At last! We’ve come to my favorite part of the year — the part in which I give out my annual “best ofs” for the past year. I’ll be revealing the nominees in a series of posts, and the winners will be posted once the official ceremony happens in a couple weeks. (Yes, this is serious, legit stuff, folks.) We’ll start with the categories in the Miniseries or TV Movie subset. Alongside the individual nominees is a history of each competitor at the LCT Awards — how many times they’ve been nominated and won, if any:
Grey Gardens (HBO) – 6 nominations
Into the Storm (HBO) – 4 nominations
Little Dorrit (PBS) – 9 nominations
Prayers for Bobby (Lifetime) – 3 nominations
Taking Chance (HBO) – 3 nominations
Best Lead Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie
Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance (1st nomination)
Kenneth Branagh, Wallander (1st nomination)
Brendan Gleeson, Into the Storm (1st nomination)
Ryan Kelley, Prayers for Bobby (1st nomination)
Matthew McFadyen, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)
Best Lead Actress in a Miniseries/TV Movie
Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens (2nd nomination, 0 wins)
Claire Foy, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens (1st nomination)
Anna Paquin, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (2nd nomination, 1 win)
Sigourney Weaver, Prayers for Bobby (6th nomination, 0 wins)
Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries/TV Movie
Tom Courtenay, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)
Ken Howard, Grey Gardens (1st nomination)
Eddie Marsan, Little Dorrit (2nd nomination, 0 wins)
Andy Serkis, Little Dorrit (2nd nomination, 0 wins)
Goran Visnjic, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (3rd nomination, 0 wins)
Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries/TV Movie
Marcia Gay Harden, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (1st nomination)
Sue Johnston, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)
Janet McTeer, Into the Storm (1st nomination)
Judy Parfitt, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)
Jeanne Tripplehorn, Grey Gardens (1st nomination)
Best Original Score in a Miniseries/TV Movie
Howard Goodall, Into the Storm (1st nomination)
Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler (1st nomination)
John Lunn, Little Dorrit (1st nomination)
Rachel Portman, Grey Gardens (4th nomination, 0 wins)
Marcelo Zarvos, Taking Chance (1st nomination)
The music categories are up next, so stay tuned!
The Nominees: Barring the ultra-typical choice of Javier Bardem as both nominee and winner (which is still one of the most haunting and well-crafted characters I’ve yet seen), I stepped a little away from the ordinary in this particular category. Most of the Oscars’ choices I just didn’t understand the appeal to — Philip Seymour Hoffman was pretty one-note in Charlie Wilson’s War, Tom Wilkinson was majorly over-the-top in Michael Clayton, and Casey Affleck seemed pretty overrated for his performance in The Assassination of Jessie James. As for the rest of the crew, I opted for two forgotten performances in fairly lauded films — Dano and Sanders — and two forgotten performances whose films were just plain forgotten — Downey, Jr. and Zahn.
Revisions: I suppose the only one I’d consider nixing would probably be Zahn, though I think he gave a completely out-of-the-ordinary performance as the withering-away prisoner of war in Rescue Dawn. As for a replacement — I thoroughly enjoyed Hal Holbrook’s bit part in Into the Wild; Simon Pegg would be nothing without his other half, Nick Frost, in Hot Fuzz; and it surprises me that with the Juno awards attention that J.K. Simmons got completely overlooked.
The Nominees: Okay, folks, I’m proud of this category. Along with the Oscar-nominated turns from Cate Blanchett, the best Bob Dylan in I’m Not There, and Saoirse Ronan, the seemingly most surprisingly nuanced child performer of this decade, in Atonement, I managed to sneak in some great supporting performances in genre films that wouldn’t otherwise have gotten attention. For the action movie The Bourne Ultimatum, Joan Allen was great as the tentative yin to Matt Damon’s yang. For the romantic comedy Waitress, Adrienne Shelly was fantastic as the dorky best friend with a heart of gold. And for the children’s fantasy film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Imelda Staunton was devilishly delicious as the uber-cruel professor from hell.
Revisions: Well as opposed to committing too much to any particular group of 5 ladies, I’ll simply mention the other honorable ones that missed out on the nomination in 2007: Sigourney Weaver in The TV Set, Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton, Leslie Mann in Knocked Up, Allison Janney in Juno, Evanna Lynch in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Kristen Thomson in Away from Her.
The second half of the countdown is officially commencing with one of the funniest, zaniest flicks you’ll ever see, Some Like it Hot. Starring Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in some of their most enjoyable performances (though I’m not generally a huge Tony Curtis fan as a general rule), and Marilyn Monroe in a great comedic, romantic interest performance as Sugar Kane, a member of a traveling all-female musical troupe. We all know what goes down; Lemmon and Curtis’ characters end up in the wrong place at the wrong time and have to flee some violent mobsters. Their solution? To dress up in drag as female musicians Daphne and Josephine and join Monroe’s girl group on a tour. It’s a terribly funny physical comedy, but it astounds me, when thinking of the tough censorship that seemed to be the hallmark of 1950s cinema, that this movie, with its men in skirts and allusions to homosexuality (see the forever famous final scene), managed to make it to general audiences. Well we can all thank goodness that it did, as it’s still endlessly entertaining and quotable, and Monroe has never been more fun.
The Nominees: Ah, yes, we come to my favorite year of the decade. And let me tell you, it was probably the year in which choosing the Best Picture nominees was the hardest. I mixed my choices between popular awards fare (the sweeping epic Atonement and the funny, if over-written, pregnancy comedy Juno) and other worthy but mostly awards-less flicks (the fantastically song-scored Once, the visually stunning and darkly performed Sweeney Todd, and the suspenseful and well-crafted thriller Zodiac). And even though there were many other great candidates, these five are still admirable choices in my book.
Revisions: I’d likely keep the winner intact, still accompanied by Zodiac and Sweeney Todd. But Juno would probably be replaced with the criminally misplaced No Country for Old Men and Atonement would be swapped with the thrilling trilogy closer The Bourne Ultimatum.
The Nominees: For this category I opted for, with the exception of probably Day-Lewis and Depp, the forgotten lead performances in some great forgotten movies of the year. Damon was completely overlooked for his thinking person’s action star in the Bourne series, Pegg is the picture of buddy-cop satire in the hysterical Hot Fuzz, and Ruffalo (a constantly underestimated performer) was pure vintage ’70s cop in Zodiac. Depp was great fun, if not necessarily the greatest singer of all time, in the dark but whimsical move musical Sweeney Todd. And it’s hard to deny that Day-Lewis gave the performance of his career in 2007.
Revisions: Though I believe I’d keep this category the same (and the winner would probably stay strong as well), there would be some stiff competition from the likes of Josh Brolin in No Country for Old Men and Gordon Pinsent in Away from Her.
The Nominees: Yep, things got silly in Best Actress in 2007. Save for two, the ladies in the category include the wise-cracking pregnant teen – Ellen Page in Juno, the unshakably perky princess – Amy Adams in Enchanted, and the belting, toe-tapping high-schooler – Nikki Blonsky in Hairspray. The final two choices included Knightley, who has (along with Pride and Prejudice) managed to prove that she’s capable of delivering truly actorly performances. And finally, Julie Christie makes a comeback in a big way as a woman slowly losing her memory in Away from Her, a performance that was sadly overlooked by the Oscars.
Revisions: Though Blonsky and Knightley gave admirable (if polar opposite) performances, I’d be tempted to ditch them in favor of Helen Bonham Carter in Sweeney Todd, an assuredly fun and full-of-character take on Mrs. Lovett, and Keri Russell in Waitress, a truly movie-star turn from the otherwise TV-ridden actress.
The once-lauded Chicago may’ve lost some steam since it dominated the 2002 Academy Awards, but the backlash had absolutely no effect on my opinion of it. I still think it’s one of the best movie musicals, full of cocky, tastefully over-the-top performances, awesome period costumes, and a killer soundtrack with performers who can actually belt it (to varying degrees, of course). Referenced in previous posts here and here, Chicago may not have been the best of the year, but it featured some of the best performances in filmdom. Catherine Zeta-Jones has never been better before or since as the saucy minx Velma Kelly. She probably garners best in show cred for this flick. As for the rest, Queen Latifah is great fun with her big booming voice and likable screen presence; Renee Zellweger is at the top of her game (think Bridget Jones’ Diary) as the conniving, fame-hungry Roxie Hart; Richard Gere is at least good, which is something he doesn’t often manage; and John C. Reilly is admirable as the dumbstruck devoted husband. And with too many great musical numbers to mention, I’ll simply say that it has enough pizzazz for 10 musicals. (Plus, how great is that poster?!)