I’d Like to Thank My Agent

This year’s Academy Award nominees are out, and as expected, the choices tend to privilege films made in major studios. And while I find these award shows absurd, I usually buy into the hype of reacting to the choices and compaining about the films I feel were overlooked.

The best picture nominees were a little disappointing. I found Seabiscuit and Mystic River to be overrated films, and I would have liked to see either 21 Grams or House of Sand and Fog recognized here. One other major complaint here: to my knowledge documentaries, among other films, have never been considered for best picture. Why not recognize one or more of this year’s solid crop of documentaries with a nomination for best picture?

The acting nominees pretty much fell into place as expected, and I’m actually quite happy that Johnny Depp received recognition for his work in Pirates of the Caribbean. Also happy that Shohreh Aghdashloo was acknowledged for a quietly powerful performance in House of Sand and Fog. Patricia Clarkson has deserved recognition for several performances (including All the Real Girls and The Station Agent). Major omission: Jennifer Connelly, also in Sand and Fog.

I’m generally satisfied with the choices for direction, but would have liked to see 21 Grams among the choices. I am excited that City of God’s director, Fernando Meirelles, received a well-deserved nomination, although I’m not sure why his film was snubbed for best foreign-language film (best guess: because Miramax released the film, it somehow didn’t qualify).

I didn’t see Barbarian Invasions, but Canadian director Denys Arcand has been doing outstanding work for a long time, so I’m happy to see his work receive attention in screenplay and foreign film categories. Also happy to see Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman nominated for American Splenor’s screenplay. Sand and Fog and 21 Grams were left out here as well.

Not sure I have much else to add. Looking through the rest of nominees, it looks like a solid year for documentaries (Capturing the Friedmans, Fog of War), and of course, Lord of the Rings scored a basketful of nominations, as expected. To be honest, I’m usually much more interested in the Independent Spirit awards, but the Oscars are good water cooler discussion. So what do you think?

Update: Roger Ebert explains that City of God would have been up for best forign film last year, but the Academy’s best foreign film committee simply dropped the ball.

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