oscar prognosticating


The Academy Award nominees are a worthy but scattered bunch this year, and anyone who confidently tells you they know what’s going to happen is not to be trusted. I, by contrast, make a bid for your confidence by openly acknowledging that my guesses are entirely uneducated, and you could probably fare well by betting against them in your office Oscar pool.

The good news is that, with a few exceptions, the Academy seems to have screwed up less than usual. 2007 was a very strong year for film, and the Oscar nominees do a solid job of reflecting this. If there’s a major complaint to be made this year, it’s with the abstruse rules that govern eligibility in certain categories–in particular, best score and best foreign-language film. In the former category, Jonny Greenwood’s stunning, vital, utterly original score for There Will Be Blood was deemed ineligible for containing too many bits of music not written for the film, ensuring the ludicrous outcome that by far the best score of the year is not even nominated. The foreign film category is an even sorrier sight, with the year’s most celebrated offerings (Four Months, Three Weeks, and Two Days; Persepolis; The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Lust, Caution; La Vie En Rose; The Orphanage; etc.) not making it, for one reason or another, to the “short list” of nine films from which the five finalists were chosen. (The foreign film rules, which are particularly convoluted, are explained here.) I’d especially like to put in a plug for Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days, which I saw too late to include in my end of the year list, but would have belonged near the top. It is a marvel of cinematic intimacy, grim and unsparing yet not without hope. If The Lives of Others, the 2006 spellbinder about life behind the Iron Curtain, captured the institutional oppressions of totalitarian rule, Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days captures the ways in which it turns people into their own oppressors.

more from TNR here.