Another Oscar day has arrived. Since I'm writing this late Saturday night, most of you will be reading this on (or after) Oscar day. Here in Las Vegas, I will be hosting a small party for the cast and crew of Aussie Improv Comedy Explosion. I may not have had time recently to discuss this year's awards race as I had hoped, but for those interested, here are my 2010 Oscar predictions.
As we wait to hear the announcement for the latest Best Picture winner, we look at another nominee from 2005...
Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana
(based on the short story by Annie Proulx)
Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid, Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris
3 wins, including Best Director
Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) get hired to tend some sheep in the Wyoming mountains over the summer of 1963. Through the lonely months, the two men develop a friendship that slowly blossoms into passionate intimacy. Knowing that their bond will likely be frowned upon back home, they part ways at the end of the summer. In Wyoming, Ennis marries Alma (Williams) and they raise two daughters. Meanwhile, in Texas, Jack meets and marries Lureen (Hathaway) and they raise one son. After four years, Jack visits Ennis and, under the guise of a fishing trip, they rekindle their romance. Unable to go public, the two men must make do with periodic "fishing trips" while attending their families.
The opening act of Brokeback Mountain exudes a very comfortable mood. Life in the mountains seems quiet and easy, the perfect complement to a budding romance. The Oscar-nominated cinematography not only includes stunningly beautiful landscapes but also a stunningly beautiful (if a little misplaced) shot of Heath Ledger brooding in front of a colourful fireworks display. Adding to the feeling of comfort is the affectingly simple score, touching and romantic.
The Oscar-winning script also takes advantage of simplicity, maintaining an efficiency of dialogue. The pleasant pace of the opening scenes as Ennis and Jack's relationship develops is counteracted by a certain swiftness when it comes to other major life events. Before we know it, the two men have found wives and are already starting families.
Director Ang Lee won an Oscar for his delicate touch guiding a fine young cast, three of whom received Oscar nominations - Heath Ledger as the emotionally stunted Ennis, Jake Gyllenhaal as the frustrated Jack, and Michelle Williams as the humiliated Alma. Although without a nomination, Anne Hathaway is delightful and fun as the playful Lureen. All four of these actors play their characters as they age some twenty years. Despite such stirring portrayals, it becomes somewhat tough to accept these 20-something performers in their roles once their characters are in their mid-forties.