Best Live Action Short Film, Best Animated Short Film, & Best Documentary Short
I haven't actually seen any of the films nominated in these categories (with the exception of Pixar's animated short, Presto, thanks to their inclusion of shorts on DVDs or with their theatrical releases). Don't get me wrong. I'd love to see them, but I wouldn't have the first clue how to without the benefit of being an Academy member. I always just pick based on the names I like best. Which, in these cases are:
- Live Action Short: "Manon on the Asphalt” (La Luna Productions), A La Luna Production, Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
- Best Animated Short: “Presto” (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production, Doug Sweetland
- Best Documentary Short: “Smile Pinki” A Principe Production, Megan Mylan
- “The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)” (Cinema Guild), A Pandinlao Films Production, Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
- “Encounters at the End of the World” (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment), A Creative Differences Production, Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser
- “The Garden” A Black Valley Films Production, Scott Hamilton Kennedy
- “Man on Wire” (Magnolia Pictures), A Wall to Wall Production, James Marsh and Simon Chinn
- “Trouble the Water” (Zeitgeist Films), An Elsewhere Films Production, Tia Lessin and Carl Deal
People love this film. It even beat out Slumdog Millionaire at the BAFTAs for Outstanding British Film. It's the only one of the documentaries I was able to see prior to the ceremony, and I thought it was pretty great, too. The "characters" were really interesting, and the story was well-told (avoiding that "dry" feeling a lot of docs have). If you haven't seen it, it's well worth checking out.
Best Animated Film
- “Bolt” (Walt Disney), Chris Williams and Byron Howard
- “Kung Fu Panda” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount), John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
- “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Andrew Stanton
Only one of these films has people upset (including me) that it didn't get nominated for Best Picture, and that's Wall-E. I thought Kung Fu Panda was surprisingly delightful, but it feels like it belongs in this category. If this is the closest Wall-E can get to Best Picture, I guess it'll have to do.
Best Foreign Film
- “The Baader Meinhof Complex” A Constantin Film Production, Germany
- “The Class” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Haut et Court Production, France
- “Departures” (Regent Releasing), A Departures Film Partners Production, Japan
- “Revanche” (Janus Films), A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production, Austria
- “Waltz with Bashir” (Sony Pictures Classics), A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production, Israel
Sadly, I haven't gotten the chance to see any of these either. Animated drama Waltz with Bashir seems to have the most buzz going in, though The Class could be a dark horse.
- “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), A Kennedy/Marshall Production, Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
- “Frost/Nixon” (Universal), A Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment and Working Title Production,Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Eric Fellner, Producers
- "Milk" (Focus Features), A Groundswell and Jinks/Cohen Company Production, Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, Producers
- “The Reader” (The Weinstein Company), A Mirage Enterprises and Neunte Babelsberg Film GmbH Production, Nominees to be determined
- “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A Celador Films Production,Christian Colson, Producer
I'm still flummoxed that The Reader made it onto this list instead of Wall-E, The Dark Knight, or even Revolutionary Road if the Academy wanted to stick with Oscar bait. But that's how the cookie crumbles. Out of the five nominees, only Frost/Nixon scored my oh-so-coveted five-star rating. That being said, if I'd gone into Slumdog Millionaire without such high expectations thanks to all the buzz, it might have garnered a fifth star, too. I'll be perfectly content with another Slumdog victory.
That sums it all up, folks! And just in time! I meant to do these at a more evenly staggered pace, but work and life have a way of throwing off the best-laid plans. :-) The Oscars air tomorrow night (Sunday) at 8 Eastern/7 Central/5 Pacific on ABC.