Friday, December 28, 2007

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (***1/2)

Directed by Tim Burton


Stephen Sondheim's bloody musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is one of the most beloved stage plays in history. It's dark images and abundance of blood never stopped bevies of fans to come in to watch the story of the throat-slitting barber. So, you could see how many fans might have been worried when word came that it was going to be made into a Hollywood motion picture. How would you be able to get away with making this into a film with jeopardizing it's ferociousness?

In comes Tim Burton--possibly the most imaginative filmmaker since Stanley Kubrick--to take the reigns over the project. He brings in his most common collaborator in Johnny Depp to play the title character, and his wife, the ageless Helena Bonham Carter, to play the role of the meat pie maker Mrs. Lovett. How would these two performers, with no true singing talent, do in the roles? In a word: beautifully. It's true that neither Depp nor Carter have voices that blow you away, but they construct the performances so well that our focus moves from the singing to the power of the songs themselves.

The story of Sweeney Todd begins with the story of Benjamen Barker (Depp), a barber married to the beautiful Lucy, with a gorgeous baby daughter named Johanna. When the powerful Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) falls for Lucy and lusts after her, he has Barker disbarred and takes Lucy and Johanna for himself. After fifteen years, Barker manages to get out of prison and returns to London where he has changed his hairstyle and has become Sweeney Todd, a man obsessed with revenge on the people who took his life and family.

His old barber shop is now owned by Mrs. Lovett (Carter), a dainty woman who is rumored to make the worst meat pies on the planet, and has a shop covered with cockroaches. When she realizes Todd's true identity, she tells him that Lucy has since poisoned herself, and Johanna is still living in merciless captivity by Judge Turpin. Meanwhile, Todd's young companion on the ship to London, Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower) falls in love with Johanna, but is unable to get to her through Turpin's strict constraint.

After embarrassing the showy, Italian barber Signor Pirelli (a very cute cameo from Sacha Baron Cohen), Todd and Lovett construct a nearly flawless business proposition. With his barbering skills, Sweeney Todd will draw customers who, seeking a shave, will have their throats viciously sliced, and Mrs. Lovett will use the bodies to bake the meatiest meat pies ever sold in London. Todd is able to extract his thirst for blood, and Mrs. Lovett is able to make much of a profit on her much-improved meat pies.

After this plot summary, it seems obvious to say that this is one of the bloodiest films that I've ever seen. Every throat that Todd cuts sprays blood in countless directions, and afterward, Todd uses a foot petal to send their bloody corpses down a chute to the cellar, where Mrs. Lovett cooks up a nice pie with their remains. Its hard to imagine any filmmaker other than Burton who can construct this bloodbath without putting the original material at risk (he dealt with this delicate balance before in Sleepy Hollow). Burton instead makes the flaming red blood another corner stone in the spectacle that makes the film so tantalizing.

The music in film is preserved from the original Stephen Sondheim material, and the movie is essentially wall-to-wall with music. Like I've mentioned before, none of the actors in the film have particularly striking singing voices, but they're able to sing without power and allow the booming music in the background take center stage. Powerful songs such as "Johanna" and "No Place Like London" are reprised throughout the film with enough sweetness that the strength of voice never distracts. Remember, voice strength never hurt Chicago, which is easily the best American musical since Cabaret.

The performances in the film by Depp and Carter are what truly drive the film. Depp's portrayal as the vengeful, razor-wielding Todd is one the best, if not quirkiest of his career. Depp has spent the last fifteen years taking roles that makes us say "Well, I've never seen anyone do that before", and he continues with that trend here. As for Carter, her portrayal of Mrs. Lovett (a role immortalized by Angela Lansbury) is sweet, irresistible, and equally demented. Lovett's unyielding crush on Todd makes her the one character in the story a bit stranger than he is.

Their are very good performances in all the supporting roles as well. Alan Rickman's ruthless performance as the tyrant Judge Turpin is one of power and authority, a trait that this much underrated actor has employed in many roles over his career. Jaime Cambell Bower is convincing as Anthony, a young man fallen head over heels with the daughter of Todd. A true tour-de-force comes from a performance of the young Ed Sanders as Toby, a young vagabond who goes from the workhouse to working for Mrs. Lovett when her business booms. His presence is felt in his love for Mrs. Lovett and his finale has so much power, that I shall not reveal it.

Sweeney Todd is a testament to the filmmaking talent of Tim Burton. With this movie, he has established himself as a true cinematic visionary, with very few of his peers being nearly as brave or wondrous. It always seemed that Burton was more suited for animation, since live-action seems to stilt his infinite capabilities. But a film like this one makes you glad that he was willing to give it a shot. Never was beautiful, show-stopping music and unrelenting violence combined in a better way than this.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

GREAT FILMS: Manhattan (1979)

Directed by Woody Allen

Out of all of Woody Allen's great work, it seems to me that none of his films are as beautiful and incandescent as Manhattan. It studies the usual Woody subjects: the troubles within sexual relationships and the futility of intellectualism. More than anything, though, Allen's eighth film is a love song to the city he loves. A city brewing with culture and occasional crumminess, Allen has dedicated essentially his entire catalog of films to showcasing New York City, but no other film demonstrates Allen's obsession like Manhattan.

The story follows a group New Yorkers, including Isaac (Allen), a paranoid television writer, who hates the low-brow material he writes and is in the middle of a healthy affair with a 17-year-old girl named Tracy (Mariel Hemingway). His friend Yale (Michael Murphey) is a college professor who is happily married to Emily (Anne Byrne), even though he can't get his mind off of his mistress Mary (Diane Keaton).

Both men are conflicted with their lives. Isaac irrationally quits his job, and constantly questions his immoral relationship with Tracy. Yale endlessly fails to choose between his love for the comforting Emily, or his lust for the high-strung Mary. On top of it all, Isaac has to deal with his ex-wife Jill (Meryl Streep) who plans to write a memoir about their unsuccessful marriage--and how she chose to leave him for another woman.

As all of Woody's films, Manhattan is filled with charming, flawed characters and hilarious, pithy dialogue, but this film is one of the only films Allen ever made where substance took a back seat to style. We remember the one-liners in the movie, but what we remember more is Allen's use of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" throughout the soundtrack. What we remember more is iconic cinematographer Gordon Willis' incredible black and white photography. No other film that Allen has made has such a detail for tone and cinematography.

There are a lot of moments which tackle Woody's usual subject matter of romantic relationships and their ability to make people hysteric. Yale drops Mary to bring some stability in his life, but he is completely unable to get her out of his mind. He unwisely suggests that Isaac take Mary out. Equally unwise, Isaac gets rid of Tracy, despite the fact that she truly loves him. The complexity within the constant hooking up and breaking up is something that is not uncommon in Woody films. Needless to say, the relationship between Isaac and Mary does not work out.

The sweetest moments in Manhattan are the ones that involve Isaac and Tracy. Hemingway's performance as the emotionally mature teenager may be the greatest performance in a Woody Allen film. It's incredibly nuanced performance, because we believe that she actually loves the much older, balding Isaac. Months after he has left her, Isaac sits talking to Emily, explaining to her his missed opportunity with Tracy.

It is rumored that Woody Allen disliked this film so much that he asked United Artists not to release it. It makes sense when you come to realize that this movie is very different stylistically than any other movie he made. There is a moment in the film when Mary and Isaac are walking through a planetarium, and the dark tone of the photography literally drenches them in darkness for quite a few minutes. Very few filmmakers would be brave enough to do this, but what it does is put emphasis on the important dialogue that is being spoken by the characters in the scene.

This movie is not a socially relevant as Annie Hall and does not have a message that blows you away like Crimes and Misdemeanors, but Manhattan is by far the most beautiful film Woody Allen ever made. There's a moment toward the end of the movie where Isaac talks into a Dictaphone, stating all the things that make life worth living, which includes Groucho Marx, classical music, and of coarse, Tracy. Through this reflection, he realizes how much he loves Tracy. As the audience, when we watch Woody recite those things, we realize that this film is one of those things that makes life worth living.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Savages (***1/2)

Written and Directed by Tamara Jenkins

Savages - Trailer


Ever since her charming feature Slums of Beverly Hills, filmmaker Tamara Jenkins has been MIA in movie theaters. Luckily, her return to filmmaking is with a film with such a great amount of heart, that it surpasses any of her previous work. Jenkins' The Savages is a film about familial responsibility. Though the dramatic comedy about family disorder is as common today as the brainless action film, this film is a one of a kind in the genre, because it focuses on the later result of that dysfunction.

The story is about Wendy Savage (Laura Linney), a woman in her mid-thirties with a desk job, and high ambitions to have her play financed--a play based on the irresponsibility of her parents in her childhood. She is also involved in a deep affair with a married 52-year-old man named Larry (Peter Friedman) who finds the time to indulge in sexual inhibitions with her in between walking his dog. When she receives a disturbing phone call about the health of her father, she is compelled to call her older brother John (Phillip Seymour Hoffman).

John is in the middle of dealing with his own issues. He's a theater professor who's struggling to write a book on Bertolt Brecht, and refuses to marry his Polish girlfriend when her visa has expired, and she will be deported. When Wendy calls him, she informs him that their father Lenny (Phillip Bosco) is being thrown out on the street when his girlfriend dies, and he's unable to legally stay in her home. To top it off, Lenny is suffering from Parkinson's Disease which has caused him to have Dementia.

Lenny's condition has gone far beyond anything they can take on themselves, and they put him in a nursing home in Buffalo. In the meantime, John and Wendy live together in John's house as they try to come to grips with their own lives, and caring for a father who never thought much of caring for them when they were children.

It is mentioned quite a few times throughout the film that Lenny was nearly nonexistent in Wendy and John's childhood, and though its obvious that they have both turned out well despite it, the effects of the abandonment has effected them deeply in their personal relationships and their overall self-confidence. Despite it all, though, they work increasingly hard to make Lenny comfortable, even if they are never able to overcome the guilt of putting him in a nursing home smelling of death.

The film is a breakthrough in the career of Tamara Jenkins. The script is equipped with all the sparkling charm usual to her earlier work, but this film is a lot more mature and grizzled (like Hoffman's beard). There are wonderful moments and superb pieces of dialogue, such as scenes where the two siblings discuss their own careers and futures as writers. The combination of being proud for a loved one and the subtle sibling competition is hard to show on screen. This film manages to do it with a couple lines and stares.

Of coarse, the film would be close to nothing without the work of it's great cast. Linney and Hoffman may be the two most dependable actors, in their respective genders, in film today. Hoffman, coming off a monster year where he also starred in Before The Devil Knows You're Dead and Charlie Wilson's War probably does his best work of this year in this small film, where he displays an emotionally confused 42-year-old with the self-esteem of a 12-year-old. Philip Bosco, known mostly for his work on the stage is transcendent as Lenny Savage, a man as helpless in old age and illness as he was neglectful as a father.

Of coarse, most of the emotional load of the film falls on Linney. Her ability to make Wendy likable and sweet despite being narcissistic and childish is what truly drives the film. Linney creates no pity parties for her character, but she is able to discover her own self-loathing. Without even realizing it, she becomes the backbone of an ever-decreasing family. She makes mistakes sexually and lies to get grant money from FEMA, but she is not all that much more horrible than anybody else.

The film succeeds as an offbeat comedy, even though the laughs come few and far between. Luckily, the audience doesn't get it's gut-check off of side-splitting laughs, but off of watching two people who realize the moment where they have to grow up and start taking care of their family. This is a hard task for two people who have no role model for a responsible family members. There's no need to laugh, the audience will be satisfied with their never-ending smile.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Juno (****)

Directed by Jason Reitman


It's wonderful to see a film that is as exquisitely executed as Juno is. The movie is being touted as the offbeat comedy of the year, and I believe that it truly earns that title, but I think it is a lot more than that. It very well could be the best offbeat comedy of the last several years. Using tremendous dialogue, and a slew of excellent performances, Juno is one of the finer films that I've seen about what it is like to make a connection with somebody else.

The film stars rising star Ellen Page as Juno, an edgy sixteen year-old girl who gets knocked up after her and her goofy friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) decide to have bored, living-room-chair sex. After chugging down gallons of Sunny D and taking numerous pregnancy tests, Juno realizes the unfortunate truth: she is pregnant. She contemplates abortion, until she realizes it would be more useful to give it up for adoption. She finds the perfect looking couple in the yellow pages in Mark (Jason Bateman) and Vanessa Loring (Jeniffer Garner). Her A/C repairman father Mac (J.K. Simmons) and her dog-loving step-mother Bren (Alison Janney) both accept her decision, and off Juno is into the unorthodox world of teenage pregnancy.

The movie would not be nearly as good if all those characters weren't as superbly cast as they were. The strength of the film comes from the great chemistry between all the actors on the screen. Jason Reitman, hot off the success of Thank You For Smoking, does a very good job of balancing all of the supporting performances underneath the stellar work of Page. There are no characters here who feel like stock stereotypes, but there are plenty who you may feel like giving a hug.

The film was written by stripper-turned-blogger-turned-screenwriter Diablo Cody. It is Cody's first screenplay, which makes it that much more impressive that she completely captured the essence of this bitingly humorous and incredibly charming story. This is not the first film made about teenage pregnancy, but it is easily the best. Cody does not settle for the sentimentality that most of those other films had, and instead the film flips a switch and it ends up it is not about pregnancy at all, but about people.

There are plenty magical little moments throughout the film, which is sparkling with wonderful humor. The wit of the dialogue, mostly spoken by Juno herself, is so quick and striking, you find yourself attempting to stop yourself from laughing so you can hear what is coming next. Throughout the laughs, though, the moments that stay with you are the conversations where you won't laugh. Many scenes in this movie are examples of Cody's beautifully written dialogue, my personal favorite being when Juno talks to Bleeker to tell him all the reasons why she likes him.

One of the twists in the film is Juno's relationship with Mark. A commercial jingle writer, Mark is constantly debating the possibility of being a father, while under the immense pressure Vanessa to grow up from his rock star dreams. Garner and Bateman's portrayal of the beautiful couple slowly crumbling is heartbreaking if not honest. Juno learns a lot about what lays beneath the surface of the beauty.

The film is easily a coming-out party for Ellen Page, an actress already known for her edginess after playing a 14-year-old trying to expose a pedophile in 2005's Hard Candy. Page completely embodies Cody's words, being probably the most lovable irresponsible movie teenager since Ferris Bueller. It's not just that Page is edgy or funny, she captures the heart of the audience with true sincerity. There is nothing forced in this performance. With Page we have the next great actress of her generation, and in this film, we have the best performance of her young, promising career.

Along with Page, Garner, and Bateman, the rest of the cast delivers first-rate performances. Michael Cera continues his wonderful year after Superbad, playing the tic-tac-loving Bleeker. His acute strangeness makes him perfect for Juno. Alison Janney is, as always, dependable as the strong-willed stepmother. Then, we have J.K. Simmons, giving one of his best performances as Mac. One of the best highlights of the film is a moment when Mac explains to Juno what he thinks is the concept of true love, the kind that lasts forever.

One thing that I shouldn't forget to mention is that the film has some great music spread throughout (highlighted by The Moldy Peaches' "Anyone Else But You") which is almost a motif because it is so heavily highlighted. Most of the music speaks like a Greek chorus for the movie, and will most likely stay in your head after you've left the theater.

The film does not promote teenage sex, nor demote it. What it does as a film is sit back and watch objectively and casually say, "That's life and those things happen", which can easily be said about a lot of moments in the film. We've seen all the characters in this films throughout our lives, homes, and, unfortunately, schools, but this film is not supposed to be any kind of lesson, but a document. A document about life and the things that happen which we don't expect.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Margot At The Wedding (*1/2)

Written and Directed by Noah Baumbach


There are a lot of similarities between Noah Baumbach's first film The Squid and The Whale and his new film Margot at the Wedding. Both deal with unbearable intellectuals who are terrible people and even worse parents. Baumbach doesn't seem to like writing about people with high character, but at least in The Squid and The Whale the characters were somewhat charming, making them likable to a majority of the audience. The same cannot be said for the characters in this film.

The film stars Nicole Kidman as Margot, a successful writer who takes her son Claude (Zane Pais) with her as she travels to visit her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as she gets married. Pauline's fiance is Malcolm (Jack Black) a mustached, chubby loafer of whom Margot severely disapproves of. The sisters have reunited for the first time in a few years, with Pauline having moved into their childhood home, and we see very early in their reunion that this is a family with deep issues.

We learn that Margot is in the middle of her own rocky marriage and is in the middle of an affair with a writer (Ciaran Hinds) who just so happens to live near Pauline. Pauline has a secret of her own, she is pregnant with Malcolm's baby, and may have been the deciding factor in the engagement.

Baumbach laces the film with many scenes that are sexually disturbing, and tacks on a subplot about fiendish neighbors that roast pigs on their front lawns. We learn that Margot is essentially a monster who spends a good amount of time trying to bring down all of the people that she may or may not love. Beyond that, the film dwindles into a pretentious mess. There's little to no point to the way the film meanders around. Instead of trying to expose emotional scars, the film goes to length to make its characters unlikable. It succeeds.

To be fair, the film is earnest, it takes risks, and has actors who seems to truly believe in this story. Yet for all that, the film has too many scenes of emotional breakdowns that make the film lag. Perhaps the best moment of the film is a small cameo by John Turturro as Margot's husband Jim, a man so gentle, and completely counters all of the coarseness of Margot's ferociousness. Perhaps it's that Jim is the only character in the film that isn't under some kind of extreme emotional turmoil that makes him so refreshing compared to everyone else.

The movie is strange, but it is strange because it exposes the strangeness that we all have inside ourselves. I have many times met people who are like Margot, a person so upset with themselves that take it all out on the people who care for them most. I just don't think it makes a very interesting film. You can get points for bravery, and this film is very brave, but for all the offbeat, arty sidetracks that this film takes, it doesn't hold interest.

Nicole Kidman has always had a reputation for playing these kind of emotionally bare roles. She's as good as she always is, if the desired effect is making the audience cringe. Unfortunately, the most misused performer in the film is Jack Black. He's simply asked to do too much in this role, more than he is capable of. When he is funny the film doesn't work, and when adjusts to the humor of the film, he isn't funny. Somewhat of a guiding light for the film, Jennifer Jason Leigh probably does the best job of being emotionally bare without being mind-achingly annoying.

Much in the tradition of a film released earlier this year, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, this is a tremendous premise with a very promising cast, that is unfortunately filled with completely unbearable characters. It's not unwatchable, and Leigh's performance is sometimes enough to get you through it, but it seems that this film tries a little too hard to be unconventional, that it instead comes off as off putting.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I'm Not There (***)

Directed by Todd Haynes


Bob Dylan is one of the most mysteriously mesmerizing figures in twentieth century culture. His music, filled with jamming instruments and thought-provoking lyrics, has spoken for countless generations of listeners. There are so many people who find solace in his droll voice and screeching harmonica, it's almost impossible to diminish his sound into a particular genre or time. Dylan, himself, is so mysterious and unspecific that it's impossible to show his story with one solid plot line.

Todd Haynes' I'm Not There expounds upon that idea, by recruiting six different actors to recreate different moments in the songwriter's life. What Haynes ends up with is an exotically bizarre film, that stretches the very definition of film making, and creates a story as sorted and majestic as it's cornerstone.

One of the six Dylans is an 11-year-old black boy who hops trains, sings folk songs, and calls himself Woody Guthrie (Marcus Carl Franklin, in a performance that shows skill far beyond his age). He's a representation of the young drifter Dylan was before he found comfort of his idol folk singer Guthrie. Then there is Jack Rollins (Christian Bale), a young, disillusioned man who has dedicated his time to writing protest songs that capture the social unrest of society. With the help of obvious Joan Baez-remake Alice Fabian (Julianne Moore), he's able to find an audience for his "fingerpoint songs".

Then there is Robbie Clark (Heath Ledger), a Brando-esque movie star, who's fame started when he played a role based on Jack Rollins. His indulgences in celebrity and rocky relationship with his wife Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), showcase the time of Dylan's troubled marriage and consequent divorce with his first wife, Sara. There's Arthur (Ben Whishaw) a Dylan-esque poet who is reciting a nonsensical interview regarding his career.

We see Jude (Cate Blanchett--who probably looks and sounds the most like Dylan) an amphetamine-fueled, hydrogenous rock star who's facing a mountain of backlash from those fans who feel he abandoned his folk roots and "went electric"; an obvious reference to Dylan's exile from folk. We go back to Jack Rollins who has transformed himself into a born-again Christian named John (Bale), disclosing Dylan's own spiritual awakening in the 80's. Then in the film's most puzzling sequence, we see Billy the Kid (Richard Gere), a nineteenth-century cowboy outlaw who's arrested for being an agitator. Possibly a reflection on Dylan's secluded times in the late 60's and early 70's.

With the movie, we see another example of the boldness of Todd Haynes. Haynes, known for his 2002 film Far From Heaven and the 1998 cult film The Velvet Goldmine, embellishes his reputation as a filmmaker who has chosen to expand on the ideas on what film is supposed to be. This is a much safer way to portray Dylan on film, I feel. Perhaps Hayens realized that using one actor to showcase all of Dylan's life might end up being the portrait of a shape-shifting schizophrenic.

It's hard to imagine anyone who is not a fan of Dylan's music being a fan of this film. It takes a lot of chances that are hard to appreciate unless you can either understand the scope of Dylan's music. Even fans of Dylan might be thrown off by the film's non-linear chaos, but at least they can sit back and enjoy the music, which is either sung by Dylan himself, or synced by the actors. Even I, as much as I enjoyed myself, saw that there are many times during the course of this experience where it becomes too convoluted and outlandish for it's own good.

That said, it is exciting to see a filmmaker and his actors take such big risks. Each story has it's own style and grace. The Jack Rollins/Pastor John section is told like a documentary. Robbie's tale of decadence is shot like a modern American drama. Billy the Kid's wild west is shot like a, you guessed it, American western film. Then there is the story of Jude, which is created with such Fellini-esque surrealism, it's almost hard to pin point where reality is and when Jude is in drug-induced fantasy.

There are moments recreated. Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone"-influenced hook-up with bombshell Edie Sedgwick is shown through Jude's turbulent battle with a former lover named Coco. The legendary electric "Judas" performance is shown in such manic filmmaking, even those who are not familiar with the moment will be scorched.

The performances are earnest enough. Bale's protest singer and subsequent preacher is sincere, if not vague by the documentary style (which probably was the point). Ledger as a womanizing superstar is probably one of the more effective performances, showing a very sad document of a crumbling love. Whishaw, whose clips just seem to pop up sporadically between the other stories, is formidable, showing Dylan's quiet, strange defiance. Franklin's performance as the hitch-hiking lost boy looking to be a rock star is both startling and impressive. Gere, stuck in a entire segment that seems from another film, does well in the role, even if I'm still not sure why he was there to begin with.

As has been much proclaimed in the media, the film's core comes from Blanchett's complete transformation as Jude. Her performance catches lightning in a bottle. It's bold, strong and dominates the picture despite less than 40 minutes of screen time in a 2 hour plus film. It's not that Blanchett becomes Dylan that's impressive, not even that she becomes a man, but that she becomes a myth, an idea that the entire film is based on. The role is just as vague as the film supposes Dylan is, but she is able to completely embrace it.

This is one of those movies that you enjoy because of it's unrelenting bravery, not because it totally works as a film. It spirals too much for my liking, but there is never a point where I felt lost or bored. What we have is a document of a man who completely transformed his identity on more than one occasion, and was able to transform rock & roll music in the process as well.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Updated December Oscar Predictions

Updated December Oscar Predictions

Best Picture
American Gangster
Into The Wild
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be BloodBest Director
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
*Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
Sidney Lumet, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
Mike Nichols, Charlie Wilson's War
Joe Wright, AtonementBest Actor
*Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Emile Hirsch, Into The Wild
Tommy Lee Jones, In The Valley of Elah
James McAvoy, Atonement
Denzel Washington, American GangsterBest Actress
Julie Christie, Away From Her
Marie Corillard, La Vie En Rose
*Keira Knightley, Atonement
Laura Linney, The Savages
Ellen Page, JunoBest Supporting Actor
Casey Affleck, Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford
*Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
Hal Holbrook, Into The Wild
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War
Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton

Best Supporting Actress

*Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Margot At The Wedding
Kelly MacDonald, No Country For Old Men
Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton
Best Original Screenplay
Judd Apatow, Knocked Up
Brad Bird, Ratatouille
*Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Tamara Jenkins, The Savages
Kelly Masterson, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead

Best Adapted Screenplay
Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood
*Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
Christopher Hampton, Atonement
Sean Penn, Into The Wild
Sarah Polley, Away From HerBest Animated Feature

Best Cinematography
*Roger Deakins, No Country For Old Men
Robert Elswit, There Will Be Blood
Seamus McGarvey, Atonement
Rodrigo Prieto, Lust, Caution
Roberto Schaefer, The Kite Runner

Best Art Direction
Dante Ferretti, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Jack Fisk, There Will Be Blood
Dennis Gassner, The Golden Compass
*Sarah Greenwood, Atonement
Arthur Max, American Gangster
Best Film Editing
Jay Lash Cassidy, Into The Wild
John Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Roderick Jaynes, No Country For Old Men
*Tatiana Riegal & Dylan Tichenor, There Will Be Blood
Pietro Scalia, American Gangster

Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat, Lust, Caution
Michael Giacchino, Ratatouille
Alberto Iglesias, The Kite Runner
*Dario Marianelli, Atonement
Alan Silvestri, Beowulf
Best Costume Design
Coleen Atwood, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
*Jacqueline Durran, Atonement
Ruth Myers, The Golden Compass
Patricia Norris, Assassination of Jesse James by Coward Robert Ford
Lai Pan, Lust, Caution

Best Sounding Mixing
*Craig Berkley, No Country For Old Men
Peter J. Derlin, Transformers
William B. Kaplan, Beowulf
Lee Orloff, Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End
William Sarokin, American Gangster

Best Sound Editing
Ben Barker, The Golden Compass
Joseph Bonn, Spider-Man 3
Krysten Mate & Teresa Eckton, Ratatouille
*Al Nelson, Beowulf
Brad North & John Mete, 300

Best Make-Up
Nana Fischer, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
*John E. Jackson, Love In The Time of Cholera
Colin Penman, Hairspray

Best Visual Effects
The Golden Compass
Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End