My son thinks today’s Oscar nominations are a scream! Actually, in an attempt not to cross the line into complete DaddyBloggery, I’m combining the really exciting news of Charlies first sustained laughs with the rather boring news of the Oscar noms. We did watch the announcement together and he seemed riveted. I was just tired. I woke up from what I thought was a long sound sleep, thinking it must be at least 5 or 6, am, only to discover that it was only 12:15 am! I was so sure something was wrong with the time on my iPod that I checked every single clock in our house. Oy. Was it just the sheer anticipation of the early morning announcement by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences? Not bloody likely—I shouldn’t even be commenting on the nominations this year. Last year was my Personal Best that will probably never be repeated. I not only saw every single film that was nominated (including the foreign films), I correctly predicted every major Oscar race, even Penelope Cruz for Best Supporting Actress which I thought was a major long shot.
This year, I’ve only seen a handful of the films, but I guess that still won’t stop me from predicting the winners—it’s a “Jew Eat Yet?” tradition. We’ll get to Charlie’s laughing later.
Before I continue, let me express my disappointment over one glaring omission. Our good friend Matthew Tyrnauer (if you’ve read Kendall’s book you may remember Matthew) had made the Oscar short list for his brilliant and hugely successful documentary “Valentino: The Last Emperor.” I was sure he’d clinch the nomination, but alas, it went to five “more serious” documentaries including “Food, Inc.” “Burma VJ,” and “Which Way Home.” Damn it. Don’t the Academy members realize that there’s nothing more serious than an Italian Fashion Diva preparing a major collection?
Here are Charlie and my predictions for the top prizes:
Best Supporting Actor: I’ve only seen two of these performances, Stanley Tucci’s very creepy serial killer in “The Lovely Bones” and Christoph Waltz’s uber-creepy Nazi in “Inglorious Basterds.” Our old pal Captain Von Trapp, aka Christopher Plummer, is nominated for his role as Leo Tolstoy in “The Last Station” (how is that a supporting role?). I’m sure he’s great and I can’t wait to see it but I don’t think the Academy voters will give it to him. At 80, it’s amazing to me that this is his first Oscar nomination. Woody Harrelson is nominated for “The Messenger.” Did this tough military drama play in the theatres for more than five minutes? At least the nomination will bring it back—but Harrelson won’t win. I also want to see “Invictus,” for which an accented Matt Damon is nominated for playing the captain of the South African rugby team. It’s his third nomination and he won one in 1998. Not this year, though. No, I think it’s between the two creepiest performances I mentioned earlier, and I’m going to give it to Austrian actor Christoph Waltz for playing one of the most charismatically evil Nazis even seen in a fantasy film about World War II. He’s fantastic in the part and I think being foreign helps—the Academy tends to favor non-American actors.
Best Supporting Actress: I actually saw all five of these performances but let’s cut to the chase and say right up front that Mo’Nique is going to win for her harrowing portrayal of the abusive mother in “Precious.” There’s no question about it, and it was an incredible performance. Too bad for the rest of the stellar nominees, though. Penelope Cruz managed to eke out the only acting nomination for “Nine,” based, I’m sure, on her orgasmic musical number when she slides down that silky pink slide and for her crazy line that every Academy member wishes they could hear from her: “I’ll be waiting for you…with my legs open.” Oy. I thought both Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick were great in “Up in the Air” even though I wasn’t as gaga for this film as some people were. After loving Farmiga a few years ago as the mother in “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas,” I was positive that she was really German since she seemed so perfectly cast. Turns out she was born in New Jersey. Who knew? However she was raised in a close-knit Ukrainian family and didn’t learn English until she was six! I was very moved by Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance in “Crazy Heart” and am always transfixed by her acting. But sorry, gals, better start clearing the aisle for Mo’Nique.
Best Actor: I only saw Jeff Bridge’s superb performance in “Crazy Heart” and the always excellent George Clooney in “Up in the Air.” I am anxious to see Colin Firth playing a gay man in the early 1960s in “A Single Man” as well as Morgan Freeman’s regal turn as Nelson Mandela in “Invictus.” I’d never even heard the name Jeremy Renner until this morning but it’s nice to have a newcomer in this category. I do want to see his film “The Hurt Locker” and will make it there before the Oscar telecast. But I think this category has another shoo-in. Jeff Bridges has to win for his dead-on portrayal of washed up country singer Bad Blake in “Crazy Heart.” It’s his fifth nomination (his first was a whopping 38 years ago for “The Last Picture Show”), he’s a fantastic actor, he is well liked in this town, comes from a beloved acting family, is still incredibly good looking at the age of 60, and it’s definitely his year. Go, Jeff!
Best Actress: This category is the hardest to predict. I’ve seen three of the five performances. Meryl Streep was absolute perfection as Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” but the modern parts of the film starring Amy Adams were not that hot and I don’t think Streep will take home another prize. Many people (including my daughter) think Sandra Bullock is the favorite for her role in “The Blind Side” and I’m sure she’s very good and may win, but I refuse to give it to her based solely on her horrible performance in the beyond horrible film “All About Steve” which was also released last year. How that total piece of shit ever got made is beyond me. And because Bullock also produced it, I hold her doubly accountable. I know that’s not fair and that each performance should be judged on its own merits. So sue me, Sandra. I loved Carey Mulligan in “An Education” and loved every second of this film, also set in the early 1960s. 24-year-old Mulligan has a great future ahead of her (I just heard she’s starring in a remake of “My Fair Lady.” Oy!) but I’d be shocked if she took home an Oscar this year. I worship the ground that Dame Helen Mirren walks on even though I have yet to see her performance as Sofya Tolstoy in “The Last Station.” This is her fourth Oscar nomination and she won in 2007 for “The Queen.” My only roundabout connection to Mirren is that her hair and make-up person made up my sister for the 2007 Grammys. Okay, it’s a stretch. The actress I am going to predict as the winner this year, and I am reeeeeally going out on a limb here, is Gabourey Sidibe for her painful but amazing performance in “Precious.” It’s Sidibe’s first film but she was so perfect in this part I just want to see her up on that stage.
Best Picture: I hate, loathe, and despise the Academy’s new policy to nominate 10 films instead of 5. It’s absurd, and such a blatant marketing ploy to enable more studios to tout their films as a Best Picture Nominee. I’ve seen 7 of the 10 nominees and I can assure you that if it weren’t for this new policy, films like “District 9” and “Up” would not be on the list. This is a very difficult category to predict, there is no obvious shoo-in. As much as I didn’t think I was a Quentin Tarantino fan, if it were up to me, I’d give it to “Inglorious Basterds,” I just loved that film. For all the acclaim films like “An Education,” “A Serious Man,” and “Precious” have received, they just don’t feel like Best Picture winners. “Up in the Air” has a chance if the Academy voters were swayed by the notion that this is the thinking person’s choice, but I think it’s probably a race between “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker,” films directed by people who were once married to each other. That has to be a first in Academy history (unless Ida Lupino and Howard Duff ever faced off). While I wanted to hate “Avatar” because of James Cameron’s seeming arrogance, I ended up liking it a lot even though I recognize some major flaws. But I’m going to follow my gut here and pick the film I haven’t seen yet, “The Hurt Locker,” because of its topical and more complex and disturbing message. I’d also like to see Kathryn Bigelow shove her Oscar in her ex-husband’s face.
And there you have it…for now. I’ll comment on the writers, directors, and other nominees at a later date. For now, I want to switch gears and show you Charlie’s latest laugh riot. Although he’s been smiling up a storm for weeks, it’s only lately that he’s been heard audibly giggling. One of the first times was with his Aunt Susie and Uncle Jeff this past weekend. But last night his cowboy-loving mother started making galloping horse sounds over dinner and Charlie went nuts. He also gets hysterical when we sing “Shall We Dance” and even “Hava Nagila.” By Oscar night I expect him to chortle his way through the entire telecast.
Important Addendum: Oh my God, Charlie IS Oscar-blessed! As I was writing this post an hour ago, Kendall and Charlie were a few blocks away at Farmers Market with our friend Amy. Sitting near Bob's Donuts, a woman in a wheelchair with a distinctive gravely voice, started admiring Charlie. Kendall turned around to see Oscar winner Patricia Neal gazing at our son and reaching out to him. She was with her daughter and both were surprised when Kendall and Amy immediately recognized Miss Neal. They discussed her magnificent Best Actress Oscar-winning performance as Alma Brown in "Hud" (47 years ago!) and other things, all the while the original Olivia Walton and the former wife of writer Roald Dahl cooed at Charlie. That's even better than when Warren Beatty, Tom Jones, and Kim Basinger approached Leah when she was a baby!