Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Well...that's a bummer

There I was, driving home, and all set to blog about some more really crappy-sounding reality shows that are upcoming, when I get a phone call from one of the Queen's loyal subjects, Mindy, telling me that Heath Ledger was found dead in his apartment. "What? You've got to be (bleeping) kidding me!" was my immediate response. And, really, I think we all know he was a fairly eccentric guy, and it surprises exactly no one that he had a substance abuse problem, but the guy was rapidly becoming a damn fine actor. He'd come quite a long way from 10 Things I Hate About You to his acclaimed and heartbreaking performance in Brokeback Mountain. As I understand it, he has at least two more films in the can, the biggest by far being The Dark Knight, wherin he dares to take on the iconic Jack Nicholson by playing a younger, creepier, eminently more psychotic version of The Joker. And from the trailer, it looks like he succeeds.

With his untimely death, the movie becomes an even bigger draw than it would have been (which was already HUGE), as well as an eerie tableau to the star's life. It will be fascinating (to me anyway) to see how this all unfolds. Is it like, Belushi, Phoenix and Farley all over again, or something else entirely?

On another movie-related note, the Oscar nominations were announced today for a show that may not necessarily go on (read my piece on award shows in danger here). I'm always behind on movies, so I can only add my joy at Juno getting nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actress and Original Screenplay. And send EJ my condolences on the fact that The Simpsons Movie got dissed in a big way. That's crap. They couldn't nominate a fourth animated feature? And I'm sorry, Ratatouille was cute, in its way, but it's never going to be OK for a kitchen to be teeming with rats, even if they've all washed their hands. A quick look at the top categories, based almost 100% on what I've read and heard, breaks down this way:

--It would seem Best Picture will come down to There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men, two movies I will see when I have approximately nine hours to kill.
--Best actor has to be between two Oscar darlings: George Clooney, the matinee idol, and Daniel Day-Lewis, who is batshit crazy and scares people he works with, but is an amazing actor.
--I'd say Best Actress is sort of wide open, with an eclectic group of performances, so I will openly root for Ellen Page, which would be super cool, and Laura Linney, who always rocks. The Savages looks like a great movie.
--Best Director is often a puzzler, with some movies getting nominated for Best Picture, without the Director making the short list. This year, that movie is Atonement. The rest match up. I'll root for Jason Reitman, of course, but I'm guessing he won't get the nod.
--I'd say both supporting categories go to the old-timers, in Hal Holbrook and Ruby Dee, but really I have no idea. Did you ever think you'd see the day that Casey Affleck got an Oscar nomination? After 200 Cigarettes, I kinda figured it was over. Shows what I know.


EJ said...

I didn't really think of Heath Ledger as having a particularly wild life. I had never heard of him having problems. It's just sad and surprising.

And there's no good segue to cartoons, but here we go. The number of nominations in a category is determined by the number of eligible films. Obviously, that's not a problem in most categories -- since most movies have actors and directors and scripts and cameras and such, those categories are allowed the maximum five nominations. In the Animated Film category, there are usually between ten and twelve eligible films each year. If there were twenty (I think), they'd be allowed four nominations. I'm just horrified that "Surf's Up" was chosen as the cream of the crop.

Obviously, if "The Simpsons Movie" had been nominated, I'd be rooting for them. However, I do think that "Ratatouille" was one of the best movies of the year. Pixar always has such solid storytelling and character work, and this one in particular had a really provocative thesis that I'm still internally debating: Is a creative work, regardless of quality, inherently superior to any attempt at criticism of the work? I thought that was a really bold idea to toss into a movie about rodents, and I can't decide how I feel.

In summation: D'oh!

Myndi said...

Re: Heath. When I typed this, things were looking pretty suspicious, and given the artistic lifestyle many actors lead, with drugs and such, I pretty much jumped to a conclusion that I'd pretty happy to find was completely wrong. I'm humble like that.

As far as the Oscars, I did not know that! I guess it makes sense, but yeah, I can't imagine people thinking Surf's Up is superior to Simpsons in any way. I will agree Ratatouille is amazing looking and bold as far as it's choice of story, but I don't think it holds up as well as most previous Pixar films overall, and is nowhere near as interesting or multi-layered as Brad Bird's earlier triumph, The Incredibles.

EJ said...

Well, everything's moderately disappointing when you compare it to "The Incredibles". I could never be a father, because deep down, I know that the actual birth of my first child would be a serious letdown when I inevitably compared it to "The Incredibles".

That's one of my favorite movies ever. Just more evidence that we're sharing a brain, I think.

Myndi said...

But maybe the kid'll be like Jack-Jack! (I don't think my daughter has ever laughed harder than when he burst into flames. Good times, good times...)