This past Tuesday, the nominees for the 2010 Academy Awards were announced. Knee-deep in SF Sketchfest madness, I haven't had the time until now to really examine them--some surprises, some snubs, some head-scratchers...but who will go home with gold statuettes? My thoughts, category by category (save for technical categories and some of the smaller ones)...
The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
WILL WIN: The Hurt Locker
SHOULD WIN: District 9
SNUBBED: Star Trek, Invictus
In order to include some big popcorn movies in addition to the usual arthouse fare, Oscar opened up the field to include 10 nominees instead of 5, a practice they used to do back in the early days of the ceremony. Very happy to see District 9 in there--Neil Blomkamp's original sci-fi thriller is deserving of some accolades. The Hurt Locker has a very good chance of pulling off the win, though I wouldn't be surprised if James Cameron's Avatar takes it, since it is now officially the highest grossing film of all time, just seven weeks into it's release. Moderately entertaining eye candy, Avatar is a technical marvel with a pretty bad script (does Cameron only have, like, 10 characters he just keeps recycling from film to film? Can Paul Reiser sue Giovani Ribisi for his copycat performance?) Surprised that Star Trek didn't get a nod, as it was popular with both audiences and critics alike. Biggest surprise here: The Blind Side. Middling reviews at best, it struck a chord with audiences but is considered to be a by-the-numbers manipulative heart-string tugger.
Kathryn Bigelow; The Hurt Locker
Jason Reitman; Up in the Air
James Cameron; Avatar
Lee Daniels; Precious
Quentin Tarantino; Inglorious Basterds
WILL WIN: Kathryn Bigelow
SHOULD WIN: Kathryn Bigelow
SNUBBED: Clint Eastwood; Invictus, Neil Blomkamp; District 9
Kathryn Bigelow did an outstanding job with The Hurt Locker--she crafts one taught, thrilling scene after another and guides an outstanding cast. She's helmed a lot of underrated actioners in the past (Point Break, Blue Steel, Near Dark, Strange Days) and it's great that she is finally getting the recognition she deserves. I'm hoping that James Cameron doesn't take it--after all, he is responsible for his deplorable screenwriting.
Jeff Bridges; Crazy Heart
George Clooney; Up in the Air
Colin Firth; A Single Man
Morgan Freeman; Invictus
Jeremy Renner; The Hurt Locker
WILL WIN: Jeff Bridges
SHOULD WIN: Jeremy Renner
SNUBBED: Sharlto Copley; District 9, Matt Damon; The Informant!
I confess, I haven't yet seen Crazy Heart, so it's hard for me to really pick Renner over Bridges, but Jeremy Renner was so fantastic in The Hurt Locker, it's hard to think of anyone eclipsing him. Freeman fully channeled Mandela in Invictus, but Oscar voters will probably feel he's been honored enough in the past. Look for Bridges to get that career-encompassing Oscar this year.
***NOTE: Went to a late showing of Crazy Heart last night, and holy lord, Bridges is good. He's such a dynamic, subtle actor, he inhabits the role of Bad Blake and you forget that behind the booze and country music is Bridges the actor. He's just as deserving as Renner.
Sandra Bullock; The Blind Side
Helen Mirren; The Last Station
Carey Mulligan; An Education
Gabourey Sidibe; Precious
Meryl Streep; Julie & Julia
WILL WIN: Sandra Bullock
SHOULD WIN: Carey Mulligan
SNUBBED: Melanie Laurent; Inglorious Basterds
Ok, even though I saw 50 movies released this year, I didn't see ANY of the above. I have screener copies of An Education, Precious and Julie & Julia awaiting me (thanks SAG!), but haven't had the chance to view them yet. I guess I really can't have a "should win" since I have nothing to base it on, but the few clips I've seen of Carey Mulligan are winning. I'll revise this section once I've viewed everything...
***Note: Last night, I watched An Education--and Mulligan was seriously fantastic, so I'll stick with her as my should win pick.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Matt Damon; Invictus
Woody Harrelson; The Messenger
Christopher Plummer; The Last Station
Stanley Tucci; The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz; Inglorious Basterds
WILL WIN: Christoph Waltz
SHOULD WIN: Christoph Waltz
SNUBBED: Anthony Mackie; The Hurt Locker, Alfred Molina; An Education
Mackie matched Renner's intensity in The Hurt Locker, it's appalling that he didn't get nominated. I really like Matt Damon a lot, but I thought his performance was kinda quiet and one note in Invictus, whereas his tremendous work in The Informant! went unnoticed. Nice to see Plummer get a nod (he's never been nominated before), but from what I've heard, The Last Station is one of those over dramatic period pieces that give period pieces a bad name. Waltz was the best thing about Inglorious Basterds, and is deserving of the award--you can't take your eyes off of him whenever he is on screen.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Penelope Cruz; Nine
Vera Farmiga; Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal; Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick; Up in the Air
WILL WIN: Mo'nique
SHOULD WIN: Mo'nique
SNUBBED: Diane Kruger; Inglorious Basterds
Granted, I haven't seen Precious, but Mo'nique is incredible in every clip I've seen. Farmiga was the best thing about Up in the Air, and would be deserving of the award in any other year, but Mo'nique is the closest thing to a lock we have this year. Kendrick was serviceable in Up in the Air, but a few moments rang false (her "crying" scene after her boyfriend breaks up with her, for one). Penelope Cruz? REALLY? Nine was savaged by critics, and I'm sorry, but half the time I have no idea what she is saying.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
WILL WIN: Up
SHOULD WIN: Fantastic Mr. Fox or Coraline
SNUBBED: 9; Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
What an amazing year for animation! Up was another outstanding Pixar entry (the ten minute romance montage at the top is one of the best pieces of filmmaking of the year, period), but it came in third in my book, behind Wes Anderson's delightful Mr. Fox and the Henry Selick/Neil Gaiman stop-motion masterpiece Coraline. It was also nice to see Disney return to hand-drawn animation with The Princess and the Frog, which may have only been so-so overall, but looked great, nonetheless.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Milk of Sorrow (Peru)
Un Prophete (France)
El Secreto de Sus Ojos (Argentina)
The White Ribbon (Germany)
WILL/SHOULD WIN: The White Ribbon
The White Ribbon, directed by Michael Haneke (who did the great Cache), already won the Palm D'or at Cannes and will mostly collect the award come Oscar night.
Mark Boal; The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino; Inglorious Basterds
Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman; The Messenger
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen; A Serious Man
Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Tom McCarthy; Up
WILL WIN: The Hurt Locker
SHOULD WIN: The Hurt Locker
SNUBBED: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber; (500) Days of Summer
The Hurt Locker is ripe with intense imagery, speeches and surprising twists and turns, and gave the actors a lot of work with. I'm surprised (500) Days of Summer was left off this list--it was a refreshing, original take on the rom com (though rang a bit too precious with some).
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell; District 9
Nick Hornby; An Education
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche; In the Loop
Geoffrey Fletcher; Precious
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner; Up in the Air
WILL WIN: Up in the Air
SHOULD WIN: Up in the Air
SNUBBED: Wes Anderson; Fantastic Mr. Fox
Up in the Air is a throwback to the screwball comedies of Preston Sturges, with a bit of Capra thrown in--this film has the chance to become a classic, a time capsule of the uncertain economic times we live in. Anderson's Mr. Fox was a delightful, fun adaptation of Roald Dahl's short story, and very much belongs on this list.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
The White Ribbon
WILL WIN: Avatar
SHOULD WIN: Avatar
SNUBBED: Star Trek; District 9; Where the Wild Things Are
Cameron's big blue pic should win this and most technical awards, which is why I won't detail any of the rest of them. Spike Jonz' Wild Things, though a bit of a disappointment, still looked amazing, and should have been nominated.
Good luck to all of the nominess--remember, it's an honor to be nominated!*
*ok, it's kinda bullshit to say that, I know...