Wednesday, January 24, 2007

¡Viva Mexico!

Upon hearing that he had received six Oscar nominations for Pan's Labyrinth, tying with The Queen,
Guillermo del Toro issued the following statement.

This is an unimaginable experience for me. I am both humbled and honored that Pan's Labyrinth is receiving so much recognition from so many fields. To receive six nominations for a film that is a true labor of love exceeds any expectation I could have ever had in my overweight life. It is specially beautiful to share this moment with my dear friends Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu. This is an unprecedented representation of Spanish-language filmmakers and actors.
To have my film included among this list of remarkable
nominees is a true honor that I will never forget.

Pan's Labyrinth was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Makeup, and Best Art Direction. In a perfect world, Sergi López and Maribel Verdú would've received nominations for their indelible performances, but this isn't a perfect world--that would be rather boring, actually--and six nominations is still impressive for a film that could've easily been overlooked as "too niche" or "too arty," but somehow managed to transcend such categorizations.

Part of Del Toro's enthusiasm likely stems from the fact that Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) co-produced both Pan's Labyrinth and Babel, while picking up a couple of nominations for his own work. (Another Spanish-language talent, Penélope Cruz, was nominated for Volver.) But my favorite section of Del Toro's statement is this bit, "...ever had in my overweight life" (along with the word "specially"). Mr. Del Toro has just given me yet another reason to love the guy: his humility. And humility combined with humor--and genuine talent--is a very appealing combination.

In case you haven't seen my list, Pan's Labyrinth was one of my favorite films of the year (it came in at #9). At Sean Axmaker's annual top 10 party,
a yearly gathering of local critics, it emerged as our number one pick.
Granted, Flags of Our Fathers and
Letters From Iwo Jima inspired more discussion, but Pan's Labyrinth was the one film upon which we could all agree.

This year's participants included Sean Axmaker, Dave McCoy, Andy Wright, Kathleen Murphy, Richard Jameson, Robert Horton, Tom Tangney, Jeff Shannon, Jim Emerson, and myself.

The Axman's Annual Top 10 Party - Official Results

1) Pan's Labyrinth (60 points, 9 lists, 1 "Best Film" pick)
2) Flags of Our Fathers (44 ½ points, 6 lists, 3 "Best Film" picks ties)
3) Letters From Iwo Jima (40 ½ points, 6 lists, 3 "Best Film" picks ties)
4) A Prairie Home Companion (38 points, 5 lists, 1 "Best Film" pick)
5) United 93 (35 points, 6 lists)
6) The Queen (26 points, 4 lists)
7) The Departed (25 points, 5 lists)
8) Half Nelson (23 ½ points, 6 lists)
9) Perfume (22 points, 3 lists)
10) Brick (20 1/3 points, 3 lists, 2 "Best Film" picks)
11) Old Joy (17 ½ points, 3 lists)

As the AP notes, "Together Babel and Pan's Labyrinth, by Mexican directors Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro, won 13 Oscar nominations--giving the Mexican film industry its biggest boost to date on the other side of the border." As much as
I dislike Babel (sorry fans), I'm still happy to see Mexico make such a substantial showing. I'm specially pleased for Guillermo
Del Toro. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Endnote: Please click here for my review of Pan's Labyrinth. Images from Sight and Sound and Film Stew. For Mark Kermode's S&S interview with Del Toro, please click here. I was particularly intrigued by this excerpt: "As for the faun, he proved more difficult. The idea was to make him very masculine, not aggressively so, just sinuous. I remember talking to Doug Jones [who plays both the faun and the pale man] when he first started working on the role, and saying: 'More Mick Jagger, less David Bowie!' I wanted the faun to have a rock-star quality."

1/30: This comes from Noel Murray's interview with Del Toro in The Nashville Star. The subject is The Spirit of the Beehive, which I kept thinking about while watching Pan's Labyrinth. "The thing is that the film by [Victor] Erice is all about the most tenuous, almost intangible lines between fantasy and reality, that are only laid out by the mind of a child. In my movies, I tend to make the fantasy world manifest. Completely manifest and material."

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