Saturday, March 6, 2010

And the Oscar (blindly) goes to... (2010 edition)

Ten nominations. Ridiculous.

I rarely do award predictions on my blog because usually, I haven't seen enough of the nominated films to write a credible entry. But consider this a birthday treat to myself. It's not every year that the Oscars ceremony lands on your birthday, right?

The only nominated films I've seen are Avatar, Inglorious Basterds, Julie & Julia, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. So that makes me a piss-poor predictor. Anyway...

The bolded types indicate my official predictions.

I want to throw a tantrum when I hear people talk about how Avatar will win Best Picture simply because it has earned a crapload of money. Avatar is simply not worthy of all the ridiculous amount of critical acclaim it has received. It's a fairly well-made film that has deservingly dominated the technical categories, but it is hardly a original, memorable film. Far from Best Picture material.

The only other Best Picture nominee I've seen--Inglorious Basterds--is an astoundingly entertaining spectacle. Since I've never reviewed Inglorious Basterds, I would just like to say how I thoroughly enjoyed Quentin Tarantino's wild, alternate WWII vision, but it simply did not blow me away. Great performances, crackling script, beautifully shot, glorious soundtrack...but I didn't feel that deep, personal connection that I usually feel for truly great films. Perhaps I'm just suffering from being purely underwhelmed by a film that has been loved by almost every other person I've spoken to, but hey, that's a legitimate excuse.

I'd whole-heartedly rather have Inglorious Basterds win the Best Picture win at the end of the day over Avatar. But I have a disgusting feeling that Avatar will take away the top prize. While I haven't seen The Hurt Locker, it currently stands as the only other serious competition Avatar has in the Best Picture race.

Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) seems like the likely Academy choice for Best Director. Again, I haven't seen the film, but I have a feeling that Bigelow is partially being awarded because she's a woman with the ability to direct like a man, or at least, the ability to direct a testosterone-fueled one-two punch. And is it kind of ridiculous that Bigelow is being praised as one of the greatest female directors of all-time when The Hurt Locker is probably the only film that she has gotten any serious recognition for? Correct me if I'm wrong about any of the above.

Jeff Bridges (The Crazy Heart) will win because he's a Hollywood veteran, has multiple previous nominations (his first nomination was for 1971's The Last Picture Show), is beloved by his fellow actors, and seems to have delivered a legitimately great performance.

I will preface my prediction for the Best Actress race for bluntly voicing my confusion about the supposed wonders of Meryl Streep's performance in Julie & Julia. And this is coming from a fan who thought her performance in Doubt triumphs Kate Winslet's in The Reader. Streep's performance as Julia Child is certainly an adorable performance. Streep humanizes Child, yet she doesn't quite capture the nuances of the woman behind the French cuisine. I may easily be wrong since Streep has won numerous awards and garned plenty of praise for her performance.

Though Julie & Julia is a pleasant film. Well worth the rental. A film made by women, for women, and doesn't have romance as a primary focus. That's rare.

If Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) wins, which seems rather likely, I can already imagine people complaining how unworthy her win is for years to come, simply because she has been typecast for years in bubblegum romantic comedy roles and perhaps because of the predictable quality of the film she was nominated for. But I'm sick of predicting with the norm--I want to see Gabourey Sibide (Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire) pull an Adrien Brody (The Pianist).

Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) is a lock for Best Supporting Actor. And it really is a devilishly charming, magnetic performance. This category seems to have quite a villain streak--I mean, Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) and Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)? Just sayin'.

Mo'Nique (Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire) is the name most spotlighted out of the Best Supporting Actress category, so I'm guessing she'll take the gold as well. Though I can totally imagine Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) pulling a Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton) and no one really having a problem with it. (While I should see Michael Clayton, I do love, love, love Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There. That's just a stunning performance, man.)

Let's cross our fingers and hope that the telecast won't feel like a terrible mess.

All nominations can be found at IMDb.


  1. This has gone long. So I'll do this in two parts.

    Here we go...

    So you're a Pisces? Never would've guessed it.

    My kid brother also turns another year older this week as well.

    Pisces women are endlessly awesome. (Elizabeth Taylor, anyone...?) It's the men I have problems with.

    Eh. My conscience is clear and my behaviour has been exemplary. People should live up to the promises they make.

    Or else they shouldn't bother making them. At all.

    As for the other, I hear the same nonsense from my ex all the time. Like last night, for example.

    If you're in a relationship (or contemplating it) with someone glamorous, sensual and charismatic, these situations come with the territory.

    If someone doesn't have the decency to trust you (and they SHOULD...), then there's lots of whining and endless arguments. So you can either be a mature man or an insecure little boy.

    Some day someone gonna's wake up and be really, really sorry.


    Let's skip to the good part, shall we?

    I thought I might as well drop by and comment on your predictions. Seeing as I'm not formally making any of my own this year.

    I've viewed all of the BP nominees except for DISTRICT 9 and UP.

    To me, INGLOLRIOUS BASTERDS is the obvious choice. No Hurt Locker. No Avatar. I don't think history will be kind to either of them if they're chosen either.

    Decades from now, IB will be the one film everyone will associate with the year 2009. Avatar will be a box office footnote.

    That's it. That's all.

    Jeff Bridges and Christoph Waltz SHOULD win. Full stop. End of story. So the fact that both of them seem to have it in the bag is fine by me.

    Mo'Nique is my second choice in her category. She's a powerhouse. Her performance is incendiary and unforgettable. So no problem there.

    BEST ACTRESS is the one category that (seemingly) could surprise.

    Meryl should take this in a cakewalk. But Helen, Gabby and Carey were all magnificent.

    Sandra was good. She played a real person convincingly and with a decent amount of grit and flair. OSCAR worthy? Nah.


    People seem to love her. (She is an intensely likable, spunky, fun loving chick.) They may very well go that route.

    But I do think that this particular race may end up going in an entirely different direction. The preferential ballot is in place for BEST PICTURE. But back in the dark ages (AKA known as last year), you only needed 21% of the vote to win, you know. That's all you need THIS YEAR in any of the other categories.

    It ain't over yet. People haven't even climbed into their limos. We still got time.

  2. And thank you from the bottom of my coal black Irish heart for making that genius level observation on Ms. Bigelow.

    I didn't want to say anything about it until someone else did. Feminism is one of my hot buttons. I knew if I started talking about it that I would get myself worked up into a passionate frenzy.

    So I kept my piehole shut.

    But you're absolutely on point with this, Marcy.

    There's been a lot of talk about AMPAS wanting to reward Bigelow BECAUSE she's a woman. Then there's another sector that claims that she's at the front of the line DESPITE the fact that she's female.

    BS. Neither statement is true.

    She is going to gain entrance to the club (and make history) for one simple reason. She made a hardass testerone fuelled flick about war and she directed it in a stereotypically male fashion.

    Not exactly Nora Ephron or Jane Campion territory, right...?

    Plus, as you so eloquently stated, her filmography is nothing to write home about.

    Maybe this doesn't make me an authentic feminist. But damn the torpedoes, baby. This has to be said.

    Lots of people are excited because she is going to be the first woman to win BEST DIRECTOR. But there is nothing remarkable, groundbreaking or even particularly interesting about THL or Bigelow's work. Aside from the excellent acting, of course.

    When we contemplated the woman that would finally break this barrier for all time, I think most of us were thinking of a gifted, iconoclastic female filmmaker that would not only raise the bar with her award winning triumph but would have done a variety of amazing legendary work before she got to this level.

    So the first woman to finally crack that code is...KATHRYN BIGELOW???

    Get set, kids. It's the real world.

    But at least WE know what we're talking about, right? I'll be very interested to see what your impressions of the telecast are.

    Whatever. It's just a show. History unfolds as it should. Like it. Or not.

    Happy bday, girl!!! Hope you have a fabulous time.

  3. firstly, happy birthday!!! secondly, I've seen a lot of the oscar films this year (minus the hurt locker, ironically enough) and I just found this year to be predictable dull and blah. This may be biased of me, as last year was a lil' predictable with slumdog millionaire, but I still loved it. still. The fact that an education and a single man won nothing is ridiculous in my opinion, and the avatar/hurt locker fight to the death was boring. xx

  4. @Miranda
    I don't think I'm very much like the typical Pisces. Let's just say I'm a little more practical.

    One thing I've noticed about Pisces men is that they are extremely indecisive.

    I hope your brother has a lovely birthday, though.

    I haven't seen The Hurt Locker yet. I know how you feel about it. I will soon, though. I haven't even seen last year's winner, Slumdog Millionaire. I know you didn't like that film either.

    So I don't want to make any direct judgment about Kathryn Bigelow's directorial efforts. It's dangerous to criticize things that you don't know anything about...

    But I just wonder, what if Bigelow had directed a grand romance (more Ephron and Campion territory) aimed at a female audience? Would she have been so praised, so respected, so beloved? I have a feeling that her mostly male would just think, well, she's a woman, of course she can direct a film for women!

    Yet male directors have been honored for directing romantic movies and movies about women. Sometimes deservingly so. But is there some sort of double standard?

    Again, I could be dead wrong about this.

    I might post my thoughts on the telecast soon. It'll probably be short and sweet.

    Thank you for the birthday wishes, Miranda!

    Thank you, Anahita!

    This year's Oscar ceremony was entirely too predictable. But it did run smoothly and elegantly.

    An Education is probably a film that I'd enjoy.

  5. @Miranda
    Oops. Typo. I meant "mostly male peers."

  6. Kathryn Bigelow has been an insanely good director since THE LOVELESS all the way back in 1982. To date she has directed four absolutely amazing films (NEAR DARK, BLUE STEEL, STRANGE DAYS and THE HURT LOCKER) and a handful of really good ones (POINT BREAK, THE LOVELESS and her contributions to WILD PALMS). All of these share a decidedly feminist worldview, despite subject matter and style. To say that she's getting attention because she's female and able to direct in a 'male' mode is a little insulting. She's not Jane Campion or Nora Ephron (who, I'm sorry to say ladies, sucks), but so what? She's Kathryn F-ing Bigelow!

    As for the assertion that she directs in a typically male fashion I completely disagree. Just because something focuses on action, tension or any other things 'typically male', that makes it non-female? STFU. And how condescending can you be to someone like Campion and Catherine Breillat to say that they direct 'women' films or some other such nonsense?

    Look at THE HURT LOCKER and see where there's a typical male war movie shot-for-shot in there. Hell, it's not even about the war, it's about the inability of Sgt. James to have a relationship - even with his child and wife. Now, look at Bigelow's previous thematics and output, specifically the films I mentioned above. That's called a cinematic voice and a worldview that influences your work. It's what Scorsese has, it's what Renoir had, and it's something that people like James Cameron, Nora Ephron and other perfectly serviceable but non-distinct filmmakers don't have.

    As for feminism...whatever. You probably object to horror films on all kinds of levels, too, without any actual understanding as to what feminist theory actually means to significant portions of film theory and history. Thanks for the (non)input.


  7. This should be essential reading for someone trying to understand Bigelow as a director, and why she's highly regarded by her peers as well as critically:

  8. @Matt
    I'm not going to doubt Kathryn Bigelow's talent. She's been in the business for 20 years. But The Hurt Locker is perhaps her first majorly praised directorial effort.

    I'm going to see The Hurt Locker in the coming weeks. We'll see. I'll take another look at Jim Emerson's piece after I see the film.

    So it's time for me to shut up about a film I'm admittedly clueless about. I was making a mere observation that may or may not be wrong.

    About female directors in general...

    How would you define a feminist worldview or feminist theory? And how does it contribute to the horror genre? Excuse me for my ignorance.

    Nora Ephron clearly directs escapist films. Guilty pleasures. She's an entertainer. A clever, witty one, but a solid entertainer who gets the job done. That's fine with me. I'm an unapologetic fan.

    And how condescending can you be to someone like Campion and Catherine Breillat to say that they direct 'women' films or some other such nonsense?

    What I was trying to say is that there are many female directors who direct films that appeal more to the typical female audience. Of course, this is a generalization. But many female directors do often feel attracted to costume dramas, romances, and films with distinct female leads.

    But I really do thank you, Matt, for your passionate input.

  9. Matt, I don't like Nora Ephron or Jane Campion's work. Just trying to make a point.

    Bigelow doesn't send me. I don't think that she's particularly talented.

    BLUE STEEL was good but fatally flawed. I will never forgive her for that brutal rape scene that went on forever in STRANGE DAYS. Totally unnecessary. As audience members, we don't need to be bludgeoned over the head to get the point.

    I didn't like THE HURT LOCKER. Totally derivative except for the acting, which was very good.

    Yeah, I didn't want her to win. Quentin Tarantino was robbed.

    And don't go off half cocked (as it were) and accuse me of not knowing anything about feminist theory - in any context.

    I think you should visit a few more libraries before you start typing.

    I have nothing else to say...

  10. I didn't accuse you of knowing nothing of feminist theory, only in the context of film and what you're discussing. I think it's pretty obvious to anyone who has seriously studied film (specifically genre cinema, within which Kathryn Bigelow often works) that you know nothing of what you speak. This is fair ground for criticism when you go around making statements like, "When we contemplated the woman that would finally break this barrier for all time, I think most of us were thinking of a gifted, iconoclastic female filmmaker that would not only raise the bar with her award winning triumph but would have done a variety of amazing legendary work before she got to this level." To educated cinema lovers, Bigelow fits that description to a T. To people who review Oscar fashions with the pretense of being seriously engaged with cinema, I have nothing else to say about that.

    I would suggest that instead of reading piles of dreck, you actually treat a film like a text that tells you something about what you're watching, and the people who made it, instead of a simple thing to judge as worthwhile or not worthwhile, no matter how repulsive you may find certain scenes. Did you ever think about why a rape scene might be a certain length? Or why certain shots might be used? Repulsion is the correct reaction, but why does the filmmaker want you to feel that? And to what purpose do they utilize that repulsion? I think you would be best served by staying away from films like IRREVERSIBLE.

    As for horror films and feminist theory, there are tons of books available, though the most prominent and influential is MEN, WOMEN AND CHAINSAWS by Carol Clover. I suggest reading that and getting back to me.

    And, by the way, Tarantino wasn't robbed this year. He was robbed in 1997 when he made JACKIE BROWN.

    P.S. - Nice college feminist "cock" joke in there. You know, since I think with it and stuff.

  11. My brother had an awesome birthday, Marcy.

    Thanks for the good wishes.

    We both appreciated them immensely.