People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Friday, March 5, 2010
  Blogging the Oscars: Part 1
So it’s Oscar time once again, and I’m keeping up the tradition (now proudly in its second year!) of my two-part Oscar special. Today I’ll run through the big nominees and make my picks for the winners, and then on Monday morning you can read my liveblog of the awards show, and we can all find out how I did with my predictions. Last year I broke even at 3-3, and I hadn’t seen the majority of the nominated films. This year I’ve seen considerably more (I’ve seen six of the 10 Best Picture nominees; last year I’d seen none of the five nominees at the time of the show), and I so I feel like I should come out with a better record this time around.

Let’s do this thing!

Best Picture
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

My pick: Avatar. While I did like this movie quite a bit (I always give points to movies that can legitimately say they showed me stuff I’ve never seen in a movie before, and the 3D was awesome), I don’t think it has any business being on this list, other than it made a metric ton of money. It’s a fun sci-fi popcorn movie, and a token nomination would be one thing (particularly with the new 10 nominees thing, a.k.a the Dark Knight Rule), but the idea that Avatar is considered a front-runner just because it’s the highest-grossing movie of all time makes me vomit in my own mouth a little. I haven’t heard or read one compelling argument that this movie is actually one of the best films of 2009, I’ve just seen quotes of box office figures. Which is sad.

Regular readers know my dark horse pick is District 9, which I realize doesn’t have a hope in hell. If Avatar doesn’t win though, I’d expect it to go to Up in the Air, though that movie seems to have lost a lot of the early momentum it had a few months back. But my pick is Avatar, which is a dire commentary on the state of mainstream movies.
Or my own cynicism, whichever.

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

My Pick: Kathryn Bigelow. I’m almost tired (almost!) of singing Bigelow’s praises in this space, and I’ve already said more than once how awesome I think it is that she’s not only getting recognition for the brilliance of The Hurt Locker, but also that a woman is considered the front-runner for the Best Director Oscar for the first time in my lifetime. I can’t say enough good things about this movie or Bigelow, and I will do a dance of joy in my apartment if she wins. Or hurl something across the room if she doesn’t.

And Jason Reitman is Canadian. He won’t win, but if I fail to mention his heritage in an Oscar story, the Canadian government will take away my free health-care.

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

My Pick: Jeff Bridges. He seems to be tied with Christoph Waltz in the Heath Ledger Memorial Foregone Conclusion sweepstakes this year. He’s a wonderful actor, and while I haven’t seen Crazy Heart, I only hear good things about his work in it. But this also seems like one of those awards that, assuming Bridges wins, is more of a reward for larger body of work than this specific performance, and he definitely deserves it. Jeremy Renner would also be a pleasant surprise, but I think he’ll be just fine career-wise if he doesn’t win; the nomination for him was proof that he’s arrived.

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

My Pick: Sandra Bullock. Similar to Bridges, this is Bullock’s award to lose, and as much as I hear she’s quite good in The Blind Side, doing some “real” acting for a change, I can’t escape the feeling that her winning an Oscar has more to do with the Academy rewarding her for years and years of making hugely successful, if fluffy, romantic comedies. But every one else in this category seems like an outsider, except for Streep, and I think she has enough damn Oscars already.

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

My Pick: Christoph Waltz. He’s this year’s Heath Ledger, with the added bonus of still being alive. Nobody else in this category comes close.

Best Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

My Pick: Mo’Nique. I haven’t seen Precious, but I hear she’s incredible, and the fact that she’s actually a comedian turning in an Oscar-worthy serious performance seems to strike a chord with Academy voters (see also: Tom Hanks, Robin Williams). Anna Kendrick is fantastic in Up in the Air, but for some reason it’s widely held that her sharing a category with co-star Vera Farmiga will probably cost her the award (I still don’t understand that logic myself, but whatever). And I’ve said here before that as far as I’m concerned, the best supporting actress of 2009, Inglourious Basterds’ Mélanie Laurent (who is flat-out incredible), isn’t even nominated, which is easily the most criminal act in this year’s nominations.

Swing by Monday morning to see how right (or wrong) I am. If District 9 wins anything, I’ll be absolutely over the moon, and if The Hurt Locker gets shut out (there’s a really weird and, to me, vaguely upsetting rash of stories in the media right now that seem to be trying to tear the movie down, which I don’t understand, from the
suspiciously-timed lawsuit to stories about how real military bomb techs think it’s unrealistic), I’ll be filled with righteous fury. So come by Monday morning to get an update on my mental state, if nothing else. Should be good times.

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