Friday, February 05, 2010

Bob's Oscar Picks and Comments

The Academy Award nominations were announced earlier this week, and as is usually the case it’s a mixed bag.  That’s even more the case this year since the “Best Picture” category has been expanded from five nominees to ten.  Not that it takes a lot of work to figure out who the top five are.  As Roger Ebert points out on his website, all you have to do is look at the nominees for “Best Director” and count up the other nominations each film received, and it’s clear that Avatar (directed by James Cameron with 9 nominations), The Hurt Locker (directed by Katherine Bigelow, also with 9), Inglourious Basterds (directed by Quentin Tarantino, 8),   Precious (directed by Lee Daniels, 6), and Up in the Air (directed by Jason Reitman, 6) are the only real contenders for the top Oscar prize. 

No real shockers there.  I hated Precious, but I would have been stunned if it hadn’t made the list.  It’s the sort of “liberal guilt” movie like Crash that Oscar voters love.  Of the remaining nominees (The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, A Serious Man, and Up) the big surprises are District 9 and The Blind Side.  I liked District 9, but it’s way too flawed to warrant inclusion.  If the academy wanted to recognize a sci-fi flick, I would have much rather seen Moon get the nod.  I haven’t seen The Blind Side, but man does the trailer look awful.  Other movies more deserving of making the cut than The Blind Side or District 9:  In The Loop, The Road, Sin Nombre, and Goodbye Solo.  All were excellent movies that fit well within the parameters of what Oscar voters usually go for.  Clint Eastwood’s Invictus is also conspicuous by its absence.  I haven’t seen the movie, but it’s Clint and it’s the kind of movie that tends to get best picture nominations.  But hey, the dude’s got more than a few statues, so I’m not gonna’ feel too sorry for him.

For the most part, the nominations in all the categories are about what I would have expected.  The only real glaring omission I can think of is Melanie Laurent not getting nominated in the “Best Actress in a Leading Role” category for Inglourious Basterds.  My guess is the ensemble nature of the film’s cast made it hard for some voters to decide if it was a lead performance or a supporting performance, but since her character is the glue that holds the movie together I’d have to say lead.  I also have to mention the one nomination that really struck me as ridiculous:  Anna Kendrick in the “Best Actress in a Supporting Role” category for Up in the Air.  For playing a one-dimensional comic relief character we’ve seen in a million other movies, she gets an Oscar nomination?  Please.  Much more deserving would have been Sari Lennick for A Serious Man or Gina McKee for In the Loop.

Okay, on to my Oscar predictions.  I think this is going to be one of those years where no one movie walks away the big winner.  Avatar will probably wind up with the most statues at the end of the night thanks to a lot of technical awards, but I think all the big nominees will each get their piece of the pie in the major categories.  

Best Picture – This one is between Avatar and The Hurt Locker, and my gut tells me it’s going to Avatar.  It’s not the best movie of the year by a long shot, but it broke new ground technically, made a shit-load of money, and was better than it had to be while doing it.  I’d love to see The Hurt Locker win, but it probably isn’t going to happen. 

Best Director – Again, it’s between James Cameron for Avatar and his ex-wife Katherine Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.  And again, while I’d love to see The Hurt Locker take it, I think it’s going to go to Avatar.

Best Actor – Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, although in true Oscar tradition this will really be for his excellent past work as much as it is for the film he’s nominated for.  I’ll be okay with that, but my pick would be Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker

Best Actress – This one is a tough call, especially since I haven’t seen most of the performances in question.  I’m gonna’ throw a “hail Mary” on gut instinct alone and say Sandra Bullock.  No preferred winner since, as I mentioned, I haven’t seen most of the nominees.  But as much as I didn't like the movie, Gaboury Sibide was excellent playing the title role in Precious, so if she wins I'd be a lot happier than if Bullock does.

Best Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds.  If you’ve seen the movie, you know why.  He’s my preferred choice as well, although Woody Harrelson winning for The Messenger would be okay in my book, too.  The guy had a great comeback year in 2009 with this on one end of the spectrum and Zombieland and 2012 on the other.

Best Supporting Actress – Monique for Precious.  She’ll deserve it, too, as she really went to the limit in portraying the mother from Hell.  That said, I’d like to see Vera Farmiga win.  She was absolutely perfect in Up in the Air.

Best Original Screenplay – This is either going to The Hurt Locker or Inglourious Basterds.  I think this will be the consolation prize for The Hurt Locker.  If Basterds does win, then it means I was probably wrong about the “Best Director” category and Bigelow will get that one as her consolation.

Best Adapted Screenplay – I think this one will go to Up in the AirPrecious has a real chance, though.  My pick would be In the Loop, but that ain’t gonna’ happen. 

Best Animated FilmUp.  It’s commercial, it’s good, it’s Pixar.  This is probably the one pick I’m most certain of.  That said, I’d be happy to be proven wrong and see The Fantastic Mr. Fox get it instead.

Best Documentary – I haven’t seen most of these, but this category tends to reward socially relevant movies about topics of current interest.  With that in mind, I think it’s going to be Food, Inc.  That just happens to be the one documentary on the list I’ve actually seen, and I liked it, so I’d be happy with that outcome.

And that’s as far down the list as I’m going to go, folks.  The awards ceremony airs Sunday March 7, 2010 on ABC, so I’ll find out then how good my prognostication skills are.


The Film Connoisseur said...

I hope Bigelow wins. Cant believe no woman has ever won an Oscar for best director. Plus, she deserves it. She went to freaking Iraq to shoot that movie, under bullets and blood.

James Cameron was sitting tight behind a computer screen with computer geeks. Bigelow deserves it, plus, Cameron already won an Oscar for best director right?

Also, Im rooting for Fantastic Mr. Fox or Coroline, either two were way better then Up in my opinion. Up was not the best Pixar movie I have seen. It was charming and cute, but they have done better movies.

Brian White said...

This is a great post Bob! I wish I had more time on my hands. I would love to write something up like this. Cheers for doing so!

I have to agree with FC...I kind of hope The Hurt Locker wins too. If Avatar wins it is going to have me pissed that The Dark Knight got shut out last year because of The Wrestler :-(

I need to check out that Mr. Fox movie on Blu-ray this March. I did not care for Coraline at all. It was so hyped at Comic-Con last year, but I was ever so disappointed by it. I sold that Blu-ray so fast!

Anonymous said...

interesting read. I would love to follow you on twitter.

Bob Ignizio said...

@ FC - I would love to be wrong and see 'Hurt Locker' win, I just don't think it's going to happen. In the end, I don't really look at the Oscars as a serious indicator of "the best" of anything, they're just kind of fun to watch.

@ Brian - I wasn't a big 'Coraline' fan, either. Good to know I'm not alone.

@ Anonymous - yeah, I've been told I need to get a Twitter account. Maybe I'll find the time to set it up this week. And thanks for reading, whoever you are.