Saturday, February 6, 2010

And the Nominees Are/Should Be...

So here we go with Oscar Season. The nominations were announced on Tuesday. As per usual there were some obvious nominees, a few surprises, not too many head-scratchers, and a couple of snubs. As of Tuesday, I had seen nine of the ten movies nominated for Best Picture. The one missing from my collection was The Blind Side which I saw (and enjoyed) this Saturday.

All in all, I don't think this is a bad group of films to be nominated for the top prize. It wouldn't be MY top 10 nominees, but to each his own. I've decided to rank the nominees in the order I'd vote for them (most favorite to least favorite and then afterwards, I'll list how my personal top 10 best picture contenders would shake down.

1. Inglorious Basterds

2. Up

3. The Hurt Locker

4. District 9

5. Precious yada yada yada... Sapphire

6. The Blind Side

7. Avatar

8. Up In The Air

9. A Serious Man

10. An Education

A few notes: Inglorious Basterds is definitely my favorite movie of the year and I'm happy that it was nominated for Best Picture. It seems like it doesn't have much of a chance, and that the race is really between Avatar and The Hurt Locker, but Inglorious Basterds would certainly get my top vote. This to me is the best example of all around excellence in film-making. From direction, to screenplay to performances to any technical aspect you can think of, this movie is firing on all cylinders. Avatar came in at #7 on the list, and doesn't make my personal top 10, but I don't hate it. I actually like Avatar just fine, but I was never invested in the movie the way I was in the six films I listed above it. I fault the weak screenplay for this. I won't be upset if it wins Best Picture though. I've disliked other films much more than Avatar that have gotten the top honor. Titanic, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind all leap to mind.

All the other top 6 movies I think are really strong. Up is totally fantastic. Hurt Locker is incredibly real and utterly suspenseful. The Blind Side is winsome and entertaining. District 9 is original and fascinating. While Precious can be uncomfortable to watch (I don't think it will ever become one of my Weekend Afternoon Go-To Movies), I really appreciate the performances in it and the story it told. So all those movies are worthy of recognition.

I don't particularly care for movies ranked 8, 9, and 10 though. Up In The Air had me for a about 2/3's of the movie, but the twist in the third act just seemed to come out of nowhere and it really lost me. It has great performances from the three main actors - especially George Clooney though. A Serious Man was interesting and I've enjoyed thinking about it in the week's after I've seen it. I just didn't really enjoy watching it. Maybe it went over my head. Also, I think An Education was well-executed for what it was, but I have no idea why critics went so crazy for it. It's this year's Gosford Park.

Do you remember Gosford Park? No? It was this British "murder mystery" film set in the 1930's and had an upstairs/downstairs cast of characters. It got a ton of awards and nominations back in 2002, and won an Oscar for Best Screenplay (2002 was a particularly weak year at the Oscars where Beautiful Mind won Best Picture over the likes of Moulin Rouge!, Fellowship of the Ring, In the Bedroom and Gosford Park.) I was looking forward to seeing it when it got so much critical praise. I found it insufferably boring. So while I thought Carey Mulligan gave a great performance in An Education, in my opinion An Education is definitely this year's Gosford Park.
And now for my personal Best Picture Noms, with little notes about my substitutions:

1. Inglorious Basterds

2. Star Trek - the best and smartest thrill ride of the year. I LOVE this movie, and I was majorly disappointed it didn't make it into the Oscar Top 10. My only quip is that the villains didn't seem like they'd been waiting 25 minutes to get their revenge, let alone 25 years. As a Trek fan it was exhilarating to see the original material reinterpreted so well.

3. Up

4. (500) Days Of Summer - A well-acted lovely to look at movie about relationships that the narrator will tell you "is not a love story." I'm glad I waited to finish my own non-linear script before seeing this, because the screenplay would've intimidated me.

5. A Single Man - Colin Firth got recognized for his really strong work as the lead in this film, but overall I thought it was beautiful and sad and lovely (and also non-linear!) and would much prefer A Single Man to be noticed over the "Serious" one.

6. The Hurt Locker

7. Where The Wild Things Are - Not everyone loved this movie, but I totally dug it. Even if it didn't get noticed for Best Picture, it's an absolute shame it didn't get noticed in the technical categories, because the design and execution of the Wild Things is really an accomplishment worth recognizing.

8. District 9

9. Coraline - I like an animated movie with some teeth! Scare the hell out of the children! That's what I say! The stop motion animation is amazing and the style is both loving and creepy. A great story too - even the plot changes from the original don't bother me (too much).

10. Precious yada yada yada... Sapphire

* - Fantastic Mr. Fox is the only movie I really wanted to see that I never got around to viewing. I'll get to you when you show up on DVD, Mr. Fox. I promise you!

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