eric’s Oscar preview

Saturday 6 March 2010

Usually I’m totally on top of the Oscars, but this year (perhaps because I’ve found it hard to be in one place for more than a few weeks at a time the last 3 months) I’ve been lagging in my movie viewing.  I wasn’t able to make it to any showcases of the nominated short films like I did last year, and as you’ll see, have a surprisingly small percentage (in my mind) of nominated films that I’ve viewed.

That being said, I couldn’t let the Oscars go without a mention and some thoughts and predictions, so here you go.  Click here to see a complete list of nominees.  Check out the IMDB Road to the Oscars section for other insight and information on other awards shows.

Before I hit the Oscars, though, I want to tell you about another great awards show you shouldn’t be missing — though it has already taken place — the Independent Spirit Awards.  For the past 10 years or so, I’ve been more smitten with indie film than “Hollywood” film, to be sure, and while you won’t see movies like Avatar or Inglourious Basterds featured there, there are tons of amazing movies you might otherwise miss if you weren’t privy to independent film, so check it out.

Best Picture
This year they went with 10 nominees in the Best Picture category, so maybe it’s understandable that I couldn’t keep up!  I have seen 5 of them so far (and hope to see a few more sometime soon, I just wasn’t giving myself a Oscar awards deadline) — The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, Precious, Avatar 3D, and Up (the only one I saw on DVD).  From what I’ve heard, it’s a two movie race between the big (Avatar) and the small (Hurt Locker).  While I won’t be upset if either of those takes the award, I think my vote would go to Avatar.  While the visual effects were truly amazing, the story was what drew me in and made it worthwhile.  I’ve heard it’s too similar to Dances With Wolves, and if I had seen that movie, maybe my vote would be different, but for now, I’m sticking with Avatar.  The Hurt Locker is a pretty amazing movie, too, and the scope of the two films is so different that it’s really hard to pick — thus, I’m excited to see who it is!

Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay
While a lot of people try to see the best picture nominees, I usually seek out the nominees in this category (and the next one on my list here), and I’ve been particularly disappointed I have only seen 4 of the 10 total nominated films in these two categories (2 in each category).  That being said, I don’t know how good my thoughts can be, but I’ll try anyway.  Original Screenplay will likely go to Hurt Locker (it would be my vote), if only to make sure it gets its due if Avatar is the big winner.  Adapted Screenplay is a bit more tricky.  Without having seen An Education, I would be fine if that won, and then the two I’ve seen were Up In The Air and Precious.  While both of these were great movies, too, I might have to go with Up In The Air because (from what I hear) there was a bit more adapting done to make it work, and it’s probably the only place it will be recognized.
–Perhaps my biggest beef is that (500) Days of Summer wasn’t even nominated! — though it did with Spirit Award, so that made me happy.

Best Documentary
This is the other category of films I try to get myself to, and perhaps 2 of 5 isn’t bad when many of the movies are very selective in where they’ve played.  I did see the two apparent front-runners, The Cove and Food, Inc., both great in their own way, revealing things people should know about the a wider audience.  While I’d love for Food, Inc. to get out to a wider audience, The Cove was such an excellent “caper” of a film, getting such amazing raw video in secret, that I have to pull for it.

Best Actor
Is there any doubt this is Jeff Bridges award to lose?  He’s won (nearly?) every pre-Oscars award he could, and I think his performance was great.

Best Actress
I’m usually horrible at seeing the movies with the nominees of this category, and this year is no different.  I’ve only seen Precious, and Gabourey Sidibe gave quite the amazing performance, and I’d probably vote for her.  However, the debate has been going over two veteran actresses, Sandra Bullock and Ms. Oscar herself Meryl Streep. I’m kind of rooting against Bullock simply because it seems the only reason she’s getting looked at is for playing “against type,” which really means simply you dug yourself into a type in the first place and now, look, you’re changing!  If Sidibe doesn’t win, how about another young actress, Carey Mulligan (An Education)?

Best Director
In another Avatar/Hurt Locker competition, it’s ex-spouses James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow.  I truly think Bigelow’s achievement in directing is the best, but watch out to see if Quentin Tarantino‘s fans could pull him through for Inglourious Basterds.

Best Animated Feature
So, I’ve only seen Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Both were great in their own way, but Up was such a roller coaster of emotions and drama, it read like any live action film (perhaps that’s why it also finds itself in the Best Film category).  Either could win and I’d be happy, but it seems to be Up’s trophy to lose.

Best Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor
The final two categories I’m going to profile also seem to be locked up, with Mo’Nique getting the nod for Precious (another “against type” billing?) and Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds.  In a rare achievement for me, I’ve seen ALL the actresses in this category and NONE of the men.  Of the nominated women, Mo’Nique’s performance is definitely tops, and for the men — well, I just can’t say.

I hope you enjoyed this rundown.  Check out the Oscars live Sunday night, 7 March on ABC, and of course, coverage to be found elsewhere, too:
Entertainment Weekly
Yahoo! Movies
ABC News

my favorite movies of the 2000s, #11 and #12

Saturday 26 December 2009

I’m hoping you’re enjoying counting down the days until the end of the year by counting down my favorite movies of the decade!  If you haven’t read previous posts, use the links below to see the other movies on the list so far, and get ready for the top ten, soon to be unveiled!

#25: (500) Days of Summer (2009)
#24: FLOW: For Love Of Water (2008)
#23: In The Bedroom (2001)

#22: House of Sand and Fog (2003)
#21: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (2003)

#20: Wo Hu Cang Long (2000)
#19: Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (2007)

#18: Hable con Ella (2002)
#17: The Wrestler (2008)

#16: Revolutionary Road (2008)
#15: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

#14: Hotel Rwanda (2004)
#13: Elephant (2003)

#12: Moulin Rouge! (2001)
The highest movie/musical on my list, even though almost all the songs are not original to the movie itself.  I pretty much love everything about this movie: the music, the story, the fun had by all.  While it may not be all fun and games (I mean, you need some conflict to drive any story), it’s commitment to beauty, freedom, truth, and love throughout is ultimately uplifting.  “Come What May,” my favorite song in the movie (and an important part of the plot), recognizes the challenges of love and relationships and the sadness that can happen when love is lost.  Ultimately, it’s a movie for the romantic and the realist in me, which really is a perfect combination.

#11: Juno (2007)
When I read the brief review of this movie in Entertainment Weekly (this was before it blew up), I knew it sounded like the kind of movie I’d enjoy.  When I saw it in the theater (still before its huge popularity), I was not disappointed.  It’s an eccentrically funny movie about a serious topic: teen pregnancy.  It has the quick wit and sardonic wisdom of the Gilmore Girls (a favorite TV show of mine) with dialogue you’d never heard in real life.  You laugh at and with the quirky characters as they make the best out of the situations set before them.  Ellen Page and Michael Cera make a great “couple” as Juno and Bleeker, stumbling through a challenging situation neither of them signed up for.  I saw this movie three times in a theater and a few times on video now, and it still makes me smile – a good indicator for any movie.  (It has a pretty sweet soundtrack, too.)