Sunday, March 7, 2010

Celluloid dreams.

“And the Academy Award for best picture goes to… District 9.” Wouldn’t a shocker like that be exciting? It’d be nice to have the Oscars shaken up a bit, to be sure, but even more I actually prefer this film to the others up for best picture.

To be fair, I haven’t and most likely won’t see Precious. I just don’t do those kinds of films that show the never ending horror of a life without a possible way out; without hope. That fatalistic perspective does it for some, but as a person who doesn’t do anything by halves – especially glasses (and their fullness) - I think something like that just enforces the false assumption that there’s no way out; no choice. In my opinion there are always options and choices (we may not like any of them, but they are there).

In all honesty, though, I don’t think the Oscars are likely to hold any surprises, even with ten films duking it out for the top spot. That’s disappointing… and why I likely won’t watch it this evening. It’s ironic, really, that I’ve finally seen nearly all of the films nominated, but don’t care about the show.

Maybe it’s my new perspective on waste and want in our culture (read: consumerism), but not even the fashions really get me excited. I don’t know why I feel the falseness and pretention this time over other years, but I do. Is it that nominating ten films for best picture seems so obvious a marketing strategy rather than a desire to open up the field? Is it that I no longer give a toss about the actors and their lives? Is it that the quality of films today as a whole are so lacking? Of course in all that, I’m still curious about the outcome.


Of the ten nominees, I was most impressed with District 9. Allegorical and intensely revealing, it showed us the best in worst in humanity through the medium of scifi. After that, Avatar for all it’s beauty and with it being a technological joyride, seems like a Disneyfied, animated lollypop. Don’t get me wrong, I immensely enjoyed Avatar, but in story and intensity it can’t compare to District 9. And anyway, I think Up is a far better film as a whole!

In all reality, though, Avatar is likely the only gate crasher to The Hurt Locker’s party. Because that’s the one will likely win. It’s really a good piece of filmmaking without the heavy-handed polemics in which modern warfare films seem to revel. Inglourious Basterds is a extreme longshot only because the Academy doesn’t hold with a brash loudmouth like Tarantino. Too bad, really.

I do wish it was about what’s best and not Hollywood politics. But when has it ever been really about what’s the actual best performance or best film? I can’t remember a time.

Oh, and I think the best director will likely be Bigalow for The Hurt Locker, though her ex-husband Cameron could give us another lame King-of-the-World speech – potentially in Na’avi this time – if Hollywood is less thoughtful and more financially motivated in their decision.


In both cases, I think it will be less about performance than about rewarding those the Academy haven’t bothered to honor yet. If you were looking at performance alone, Renner of The Hurt Locker should get it, hands down. With Clooney in Up in the Air, there was nothing really challenging in it, was there? He was just sort of… Clooney. He’s a good actor, but this role seems almost rote for him. In Invictus, Freeman was convincing but really not amazing. (I think it’d be fun if he won, though, because he does so many joke sketches on The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson!) I think Firth in A Single Man will be overlooked for the subtlety of his layered performance as the Academy at large tends to prefer showy.

I think for that reason they will select Bridges. I haven’t seen Crazy Heart, but honestly haven’t heard anything good… Bridges is pathetic, drinks to excess, sings, and apparently even flashes a pot belly which, put together, is the Academy’s weak spot (over-the-top, sappy, pathetic, looking-your-worst roles). I think, though, he will be chosen because of his body of work, not because he was the best of the five this time with these performances.

Best actress is where I most hope the Academy doesn’t do what I expect them to do. I’ve a feeling they’ll reward the sweetheart of the screen who finally had a vehicle to showcase her abilities in a way the Academy likes. Now, I like Sandra Bullock, but in this field this year, she was nowhere near the others. Mulligan (love her!) lit up the screen in An Education, but she didn’t have as deep a role as some of the others. I think Mirren will likely be overlooked because her film wasn’t as embraced, though from what I here her performance was a stunner. I’d say that no matter how great Sidibe’s performance was, as a freshman, a true unknown with little marketability (thinking like Hollywood here, peeps), the odds are against her.

Personally, I think Streep’s performance in Julie and Julia was incredible. I only saw Child when I watched her, which is an astounding feat. It was subtle as well as showy – just like Child herself. She’s the most decorated, though, so though hers was the best performance I think they’ll skip her for Bullock. But a girl can hope!


Well, in short, wouldn’t it be awesome if Waltz from Inglourious Basterds won? I hear Tucci was truly horrifying in The Lovely Bones, and he’s really a fantastic actor (he really WAS lovely in Julie & Julia), but I don’t see them giving it to him for some reason. Harrelson in The Messenger is unbelievably fantastic (this from a girl that doesn’t much care for him), but I don’t think he’ll pull it either. Matt Damon has proved to be a great actor, but this roll in Invictus? Really? Plummer? Same as Mirren, not a widely embraced film. I’m thinking Waltz. That’d be cool.

I think this category is a lockdown for the women. This is likely where they will show tribute to Precious – and from what I hear, rightfully so. Apparently Mo’Nique is set herself in a league all her own with this performance of the horrifyingly abusive and manipulative mother. I did see Up in the Air, and while I do think that Kendrick brought energy, humor, and pathos to the film, it wasn’t enough… I mean, even if Mo’Nique’s performance wasn’t all that it’s being touted (and I’m thinking it is because how often do they talk about lesser comedians in this way?), the Academy likes to be seen rewarding the films that show the horror of the plight of the underprivileged. Somehow they think they’ll be forgiven their insane riches. Please. But, though I don’t want to go anywhere near the film, I do think this time around the performance is likely worthy of the PC nod.


Right. I know this isn’t one of the “big six” categories, but it’s been my favorite in recent years. I actually saw all five nominations this time… even the more obscure The Secret of the Kells. Can I just say that while I may be in the minority, I thought Fantastic Mr. Fox was dull and rather lame all ‘round. Sadly, I saw it in the theatre. Bleh. (The one thing I did like was when they were going to swear, they always used the word “cuss.” My favorite was “mothercusser.”)

Coraline was great animation and even a good story, and while I did like it a lot, I actually had a nightmare after watching it. Me. Br-rr-rr! The button eyes – horrifying! I can’t imagine the Academy going for it. But maybe that’s me. The Princess and the Frog was sweet and sappy – a true old-fashioned Disney… though not as good as those of the past. The music really was fantastic, though!

Up was “FULLY AWESOME!” It’s so heartwarming and fun and sweet, without hurting your teeth. Even my date teared-up in this one! It’s one of my favorite movies of the year, if not my absolute top film. For heaven’s sake, it’s up for best picture (see how good it is??) – of course it will win here.

But I must, must, must give my two-cents about The Secret of the Kells. It’s not your typical animated film. It’s artistic in how it’s drawn, almost architectural. Like Frank Lloyd Wright doing background animation. STUNNING. But then, the story was deep and touching. It involves faith without explaining the faith, it involves hope and survival and love and curiosity and wonder and so much more. Honestly, I absolutely loved it. I kinda wish that Up would win best picture, so that The Secret of the Kells could win here… but the Academy wouldn’t do either part of that scenario. They’d choose all four of the others over this one in my opinion. Very sad.

I know it’s silly to have written this long post when I’m not all that into the Oscar show itself this time around, but for whatever reason it was this year that I was able to see so many of the nominated films… I guess it seemed a waste to not talk about them! Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the glamour. I think I might just go read a book.


Heather said...

I'm with you on a lot of the above. Particularly regarding District 9, Up, and Precious, and in general the whole anti-consumerism VS movie-fanaticism inclinations too. I'm usually all about the movies, but honestly I didn't even know who any of the nominees for the oscars were this year until I read your post here.

I still need to see Inglorious Basterds and, now that you've mentioned it, The Secret of the Kells too. Sounds pretty amazing.

whichwaydidshego said...

Ooo! Do see The Secret of the Kells! I just loved it! I think I remember you liking Distict 9 as I did through that facebook movie thing. Very cool! But UP is for sure my personal favorite movie of the year. I mean, COME ON.


I [heart] Doug!