By Heather Huntington & Jeff Otto
As the dog days of summer enter full bark, 2007 is already starting to slip away. And that means that half of the year's movies have come and gone, too. While the studios tend to save their sure-fire Oscar contenders for release in the latter part of the year (the Academy members have notoriously short memories), some of the year's Oscar-worthy offerings have already made their presence felt in the theaters.
We'll keep an eye on the buzz-worthy movies coming out in the ensuing months, but in the meantime, here are some of 2007's already-seen offerings that we have our eyes on for nominations or even--dare we predict--wins?
The thing that has stood out to me the most in the movies I've seen so far this year is strong female performances. Specifically, I was absolutely blown away by French actress Marion Cotillard's portrayal of chanteuse/icon Edith Piaf in last spring's La Vie en Rose. If there is any justice in the world, she should--without question--win the Oscar for Best Actress. But with Americans feeling the way they do about foreign film, I think her best chance is for a nomination, or possibly a win for Best Foreign Film.
The more likely shot at Best Actress in my opinion is Angelina Jolie as Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart. Sure, the movie didn't exactly kill at the box office, but that doesn't mean it wasn't good. And if you ask me, good acting + wig + accent + serious movie = a sure thing.
I also think director Adrienne Shelly has a shot at a Best Director or Best Picture nod for her bittersweet comedy, Waitress, about a small town waitress with a hard life and a big heart. The movie was a critical favorite and, as Shelly's last movie before her untimely death, it may stand out in the Academy's minds.
And for two no brainers, I'm going for Sicko for Best Documentary Feature and Ratatouille for Best Animated Feature. Love him or hate him, Michael Moore gives good documentary. And as one-sided as he may be, Sicko left me totally disturbed and plotting my move to Canada. As for Ratatouille, I was slightly underwhelmed by it, but I appear to be the only one. The response to it has been, by and large, through the roof. I don't think there's anyone around with the power to take down that lovable rat.
Heather, you ignorant s… Just kidding. I haven’t actually seen most of those so I cannot officially say you are wrong. I just assume it. But I thought Ratatouille was surprisingly flat. Of course, since there have been virtually no other decent animated flicks this year either, I have to admit you are probably right… And you know how much I hate admitting that.
My primary Oscar pick thus far is 3:10 to Yuma. Although I’d assume the Academy’s attention spans are indeed too short to remember a movie that releases on September 7th, it is the Best Picture of 2007 and unlikely to be topped. 3:10 to Yuma is an absolute classic of the genre and the best movie I’ve seen in years. I cannot imagine seeing a better movie in 2007. Did I mention I liked this movie? Crowe is great and stands a chance at a nomination for his sympathetic baddie, Ben Wade, but the Oscar-lock if there is any justice in Hollywood should be Ben Foster as Charlie Prince for Best Supporting Actor. His performance is absolutely stellar, an evil character who truly relishes being bad. You will see clips of his performance in best-of montages for years to come.
Christian Bale was also great in 3:10, but the movie he really deserves the Best Actor recognition for is Werner Herzog’s exceptional Vietnam P.O.W. tale, Rescue Dawn. This is a great movie that leaves very few dry eyes in the house during its exhausting 120 minutes. Steve Zahn is also fantastic in an unlikely dramatic turn, a performance easily worthy of a Best Supporting Actor nod.
Sunshine recently hit screens, and although I don’t seriously expect it to generate any true Oscar buzz (although it should), I hope Oscar can at least throw this terrific little sci-fi thriller a bone with some Best Visual Effects nominations. I loved the film as a whole, but at the very least I don’t see how anyone could claim that the visuals aren’t just as dazzling as anything seen in Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider-Man or whatever other forgettable Hollywood blockbuster usually gets those kinds of nominations.
Finally, we have Samuel L. Jackson’s best performance in more than a decade as aging bluesman Lazarus in Black Snake Moan. This movie got overlooked, but with the recent release on DVD, I implore you to give this one a chance. It’s amazing that this movie got made in the first place, much less to the tune of a major release. It’s strikingly different, a highly entertaining character piece that surprises from start to finish.
What do you think? Do you have any favorite movies of 2007 that you think we missed?
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