Now I hate to admit this, but there are definitely times when I’ve regretted past decisions when it comes to films. In fact, thinking back on how I felt, let’s say, 12 years ago, not only have my tastes evolved, but I’ve seen countless more films than I had at the time. So in order to put things right and give myself a little update, it’s time to talk about 1998 – and the changes that reflect the years that have passed since…
Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love)
Best Lead Actress
The Original Line-Up
Drew Barrymore (Ever After), Sandra Bullock (Hope Floats)
Natasha Richardson (The Parent Trap)
Meg Ryan (You’ve Got Mail) [**WINNER**]
Reese Witherspoon (Pleasantville)
The New Top 5
Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth), Sandra Bullock (Hope Floats)
Fernanda Montenegro (Central Station) [**WINNER**]
Meg Ryan (You’ve Got Mail), Meryl Streep (One True Thing)
Emily Watson (Hilary and Jackie), Christina Ricci (The Opposite of Sex)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare in Love), Drew Barrymore (Ever After)
Reese Witherspoon (Pleasantville), Susan Sarandon (Stepmom)
Lindsay Lohan (The Parent Trap)
The Nominees: Ah, to remember a year when the Supporting Actor category wasn’t quite so slim pickens as 2009’s. In a relatively strong year for the category (in an otherwise fairly weak year for film), the five chosen men still seem like viable choices from great movies. Brolin and Franco play very different roles in the lead character’s life in the biopic standout Milk, Marsan nails the rigid driving instructor to a tee in Happy-Go-Lucky, Pitt is more charming than usual as the dunderheaded gym rat in Burn After Reading, and Ledger gave the performance of the year as the villainous Joker in The Dark Knight.
Revisions: Since I’m happy with this group of five, I’ll simply let you know what others would stand a shot at usurping spots in retrospect, most of them being rather silly, but perfectly acceptable (in my eyes) candidates – Gary Oldman in The Dark Knight, Russell Brand in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Danny McBride in Pineapple Express.
The Nominees: Thanks to a summer living in the big city, I was able to see a few harder to find, obscure foreign flicks in 2008 — hence my nod to Scott Thomas here, who was fantastic in the little-seen but wonderfully twisty-turny Tell No One. Thanks to living up the hype, awardsbait Cruz, Davis, and Tomei were included here. And in a nod to an underrated turn in one of the big awardy productions of the year, the last spot was filled by Swinton, who out-performed some of the showier roles in the sweeping epic, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Revisions: Though I totally appreciate Tomei’s work in The Wrestler, the understated performance would likely be bumped out by another understated performance, that of Rosemarie Dewitt’s in Rachel Getting Married, a criminally under-awarded turn. Along with the top five, though, there is a host of other notable performances that I thought were quite nice – Taraji P. Henson in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Misty Upham in Frozen River, Ari Graynor in Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Debra Winger in Rachel Getting Married, Cynthia Nixon in Sex and the City, Ellen Page in Smart People, and Hiam Abbass in The Visitor.
The Nominees: It’s only been a year since these nominees were decided upon, so it’s hard to believe that any of them would draw confusion, but here we go. Hands down, I was completely entranced by the insta-classic nature of the magnificent WALL-E, and I don’t foresee myself ever regretting that choice. Along with it is a fairly diverse group of films that include the gay-icon-biopic Milk, which was obviously buoyed by my love of anything Sean Penn does; the quirky British comedy Happy-Go-Lucky, which was obviously buoyed by my love of anything Mike Leigh does; the massive mega-hit and Oscar snubbee The Dark Knight, well, for obvious reasons; and the aging epic and Oscar favorite The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Revisions: It’s been merely a year, but I already have a little bit of doubt about the final five. Though I enjoyed Benjamin Button more than most backlash-happy movie-watchers seemed to after repeat viewings, the other four seem like much stronger candidates. As for a fifth slot, I’d likely replace it with either Frozen River or Rachel Getting Married, some gems that I’ve been able to better appreciate with age (albeit 12 months of it).
The Nominees: Let’s just begin this by saying how nice it was last year to have a nice roster of lead actor performances to choose from as opposed to this year where it felt like scrounging. As for these guys, Penn happens to be one of my favorite thesps, so his inclusion is pretty standard. As for the rest, Downey, Jr. managed his second of three consecutive nods in 2008 and is slowly becoming an annual LCT Awards fixture. Sheen was coming off of a lot of love for his 2006 award-winning performance in The Queen (I just didn’t think Frank Langella deserved all the attention for Frost/Nixon). Richard Jenkins’ subdued performance was right on key and, I thought, a star-making one. And DiCaprio (this his 8th nomination at my awards) generally has a pretty easy time making the shortlist.
Revisions: Penn, Downey, and Jenkins would likely have an easy time maintaining their spots, but Sheen and DiCaprio would have to face competition from other gents who at the time probably managed the sixth, seventh, and eighth spots – Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and James Franco in Pineapple Express.
The Nominees: Let’s just say this right away – I love this group of nominees, so whatever happens, I will always be pleased with the original decision. Winslet and Streep were typically powerful in their respective films, notably for very Oscary scenes and monologues throughout the flicks. And as for the three indie darlings that rounded out the top five, Hathaway was a surprising force as the addict and troublemaker in Rachel Getting Married, Leo was on-target as the desperate mother who turns to smuggling in Frozen River, and Hawkins was genuinely brilliant as goofy teacher Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky.
Revisions: As I kind of suspected, this group stays put. But my recollection of last years nomination decision included heavy competition from both Cate Blanchett in Benjamin Button (I tended against the critics and liked her the best in this movie) and Michelle Williams in Wendy and Lucy (a simple yet deeply saddening portrayal of a woman and her dog). The win’s still got to be Hawkins, though.
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 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 Nominees: 2006 was officially the year I went nutso for all things Little Miss Sunshine, as evidenced by both supporting categories here in this post (totaling 5 nominations between the two of them). And, frankly, I haven’t gotten sick of the movie, as it’s still one of my all-time favorites. As for the winner, I don’t think it was necessarily that the Sunshine boys canceled each other out, but rather that I so loved Michael Sheen’s Tony Blair in The Queen (and thought their was some heinous snubbing of his role come awards season). And I’d probably nominate Wahlberg for his “Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe f*** yourself.” line alone.
Revisions: And as most of this year has gone, I’d likely keep all of these guys in their positions. As for the closest to take spots? I’d opt for Jackie Earl Haley’s creepy loner sexual deviant in Little Children (a performance that’s hard to love but easy to admire in terms of difficulty in portrayal) and Stanley Tucci’s middle-aged fashionisto in The Devil Wears Prada (a performance that glued together the weakest points in the movie but was overshadowed by the ladies’). I believe the win would still be Sheen’s in this case, but I’ve grown to appreciate Alan Arkin’s potty-mouthed grandpa more with repeated viewings.
The Nominees: As far as supporting actresses go, 2006 seemed to be the year of comedy (or at least in the broad sense of the word). Blunt was devilishly fun as the overworked and snooty doting assistant; Breslin was a ball of adorableness as the pageant-obsessed quirky kid with an affinity for “Superfreak;” Collette was, as usual, a great fit for the tentative mother with the best intentions; and Streep was secretly wonderful as Yolanda Johnson, the folksy crooner from the Midwest, in A Prairie Home Companion (for more on that performance, see this post). And let the nay-sayers say what they will, but everyone was taken with Hudson’s performance in 2006. Even though some critics seem to have changed their minds about it, I stand strong in saying it’s a powerhouse performance that’s more than just a great set of pipes.
Revisions: Of these five ladies, the only one I’d consider altering would be Collette, if only that I’ve seen her better on several other occasions. As for possible replacements? Well, let’s take a look at the hosts of other potential supporting performances (of which there were quite a few): Adriana Barraza in Babel, Clare-Hope Ashitey in Children of Men, Vera Farmiga in The Departed, Catherine O’Hara in For Your Consideration, Lily Tomlin in A Prairie Home Companion, and Carmen Maura in Volver. Take your pick.