I Am DB

February 1, 2010

Oscar ’09: Nomination Eve

Filed under: Movies,Oscars — DB @ 1:49 pm
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Another year, another impending Oscar announcement. But his year’s about-to-begin race is made more interesting by the 10-slot Best Picture factor. Choosing the 10 films I think are most likely to get nominated is tricky; there are a handful of obvious choices (and I think it’s clear what the big five would be if the category hadn’t been expanded this year), but two or three slots are up for grabs. I’m less certain than I was a few months ago that something all-out popular like The Hangover or Star Trek won’t make it in (Avatar‘s spot is of course secured). Hangover and Trek aren’t included on my final list of guesses, but whatever happens, there is a unique curiosity attached to this year’s announcement.

I’ll have to see how it shakes out after a couple years worth of evidence, but for now I’m open to the 10 nominee race. If it brings recognition to a few more small films and helps some smart, well-crafted popular hits earn some respect, I’m all for it. I know one of the chief arguments against the change is that the expansion dilutes the significance, making a nomination less meaningful, but I really don’t buy that. We’ve always had a system in which critics celebrate the year’s best through top 10 lists, and I’ve never heard anyone complain about that, so why shouldn’t the same number apply to the Oscars?

And to those who say they can’t find 10 movies worth nominating? Obviously some years are stronger than others, but anyone who claims to be a movie fan yet can’t find 10 films a year that mean something to them and are worthy of honoring probably don’t deserve their Academy membership. 274 films are eligible for this year’s Best Picture Oscar. You really can’t pick 10? Out of 274? (And as this article about tabulating the nominations illustrates, filling out all 10 is important; your vote might not get counted if you don’t, and by completing all 10 lines you might just be helping one of your lower-ranked choices make the cut.)

Anyway, I’ll get on with it. Here are my predictions, along with occasional commentary and my personal picks for each category. Can’t wait to see how it all goes down early (so painfully early) Tuesday morning when Anne Hathaway and Academy president Tom Sherak announce the nominees…

BEST PICTURE
An Education
Avatar
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Invictus
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

Personal: Avatar, District 9, The Hurt Locker, In the Loop, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, The Road, Up, Up in the Air, Where the Wild Things Are

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

These five picks line-up exactly with the Director’s Guild nominees, and though there are usually differences between the DGA’s list and the Academy’s, I can’t really see it going any other way.

Personal: Cameron, Bigelow, Tarantino, Daniels, Spike Jonze (Where the Wild Things Are),

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

I’m still not sold 100% on Renner’s chances. He did get a SAG nomination, and some other high-profile nominations along the way, but I still wonder if the performance is too subtle or internalized for voters to appreciate it. He’ll probably make it, but if anyone here is vulnerable, I’d say it’s him.

Personal: Bridges, Clooney, Matt Damon (The Informant!), Firth, Viggo Mortensen (The Road)

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

Personal: Mirren, Mulligan, Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones), Sidibe, Streep

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Matt Damon – Invictus
Woody Harrelson – The Messenger
Christian McKay – Me and Orson Welles
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

I’m admittedly going out on a long limb with McKay. Christopher Plummer is probably the better bet; he received SAG and Golden Globe nominations, had a busy year with Doctor Parnassus, Up and 9, and has never been nominated despite a long career full of terrific work. But despite all that, did people really love this performance so much as to call it out as one of their five favorites?

The other common prediction out there is Alfred Molina for An Education. Some Oscar pundits have been talking him up since the movie came out in October, but he has been almost entirely overlooked by other organizations (the Broadcast Film Critics nominated him; Golden Globes and SAG didn’t). That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s out; Michael Shannon managed to sneak in last year for Revolutionary Road without having earned high-profile pre-recognition. And like Plummer, Molina is another respected veteran who has never been nominated (and should have been, for Frida). Still, I don’t feel the momentum.

Not that McKay exactly has momentum or has fared much better than Molina in the run-up, but he has earned a few notices here and there from some of the small, regional critics groups. And he gives a magnetic performance that dominates the film. The question is whether enough people saw it.

Whatever happens, the one certainty is that this year’s Supporting Actor field is one of the weakest I can recall. This is usually one of the most competitive categories; this time it’s a struggle to find five strong contenders.

Personal: Robert Duvall (The Road), Harrelson, McKay, Tucci, Waltz

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Vera Farmiga – Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air
Mo’Nique – Precious
Julianne Moore – A Single Man
Samantha Morton – The Messenger

While I’d love to see Morton get nominated, I’m not confident in that guess. I almost went with Penelope Cruz or Marion Cotillard for Nine, but I’m deferring to what I keep reading from Oscar writers in the field, which is that Nine just hasn’t connected with voters and has faded from their radar (at least in terms of top categories; I’m still counting on several below-the-line nominations).

Personal: Farmiga, Kendrick, Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), Mo’Nique, Morton

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
(500) Days of Summer
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man
Up

Personal: (500) Days, Hurt Locker, Basterds, The Messenger, Moon

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
An Education
District 9
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Precious
Up in the Air

Personal: In the Loop, Precious, The Road, Up in the Air, Where the Wild Things Are

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Ponyo
The Princess and the Frog
Up

Personal (w/o seeing Ponyo yet): 9, Coraline, Mr. Fox, Princess and the Frog, Up

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Avatar
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Nine
A Serious Man

Personal: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Basterds, The Lovely Bones, Nine, A Serious Man

BEST FILM EDITING
Avatar
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Nine
Up in the Air

Personal: Same

BEST ART DIRECTION
Avatar
District 9
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man

Personal: Avatar, Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Parnassus, The Road

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Bright Star
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Inglourious Basterds
Nine
The Young Victoria

Personal: Bright Star, The Brothers Bloom, Parnassus, Nine, A Single Man

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Avatar
The Informant!
A Serious Man
A Single Man
Up

Personal: The Brothers Bloom, Moon, The Road, A Serious Man, Up

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Almost There – The Princess and the Frog*
Cinema Italiano – Nine*
I See You – Avatar
Somebody Else – Crazy Heart
The Weary Kind – Crazy Heart*

Last year, there were only three nominees, rather than the usual five. Not sure why that was, but my asteriks indicate the three I think will make it if that happens again.

Personal: Dove Of Peace (Bruno), Be Italian (Nine), Cinema Italiano, Friends on the Other Side (The Princess and the Frog), The Weary Kind

BEST MAKE-UP
District 9
The Road
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Personal: Same

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Avatar
Star Trek
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

I’m uncertain on Transformers. I was really close to putting down District 9, which may well make it. I didn’t see the new Transformers, but I figure the effects are at least as good as in the first one, and those were great. Maybe there isn’t anything new and groundbreaking since the original, but that doesn’t make them any less impressive. The first film lost this award but should have won; even if this is more of the same, sequels get nominated all the time for building on the work of their predecessor.

On the other hand, nobody likes this movie except for 13 year-old boys and Michael Bay, so that might hurt its chances, paving the way for District 9.

Personal: Avatar, District 9, Where the Wild Things Are

BEST SOUND MIXING
Avatar
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Star Trek
Up

Personal: 9, Avatar, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Star Trek

BEST SOUND EFFECTS EDITING
Avatar
District 9
The Hurt Locker
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Up

Personal: 9, Avatar, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Star Trek (same as above, since I know nothing about sound to begin with)

xx xx

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