Early this morning, just after the groundhog saw his shadow, the 82nd annual Academy Award nominations were announced by the lovely Miss Hathaway and AMPAS President Tom Sherak (full list here). There were very few if any surprises but on the blind, I mean bright side, there were no travesties comparable to last year's controversial snubbing of The Dark Knight for Best Picture. I've already weighed in on the pros and cons of this newly expanded Best Picture category so now we finally get to see the result of it and whether the films the Academy selected justify such an overhaul (HINT: Probably not).
While I've still yet to see ALL of the ten nominees, on paper it mostly just looks like more of the same from them, which makes sense since the problem was always their elitist taste not the number of films nominated. But some progress was made and at least an attempt was made to reach out to the mainstream...in their own way. The big showdown we've been building toward the last month or so between Avatard and The Hurt Locker is coming to fruition and is in many ways representative of the ongoing clash between critical and commercial tastes at multiplexes. I wish I could be as excited about that showdown as everybody else if only I didn't suspect both were nominated for reasons other than their actual quality. Here's a look at THE TEN, along with my thoughts on other categories and developments. Again, some of these I haven't seen, but the same could probably be said of the voting Academy members.
Avatanic-That I still actually haven't seen this yet should give you an idea as to my lack of interest. A lot of people are very uncomfortable rewarding something like this (as was plainly visible during its Golden Globe victories) and I can understand why. A film shouldn't receive a Best Picture Oscar just because it has groundbreaking special effects and made truckloads of money. But it shouldn't be unfairly discriminated against for those reasons either. Or because everyone hates James Cameron. If it's worthy artistically then it should win. If not, then it shouldn't. It's that simple.
The Hurt Locker-On the complete opposite end of the spectrum we have a heavily overpraised film that's getting a lot attention because of its topic and the fact it was directed by a woman. Wait...women direct movies? Action movies? OMFG! The next thing you're gonna tell me is that they can vote. All this talk about the director's gender is getting out of hand and unintentionally diminishes what director Kathryn Bigelow accomplished, which was admittedly a lot. It's a terrific film but anyone thinking this is some kind of radical, risk-taking choice from the Academy are out of their minds. It's a film buff pick if there ever was one and casual viewers will likely flee the Oscar telecast in droves when they discover an Iraq war film is competing for Best Picture.
The Blind Side-I don't even know what to say. What's happened with this movie and Sandra Bullock over the past few months is shocking and probably the single biggest story surrounding this year's race. I'm sure I'll have a lot more to add after I actually view the film.
District 9-Rather than make a joke about how the Academy thought they were nominating a foreign film, I'll instead praise them for at least really trying to go out of their comfort zone here. Two sci-fi movies are nominated for Best Picture. No matter what you think of either, that's a victory. And if you're not a fan of Avatar there's even more reason to celebrate because the presence of this film could split votes and hurt its chances. In terms of being deserved in terms of quality I think it's right on the bubble but I'm more happy for what the nod signifies.
An Education-Who? What? Isn't this that art house movie starring that British girl with the pixie cut? That sound you hear...it's ratings for the telecast dropping a full point. That said, it's unfair to exclude films because no one has seen or heard of them and everything I've heard about this has been off the charts. I'm curious to see it even if it's unlikely many others are. Unfortunately, nominees like this are partly the reason why no one bothers watching the Oscars. Make of that statement what you will.
Inglourious Basterds- The most deserving film so therefore it won't win. Its lack of acting nominations outside of Christoph Waltz just sealed that deal.
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire- The acting is FAR more deserving of recognition than the actual film. I''ll just leave it at that.
A Serious Man-Seems to be in kind of the same boat as An Education. Critically acclaimed, but little known to say the least.
Up in the Air-No surprise at all here. Not as crazy about it as I was just after viewing it but the same could be said for 90% of the movies I see. More deserving in the writing category than any other but mostly don't have any major problems with it being nominated. Loved the ending.
Up- Completely undeserving, at least aside from the opening ten minutes. This is just a make up for last year's Wall-E snub. But things could have been worse--- like if Star Trek got in.
-Glad to see Invictus snubbed. Too many movies have already been nominated for the issues they cover rather than whether they're deserving.
- Even though it completely bombed, part of me thought (feared?) Nine would STILL be nominated just because it's a musical with a lot of stars. You know how they think.
-For my money, Melanie Laurent gave the best performance (lead or supporting, male or female) I saw all year in Inglourious Basterds and it's insane she was overlooked just because they couldn't figure out what category to put her in and ran a half-ass campaign.
-Jeff Bridges has this thing locked up.
-Ditto for Mo'Nique and Christoph Waltz.
-You could make a really strong case based solely on merit that The Hurt Locker's Jeremy Renner is the most deserving of that Best Actor Oscar.
-Sorry, but I still say Vera Farmiga's supporting performance in Up in the Air isn't Oscar worthy. Anna Kendrick is a closer call.
-Slightly surprised Matt Damon got a Supporting nod for Invictus. Same with Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones, which I keep hearing is awful, even though most of the complaints are coming from those who swear by the novel.
-Mismarketing and internet backlash cost (500) Days of Summer a Best picture slot, not to mention a Best Original Screenplay nod. If the studio releasing the film can't take its own movie seriously then why should the Academy?
-Is it just me or does this seem like an unusually weak year in the Best Actress category?
-Sharlto Copley should have been nominated for District 9.
-Still difficult to process that Sandra Bullock might win the Oscar for that movie. Unreal.