Thoughts on the Oscar nominations

3 02 2010

First the good: 

Up gets the honor of being the first ever animated film to be nominated for best picture.  Sure it took the expansion to 10 nominees, but it’s still quite an accomplishment and I couldn’t think of a more deserving film. 

Hurt Locker and Avatar lead with 9 nominations each.  I’m happy to see two great films lead the field.

-Always nice to see veteran actors like Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep get nominations.  Hopefully they both win this year.

-Vera Farmiga and Maggie Gyllenhaal get their first nominations.  They’re both wonderful and it’s great to see them get some recognition.

-Kathryn Bigelow gets a best director nomination.  The film industry is still male dominated, so it’s always nice to see female directors get nominated.

-The Academy embraces sci-fi.  Avatar, District 9, and Star Trek all get a good amount of nominations.  Banner year for sci-fi.  Now if only Sam Rockwell had managed to get a best actor nomination for Moon

-No major nominations for Nine, Lovely Bones, or Invictus, proving that not all Academy members are sheep.

In the Loop, Harry Potter, and A Serious Man all get  nominations.  All deserving surprises.

And now the bad:

The Blind Side.  Seriously, I feel like I’m going crazy.  This getting a nomination sure doesn’t make the expansion to 10 nominees look like a good idea.

-Sandra Bullock.  She could possibly win a Razzie and an Oscar, and to think that she might beat Meryl Streep.  Not cool, Academy.

-No nomination for Ponyo.  It wasn’t expected to squeeze in a nomination, but I still feel it was much more deserving than some of the other animated nominees.

-No nomination for Julianne Moore.  Admittedly I have not seen the film, but she’s long overdue and I was hoping she’d get some recognition this year, oh well.

-No best score nomination for The Informant!

No best makeup nomination for District 9.

Here’s the full list of nominees:

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

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

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”

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

Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, “Invictus”
Woody Harrelon, “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”

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”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“District 9”
“An Education”
“In the Loop”
“Up in the Air”

Best Original Screenplay
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The Messenger”
“A Serious Man”

Best Animated Feature Film
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Ajami” (Israel)
“The Milk of Sorrow” (Peru)
“A Prophet” (France)
“The Secret in Their Eyes” (Argentina)
“The White Ribbon” (Germany)

Best Art Direction
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“The Young Victoria”

Best Cinematography
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
“The Hurt Locker”
“The White Ribbon”

Best Costume Design
“Bright Star”
“Coco Before Chanel”
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“The Young Victoria”

Best Film Editing
“District 9”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”

Best Makeup
“Il Divo”
“Star Trek”
“The Young Victoria”

Best Music (Original Score)
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Sherlock Holmes”

Best Music (Original Song)
“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36″
“Take it All” from “Nine”
“The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart”

Best Sound Editing
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”

Best Sound Mixing
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Best Visual Effects
“District 9”
“Star Trek”

Best Documentary Feature
“Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country”
“The Cove”
“Food, Inc.”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
“Which Way Home”

Best Documentary Short
“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”
“The Last Campaign of Booth Gardener”
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
“Music by Prudence”
“Rabbit a la Berlin”

Best Short Film (Animated)
“French Roast”
“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”
“The Lady and the Reaper”
“A Matter of Loaf and Death”

Best Short Film (Live Action)
“The Door”
“Instead of Abracadabra”
“Miracle Fish”
“The New Tenants”

-Overall a pretty good list. Feel free to give your own thoughts below!

Up in the Air

16 01 2010

A beautiful and timely film about an isolated man, with no real home or family, who fires people for a living. I really can’t think of a more appropriate film to end the decade with.  It touches on so many relevant subjects from the poor economy and the subsequent unemployment crisis to our increasing obsession with technology and lack of true communication.

George Clooney fits his role as a “career transition counselor” perfectly.  He’s constantly flying all over the country, living in hotels and without any solid long-term relationships.  You get the impression that it’s pretty similar to Clooney’s actual life, which gives his character that much more weight. 

RATING:  8.5/10

P.S. Here’s a quote I enjoyed from director Jason Reitman:

“I’m equally guilty of using technology — I Twitter, I text people, I chat. But I think there’s something strangely insidious about it that it makes us think we’re closer when in fact we’re not seeing each other, we’re not connecting. So in a strange way, technology’s kind of like an airport. It makes you feel like you’re everywhere when in fact, you’re nowhere.”

The Twilight Saga: New Moon

26 11 2009

New Moon, the second installment of the Twilight movies.  Where to begin?

I would like to preface this review with a few things.  First off, I have read all four of the Twilight books.  Secondly: although I think that Stephanie Meyers technically can’t write for shit, I think that her ideas in Twilight have the potential for something that could be both hugely entertaining and actually a good story.  Thirdly, I think that the directors responsible for the reincarnation of her story into these movies could take advantage of said potential and make Twilight great.  Lastly, any movie that can do as well as New Moon did in the box office while not aiming for the preteen/teenage boy demographic (the largest in Hollywood) is quite alright by me.

The movie New Moon is worlds better than the first Twilight film but therefore does not maintain some of that b-movie quality that I learned to love about the first installment.  That being said, here are the reasons why I think it is better than the first movie:  visually it is cleaner and more convincing.  The makeup for the vampires is more believable and the CG for the werewolves is actually quite good.  Whereas the first movie followed the book faithfully and stuck to one shittily filmed action sequence, New Moon upped the number of action sequences (most of which did not go down in the book) and made them actually look good.  The increased budget as a result of the first movie’s success is the reason behind both these things, and also (I think) a more critical eye from the director (Chris Weitz).  Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, New Moon has an excellent soundtrack made up of such artists as Thom Yorke of Radiohead, Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, and St. Vincent.  Its music had a lot to do with the quality of the movie, especially during a certain werewolf/vampire chase sequence.  Finally, the acting.  Despite the fact that in the broad scheme of things the acting in New Moon is by far not great, to me the most important comparison to make is to the first movie (because let’s face it, if you couldn’t sit through the first one you’re not going to sit through the second one).  Compared to the first movie,  New Moon should be in the Oscars: in that case, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner both deserve lead acting awards, and Robert Pattinson and Anna Kendrick should win for supporting roles.

Beyond all of the technical aspects there is a love/hate relationship that I have with Twilight and simply can’t escape, which absolutely has everything to do with its content that I find myself simultaneously tickled by and filled with loathing for.  With filming for the third movie already completed and its release just around the corner, I am very excited and I believe that my enthusiasm will last through the fourth and final movie.  I’m guilty of being invested in these movies, and I’m sure that if you gave it a chance you would be too. 

My rating: 5/10*

*This rating fluxuates.  On my good days it shoots to 8 and on my bad days drops to 2.