So...the first thing that happens is I get stuck on the Golden Globes homepage, staring at Clint's other million dollar baby, Kathryn Eastwood (which Liz pointed out). Sixteen?!? That would put Clint around sixty when she was born. I did some poking around -- he's had two more kids after her (each with a different mother) for a total of seven offspring in all. (Magnum Force indeed!) This of course explains Million Dollar Baby -- he needed a crowd-pleasing box-office smash just to keep up with child support.
Here are my thoughts on the nominations themselves. I should add that I don't really care about award shows one way or the other (few of the films I love ever get nominated), but it's fun to play along nonetheless.
- Best Picture - Drama: Was there an outpouring of praise when Finding Neverland opened? If so, I can't recall reading any. This has to be one of the blandest films I've come across in ages. Pretty to look at, and Depp's accent is charming, but the story is quite uninspired. Given all the other pedophile-themed films this year, I kept waiting for it to turn into something darker. I haven't seen Hotel Rwanda, but of the other three, the choice is easy. Sure, The Aviator was a great way to spend three hours, but it's hardly a great film. Kinsey wasn't bad, but played it too safe in my opinion. Much like Finding Neverland, it's an MOR film that seems tailored for picking up nominations. My pick: Closer. My prediction: Million Dollar Baby.
- Best Actress - Drama: Imelda Staunton did give a fine performance in Vera Drake, but if I think about it in comparison with some of the other great Mike Leigh characters/performances, it comes up short. (David Thewlis in Naked, Alison Steadman in Abigail's Party or Nuts In May, the entire cast of Secrets & Lies, etc.) Even if I don't take those other films into consideration, I still didn't find Staunton's performance to be "the best" (whatever that means). I've yet to see A Love Song for Bobby Long, but I'd be surprised if Scarlett Johansson has turned in something award-worthy. Uma was great when The Bride was a killing machine, but her scenes with David Carradine reminded me how limited she is when it comes to drama. Nicole Kidman has been on a roll lately (well, except for The Stepford Wives) and her performance in Birth, in which she delivers all her lines at just above a whisper, is marvelous (almost as good as Dogville). My pick: Nicole Kidman. My prediction: Hillary Swank.
- Best Actor - Drama: None of these really grabbed me as a great performance, though I've only seen three of the five. Were dramas really that poor last year? In my wildest dreams I never imagined I would be typing the following four words -- My pick: Leonardo DiCaprio. My prediction: Liam Neeson.
- Best Picture - Musical/Comedy: Didn't see The Incredibles or The Phantom of the Opera. I'm somewhat curious about the former, and will no doubt see repeated showings of the latter in my own personal hell. Ray suffered from bad biopic syndrome, so it's down to Eternal Sunshine and Sideways. This one is too easy. My pick: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. My prediction: Sideways.
- Best Actress - Musical/Comedy: Having seen only one of the nominated films (Eternal Sunshine, though De-Lovely is cued up in the DVD player), I can't rightly make a selection. Yes I can. My pick: Kate Winslet. My prediction: Annette Benning.
- Best Actor - Musical/Comedy: Ahh...now here we have an interesting selection. For mere chutzpah alone, Kevin Spacey should win the award. Beyond the Sea was, if possible, an even more narcissistic film than The Brown Bunny. It's much more about Kevin Spacey than it is Bobby Darin, and his performance borders on the surreal. An absolute mess of a film, but Spacey goes out with a bang. Though this was the first (and only) time I was able to stomach Jim Carry (like the Cinetrix, I too have an aversion), I'm not quite ready to see him win an award. I think it's great that Paul Giamatti was nominated, and I really enjoyed his performance, but was it that great? The dead, gay songwriter has little chance, whereas the dead, blind songwriter seems to be the odds on favorite. My pick: Kevin Spacey. My prediction: Jamie Foxx.
- Best Foreign Film: Last Life in the Universe. What's that? Not nominated? You must be joking. . .
- Best Supporting Actress: I avoided the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, but I'm sure Meryl Streep was perfect as always. There's a lot to be said for the other four -- solid performances by all, but I think Cate Blanchett out-edges Laura Linney, Virginia Madsen, and the pink lemonade pee-er with her channeling of Katharine Hepburn. My pick: Cate Blanchett. My prediction: Cate Blanchett (a first!).
- Best Supporting Actor: Easy. Clive Owen by a furlong. My pick: Clive Owen. My prediction: Morgan Freeman.
- Best Screenplay: As much I admire Alexander Payne as a screenwriter, nothing else this year comes even close to the originality of Charlie Kaufman. My pick: Charlie Kaufman. My prediction: Alexander Payne.
Some other notes:
I just wanted to thank everybody who contributed to the I Heart Huckabees discussion that began in the comments of this post. That was the one film I saw last year that I couldn't come to terms with. I enjoyed it while I watched it, but when I left the theater, I didn't know what to think, nor could I easily say what or how I felt. I really wanted to see it again, but never got around to it. The discussion here has caused me to re-evaluate it, and now I not only want, but need to see it again.
Aaron -- earlier you wrote about the writer/director problem that Britopia and I were discussing. I think your analysis is incorrect -- the films that seem to suffer from the sole writer/director are not those that have been financed to the tune of millions of dollars, but rather the small to mid-size indie flick. Hollywood product often has two, three, or more screenwriters on a project, not to mention the countless "doctors" they bring on board. If I weren't so lazy, I would make a list of all the indie films that I think were ruined by this.
Finally, I received an email today from a friend in London:
"Love the CONVERSATION, but when's the conversation going to begin?"
Point taken. I admit this has turned out to be slightly more anarchic than we had imagined, and not nearly as structured as the Movie Club that inspired us in the first place. However, as David mentioned yesterday, there were so many wonderful side conversations in the comments section (far more than we imagined), that we perhaps lost focus from the main thread. The next couple of days should find us getting back on track, and we've got something wonderful lined up for Monday.