Oscar preview 2007

by Brian Larson

(Published Feb. 16, 2007, 5:00 p.m.)

It's Oscar time again, fellow flikstors and movie mavens. This year, the red carpet rolls its way up the stairs of the Kodak Theater in Hollywood on Sunday, Feb., 25 at 7 p.m. sharp. This year's first-time host is Ellen Degeneres and the overall theme is famous movie quotes.

So you say you've been invited to an Oscar party and have fallen behind on the nominees?

Well, don't sweat it because we've got your back. What follows is your very own "crib sheet" for this year's Oscar nominees (well, for the most part anyway ... I'm afraid you're on your own with most of the docs, shorts and foreign categories). Study it well and you'll be able to hold your own.

We'll start out with the big guns first, the five nominated for Best Picture.

And the envelopes please ...


Best picture

Babel-In this heavy drama, a single rifle shot fired off by two young boys in the Moroccan desert sets into motion a chain of events that affects the lives of an American tourist couple (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett), their children whom their nanny innocently, yet illegally, tries to transport into Mexico and a Japanese teen whose father is sought by the police in Tokyo. Nominations (7): Best Picture, Best Director (Alejandro González Iñárritu), Best Supporting Actress (Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi), Best Original Score (Gustavo Santaolalla), Best Editing and Best Original Screenplay. On DVD: Feb. 20. Official Web site: www.paramountvantage.com/babel

The Departed-Director Martin Scorsese (seemingly Oscar's bridesmaid, but never it's bride with eight nominations and shockingly, to date, no wins) returns to mobster territory in this violent crime thriller about the bloody war between the Bostonian mafia and the local police. In it, a large cast of well-respected actors display their best East Coast accents to tell the tale of an undercover cop (Leonardo DiCaprio) whose first assignment is to infiltrate the mob and gain the confidence of it's head (Jack Nicholson). At the same time, Matt Damon stars as a thug in training who does the opposite and becomes a high-ranking officer of the Special Investigation Unit, all while being an informer for the syndicate. Nominations (5): Best Picture, Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Wahlberg), Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay. On DVD: Feb. 13. Official Web site: thedeparted.warnerbros.com

Letters from Iwo Jima-Clint Eastwood directed this companion piece to his other Iwo Jima-themed effort (and fellow nominee), Flags of Our Fathers (see capsule in the section below). Where that one told the tale from the American point of view, this one focuses on the perspective of that of the brave Japanese soldiers and their hopelessly outnumbered fight. Nominations (4): Best Picture, Best Director (Clint Eastwood), Best Original Screenplay and Best Sound Editing. On DVD: March 20. Official Web site: iwojimathemovie.warnerbros.com

Little Miss Sunshine-Ironically, the dark horse in this year's Best Picture race is actually the brightest (theme-wise) of the bunch. In this offbeat comedy drama a dysfunctional family (including Greg Kinnear, Steve Carrell, Toni Collette and Alan Arkin) travels cross-country to get their young daughter (Abigail Breslin) into the finals of a beauty pageant. Nominations (4): Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin), Best Supporting Actress (Abigail Breslin) and Best Original Screenplay. On DVD: Now. Official Web site: www2.foxsearchlight.com/littlemisssunshine/

The Queen-This drama details the British royal family's crisis with their people after their seemingly cold reactions to the sudden death of Princess Diana in 1997. Nominations (6): Best Picture, Best Director (Stephen Frears), Best Actress (Helen Mirren), Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat) and Best Costume Design. On DVD: Expected in April. Official Web site: www.thequeen-movie.com


The best of the rest


Apocalypto-Mel Gibson directed this drama thriller that takes place near the end of the Mayan civilization. In order to preserve their way of life, the Mayan rulers appeal to their gods for help by building more temples and offering human sacrifices. The story here follows a young man who has been chosen to be sacrificed and his attempt to escape his horrific fate. A quick word of warning for those allergic to subtitles; not unlike Gibson's previous flick, the director has chosen to film this entire film in the native dialect. Nominations (3): Best Makeup, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. On DVD: Expected in April. Official Web site: www.apocalypto.com

The Black Dahlia-Based on a true story, this thriller sees two cops (Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart) investigating the brutal murder of a struggling Hollywood actress in 1947. Nominations (1): Best Cinematography. On DVD: Available Now. Official Web site: www.theblackdahliamovie.net

Blood Diamond-Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this controversial (at least for the diamond industry) adventure/thriller about the search for a rare pink diamond. Nominations (5): Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Supporting Actor (Djimon Hounsou), Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. On DVD: March 20. Official Web site: www.blooddiamondmovie.com

Borat-Yes, this got nominated. Sacha Baron Cohen (who deserved a Best Actor nomination, in my opinion) ,brings his small screen character Borat Sagdiyev (as seen on the HBO's Da Ali G Show) to the big screen in this potentially offensive, yet hilarious mockumentary. In it, Borat leaves his country of Kazakhstan and travels to America where he interviews mostly real people to learn about our culture (or lack there of). Somewhere along the way, his mission changes and he becomes obsessed with finding Pamela Anderson and making her his wife. Nominations (1): Best Adapted Screenplay. On DVD: March 6. Official Web site: www.boratmovie.com

Cars-Pixar head guru John Lasseter (Toy Story) returned to the director's chair to bring us this computer-animated family flick set in a world populated by living, breathing and talking automobiles, telling the story of hot rod race car Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) who, while driving across country to compete in the big Piston Cup Championship race, gets detoured in the small, dusty town of Radiator Springs. Nominations (2): Best Animated Picture, Best Original Song ("Our Town" by Randy Newman). On DVD: Available now. Official Web site: www.carsthemovie.com

Children of Men-In this bleak thriller set in the not-too-distant future, the human race has mysteriously lost the ability to reproduce. When a woman (Julianne Moore) suddenly learns she is pregnant, a former activist (Clive Owen) agrees to transport her to safety to ensure the future of mankind. Nominations (3): Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Editing. On DVD: March 27. Official Web site: www.childrenofmen.net

Click-Another surprise nominee, this fantasy comedy's about a overworked architect (Adam Sandler) who finds what seems to be the solution to all his professional and personal problems in a magical remote that puts him in control of the entire universe. That is, until the darn thing goes haywire and starts fast forwarding his whole life in front of his eyes. Nominations (1): Best Makeup. On DVD: Available Now. Official Web site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/click

Curse of the Golden Flower-In this drama set in China during the 10th century Tang Dynasty, betrayal, deceit and passion pits king against queen and father against sons. Nominations (1): Best Costume Design. On DVD: Expected in March. Official Web site: www.sonyclassics.com/curseofthegoldenflower

The Devil Wears Prada-In this comedy/drama, a young woman (Anne Hathaway) lands a highly sought after entry-level job as the assistant to the editor of a major New York fashion magazine (Meryl Streep). Nominations (2): Best Actress (Meryl Streep) and Best Costume Design. Official Web site: www.devilwearspradamovie.com

Dreamgirls-Beyoncé Knowles stars in this period musical drama (which failed to garner a Best Picture nomination, despite high expectations to do so) as one of a trio of singers (a sort of fictionalized version of The Supremes) who travel to New York to compete in a competition at the famed Apollo Theater. Nominations (8): Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Murphy), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Hudson), Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Original Song ("Listen", "Love You I Do" and "Patience") and Best Sound Mixing. On DVD: May 1. Official Web site: www.dreamgirls.dreamworks.com

Flags of Our Fathers-Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) directs this World War II drama based on the best-selling book by James Bradley and Ron Powers, which tells the story of the six American soldiers who formed the iconic American flag-raising image on Mount Suribachi at the end of the historical Battle of Iwo Jima. Nominations (2): Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. On DVD: Available now. Official Web site: www.flagsofourfathers.com

The Good German-George Clooney and Tobey Maguire star in this black-and-white drama/thriller about an American reporter who is sent to report on the final Allied summit meeting at the end of World War II and, while there, searches for his lost love. Things get complicated when a dead body washes ashore and he is pulled into the resulting investigation. Nominations (1): Best Original Score (Thomas Newman). On DVD: May 22. Official Web site: www.thegoodgerman.com

The Good Shepherd-Robert DeNiro (A Bronx Tale) directed Matt Damon in this drama about the origins of the Central Intelligence Agency. Nominations (1): Best Art Direction. On DVD: April 3. Official Web site: www.thegoodshepherdmovie.com

Half Nelson-In this drama, a troubled high school teacher (Ryan Gosling) becomes a mentor to a 13-year-old girl. Nominations (1): Best Actor (Ryan Gosling). On DVD: Feb. 13. Official Web site: www.halfnelsonthefilm.com

Happy Feet-This computer-animated tale tells the story of a penguin born in Antarctica who cannot sing; something, according to the makers of this film, all penguins need to be able to do in order to attract their future soul mates. Fortunately, he finds that he can tap dance like nobody's business and that may just be a worthy substitute. Nominations (1): Best Animated Picture. On DVD: March 27. Official Web site: www2.warnerbros.com/


The Illusionist-Edward Norton stars in this romantic drama as a talented magician living in the early 1900s who tragically falls in love with a prince's bride to be. Nominations (1): Best Cinematography. On DVD: Available now. Official Web site: www.theillusionist.com

An Inconvenient Truth-This documentary from ex-Vice President Al Gore details the causes and effects of global warming. Nominations (2): Best Documentary and Best Original Song ("I Need to Wake Up" by Melissa Etheridge). On DVD: Available now. Official Web site: www.climatecrisis.net

The Last King of Scotland-In this drama, a Scottish doctor travels to Uganda on a medical mission and unwittingly winds up being employed by President Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker) as his personal physician. Nominations (1): Best Actor (Forest Whitaker). On DVD: April 3. Official Web site: www.foxsearchlight.com/lastkingofscotland

Little Children-This drama, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, focuses on two strangers who meet through their respective children at a park and begin an affair that threatens to destroy both their marriages. Nominations (3): Best Actress (Kate Winslet), Best Supporting Actor ( Jackie Earle Haley) and Best Adapted Screenplay. On DVD: April 24. Official Web site: www.littlechildrenmovie.com

Marie Antoinette-Director Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation) brings us this unconventional, highly stylized look at the life of the naïve Viennese girl (portrayed by Kirsten Dunst) of the title who, in the late 18th century, became the queen of France at the age of 19. Nominations (1): Best Costume Design. On DVD: Feb. 13. Official Web site: www.marieantoinette-movie.com

Monster House-As the title would lead us to believe, this computer-animated flick tells the story of three kids who discover that a neighborhood house is actually possessed by an evil spirit. Nominations (1): Best Animated Picture. On DVD: Available now. Official Web site: www.mosterhousemovie.com

Notes on a Scandal-Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett star in this drama about a lonely teacher named Barbara who becomes infatuated with a fellow coworker only to find that said coworker is having a secret affair of her own with a student. Nominations (3): Best Actress (Judi Dench), Best Supporting Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Original Score (Philip Glass) and Best Adapted Screenplay. On DVD: Expected in May. Official Web site: www.foxsearchlight.com/NOAS

Pan's Labyrinth-This critically praised fairy tale tells the story of a young girl living in a fantasy world set against the fascist world of 1940s postwar Spain. Nominations (6): Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Makeup and Best Original Score (Javier Navarrete). On DVD: May 1. Official Web site: www.panslabyrinth.com

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest-Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley all return in this, the first of two planned sequels (the other is due out next summer) of the original swashbuckler based on the Disney theme park ride. In it, our favorite pirate Jack Sparrow (Depp) learns that he owes a blood debt to legendary pirate Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) and it's up to his new friends Will (Bloom) and Elizabeth (Knightley) to come to his rescue. Nominations (4): Best Art Direction, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects. On DVD: Available now. Official Web site: www.piratesofthecaribbeanmovie.com

Poseidon-Wolfgang Petersen, director of The Perfect Storm, returns to treacherous waters to bring us this critically trashed remake of the classic 1972 disaster flick about a cruise ship that becomes capsized when its hit by a giant tidal wave. Nominations (1): Best Visual Effects. On DVD: Available now. Official Web site: www.poseidonmovie.com

The Prestige-Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale reteam for this thriller set in 1878, which sees two rival stage magicians (the aforementioned Bale and not aforementioned Hugh Jackman) in a duel to outwit, out perform and, ultimately destroy one another. Nominations (2): Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography. On DVD: Feb. 20. Official Web site: www.prestige-movie.com

The Pursuit of Happyness-Will Smith stars with his son Jaden in this drama about a father/widower and unemployed salesman who finds himself evicted from his apartment. All seems lost until he lands an internship at a stock brokerage firm and must struggle to rebuild his life and provide a better one for his kid. Nominations (1): Best Actor (Will Smith). On DVD: March 27. Official Web site: www.pursuitofhappynessmovie.com

Superman Returns-Director Bryan Singer (X-Men) brings us this update of the classic superhero tale that sees the man of steel (Brandon Routh) returning to Earth after being mysteriously absent for several years only to find his true love Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has moved on with her life and his old nemesis Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) hasn't (he's still trying to take over the world). Nominations (1): Best Visual Effects. On DVD: Available now. Official Web site: www.supermanreturns.com

United 93-As the title suggests, this drama tells the story (filmed in "real time") of United Flight 93, the plane that was hijacked and was headed toward Washington D.C. before its courageous passengers sacrificed their own lives to crash it before it reached it's intended target. Nominations (2): Best Director (Paul Greengrass) and Best Film Editing. On DVD: Available now. Official Web site: www.united93movie.com

Venus-Peter O'Toole stars in this comedy/drama as an aging actor who forms a friendship with his best friend's great niece. Nominations (1): Best Actor (Peter O'Toole). On DVD: Expected in May. Official Web site: www.venus-themovie.com

Volver-This drama details the lives of three generations of women living in Spain. Nominations (1): Best Actress (Penélope Cruz). On DVD: Expected in April. Official Web site: www.sonyclassics.com/volver

DVD release dates are subject to change without notice.

Enjoy the show.



The author, a Delavan native, is an art director at The Cimarron Group, a motion picture and television advertising company in Los Angeles.



Oscar quote quiz


In the spirit of this year's Oscar theme, test your knowledge of movie quotes in this quick quiz and name the Oscar-nominated movie the following quotes come from. Bonus points if you can name the character who said it and the actor that portrayed him or her.


1. "Here's looking at you, kid."

2. "If you build it, he will come."

3. "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."

4. "Good evening, Clarice."

5. "I'm the king of the world!"

6. "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

7. "Ten minutes to Wapner."

8. "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any


9. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."

10. "Rosebud."

11. "You're gonna need a bigger boat."

12. "Show me the money!"

13. "Snap out of it!"

14. "There's no place like home."

15. "My momma always said life was like a box of


16. "You can't handle the truth!"

17. "You had me at hello."

18. "What we have here is a failure to communicate."

19. "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the

War Room."

20. "What we do in life echoes in eternity."

21. "Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads."

22. "Hakuna matata!"

23. "The one ring to rule them all."

24. "That's no moon. It's a space station."

25. "I see dead people."




1. Casablanca; Bonus Points: Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart)

2. Field of Dreams; Bonus Points: The Voice (the credits say "Himself" but rumour has it was actress Lee Garlington)

3. The Godfather; Bonus Points: Don Corleone (Marlon Brando)

4. Silence of the Lambs; Bonus Points: Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins)

5. Titanic; Bonus Points: Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio)

6. The Shining; Bonus Points: Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson)

7. Rain Man; Bonus Points: Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman)

8. Network; Bonus Points: Howard Beale (Peter Finch)

9. Gone with the Wind; Bonus Points: Rhett Butler (Clark Gable)

10. Citizen Kane; Bonus Points: Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles)

11. Jaws; Bonus Points: Martin Brody (Roy Scheider)

12. Jerry Maguire; Bonus Points: Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.)

13. Moonstruck; Bonus Points: Loretta Castorini (Cher)

14. The Wizard of Oz; Bonus Points: Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland)

15. Forrest Gump; Bonus Points: Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks)

16. A Few Good Men; Bonus Points: Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson)

17. Jerry Maguire; Bonus Points: Dorothy Boyd (Renée Zellweger)

18. Cool Hand Luke; Bonus Points: Captain (Strother Martin)

19. Dr. Strangelove; Bonus Points: President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers)

20. Gladiator; Bonus Points: Maximus (Russell Crowe)

21. Back to the Future; Bonus Points: Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd)

22. The Lion King; Bonus Points: Timon (Nathan Lane)

23. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring; Bonus Points: Galadriel (Cate Blanchett)

24. Star Wars; Bonus Points: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness)

25. The Sixth Sense; Bonus Points: Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment)


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