The Oscars have finally arrived, and whether you plan on enjoying them as best you can online or watching live on ABC, it’s an exciting night for movie buffs and fans of pretty dresses alike. The films nominated this year for Best Picture and Best Director are identical, and once you get past the nominees, all of whom are white men, it’s an interesting and diverse crew.
Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle has had one of the most experimental and varied careers a filmmaker can have without being Stanley Kubrick, and it’s fun to look back on his earlier work, which has the same raw quality that balanced out the more sugary elements of Slumdog. I tried to find a clip from Trainspotting that had the least possible amount of profanity in it (there will be no comparison here between the Worst Toilet in Scotland and an iconic Slumdog moment). But, that said, Ewan McGregor still gets really fired up about how much it stinks to be Scottish, so be warned.
Stephen Daldry very nearly wasn’t nominated this year for directing The Reader — not because of the film’s quality, but because The Reader was nearly delayed to 2009. Why? Well, this summer Daldry was busy directing the stage adaptation of his first film, Billy Elliot. Which meant overseeing the Billys as they learned to fly.
Ron Howard is enjoying his second Oscar nomination and third Golden Globe nomination for Best Director this year, which probably explains why he’s so popular among those with which he’s previously worked — including the cast of Arrested Development
When adapting his play Doubt for the screen, John Patrick Shanley was actually stepping behind the camera for the second time — the first being the 1990 film Joe vs. the Volcano (otherwise known as the very first Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy). While Joe wasn’t much of a financial success, the film was a stunningly visual work, making great use of color and sound to convey emotion. Watch this scene if you don’t believe me.
And Gus Van Sant has a long and interesting filmography, full of eclectic choices. But it’s important to remember that, as the director of Finding Forrester, he’s part of the creative team responsible for the phrase that birthed a major Internet meme: “You’re the man now, dog”. (Note: this clip gets annoying if you listen to it for more than five seconds.)
I know it’s not very Web 2.0 of me to get excited about the Oscars, but I can’t help it; besides the fact that a bunch of really pretty people wear a bunch of really pretty gowns, the night as a whole, when done right, is a true celebration of what gets people excited about the movies — and those who make them.