The National Board of Review has announced its awards for the year, officially officially kicking off awards season â€” stragglers beware! We won’t reprint them, as they’re everywhere, but you can find the list here. Best Film is Clint Eastwood‘s "Letters From Iwo Jima" â€” what does it mean? Ah, nothing much.
At the New York Post, Lou Lumenick writes that "the Best Actress field is the strongest in the two decades I’ve been handicapping these things." He goes on to handicap several other categories, while over at the LA Times‘ Envelope, Greg Braxton proclaims that "[a]lmost a year after the racially tinged ‘Crash’ scored a best picture upset at the Academy Awards, deep explorations of nonwhite cultures have dominated the silver screen as have a number of ethnic performers who have delivered penetrating, emotional portrayals." Some of the actors of whom he takes special note are Forest Whitaker (for "The Last King of Scotland"), Shareeka Epps ("Half Nelson"), Jennifer Hudson ("Dreamgirls") and, naturally, minority icon PenÃ©lope Cruz, who’s proved a real inspiration for the long-underrepresented peoples of Europe.
David Carr at the New York Times finds that the prevailing theme of this Oscar season is violence: "Academy members in the thick of screenings for the Oscars could be forgiven for wishing they had donned surgical scrubs for what has become a very bloody year." "The Departed," "Blood Diamond," "The Last King of Scotland," "Apocalypto" and on, and why?
â€œThese are bloody, serious times,â€ said David Thomson, film historian and author of â€œThe Whole Equation,â€ among other books. â€œThere are extraordinary cruelties out there in the real word â€” bodies hung on bridges, Daniel Pearl being murdered â€” and I think thatâ€™s why torture has come into our entertainments in a serious way. There is a truthfulness to it that audiences seem to be responding to.â€
At the Risky Biz blog, Anne Thompson makes similar observations about the films in her UCLA Sneak Previews class, most of which are in the same award-contending field:
Perhaps the movie most disturbing to the class was Pan’s Labyrinth, a magical fairy tale about how an innocent young girl deals with the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. The movie creates an imaginary underground world of fantastical beauty, while also not stinting on showing the horrors of fascism, sadism and war.
In other award happenings, "Ten Canoes," Australia’s first-ever indigenous language feature film and the winner of the Un Certain Regard jury prize at Cannes, won six awards at the 48th annual Australian Film Institute Awards, including best picture and best direction (Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr). The film will be released in the US by Palm Pictures, someday. Via The Australian.
+ Awards for 2006 (NBRMP.org)
+ GOLDEN GIRLS (NY Post)
+ Minority report (LA Times)
+ Stalking Oscar, With Carnage and Mayhem Galore (NY Times)
+ A Violent Season at the Movies (Risky Biz Blog)
+ Ten Canoes wins AFI best film award (The Australian)