2010 Oscar nominations

>> Sunday, February 14, 2010

I was curious to see the video this year with the ten Best Picture nominees. I wondered how they were going to do the screen thing where they listed all ten since last time I watched it many years ago, before YouTube existed, they just used five television sets.

I suppose it's not much of a problem now with such large, high definition screens. But I forget about all that sometimes.

I generally like the ten selected as Best Picture nominees. I think it's a decent crop. I would have preferred The Cove to be in there over The Blind Side, but I don't think it's such a terrible selection as one of ten. (In retrospect, after seeing The Blind Side, I don't like the dumbing down of Michael Oher in the film. I wouldn't call that move racist, but I think it reeks of the lowest common denominator. The guy had played football before he met the Tuohys, and the depiction of him in the film learning football with Leann's kindergarten-like explanations make him seem extraordinarily deficient. I realize the screenwriter or director may have just wanted to explain football moves in a simple way to the audience, but they should have found a better way to do it.) If it had been one of five, then I know I and a whole lot of other people would have lost their shit. At this point, I've seen all but three of the Best Picture nominees. I still have yet to see An Education, Precious, and Inglorious Basterds. Basterds I'll be able to watch on dvd. Precious and An Education I might be able to catch if they hit the discount theater before Oscar night.

I certainly am not looking forward to seeing Precious given what I've heard regarding its subject matter, which is that it is a tough, tough film to watch yet (allegedly) rewarding once you make it to the end. As for An Education, I'm not sure I understand what the appeal of that movie is. I saw the trailer, and I was not intrigued. Young girl gets it on with an older man and has to decide between higher education and a life as a kept woman. That's how I see it anyway. There better be something really phenomenal in that movie. Because if I ever see it, I can't imagine how great it is to watch yet another girl wrestle with a May-December romance in a coming of age story. The trailer just evoked a giant yawn from me.

I really like The Secret of Kells sneaking in the Best Animated Feature category. (Dude, it's an Irish film!) I had no idea that film existed until it was nominated. It definitely speaks well of the animators branch that they were able to think outside the box and choose a film that most people have not seen. It just played for one week in Los Angeles to qualify and will be released in March. Just looking at the artwork in the trailer intrigues me. I'll probably just catch it on dvd, like Coraline.

I've been able to catch all five Animated Shorts online, even Wallace & Gromit in A Matter of Loaf and Death thanks to someone who uploaded it onto MySpace. The design of Logorama is witty, I love the AOL logo "people" walking around, but I'm not sure what to think of its story. Yes, Ronald McDonald as a Joker-like criminal is a great gag, but I saw that movie last year when I watched The Dark Knight.

I think The Lady and the Reaper will probably win. It has design, story and a character that many older Academy members can relate to, particularly when you realize that the older members have the time to attend the special screenings for the shorts and documentaries.

I thought most of tech categories had decent nominations. I particularly liked that Harry Potter squeaked in a cinematography nomination. Currently, I'm hoping that it'll win the category. I don't think Avatar deserves to win. A few weeks after seeing it, the only thing I think is truly remarkable about it is the visual effects. I would pick The Hurt Locker, but then I also haven't seen Inglorious Basterds. The Harry Potter films have maintained such a high level of quality that I think they deserve a little something before the final two films are released.

The one area I am truly disappointed in is the Best Supporting Actor category. Anthony Mackie from The Hurt Locker should be in there. I would take Matt Damon out of this category in a heartbeat. As far as I can tell, he just got nominated on sheer star power. I would even put in Alfred Molina in there from An Education, even though I haven't seen the film, just because he's such a great actor and the few critics I trust to read thought he was a good choice. It just seems that the nominations in this category made it a cakewalk to the podium for Christoph Waltz. Not that it's a bad thing, just makes for a boring ceremony. Woody Harrelson has the clearly best chance to upset, but I doubt it's going to happen.

Now, who the media is saying will win Best Actress is the one thing that currently vexes me. Sandra Bullock, Best Actress? For The Blind Side? Oh, hell no. Generally, I like Sandy. As a person, I like her far more than Julia Roberts. But even Julia Roberts has mixed up her film career with a wider variety of roles far more than Bullock ever has. Some people tout that it's "her year" when it comes to Bullock, like it was for Witherspoon, Kidman and Winslet.

I'm sorry, but I'm just not buying it. Reese Witherspoon had demonstrated a more varied acting range by the time she was nominated for Walk the Line. Yeah, it wasn't the greatest role, but her biggest competition was a tv actress playing a transsexual in a film that I don't know how many in the Academy saw. And in the hierarchy of Hollywood where being known in film trumps being known in tv, Felicity Huffman never stood a chance. Nicole Kidman had been nominated previously for Moulin Rouge before she won for The Hours. On top of that, she demonstrated a wide range as an actress and considerable respect before she botoxed the shit out of her face. And Winslet? Do we really have to go there? We're talking about one of the greatest film actors of her generation. The chick who will eventually fill Meryl Streep's shoes and possibly garner more nominations than her thirty years from now.

And those folks, such as Kristopher Tapley, who are bemoaning people picking on Sandra Bullock for being declared the front-runner and likely winner, well boo fucking hoo. If you can't stand the uproar when she hasn't won, then what do you think it will be like if she wins? Golf claps? For what other reason did Bullock have People magazine release an article stating that she's "so not winning an Oscar!" That's not just a campaign tactic. It's damage control.
...Bullock—who, for the first time, tops Streep in a head-to-head contest. Who’da Thunk It?!, as an Oscar narrative, appears to be working out well for her. But, this time, she isn’t quite as beguilingly shocked. And a few days later, when The Blind Side scores an unexpected (to put it kindly) Best Picture nomination, the first stirrings of the enough-already backlash are felt. Her road to the Oscars now becomes trickier, since holding onto your status as an appealing underdog is hard once you actually start to win.
I expect Meryl to win. She is the easy alternative to Bullock. Mirren just won recently. Sidibe and Mulligan are new. Bullock doesn't scream deserving regardless of her star power. People like to say, "But, oh, she's so charming and hard-working and nice." Yeah, and so was Cary Grant. What kind of Oscar did he get? The honorary kind. The fact that the knives have come out for Bullock when the media declared her to be the winner should tell you everything. She's not going to win.

And I doubt Avatar will win Best Picture. There's the thing where people believe what Cameron accomplished was such a directorial achievement. But look at it this way: Cameron winning a second Best Director Award in the past twenty years would put him in league with Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg. Those two directors each have directed multiple films in the past twelve years. Cameron? He's only put out Avatar since Titanic. The man isn't exactly viewed as Stanley Kubrick. And his achievement has more to do with accomplishments made by special effects houses than anything else. The actors' branch, which is the largest branch, is likely to view Avatar with a bit of disdain. Yes, there are Cameron's own words that come back to bite his ass. But I believe the actors are more likely to disdain Avatar because they don't want it to be their future. Why would they want to encourage things they dislike?


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