Sunday, February 24, 2008

Academy Awards Reactions

So, the Coen brothers dominated the night. I am not sure that it came as a surprise to anyone. With No Country for Old Men taking awards for best picture, director(s), and screenplay, it seems as though the awards had been a foregone conclusion since November of last year. However, the night offered many surprises, almost all of them pleasant.

Tilda Swinton’s win for her supporting work in Michael Clayton was particularly nice to see. If Clooney is the heart and Tom Wilkinson the soul, then Tilda Swinton is the blood and guts that keep the wheels turning in Tony Gilroy’s legal thriller, a film I called the best American film of the year (it being edged out for best film on my list by Le Scaphandre et le Papillon). Swinton’s work is devilishly understated and remarkably profound. That she received the award is a great boon to the academy’s membership.

Coming down to the wire, the right actress won in the best actress race tonight as well. Marion Cotillard gave perhaps the best performance of the decade (all due respect to Mr. Day-Lewis) as Edith Piaf in the underappreciated biopic La Vie en Rose. Not since Deniro in Raging Bull has an actor been so fully engulfed in a role. Her performance was screaming to be recognized, and it, thankfully, was.

Other surprises: The Bourne Ultimatum takes home awards in every category in which it is nominated, three in all; Taxi to the Dark Side wins best documentary (deservedly) over the heavily favored No End in Sight and Sicko; The Golden Compass awarded for best visual effects, and if I may say: where did that come from?

Moment of the Night: Jon Stewart brings original song winner Marketa Irglova back on stage to give her acceptance speech. Giving the little known performer her well deserved moment in the spotlight showed class all the way around.

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