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February 23, 2006 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-02-23

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a

a

I

Best supporting actress
By lmran Syed / Daily Arts Writer

Best supporti
By Sarah SchwartzI/ Dah

he best
support-
ing actress
award is
often con-
ferre;l by the
Academy
as a signal
of arrival

for rising starlets (Uma Thur-
man in 1994, Kate Winslet in
1996, Angelina Jolie in 2000)
on their way to becoming stars.
So it's not surprising that of the
2006 nominees, it's the three
young and beautiful first-time
nominated actresses who are
the favorites to win.
Perhaps slightly behind the
other two is Michele Williams,
who played the concerned, con-
fused wife of Heath Ledger's
Ennis Del Mar in "Brokeback
Mountain." Though she shone
in her inspired performance,
the film is likely to walk away
with a number of major awards
outside this category and the
Academy won't hesitate to
overlook her. On the other
hand, "Brokeback's" nomina-
tions could play out like "The
Return of the King" in 2004,
which swept up 11 awards,
including many it was not

t takes a
strong man to
play the role
of support-
ing actor. He
must contrib-
ute to the film
em while not
eclipsing the
leading man. It's not an easy
task, but five very talented
actors have been singled out by
the Academy as exemplars.
The most visible man in the
category this year is George
Clooney. He is nominated for
his portrayal of Bob Barnes, a
CIA operative in the explosive
"Syriana." It's a convincing
performance, and if the Acad-
emy rewards monumental
physical changes (see Charlize
Theron in "Monster"), look
for him to take home Oscar.
Besides the 20 pounds Cloo-
ney gained for the role, he also
comes to the race steeped in
goodwill for his directorial
effort, "Good Night, and Good
Luck."
But "Crash" has been gain-
ing momentum lately, and this
may help nominee Matt Dillon.
In the business for more than
15 years, his turn as a racist

CsousrtesyG of
Rachel Weisz is the favorite after her win at the Golden Globes.

LI
Courtesy of Focus Films

expected to win. Should Oscar
become similarly enamored
with "Brokeback," Williams
could pull an upset.
More likely to grab the gold,
however, is the little-known
Amy Adams, who played a
simple, kindhearted Southern
wife in "Junebug." Though this
is Adams's first major film,
she's a strong contender given
her flawless performance and
the Academy's fascination with
rewarding at least one perfor-
mance from a film that won't

Ang Lee is in consideration for best director for his work in "Brokeback Mountain."

Best director
By Kristin MacDonald , Daily Arts Writer

f there are some new faces
on this year's best direc-
tor ballot, don't mistake
their presence as being an
indication that the Acad-
emy is finally thinking
em outside the typical A-list
box. This year's lack of worthy selections
simply left Oscar little choice, reflected by
the fact that each of these directors' films
was also nominated for Best Picture. And
let's be honest, in any other year, "Capote"
and "Munich" would have ended up merely
liked, not lauded, by critics.
But what's done is done. At least the
right man will probably take Oscar home
at the end of the night. Ang Lee ("Broke-
back Mountain") currently stands as the
far-and-away favorite and has been since
Oscar talk started brewing. Lee pock-
eted nearly all of the other award season
hand outs, emerging victorious from the
Golden Globes, Directors Guild Awards
and National Board of Review, as well as
a multitude of various film critic associa-
tions. The platitudes, if abundant, are well
deserved - Lee deftly steers "Brokeback"
clear of the romance's potential schmaltz.
The film ends up patient and lyrically
understated. Though Lee freely explores
the relationship's aggressive physicality,
the so-called controversy of the movie's
content is driven more by the media than
stirred by the filmmaker himself.
A victory by George Clooney ("Good
Night, and Good Luck") would be no trag-
edy either. Although he is this group's
other justifiable candidate, Clooney will
probably end up overlooked due to his bet-
ter chances in the best original screenplay

and best supporting actor categories. Oscar
generally doesn't care to show one man too
much love, but Clooney's concise, finely
paced "Good Night" certainly merits it.
His artistic decisions on the film's visual
impact alone set the work apart, unroll-
ing its haze of '50s cigarette smoke in rich
black-and-white cinematography.
The efforts of the other contenders,
while commendable, are certainly weaker.
Take Bennett Miller: Frankly, his "Capo-
te" was solid but only mildly engaging,
and while Miller's work is composed and
fluid, the overall product lacks the nec-
essary punch for Oscar. Furthermore,
"Capote" is just about the only noteworthy
credit to Miller's name, which - though
making his award-season success remark-
able in this most name-driven of industries
- significantly lowers his chances against
the larger Hollywood figures of Lee and
Clooney. The nomination alone will have
to serve as Miller's award.
The tremendous power of sheer name
recognition in Hollywood is made oven
more obvious in the disappointing nomi-
nation of Steven Spielberg for "Munich."
The same film by a less-worshipped man
(Miller, for example) would have been dis-
missed by far more critics as the medio-
cre muddle it really was, rambling in
plot and unsure of its own point. Without
Spielberg's name on the credits, "Munich"
would have roused only a fraction of the
decidedly meager controversy it did excite.
Besides, Spielberg already has two direct-
ing Oscars for far more memorable films
("Schindler's List" and "Saving Private
Ryan"), and the Thalberg achievement
award to boot. A victory here would only

be an empty, repetitive recognition of his
long-cemented Hollywood deity status.
The nomination is confirmation enough.
The last entrant on this short ballot is
perhaps a few decades from Spielberg's
level of industry importance, though cer-
tainly promising. Paul Haggis's nomina-
tion is already a bit of a surprise - "Crash"
might be a good film, but in a less polished
way than the graceful drama of "Broke-
back" and "Good Night." Haggis seems to
be emerging as a rising star on the quality-
film scene, having written last year's criti-
cally celebrated "Million Dollar Baby" as
well as "Crash" itself.
Like Miller, the nomination alone
should be his award, though Haggis's

IMDb.com profile revealed a dirty lit-
tle career secret so wonderful it almost
makes him worth rooting for - back
in the '80s, Haggis served as one of the
original creators of Chuck Norris's out-
standingly awful "Walker, Texas Ranger."
Yep, you read correctly: The guy who cre-
ated one of the worst television programs
in the history of the medium might leave
the Kodak Theater with the highest award
for filmmaking in the industry. Even Hol-
lywood couldn't dream up a more poetic
indication of the industry's increasingly
downward slide - when the future's hope
for quality looks to the past's paramount
example of crap, the outlook is bleak
indeed.

O S C A R R A C E 2 0 0 6
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams JUNEBUG
Catherine Keener CAPOTE
Frances McDormand NORTH COUNTRY
e/ Rachel Weisz THE CONSTANT GARDENER
Michelle Williams BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

go on to win any other awards
(Jamie Foxx last year, Charlize
Theron and Renee Zellweger in
2004). And Adams isn't a total
dark horse; she won the best
supporting actress award from
the National Society of Film
Critics and tied with Williams
at the Broadcast Film Critics
Association awards.
In the end, it'll come down
to Adams and Rachel Weisz,
who played an explosively pas-
sionate humanitarian in one of
the year's best films, "The Con-
stant Gardener." The supreme-
ly talented Weisz has been the
frontrunner since her win at the
Golden Globes and also picked
up a Screen Actor's Guild
award along the way. Though
the award is Weisz's to lose,
and her performance was cer-
tainly deserving, this race isn't
a sure bet. Yet "The Constant
Gardener" has only one other
nomination in a major catego-
ry (best adapted screenplay)
and is likely to lose there. The
Academy won't bear to see this
exceptional film leave empty-
handed, giving. Weisz the extra
push to snag the statue.

O S C A R R A C E 2 0 (
BEST SUPPORTING ACT
g/ George Clooney SYRIANA
Matt Dillon CRASH
Paul Giamatti CINDERELLA MAN
Jake Gyllenhaal BROKEBACK MOUNTA
William Hurt A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

George Clooney plays
cop who finds a small
of redemption won th
his first Oscar nomin;
it turns into his movie
Dillon may reap the 1
but for now he remains
shot.
After being snubb
"Sideways" and "A
Splendor," Paul (
finally gets some n
tion for his role of Joe
in the Depression-era

O S C A R R A C E 2 0 0 6
BEST DIRECTOR.
Ang Lee BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
George Clooney GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK
Bennett Miller CAPOTE
Steven Spielberg MUNICH
V/ Paul Haggis CRASH

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