Tap-tap-tap. Is this thing still on?
Hi. My name is Erica, and this is my blog. I feel like we need to get re-aquainted. Sorry for the absence.

A Noble Quest
My friend Lisa and I try every year to see all the Acadamy Awards Best Picture Nominees (and as much within the other major categories) before the Oscars are announced. In light of that great quest, one night a week ago we headed over to her brother's house to watch...wait for it...Jackass II. I'm not doing so well in making the deadline this year, and this following last year's acheivement of seeing all I really needed/wanted to see before awards night. It's sad. However, I do want to give a few thoughts on the films I have seen so far. And the nominees are...

Babel // Actress in a Supporting Role (Adriana Barraza), Actress in a Supporting Role (Rinko Kikuchi), Directing, Editing, Original Score, Best Picture, Original Screenplay
This was a unique, thought-provoking and captivating story wonderfully acted, and yet it just didn't do it for me. I didn't really connect with or feel for any of the characters except Barraza's, so while I enjoyed the concept of the story and found the execution entertaining, I didn't walk away thinking that it was the best movie of the year.

Borat // Adapted Screenplay
Sacha Baron Cohen really should have been nominated for this role. Seriously. No one could have pulled that off the way Baron Cohen did; I don't think any actor could make something so comedically tragic. Comedy is hard, but the Academy doesn't like to reward it.

Cars // Animated Feature Film, Original Song
Cute. And they made Nascar-type racing interesting. That deserves an award of some kind, right?

Children of Men // Cinematography, Film Editing, Adapted Screenplay
That scene where Clive Owen is running through the street during the fighting and the tank driving and the shooting and the war stuff? All in one take? Woah. I don't know if that's because of the cinematographers' work or the editors', but that was impressive, and someone should be rewarded for it.

The Devil Wears Prada // Actress in a Leading Role (Meryl Streep), Achievement in Costume Design
I love Meryl Streep. I love her deep, silky voice. But somehow I just don't buy this as the best performance by an actress this year. Maybe it's just because I didn't buy Anne Hathaway as a journalist. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the peek into the workings of a high-powered NYC fashion mag. And let me tell you, from my experience working at a (not really) high-powered London (bridal) fashion mag, that's totally what it's like.

An Inconvenient Truth // Documentary, Original Song
If awards are based on the most influential film of the year, I'd have to say this one takes it, hands down. And it deserves it, too. I'll admit that I started falling alseep toward the end, though; I can only handle watching Al Gore for so long. I'm just glad it wasn't Bush giving a slideshow documentary. I wouldn't have lasted 20 minutes.

Jesus Camp // Documentary
I watched this film just days after An Inconvenient Truth, and there couldn't have been a more stark contrast. In one scene, the mother of one of the kids is teaching a science lesson during a home schooling session. She asks a question about what's wrong with global warming and the kid responds, "It's only gone up 0.6˚" Mom: "Yeah, it's not really a big problem, is it?"

Some day I'll get around to a more thorough commentary about this movie. In the meantime, you should watch it. The filmmakers really do a good job of impartiality. I think people from either side (religious right and progressive liberals) would watch the movie and feel like their side was supported.

Little Miss Sunshine // Actor in a Supporting Role (Alan Arkin), Actress in a Supporting Role (Abigail Breslin), Best Picture, Original Screenplay
This one gets my vote for Best Picture, and I think that for once, a comedy actually has a chance in a community that usually only rewards high-brow dramas. Maybe I'm partial because some of the scenes were filmed around Phoenix.

Marie Antoinette // Costume Design
Um. Blah. Except for the fun costumes, I was not a fan. It was too long and the music selection pissed me off.

Notes on a Scandal // Actress in a Leading Role (Judi Dench), Actress in a Supporting Role (Cate Blanchet), Original Score, Adapted Screenplay
Lisa and I just saw this one last night. I loved it. Loved it. Judi Dench is marvelous; Cate Blanchet is scrumptious (which I was much relieved to see after her insulting role as an unsympathetic American tourist in Morrocco in Babel); and the story is fascinating. I've got to read the book now.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest // Art Direction, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects
I'm a huge fan of the first Pirates, and this one didn't do much for me. It took the magic out of Johnny Depp's portrayal.

The Pursuit of Happyness // Actor in a Leading Role (Will Smith)
This was a nice, uplifting movie and Will Smith did a great job. Did you know he learned how to solve the rubik's cube for this role? I know, not as impressive of all the Forrest Whitaker went through to play Idi Amin, but I was somewhat impressed. The movie got a bit long for me, but overall I enjoyed it.

The Queen // Actress in a Leading Role (Helen Miren), Costume Design, Directing, Original Score, Best Picture, Original Screenplay
I love a movie that teaches you something about recent history that you never knew. I remember Diana dying. I remember the processional toward Westminster Abbey. I remember The Queen — I mean Elton — singing his new version of "Candle in the Wind". But I never knew much about the backstory and how bad the blood was between the Royals and the ex-Royal. So I found it fascinating. I thought Helen Miren did a wonderful and convincing job of playing Elizabeth II. Unfortunately, the actors who played Tony Blair and Prince Charles were total caricatures, and I felt that detracted from spot-on performance.

Volver // Actress in a Leading Role (Penélope Cruz)
I found this movie hilarious. It's hard to read subtitles when you're giggling. Penélope Cruz was lucious in this movie, though I'm not sure if it was enough to get her a Best Actress Oscar. Her tushy though, I think it was vying for Best Supporting Actress all on its own.

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