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AndytheSaint - The Patron Saint of Bloggers
The Fourth Annual Andy Movie Awards - Part One 
23rd-Feb-2008 04:06 pm
Movies
When you waste this much time on a graphic, you have to re-use it

It's that time, once again, where your's truly breaks down who would be nominated for and win film awards if I were the only voter. As the title suggests, this is the fourth year in a row I've done this, with each year growing a bit bigger and more obsessive. This year, there were 39 different feature-length movies to receive Academy Award nominations, not including the Best Foreign Language category (which was made up exclusively of films that have yet to be released in North America). Of those 39, I saw 31 of them, which roughly equals 80%. The ones I missed include Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, Taxi to the Dark Side, and War Dance in the documentary category, as they haven't come to my neck of the woods yet, Enchanted and August Rush in the Best Original Song category (because I don't accept it as a legitimate category), Best Original Score nominee The Kite Runner (the only film I missed that I might have seen if I had a bit more time), Best Makeup nominee Norbit (because, well, come on), and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, nominated for Best Makeup and Visual Effects (since I haven't seen any of the Pirates movies). In all, I've seen 73 feature length films that were released in North America in 2007 (see the full list here, which probably makes me a more informed voter than most of the Academy.

To make this a little easier on readers (and thus, hopefully, create some readers and maybe even commenters), I'm breaking this year's awards up into two posts. So take in part one now, then come back for the finale, which will include the winner for Best Picture. For now, let's get all the seat-fillers in place, and start the show...


Best Actor in a Supporting Role
The nominees are...

Casey Affleck for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men
Robert Downey Jr for Zodiac
Tommy Lee Jones for No Country for Old Men
Max von Sydow for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

I think of all the snubs given to Zodiac, the biggest was the fact that they couldn't squeeze in a Robert Downey Jr nomination to honour the movie in some way, which convinces me that people just didn't remember the movie when filling out their ballots (instead, they decided to nominate Phillip Seymour Hoffman for his third best role of 2007). It was tough leaving Hal Holbrook for Into the Wild off my ballot (which becomes the most snubbed movie for the Andy Awards), as I thought he was a shoe-in when I saw his performance. But Max von Sydow snuck in at the end, out-saging Holbrook in the old-man-who-rips out-your-heart-with-a-devastatingly-sad-moment role. I've got no problem nominating two No Country guys here, and in fact, might've gone with three if I didn't decide that Josh Brolin is the film's nominal lead. Casey Affleck was very good as Robert Ford, one of those roles that isn't really a supporting role, but ends up there for awards purposes (it's a co-lead performance). You can talk yourself into an Affleck vote, downplaying Javier Bardem's performance as a muted killer. But the truth is that with Anton Chigurh, Bardem created one of the most powerful and memorable film characters in the past few years.

The award goes to...
Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men


Best Art Direction
The nominees are...
Atonement
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
The Golden Compass
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
There Will Be Blood

I replaced the Academy's nomination of American Gangster with Elizabeth: The Golden Age, as I surprised they showed no love for all those castles, dungeons and ship sets. But otherwise, my nominees are the same, mostly because I'm not overly invested in the category (that, and the Academy often does a decent job in the lesser categories, as I'm guessing that only people who care about them vote for them). I'm gonna go with Sweeney Todd for this one, even though I didn't care much for the movie. It certainly had an impressive set, transforming London into Tim Burton-land.

The award goes to...
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street


Best Foreign Language Film
The nominees are...

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Lives of Others
Offside
Persepolis
Vitus

First off, I should readdress the qualifications of the Andy Movie Awards. To be eligible, a film had to be released in my part of North America in 2007. For the foreign language category, it means that I needed the opportunity to see it, thus last year's Oscar winner The Lives of Others is eligible this year, as it wasn't released until 2007 (the same holds true for Offside and Vitus). None of the five Academy nominated films were released in North America in 2007, so they'll be eligible next year (as will 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, which I haven't seen yet).

I will say that this category is a bit of a disappointment for me, not because the above five aren't qualified, but because I had three foreign language films on their way to me this week, but none of them made it. It would've been nice to see if they ranked. As for what does, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a bit of grey area, as its director is American, as is its co-distributor Miramax. But, it's a French movie, starring mostly French actors, set in France, funded in part by French money. So it qualifies. I enjoyed Persepolis and Vitus (a Swiss film about a boy prodigy that I recommend as a feel-good movie) quite a bit, but this is a battle between Diving Bell and The Lives of Others. It's a close battle, but I'll go The Diving Bell and the Butterfly here for its beautiful creativity.

The award goes to...
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly


Best Original Song
Alright, time for my annual rant against this category. Basically, it only exists because the Oscars isn't just some awards delivery system, but primarily, it's a show. In order to make the telecast a little more interesting, they nominate five songs with increasingly more tenuous connection to movies (often the songs merely appear over credits sequences) so they can have five musical performances (or less if they go medley on us). Basically, you can tell the award is useless because it's the only award where you can make a completely informed decision on who should win without having seen a minute of the films they appear in (you just need to hear the songs).

Well, the Andy Awards are not a show, and don't need performances, so no Original Song award here (even if I hope "Falling Slowly" wins the Oscar). Instead, I've created a new award for this year: Best Musical Arrangement for a Film. The intent of this award is to recognize the movies that best used non-scored music to compliment their films, be it original creations or the use of previously recorded music to enhance the movie. A caveat is that this isn't simply the "Best Soundtrack" award, as it is designed to recognize how the songs worked in the movie, whereas many soundtracks fill up on songs that were never actually played in the film (but rather use the soundtracks as marketing tools).
Best Musical Arrangement for a Film
The nominees are...
Across the Universe
Black Snake Moan
I'm Not There
Juno
Once

I really like this idea, and think the Academy would be better served doing something like this (they could still have musical performances centred around the nominees). This was a great year for such an award, as there were a number of musicals and music-themed movies released. Part of the reason I didn't hate Across the Universe is that the musical arrangements were often quite good. It's hard to hate when listening to Beatles songs for an hour. I'm Not There did similar work with Bob Dylan's catalogue, while Black Snake Moan infused itself with the spirit of the blues. The music was a huge part of what made Juno work (an excellent example of how a non-musical, non-music themed movie can contend for this award), but there's only one choice for such an award in 2007: if you responded to Once, as so many have, you were basically responding to the music of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Without it, there's no movie.

The award goes to...
Once


Best Actress in a Supporting Role
The nominees are...

Cate Blanchett for I'm Not There
Jennifer Garner for Juno
Kelly Macdonald for No Country for Old Men
Saoirse Ronan for Atonement
Amy Ryan for Gone Baby Gone

Tough omissions in this group include Academy nominee Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton and Emily Mortimer in Lars and the Real Girl. Ruby Dee's Academy nomination is one of those lifetime achievement deals, since her part is about as unremarkable as it gets. Instead, she and Swinton are replaced here with Kelly Macdonald, who brought a lot of heart to the otherwise heartless No Country and Jennifer Garner, who made Juno work more than anyone but perhaps star Ellen Page. But the award comes down to Blanchett and Ryan for two very different performances. Blanchett's work was impressive, but it was more impersonation than anything (in fact, it was more impersonation than any of the other actors in the movie), while Amy Ryan is the stand-out in the very good Gone Baby Gone, creating a memorable and complex character.

The award goes to...
Amy Ryan for Gone Baby Gone


Best Original Score
The nominees are...
Marco Beltrami for 3:10 to Yuma
Michael Giacchino for Ratatouille
Jonny Greenwood for There Will Be Blood
Dario Marianelli for Atonement
Howard Shore for Eastern Promises

Some might think this is the other award someone could make an informed decision about without having seen a minute of the film, but who's going to go to the trouble of listening to a score without seeing the movie? Plus, a score can only be judged on how it enhances and serves the film. Jonny Greenwood's score for There Will Be Blood was disqualified by the Academy for using too many recycled themes or something, but here at the Andy's, we aren't that strict. Basically, if the credit on IMDb says "Original Music by", then it qualifies, making this a battle between he and Dario Marianelli for Atonement (to be sure, I downloaded four of the five nominees here, cause I'm that silly). Marianelli's brilliant idea of using a typewriter as percussive instrument for Briony's theme set all the themes of the movie in motion, but Greenwood's haunting score is an integral part to such a moody film, half-convincing me that it could've worked as a silent film.

The award goes to...
Jonny Greenwood for There Will Be Blood


Best Animated Feature
The nominees are...

Paprika
Persepolis
Ratatouille

Since my foreign language movies didn't show up in time for last minute viewings, I went out and rented Paprika in the chance that it would beef up my Animated nominees (it could've contended for foreign language, but I cheated and watched the English dub version. Hey, it's my first ever anime, so I had to ease into it). I'm glad I did, as it was a dazzling display of animation, along with a compelling, albeit strange story. Any other year, Persepolis would be a major contender for this award, with its unique animation, moving story, and timeliness, but this award is all Ratatouille's, one of my favourite movies to come along in the past few years.

The award goes to...
Ratatouille


Best Costume Design
The nominees are...
Across the Universe
Atonement
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Spider-Man 3
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

I thought the black Spidey suit was pretty cool, so that explains that nomination. But, this award is a fight between the period spectacle of Elizabeth: The Golden Age (which could aptly be described as "textile porn") and the not-as-old period garb of Atonement. Costume design was one of the few things Elizabeth: The Golden Age excelled at, but I'm going the other way here, if for no other reason than the green dress Keira Knightley wears to the dinner party, which is one of the more striking garments to be in movies in the past few years.

The award goes to...
Atonement


Best Documentary Feature
The nominees are...

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
No End in Sight
Sharkwater
Sicko
White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

A nice mix of docs here, with no big crossover hit dominating the category. Sicko is the closest to that description, but it never made the same splash Michael Moore's other films did, or did recent hit docs like The Inconvenient Truth or March of the Penguins. Here, it's probably the fifth nominee, and probably would've been knocked out of the race had I seen acclaimed documentaries like Lake of Fire, My Kid Could Paint That, or the other three Academy nominated films. I have to show some love to Sharkwater, since it's Canadian and all. It's really well made and got me interested in the plight of sharks, which was surprising. The King of Kong was one of the better movie-watching experiences of the year for me, so it was a strong contender, but ultimately, I have to go with the sober, analytical approach of No End in Sight, which I highly recommend to anyone looking for a reasoned description of the troubles in Iraq.

The award goes to...
No End in Sight

Click here for Part Two.

Related:
Inaugural Andy Movie Awards (2005)
Second Annual Andy Movie Awards (2006)
Third Annual Andy Movie Awards (2007)
Top 10 Movies for 2007
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