Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oscar Nominations Are Out

Of course, today is the day where every critic and blogger weighs in on the pleasant surprises and bitter disappointments of this years Oscar nominees, which were announced today. I won't go over them in a super amount of detail seeing as so many people already have, but I will make a few small observations and ideas on who I think will win in each category.
  • Meryl Streep is, not surprisingly, nominated for her performance as Julia Child in Julie and Julia. It's another example of a mediocre movie getting recognized come awards season just because of Streep. Who will win is kind of a toss up in this category. It's nice that two youngins were nominated for Best Actress in Carey Mulligan for An Education and Gabourey Sidibe for Precious, but considering the year Sandra Bullock is having she may end up grabbing the award for The Blind Side.
  • Best actor will go to Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart. That's all there is to say here.
  • A couple of surprises for the supporting actor category came in Woody Harrelson for The Messengers and Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station, but neither of them will dismount Christoph Waltz as the villain in Inglourious Basterds who has been expected to win since the moment the film debuted at Cannes.
  • Supporting Actress will go to Mo'Nique for her amazing performance in Precious. Penelope Cruz is a surprise as she nabbed a nomination for her performance in Nine, the under preforming, uninspired musical remake of Fellini's 8 1/2. This adds special irony to the underground rumblings that the Weinstein Company had paid their way to a Golden Globe win for the film. However, it wouldn't be a true Oscar ceremony without Harvey Weinstein sneaking in someone in a role that doesn't deserve the recognition.
  • Will the animation category be shaken this year with Pixar's Up scoring a Best Picture nomination? The one entry that offered it any competition, Ponyo, is absent from the category. 
  • Once again Pedro Almodovar gets completely overlooked in the Foreign Film category, not snagging a nomination for his Broken Embraces. Although the Academy has pulled some fast ones in this category in the past (Pan's Labyrinth losing to Lives of Others in 2007), Michael Haneke's White Ribbon seems to be the front-runner here.
  • As good as Inglourious Basterds and Up in the Air are, the clear competition in the Best Director category will be between former spouses James Cameron for Avatar and Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. Cameron won the Golden Globe, Bigelow won the Director's Guild prize. The Director's Guild is usually the best predictor. Although I think Precious is a decent movie, I don't think Lee Daniels is a good enough filmmaker to be a competator.
  • And now, Best Picture. There are 10 nominations this year. I don't think there needs to be, as none of the other 5 seem like they have a chance against the five that would have been up for nomination in the first place (Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, Precious and Inglourious Basterds). I appreciate seeing the Coen Bros.' A Serious Man getting some recognition and Up gets a spot for animation, but really, District 9? Of all the good blockbuster entertainments in 2009, was District 9 really better than The Hangover or 500 Days of Summer?
  • Once again, Best picture will come down to The Hurt Locker and Avatar.
  • The Blind Side is also up for best picture. I haven't seen it and have sort of purposely avoided it because, even though it could be an uplifting and moving experience, I'm still a little skeptical about how, in 2009, Hollywood still feels that it needs a white person to tell a black person's story.
  • Finally, I'll repost a comment I left over at Sergio Leone and the Lefthand Fly Rule about the Academy's decision to have 10 nominees for best picture in order to hopefully open up the awards and let in films that were known more for their popularity than artistic merit:
"It's almost as if, by expanding the nominees to ten in an effort to get more mainstream movies nominated and translate that into more viewers, the Oscars are dulling their own significance. Now, instead of striving to be great art, all a film needs to do is be a big hit. Under this logic, why not nominate Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen as best picture? Surely there must have been some booms of applause at the multiplex for that one, no? In my opinion this is just plain silly. An Oscar nomination has always been a way for smaller or bigger more artistically sophisticated films to get marketed to a wider audience. If films like The Hangover, as good as they are, start getting nominated because of the ten slots, then the entire aura created from getting an Oscar nomination will be dulled and rendered meaningless (not that an Oscar win means much in reality, but you know what I'm saying). The Oscars, at their core, are a celebration of film for people who think of film as an art, a feeling, an emotion, a scent of some sort of magic in the air, etc, not just as pure entertainment and time passing titillation. Love the films they rejoice or not, they aren’t for the kids who spend every weekend of their summer gobbling popcorn at the multiplexes. Don't get me wrong, I love dumb summer entertainment as much as the next, and see no value in elitism or snobbery, but the moment those films enter into the Oscar circle is the moment the Oscars lose their specificity." Find a complete list of the nominations here.

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