric by Jamal Joseph, Charles Mack and Tevin Thomas
"So Close" from Enchanted, Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz
"That's How You Know" from Enchanted, Music by Alan Menken; Lyric by Stephen Schwartz

As the group in our chat room realized last night together, these five songs were weaker than they may have first seemed. The only standout really is "Falling Slowly," and it is the only tune that could stand up among previous Oscar winners proudly.

Achievement in sound editing
The Bourne Ultimatum, Karen Baker Landers and Per Hallberg
No Country For Old Men, Skip Lievsay
Ratatouille, Randy Thom and Michael Silvers
There Will Be Blood, Christopher Scarabosio and Matthew Wood
Transformers, Ethan Van der Ryn and Mike Hopkins

Among some great (and not-so-great) nominees, this was definitely the standout.

Achievement in sound mixing
The Bourne Ultimatum, Scott Millan, David Parker and Kirk Francis
No Country For Old Men, Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter Kurland
Ratatouille, Randy Thom, Michael Semanick and Doc Kane
3:10 To Yuma, Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Jim Stuebe
Transformers, Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Peter J. Devlin

Like I said, the standout. Woo hoo! Really glad this movie got remembered, because it was soooo much better than any other action genre pic in 2007.

Achievement in visual effects
The Golden Compass, Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier
Transformers, Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier

A real surprise, considering the film didn't have much domestic box office. But for my money, it was the far superior choice.

Best animated short film
I Met the Walrus, Josh Raskin
Madame Tutli-Putli, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
Même les Pigeons Vont au Paradis, Samuel Tourneux and Simon Vanesse
My Love (Moya Lyubov), Alexander Petrov
Peter & the Wolf, Suzie Templeton and Hugh Welchman

A crying shame, if you ask me. Not that Peter wasn't pretty or interesting, but there were four significantly better films in this category, in my opinion.

Best live action short film
At Night, Christian E. Christiansen and Louise Vesth
Il Supplente (The Substitute), Andrea Jublin
Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets), Philippe Pollet-Villard
Tanghi Argentini, Guido Thys and Anja Daelemans
The Tonto Woman, Daniel Barber and Matthew Brown

Minor surprise, but not too much. I wish I'd been able to see it. Sadly, it's not online at all, as far as I can tell.

Best documentary short subject
Freeheld, Cynthia Wade and Vanessa Roth
La Corona (The Crown), Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega
Salim Baba, Tim Sternberg and Francisco Bello
Sari's Mother, James Longley

I love it! Lesbians from Jersey rule!

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Blogger J.D. said...


Greatest moment in the history of the world, I swear.

2/25/08, 12:33 AM  
Blogger Vance said...

I yelped out loud when Tilda won! Yay for her! Boo to her stylist. (What the hell was she wearing?)

2/25/08, 1:21 AM  
Blogger daveylow said...

Re: Cotillard. If you'd been following posts on Awards Daily and The Film Experience, the people who loved Cotillard's performance were incredible about their fandom. There was no talking to them about anyone else being deserving of an award. One of my friends called me and said she had seen Cotillard and that no one else deserved an award but her. I asked her if she had seen Christie and she said no.

Cotillard did a lot of campaigning in Hollywood for her award, she appeared on Oprah, and she's been using this nomination to market her career. She's already the hot, young, foreign babe they can sell in a Michael Mann movie.

Giving the award to Christie benefited no one in Hollywood. Christie, sad to say, will probably not be seen at the Oscars again, since she makes so few movies and loathes the limelight.

2/25/08, 1:35 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

As someone who followed Lauren Hester's fight in real-time via newspapers and on Blue Jersey, I was thrilled about Freeheld's win. It was interesting, though, watching all these over-botoxed (Nicole Kidman) and apple-cheeked (Cameron Diaz) American Movie Stars™ present all those awards to Europeans.

2/25/08, 6:05 AM  
Blogger T$ said...

I agree about Tilda Swinton - I was more than thrilled when she won. Her performance in Michael Clayton was thoroughly representative of her always intelligent, disciplined work as an actress.

And kudos to her for always, always giving major props to Derek Jarman.

2/25/08, 10:24 AM  
Blogger DBK said...

"Rarely have I seen a good film get so wildly overpraised. Oh wait, there was Little Miss Sunshine."

Was that a good movie? Mrs DBK and I watched it, then turned it off about two-thirds of the way through. We thought it was awful. Little Miss Sunshine, we mean, not Juno. Haven't seen Juno. Haven't seen any of the nominees for, pretty much, anything. We'll rent them some time. Oh, and the Coen brothers are from Minnesota.

2/25/08, 11:14 AM  
Blogger Vance said...

Um. I thought Little Miss was WAY overated. Ditto with Squid and the Whale. Thought they tried too hard to be "indie". (I prefered things like You Can Count On Me and Junebug). Yet I Loved Juno though (again, I think I'm getting soft this year, but also, my love for Cera, Garner, Batemen, Janney and Page helped a LOT).

2/25/08, 12:15 PM  
Blogger John T said...

I too am excited about Tilda, and I can't believe a performance so subtle, so compact and without gimick, pulled it off in the end. However, I do object to Ruby Dee being a "semi"-legend. I think it's okay to give her the whole legend title.

2/25/08, 7:49 PM  
Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks so much for making the Oscars fun again. I really enjoyed joining your little posse last evening and appreciated the humor, laughs and even the ridicule. Can't wait to do it again!

And for "Once," a winner I could stand up and cheer!

Thanks again, ModernFabulousity!

2/25/08, 11:15 PM  

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