Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Nominations Conisdered AGAIN

We come once again to the time of yelps for joy and nerdy hand-wringing-Oscar Nominations. Below you will find a list of the nominees and below each individual list my thoughts on who belongs, who doesn't and who was snubbed. Just a quick FYI I took out Documentary short subject as well as the shorts category as I've seen none of the films nominated and can't really speak with any authority on them. All due respect to the people who put the care and effort into these films but well, there just aren't a lot of opportunities to watch them. Hopefully digital media should change this soon. Anyone curious about my thoughts on the other categories please feel free to ask in the comments.

Best Picture
Avatar: James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
The Blind Side: Nominees to be determined
District 9: Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
An Education: Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
The Hurt Locker: Nominees to be determined
Inglourious Basterds: Lawrence Bender, Producer
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire: Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
A Serious Man: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
Up: Jonas Rivera, Producer
Up in the Air: Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman, and Jason Reitman, Producers

Thoughts: Avatar's nomination was inevitable and it's definitely the sort of popular, attention grabbing film that the population can get behind and thus have a stake in the Oscars and boost ratings. That being said, its presence negates the need for the Blindside. Even the film's strongest supporters couldn't contend there are more deserving films that have been shunted aside for its spot. Unless of course those supporters are the sort that only see two or three movies a year (which indeed may be the case with many Blindside fans). It's very cool to see Up in the category since it further legitimizes animation as a method of storytelling instead of a separate genre to the mainstream. I'm pleased and surprised to see An Education in here but I don't have any expectations it will win. Congrats to District 9 too who wins just by being nominated. Precious was always going to be here but its subject matter may be too distressing for older (and let's face it, white) voters.

Will Win:I still put my money on Up in the Air for being topical and appealing to the highest number of voters. Still I'd love to be wrong and have it be Hurt Locker (Bigelow's DGA win is a handy indicator that UITA may be upset).

Should Win:Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds are both films people will be talking about LONG after 2009. The craft behind them is too strong to not make them indelible. A Serious Man is simply too dense and polarizing to connect with viewers but the more I think about the film the more I find to relish.

Snubbed: I will maintain for a long time that In the Loop was one of the best to come out this year (certainly the funniest). I had high hopes for the thuoghtful, somber Where the Wild Things Are but I can understand voters not getting it. Surprised to see Crazy Heart represented in other categories but not here. Same goes for the Messenger.

Actor in a Leading Role
Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart
George Clooney in Up in the Air
Colin Firth in A Single Man
Morgan Freeman in Invictus
Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker

Thoughts: This was a pretty predictable bracket with the exception of (deserving) wild-card Renner. I'm actually pleased to Freeman in here as he really nails Mandela. Clooney as it his Clooney-ist is UITA and does nice work with it but it doesn't feel very stretchy. He shows himself to be vulnerable, sure, but it doesn't feel brave. The real contest is Bridges and Firth. Bridges perf feels very lived-in while Firth is a revelation. Neither man's work is overtly showy which is a nice change of pace but both are honest and exciting.

Will Win: Bridges will likely ride on the traction of his previous wins. Plus he gets the nod for representing a career's worth of great work.

Should Win: That being said Firth's work made me (and doubtless many other viewers) completely re-evaluate what the man is capable of.

Snubbed: Michael Stuhlbarg's wonderful, desperate work in A Serious Man is missing. Also, if you want to go quirky Matt Damon's very funny, very different sort work in The Informant! is woefully absent. Frankly i found Tobey Maguire's work in brothers to be powerful, unpredictable stuff. The actor showed depths I hadn't previously seen and as his character's psychosis grew I genuinely feared him. I didn't believe him as a baddie in the Good German but he sure as hell is believable in this. Sam Rockwell has his supporters for his intense work in Moon but the Oscars almost never reward genre performances.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Matt Damon in Invictus
Woody Harrelson in The Messenger
Christopher Plummer in The Last Station
Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds

Thoughts: This has always been Waltz's to lose. He won't. Boy will I be ticked if he does lose. Also Damon in Invictus is so damn inconsequential, what they're really doing is rewarding his physical transformation from The Informant! to soccer star.

Will Win: Waltz.

Should Win: That's a BINGO!

Snubbed: Frankly I would switch out Tucci in Lovely bones and replace him with Tucci in Julie & Julia. Wouldn't mind seeing some love for Christian McKay in Me & Orson Welles. Oh also Peter Capaldi and James Gandolfini deserve nods for their work in In the Loop.

Actress in a Leading Role
Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
Helen Mirren in The Last Station
Carey Mulligan in An Education
Gabourey Sidibe in Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia

Thoughts: I know what's going to happen here. I know what's going to happen and I don't like it one bit. Sidibe is too young and I can't see her career extending past the film (though you could say the same for Jennifer Hudson, who basically won an award for singing a song well). Mirren doesn't have the traction she had with Queen, Last Station is too unknown. People love Streep (and it's certainly jusitified for her work here), but the movie may be too light for it to be a contender.

Will Win: That leaves Bullock for playing a sassy-brassy Texas mom who just can't help but be wonderful and help the under-privileged. I'm glad that Bullock is trying to push herself dramatically but come on. This is not the best female performance of the year.

Should Win: From this list it's Mulligan who gives a real, lived in performance. Oh wel,, I see a very long career ahead for this girl and the traction from the nomination should only help her career.

Snubbed: AGH! Where is Tilda Swinton whogave one of the years best performances in Julia? What's especially damning is that the role is so different from the ice queens (both literal and figurative) that Swinton normally play. Abbie Cornish's delightful work in Bright Star (a movie that's generally been ignored this award season) is also deserving.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Penélope Cruz in Nine
Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air
Mo’Nique in Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

Thoughts: Pretty much the bracket we've seen all season with the exception of Cruz. I can't begin to fathom what she's doing here. She sings fine, but if you had to pick someone from Nine it should have been Cotillard (again if you HAD to pick someone from Nine). Kendrick has a whole career ahead of her so we'll see her again. Gyllenhaal is great but there is nothing that feels unique in the part that suggests that only she could play it.

Will Win: Mo'Nique. It's a big, powerful performance from someone who has been in the industry for a while but has never pushed herself dramatically on this kind of platform. It feels like a "brave" vote for voters.

Should Win: Farmiga does subtle work in UITA and does what no woman with the exception of JLo has done in a film. That is, have genuine charisma with Clooney. She's that rarity in film; a career driven woman who really does have it all and plays it convincingly.

Snubbed: Melanie Laurent's Shoshana from Basterds goes from victim to angry wrath of God and the movie is richer for it. The role is a wonderful showcase for the actress and a fascinating character. Samantha Morton's work in The Messenger is nuanced, moving stuff. She does a lot with not a lot of screen-time. Rachel Weisz also brings heretofore unseen comic chops in Brothers Bloom and kind of makes fans re-evaluate her.

Animated Feature Film
Coraline: Henry Selick
Fantastic Mr. Fox: Wes Anderson
The Princess and the Frog: John Musker and Ron Clements
The Secret of Kells: Tomm Moore
Up: Pete Docter

Thoughts: Most years this is Pixar and whatever animated movie came out that yar. This year, however, I'm pleased to say this is a legitimately solid field. Except of course for Secret of Kells which apparently was only released to voters and came with copious bjs and hjs. I'm sorry if Oscar nomination morning Roger Ebert tweets he's never heard of your film there is something MIGHTY fishy going on. Kels aside, I thoroughly enjoyed all of these films and what's more they all feel different. Great year for animation.

Will Win: Up. Because despite all the competition Up still has got it.

Should Win: Up.

Snubbed: Such a rich year that three better known films could just as easily takes Kels spot. First, there's the much better than you'd think Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Don't let the advertising fool you, this was maybe the movie that made me laugh third-most of any movie I saw this year (behind In the Loop and Zombieland). I've heard wonderful things about a Town Called Panic (though it never played near me) and the same goes for Miyazaki's Ponyo.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
District 9: Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
An Education: Screenplay by Nick Hornby
In the Loop: Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, and Tony Roche
Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire: Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
Up in the Air: Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Thoughts: Yay, finally a nod to the brilliant In the Loop. I'm a bit baffled that having a pre-existing character in your film suddenly shuts you out from an original screenplay nom, but there you go. Similarly District 9 being based on Blomkamp's short-film feels pretty weak to render it adapted. These were big, exciting ORIGINAL ideas people. Anyway it's Reitman's to lose as he's been cleaning up all over the place for this one.

Will Win: Reitman and Turner (doubt Turner will be at the awards).

Should Win: I'd love to see the In the Loop guys take it. I'm sure the speech would be wonderful and if the fun and good reviews didn't encourage them to make another movie maybe the award would. Also wouldn't mind hearing Nick Hornby's speech. Always awesome.

Snubbed: Where the Wild Things Are, no doubt a challenge to adapt but I think they perfectly captured the tone of the thing. Crazy Heart is apparently based on a novel and it's script is pretty tight despite the hangdog aesthetics that abound in the film.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Hurt Locker: Written by Mark Boal
Inglourious Basterds: Written by Quentin Tarantino
The Messenger: Written by Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman
A Serious Man: Written by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Up: Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter; Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, and Tom McCarthy

Thoughts: Great line-up. No complaints here. Thank goodness Avatar wasn't nominated. Even the film's most ardent defenders couldn't possibly champion the script.

Will Win: This would probably be a sure thing for Hurt Locker...

Should Win: ...but oh man it would be so cool to see Quentin get the nod for his talky, extremely unconventional WWII film.

Snubbed: You could make an argument for (500) Days of Summer...if you've never seen Annie Hall.

Avatar: James Cameron
The Hurt Locker: Kathryn Bigelow
Inglourious Basterds: Quentin Tarantino
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire: Lee Daniels
Up in the Air: Jason Reitman

Thoughts: Precious is known far more for its performances than its direction (though OBVIOUSLY the two are intertwined). Frankly Reitman's been a bit of a snotty shit on the campaign trail and lord knows Cameron doesn't need the ego boost. That really brings it down to two.

Will Win: Bigelow has been churning out quality action films for nearly three decades. She has mastered her craft and creates taut films. Throw in the weight and timeliness of the Iraq war and the Hurt Locker looks like a lock. Plus the Oscars are long overdue to reward a female director (especially one who deserves it).

Should Win: Bigelow, though Tarantino brings equal portions manic energy and grace to Basterds so I wouldn't mind it if he upsets.

Snubbed: Spike Jonze does a pretty remarkable job with Wild Things, both in terms of technical work and performances. The Coens do career best work in A Serious Man but the work was likely too personal and inaccessible for many.

1 comment:

ComicInks said...

"Jennifer Hudson, who basically won an award for singing a song well"

haha, this is true.