December 10, 2006
That LAFCA can entertain

Today and tomorrow mark my favourite two awards of the season. And I must say I'm quite pleased with part one. Mirren and Whitaker continue to build their deserved tallies. Sasha Baron Cohen is a brilliant off the wall choice. Paul Greengrass got a much needed boost. His name is now out there. Another "wtf" choice is chosen in Gheorghiu (Vera Farmiga last year, anyone?) and one of our greatest cinematographers, Emmanuel Lubezki, now has a major critics award to add to his resume.

No mentions whatsoever for "The Departed" is somewhat diconcerting. But, hey, weird stuff happens.

What does this mean Oscar-wise? Trends will emerge soon enough. Though "The Queen" is helped immensely, "Letters" is obviously at the front of the pack (as if we didn't know that already) and Greengrass probably gets the biggest boost.

Bring on New York!

Here is the full list from Variety:

Picture: "Letters From Iwo Jima"
Runner-up: "The Queen"

Director: Paul Greengrass, "United 93"
Runner-up: Clint Eastwood, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima"

Actor: Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat" and Forest Whitaker, "The Last King of Scotland" (tie) (no runner-up)

Actress: Helen Mirren, "The Queen"
Runner-up: Penelope Cruz, "Volver"

Supporting actor: Michael Sheen, "The Queen"
Runner-up: Sergi Lopez, "Pan's Labyrinth"

Supporting actress: Luminita Gheorghiu, "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu"
Runner-up: Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"

Screenplay: Peter Morgan, "The Queen"
Runner-up: Michael Arndt, "Little Miss Sunshine"

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, "Children of Men"
Runner-up: Tom Stern, "Flags of Our Fathers" and "Letters From Iwo Jima"

Production design: Eugenio Caballero, "Pan's Labyrinth"
Runner-up: Jim Clay and Geoffrey Kirkland, "Children of Men"

Music: Alexandre Desplat, "The Queen" and "The Painted Veil"
Runner-up: Thomas Newman, "The Good German" and "Little Children"

Foreign-language film: "The Lives of Others"
Runner-up: "Volver"

Documentary/non-fiction film: "An Inconvenient Truth"
Runner-up: "Darwin's Nightmare"

Animation: "Happy Feet"
Runner-up: "Cars"

Douglas Edwards experimental/independent film/video award: "Old Joy" (Kelly Reichardt) and "In Between Days" (So Yong Kim)

New generation award: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris (directors) and Michael Arndt (screenwriter), "Little Miss Sunshine"

Career achievement award (previously announced): Robert Mulligan


Letters from Iwo Jima is looking like this year's critics darling, which is going to be the death of it. Lost in Translation, Sideways, Brokeback Mountain...not a good line of films to be in.

And Whitaker and Mirren are now 5 for 5 with critics awards. JESUS.

It is all over the map. Untied believe it not is showing the strongest today as it did well in Boston, NY Online, D.C, and LA as Letters, Dreamgirls, and The Departed. Paul is way at front as lone director at the momeent.

"Letters" has won the two most important ones but I still don't think it's on its way to a "Brokeback"/"Sideways" sort of sweep. I reckon we'll still be seeing plenty of "The Queen" and "The Departed" (and maybe even "United 93").

The Borat award surprised me.

Gheorghiu a "wtf" choice? I mean, "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu" only won a major prize at Cannes in 2005 (from a jury headed by Alexander Payne), topped critics polls of undistributed films in Film Comment and Cinema Scope magazines prior to its release and received rave reviews from coast to coast (including a three-page spread courtesy of myself and Ella Taylor in the L.A. Weekly) when it was finally released this year. But I guess Gheorghiu still qualifies as a "wtf" choice because her win wasn't in the LAFCA tea leaves the last time you checked. That must mean that we're angling to land her leading roles in the next Martin Scorsese and Anthony Minghella pictures. Because surely, it couldn't mean that LAFCA members--unlike most of the self-appointed "industry analysts" who set the Awards season betting odds--actually see movies that aren't released by the studios or the studio-owned subsidiaries, and that Gheorghiu gave one of the year's best performances in one of them.

P.S.: When Farmiga won Best Actress last year, she had previously won the same award at a little festival called Sundance, where "Down to the Bone" had also won the dramatic directing prize. I guess that makes Sundance "out to lunch" as well. Or is it just that any movie that only grosses $20,000 at the U.S. boxoffice should automatically be disqualified from awards consideration. I'm not clear. Please enlighten me.

Scotty you've got bite. Doesn't change what was overheard.

I'm all for the Gheorghiu win, by the way. I'm also not all for making sweeping assumptions about what has and hasn't been seen by the contributors of this site. Fact remains, Gheorghiu is an off-the-wall choice and this group seems to like to go against the grain for reasons escaping most awards analysts (I seem to recall Nighy a few years back suddenly).

In any case, don't take it as disrespect, but yeah, snubbing "The Departed" across the boards makes this group "out to lunch," at least this year.

Gheorghiu is a "wtf" as she was TOTALLY off everyone's radar for a film most Americans had never heard of.

There's nothing instrinscly wrong with the win but the win but it still qualifies as a "wtf" choice.

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