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Academy Awards: British Talent Tops Nominations + Pedro Almodóvar Snubbed

Helen Mirren, James Cromwell in The QueenAmong those foreign invaders from across the Atlantic are best direction nominees Stephen Frears (for The Queen, which is also up for a best film nod) and Paul Greengrass (for United 93); best actress nominees Helen Mirren (right, for The Queen), Kate Winslet (for Little Children), and Judi Dench (for Notes on a Scandal); best original screenplay nominee Peter Morgan (for The Queen); and best adapted screenplay nominees Patrick Marber (for Notes on a Scandal) and Sacha Baron Cohen (who co-wrote Borat).

Additionally, several non-British nationals got nominated for their work in British productions, e.g., Australian Cate Blanchett (best supporting actress nominee for Notes on a Scandal); American Forest Whitaker (best actor nominee for The Last King of Scotland); American Philip Glass (best original score nominee for Notes on a Scandal); and Irish Peter O'Toole (best actor nominee for Venus).

Missing in action, however, was the much ballyhooed Casino Royale, one of the top nominees at this year's BAFTAs. Until fairly recently, there was even talk that Daniel Craig might get a best actor Oscar nod. Why was this much admired film completely ignored by the Academy? Too British? Too ballsy? Both too glitzy (the chase sequences) and not glitzy enough (the sex scenes)? Who cares, really?


Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada

The Good:

The five best actress nominees. For once, the Academy picked five performances that were more than adequate, more than good, more than very good. Penélope Cruz, Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Judi Dench, and Helen Mirren are all superb as earth mothers, lonely bitch fashionistas, lonely adulterous housewives, lonely elderly lesbians, and lonely haughty queens. (Apart from Cruz's madre de la tierra — in case that's the actual Spanish translation – do I notice a pattern here?)

The omission of Jack Nicholson's disgraceful turn in The Departed.

Guillermo del Toro's nomination for best original screenplay and Guillermo Navarro's for best cinematography, both for Pan's Labyrinth.

The inclusion of best actor nominee Ryan Gosling for his idealistic, drug-addicted teacher in the little-seen Half Nelson.

(None of the best actor nominees have their films up for a best picture Oscar. That's quite possibly a first in the Academy's 79-year history – though I'm too lazy to look into that. Maybe in a future post.)

Iraq in Fragments by James Longley
Iraq in Fragments by James Longley

And, taking a leap of faith, the best documentary and best short nominees. I haven't seen any of them – but they all sound quite intriguing. Those range from James Longley's Iraq in Fragments, which depicts the bloody Iraqi chaos through the eyes of Iraqi nationals, to Ruby Yang's documentary short The Blood of Yingzhou District, about Chinese children who have lost their parents to AIDS.

The Bad:

The omission of Volver in the best foreign-language film, best direction (Pedro Almodóvar), best supporting actress (Carmen Maura), best original screenplay (also Almodóvar), best cinematography (José Luis Alcaine), and best original score (Alberto Iglesias) categories.

Sergi Lopez in Pan's Labyrinth

The omission of Sergi López (above) for his superb military psycho in Pan's Labyrinth.

There are a number of nominees that I don't think should have made the Academy's top 100 list, let alone its top-five shortlist. Those range from Little Miss Sunshine as best anything to Vilmos Zsigmond's inappropriate cinematography in The Black Dahlia. (The veteran Zsigmond has done much better work elsewhere.)

The omission of Catherine O'Hara, who should have been a contender for her role as the failed contender in For Your Consideration.

No nominations for The Painted Veil.

and The Dull:

The Oscar telecast – inevitably. Next Feb. 25.

So many Mexicans indeed, and so many English – though not nearly enough Spaniards or great movies. Maybe next year.

Just don't keep your hopes up.

Penélope Cruz in Volver
Penélope Cruz told Academy members to vote for her – or else.
Pedro Almodóvar should have used the same vote-getting technique.

“There's so many Mexicans!” exclaimed Mexican actress Salma Hayek, too excited to conjugate her verbs properly, upon announcing – along with Academy president Sid Ganis – some of the nominees for the 2007 Academy Awards.

Indeed. Best supporting actress nominee Adriana Barraza (for Babel); best direction nominee Alejandro González Iñárritu, who also happens to be one of the producers of best picture nominee Babel; best original screenplay nominee Guillermo del Toro, whose Pan's Labyrinth was also nominated in the best foreign-language film category; best adapted screenplay nominee Alfonso Cuarón, one of the screenwriters of Children of Men (which he also directed – but no Academy acknowledgement there); best cinematography nominee Guillermo Navarro (for Pan's Labyrinth); and best actress nominee Penélope Cruz (for Volver).

Ok, ok, if you wanna be technical about it. So, Cruz's a Spaniard – the first ever to get a best actress nod – but Salma Hayek was feeling so red-white-and-green she probably got all geographically incorrect. Most Americans don't know the difference, anyways.

Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose in Dreamgirls
Anika Noni Rose, Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls (top); Penélope Cruz, Lola Dueñas in Volver (bottom)

As for the non-Mexican nominations, there were a number of surprises.

The two biggies were Bill Condon's Dreamgirls being left out of the best film, best direction, and best writing categories – too black? too girlie? too glitzy? – and Pedro Almodóvar's Volver being left out of the best foreign-language film category – too Latin? too girlie? not glitzy enough? Or perhaps, Volver's omission was the result of the Academy's inane decision to leave the best foreign-language film final nominations in the hands of thirty or so voters. Or … could it be the long-awaited Hollywood Academy's revenge against the Spanish Academy's lack of a best foreign-language film category?

In any case, I still haven't mustered enough courage to go check out Dreamgirls, this year's top nominee, with a total of eight nods – three of which in the best song category. The last big Broadway-to-Hollywood musical I saw, Chicago, would have made my list of ten worst movies of 2002. However, I have seen Volver, which will definitely be included in my ten-best list for 2006. (That list will be ready, with some luck, by 2014.)

Days of Glory by Rachid Bouchareb
Days of Glory by Rachid Bouchareb

Quality, of course, is in the brain of the beholder. If your brain functions as perfectly as mine, you'll like the things I like and dislike the things I don't care for. You'd have voted for Volver as one of the best foreign-language films of the year, and would have ignored both the French – er… Algerian – version of Saving Private Ryan, Days of Glory, and The Lives of Others, the highly conventional tale of a Stasi spy who came down with cold feet.

I haven't seen Water, yet, though director Deepa Mehta sure deserves an award for perseverance, considering all the hassles she had to deal with – courtesy of Hindu fanatics – while making her film.

Looking on the bright side, if The Lives of Others wins the best foreign-language film award the invariably dull Oscar telecast will be enlivened by director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's remarks about corruption in the world of German politics. Henckel von Donnersmarck's lengthy rant, in fact, was the most interesting thing about the The Lives of Others screening at the AFI FEST last November.

Chances are, however, that Guillermo del Toro will be going onstage to accept his Oscar for Pan's Labyrinth, which garnered a total of six nominations. But then again, the non-nominated Volver was the shoo-in to win that award. So…

Competing against los mexicanos are the British.

2007 Academy Awards

2007 Academy Award nominations: January 23, 2007

2007 Academy Award winners: Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles on Feb. 25, 2007

Photos: © A.M.P.A.S.


Graham King - Oscar 2007

Best motion picture of the year
Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
An Anonymous Content/Zeta Film/Central Films Production
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Jon Kilik and Steve Golin, Producers
* The Departed (Warner Bros.)
A Warner Bros. Pictures Production
Graham King
Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner Bros.)
A DreamWorks Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures Production
Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg and Robert Lorenz, Producers
Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight)
A Big Beach/Bona Fide Production
David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub
The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)
A Granada Production
Andy Harries, Christine Langan and Tracey Seaward, Producers

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck - Oscar 2007

Best foreign language film of the year
After the Wedding A Zentropa Entertainments 16 Production
Days of Glory A Tessalit Production
* The Lives of Others A Wiedemann & Berg Production
Pan's Labyrinth A Tequila Gang/Esperanto Filmoj/Estudios Picasso Production
Water A Hamilton-Mehta Production

Al Gore, Davis Guggenheim - Oscar 2007

Best documentary feature
Deliver Us from Evil (Lionsgate)
A Disarming Films Production
Amy Berg and Frank Donner
* An Inconvenient Truth (Paramount Classics and Participant Productions)
A Lawrence Bender/Laurie David Production
Davis Guggenheim
Iraq in Fragments (Typecast Releasing)
A Typecast Pictures/Daylight Factory Production
James Longley and John Sinno
Jesus Camp (Magnolia Pictures)
A Loki Films Production
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
My Country, My Country (Zeitgeist Films)
A Praxis Films Production
Laura Poitras and Jocelyn Glatzer

Cameron Diaz, George Miller - Oscar 2007

Best animated feature film of the year
Cars (Buena Vista) John Lasseter
* Happy Feet (Warner Bros.) George Miller
Monster House (Sony Pictures Releasing) Gil Kenan

Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg

Achievement in directing
Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage) Alejandro González Iñárritu
* The Departed (Warner Bros.) Martin Scorsese
Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner Bros.) Clint Eastwood
The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Stephen Frears
United 93 (Universal and StudioCanal) Paul Greengrass

Forest Whitaker - Oscar 2007

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond (Warner Bros.)
Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson (THINKFilm)
Peter O'Toole in Venus (Miramax, Filmfour and UK Council)
Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness (Sony Pictures Releasing)
* Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland (Fox Searchlight)

 Helen Mirren - Oscar 2007

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Penélope Cruz in Volver (Sony Pictures Classics)
Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal (Fox Searchlight)
* Helen Mirren in The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)
Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada (20th Century Fox)
Kate Winslet in Little Children (New Line)

Alan Arkin - Oscar 2007

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
* Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight)
Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children (New Line)
Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond (Warner Bros.)
Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls (DreamWorks and Paramount)
Mark Wahlberg in The Departed (Warner Bros.)

Jennifer Hudson - Oscar 2007

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Adriana Barraza in Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
Cate Blanchett in Notes on a Scandal (Fox Searchlight)
Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight)
* Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls (DreamWorks and Paramount)
Rinko Kikuchi in Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)

Michael Arndt - Oscar 2007

Original screenplay
Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
Written by Guillermo Arriaga
Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner Bros.)
Screenplay by Iris Yamashita
Story by Iris Yamashita & Paul Haggis
* Little Miss Sunshine (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Michael Arndt
Pan's Labyrinth (Picturehouse)
Written by Guillermo del Toro
The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)
Written by Peter Morgan

William Monahan - Oscar 2007

Adapted screenplay
Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (20th Century Fox)
Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Peter Baynham & Dan Mazer
Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Peter Baynham & Anthony Hines & Todd Phillips
Children of Men (Universal)
Screenplay by Alfonso Cuarón & Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
* The Departed (Warner Bros.)
Screenplay by William Monahan
Little Children (New Line)
Screenplay by Todd Field & Tom Perrotta
Notes on a Scandal (Fox Searchlight)
Screenplay by Patrick Marber

Oscar 2007: Best Film, Acting

Guillermo Navarro - Oscar 2007

Achievement in cinematography
The Black Dahlia (Universal) Vilmos Zsigmond
Children of Men (Universal) Emmanuel Lubezki
The Illusionist (Yari Film Group) Dick Pope
* Pan's Labyrinth (Picturehouse) Guillermo Navarro
The Prestige (Buena Vista) Wally Pfister

Thelma Schoonmaker - Oscar 2007

Achievement in film editing
Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
Stephen Mirrione and Douglas Crise
Blood Diamond (Warner Bros.)
Steven Rosenblum
Children of Men (Universal)
Alex Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuarón
* The Departed (Warner Bros.)
Thelma Schoonmaker
United 93 (Universal and StudioCanal)
Clare Douglas, Christopher Rouse and Richard Pearson

Gustavo Santaolalla - Oscar 2007

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
* Babel (Paramount and Paramount Vantage) Gustavo Santaolalla
The Good German (Warner Bros.) Thomas Newman
Notes on a Scandal (Fox Searchlight) Philip Glass
Pan's Labyrinth (Picturehouse) Javier Navarrete
The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Alexandre Desplat

Melissa Etheridge - Oscar 2007

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
* “I Need to Wake Up” from An Inconvenient Truth
(Paramount Classics and Participant Productions)
Music and Lyric by Melissa Etheridge
"Listen” from Dreamgirls
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger and Scott Cutler
Lyric by Anne Preven
"Love You I Do” from Dreamgirls
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger
Lyric by Siedah Garrett
"Our Town” from Cars
(Buena Vista)
Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
"Patience” from Dreamgirls
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger
Lyric by Willie Reale

Pilar Revuelta, Eugenio Caballero - Oscar 2007

Achievement in art direction
Dreamgirls (DreamWorks and Paramount)
Art Direction: John Myhre
Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
The Good Shepherd (Universal)
Art Direction: Jeannine Oppewall
Set Decoration: Gretchen Rau and Leslie E. Rollins
* Pan's Labyrinth (Picturehouse)
Art Direction: Eugenio Caballero
Set Decoration: Pilar Revuelta
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista)
Art Direction: Rick Heinrichs
Set Decoration: Cheryl A. Carasik
The Prestige (Buena Vista)
Art Direction: Nathan Crowley
Set Decoration: Julie Ochipinti

Milena Canonero - Oscar 2007

Achievement in costume design
Curse of the Golden Flower (Sony Pictures Classics) Yee Chung Man
The Devil Wears Prada (20th Century Fox) Patricia Field
Dreamgirls (DreamWorks and Paramount) Sharen Davis
* Marie Antoinette (Sony Pictures Releasing) Milena Canonero
The Queen (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Consolata Boyle

Achievement in visual effects
* Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista)
John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall
Poseidon (Warner Bros.)
Boyd Shermis, Kim Libreri, Chaz Jarrett and John Frazier
Superman Returns (Warner Bros.)
Mark Stetson, Neil Corbould, Richard R. Hoover and Jon Thum

Achievement in sound editing
Apocalypto (Buena Vista)
Sean McCormack and Kami Asgar
Blood Diamond (Warner Bros.)
Lon Bender
Flags of Our Fathers (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by Paramount)
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
* Letters from Iwo Jima (Warner Bros.)
Alan Robert Murray
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista)
Christopher Boyes and George Watters II

Achievement in sound mixing
Apocalypto (Buena Vista)
Kevin O'Connell, Greg P. Russell and Fernando Camara
Blood Diamond (Warner Bros.)
Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Ivan Sharrock
* Dreamgirls (DreamWorks and Paramount)
Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer and Willie Burton
Flags of Our Fathers (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by Paramount)
John Reitz, Dave Campbell, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Buena Vista)
Paul Massey, Christopher Boyes and Lee Orloff

Montse Ribe, David Marti - Oscar 2007

Achievement in make-up
Apocalypto (Buena Vista) Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
Click (Sony Pictures Releasing) Kazuhiro Tsuji and Bill Corso
* Pan's Labyrinth (Picturehouse) David Marti and Montse Ribe

Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon - Oscar 2007

Best documentary short subject
* The Blood of Yingzhou District
A Thomas Lennon Films Production
Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon
Recycled Life
An Iwerks/Glad Production
Leslie Iwerks and Mike Glad
Rehearsing a Dream
A Simon & Goodman Picture Company Production
Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
Two Hands
A Crazy Boat Pictures Production
Nathaniel Kahn and Susan Rose Behr

Best animated short film
* The Danish Poet (National Film Board of Canada)
A Mikrofilm and National Film Board of Canada Production
Torill Kove
Lifted (Buena Vista)
A Pixar Animation Studios Production
Gary Rydstrom
The Little Matchgirl (Buena Vista)
A Walt Disney Pictures Production
Roger Allers and Don Hahn
Maestro (Szimplafilm)
A Kedd Production
Geza M. Toth
No Time for Nuts (20th Century Fox)
A Blue Sky Studios Production
Chris Renaud and Michael Thurmeier

Ari Sandel - Oscar 2007

Best live action short film
Binta y la gran idea / Binta and the Great Idea
A Peliculas Pendelton and Tus Ojos Production
Javier Fesser and Luis Manso
Éramos Pocos / One Too Many (Kimuak)
An Altube Filmeak Production
Borja Cobeaga
Helmer & Son
A Nordisk Film Production
Soren Pilmark and Kim Magnusson
The Saviour
An Australian Film Television and Radio School Production
Peter Templeman and Stuart Parkyn
* West Bank Story
An Ari Sandel, Pascal Vaguelsy, Amy Kim, Ravi Malhotra and Ashley Jordan Production
Ari Sandel

Ennio Morricone, Clint Eastwood - Oscar 2007

Honorary Academy Award: Ennio Morricone

Sherry Lansing - Oscar 2007

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: Sherry Lansing

Gordon E. Sawyer Award: Ray Feeney

Medal of Commendation: Richard Edlund

Award of Commendation:
Ioan Allen; J. Wayne Anderson; Mary Ann Anderson; Ted Costas; Paul R. Goldberg; Shawn Jones; Tom Kuhn; Dr. Alan Masson; Colin Mossman; Martin Richards; Frank Ricotta; Richard C. Sehlin
for their contributions to the environmentally responsible industry conversion from silver-based to cyan dye analog soundtracks.

Scientific and Engineering Award:
Dr. Bill Collis; Simon Robinson; Ben Kent; Anil Kokaram
for the design and development of the Furnace integrated suite of software tools that robustly utilizes temporal coherence for enhancing visual effects in motion picture sequences.
Phillip Feiner (Pacific Title and Art Studio); Jim Houston (Pacific Title and Art Studio); Denis Leconte (Pacific Title and Art Studio); Chris Bushman (Pacific Title and Art Studio)
for the design and development of the Rosetta process for creating digital YCM archival masters for digital film restoration.
Howard Preston; Mirko Kovacevic
for the design and engineering of the Preston Cinema Systems FI+Z wireless remote system.
Steve Sullivan; Colin Davidson; Max Chen; Francesco Callari
for the design and development of the ILM Image-based Modeling System.

Technical Achievement Award:
Bill Feightner (E-Film); Chris Edwards (E-Film)
for the design and development of the E-Film process for creating archival separations from digital image data.
Florian Kainz
for the design and engineering of OpenEXR, a software package implementing 16-bit, floating-point, high dynamic range image files.
Klemens Kehrer; Josef Handler; Thomas Smidek; Marc Shipman Mueller
for the design and development of the Arriflex 235 Camera System.
Peter Litwinowicz; Pierre Jasmin
for the design and development of the RE: Vision Effects family of software tools for optical flow-based image manipulation.
Joshua Pines (Technicolor Digital Intermediates); Chris Kutcka (Technicolor Digital Intermediates)
for the design and development of the TDI process for creating archival separations from digital image data.
Albert Ridilla; Papken Shahbazian; Ronald Belknap; Jay McGarrigle
for the design and development of the Hollywood Film Company Brumagic MPST Densitometer.
Walter Trauniger; Ernst Tschida
for the design and engineering of the Arri WRC wireless remote lens control system.
Christian Tschida (cmotion); Martin Waitz (cmotion)
for the design and engineering of the cmotion Wireless Remote System.


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2 Comments to Academy Awards: British Talent Tops Nominations + Pedro Almodóvar Snubbed

  1. Susan McFee

    My brother has a dystonic arm.
    We'd like to purchase Fleisher's “Two Hands” story on DVD.

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