“With the 82nd Annual Academy Awards upon us in just a few days (3 days, 23 hours according to the countdown on IMDB) guess its just about that time I do my predictions/choices/thoughts in general write up about this year’s big event, yeah? Typically I go thru EW’s 25 Movies You Need to See Before the Oscars, but while I actually managed more of those this year than ever (23 of 25. Coulda gotten the other two if I really wanted) given that a good number of ’em were a bit off the mark, I think it makes more sense to go thru the nominees systematically. Apologies if I sound like a broken record, repeating comments I may have made in my write ups or in conversation. Least Im consistent, yeah?
Figure I’ll start with the big ones and work my way down, so I can call it quits when I get tired. And the usual “”this is just personal opinion blah blah blah”” thing applies here as always, so without further ado…
I’ll talk about these in the order I would rank them, were I a voting member of the Academy
Up In The Air – Kind of a toss up which I’d put as my first choice between this and Basterds. But I think that for the overall package, Up In the Air was the best picture. The cast was as good as you could possibly get, the story was interesting and timely, the dialogue was funny, everything was near perfection, I thought. And it fit so well with what’s going on in the world today, that it just makes sense to me that this is the best choice. Sadly, it’s lost most of the momentum it had when it first opened. It went from being one of the top contenders to well, not in just a few short weeks.
Inglorious Basterds – This would be my personal fave of the bunch, and we all know one of the main reasons why. Yes, I am a Tarantino junkie. Now, Basterds wasn’t quite at the level of Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs, but compared to movies made by just about anyone else on the planet, this was pretty impressive. Basterds also had the entire package: great writing, great cast, great visuals, and the list goes on. With the new voting system, Basterds is poised to pull off an upset in this race. And while it means I’d lose points in my Oscar predictions pool thing, they’re points I would gladly give up…Since I like saying this, even though I know I’ve said it before, Id have given anything to sit at the Basterds table at the Globes. Those people were having soooo much fun.
The Hurt Locker – The main race seems to be between Hurt Locker and Avatar, and all I gotta say about that is Avatar had better not \m/ win. I’ll talk more on Avatar when I get to its spot on my list, but Hurt Locker is the far superior movie. Yet another solid nominee with the best of everything. Even on a second viewing, I was on the edge of my seat during most scenes. When I’d first heard of this movie, I’d thought the whole “”war movie”” thing was way overdone, but Locker actually manages to bring some fresh perspective to that jaded genre.
District 9 – Personal preference definitely gives this one a boost on the list. Can I just say first of all how happy it makes me that this film scored a nod. Love love love that the Academy acknowledged a summer blockbuster, and while its not the one I woulda hoped for (Star Trek *tear*) its very deserving. Perfect mix of political allegory with action packed sci-fi. Not a combination I would have thought would ever work so well, and doubtful if anyone could ever pull it off again. Doesn’t have a prayer in hell of winning, but the recognition is nice.
An Education – This movie was one of the most pleasant surprises at the movies this year. From the plot, I woulda never expected to go see this one, much less enjoy it so thoroughly. But it was so fun and quirky (reminiscent of Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, vibe wise at least), and Carey Mulligan was fantastic (more on her later). Im actually really anxious for the DVD so I can watch it again.
Up – As much as I enjoyed this film, I dont think its quite the be all and end all of animated film that people make it out to be. Similarly to Wall-E last year, I thought the first half had some of the most beautiful moments Ive ever seen in a movie (Im particularly thinking of the silent bit). But then the second half just fell flat. I feel like people tend to focus on the better half when they’re raving about the movie, but I tend to think of the later one. Unclear if thats just from my tendancy to be a nonconformist, of if its because the end of the movie is what Im left with afterwards? I dont know.
Precious – Not sure how much I hafta say about this one now. Its was your typical Oscar bait movie, but that doesnt necessarily take away from how powerful the movie was. It was a bit heavy handed, but I think that was part of the point, yeah?
Avatar – Here’s my beef with Avatar. First of all, know that I did enjoy this movie. Very much so. But I dont think its a “”best picture”” movie. Yes, the visual and the effects were phenomenal, ground breaking cinema. For that reason, I fully support any technical award(s) it may receive. But the rest of the package doesnt measure up. I would go so far as to say it was sub-par, but it was definitely below the high bar set by some of the other nominated films. The cast was nothing too special, the plot was dull. Its like the movie is completely relying on the visual to carry it through, which (no matter how good that element is) I dont think it should be enough to have the movie win this race.
The Blind Side – When I saw this movie on the list, my reaction was “”huh.”” Notice that’s with a . not a ? Kinda like how Eddie Izzard said “”I like to end my shows with a kinda ‘huh’ feeling, and I believe I’ve done that”” That same feeling. It was a good movie. Points to the academy for recognizing one of the more popular movies of the past year. But I dont really think it was anything to really write home about. Im not necessarily complaining about it garnering a nod, but there’s others I woulda ranked higher.
A Serious Man – This is the only nomination that got an “”aw hell no”” out of me. I’ve found this movie is quite polarizing. You either love it or hate it. There’s more people who love it, but I think us “”hate it””s are more vehement. I didnt get it at all, but I could have potentially appreciated it more if I was clued in to the whole Job parallel beforehand.
Who’s Missing? – I would have loved to see Star Trek make the cut. It was a big of a longshot, but I had hope the super size nominee list would have helped. That was my fave movie of the past year. As far as summer blockbusters go, that was perfection: action packed, great comic relief, wonderful cast. Nothing else you could have hoped for…I would also have liked to see The Messenger make the shortlist. Were this a few years ago, its exactly the kind of film that woulda been nominated. Though of course at the time the complaint woulda been that it was yet another nominee no one saw. But I thought it was a very powerful and interesting film…The other longshot hopeful was (500) Days of Summer. I hate rom-coms but I absolutely loved every minute of Summer. Also, The Hangover’s win at the Globes and inclusion in AFI’s list of 10 best of last year gave me a distant hope for a nod. Didnt expect it, but it woulda been wicked cool. And since its the only one of my fave movies of last year that hasn’t been mentioned: where’s the love for Zombieland? I know, longshot doesnt even begin to cover it, but hey a girl can dream right?
The rest of these should start getting a bit shorter.
Best actor. Jeff Bridges has it in the bag. I wont argue that. If we’re looking career wise, yes he’s overdue. And he was quite impressive in Crazy Heart. However, personally I thought that Colin Firth had the strongest performance. A Single Man was so hauntingly good, and Firth’s performance had such an understated and contained intensity. As far as the rest of the boys–George Clooney for Up in the Air, Morgan Freeman for Invictus, Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker–I have no complaints. All are very deserving of the nominations.
Who’s Missing? – I really hoped Ben Foster would be up here for The Messenger. It wasn’t very likely, but I felt his performance was stronger than Woody Harrelson who did score a nod. Then again I might just still be a bit bitter that Foster didnt get the supporting nod for 3:10 to Yuma a few years back. Also would have liked to see Matt Damon for The Informant! but I actually dont think I’d wanna displace any of the nominees for him. Tobey Maguire in Brothers is another I’d have liked to see make the cut.
The one that’s really gonna come down to the wire. Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side vs Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia. Depends on which camp you belong to: Should an Oscar be awarded for a single performance, or should the whole career and Oscar history be taken into consideration? Between the two, Bullock had the bigger arc and the most substance to her performance. On the other hand, Streep is LONG overdue for statue number 3, and given that its Bullock’s first nod, that should be enough, yeah? If I were voting, I’d go for Streep cause she’s my favorite but I wont complain if Sandy wins. That said, I think the best performance in this category was actually Helen Mirren. I dont expect her to stand a chance. Not many people saw The Last Station, and she just won a few years ago. But I was definitely most impressed with her. Gabourey Sidibe and Carey Mulligan were both fantastic in Precious and An Education, respectively. I think if Ellen Paige isn’t available when they make a movie about my life one day (cause its sooo gonna happen…right) then I’d be more than happy for Mulligan to take her place. Although as loveable as those girls may be, this year is definitely gonna award a longstanding career, one way or the other.
Who’s missing – Yeah cant really think of anyone
Best Supporting Actor
Most of the time, I’ll moderately agree with the frontrunners. I’ll be fine with them winning, but I woulda gone a different direction. For best supporting actor, that is not the case. I whole heartedly agree with what everyone’s saying: the statue should go to Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds. Quirky, larger than life character with an unforgetable performance (three words: Thats a bingo!). And on top of that, he flowed gracefully in and out of not one, not two, not three, but FOUR languages. My next choice would be Woody Harrelson for The Messenger. I just love the fact that in the same year, he rocked an action comedy (Zombieland), appeared in a big budget blockbuster (2012) and got an Academy Award nomination (The Messenger). Actors who can pull of that sort of year have the highest respect from me I could possibly give them. Nothing too special about the rest of the guys in this category. No arguments about their nominations, and dont expect them to beat out Waltz.
Who’s Missing – Last year I woulda had a list that was twice the length of the nominees of men who were missing here. This year all I gotta say is that I really do think Stanley Tucci was nominated for the wrong film. While his role in The Lovely Bones was more intense and a bigger stretch for him, his role in Julie & Julia was far more memorable in a much better film.
Best Supporting Actress
This one’s going to Mo’Nique for Precious. No contest. And no real argument from me here either. Watching it, knowing early on she was the front runner, I was about half way sold. Then we got to the last ten minutes of the film and I wanted to just run up there and hand her an Oscar. I dont think anyone in the theater was left unaffected by that scene. In spite of that, Im not sure that I would vote for her. I personally prefered Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air (and not because Im a Twi-hard, because Im very much not). I connected with her a lot better, which makes sense. Not much of a stretch to believe I’d relate to her better. But she also had a really big arc that I hadn’t expected, and for that young thing to stand her ground (and then some) against George Clooney is no easy feat (that’s how Vera Farmiga rightfully earned herself a spot here too). She was also quite spunky, which is another plus for me. As for the rest of ’em, I was happy about Maggie Gyllenhaal sneaking onto the list. I wasn’t particularly impressed with her in Crazy Heart, but she is a fave of mine and Im glad she can now introduce herself as “”Academy Award Nominee Maggie Gyllenhall””. Penelope Cruz seemed like an obvious choice for a nomination. I do love her, but Nine was kinda weak.
Who’s missing – The girls of Inglorious Basterds. Diane Kruger got a nomination or two along the way this awards season, but I really loved Melanie Laurent (bad ass chicks get more points in my books, and she was as tough as those cookies come). Woulda been happy to see either here.
This one’s going to Katheryn Bigelow, which is very deserved. The whole feel of The Hurt Locker is just so real and powerful. We all know who my vote woulda gone to, though. I wont go into yet another “”I \m/ love Quentin Tarantino”” rant, but just know that I do. I’d love to see Jason Reitman win one of these one year, but this aint his year. James Cameron is another kinda obvious one to show up here. Nothing in particular to say about Lee Daniels.
Who’s Missing – Im fine with the list as is, but it’d have been cool to see Tom Ford for A Single Man. If this was a few months ago, I would have been surprised that Clint Eastwood didnt make it for Invictus, but that one also lost momentum along the way.
Best Original Screenplay
Its between The Hurt Locker and Inglorious Basterds. Basically what I said for director goes here too. Wont complain if Mark Boal takes it for Hurt Locker, but I’d like it to go to Tarantino for Basterds. And he’s actually got a decent shot here. Happy for The Messenger getting a nod. Definitely a really good really original film. I’ll refrain from ranting about A Serious Man. Am I the only one who thinks Up is here just cause people wanted to find one more nomination to give it?
Who’s Missing – (500) Days of Summer. So inventive and sweet and funny and great overall. I still think the split screen scene is one of the cleverest bits I’ve ever encountered.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Odds are this is Up in The Air’s only real chance at a win, but it’d be a good win. The writing was just fantastically brilliant. Snappy and clever dialogue, wonderful characters, timely theme that’s not too forced or overdone. I actually just finished reading the book a few weeks ago, and the screenplay is a great adaptation. Reitman and Turner started from a good source and made it even more relevant and fitting for today. I’d also be happy if District 9 took it. Just reread my comments up in best picture about the scifi/allegory balance. Should note that I haven’t seen In the Loop. From the categories I care about, its pretty much the only one Im missing. But since Im not expecting it to win, Im in no rush to see it.
Who’s Missing – I can tell you who’s not missing: The Lovely Bones. Just finished the book two days ago. I think if I’d read it first I would have absolutely hated the movie. It soooo missed the point completely.
That about does it for the categores I really have something to say about. Few other assorted thoughts:
-Up is a shoo-in for animated feature. For the animation itself I woulda gone with Fantastic Mr Fox, but I do think that Up was the overall better movie. Also sad that Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs lost that last spot
-Im rooting for The White Ribbon for Best Foreign Picture. Having seen and absolutely loved Funny Games in all its effed up absurdity (even if it was just the remake), I’ve been really interested in Michael Haneke. Never quite managed to see The White Ribbon, but would very much like to at some point.
-Star Trek is predicted to win Best Makeup, so I like the idea that it will likely be an academy award winning film.
-Anyone else find it kinda funny that Ryan Bingham is the name of Clooney’s character in Up in the Air and one of the nominees for best song (The Weary Kind from Crazy Heart)?”