All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

TCU 360

All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

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And the nominees are…

Best Picture“Babel”

Starring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi, Babel portrays the interconnection of people, despite their physical and geographical boundaries. The film is, by far, the most likely Best Picture winner. Not only did the film take the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Drama in January, but it received more Oscar nominations than any other film this year. With seven total nominations, “Babel” is up for an Oscar in writing (original screenplay), music (score), film editing, directing and has two supporting actresses nominees (Barraza and Kikuchi).

“The Departed”

Martin Scorsese’s most recent film has received much critical praise since its release. Following the experiences of a police mole within a New York crime organization, “The Departed” features a star-studded cast that includes Leonard DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen. The film is also nominated in the categories of directing, editing, actor in a supporting role (Wahlberg) and writing (adapted screenplay).
“The Queen”

“The Queen” chronicles Queen Elizabeth’s reaction – or lack thereof – to the death of Princess Diana in 1997. Starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth and James Cromwell as Prince Phillip, the film was nominated in five other categories, including costume design, music (score), writing (original screenplay), best actress and directing. Although Mirren may stand a chance for a best actress win, as she took both the Screen Actors Guild award and the Golden Globe in the same category, the likelihood of The Queen winning Best Picture is very low.

“Letters from Iwo Jima”

Yet another Best Picture nomination for director Clint Eastwood, “Letters from Iwo Jima” examines the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima from a Japanese perspective. The film was also nominated for directing, sound editing and writing (original screenplay). Out of the five Best Picture nominees, “Letters from Iwo Jima” is by far, the least known and least likely to win the Oscar.

“Little Miss Sunshine”

The only comedy up for nomination this year, “Little Miss Sunshine” captures the journey of a young, awkward wanna-be pageant queen. The film stars Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin and 10-year-old Abigail Breslin, a nominee for best supporting actress. The film won the Golden Globe for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture and is also nominated in two other Oscar categories, including writing (original screenplay) and actor in a supporting role (Arkin).

Best Director

Clint Eastwood
“Letters from Iwo Jima”

Eastwood, the man made famous for his roles in Western films and as Dirty Harry, has been making a major name for himself as a director over the last two decades. From 1992’s “Unforgiven,” which won him his first Academy Award for Best Director, to 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby,” which gave him his second, Eastwood has risen above many other actors-turned-directors, but that may be his problem. While trying to legitimize his new station as a director, Eastwood’s films have all been unabashed stabs at Oscar glory. His two films of 2006, “Letters from Iwo Jima” and “Flags of Our Fathers” were well-done, but the nature of them isolates fans and are widely unwatched. “Million Dollar Baby,” which grossed more than $100 million domestically, is the exception. Until he can use his talents as a director to make a film the public truly feels is worth watching, his attempts at garnering another Oscar should fall by the wayside, much like his films.
Once again, the Academy Awards have decided to honor a film seemingly not on the basis of its overall appeal but rather on its message, no matter how stilted or obvious it might be. Inarritu’s third major film, “Babel,” follows four story lines set in three different areas of the world with four different languages. Just as last year’s Best Picture winner, “Crash,” was lauded for its portrayal of telling people that, yes, racism is actually a bad thing, “Babel” informs viewers that they are a part of a global society and language barriers do not mean people are necessarily different based on their ethnicities or linguistics. While covering the ensemble cast is well-done, to an extent, the film, as a whole, is unnecessary. Anyone living in this day and age should realize the world’s people are inherently similar in their thought patterns and interests. Did we really need a movie to tell us that? Inarritu and “Babel” – and “Crash” for that matter – do not deserve the honors the Academy Awards have bestowed upon them with a mere nomination, let alone an Oscar for Best Director.

Stephen Frears
“The Queen”

Taking a historic theme, Frears’ “The Queen” is not exactly a piece of directorial mastery. Although Helen Mirren’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth was meant to be sharp and dignified, the filming seemed just as static and unmoving. The movie is viewed much like a play as if the camera were set up in front of the characters. The acting and writing is superb, but some actual direction would have been nice. It would seem Frears, who did in fact come out of filming with an enjoyable picture, sat back and let everyone around him work while he just let the camera roll. And, just because the end product may be a good movie, everybody else’s hard work shouldn’t warrant Frears’ an Oscar.
With no survivors to tell them what truly happened aboard United flight 93, Greengrass and the others behind the film created a fictionalized retelling of the events, which were born upon rumors of heroism from the passengers who supposedly fought the hijackers intent on continuing the carnage of September 11. This is a film that didn’t need to be made. If the filmmakers wanted to remind viewers about the events, it was unneeded as there is almost no way that people have already forgotten what happened that day in September 2001. If they wanted to truly tell the tale of heroism in the skies, there is no way they could honestly do so since there is no substantial proof to the events heralded in the film. And a film that should never have seen the light of day doesn’t deserve to be honored by the Academy.

MaRtin Scorsese
“The Departed”

Although casting liberally outspoken Alec Baldwin as a conservative right-wingist in love with the Patriot Act was a nice politically-satirical touch, Scorsese’s “The Departed” is anything but a politically driven film, like the glut of recent Academy Award darlings. And, unlike many of the other nominees in this category, Scorsese has created a film both entertaining for a mass audience and done so with a touch of directorial panache. And, considering this film overall appeal from intellectuals to the average American Joe, Scorsese should finally have his Susan Lucci moment and take home the Oscar, a feat even Eminem has accomplished.

Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio
“Blood Diamond”

Considering the fact that DiCaprio should have easily won this category for his portrayal of Billy Costigan in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed,” if the Academy felt his role in “Blood Diamond” was better, then he should have an even easier time taking the golden statue for Best Actor.

Ryan Gosling
“Half Nelson”

Taking a turn from his “The Notebook” role, which thrust him into the hearts of innumerable teenage girls, Gosling portrays a high school teacher with a drug problem. Gosling’s depiction of Dan Dunne is realistic enough, but a role that has been so overplayed is not worthy of an Oscar, no matter the level of acting involved. Junkies, stereotypical or not, have been so overused that portraying one seems to take on no real imagination or thought. It is no longer a consideration of method acting. Just slip in a few movies and the character is created. All the guesswork and originality is gone. And so is the acting.

Peter O’Toole

O’Toole may be extremely well-cast in his portrayal of an aging actor – since he is one – but the question of whether a person pretty much just playing himself deserves an Oscar for acting is raised. Until people filmed in documentaries are honored or at least nominated in this category, O’Toole’s portrayal of Maurice, which is, in essence, a portrayal of himself set in a fictionalized setting, is not deserving of the award.

Will Smith
“The Pursuit of Happyness”

Just as is the case with his opponent in this category, Gosling, Smith’s role in “The Pursuit of Happyness” is something anyone who has been to the movies has seen numerous times before. Smith plays a down-and-out single father trying to overcome adversity and ascend into a higher class. While the film is a tearjerker at heart, Smith’s lack of originality in a role that has already been overused should make for an unhappy trip to the Oscars for Smith.

Forest Whitaker
“The Last King of Scotland”

Coming from a film that is widely unknown among the American public, Whitaker’s role in “The Last King of Scotland” should not be enough to warrant an Oscar win. At some point, the Academy needs to realize films are a form of entertainment and a movie that is not an indicator of that fact should not be honored with a win.

Best Actress

Penelope Cruz

Cruz portrays Raimunda, a Spanish woman who deals with a series of surprising events including hiding a dead body and the reappearance of her mother who died five years ago. This is her first Academy Award nomination and she is the second Spanish performer to be Oscar-nominated. Although this former Spanish soap star has won the best actress award for her performance in “Volver” at Cannes Film Festival, European Film Awards and Goya Awards, she is unlikely to take home an Oscar. Last year, she was named Actress of the Year at the Hollywood Film Festival.

Judi Dench –
“Notes on a Scandal”

Dench portrays Barbara Covett, a lonely teacher who becomes obsessed with a new teacher and catches her in an affair with a student. This is Dench’s sixth Academy Award nomination. She previously won best supporting actress for her eight-minute performance as Queen Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare in Love.” She has won many different awards for her past performances on film and theatre and shares the possibility with Meryl Streep to win this award after Helen Mirren.
Mirren portrays Queen Elizabeth after Princess Diana’s death and shows the changes the queen had to face with the British monarchy. She is the only actress to play Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II. At the Venice Film Festival, her performance for “The Queen” received a five-minute standing ovation. She has won the best actress award from the Screen Actors’ Guild and the Golden Globes and she is most likely to be victorious in this category.

Meryl Streep
“The Devil Wears Prada”

Streep portrays Miranda Priestly, the cold-hearted, difficult fashion editor whose outrageous demands make the lives of her two assistants a challenge. Streep said she wanted to learn the reason behind people vilifying women in such powerful positions and the pressure those women face. This is Streep’s 14th Academy Award nomination and she has won awards for her roles in “Sophie’s Choice” and “Kramer Vs. Kramer.” “Entertainment Weekly” named her the Best Modern Actress. Streep has a great chance of winning this award if Helen Mirren does not.

Kate Winslet
“Little Children”

Winslet portrays Sarah Pierce, a disconnected wife and mother who has an affair with a neighbor that could destroy both marriages. This is Winslet’s fifth Academy Award nomination. She is unlikely to win this category but can still take pride in being the youngest actress to receive that many nominations. She was nominated for best actress for her role in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” which she says was her favorite role. Winslet has won other awards for her performance in “Titanic” and “Sense and Sensibility.”

Best Supporting Actress

Adriana Barraza

Though Babel is coined as an “international film” and features English, Spanish and Japanese speaking characters, Barraza plays a mostly English-speaking role for the first time in her career. She portrays the loving nanny of two American children who, through an unexpected chain of events, loses everything she has worked for and gets deported back to Mexico. Barraza delivered a heart-breaking performance and, next to Jennifer Hudson, has a good chance of taking the award.

Cate Blanchett
“Notes on a Scandal”

Despite playing a supporting role in Babel, Cate Blanchett was instead nominated for her portrayal of an art teacher in the lesser-known “Notes on a Scandal.” In the film, Blanchett’s character engages in a love affair with one of her 15-year-old students and, in turn, becomes the subject of a fellow teacher’s obsessions. Though Blanchett has won the Best Supporting Actress award before — for “The Aviator” in 2004 – she is unlikely to win this year. Her castmate Judi Dench has a much better chance of winning her Oscar for Best Actress.

Abigail Breslin
“Little Miss Sunshine”

At only 10 years old, Abigail Breslin has appeared in more blockbusters than many of her fellow nominees. In 2002, she appeared with Mel Gibson in “Signs” and, two years later, in “Raising Helen” with Kate Hudson. Always playing a quirky character, Breslin is a memorable child actress. Though the chances of her winning the Oscar are fairly low, at her age, it truly is an honor just to be nominated in one of the big six categories.
Although Hudson was voted off of American Idol nearly three seasons ago, the public seems to have forgiven her. Amidst a cast of big-name stars such as Beyonce and Eddie Murphy, Hudson has been named the standout performance of the film for her portrayal of the talented, but overweight Motown singer Effie White. In January, she won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and more than likely she’ll win the category once again.

Rinko Kikuchi

In Babel, Rinko Kikuchi delivered an eerily realistic portrayal of a deaf and sexually frustrated teenage girl. After Babel’s release, Kikuchi’s was hailed by many critics as the next up-and-coming actress. She just recently signed on to do a new film “The Brothers Bloom” along with Adrien Brody, Rachel Weisz and Mark Ruffalo. Although her breakthrough performance may have opened the door to more opportunities, it’s likely not enough to garner an Oscar, especially considering her lack of on-screen time compared to the other nominees.

Best Supporting Actor


Arkin portrays a heroin-addicted grandpa who gets kicked out of his nursing home and joins his family on a road trip to his granddaughter’s beauty pageant in California. Directors almost declined Arkin the part because they thought he was too masculine for the role. He credits his big break as being part of the original company of Second City in Chicago. He has been nominated for best actor in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” and “The Russians are Coming the Russians are Coming.” This is Arkin’s third Academy Award nomination and next to Eddie Murphy has a good chance of taking the award.


Hayley portrays Ronnie J. McGorvey, a sex offender who is released from prison and causes panic and hatred in his new neighborhood. This is Hayley’s first Academy Award nomination and first film since his 12-year hiatus from acting. While he wasn’t acting, he was a limousine driver, furniture re-finisher, security officer and pizza delivery man. This comeback role has led him to win many of the critics’ choice awards, but he is unlikely to win this award.


Hounsou portrays Solomon Vandy, an African husband and family man who hopes to save his family through the sale of an enormous diamond. Hounsou had childhood dreams of being a professional soccer player, boxer or psychologist but never dreamed of working with Steven Spielberg or Leonardo DiCaprio. This model-turned-actor is the second male African to receive an Oscar nomination, but will unlikely win this category. This is his second Academy Award nomination and he was previously nominated for best supporting actor in “In America.”


Murphy portrays a black Motown singer named James “Thunder” Early, who, in the early 1960s is unable to make the crossover leap to the white music audience. This is Murphy’s first Academy Award nomination and he is known for comedies such as “Shrek,” “The Nutty Professor” and “Beverly Hills Cop.” This comedian, voted “Most Popular” in high school, credits his big break to his time as a cast member of “Saturday Night Live.” He has recently won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors’ Guild awards for best supporting actor in “Dreamgirls,” and is most likely to win this category.


Wahlberg portrays Sgt. Dignam, who places an undercover cadet in the mafia but is unaware one of his own men is in the same mafia working for its boss. As a teenager, Wahlberg pursued a life of petty crime and drugs before getting his break. Wahlberg left “New Kids on the Block” before they were famous and started up “Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.” This model-turned-singer-turned-actor credits this role as one he is most proud of. This is Wahlberg’s first Academy Award nomination, but director Martin Scorsese is most likely to take an Oscar for this movie.

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