Infernal Affairs remake in with a chance at Oscars

2007 January 24  |  South China Morning Post
AGENCIES in Beverly Hills
Martin Scorsese's The Departed, a remake of the Hong Kong classic Infernal Affairs, stands among the Oscar frontrunners for best picture after hot contender Dreamgirls walked away with eight nominations, but was snubbed for the top prizes.
The uplifting film about the rise of a 1960s female soul trio had been tipped as a best picture favourite, but instead was bumped out by Clint Eastwood's war movie Letters from Iwo Jima.
The omission of Dreamgirls leaves The Departed and Golden Globe winner Babel, which won the second-highest number of nominations, with seven - as the frontrunners for best picture. Offbeat comedy Little Miss Sunshine and The Queen, a fictionalised account of life inside the British royal family following the 1997 death of Princess Diana, complete the lineup.
Filmmaker Ruby Yang, who was born in Hong Kong, was nominated in the short subject documentary for The Blood of Yingzhou District, her look at the orphans of parents infected with HIV through tainted blood banks on the mainland. Yang is based in Beijing, where she works for the China Aids Media Project. Curse of the Golden Flower, from mainland director Zhang Yimou, was nominated for best costume.
The eagerly awaited nominations were made at a dawn announcement in Beverly Hills by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chief Sid Ganis and Mexican actress Salma Hayek, one month ahead of the 79th annual Oscars ceremony at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre on February 25.
There were gasps from hundreds of media and onlookers when it became clear that Dreamgirls had missed out on the best picture and best director.
The nominees for best director saw surprise inclusions in Eastwood - who has been ignored in several key industry awards this year - and Paul Greengrass, who squeezed in for United 93, his acclaimed account of the passenger uprising on one of the airliner hijacked on September 11, 2001.
Scorsese, 64, who directed cinematic classics such as Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and Goodfellas, is the heavy favourite to win his first best director Oscar after being passed over five times. But the veteran will be nervously eyeing the emergence of Eastwood, the respected and adored legend who is chasing his third best director Oscar.
Eastwood, 76, was responsible for Scorsese's most recent near-miss, when his Million Dollar Baby scooped best picture and best director awards two years ago, beating The Aviator.
The former tough guy filmed Letters from Iwo Jima as part of back-to-back movies depicting the savage fighting between US and Japanese troops on the island during the final months of the second world war, one telling the story from the perspective of US troops, Flags of Our Fathers, and the other from the Japanese side.
Others in the directing race are Mexico's Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Babel and British director Stephen Frears for The Queen.
Associated Press, Agence France-Presse