Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My reaction to the Oscar nominations/early predix

“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”

Overall, I'm very pleased with the list, quality- and variety-wise. All of the pictures are, at the least, very good. I'm delighted that "A Serious Man" made the cut - I know it doesn't have a chance in hell of winning, but now more people might check it out and say "What the heck was THAT?" just like I did - in a good way. I'm also very pleased I went 9 for 10 in the first new year of 10 nominees. I had "Invictus" instead of "Blind Side," but I thought there was a strong chance that beloved hit could slip in.

Early predix: It's a three-way race between "Avatar," "Hurt Locker" and "Up in the Air." "Locker" has the momentum lately and could well take the prize, but I'm not completely sure yet. Avatar has vocal naysayers, but when you're the number 2 (and almost number 1) box office earner of all time, there's a lot of love out there too. And "Up in the Air" could still win for tapping into the nation's nervous pulse so well.

“Avatar” James Cameron
“The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow
“Inglourious Basterds” Quentin Tarantino
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels
“Up in the Air” Jason Reitman

Aced this. I think Bigelow's got this one, since Cameron already has his statues. And the Academy does like to be a history-maker.

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

Aced again. Bridges all the way. Take it to the bank. Bet the ranch. Sell your soul.

Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious”
Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”

And still another Ace. I had thought this was Streep's to lose, but with "Blind Side" getting a Best Picture nod, and "Julie & Julia" getting no other nominations, I have to think Bullock just took the lead. Yes, Streep is overdue for a win (she hasn't won since "Sophie's Choice" way back in 1983), but Streep has so many recent nominations, I'm guessing voters will lean toward the very well-liked Bullock, who has never had her glory until now.

Matt Damon in “Invictus”
Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

5-for-5. Waltz can't lose. Put him in the bank and the ranch with Bridges - and write him into the contract for your soul. 

Penélope Cruz in “Nine”
Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”
Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”
Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique in “Precious”

I went three for five here, tapping Julianne Moore and Diane Kruger instead of Cruz and Gyllenhaal. Cruz's work was fine but nothing special. However, I'm delighted to see Gyllenhaal make the cut for her moving work in "Crazy Heart." I wish there were a way for my favorite, Kendrick to get it, but the applause for Mo'Nique at prior awards shows is just too deafening.

Other categories after the jump.

"The Hurt Locker” Written by Mark Boal
“Inglourious Basterds” Written by Quentin Tarantino
“The Messenger” Written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
“A Serious Man” Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Up” Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

I had "(500) Days of Summer" instead of "The Messenger," and while I liked the latter film, my biggest disappointment with the nominations was "Summer" missing the cut here, where it had the best shot. As for the winner, that's a bit of a tough call. "Basterds" has fervent fans, and "Hurt Locker" has the momentum, but don't rule out the cleverness and heart of "Up."

“District 9” Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
“An Education” Screenplay by Nick Hornby
“In the Loop” Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
“Precious” Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
“Up in the Air” Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Like most people, I missed "In the Loop" and am especially sorry for that now. This is pretty clearly "Up in the Air's" trophy.

“Ajami” Israel
“El Secreto de Sus Ojos” Argentina
“The Milk of Sorrow” Peru
“Un Prophète” France
“The White Ribbon” Germany

Any reason why the acclaimed "White Ribbon" won't take it?

“Burma VJ” Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
“The Cove” Nominees to be determined
“Food, Inc.” Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
“Which Way Home” Rebecca Cammisa

Either "The Cove" or "Food Inc." gets this. I've seen the latter - it's deserving.

“Coraline” Henry Selick
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” Wes Anderson
“The Princess and the Frog” John Musker and Ron Clements
“The Secret of Kells” Tomm Moore
“Up” Pete Docter

I knew "Ponyo" was the shakiest of my pics, but I still thought Miyazaki would get in since he is a former winner and all. Nevertheless - this is almost certainly "Up" - although "Coraline " would not displease me at all either.

“Avatar” Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
“Nine” Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
“Sherlock Holmes” Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
“The Young Victoria” Art Direction: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Maggie Gray

I am delighted to see "Parnassus" in the group, but I think "Avatar" sweeps most of the techs.

“Avatar” Mauro Fiore
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” Bruno Delbonnel
“The Hurt Locker” Barry Ackroyd
“Inglourious Basterds” Robert Richardson
“The White Ribbon” Christian Berger

ACED it. And notice I said "Avatar" sweeps MOST of the techs. I actually lean toward the kinetic work of "The Hurt Locker" here, although "Avatar" may get the "It's pretty" vote.

“Bright Star” Janet Patterson
“Coco before Chanel” Catherine Leterrier
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Monique Prudhomme
“Nine” Colleen Atwood
“The Young Victoria” Sandy Powell

I'm kicking myself a bit for missing "Bright Star" here - even though that movie underperformed, so did "The Duchess" and "The Duchess" WON this award. Not sure what wins here Preliminarily I'll guess the film about the fashion designer, "Coco Before Chanel."

“Avatar” Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
“District 9” Julian Clarke
“The Hurt Locker” Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
“Inglourious Basterds” Sally Menke
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Joe Klotz

This award typically goes to the big action film (like "The Bourne Ultimatum")  or the Best Picture favorite - I'll tap the film that's a bit of both -  "The Hurt Locker."

“Il Divo” Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
“Star Trek” Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
“The Young Victoria” Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

Hard to say since I've only seen "Star Trek" - and I bet that's true of a lot of the voters too.

“Avatar” James Horner
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” Alexandre Desplat
“The Hurt Locker” Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
“Sherlock Holmes” Hans Zimmer
“Up” Michael Giacchino

I favor Giacchino here. His music for the montage scene alone is a large part of what makes it heartbreakingly beautiful. On the other hand, my second biggest disappointment in the nominations is the snubbing of Marvin Hamlisch's wonderfully witty score for "The Informant!" which deserved a nod far more than Hans Zimmer's indistinct work. That's a lazy nomination.

“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36” Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
“Take It All” from “Nine” Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart” Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Wow. The Paul McCartney song "(I Want to) Come Home" from "Everybody's Fine" is far from his best work, but it's a damn sound better than anything from that snooze-fest called "Paris 36." It's immaterial though. This is the "Crazy Heart" song all the way.

“French Roast” Fabrice O. Joubert
“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)” Javier Recio Gracia
“Logorama” Nicolas Schmerkin
“A Matter of Loaf and Death” Nick Park

No "Partly Cloudy," the wonderful short that preceded  "Up." Hmph. I'd default toward "Loaf and Death" which is a Wallace and Gromit short, but it's not their finest half-hour. Something I've not seen could steal it.

“Avatar” Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
“The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson
“Inglourious Basterds” Wylie Stateman
“Star Trek” Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
“Up” Michael Silvers and Tom Myers

Default to "Avatar."

“Avatar” Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
“The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
“Inglourious Basterds” Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
“Star Trek” Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson

Le sigh. Once again, the mixers make the mistake of nominating MOST sound as opposed to BEST sound by daring to tap "Transformers: ROTF." Still, default to "Avatar."

“Avatar” Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
“District 9” Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
“Star Trek” Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

Ummm ... default to "Avatar" indeed. I'm not even sure why there's even a competitive category this year.  Even "Avatar" haters concede the effects are great.

So what do you think of the nominees? Any pleasant surprises? Who got robbed? Any early predix?


Zack said...

Congrats on calling so many of the categories, Eric, but I must say that I think you're a tad overly optimistic when it comes to the chances for "Up in the Air." Certainly it's in the top tier, but why does it have more of a shot than "Inglourious Basterds"? "UitA" has yet to win a single guild award (though WGA is still ahead); as far as I'm concerned, it's the favorite to win Adapted Screenplay, but it's failed to break through with Academy voters in the way that "The Hurt Locker" and "Avatar" have. "Inglourious Basterds" at least won the SAG Ensemble award (though, to be fair, neither "UitA" nor "Avatar" were in the running).

Part of me does wonder if the "consensus choice" that so often powers the Oscars will be thrown by 10 nominees. With so many films to split support, one long-shot film may well rise to the top. My guess is that this benefits "The Hurt Locker" more than anything else, but I suppose it could just as easily benefit "Up in the Air" or (worse) "The Blind Side." What do you think?

Sir Critic said...

Zack - You make a good point about "Up in the Air." I would put "Bastards" as maybe 4th most likely to win - it just seems too "pulpy" to me to connect with the academy at large, but you never know. I will concede UITA has lost momentum of late, but as you say, a split of support could allow it to sneak through. We shall see.