Editor’s note: Welcome to the fifteenth of a multi-part series dissecting the 2008 Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every weekday leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category (or more) of the Oscars (there are 24 in all). To read any other posts regarding this event, please just click on the tag following the post. Thank you, and enjoy!
By Tony Tanti of Watch It.
I know many will agree with me that there is nothing as important to a movie as its director. Great directing alone can never make a great movie, but there is so much depending on the director getting it right. The pacing, the tone, the overall look and even the motivation of the actors are all in the hands of the director, and though a great director cannot single-handedly make a great movie, a bad director can certainly single-handedly ruin one.
I’ve heard many people complain each year that the Best Director list is not the same as the Best Picture list; to me this has always made sense though. It is not a stretch to imagine a movie with outstanding directing which when compared to others may not provide the same level of the many other important aspects of a great movie. This year, the Best Picture and Best Director lists are almost identical save for one exception.
This year’s Oscar nominees for Best Director are as follows:
Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (the exception)
Jason Reitman for Juno
Tony Gilroy for Michael Clayton
Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men
Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood
I will say right at the outset that I think it is ridiculous that Andrew Dominik was not nominated here for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The directing in this movie is among the best I’ve seen for years. I suppose it would be hard to know which of the nominees to remove in its place, but with the awards show being long winded as it is, I suspect the Academy just couldn’t be bothered to be reciting the title over and over on Oscar night.
There is only one movie on the nominee list that I had not seen anything about before hearing it was nominated and that is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. After taking a look at some clips and trailers, I can certainly see the reason for this nomination. Schnabel appears to be bringing very unique and breathtaking directing into the industry. Though I haven’t seen this movie yet, I plan to now and it’s always great to see someone pushing the creative envelope a bit and growing the art from.
My heart tells me to pull for my fellow countryman Jason Reitman on Oscar night, though, to be honest, among this list Juno seems the most out of place. It was well directed for sure and Reitman’s talent deserves to be acknowledged but I’m not convinced the directing in Juno deserves to be in the running here.
Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood are all great examples of what this particular Oscar is all about. Gritty tone, amazing imagery and fantastic pacing permeate through them all. It would be a major upset if one of these three does not come away with the award.
I’m predicting that the Coen brothers take this one. No Country for Old Men has been almost universally hailed by critics and I think it narrowly edges out the other nominees in what was a very good year.