Sunday, March 7, 2010

2010 Oscar Nominations

As some of you who personally know me well, I am a big time movie fan. I'll pretty much watch any movie but also read a couple of great movie magazines made in the U.K. (Total Film and can find them in any Borders or Barnes and Noble. Check them out). Anyway, this is one of my favorite nights of the year mainly because it celebrates the movies but you also have the complete stupidity of Hollywood actors and actresses and how way too seriously they take themselves. Sprinkle in some random appearances by old time actors and of course the montage of celebrities who have died this year and you have a great night of comedy gold.

I sadly didn't catch as many of the nominations as I did last year but I caught most of the major movies. Below are my thoughts and predictions on each of the categories. I italicized the movies I saw.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
* Avatar (2009): James Cameron, Jon Landau
* The Blind Side (2009): Gil Netter, Andrew A. Kosove, Broderick Johnson
* District 9 (2009): Peter Jackson, Carolynne Cunningham
* An Education (2009): Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey
* The Hurt Locker (2008): Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier, Greg Shapiro
* Inglourious Basterds (2009): Lawrence Bender
* Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness, Gary Magness
* A Serious Man (2009): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
* Up (2009): Jonas Rivera
* Up in the Air (2009/I): Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman, Jason Reitman

Thoughts: This is tough. Avatar completely revolutionized movies forever with the 3D effects and the movie probably holds up well without the 3D. The Hurt Locker was more of a gritty realistic movie and pretty much puts you in downtown Baghdad in 2004. Inglorious Bastards was also very good and I'd say it could be a dark horse but it ran just a little too long. District 9 was probably the second most original movie (after Avatar) and was my favorite movie of the year but probably has little chance. Up In The Air and A Serious Man were two movies I thought were very overrated with A Serious Man being a plotless mess. I didn't see Precious but will when it comes out on DVD Tuesday. Up I heard was awesome but an animated movie hasn't been nominated for Best Picture since Beauty And The Beast so it probably won't win. The Blind Side sounded to me like it was a little too sugary and too Hollywood and I heard good things about An Education but didn't how to watch it.

Prediction: I'm pulling for the Hurt Locker but its going to be close. I think Avatar takes it.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:
* Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart (2009)
* George Clooney for Up in the Air (2009/I)
* Colin Firth for A Single Man (2009)
* Morgan Freeman for Invictus (2009)
* Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker (2008)

Everything points towards Jeff Bridges winning. He'll always be the Dude to me in the The Big Lebowski and the creepy villain in the late 90's thriller The Vanishing so I'm happy for him. George Clooney was good but he didn't stand out THAT much. Jeremy Renner should win based on the last 15 minutes of the Hurt Locker alone but I have to take the critics word for it that Jeff Bridges put on an amazing performance.

Prediction: Having not seen Crazy Heart, I'd go with Renner but this seems to be Bridges year.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
* Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side (2009)
* Helen Mirren for The Last Station (2009)
* Carey Mulligan for An Education (2009)
* Gabourey Sidibe for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
* Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia (2009)

I only saw Julia and Julia and I was probably playing brickbreaker on my phone at the time so I wasn't completely paying attention. Still, I thought she did a good job at playing Julia Child. I hear a lot of talk about Sandra Bullock's performance and how it could come down to her and Meryl Streep. I don't know much about the other performances except the rather large Precious actor did a good job. Helen Mirren is an elder statesman and should be happy to be there. I heard lots of great things about Carey Mulligan but the movie seemed to never play anywhere for anybody. I'll have to check out An Education as some point.

Prediction: I'm pulling for Meryl Streep and think she'll win. If not, it belongs to Sandra Bullock. She's come a long way since Demolition Man and The Net!

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
* Matt Damon for Invictus (2009)
* Woody Harrelson for The Messenger (2009/I)
* Christopher Plummer for The Last Station (2009)
* Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones (2009)
* Christopher Waltz for Inglourious Basterds (2009)

I only saw Waltz's performance but it was an awesome. His way of slowly breaking the Nazi fighters down is incredible and his laughing fit of hearing how the actress breaks her leg (mountain climbing) shows how crazy but smart his character was. I love the other actors nominated (especially Woody Harrelson) but Waltz seems to be winning everything else.

Prediction: Waltz...mark it.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
* Penélope Cruz for Nine (2009)
* Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air (2009/I)
* Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart (2009)
* Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air (2009/I)
* Mo'Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)

Mo'Nique should win this since she's won every other award. I liked the younger girl, Anna Kendrick, in Up In The Air. Vera Farmiga was annoying in her role and I HATE Maggie Gyllenhaal (I was sort of happy her charactered died suddenly in The Dark Knight). Penelope Cruz won last year and Nine sucked a fatty anyway.

Prediction: Mo'Nique (I'm going to hate having to type her name out tonight...stupid apostrophe).

Best Achievement in Directing
* Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker (2008)
* James Cameron for Avatar (2009)

* Lee Daniels for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009)
* Jason Reitman for Up in the Air (2009/I)
* Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds (2009)

All good movies here. Again, its going to come down to Cameron and Bigelow, who used to bang each!, but I'm sort of pulling for Quentin here. Again, its two different type of movies (Cameron created an entire world....Bigelow puts you in a world of hell).

Prediction: Bigelow only because I think Avatar is going to win Best Picture and Oscar voters will want to recognize The Hurt Locker in some way.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
* The Hurt Locker (2008): Mark Boal
* Inglourious Basterds (2009): Quentin Tarantino
* The Messenger (2009/I): Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman
* A Serious Man (2009): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
* Up (2009): Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Thomas McCarthy

This is interesting. I would think Inglourious Basterds is more original than The Hurt Locker. If this category is about original stories, I'd say Tarantino's was a lot more interesting. Plus, I read a couple of days ago that the Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal is being sued by a guy who said he ripped the story idea off him.

Prediction: Taratino finally wins his long due Oscar.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
* District 9 (2009): Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
* An Education (2009): Nick Hornby
* In the Loop (2009): Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
* Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Geoffrey Fletcher
* Up in the Air (2009/I): Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner

I really really REALLY want District 9 to win here...what a really cool movie (I'm a sucker for aliens and big guns...but unlike Avatar, some of the aliens are nasty). Still, Up In The Air seems to hit closer to home in our wacky society and economy today. Plus Jason Reitman's Dad wrote Ghostbusters so he has friends in Hollywood. He also directed Juno last year so the Academy should like him.

Prediction: Come on District 9! But Reitman is my pick.

Best Achievement in Cinematography
* Avatar (2009): Mauro Fiore
* Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (2009): Christian Berger
* Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009): Bruno Delbonnel
* The Hurt Locker (2008): Barry Ackroyd
* Inglourious Basterds (2009): Robert Richardson

Now we get into categories that I'm just going to make complete guesses at. Cinematography is about the scenes and visions of what's going on the screen around the actors. If that's really true, you have to go with Avatar.

Prediction: Avatar...though I'm intrigued to see the short clip of Das weisse Band (goofy name).

Best Achievement in Editing
* Avatar (2009): Stephen E. Rivkin, John Refoua, James Cameron
* District 9 (2009): Julian Clarke
* The Hurt Locker (2008): Bob Murawski, Chris Innis
* Inglourious Basterds (2009): Sally Menke

* Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009): Joe Klotz

Not sure how editing plays into a movie but I'd liked the way they cut the action scenes in the four movies I saw. The Hurt Locker might get this but I'll go with Avatar here.

Prediction: Avatar (they should win most of the technical awards tonight).

Best Achievement in Art Direction
* Avatar (2009): Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Kim Sinclair
* The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009): David Warren, Anastasia Masaro, Caroline Smith
* Nine (2009): John Myhre, Gordon Sim
* Sherlock Holmes (2009): Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer
* The Young Victoria (2009): Patrice Vermette, Maggie Gray

I'm going solely by names here. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus was directed by Terry Gilliam who's made some very out there movies (Brazil, 12 Monkeys) and might steal this if Avatar doesn't win this as well.

Prediction: Imaginarium (going to mix it up here).

Best Achievement in Costume Design
* Bright Star (2009): Janet Patterson
* Coco avant Chanel (2009): Catherine Leterrier
* The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009): Monique Prudhomme
* Nine (2009): Colleen Atwood
* The Young Victoria (2009): Sandy Powell

I didn't see any of these movies so I'm going with Monique Prudhomme only because she keeps the spelling of her first name without an apostrophes.

Prediction: Prudhomme.

Best Achievement in Makeup
* Il divo (2008): Aldo Signoretti, Vittorio Sodano
* Star Trek (2009): Barney Burman, Mindy Hall, Joel Harlow
* The Young Victoria (2009): John Henry Gordon, Jenny Shircore

Not sure why Avatar isn't lisited here but then again CGI involves no makeup. Have to go with Star Trek here. Il Divo? Hmmm...

Prediction: Star Trek

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
* Avatar (2009): James Horner
* Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009): Alexandre Desplat
* The Hurt Locker (2008): Marco Beltrami, Buck Sanders
* Sherlock Holmes (2009): Hans Zimmer
* Up (2009): Michael Giacchino

No movie scores seemed to stand out and James Horner was win a few times in the past but then again so has Hans Zimmer. The song I actually remember the most is the song playing in the supermarket at the end of Hurt Locker.

Prediction: The Avatar train chugs along.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
* Crazy Heart (2009): T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham("The Weary Kind")
* Faubourg 36 (2008): Reinhardt Wagner, Frank Thomas("Loin de Paname")
* Nine (2009): Maury Yeston("Take It All")
* The Princess and the Frog (2009): Randy Newman("Almost There")
* The Princess and the Frog (2009): Randy Newman("Down in New Orleans")

It seems that the Crazy Heart song will win but I have a soft spot for Randy Newman if only for the baseball game montage song he did for the Naked Gun AND the basketball game montage in Teen Wolf. Go Randy!

Prediction: Crazy Heart...can't see how it loses.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
* Avatar (2009): Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson, Tony Johnson
* The Hurt Locker (2008): Paul N.J. Ottosson, Ray Beckett
* Inglourious Basterds (2009): Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti, Mark Ulano
* Star Trek (2009): Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson, Peter J. Devlin
* Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009): Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Geoffrey Patterson

Strange in that I saw all five of these movies but the "sound mixing" wasn't something I was paying attention to. Transformers had some pretty cool mechanical sounds but the movie was pretty bad (though not as bad as a non-fan of the old 80's cartoon would say). Avatar's battle scenes was full of sounds going all over the theater. Hurt Locker and Basterds sounds involved guns so they may cancel each other out.

Prediction: Avatar.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
* Avatar (2009): Christopher Boyes, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
* The Hurt Locker (2008): Paul N.J. Ottosson
* Inglourious Basterds (2009): Wylie Stateman
* Star Trek (2009): Mark P. Stoeckinger, Alan Rankin

* Up (2009): Michael Silvers, Tom Myers

See above, not sure what the difference is but for some reason Transformers was taken out and Up put in.

Prediction: Hurt Locker only because of the cool name Paul N.J. Ottosson.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
* Avatar (2009): Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, Andy Jones
* District 9 (2009): Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros, Matt Aitken
* Star Trek (2009): Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh, Burt Dalton

District 9's aliens seemed like they fit into the movie perfectly but Avatar again created an entire world.

Prediction: Avatar

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
* Coraline (2009): Henry Selick
* Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009): Wes Anderson
* The Princess and the Frog (2009): John Musker, Ron Clements
* The Secret of Kells (2009): Tomm Moore
* Up (2009): Pete Docter

Didn't see any of these but Up is the only one also nominated for Best Picture. I also heard from two strong willed friends of my mine who are in their 30's and they gently wept after watching the montage in the beginning of the movie. That alone gets my vote.

Prediction: Up!

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
* Ajami (2009)(Israel)
* Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (2009)(Germany)
* El secreto de sus ojos (2009)(Argentina)
* Un prophète (2009)(France)
* La teta asustada (2009)(Peru)

Hmmm...I'm going by what country I'd like to visit. Israel seems a bit dangerous these days. Peru and Argentina are too jungly for me. That leaves France and Germany. Since I like beer, I'm going with Germany.

Prediction: Das weisse Band...Victaschnief!

Best Documentary, Features
* Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land (2008): Anders Østergaard, Lise Lense-Møller
* The Cove (2009): Louie Psihoyos, Fisher Stevens
* Food, Inc. (2008): Robert Kenner, Elise Pearlstein
* The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009): Judith Ehrlich, Rick Goldsmith
* Which Way Home (2009): Rebecca Cammisa

I need to see some of these. I heard great things about The Cove (about how dolphins are killed for their meat) and Food, Inc. (inside look at the food industry). I'm going with a movie that shows the shocking treatment of Flipper.

Prediction: The Cove

Best Documentary, Short Subjects
* China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province (2009) (TV): Jon Alpert, Matthew O'Neill
* The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner (2009): Daniel Junge, Henry Ansbacher
* The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant (2009) (TV): Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert
* Królik po berlinsku (2009): Bartosz Konopka, Anna Wydra
* Music by Prudence (2010): Roger Ross Williams, Elinor Burkett

Hmmm...I'm just going by titles here. I'm going to go with the second one. I'm not sure who Booth Gardner was but I like that name...combine with the name of one of the guys who made it, Junge, and that's my pick.

Prediction: The Booth Garder flick that Junge made.

Best Short Film, Animated
* French Roast (2008): Fabrice Joubert
* Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty (2008): Nicky Phelan, Darragh O'Connell
* La dama y la muerte (2009): Javier Recio Gracia
* Logorama (2009): Nicolas Schmerkin
* Wallace and Gromit in 'A Matter of Loaf and Death' (2008) (TV): Nick Park

Going by names again. I've heard of the Wallace and Gromit people (they did that movie Chicken Run years ago). That's my pick though I like that Granny O'Grimm title.

Prediction: Wallace and Gromit.

Best Short Film, Live Action
* The Door (2008): Juanita Wilson, James Flynn
*Istället för abrakadabra (2008): Patrik Eklund, Mathias Fjällström
* Kavi (2009): Gregg Helvey
* Miracle Fish (2009): Luke Doolan, Drew Bailey
* The New Tenants (2009): Joachim Back, Tivi Magnusson

I'm going for the second one only because I can't wait to see whoever presents this award try to pronounce it.

Prediction: Here's my stab at it..."is-tah-let for ah-bra-cah-dah-bra"

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