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The Oscar Nominees

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Oscar statuettes. (By Paul Hawthorne -- Getty Images)

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Desson Thomson
Washington Post Film Critic
Tuesday, January 22, 2008; 12:30 PM

Washington Post film critic Desson Thomson will be online Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 12:30 p.m. ET to discuss this year's Academy Award nominations. The nominees will be announced that morning.

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Which films got the most nods? Who looks to be a front-runner? And, perhaps most importantly, who got snubbed? Thomson will address all of those issues and more.

Thomson, a movie critic at The Washington Post for 15 years, was raised in England where he was entranced, like most, by Hollywood movies. It was a visit to see David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia," that made him realize movies had to be a part of his life.

A transcript follows.

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Desson Thomson: Well, now you seen 'em, now you get stuck in. Go on. What makes you happy and what makes you mad? Who or what was snubbed and who or what was a waste of kudo space? The Oscars are upon us, and the infernal season of campaigning begins. And I give you fair warning: I am the worst predictor in the business. I am no friend of the Bookies or anyone looking for an inside tip. What are your responses to today's nominations?

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College Park, Md.: How do you feel about the Jason Reitman nomination? I admit to strongly disliking the film, but I can certainly understand those who extol it for its screenplay or its lead performance from Ellen Page. The one fatal flaw of the film is that it didn't seem well-directed at all, as though Reitman gave up and let the actors have a field day with Cody's script.

With so many great directorial choices this year (Lumet, Penn, Burton, Fincher), why did the Academy choose the inexperienced Reitman?

Desson Thomson: I don't want to slag anyone as we say in England but I was very surprised to see that nomination. There are many great candidates for best director as you mention. (Think how many times Spielberg and Scorsese have been denied the award, and in some cases, even a nom.) I think there's a certain giddiness around Juno that's a combination of it being good entertainment but also coming at the right time. This movie peaked at just the right time.

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McLean, Va.: What is your opinion on the exclusion of "The Kite Runner" from the list of Best Picture nominations? I believe that the exclusion of "The Kite Runner" from this list is a major oversight on the part of the Academy.

Thank you,

P.S.

Desson Thomson: You are right, in that Kite Runner was a viable candidate. I can only say that, by definition, there will be "snubs." You'll also notice that "American Gangster" and "The Great Debators" failed to get noms for their stars, or as best picture. And if Viggo gets a nom for Eastern Promises, why doesn't the movie. And here's my disappointment for best pic: Zodiac. That movie made the mistake of getting released too early in the year for the attention deficits of the Academy.

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Aspen Hill, Md.: Hi Desson. I said before and I'll say it again: Christian Bale was sorely overlooked for a Best Actor nod for his portrayal of Dieter Dengler in "Rescue Dawn."

Desson Thomson: I agree, that was a strong performance.

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Washington, D.C.: I wanted to say that I'm glad Tilda Swinton was nominated. I've been a big fan of hers for years and I'm happy to see her get the recognition she deserves.

Desson Thomson: Me too. I think she's a terrific actress. This is well deserved. And what it's worth I think she'll win too/.

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No Big Surprises: But yay for Juno!

Desson Thomson: Those guys are turning cartwheels, right?

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Go Viggo: Just watched "Eastern Promises," so I can say Viggo Mortensen's nomination was well deserved, the bathhouse scene alone could have earned him that one! Kidding aside, it was an amazing performance --the way his humanity shined through that character in an unexpected way. (no spoilers)

Desson Thomson: Agreed.

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Butternut, Wisc.: Hi, Desson!

I was so disappointed with so many shut-outs. What do you think were the biggest snubs?

Desson Thomson: Still sorta reacting. but I have mentioned a few already. I will mention one performance that the entire world has overlooked - one of my favorites all year. Ben Kingsley in "You Kill Me." As a hitman and alcoholic trying to get straight, he was touching, brilliant and funny.

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Washington, D.C.: Seems like a pretty desultory group of nominees, do they even care if the Oscars are televised? Not even Roberto Benigni jumping on chairs to get to Sophia Loren could stir up this group of losers.

Desson Thomson: Sorry you feel that way.

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Vienna, Va.: Why do you think "Atonement's" Keira Knightley, James McAvoy and Joe Wright were shut out?

Desson Thomson: Well, they clearly were. Why? Couldn't tell you. The ways of the human mind(s) when it comes to these noms are guaranteed to leave many people upset, and others elated. Choice is automatically unfair, isn't it, when it comes to acting and drama? Everyone is affected differently. How do you really say what is good and bad? Or who deserves what?

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Not Norbit!: Though I do agree that Baker did some very good work on the makeup effects for "Norbit," does the Academy know that every DVD for the worst movie of 2007 will now have "Academy Award Nominated (copywrite symbol)" on it?

And how was "Surf's Up" better than "Beowulf" for the Animated Oscar?

Desson Thomson: Very funny. Hahaha.

I hear you on Beowulf.

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Baltimore, Md.: Hi Desson,

Thanks for doing this chat. I was a little disappointed to see that Aaron Sorkin did not get a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, having read and seen all but one of the other nominees in this category, I really thought "Charlie Wilson's War" was the best adaptation. Is this considered a snub or just a competitive field?

Desson Thomson: It was a very good screenplay. Snub or ignorance? Who knows?

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Washington, D.C.: I feel that Tim Burton was snubbed...any opinion on this?

Desson Thomson: He always directs well, so I can understand your feeling.

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Best song and makeup???: I cannot believe that three songs from "Enchanted" were nominated in this category? Disney must have a lock in this category. Thank goodness that a song from "Once" was nominated.

I cannot believe that "Hairspray" was not nominated for make-up. John Travolta's makeup was amazing (and believable!).

Also, I saw "3:10 to Yuma" yesterday. Wow. Much better than I expected. I was surprised no one was nominated from that movie. I thought Ben Foster did an amazing job as Ben Wade's sidekick.

Desson Thomson: You are so right in many ways. But I feel that the song in Once is so powerful it surely has to win. I get the feeling that the voters will love watching that couple - who remain in love with each other, last time I read - come to accept the award, instead of someone just thanking all the folks at Disney.

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Tysons Corner, Va.: I don't believe it but, with the exception of "Ratatoulle," I've not seen any of the nominated movies or performances. I guess I need to get busy.

Desson Thomson: Yes you do, old chum.

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NYC, N.Y.: I'm disappointed by the near-shutout of "Sweeney Todd" and "I'm Not There," but very pleased with the screenplay nom for "Ratatouille." What do you think the odds are that it could win? I'd love to see that (or hear about it, at least; might not be much to see this year), but it seems like the screenplay buzz will be focused on "Juno," especially since it's unlikely to win anything else.

Desson Thomson: Well, Depp getting nominated was a big step, I think, given the Academy's believed dismissiveness for comedies and musicals (with the notable recent exception of Chicago, and a few years back, Tootsie). As for I'm Not There, it was probably too arty for most acad members; and the great Tood Haynes is known for working off-off Hollywood in Seattle. You need a political PR campaign in many cases to get a nom.

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Best Actress: Desson, I know that many people thought that "The Brave One" was flawed, but I've heard that Jodie Foster's performance was masterful. Do you think she's got a shot at winning this year?

Desson Thomson: Like I said, I am the Great UnPredictor. I am the Debacle at Delphi. But I don't see her taking it this year. Ellen Page and Julie Christie and Laura Linney are all in great form this year. And Jodie won already for Silence of the Lambs.

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Silver Spring, MD: Hi Desson,

Thanks for the chats. You and A.O. Scott are the two film critics I value most. Why no "Diving Bell & Butterfly" for Best Foreign Language Film? I saw it last weekend and found it superb. Are the other five nominees all better?

Desson Thomson: You're very kind to put me in such good company. Tony Scott is a tremendous critic. The Diving Bell is a truly great film. It deserves more than it got and I think it would destroy all competition if it were nomm'd as a foreign film.

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Rockville, Md.: Hi Desson. That's wonderful news re: Viggo Mortensen for "Eastern Promises." But why no love for Cronenberg? Do you think he'll ever be acknowledged for one of those career honors instead?

Also, interesting Academy Awards trivia. Viggo used to date Lola Schnabel, whose father, Julian Schnabel just got the Best Director nomination.

Desson Thomson: I think the Academy is waiting for him to make a non creepy film before they give him such a nod. But Eastern Promises was one of my top 10s, and I am surprised it didn't get more love myself.

As for the Schnabel trivia, it looks as though you are either on the Mortensen inside track or paying close attention to our Oscar Explorer, which mentions the same thing.

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Freising, Germany: I once asked a question on one of your chats about British Westerns, and while "There Will Be Blood" isn't a Western, Daniel Day-Lewis does a good job of sounding like one.

Is it part of every good actor and actress to have a few accents up their sleeves? Yul Brynner was always exotic, don't you think?

Desson Thomson: Hello Freising again.

yes, there was a western aspect to There Will Be Blood. And as for accents, well, it doesn't hurt to have a few up your sleeve, so you can get those great roles.

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Washington, D.C.: According to the nominations, it looks like Stephen Hunter and I are in the minority in hating "No Country for Old Men." But there have to be a few more of us out there. Any chance that this film is slightly too polarizing to win Best Picture, Best Director, etc?

Desson Thomson: There will clearly be those, like you two, who didn't care for it. But it does look as though you're in something of a minority judging by the many kudos's it has received. What might split the vote are those aesthetes who appreciate No Country and There Will be Blood, leaving the field open to the more user friendly Juno or British accent swooner, Atonement. Somehow I feel Clayton is the lowest hope, the Dennis Kucinich of the best pictures, if you like, much as I enjoyed the film.

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Washington, D.C.: Kudos to local DC filmmakers Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine for getting a best documentary nomination for their amazing film "War/Dance"! It's well deserved...

Desson Thomson: Absolutely. Congrats, local heroes!

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Maryland:"Killer of Sheep." I don't get it.

Why is this film considered a classic/masterpiece? I finally had a chance to watch it, but it was not what I expected and I was not satisfied by it.

No storyline at all. Just a piece. I just... It was just an unimpressive (but unfortunate) portrait of a family. The filmmaking did not seem that spectacular. What am I missing here?

Thanks.

Desson Thomson: I thought it was a minor masterpiece. But I haven't had enough coffee to try and explain why right now. Sorry it didn't impress you. But art is subjective, thank goodness. So no one is wrong or right.

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Arlington, Va.: Were there timing issues with "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days?" Given the press, I figured it was a lock for best foreign language.

Or was it really just snubbed?

Desson Thomson: I am very, very surprised myself. It's definitely a 2007 movie.

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Jodie Foster: Plus, she's played the same character in her last what, six films? (with the exception of that bank robbing film).

I am a big fan but frankly would like to see her in a non-victim lead role.

Desson Thomson: I could stand to see her in something special and different, too.

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Cleveland, Ohio: Was the Tommy Leee Jones nomination for "In the Valley of Elah" really just a way to reward him for "No Country for Old Men?" I would have preferred Hirsch in that spot for Best Actor.

Desson Thomson: He was a fairly minor character in No Country. But I think his performance was outstanding in Elah. well deserved. I like Hirsch too. Felt he deserved a nom for sure. I think I'd swap him for Depp, at the risk of the wrath of 25 million women.

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Dallas, Tex.: I'm very glad Tommy Lee Jones was nominated for "In the Valley of Elah." The subtlety of his facial expressions and other physical details of his performance tell the whole interior story.

I hope the nomination will bring the film to more viewers' attention; it was one of the better ones of the year and somehow got lost in the shuffle.

Desson Thomson: Exactly right.

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Washington, D.C.: Roberto Begnini? I'm thrilled with the Best Actor nominees. They can actually, you know, act as opposed to being a caricature. Bleh, that Oscar made me angry.

Desson Thomson: Now you've got me remembering that giddy goofy response to his OScar win. THANKS A LOT.

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Annapolis, Md.: Snubbed? I guess I don't think anyone got snubbed because I can't really quibble with the noms. I haven't seen "Juno," so I can't argue with the Reitman comment. I liked Angelina Jolie's performance, for instance, but it's not as though I'm sitting here saying, "Cate Blanchett is terrible!" I'm just glad that there are so many good movies and honor-worthy performances. And I also have a lot more movies to see. ("The Savages"? Never heard of it!)

Desson Thomson: Good points. Go see Savages and Juno. Worth your while both!

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Bethesda, Md.: Um, was "The Lives of Others" last year's movie? If not, I wonder why it wasn't nominated for Best Foreign Film (and if it was, I apologize for being so far behind).

Desson Thomson: It won last year for best foreign film. As a German release it was a 2006 film. But it was released in America in 2007. It got messed up in terms of top 10 lists for this year. I had to take it off mine because of the confusion.

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Arlington, Va.: I was pleased to see the nomination for Tommy Lee Jones. I thought the movie deserved more attention than it got and he had a stand-out performance. Sometimes the Academy does get it right!

Desson Thomson: ditto.

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'You Kill Me'...: That little movie was fantastic! Loved it and can't understand why it didn't get more attention. On another topic, Daniel Day-Lewis was fantastic in "TWBB," he totally deserves that win. Thanks for the chats!

Desson Thomson: Yes, and yes. I'll say it now. Day-Lewis's performance is the best male performance of the year. No one comes within a mile of him. The other nominees should stay home and watch his acceptance speech on TV.

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Washington, D.C.: So, how sad should I be that "The Orphanage" didn't get a nom for Best Foreign Film? Because I'm pretty sad. Though I've heard great things about "Mongol."

Desson Thomson: There's yet another foreign film that seems to have been ignored. A head scratcher.

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DC Cap Hill: SOOOOOO thrilled for the goddess Tilda! She is amazing, I am also glad for Viggo. I knew him from my L.A. days when he was a poet/struggling actor

Desson Thomson: Yes, good news for both!

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Juno?: I saw "Juno" and liked it a lot. I thought Ellen Page was adorable, but I don't think her performance was Oscar-worthy. And while it was funny, the script seemed a bit contrived and it tried too hard. Is the Academy just trying to be hip?

On the bright side, I was glad to see Viggo Mortensen nominated for "Eastern Promises." I loved his performance in that movie!

Desson Thomson: There's a sort of Juno juggernaut thing going. I liked the film. And I liked that it was contrived - part of its postmodern cleverness.

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La Vie En Rose: I was thrilled to see Marion Cotillard earn a nomination for her work as Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose." Perhaps her Globe win helped, but this performance, I thought, was extraordinary -- well beyond mere imitation. I don't know what her odds are for winning it, but the nomination is well-deserved!

Desson Thomson: I can't imagine her winning, politically speaking, because of the others. No one is going to cast their vote for a French actress for fear of wasting their vote--at least, that's my gut feeling. But she was brilliant as you say.

Question for the Academy: If someone can be nominated in a foreign language why can't there be a best picture in a foreign language?

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Ashland, Ore.: My two favorite films of the year were "No Country" and "Enchanted." What does this say about me? Should I seek the services of a mental health professional? Josh Brolin shoulda gotta nod, BTW...

Desson Thomson: I agree about Brolin. You are eclectic, not insane. Good for you.

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Buffalo, N.Y.: What is the Academy's enchantment with Cate Blanchett? The Queen Elizabeth Version 2.0 was a terrible movie and her performance was decent, but not better than Angelina in "A Mighty Heart."

Desson Thomson: I agree with you, Buffalo.

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Baltimore, Md.: Do you know if my favorite documentary, "The King of Kong," was eligible for nomination? While I appreciated "No End in Sight," I think "King of Kong" is fantastic.

Desson Thomson: It was eligible and should have been nominated.

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Rescue me from 'Rescue Dawn': Christian Bale is great, but that movie was horrible. No performance could save it. I feel ill just thinking about how cheesy and awful it was.

Desson Thomson: You'll be okay. Just think about a movie you liked.

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Arlington, Va.: Nothing, zero, zip for the movie, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead?"

Desson Thomson: Yes, a lot of people dug that movie. Apparently not the right people.

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Bowie, Md.: NOTHING for "Into the Wild"? Great soundtrack, really well-directed and acted and screenplayed from the book ... supporting actor Hal Holbrook? Nothing? Wow ...

Desson Thomson: That's the way of Oscar.

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Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK: Ten years ago "Atonement" would have ticked all the right boxes for Best Film -- a historical romance set against wartime. Think "Casablanca," think "The English Patient," In the last two years, with the Best Picture going to "Crash" and "The Departed," the Academy seems to have moved away from honoring that type of film. However, it's performing well at the US box office and is, crucially, on release throughout the whole of the voting period. However, it's absent at the DGA, WGA and SGA awards. Do think it will come down to "Atonement" or "No Country for Old Men" for Best Film?

Desson Thomson: If I knew the answer to that and other future questions, I'd be at the track all day. Speaking of horses, don't rule out Juno as a dark horse winner.

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Best actress?: What do you think about Cate Blanchett's nomination for Elizabeth? Although, I agree that she is a great actress, I'm not sure that she deserved the nomination over others for this movie (that seemed to fade quickly from theatres).

Desson Thomson: The movie was horrible. And I wasn't impressed with her this time--although she is a great actress.

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Eastern Market, D.C.: Hello again Desson!

A couple of snubs in my opinion:

Zodiac, for which I thought Downey Jr. and Ruffalo were both worthy of supporting actor nominations; its screenplay -- which was superb; and its cinematography by Harris Savides -- which made my jaw drop at times.

As for There Will Be Blood, I thought Jonny Greenwood's score was incredible. Rarely have a film and its score been so complementary. Atonement's irritating score getting a nod but not Blood's? What gives!

Also, I just watched again No Country, and I was a bit let down from my first viewing. I don't think the Coens pulled off the dramatic feat they hinted at -- with Ed Tom's melancholy philosophical musings lifting the material into something "grander" than a chase film. Were it just the chase film I'd have liked it more, but, alas, chase films don't win Oscars do they?

Desson Thomson: I totally agree with you on Zodiac, and There Will Be Blood. And as for No Country, it's more than a chase movie. I know you have pejorative quotes around "grander." But I think that it WAS grander in a good way. Had a literary, lasting quality.

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Downtown: Desson: "Question for the Academy: If someone can be nominated in a foreign language why can't there be a best picture in a foreign language?"

I agree! I think I read somewhere that the Diving Bell and the Butterfly isn't eligible for Best Foreign film for some reason. I was really hoping it would get nominated for Best Pic. Okay, I confess I haven't seen it yet (it's a sin that it's only playing in Bethesda) but it sounds phenominal and I just wanted something different to be nominated.

Desson Thomson: I applaud you for applauding me.

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Central Va.: Roberto Begnini made the biggest tragedy of the 20th century into a comedy. He was totally brilliant and won deservedly.

But speaking of comedies, why are so few nominated? I am not a Travolta fan, but he was wonderful in Hairspray, right down to the perfect accent. George Clooney, who I adore, played a boring role in a tedious movie, that was BEYOND ridiculous. At least comedies are supposed to be ridiculous!! And wasn't there one original song in Hairspray? It had to be better than all 3 from Enchanted!

Desson Thomson: Agreed on the dissing of comedy at the Oscar house. And agreed about the good songs in Hairspray. What up, Golden Fella?

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The other nominees should stay home and watch his acceptance speech on TV?: I'm sorry isn't that poor sportsmanship? Should the Redskins stay at home when they aren't expecting a win?

Desson Thomson: Oh puh leez. I am just joking.

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Falls Church, Va.: Were you suprised "Knocked Up" was not nominated for Screenplay honors? Usually the Academy awards more eccentric movies ("Pulp Fiction," "Good Will Hungting," "Usual Suspects" in this category.

Desson Thomson: Yes I DID expect a screenplay nom. But not everyone can get the Oscar's traditional "consolation" award--their nod for something they don't have the courage to give a greater statue. (Not saying that writing awards are inferior--quite the opposite. But politically, a writing award excites few people. So it seems like Oscar gives those to the smart or edgy ones as a sort of kudo chip.)

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Washington, D.C.: I saw Juno just this weekend and found it funny and cute, but not exactly Best Picture material. I liked the story but found the teen dialogue to be a bit contrived after a while. But--Daniel Day Lewis, Viggo -- love both of them. I was very moved by Atonement too.

Desson Thomson: Cool.

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Washington, D.C.: Desson, do you agree with me that both the Academy and the Golden Globes overlooked Greenwood's wonderfully fitting score to There Will Be Blood? I am wondering why neither even gave the score a nod.

Desson Thomson: It is a good score. I got a cd of it and really appreciated it.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Desson,

Thanks for the Tuesday afternoon chat -- what a pleasant way to start the work week!

I often get annoyed with the Academy for the lack of nominations to non-white actors. But usually, in their defense, it's a reflection on the lack of roles for actors of color in Hollywood generally.

However this year there were two outstanding performances that were snubbed -- Homayoun Ershadi in The Kite Runner ("Baba") and Irfan Khan in The Namesake. Both of them "made" their respective movies. While these are hardly the biggest snubs, they're the most frustrating.

Desson Thomson: Thanks, glad you like them. I agree that those roles were terrific for both those actors. The problem as you say is that, because there are so few roles for non white actors, it can seem like a political snub when they don't get the nod--even though dozens and dozens of white actors also get snubbed routinely.

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Cate vs. Gwenneth: Right So I think the Elizabeth 2.0 nom is totally the Academy's way of saying, yeah yeah you should have really won for Elizabeth the I not Gwen for Shakespeare in Love.....not that I think she'll win best actress. I think she'll win for the Bob Dylan role

Desson Thomson: Yeah, she's got two irons in the fire.

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Tom, Washington, D.C.: Desson

This time last year, many made quite a bit out of the fact that "The Departed" wouldn't win in part because it was very violent -- something the Academy doesn't usually go for. Of course it won. Do you think the prospect of rewarding two dark, violent films with Best Picture two years in a row will work against "No Country for Old Men's" chances?

Desson Thomson: Somehow I don't think that will be an issue.

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Salisbury, Md.: So, the Academy has a short attention span (missed Christian Bale in "Rescue Dawn") and a history of snubs. Why does it continue to rule? Are we just that determined to let someone else make decisions for us? Or is it all about the red carpet and the speeches (in which case the open bar at the Globes seems to provide more entertainment value)?

Desson Thomson: There is a mystique to the hoopla, the costumes and everything. Without the Oscars, I think we'd feel emptier.

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Washington, D.C.: Hiya Mr Thomson

What do you think about "Sweeney" for best art direction?

Or George Clooney in "Michael Clayton" as Best Actor? I like Johnny Depp, but Clooney's performance was brilliant.....

Best,

Briony

Desson Thomson: Hey B:

Of all those, I think Sweeney has the best shot.

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Washington, D..C: Des: Based on the first 20 minutes alone of the electrifying suspenseful There Will Be Blood, who do you think should receive the Oscar, Robert Elswit's Cinematography or Paul Thomas Anderson's Direction?

Desson Thomson: Good question. All of them deserve to win. Pic, cine and director. They can't all do it -- can they? Stay tuned, I guess.

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Michael Clayton: Okay, I'm genuinely puzzled by all the nominations for Michael Clayton. Personally, I found the film to be original yet somewhat underwhelming, and I think the only Oscar nominations it really deserved (out of all those it was nominated for) are Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor for Tom Wilkinson. (Though I'm betting Supporting Actor goes to Javier Bardem.)

Desson Thomson: It's a better movie, perhaps, for its subtly assured qualities. It may not jump out at you but it's a good film.

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Chevy Chase, Washington, D.C.: Do you know of any online pick'em games for the Oscars, where I could compete with friends in a group? Last year I had an Oscar party with friends where we pick the winners, but now we're all in different cities.

Desson Thomson: if you find out, let me know. I am writing about the many ways people celebrate or gamble on the Oscars.

thomsond@washpost.com

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Beltsville, Md.: Hi, Desson, enjoy the chats! I agree with most of the nominations, though I didn't much take to "Juno" (maybe because I'm a guy?) and "Ratatouille" grossed me out, wouldn't let my kids see it because of the sewer rat sequences, but I know I'm in the small minority on that one. But a Best Actress Oscar for Cate Blanchett for "Elizabeth: the Golden Age"? Dreadful movie, and to me a very wooden performance. I thought she well deserved the first one but was just phoning it in this time. Just my $.02. Cheers!

Desson Thomson: I agree with your .02 judgment.

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Waldorf, Md.:"That movie made the mistake of getting released too early in the year for the attention deficits of the Academy." "Breach" also had very good acting and that should have been nominated as well.

Desson Thomson: Yes, Breach would have benefitted from opening later. Especially for Chris Cooper.

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Rochester, N.Y.: I saw "Ran" on the big screen this weekend. (Thanks, Eastman House!) Am I wrong for thinking that it was pretty violent for its time?

Desson Thomson: No. Was bloody.

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Bethesda, Md.: Wow. How in the world did "Gone Baby Gone" get so snubbed for Best Picture? "Juno" was good and cute and all of that, and a great story, but "Gone Baby Gone" was gripping, powerful and amazing. Seems to me to be the biggest snub on the board.

Desson Thomson: Everyone's got their special snubee. I wasn't as impressed with the movie or director Ben Affleck as I was with Casey Affleck IN that movie.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi Desson:

I am a huge movie fan, but this year left me cold. I didn't enjoy most of what was out there. What are your thoughts? Did you think this was a particularly bad year?

Among the Oscar contenders, I don't think any were great and some weren't even good. I am so disappointed that "Into the Wild" didn't get more attention (film, director, script, actor, score). It was my hands-down favorite this year. Your thoughts?

Desson Thomson: I loved the movie too. Oscar just can't get to everything. Sometimes it seems to get to almost nothing.

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Bethesda, Md.: I know Persepolis was not nominated for Best Foreign Film (thanks to Ann H's wonderful article) but I'm curious how it could be in the running for both animated and foreign film while "Ratatoulle" had to choose between contending for Best Picture or Best Animated.

Desson Thomson: These and other very good questions....

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Snubs?: I don't know. I think the Academy mostly (sort of) got it right this year. I'm less annoyed this year than I am most years. Are there things I would change on the list? Sure. For example, I thought Angelina Jolie's performance was more nom-worthy than Jodie Foster's...precisely for the reason already mentioned: Foster's characters are blending into one another to the point that I find them unmemorable. Jolie, on the other hand...well, she was so good I forgot I was watching her on screen and not actually Marianne Pearl. I'd also change out Reitman for Penn. Into the Wild was a wonderfully-directed film.

Desson Thomson: Good points. For the record Foster was NOT nominated this year. The nominees are Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth II: The Golden Age, Julie Christie for Away from Her, Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose, Laura Linney in The Savages and Ellen Page in Juno.

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Washington, D.C.: I think Marion Cottillard will walk away with the Oscar this year simply based on the fact that she paid great homage through an amazing performance to one of France's and the world's bigest icons. I don't know of any review that didn't like her Piaf.

Also, do you think that "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" was a victim of the Foreign Film mess this year? It is an achievement in filmmaking that was sorely overlooked. Same goes for "4 Days..."

Desson Thomson: Yes to Diving Bell fiasco and 4 Weeks. Definite injustices.

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20016 Washington, D.C.: I was surprised by the omission of Sean Penn, Best Director and "Into the Wild" for Best Picture. What do you think? Also, I loved "No Country for Old Men," but don't understand the praise for Javier Bardem (who I do like in other things). To me he just had a singular expression throughout the movie and a page boy hairdo. I thought Josh Brolin and his character were far more interesting.

Desson Thomson: Well, I liked everyone in that movie. Hahahaha to that image of pageboy neutrality. But it was chillingly effective for me. If you didn't see a great performance in Bardem - especially when he tossed a coin for the service station proprieter's life, whoa! -- well, we must have seen different movies.

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Best Actress goes to...: This is taking me back to the '90s! If Cate Blanchett had won for ""Elizabeth," instead of the "cute" Gwyneth (accent vs. accent, Cate should have won!) for "Shakespeare in Love" ... What a juggernaut that was! ... Then we wouldn't see Ellen Page for "Juno" against Cate again for Liz II! Please, "Juno" was cute and good and hip, but let's hope the award goes to someone who's ACTING.

Desson Thomson: Haha. We'll see.

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Maryland: Whoa. Best Picture race is going to be confusing. Tight race.

Tom Wilkinson over Javier Bardem, I'd say.

Honoring "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"? Are they crazy? At least slightly?

I am shocked that Schnabel got the nod for best director (good for him), but why did "The Diving Bell & the Butterfly" get no nod in the foreign film department?

"Surf's Up" is one of the greatest accomplishments in animation for the year 2007? What?!

Daniel Day-Lewis needs to win Best Actor. He is a craftsman and the best part of 'There Will Be Blood.' Why is 'In the Valley of Elah' being honored here? 'The Darjeeling Limited' was better than that.

Best Director is tight as well.

Desson Thomson: Good read of everything.

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"Into the Wild": I was disappointed the only nomination for this movie was that of Hal Holbrook for best-supporting actor, which was excellent.

I was deeply moved by this film. Although I never knew him personally, Chris grew up just a few miles from me in Virginia. I've read the book several times over the years and sent a copy of the book to my uncle, who knows one of the people Chris worked for while he was hitchhiking through the U.S.

Chris would be about 40-years-old now, and I certainly wonder what he would be doing.

Desson Thomson: Touching to think about.

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Bethesda, Md.: Hi Desson --

I'm SO glad to see that Viggo Mortenson got a Best Actor nod for "Eastern Promises." I watched that film last night and was really impressed with his performance. (I also thought it was a fantastic film, although some of the violence was pretty hard to take.)

Desson Thomson: He was great. So was the film. And as you say, violence that was hard to take.

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Washington, D.C.:.I have to disagree with the Academy's neglect of "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead." This is a relatively under-the-radar film that AT LEAST deserved nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category. In my humble opinion, this was one of the top three films of the year -- combining suspenseful, plot-line and character development with superb acting and directing. Can't help but think that Sidney Lumet was snubbed here. What are your thoughts? Can 'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead' be dubbed the Snub of the Year?

Desson Thomson: Maybe not THE snub but clearly ONE of them.

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Crownsville, Md.: I thought Daniel Day-Lewis did his usual magnificent job in TWWB, but the movie itself was disappointing. I do think high expectations can lead to disappointment, but to me it did not hang together and some plot elements were downright silly. But I'm willing to consider other views and watch it on Netflix to see if my impressions change over time.

Desson Thomson: Hope you see it again. The more I think about it, the better that film gets.

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Bethesda, Md.: We're not your usual little old ladies but rather a women's book club ranging in age from late 20's to "old as dirt." Most of us saw "Juno," and most of us didn't much like it. Great line about sadistic doctors, but that was about it. You can see how the oldsters might have problems relating, but even the relative youngsters said, no way, in part because (possible SPOILER) of how "Juno" became pregnant.

Although some (but not all) of us thought Daniel Day-Lewis' performance in "There Will Be Blood" was outstanding, only a couple liked the movie. We're talking 10 to 12 people here, and we're usually more on board with popular taste. We all thought highly of "Atonement" and those who saw it thought "No Country For Old Men" was also outstanding.

It will be interesting to see if other chatters shared our views!

Desson Thomson: Fascinating responses. Would love to hear more about your group. Send me an e mail some time!

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Minneapolis, Minn.: Do you think the Romanian film "4 Months, 3 and 2 Days" will be nominated in the Best Foreign Film category? How much influence does Cannes have on this? (winning the Palme d'or) I saw The Death of Mr. Lasarescu two years ago and loved it;

Desson Thomson: Well, it already wasn't. Unfortunately.

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Towson, Md.: How cool is it for Tony Gilroy that his directorial debut landed so many nominations! Any thoughts on how this will affect his career, both in a positive and negative sense?

Desson Thomson: At the risk of sounding like a genius, I believe this will benefit his career.

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Nats Fan on Clayton:"Okay, I'm genuinely puzzled by all the nominations for 'Michael Clayton.'"

I think the Academy has a lot of voters who remain intrigued by, and miss, the glory days of the Seventies. Movies like "The Conversation," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Serpico," "The Godfather" . . . hell, "The French Connection" -- straightforward, unromanticized, "gritty" looks at unusual situations presenting a mirror on the pains of growing older and underachieving.

Well, at least that's why -I- liked it!

Desson Thomson: I like that idea.

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Concord, N.H.: Loved that Tommy Lee Jones is nominated for In the Valley of Elah -- why should his remarkable performance get penalized for Haggis's ham-fisted ending? And it's a better performance than what he had to work with in No Country. I am disappointed that Josh Brolin was shut out in favor of Bardem's one-note killer. Brolin was the best thing about that movie.

And yay for Depp and Viggo! Someday maybe they'll nominate Depp for a performance where he stands a chance of winning. Can't see anyone besides DDL taking this one.

Desson Thomson: Right on Concord. Good thoughts.

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Arlington, Va.: I must admit, I'm a trifle disappointed that Paul Dano wasn't nominated for Best Supporting Actor for "There Will Be Blood." He more than held his own opposite Daniel Day-Lewis, and for such a subtle yet equally strong performance, I think he should have been recognized by the Academy.

Desson Thomson: Yes, absolutely.

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Dublin, Ireland: Am disappointed that James McAvoy's brilliant performance in Atonement was not recognized by the voters. But delighted to see Irish actress Seoirse Ronan nominated. I expect Christie and Day-Lewis to win. Still, Atonement must be favorite to win Best Picture.

Desson Thomson: That little girl was amazing. So glad to see her nominated.

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Farragut South, Washington, D.C.: Please, oh wise Desson, help me understand Cate Blanchett's Best Actress nod. I know she's (deservedly) considered one of the leading lights of our time, but if there were any favorable reviews for that movie, I don't remember seeing them. Did the Academy just see her name plus the word "Queen" and check off their ballots in a daze?

Desson Thomson: Hahaha. I think you may have hit on why they gave her that nom.

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Washington, D.C.: I just don't get the animated and foreign categories. Last year Happy Feet wins and this year Surf's Up gets nominated. Does the acedemy have something for penguins? Both The Simpsons Movie and Beowulf were superior to Surf's Up.

What happened to The Kite Runner? It was by far the best foreign language film, but wasn't even nominated in that category.

Desson Thomson: Are you making a flap about penguins?

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Washington, D.C.: I'm suprised that Ryan Gosling was not nominated for "Lars and the Real Girl." I've noted that, although Gosling has received some Best Actor nods, the film has received few nominations for other awards. Could that be because it is so simple (as in, not flashy)? In different hands, the film could have easily turned into something ironic and/or quirky. Understated directorial choices and performances actually require the more skill and restraint than flashy ones. However, it seems they are often left behind in the race for awards.

Desson Thomson: Maybe it was too small and too arty for voters?

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Arlington, Va.: While I'm delighted to see Viggo Mortensen get the long-shot nomination for Eastern Promises, I honestly think Best Actor will be a toss-up between Johnny Depp and Daniel Day-Lewis. Day-Lewis owned There Will Be Blood, but Johnny Depp is LONG overdue for an Oscar win. (Personally, I think he was robbed of a nomination for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas a number of years back.) What are your thoughts on these contenders?

Desson Thomson: As I mentioned, I am a big fan of Day_Lewis's performance. I don't think Depp reaches that level, in my humble opinion of course.

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Desson Thomson: Thanks to everyone for participating in this chat. I hope everyone had fun doing it. On to the Oscars, right? And if you have some unusual way of celebrating the Oscars that you like to do every year, drop me an e mail. Talk to you all very soon on one of my Friday chats. Enjoy the rest of the day and this mercifully shortened week!

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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