One of the unfortunate side-effects of me being sidelined is that I’m WAAAAY behind on my Oscar predictions…so in the essence of the limited time before the big day…and because so many others have already done their predictions ad naseum…I’ll limit my pick to the best movie category. (Editor’s note: I didn’t get a chance to see all of them…so the one’s I didn’t see, I’ve completely made up…see if you can figure out which ones! Have fun!)
First, allow me to break them down:
I’ve written about this movie before. Here’s snippits: “ahead of it’s time”, “what movies are going to be like in about 5 years”, “blue”, “breathtaking”, and “Fern Gully on ‘roids”. The bottomline is that I stand by all of those. I’ve never seen a movie like it. Neither have you (even though the theme isn’t original, the story is). James Cameron somehow topped Titanic and it’s better because of the absence of Leonardo Dicaprio. CGI characters (the Na’vi) are so realistic I official believe that a live action/CGI Smurfs movie might be plausible. It has also spawned a language that even Conan O’Brian can geek out on:
The Hurt Locker
War movies get me down…but they also inspire me. The one is both. It shares the horrors, spectacle, and triumphs of Iraq. The most believable movie about the Iraqi war to date (well…believable to someone who’s never been there before). It harkens back to the days of great war movies like Platoon or Tora! Tora! Tora! This gritty drama gets you right down to the bootstraps and the blood splatters of Baghdad and you experience the sheer bleakness of what’s going on there. Very strong contender.
When Arvid from Head of the Class decides to teach Punky Brewster how to dance, this light comedy turns into a love story of the ages as Punky (now a 40 year old art director of Children’s Theatre called “Cirque de Soliel Moon Fry”) provides an education to the awkward Arvid (a CEO of primordialnumbersrule.com) into the ways of the heart. Very touching.
I mentioned early that war movies are depressing yet inspiring. This one is neither. This one is flat out funny (in a Tarantino shotgun to the head way), clever, and great fun to watch. It also features one of the funniest over-the-top Nazi bad guys since Colonel Klink…but in that disturbing way. You’ll go in thinking you know what’s going to happen…and you might guess the ending…but you won’t expect the ride that gets you there. This is Quentin’s strongest script since Pulp Fiction…and should win Oscar for best original screenplay.
The Blind Side
The problem with expanding the nominees to 10 is this right here. The Blind Side is a good movie. I was entertained when I saw it. When you couple a feel good movie and a sports movie together correctly, it’s sure-fire gold. Does it deserve to be here? Borderline. I feel they put this in just to give Sandra Bullock extra points to win the Best Actress category (which she shouldn’t win…I love her but she really shouldn’t win it). This is a football movie that tugs the heartstrings and maybe the best sports movie of the year…but a long shot to win this.
This surprised me…pleasantly. Over the summer when I went to go watch this, I was expecting to just geek out at aliens being suppressed and a big fight of lasers at the end. What I got instead was an allegory on racism, oppression, and survival. In this movie, humanity is the monster and the aliens are the real people. All they want to do is go home but we wouldn’t allow them. I left feeling shell-shocked and refusing to think of the word “Prawn” in a non-derogatory way every again. A movie that causes that much of a visceral reaction is one that’s beyond your regular eye candy. And if CGI characters had their own category, the alien and his kid would win it all the way.
Precious: Based on the Novel Push
Second hand review breaks down like this. Heartbreaking. Mo’Nique is brilliant (even though the apostrophe is slightly distracting). Gabourey Sidibi delivers a breakout performance. And I will take the time to watch this…I just didn’t get a chance to yet…and I feel bad for that. This movie IS good to affect me just by word of mouth.
A Serious man
This superhero romp features former Dougie Howser star, Neil Patrick Harris, as Serious Man. His power is that he never cracks a smile facing an evil villain known as The Jokester (no infringement of the Batman villain with a similar name). But when Jokester devises a fiendish plot that could spell the end of Serious Man’s sidekick, Muggsy Bogues, if our hero doesn’t laugh…we see the true internal turmoil of a man torn between his hero identity and his best friend. Harris was robbed of his Oscar nod.
Pixar keeps hitting homeruns tied to a million colourful balloons. UP is a journey of need and self-discovery as an old man realizes his time on Earth is nearly up (oh!) and he wants to make up (oh!!) to his dead wife for not giving her the adventurous life he had promised her. This movie is as uplifting (oh!!!) as it is fascinating to watch. Not better than their previous movie (WALL*E) but still very well done.
Up in the Air
The buzz around this movie was insane when it came out around the same time as Avatar…it had that “artsy buzz”. The kind where Avatar was there for the common movie goer…but Up in the Air was there for the “smart” movie-phile. I’ve seen both of these movies. Up in the Air is a funny movie in the way that Little Miss Sunshine was. Not hilarious…just intelligent and tinged with melancholy. George Clooney is great again playing himself…or was it Michael Clayton…anyway, a guy in a tie and a snappy suit with a silver tongue that could convince ice to freeze on a hot day. And I dig Clooney just for that reason.
So those are the nominees. And the winner is…drum roll please! No drums? We have a synthesizer stuck on Beck? Alright…that’ll do. “Loser” roll please!
AVATAR!!!!!!!!!!! (yes, it’s easy but you have to think that this movie will/has revolutionized movie making…and it’s not too shabby)
Interesting post-script…I went back and forth between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. They both are great movies. The Hurt Locker has a better script and better directing. But Avatar is a one of a kind movie. But did you know that the two directors (James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow) are ex’s? Yeah. Talk about a game of one-upsmanship. So I will make a second prediction right here. Even though Avatar wins Best Picture…Kathryn will win Best Director. Just a feeling.
Enjoy the Oscars folks!