04 March 2010

Oscar Zone: A Closer Look at the Best Picture Nominees

It's Oscar Week in full swing by now, so for the next couple of days we're taking a closer look at all the nominees from the most major categories. The categories that people really care about (Oh snap, Dark Knight got Best Sound Editing, saints be praised) here, I speak of Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Directing and Best Screenplay (Adapted, then Original). Since Best Picture is currently the most swollen and bloated entry, we'll start there. Let's take a look at the noms and their relative chances:

The Blind Side (2009): Nominees to be determined

This is generally the most feel-good nominee, a story of hope and overcoming odds with high school football standout Michael Orr who was then drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2009. My impression of this film is that it propagates a notion that poor young black men can't get anywhere in society without a middle class white woman's help. But that's just me. It's a supposed tear-jerker story, but I could jerk off to more tears than this. It's exactly like every other inspirational sports film ever made, Remember the Titans (2000) was more deserving for Best Picture than this. Next. 
Chances of Winning: 1/10

An Education (2009): Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey

Here's that movie that no one has heard of until the nominees were announced. Apparently it's awesome, I don't know, I haven't seen it (no one has). I frankly don't even know what it's about exactly, I think it's some 1960s or 50s teacher who has some problems I guess. Anyway, Pete Sarsgaard is pretty reliably sweet. I mean, look at this selling point:

Anyway, no one has heard of this, it won't win, don't worry.
Chances: 2/10

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness, Gary Magness

Every time I hear this movie it pisses me off. I think it's because that damn title takes far too long to say and just means absolutely nothing. Why isn't it just called Precious? I'm so fucking lost. It's not like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which is also long and cumbersome, but at least reads like a sentence-long synopsis (if not an unnecessary one). It's like if There Will Be Blood (2007) was instead named There Will Be Blood: Based on the Novel Oil! by Upton Sinclair (2007). Forget about it. I mean, I kind of liked Push (2009), don't be hatin on Push. Anyway, the impression I got from this film is that it's like torture porn for fat black chicks, it's real exploitative and its genuine message is befuddled in its purposeful deplorability.
Chances: 3/10

Up (2009): Jonas Rivera

A fantastically good film, but Pixar rules the Animated Feature category, not Best Picture. No animated film has ever won (would they change that stat if AVABAR won?) and in this year, with this competition, Up is not going to be the one do buck the trend.
Chances: 4/10

District 9 (2009): Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham

This was the one 2009 film I picked for this list, although The Hurt Locker (2008) probably actually deserves it more now that I'm reevaluating (man, that list was bad). I'm very impressed that District 9 has even gotten this far considering its production and subject matter (then again, Peter Jackson helped) and its success without any major stars or toylines behind it astounds me in this age (new from Mattel! Explore strange moral quandries with the Forced-Prawn Killing Play Gun! $49.95!). It's a bit too far outside Hollywood (yes, despite Peter Jackson's involvement) to take a real crack at Best Picture though.
Chances: 5/10

A Serious Man (2009): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

This movie, as incomprehensible as it is, is very well done, and the Coens have a recent history with the academy, which could help their chances. It's really too specific, too overladen and in general too insane to really be a serious contender though. Like the other films in the Coens' upper echelon (Fargo [1996], The Man Who Wasn't There [2001]), this will be forever remembered as a very good film, but not much of an award winner.
Chances: 6/10

Up in the Air (2009/I): Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman

After the big three of AVABAR, Hurt Locker, and Basterds, Up in the Air has the next most chance to pull off a win. It's done well at some other award shows and critics choices and if any of those three split votes up, Up in the Air could pull an upset. It doesn't exactly have the feel of a Best Picture winner, however, nor is its plot easily summed up in interesting ways for many people to be interested in it other than, "it's good! It's up for some awards!" This is the kind of thinking that let Slumdog Millionaire (2008) win, however, so hey, you never know.
Chances: 7/10

Inglourious Basterds (2009): Lawrence Bender

Basterds in many ways was Tarantino's return to very good film making. Like, Oscar-contending film making. While its competition may be difficult in some categories, he's bound to come away with at least screenplay or director, Chris is a lock for Supporting, and there's actually a good chance if AVABAR and The Hurt Locker split the votes that he comes away with a Best Pic statue too. It's kind of funny, though, its winning depends more on people liking Tarantino than the film's real merit.
Chances: 8/10

The Hurt Locker (2008): Nominees to be determined

The impression I get from most of the online community is that about everyone is pushing for this one. Actually, about anyone who has seen it is pushing for this one. It is the best film of 2009. That's all there is. If you doubt it at all, you haven't seen the thing. Watching it, I got that feeling I had when I saw Slumdog for the first time. It's unspeakably good. Any other year this category would have been locked up months ago.
Chances: 9/10

AVABAR (2009): James Cameron, Jon Landau

AVABAR's got everything going for it right now and is the heavy favourite. If any film beats it, it'll be a huge upset. But really, looking back, AVABAR fucking sucked. It really sucked. No part of it is really worthy of the Best Picture of the year. Sure it's a huge technical achievement, but was it worth sacrificing any kind of important or relevant, or even well-told story? Then again, all of that is probably what most of the population wants. Simplicity over integrity. It wins.
Chances: 10/10

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