January 23rd, 2007

books

Award season I

So, the American Library Association announced the Newbery and Caldecott Medals and the Printz Award yesterday, and in a somewhat surprising turn of events, I'd already read two of the three.

The Caldecott was awarded to the wonderfully strange Flotsam by David Weisner. It doesn't really have a plot to speak of, but it involves a young man who finds a camera on the beach and discovers in it a roll of film containing a number of bizarre and unbelievable images. It's a utterly charming book, and well deserving of the honor. This is Weisner's third Caldecott Medal, which I believe may be a record. I'll have to look it up later.

The Printz Award, given for "excellence in literature written for young adults," went to Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese. It's an original graphic novel - the first graphic novel to win an ALA prize - about the efforts of a Chinese-American boy to come to terms with his ethnic identity. It's cleverly written, and I thought the cartoony drawing style was well-suited to the story. The Printz Award is pretty new, but I've been impressed with their selections thus far, and this one is no exception

The Newbery went to a book I've never heard of, The Higher Power of Lucky, by an author I've never heard of, Susan Patron. I'll be surprised if I like it as much as I liked last year's winner, Criss Cross, but I hope at least it will be better than 2005 winner, Kira-Kira, which I did not like. I'll have to wait a week or so to find out, unfortunately; we don't have any copies here in the store.

As for those other awards, I'll have a long post about them after work. I will take a moment to say that it's interesting to be able say that I've seen as many of the Best Documentary Feature nominees as Best Picture nominees. That's a first for me, I think.

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movies, oscars

Award season II

Hey, speaking of awards:

  • No real surprises among the acting nominees. I thought DiCaprio would be nominated for The Departed rather than for Blood Diamond, but it's all good. And I was expecting to see Jack Nicholson earn his thirteenth Oscar nomination, but at the same time I can't say I was surprised by any of the people who were nominated for Best Supporting Actor. I would say that the most notable thing about the nominees this year is how diverse they are. Let's see, we've got five black actors, two Hispanic, and one Asian. That's reasonably impressive.
     
  • I see that none of the Best Picture nominees were nominated for Best Cinematography. That strikes me as unusual, though I haven't researched it.
     
  • I think this may finally be Scorcese's year. Looking over the list of nominees, I don't see anyone more likely. Maybe Eastwood, simply for having directed two features this year, but with him having won so recently -- over Scorcese, no less -- I think it's unlikely. That said, the Academy has seemed somewhat less prone to sentimental votes recently than in years past; just ask Lauren Bacall.
     
  • The eight nominations for Dreamgirls seems less impressive when you realize three of them are for Best Song. It's interesting that the three nominated songs all have different lyricists, none of whom wrote the lyrics for the original musical.
     
  • Is this the first time a documentary has been nominated in the Best Song category? Seems likely. It's pretty rare for a documentary to be nominated in any category other than Best Documentary. Last time I remember it happening was when Hoop Dreams was nominated for Best Editing, but I may be overlooking something.
     
  • I wonder if the Leslie Iwerks nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject is related to legendary animator Ub Iwerks? Hmmm, let's see... the answer is yes: she is his grand-daughter. If she wins, she'll be a third-generation Oscar recipient. Ub won an Academy Award of Merit for his role in the development of Color Traveling Matte Composite Cinematography in 1965, and her father Don won the Gordon E. Sawyer Award in 1998.
     
  • OK, I understand that the character Borat was created for Da Ali G Show, but I'm not convinced that automatically makes Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan a movie with a screenplay based on material previously produced or published. What exactly does "material" mean? I don't really understand why an original movie featuring Borat is less an original screenplay than one based on true life events, like The Queen. Oh well.
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