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!


20 12 2009

Mangolds review:

This was my first IMAX experience, and I can’t remember having a funner time at the movies (with the exception of a few eventful midnight showings).  It’s not just the quantum leap it takes with visual effects, it’s the whole new immersive world Cameron creates.  Seeing Pandora was not unlike seeing Hogwarts or Middle Earth for the first time, they’re places I want to visit/escape to over and over.

It’s not perfect by any means, but considering how ambitious Avatar is I think it’d be silly to nitpick over some miniscule flaws.  It’s really something everyone should see.  The 160 minute runtime flew by, and for most part I was completely transfixed, even in awe at times.  I do however have to comment on that godawful song that plays over the closing credits.  It’s terrible.  Just run out the theater when the film ends so it doesn’t have the chance to put a damper on your overall experience.

Also, kudos to Cameron for the strong environmental message reminiscent of Princess Mononoke.  As a treehugger, I really appreciated that.

RATING:  9/10

Anastasya’s review:

The visual effects were absolutely amazing, and it really needs to be experienced rather than simply watched. Preferably in 3D IMAX. I cannot imagine that the film would be nearly as good if seen on a television screen, or even a regular movie screen. The effects and world were so entirely immersive, it made the real world seem less real when I left the theater. It was amazing to see how flawlessly the animation and real people were integrated, it was entirely believable.

I must say, though, that I had some issues with the plot. The world that was designed for the film was amazing, and the characters were incredibly engaging, but the story, and their little political messages were a bit obnoxious. I approve of the strong environmental message, but it kind of came across as simply attempting to appeal to the current political trends. They made fun of Bush quite a bit, but after the first joke or two, it became a little exasperating (you can only say “Get it done!” so many times.) I was also a little bugged by the glorification of war, but that’s purely personal.

Basically, I was amazed by the first half of the film, but a little disappointing by the second. The building of the world and characters was exceptionally beautiful and engaging, but during the second half I knew exactly what was going to happen, and was not that interested in the war.

And yes, that song at the end of the credits seriously killed the mood!

RATING: 8/10

Early Avatar reviews

11 12 2009

From Kris Tapley over at

“The visual effects race, if you couldn’t guess already, is over and done with.  In all likelihood, the sound races as well.  And there is a compelling argument to be made for the film editing as well.  But that’s the expected tech bliss the film delivers.

Wait, let me not undersell that.  This is the most amazing cinematic experience I’ve ever had.  There are, admittedly, story elements that give one pause.  The film isn’t total perfection (though I’d argue this is a very mature, thematically beautiful screenplay from James Cameron).  The filmmaker can’t help himself in a number of instances that are too on the nose.

But so what?  Seriously.  This is why we all go into dark rooms to be transported to other worlds.  Cameron gets it.  And he delivers.  A thousand times over.  It’s the kind of film you want to take any and everyone with you to see.  Not to be too cheesy — it is absolute magic.

More tomorrow.  (P.S.: Give Stephen Lang a Best Supporting Actor nomination.  NOW)”

It’s also got an early 100% at RottenTomatoes.  Could it really be THIS good???  I seriously can’t wait to see this.