Tuesday, February 23, 2010
82nd Academy Awards Preview
Believe it or not, the Academy Awards are just a couple of days away. Am I the only one finding it hard to stop writing 2009 on things?
The year seemed to zip by...but not from the amount of quality movies. Overall, I thought 2009 was a weak year for movies, and ironically, the Academy expanded their Best Picture field to 10 movies in a year where they would have been hard pressed to pick 5 movies that really deserved to be nominated.
I do like the decision to nominate 10 films, as it does give acclaim to more commercially successful movies that wouldn't have been nominated had the field still included 5. But, even though there are 10 best picture nominees, there are probably 7 or 8 films that don't stand a chance of winning, making the expansion a moot point.
And let's face it, the move to 10 nominees is about increasing the Oscar TV rating, which have been slumping over the last several years. The Academy is hoping that fans of more commercially successful films such as Avatar, The Blind Side and Up will tune in.
There still were some really good movies in 2009. And most of them were actually nominated for Best Picture. But what I found lacking in 2009 were the amount of standout performances. Only Christoph Waltz from Inglourious Basterds really jumps to mind when I think of great performances of the year. Maybe Mo'Nique from Precious gets in there too. But George Clooney was George Clooney again in Up in the Air. Did he really need to be nominated? Seeing Jeff Bridges nominated for Crazy Heart is cool, since the performance is very close to his performance as The Dude in The Big Lebowski, a role he wrongly wasn't nominated for. But Bridges can play those roles in his sleep by now. And oh yeah, Meryl Streep was nominated for like the 82nd time in a row. Big surprise there!
But enough rambling. Let's take a look at the important categories.
What's nominated (picks in bold represent the movies nominated if the field was still five): Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, and Up in the Air.
What should have been nominated: Star Trek lacked the political messages in District 9, but Trek was much more fun. Crazy Heart should have been nominated in place of The Blind Side which was basically an overly sentimental made for TV movie that happened to feature a solid performance by Sandra Bullock. And while the first 15 minutes of Up was on par with the best of any nominee, the second half of the film was your typical Disney goofiness. I would have liked to see (500) Days of Summer or Sugar in its spot.
What will win: Avatar won the Golden Globe and still might be the favorite based on its technical achievements, financial success and treehugging political message, but my money is on The Hurt Locker, which has been gaining steam in recent months thanks to the buzz surrounding director Kathryn Bigelow, who is only the third female director nominated for Best Director.
What should win: I enjoyed The Hurt Locker, but I absolutely loved Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. His alternative take on WWII was a funny and suspenseful film that featured the most tense scene of 2009, and possibly, of all time (basement bar scene).
Who's Nominated: Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, Lee Daniels, Jason Reitman, Quentin Tarantino.
Who Will Win: Kathryn Bigelow. I think the Academy will make a statement (and history) by giving the statue to a female director for the first time ever.
Who Should Win: James Cameron. He created the technology used in Avatar, from performance capture to the next generation 3-D. And while Best Director is not a technical award, Cameron created the world in Avatar, he didn't just hand off the special effects to someone else. His stamp is all over this film.
Who's Nominated: Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman, Jeremy Renner.
Who Will Win: Jeff Bridges with Renner the second horse in this race.
Who Should Win: Jeff Bridges. His performance gives Crazy Heart its...crazy heart. Yeah, I just said that.
Who's Nominated: Sandra Bullock, Helen Mirren, Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe, Maryl Streep.
Who Will Win: Sandra Bullock. It was a good performance by an actress who has been the same in pretty much ever role she's ever had and made a ton of money in 2009. She's the hot pick.
Who Should Win: Gabourey Sidibe. Her performance in Precious was raw, heartbreaking and uplifting all at once.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Who's Nominated: Matt Damon, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Plummer, Stanley Tucci, Christoph Waltz.
Who Will Win: Christoph Waltz. He was the one standout performance of the year.
Who Should Win: Christoph Waltz. He was the one standout performance of the year.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Who's Nominated: Penelope Cruz, Vera Farmiga, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Anna Kendrick, Mo'Nique.
Who Will Win: Mo'Nique. Her performance as a despicable inner city mother in Precious is good we can't allow ourselves to sympathize with her when her character finally sees the error of her ways.
Who Should Win: Mo'Nique.
So there you have it. Do you agree with my picks? Let me know in the comment section below.