Oscar nominations came out this morning. The list is as snub-less as any I can remember. You have to dig down to the technical awards before you find the most abominable snub: Episode III being shut out of the technical nominations, except for Makeup Effects. That's an absolute travesty. The movie may have been a turd, but it's as technologically stunning as any movie that has ever been made without hobbits. To not even nominate is clearly meant as an insult.
I'm also a little surprised that Walk The Line didn't get a Best Picture nomination. Of the nominated movies I've seen (all but Munich) it was the best of the bunch. I personally think Crash was sort of an embarrassing pick... it's self-congratulatory and it's nothing close to a real . that I'd also throw out there that Capote wasn't nearly as deserving as WTL. I nearly fell asleep. The acting was great, but the story itself was kinda blah. That's a bit of a puzzler to me. But I kinda understand how it happened... Fox released Walk The Line too early. There's no way you're getting nominated when you release so far before Christmas, because the later Oscar bait will overshadow you.
So the Best Picture race is over, and probably Best Director as well. Brokeback Mountain will win. There's nothing else that's been embraced by the public, or that people agree is good, to the same extent as Brokeback. Crash has too many detractors, Good Night And Good Luck is a political statement by the Academy, Capote are too narrow, and Munich has been kind of a commercial disappointment. None of them have enough momentum.
The big race is Best Actor. Honestly, I don't think any of the five choices would count as a disappointment. Heath Ledger will be the one whose win would be most due to help from the film as a whole... but his performance was just as good as the others, and if anything was more creative in building a character (only he and Terrence Howard are playing fictional characters). The biggest underdog is David Strathairn, but he did no worse, and no showier, a job than the others. Philip Seymour Hoffman is a better actor, is probably the favorite, and gives a perfect performance. But Joaquin Phoenix was more perfect. To even sing like Johnny Cash, let alone look and act and talk and feel like Johnny Cash, is proof of how wholly he embodied the role. He's the gold standard by which "straight-ahead" biopics must be judged from here on out, and I think that merits recognition. Of course, I haven't seen Hustle & Flow yet, so Howard still has a chance to blow everyone else out of the water.