The 2010 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Oscar nominations earlier today. See here.
If I did not give you my thoughts on the Academy Awards, the only major award I feel has any credence, you would be disappointed. While the Grammy’s have become a complete joke over the years, only propping up the fading music industry’s few remaining top-sellers, with an occasional original artist relegated to winning in something as obscure as the “best contemporary folk” or “best alternative,” the Oscars still have some credibility.
Sure, more often than not the best film of the year does not win. However, the independent cinema does get noticed regularly, especially in screenwriting and acting categories and the film industry does not need a referral to hospice like the music industry which is simultaneously suffering from brain cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
Yes, there are the travesties of tripe like Crash, American Beauty, Chicago, Braveheart and A Beautiful Mind winning best picture during the last decade-and-a-half or Ron Howard winning best director for being a nice guy. Sure, it is stupid to expand the Best Picture nominations to 10 films, thereby disallowing my grouse about the 2-3 superior films left out (while simultaneously allowing me to complain about the lack of others).
I have seen most of the major motion pictures in contention this year.
So, here are my initial complaints and praises as a guy that thinks he knows a lot about film:
1. 1. Where the heck is Where the Wild Things Are? I understand that many people did not get its genius, but leaving it out of technical categories like Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Cinematography is a miscarriage of justice on all accounts. Aside from Avatar, it was the most visually stunning film of the year. Arrgh.
2. I enjoy seeing District 9 as a Best picture nominee, even if it does not deserve inclusion. If you are going to slum, where is The Hangover? What about small gems like Moon (not one nomination), Sugar and In the Loop? I am glad to see In the Lop included for screenplay, which is deserved (but cannot believe there is no acting supporting nomination for Peter Capaldi). With 10 nominees it seems this year’s bridesmaid is The Messenger which got great early buzz, but was forgotten. Seriously, Blind Side? C’mon, Bush is no longer in office.
3. After being shut out of the Golden Globes, I was pleased to see Jeremy Renner nominated for Best Actor in my favorite film of the year, The Hurt Locker (not even close). His performance is so natural it can be missed, which leads me to Jeff Bridges, the most underrated actor in cinematic history. Crazy Heart has not made it to Tampa, but I don’t care. Put the Oscar in bubble wrap and send it to him today. He is one of the top 3 actors in the world and it is about time he finally gets the love he has always deserved. Oh yeah, where was Sam Rockwell? Duh.
4. As usual Screenplay has the most interesting and edgy nominees. It is always the place Oscar gives love to those it ignores at other times. However, this year Up In the Air wins for adapted since the logjam is too big for it to push through for Best Picture. Inglourious Basterds gives Quentin his second pseudo-best picture statuette. Oscar was smart to stay away from Avatar in these categories, unless they put it in Adapted Screenplay and mention Pocahontas or Dances with Wolves.
5. I will be rooting hard for Kathryn Bigelow and Hurt Locker all night. While I think the best director category is strong, it is her time. Tarantino has grown up, but the ending of IB left me cold and showed weakness. Reitman will get an Oscar soon enough (and in many other years it would be his- plus he gets one for screenplay), while Cameron can never be dismissed (plus Avatar is a bigger achievement in directing than Titanic). Lee Daniels is the “happy to be here” nominee that they always have.
6. Best Supporting Actress is the toughest of all to gauge. That category has no weakness. Best Supporting Actor forgot some better performances, but Waltz was great. I wish Oscar had remembered others from The Hurt Locker in this category. Give Bullock her Julia Roberts memorial playing-against-type statue. Whatever.
7. In other news, I love that there were at least 5 animated films worthy of inclusion (but, where is Ponyo?). We know what wins though. Glad to see The Cove and Food, Inc. as best docs. I hated a couple of the scores included and could give you my treatise on why they always screw up on the technical awards, but I have already ranted (see #1) a bit. Plus, I don’t want to put you to sleep. By the way, it doesn’t matter since Avatar wins all of them (besides Cinematography- I don’t see how it is special there?).
I will try a running commentary of complaints, snark and praise on Oscar night if you care.
By the way, here is my list of the Top Films of the Year. I still stand by it.