The Oscar nominations are out and for the first time in Idonotknowhowlong, The Monk has seen most of the Best Picture nominees: Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen and The Departed (the others are Babel and Letters from Iwo Jima). Personally, I'm pulling for The Departed.
The whole list is available by clicking the title of this post. Some quick comments:
(1) The Monk is cheering for Jennifer Hudson to win a little gold man. She carried EVERY scene that contained her character in Dreamgirls. The Monk understands the logic behind the studio's decision in positioning Hudson in the Best Supporting Actress category, but there was no justification to deem Beyonce the lead in the movie or push for her in Best Actress. Also nice to see Abigail Breslin, the young girl Olive in Little Miss Sunshine (and the little girl with water issues in M. Night Shyamalan's Signs) get a nod in this category.
(2) The Monk is also cheering on Eddie Murphy and Forest Whitaker. Murphy had a great turn as the James Brown figure in Dreamgirls and showed the full range of happy-to-dismal of a bipolar drug addict very well. Whitaker, a veteran known for big teddy bear or ugly tough guy roles (he's listed on IMDB.com as 6-2 and 220, but he's been 250+ for years) blew away the critics in his portrayal of Idi Amin. The Monkette and I have The Last King of Scotland on our list for next weekend. Hudson, Whitaker and Murphy are the favorites to win in their categories -- three black winners in the acting categories would be a first in the Oscars.
(3) Monkette and I saw The Queen last weekend and I don't envy the task Helen Mirren undertook in playing one of the most respected and respectable public figures of our time. She's the bet-the-house favorite to win a little gold man as Best Actress, and probably should be. The movie itself is unworthy of Best Picture when cast against The Departed. The script is fine but the casting is really poor -- other than Dame Helen and Michael Sheen (PM Tony Blair), and to a lesser degree James Cromwell as HRH Prince Philip, the Prince Consort, the rest of the actors are terribly miscast. The woman who plays HRM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was much heavier than the late Queen Mum, walked stooped over whereas the Queen Mum was upright nearly to her final days, and looked nothing like Mirren (the Queen Mum's first daughter bore her a striking resemblance); the woman who played Cherie Blair was brassy and normal-sized, Mrs. Blair is thin and screechy; the man who played HRH Prince Charles looked like Lady Diana's brother, not like her ex-husband. Even getting past all those flaws, The Monk was still appalled by the maudlin reaction of the British after Diana's death.