The Oscars are coming. Steven Martin and Alec Baldwin host the 82nd Annual Academy Awards on March 7. Nick Allen and Jeff Bayer break down the nominees, the snubs, and the expectations of this year’s Oscars.
He Said (Nick Allen)
I was going to expand on the whole “ten Best Picture nominees” BS business until I realized that my ulcer developed from all the Avatar buzz still needs to rest, and that I should focus on the other movies that are very lucky to have come out in 2009 instead of the many, many years before it (where such a rule was not in place). Looking at the “Best Picture” list specifically, you can almost see Academy Voter #1 sitting in front of his/her ballot and thinking, “yeah, District 9 wasn’t that bad,” and giving the small box next to the film title an indifferent check. You can scope out the films that … don’t have a chance (and yes, this includes one of my personal favorites, Up). Of course, part of the excitement of award shows can be found in the upsets brought by the underdogs, but does anyone really think The Blind Side has a chance of being given the same title as American Beauty? It scares me just thinking about it. This whole “ten nominee” gag is a double-edged sword, as some films are a bit more deserving of such “luck” (A Serious Man) than others (Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire). But even though I am quite happy with the thought of the Coens winning another BP award (especially after it was basically skimmed over during the Golden Globes) I know this won’t happen. I hope that fans of District 9, Precious, The Blind Side, and Up understand the idea of such a harmless surrender.
If the rules hadn’t been changed? I imagine the list wouldn’t be much different than those of the past Golden Globes: (in no order) Inglourious Basterds, Avatar, Up in the Air, An Education and The Hurt Locker. Though the awards are over a month away, one can’t be too sure on which way the wind will blow for certain films. Will there be a sort of Juno-like backlash for Avatar? Will more people actually go out and see An Education, giving it more of a shot? Will The Hurt Locker, a film that didn’t earn a lot in theatres, gain steam now that it’s on DVD/Blu-ray?
When talking about an awards system that once gave Crash the title of “Best Picture,” you can never be too sure what’s going to happen.
Were there any wild card film titles that you could see coming?
He Said (Jeff Bayer)
You’re kidding. I don’t get how you think Precious is just lucky to be there. Look at the Best Director nominees. Those are the five strong films in the Best Picture category. Precious has been right there with the other films in all the other awards. You’ve got to stop hating. I don’t care that ten pictures have been nominated. I liked or loved all ten of those films. I will say nominations don’t matter, except in the short term. I don’t ever say, “Hey, don’t forget … Howard’s End was nominated for Best Picture in 1993.” So, A Serious Man and An Education might get a bump at the box office, but that’s not the reason this new 10-pack was done. ABC wants bigger ratings. Last year, one Best Picture nominee (20 percent) made more than $100 million at the box office. This year, five films (50 percent) have done that. So, if a couple people watch the Oscars now because Up, The Blind Side and District 9 have Best Picture nominations … so be it.
It was surprising that the sports film nominated wasn’t Invictus, but instead The Blind Side. 500 Days of Summer got the shaft in Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. The musical Nine got overlooked, and it should have. It is surprising that Star Trek didn’t get a Best Picture nomination because that’s what everyone decided would happen once the field expanded to ten. It was Star Trek and Up.
I wish Inglourious Basterds would win almost everything. But it probably won’t. Why? Because it didn’t win the majority of categories in the Golden Globes, SAG, DGA and Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. That’s the weird thing. The best movie doesn’t always win. We just have to live with it.
There are surprises like The Last Station, Maggie Gyllenhaal and a movie no one has seen or heard of … The Secret of Kells. Most surprising? What about Best Cinematography with Avatar getting a nomination? After all, cinematography is all about what the camera captures, right? Well, that’s all special effects added. There’s barely anything in that film worth looking at that wasn’t created by special effects. Do I have a point? Or do I not understand?
Do you care who wins any category? One month ago, I would have said it’s a three film race with Inglourious Basterds, Up in the Air and the dark horse The Hurt Locker. Now … two film race with Avatar and The Hurt Locker.
He Said (Nick Allen)
I can not explain why someone would think that the cinematography of Avatar would be worth an Oscar nomination (not to mention a Golden Globe), but I can answer the definition of the word “cinematography.” Yes, the term does apply to what the camera captures, but in a sense of shot composition and lighting, as in HOW the camera captures its subject, etc. This was much more remarkable I’d say in Inglourious Basterds (just watch the first ten minutes) than Avatar, and I still have not seen The White Ribbon, and considering director Michael Haneke’s tendency to make beautiful looking films, I am going to be more pro-active about checking that out.
A few other surprises I’d like to mention are in the “Best Song” category, which hasn’t had an exciting set of tunes for a couple of years. With an exception of “The Weary Kind,” I imagine things won’t be that different in this round (I am referring mostly to the boring performances we will have to sit through). For one, there are better songs from The Princess and the Frog. Secondly, Precious had a great song at the beginning of its credits which not only tries to sum up the film but also provides a beautiful melody and a real soul to the rest of the feature. Hell, even “The Climb,” from Hannah Montana: The Movie should have been at least considered, (and it very well might have been, but who knows). It’s a well-written ballad, and has done some major business on both the pop and country charts. At the very least, ABC could get more of those ratings they are craving. If the channel wants ratings, why not appeal to an entire demographic of devoted teenage girls who would sit through the entire show just to hear Miley Cyrus sing? (I am sure I am going to get backlash for being a Miley supporter, but I am content with admitting that the Hannah Montana movie was not very good. At all.
I am not on the Crazy Heart train, so I am perfectly fine with the film not receiving nomination of “Best Picture.” However, one film that seems gravely (and surprisingly) overlooked is A Single Man, a beautiful film that deserves attention not just in “Best Actor” but also “Best Cinematography” and “Best Original Score.” Even if the film is a bit slow for some, A Single Man is an aesthetic beauty, with some great crafting by first time director Tom Ford (who should be the sixth nominee for “Best Director” if such a spot existed). Having also said this, I really do hope that Colin Firth takes home the Oscar for “Best Actor” (yes, even over my homeboy, George). His performance is exponentially more interesting than someone re-doing some parts of The Wrestler, and Firth completely carried A Single Man with his heart and soul. However, Oscar politics are Oscar politics, and as we all know, Jeff Bridges has not earned his due yet.
He Said (Jeff Bayer)
The “Best Song” category is just foolish. Remember last year there were only three nominees? The year before that, Enchanted received three nominees for best song, luckily losing to Once. I agree that A Single Man should have gotten more notice. The fantastic color changes of that film are built for a cinematography nomination. Then again, at least people are somewhat aware of the film because of Colin Firth. Films like The Damned United are completely forgotten by the Academy.
I still haven’t seen an article explaining how The Secret of the Kells received its nomination. There were really enough advanced screening of that film for people to vote on it? No one I know had heard of it.
There are some things I’ll be looking forward to, like who receives the loudest applause during the memoriam. My guess is with Patrick Swayze. I will also enjoy the Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin combo. I like my Oscar host when they have an attack mode on Hollywood (like Jon Stewart), but I understand why that audience wouldn’t want to have that. Baldwin and Martin will provide a love fest, but there will definitely be more comedy than with last year’s host Hugh Jackman.
One thing I am not looking forward to … Christoph Waltz. Waltz is a no-brainer to win Best Support Actor, and the Academy has to realize that. But here’s the thing, have you heard his speeches? Awful. Painful. In the Critic’s Choice Movie Awards, he related everything to a choice. Bringing up the choice of Quentin Tarantino, Brad Pitt and others getting involved, and his choice to be an actor. At the Golden Globes, the spoke about a golden orb and the solar system and planets. When he won a SAG, he spoke of the screen and not the stage. In all these speeches, Tarantino, Pitt and the others were all thanked in the same sort of way. Painful.
My Oscar wish is that Tarantino writes Waltz’s speech. After all, the way things are shaping up, that could be the closest Tarantino gets to being involved this year.