59 movies up for Oscars


Fifty-nine movies were chosen in 24 categories as Oscar nominees in a year which members of the Motion Picture Academy must have found challenging.

In several categories there were no surprises as the year 2006 saw favourites emerge. But eyebrows will be raised at a few choices.

Will Smith in The Pursuit Of Happyness and Forest Whitaker in The Last King Of Scotland were nominated, according to sources for the range of acting they displayed. Neither choice was a surprise. Nor were Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond, Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson and Peter O’Toole in Venus in the Best Actor category.

The long shot nomination was Djimon Hounsou for Blood Diamond in the Best Supporting Actor category, but a true bolt-from-the-blue was Mark Wahlberg’s nomination for The Departed in which Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio were the expected nominees in a rumoured controversy to have them as Best Supporting Actors instead of Best Actors. Wahlberg, who plays a policeman, became a contender in the last few days. Other Supporting Actor nominees were Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine, Jackie Earle Haley in Little Children and Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls.

In the Best Actress category, Penelope Cruz  is seen to have made a big comeback in Volver while Julie Dench in Notes on A Scandal, Helen Mirren in The Queen, Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada  and Kate Winslet in Little Children were expected nominations.

Two actresses from the same movie Babel won nominations as Best Supporting Actresses. Adriana Barraza plays a Mexican nanny in Babel, while Rinko Kikuchi acts as a deaf and dumb Japanese teenager. Notes On A Scandal had Cate Blanchett nominated in this category, but the feel good nominees were Jennifer Hudson in the musical Dreamgirls and the young girl who plays Little Miss Sunshine — Abigail Breslin.

The Best Director saw Martin Scorsese and The Departed being nominated for the sixth time, up against formidable competition like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Babel, Clint Eastwood’s Letters From Iwo Jima (which was rumoured to have been released in February), Stephen Frears’s The Queen and Paul Greengrass’s United 93.

Best Motion Picture of the year has five strong contenders. There is Babel, which has four stories connected by a single gunshot, The Departed which is a movie about the mob and two spies — one in the police department and one with the bad guys; Letters From Iwo Jima is the twin piece by Clint Eastwood to his Flags Of Our Fathers. Letters looks at the battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese stand point. The Queen is a British contender and is a biopic about Queen

Elizabeth II, the Royal family and Tony Blair in the week after Princess Diana’s

death. The long shot nominee was Little Miss Sunshine, a small independent film about the road trip of a dysfunctional family to a little girls talent contest.

Insiders were surprised when the Golden Globe winner Dreamgirls and it’s director Bill Condon didn’t make a showing. Other interesting nominations

were three out of five songs from Dreamgirls in the

Original Song category.

Two movies about 19th century magicians were nominated for Cinematography — The Illusionist and The Prestige. Both were touted as being best picture and best actor hopefuls.

For us on the subcontinent, the Hindi film Water is in the Best Foreign Language Film category. A surprise is Adam Sandler’s Click as a nominee for Achievement In Makeup and controversial is Sacha Baron Cohen’s nomination for Borat in Adapted Screenplay: People have already started questioning whether a supposedly “candid camera movie” improvised as it was shot deserved a slot. But bickerings will go on and nominated movies will rachet up lobbying until the February 25 79th Annual Academy Awards.