Oscars 2006: Brokeback Mountain leads the pack with eight nominations
The 2006 Oscar nominations are out, and anyone with even a passing interest in new movies will just a little more interested.
Now comes the countdown to Oscar night on 5th March.
Shawn Fitzgerald gives his personal take on the major categories nominees...
The 78th Annual Academy Awards nominations were announced on 31st January and,
as expected, Hollywood has given itself a mountain to climb. Brokeback
Mountain, that is.
Ang Lee's unique romantic drama scored eight nods, the
most of any film this year. The ensemble race drama Crash, George Clooney's black-and-white newsroom tale Good Night, and Good Luck and the film of Arthur Golden's book Memoirs of a Geisha each received six,
while Steven Spielberg's political thriller Munich and Bennett
Miller's debut feature Capote each scored five.
With the exception of Spielberg's controversial drama, which was released
by Universal Pictures and cost US$75 million to produce, this year's
selections could largely be mistaken for the Independent Spirit Awards.
Hollywood, as we all know, did not have a stellar year, financially or
creatively, in 2005. Low-budget, edgier films released by independent
divisions of the major studios, however, did and it is only fair that they
dominate the Big Night.
The five nominees for Best Picture were all well received by both critics
and the audiences. Each is a solid drama that tackles tricky subject matter
in a way that is both relevant and entertaining.
My personal pick out of
this impressive group would be Munich, but it is all-round favourite
Brokeback Mountain that looks likeliest to be the Academy's choice. Munich
is far too polarizing to reward, and having won practically every Best
Picture gong going while being near-unanimously praised, Oscar's biggest
award seems to be the logical next step for "the gay cowboy film".
three features, Crash, Capote
and Good Night, and Good Luck will find Oscar glory - and increased
box office and DVD revenue - elsewhere.
This is one of those odd years where all five of the Best Director
nominees helmed the Best Picture nominees. Three of the nominees, George
Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck), Paul Haggis (Crash) and
Bennett Miller (Capote), are first-time nominees joining veterans Ang
Lee (Brokeback Mountain) and Steven Spielberg (Munich).
Munich is one of Spielberg's best directorial efforts in quite some
time, and Clooney, Miller and Haggis turned in work equally as impressive.
However, it may not be enough to stop the Brokeback Mountain express.
like his film, Lee has been an awards favorite. After scoring the
all-important Directors Guild Award recently, Oscar night should be a
actor in a leading role
The Best Actor field is very strong this year, but David Strathairn
(Good Night, and Good Luck), Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line),
surprise - but deserved - nominee Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow) and
Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain) may have to suffice with just
being nominated for their excellent work.
This year belongs to Philip
Seymour Hoffman, who should cap off his winning streak with a Best Actor
statue for his superb work in Capote. Ledger might give him a bit of
competition, but in the end the award should be Hoffman's.
actress in a leading role
Another solid field with another sure bet. Reese Witherspoon leads the
field of talented ladies with her performance as June Carter Cash in the
biopic Walk the Line.
Her closest competition comes from that
Desperate Housewife Felicity Huffman for her gender-bending turn in
Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice), Judi
Dench (Mrs Henderson Presents) and Charlize Theron (North
Country) round out the spots with their lauded work and might have been
front-runners in other years. They will all be back in the running soon
actor in a supporting role
I loved A History of Violence, and I nearly jumped out of my seat
when I heard William Hurt's name as a nominee for David Cronenberg's film.
His turn as a mafia boss was one of 2005's cinematic highlights.
But he is
facing some serious competition in a category that always seems to display
the best choices. Between Hurt, the multi-nominated George Clooney
(Syriana), Paul Giamatti (Cinderella Man), Matt Dillon
(Crash) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain), it is almost
impossible to pick just one here.
Venturing a guess, I would
say that the race would come down to Giamatti, recipient of the Screen
Actors Guild award, and Clooney, who nabbed a Golden Globe. Out of those
two, the victor should be Giamatti - as an apology for ignoring him in the past two
years in the Best Actor category.
actress in a supporting role
I haven't seen Junebug yet, so I can't comment on Amy Adams aside
from the fact that I have not read one review for the film that hasn't
mentioned how good she is in her role.
So, it looks like another crowded,
quality category, which also includes Frances McDormand (North
Country), Catherine Keener (Capote) and Michelle Williams
This is not to say that there isn't a
front-runner, and that would be Rachel Weisz for her superb work in The
Constant Gardener. The film got less Oscar consideration than it should
have. Giving Ms Weisz a statue for her fine work is one way the
Academy could make up for this oversight.