Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Popcorn: Oscar Nominees Edition

I love the Oscars. Since 1998 I’ve watched them eagerly and even participated in a few Oscar pools in college. To me, 1998-2004 were great years for American cinema. The last few? Not so much. Movies like Crash dampened my Oscar love, and even last year’s awards, which gave us the uneven Slumdog Millionaire against Milk, The Reader The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Frost/Nixon.
But hope springs eternal—or so I thought. 
This year was the first year the Academy nominated 10 films for Best Picture. To me, this is about five too many.  Look at the list for 2008, for example (listed above). This list could’ve been about two shorter—Frost/Nixon and Benjamin Button could easily have been eliminated. Over the past ten years, the only years where I think all five slots were deserved were 2003 and 2002. These were fantastic years for cinema. The others usually have one or two head-scratchers. (like 1998’s The Thin Red Line. I only made it through about 15 minutes of that one.)
Here’s this year’s list (an asterisk indicates I’ve seen it):
    • Avatar
    • The Blind Side
    • District 9
    • An Education
    • The Hurt Locker
    • Inglorious Basterds
    • Precious
    • A Serious Man
    • Up *
    • Up In The Air
Now, I want to see: Up In the Air,  An Education, The Blind Side, the Hurt Locker, and Precious. Inglorious Basterds I could care about less. My brother owns it, though, so I’ll probably watch it. District 9 wasn’t even on my radar. My Hurt Locker interest was piqued by how well its been doing at awards shows lately. A Serious Man? Eh. 
I’m glad Up was nominated, but I don’t think it will win. More on that in a minute. 
So, without having seen 9/10 of the movies, I can say that at least one—District 9—is on my “highly specious” list.
Best Actor:
    • J. Bridges, Crazy Heart
    • G. Clooney, Up In the Air
    • C. Firth (whee!), A Single Man
    • M. Freeman, Invictus
    • J. Renner, The Hurt Locker
These all seem legit to me. I am dying to see A Single Man because, as we all know, I love Colin Firth. I would love to see him win. Jeff Bridges won the Golden Globe, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing will happen here. Morgan Freeman, after many “supporting actor” nominations (and one win, for Million Dollar Baby) has moved up to the lead actor category.  George Clooney has been nominated several times over the past few years. He has won an Oscar (best supporting actor for. He has won an Oscar (best supporting actor for Syriana a few years back), so I don’t know how that handicaps him for the race. He was previously nominated in this category for Michael Clayton (which is just a fantastic film).
Best Actress:
    • S. Bullock, The Blind Side
    • H. Mirren, The Last Station
    • C. Mulligan, An Education
    • G. Sidibe, Precious
    • M. Streep, Julie and Julia (*)
I’m not sure Meryl Streep should be in this category. I thought she did good work in Julie and Julia, but I didn’t think it was Oscar worthy. It was a nice turn. I’m deploring this sort of “everything she does we shall nominate her for” thing. Julia Child was no Miranda Priestly or Clarissa Vaughn.
Helen Mirren just won a few years ago for The Queen, so I don’t think she’ll win again. 
The nomination for Sandra Bullock definitely piques my interest in The Blind Side
Of the two younger actresses—Mulligan and Sidibe—I like Mulligan. I just saw her in the BBC’s production of Bleak House (staring Alun Armstrong and Gillian Anderson), where she played Ada Clare. She was exquisite. I haven’t seen Precious, but, like my friend Richelle said earlier, I think it’s sort of presumptuous to give the best actress award to someone in her first role.  Richelle compared this to Jennifer Hudson’s win, and I agree. (And yes, I did see Dreamgirls.) Now maybe I’ll see the movie and be blown away. But…
Best Supporting Actor:
    • M. Damon, Invictus
    • W. Harrelson, The Messenger
    • C. Plummer, The Last Station
    • S. Tucci, The Lovely Bones
    • C. Waltz, Inglorious Basterds
The money on this one appears to be on Waltz. I think the Tucci nomination is sort of odd, since the movie was pretty roundly panned, although critics did make mention of his good performance. I like Tucci as an actor, but I don’t know if this role will win his Oscar.
Best Supporting Actress:
    • P. Cruz, Nine
    • V. Farmiga, Up In The Air
    • M. Gyllenhall, Crazy Heart
    • A. Kendrick, Up In the Air
    • Mo’Nique, Precious
Right now, I would say Mo’Nique is pretty much a slam dunk. 
And—it is nice to see Anna Kendrick in this category. Most people know her as Jessica in the Twilight films. I’m glad to see her stretching her chops and getting some critical notice. Bravo.
Best Director: I don’t follow this award anymore, because ever since 1998, when it stopped being an essentially automatic predictor for Best Picture, it’s just sort of there. So—I’ve got nothing for you here.
Best Animated Film:
    • Coraline
    • The Fantastic Mr. Fox
    • The Princess and the Frog
    • Secret of Kells
    • Up *
(Side note: Wasn’t Coraline out like forever ago?) This could be interesting. Pixar has almost totally dominated this category since its inception, but with Up also being nominated for best picture, I’m not sure how the votes will go. The Fantastic Mr. Fox got great reviews and could give Up a serious run for its money. Coraline was dark and moody, and I’ve never heard of Secret. I think this is probably a two way race between Fox and Up.
I have a lot of viewing cut out for me, and I’ll be revisiting this topic as the awards draw closer.

1 comment:

MrsKruse said...

I LOVED Blind Side. It was just a good movie.

I saw District Nine on DVD over Christmas with my family. It was just weird. I still don't know what I thought about it.