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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The Messenger

2 02 2010

Gets my vote for the most depressing movie of the year.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but there it is.  The story follows a pair of soldiers who have been assigned to the Army’s “casualty notification service,” and so yes, they travel from house to house informing family members of a soldier’s death.  Scene after scene parents and/or wives break down in sadness, and when our two main characters aren’t on the job, they’re battling depression.  It’s almost too much to stomach.

The film would probably be completely unbearable if it weren’t for the understated direction from Oren Moverman and the great chemistry between Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson.  As overwhelming as the grief on screen can be, it never goes too far over-the-top.  The score (or lack thereof), direction, and lead performances are all low-key enough to keep it from blowing-up into a huge melodramatic production.  The subtle approach to such in-your-face material makes the film work.

I’d say that if you often find yourself complaining that your job is too tough, see this.

RATING:  7/10





Quick “2012” review

30 11 2009

I still can’t stand Roland Emmerich (didn’t one of his characters outrun freezing air in one his films?  WTF?), but I have to admit that this was a guilty pleasure for me.  It wasn’t great by any means, but some of the sequences were genuinely thrilling and this time around none of the sentimental or preachy scenes made me want to vomit (thank you, John Cusack).  It did what it set out to do.  Whether it’s worth $10 and over two hours of your time is debatable, though.

6/10





Quick review of “Zombieland”

18 10 2009

 zombieland-poster

When I first saw the trailer for Zombieland I thought it looked like a bad American version of Shaun of the Dead.  But, it turns out I was a little too quick to judge.  It’s a fun movie, it holds its own, and it’s got a brilliant cameo appearance that steals the show.  I still can’t tell the difference between Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Cera, whose cutesy and awkward quirkiness drives me insane, but that whole shtick fits fine in a movie such as this. 

I like pretty much anything with zombies, and Woody Harrelson’s fun, so I enjoyed it.  If nothing else, it’s worth a rental on a sick day.

Rating: 7/10