Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Semi-Uninformed Oscar Post

I still enjoy the Oscars. Their prestige, if you can call it that, has worn off only because there are so many other awards shows littering the landscape now. Back in the day it seemed like there was one award show for maybe each entertainment medium (The Emmy's, The Grammy's etc.) Now there are all sorts out there. Do the Oscars matter? In the grand scheme of the planet Earth? No they don't. But as much as we as movie goers and movie lovers don't like to admit it, or we try to act like we're above it, we still argue about what was left off and not nominated, and, on Monday, will argue about what should have won. Its fun to do. And every so often the academy will get things right. Sometimes really right. And sometimes, oh so wrong. But I feel like, and I am generalizing, for the most part they are at least somewhere close to what they are trying to honor. And like every human endeavor, sometimes it goes off the rails. My point being, I guess, against my better instincts I always get excited around this time of year. I mean, we all have opinions, and we all have dogs in these races. And it becomes kind of fun. And I actually do enjoy watching the shows. Maybe not all the dance numbers and what not, but its fun to watch and see what happens. I also happen to like montages (this year its a horror homage, nice!), so there's that. I also love the latter day work of Alec Baldwin, so having him co-host is just icing on the cake. And, yes, I realize intellectually, deep down, that is a bunch of millionaires playing make believe patting each other on the back. But without them, what am I going to do with my free time?

Anyway, I say this is semi-uninformed because as one can tell, I am a bad film blogger in that I haven't seen everything nominated. Which, I know, is next to impossible. Either I didn't want to and am baffled at its nomination anyway (The Blind Side) or I simply didn't get the chance (i.e. no days off to treat myself to double and triple features) Three I would have liked to have seen but ran out of time are:
-The White Ribbon
-Up In The Air
-A Single Man

So, I mean, I know about these films, and other one nominated, but I haven't seen anything. So I am sort of like much of America. But I thought I would comment on a few of the biggies:

Actor In A Leading Role
I feel, like the frontrunner here is still Jeff Bridges who rose above some not-so-great-writing and created a great character in Bad Blake. I have heard amazing things about Colin Firth in A Single Man, but I haven't actually seen it yet. I have heard, in general, its a better movie than Crazy Heart, which I could believe. I said it before, I wouldn't mind if Jeff Bridges won, I really like him. But I have to give props to Jeremy Renner, who, I think, who portrayed one of the best characters to come down the pike in years, SSG William James, in The Hurt Locker.

Actor In A Supporting Role
I'm sure I just did what a lot of people have had to do and looked up The Last Station to be reminded what it was. Ah...the one about Tolstoy. Got it. One thing about these particular Oscars, is that either they are going to be very predictable, or people thought they were going to be predictable and there are going to be a bunch of surprises. This is one of those times when I would be very happy if the predictions came true. But I have to admit I haven't seen any of the other movies in this category.

Christoph Waltz as Col. Hand Landa deserves it. He is so good in Inglourious Basterds, its ridiculous. Although, I am sad that Melanie Laurent didn't garner a nomination, but I'll take what I can get.

Actress In A Leading Role

Call me an East Coast Liberal Elitist, if you must, and you might if you knew I haven't seen the movie, but I am absolutely baffled at the Oscar love that The Blind Side is getting. It looked awful, and so did Sandra Bullock, but here she and it is. I feel like this is going to come down to a three way race between Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe (I also haven't seen Precious, sorry), and Meryl Streep. I have seen An Education and Julie and Julia and I thought that Carey Mulligan's performance in An Education was a revelation and Meryl Streep as Julia Child, was the best part of that particular movie. This is a hard one to call, but I feel like either they academy will award the newcomers like Sidibe or Mulligan, or go with the leader of the Actress Old School, and reward Meryl Streep again. We'll see which way the Academy is pitched this year.

Actress In A Supporting Role

Some old school Oscar wisdom, that you hear every year is that the Supporting Actor categories are where the really meaty acting parts are. There is something to that I think. Not always, but often, I think. This time this category has me flummoxed because all I know is while she did a good job, Maggie Gyllenhaal really doesn't deserve to win for Crazy Heart. But it looks like Mo'Nique might be the one to beat on this night for a performance that looks nuts from Precious.

Animated Feature Film

Hey, I have actually seen three of these, and its not just for that reason that I put them as the frontrunners: those being Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Up. (Although I have heard good things about The Secret of the Kells. For one thing I thought 2009 was a great year for innovative and thoughtful children's movies. I'm gonna have to think that Up is the frontrunner here (The Saving Private Ryan effect, maybe, where a movie is awarded for its opening sequence? Personally, I liked the whole thing, but some might say that...) But, really, I would be happy if any of those three came out on top.

I guess, Avatar is going to take a lot of the special effects-related awards, I am guessing.I'm not sure what else to comment on. Oh wait, here's a few (lucky you):

Music (Original Score)
Goodness, I hope they don't decide to award Avatar here too. Because, much like the movie that it comes from, it is pretty derivative of what he has done before. I have to confess that I don't recall the score from The Hurt Locker, I'm not saying it wasn't good, it might be but I suppose its not as memorable as its images. But it MUST have helped out in the tension department in this movie...that being said, again, I could go any of three ways here, Alexandre Desplat for The Fantastic Mr. Fox,

Hans Zimmer's score was surprisingly good for Sherlock Holmes, and, of course, Michael Giacchino for Up. I feel like Zimmer might be the industry favorite after Horner, but Desplat and Giacchino, two relative upstarts could nab it too. I am having a hard time making a decision here so, I will cop out again, and say if any one of those win, I will give a polite golf clap and be happy.

Music (Original Song)
I have to plead the fifth on most of these too, but if The Weary Kind
by Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett happened to win, it would be very nice, The music for Crazy Heart from Burnett is "crazy" good. Ha!

Writing (Adapted ScreenplayI
I need a ruling on this one. What exactly makes a screenplay adapted? Say with District 9 is it "adapted" because they adapted it from their own script which was originally a short film? Because I don't think there was another source for this one. Looking at the nominees I would like Nick Hornby's adaptation of An Education to take it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Precious is going to take this one.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
This is another category with a lot of good and interesting nominees. And, while I have not seen it, I have heard that The Messenger, while not perfect, is actually really good. The other four, Up, The Hurt Locker, A Serious Man, and Inglourious Basterds are all pretty solid. But I will just come out and say it, if there is any justice (and there usually isn't) Tarantino will take this one, not only is the story something to behold, but his dialogue, most of which isn't in English, is just amazing. I feel like he was at the top of his game here and should get rewarded. But my opinion doesn't add up to hill of beans, really.


My favorite would be Tarantino, of course. He directed (and wrote) my favorite movie of the year. And I thought he really elevated his game here as well. I mean just look at the first scene alone, amazing stuff. But it would be awesome to see Kathryn Bigelow win too, making her the first woman to win a best director oscar, and the film she made was amazing too. Also, it would be so great to see James Cameron 1) lose and 2) pretend to be happy for her.

Best Picture

Also, what I don't understand is Up is nominated for Best Picture and for Best Animated Feature? I thought they increased the field to ten to spread the love around a little. Want something more populist? How about slotting Star Trek in there or something? And there's The Blind Side again. Best Picture, really? Here is an example where I think the Academy comes close to getting it right: 7 of their ten nominated movies were on my 2009 Best Of of them was even my number one. I'm not sure if I should be proud of my powers of prediction or a little wary that my tastes seem to be aligning so much with the Academy. Maybe they are just getting smarter, who knows. Anyhow I think this comes down to the same two movies here as in the directing categories, my personal, sentimental favorite would, of course, be Inglourious Basterds . But all signs seem to be pointing towards a win for The Hurt Locker, and believe me, I would have absolutely no qualms if The Hurt Locker won. I really loved that too. Basically, the Academy would have to go pretty far to upset me in this category. So, all in all, it should be an interesting night.

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