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

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

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

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
“Avatar”
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Nine”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“The Young Victoria”

Best Cinematography
“Avatar”
“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”
“Nine”
“The Young Victoria”

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

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

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

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
“Avatar”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Up”

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

Best Visual Effects
“Avatar”
“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”
“Logorama”
“A Matter of Loaf and Death”

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

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

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Nine

16 01 2010

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren, Kate Hudson, Fergie, and Nicole Kidman.

Nine is the film adaptation of the Broadway musical which was based on Frederico Fellini’s masterpiece 8 1/2.  So to clear up any confusion, this is technically not a remake, even if it kind of feels like one.  The story follows Guido, a popular and well respected director who’s struggling with the production of his latest film as well as the many women in his life.  This story worked in 8 1/2 because Fellini was able to intertwine reality with dreams, fantasies, flashbacks, etc., so the viewer got a close but surreal look into Guido’s mind.  With Nine, everything’s done by the numbers, the story and the music both begin to feel redundant after about 30 minutes, and it all amounts to an epic waste of talent.

Daniel Day-Lewis is one of my favorite actors, and yet even my own bias towards anything he’s involved with won’t stop me from chalking this up as one of the biggest disappointments of 2009.  Probably should have seen it coming, seeing that I consider Rob Marshall to be probably the 2nd best (Ron Howard’s all over this one) example of an utterly mediocre and overrated Hollywood director.  The performances are all flashy and fun, the costumes are great and even a few of the musical numbers were nice, but it never gets much deeper than that.

RATING:  5/10





Broken Embraces

2 12 2009

Harry Caine, a blind writer and ex-director, recalls a tragic love affair after a mysterious character from his past re-enters his life.  His story, which takes place 14 years earlier during the production of one of his films, is told in flashbacks, mixing past and present and creating a sort of film within a film.

“Broken Embraces” was written and directed by Pedro Almodovar, who is arguably the best and most successful Spanish director.  He specializes in colorful, artsy soap operas, and this one is no different.  Honestly, as melodramatic as it is, I ate up every minute of it.  Almodovar always creates the most wonderful characters, and I can’t help but fall for them every time.  Even though I wouldn’t place this among his very best (“Bad Education,” “Talk to Her”), it easily deserves a watch.  Pedro and Penelope are officially one of the best active director/actor duos.  Oh, and she’s fantastic as always in this.  Thumbs up.

RATING:  8.5/10