Monday, February 8, 2010

2010 Oscar Nominations, Part One

2010 Oscar Nominations
Part One

The nominations for this year's Academy Awards were announced bright and early Tuesday morning, and if you had a shred of sanity in you, you were sleeping through it and waited to hear the results from online when you woke up. Well, I'm not sane; I was up before the sun rose with a smile on my face watching the press conference, jumping up and down at all the good news.
Yeah, Star Trek didn't get nominated for Best Picture, but I guess I didn't really expect it to be. It wasn't totally forgotten, though: it got four technical nominations, including Best Visual Effects. Other notable snubs in all categories: Where the Wild Things Are, Public Enemies, It's Complicated, The Informant!, Angels & Demons, The Hangover, Terminator: Salvation, Michael Jackson's This Is It, etc.
The jump to ten Best Picture nominees wasn't the only new thing this year: I got two categories correct in my predictions! So now that you know what an expert I am on the subject, let's jump right in to this year's nominations, complete with my witty commentary.

Best Picture

The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up in the Air

Guessed correctly: 7
Incorrect guesses: Invictus, A Single Man, Star Trek
Instead of: The Blind Side, District 9, A Serious Man

So lots of surprises in this category. Just the way I like it. Yeah, Star Trek failed to get nominated here. (In fact, it failed to get any major nominations.) But there's still plenty to like here. I see this category split neatly in half. Five movies- Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, and Up in the Air- are serious contenders and have at least a fighting chance at the prize. These five were also nominated for Best Director. Each of these movies has won some best-film prize at some festival or awards show before now. All received multiple nominations, with Avatar and Hurt Locker leading the pack with a whopping nine noms each. (Basterds got eight.) The other five movies- The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, A Serious Man, and Up- only got nominated due to the new ten-film system. The most obvious dark horses here are the gory sci-fi thriller District 9 and the whimsical computer-animated film Up. These are definitely not Oscar's favorites, but they are critically acclaimed and loved by the Academy. The Blind Side is a simple little film, but it was a big hit and a crowd-pleaser, and thus won over the experts for this race. I'm also really glad that the low-key indie films are considered dark horses this year, as opposed to front-runners. It's also clear when you tally it up that these movies are just kind of thrown in: both Blind Side and Serious Man got only two nominations apiece, including Best Picture. That hasn't happened since the 1930's. (Education got three.) Up got a pretty decent five nominations total, but one of them is Best Animated Feature, which it will win there so it won't feel too bad about losing here. It also has the distinction of being the second animated film to ever be nominated for Best Picture.
At this point, Avatar and Hurt Locker are pretty much neck-in-neck. This may change in the coming weeks; I'll let you know a more precise winner's prediction as we get closer to the date.

Best Director

James Cameron, Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Guessed correctly: 5

The first time I have ever correctly guessed all the nominees in any category. I am excited about this award; some very talented directors have made the list. I'm psyched Tarantino has another shot at it, and if you haven't heard already, Cameron and Bigelow used to be married. I'd say either of them could win it, but I give the edge to Bigelow, who has now become the fourth woman in history to be nominated for this award, and would be the first to win it. Of course, her gender is the last reason she deserves it: The Hurt Locker is incredibly suspenseful, funny, and feels very real the whole way through.

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Guessed correctly: 5

Another category guessed completely correctly. Yay me! I haven't seen all these movies, so I can't be sure which one truly deserves it. If it was up to me, I'd say either Clooney for mixing whip-smart comedy and true emotion or Renner for letting us peer into the mind of this deranged solider addicted to war. However, it seems that Bridges is set to win after four previous nominations. Freeman's the only person here who plays a real person, but strangely, he's barely a blip on the radar, as is Clint Eastwood's rugby film.

Best Actress

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Guessed correctly: 4
Incorrect guess: Emily Blunt, The Young Victoria
Instead of: Helen Mirren, The Last Station

I was aware of The Last Station and its Oscar potential, but I left it off my predictions altogether because it has failed to get a wide release and was being ignored by many other organizations. Three of these women play real people- Bullock, Mirren, and Streep- and the race is definitely between Bullock and Streep. I would say the latter deserves it (actually, I would say the complete unknown Sidibe deserves it), but the former seems set to win her first award. (Streep already has two Oscars.) Bullock is a talented actress best known for her so-so comedies who is finally getting recognized for her dramatic work. She also holds the unusual distinction of being nominated for an Oscar and a Razzie in the same year. (The latter is for Worst Actress for the flop All About Steve.)

Best Supporting Actor

Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Guessed correctly: 3 + alternate
Incorrect guesses: Alec Baldwin, It's Complicated; Alfred Molina, An Education
Instead of: Christopher Plummer, The Last Station

Two actors here play real people, Damon and Plummer. (The latter plays Leo Tolstoy.) But it's Waltz that seems set to take the award for a role in which he had to speak four languages and had to act charming and insane, often in the same scene. He really has created one of the most memorable villains in screen history. That distinction also goes to Tucci's serial killer, but this is Lovely Bones' only nomination, making it very difficult to win. His nomination is his victory.

Best Supporting Actress

Penelope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo'Nique, Precious

Guessed correctly: 4
Incorrect guess: Julianne Moore, A Single Man
Instead of: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart

Crazy Heart proved it wasn't just a vehicle for Jeff Bridges by getting three nominations, including one for Gyllenhaal that surprised everybody. Cruz won this award last year, so she's just in for show. Farmiga's performance was sexy and genuine, but she doesn't have much of a shot. Kendrick has the support of the critics- and Oscar does like to award unknowns- but Mo'Nique will probably take it home for her completely transformative performance as an abusive mother.

Best Adapted Screenplay

District 9
An Education
In the Loop
Up in the Air

Guessed correctly: 3 + alternate
Incorrect guesses: Fantastic Mr. Fox, A Single Man
Instead of: In the Loop

In the Loop being nominated here was a surprise to everybody. This was a British political satire that was critically acclaimed but was ignored by audiences and didn't make it to theaters. This race is hard to predict, but I think Up in the Air will follow in Reitman's last film Juno's footsteps by just winning the screenplay award and getting shut out everywhere else.

Best Original Screenplay

The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The Messenger
A Serious Man

Guessed correctly: 3 + alternate
Incorrect guesses: (500) Days of Summer, It's Complicated
Instead of: The Messenger

This category is an interesting mix of drama, comedy, and even animation. I would say The Hurt Locker would get it since it's such a serious Best Picture contender, but it may go to Quentin Tarantino's crazy script for Inglourious Basterds. Anyone notice Avatar isn't nominated here?

Best Animated Feature

Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells

Guessed correctly: 3 + 1 alternate
Incorrect alternate: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Instead of: The Secret of Kells

I know what you're thinking: what the hell is Kells? I didn't know, either. It's a strange-looking film from Belgium based on an ancient folk tale. It's currently set to open in the U.S. in March. How did the Academy get enough people to see this film that no one's heard of to garner a nomination? I guess it doesn't matter, since Pixar's Best Picture-nominated Up will easily take the prize. An upset by Fantastic Mr. Fox is possible, but very unlikely. Hooray to Disney for having two of the five nominated films here.

All right, that's it for now. This post is split into two parts because, you know, I'm busy with other stuff. Part two will consist of the technical nominations (which I did not predict) and the other awards that no one really cares about, like Best Documentary Short.
In case you haven't heard, there are two hosts for the show this year: Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. That is sure to be a hilarious show with those two faux-rivals at the helm, and I personally can't wait. (Check out the two of them together in It's Complicated and an episode of 30 Rock, and you'll see why I'm excited.) The show will be the night of Sunday, March 7th. Mark your calendars!

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