Post-Oscar 2010 Scorecard

8 03 2010

I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited to watch an Oscar telecast as I was last night. It might have something to do with the fact that there was such a wide range of movies nominated this year or it might have been the fact that I had one of the best conversations of my life last year on Oscar day when I had to explain to two of my best friends that the Academy Awards and the Oscars were in fact the same awards show.

Either way, I feel it obligatory to score my predictions from yesterday.

BEST ANIMATED FILM: UP – Thank you Academy! You recognized the only best picture nominee of the group and honored it in the way it should be honored – as an animated film. And the Oscar for Best Original Score was icing on the cake. I forgot how moving that score was and you could feel the emotion in the snippet they played – though the dancers did absolutely nothing for it.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz – The first non-surprise of many of the night. It was only natural that the Academy would recognize Tarentino’s Inglourious Basterds in some way tonight just because he’s Tarentino. However, with the movie up against a lot of better ones for Best Picture, and there being no way in hell that Kathryn Bigelow or James Cameron wouldn’t win for Best Director they had to give it to Waltz. He did give a damn good performance in the film, which was its only saving grace. It would have been nice for a nod to Christopher Plummer, though.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo’Nique – No surprise again. She deserved this award for going to the deepest recesses of her soul to become a monster and managing to come out on the other end of this film a stronger and more empowered woman. Still, she manages to be humble and recognize that her strength in the role was not from her alone but from a collaboration with a strong director, script and co-stars. Loved that she won.

BEST ACTOR: Jeff Bridges – Are you seeing the pattern here? No surprise once again that Bridges finally got recognized for his work. They made a huge show out of continuously saying that he came from one of the great Hollywood acting families and his fun nod to his parents turning him on to “such a groovy profession” was sweet and fitting for an actor who made his name playing “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski.

BEST ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock – Again, no surprise here. Bullock delivered a strong performance in The Blind Side, and it was probably a career-best up to this point. However, she did not deliver the best performance out of all the nominees. We all know where I stand on this category – Mirren was robbed – so I won’t rehash that in depth. The only saving grace in Bullock getting this award was that we got to see another emotional acceptance speech and she’s the only actor to ever win a Razzie (for All About Steve) and an Oscar in the same weekend. And was I the only person who really wished Gabourey Sidibe would win just so we could see her acceptance speech? Her excitement was palpable throughout the telecast and her tears as Oprah gave her performance praise were so sweet.

BEST PICTURE: – The Hurt Locker – Love it. That’s really all I have to say. It came down to Avatar and The Hurt Locker and the film with the stronger story and real feel won. Love it.

BEST DIRECTOR: – Kathryn Bigelow – I thought the Academy was going to split their votes and give one award to Avatar and one to The Hurt Locker, so I was surprised when Bigelow took home both. Still, I was happy. It’s amazing that she’s the first female to take home this award, made better by the fact that today is International Women’s Day. She deserved to win! And I’m glad we didn’t have to listen to another “I’m the King of the World!” speech in Na’vi.

Scorecard: I’m 7 for 7 on Should Wins and 6 of 7 on Will wins.

Other thoughts on the telecast:

  • Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin kind of rocked as hosts. Their opening monologue was light-hearted and witty. They could have been better had they actually pointed out all the nominated actors/actresses so that leaving Maggie Gyllenhaal out of the fun but continuously showing her sitting in the audience wasn’t so glaring.
  • What was the gag between Alec and George Clooney? I enjoyed it, but I feel like their uncomfortable staring had a history that I don’t know about that would make it that much better.
  • I’m glad Ben Stiller figured out that his Na’vi costume was a dud as soon as he stepped on stage. His visible uncomfort was the only thing that made that gag worthwhile. Plus, the fact that Avatar wasn’t even nominated for that award made it even more awkward.
  • The Oscars had their very own Kanye. WTF happened after they announced Roger Ross William’s film Music By Prudence as Best Documentary Short? One minute he’s in the audience hugging his Mom, the next he’s on stage and some lady wearing a purple blanket is wrestling the microphone away from him and spouting random crap about Zimbabwe the second he says Thank you. The interaction was uncomfortable, but Williams handled it with grace and made sure to point out that Prudence was in the audience before following purple blanket-lady backstage to presumably bitch slap her with his award. NOTE: Purple blanket-lady is apparently one of the producers on the film named Elinor Burkett. She and Williams aren’t speaking at the moment due to creative differences, but Williams is the true owner of the award as the movie belongs to him. So, suck it purple blanket lady! Read about it here.
  • Best Original Score. Umm, don’t we normally get performances of the Best Songs instead of the actual scores? And aren’t those normally better? The answer to those questions are yes and hell yes. Why did the Academy decide we needed interprative dances of the original scores? Break dancing can only go so far, people. It can’t capture the innocence and emotion of Up’s score (or many others, actually). And did it have to go on so long?? We get it, they can dance, now please cart another pretty celebrity out before us so we can see their outfit for the evening.
  • Rachel McAdams. Love your dress, girl, but I feel bad that you’re going to wake up today and see the footage of you presenting and realize that you had a random section of hair sticking straight out from the right side of your head.
  • Miley Cyrus. First, why are you at the Oscars? Second, why does your dress not fit? Third, why are you at the Oscars? Stand up straight at your next award show, honey, you look frumpy. Amanda Seyfried, you’re adorable as always. I’m sorry Miley took away from your beauty.
  • Why is Jane Seymour there?
  • Why did Keanu Reeves get chosen to present a Best Picture nominee?
  • Why was Twilight in the horror movie montage? And Young Frankenstein? Why was there even a horror movie montage?
  • Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin in a double snuggie backstage. Awesome.
  • Colin Firth looked kind of sad that Jeff Bridges won. It’s understandable as he’s a great actor and this is the first time he’s been nominated. The puppy dog sadness only made him more attractive as well.
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2010 Oscar Predictions

7 03 2010

Well dear readers, the fateful day is finally upon us.

Tonight the 2010 Academy Awards will go down in the annals of Hollywood history.

Who will be best dressed? Worst? Will Avatar and James Cameron have as big of a night as he did in 1997 when Titanic won 11 awards? Will Avatar and The Hurt Locker split the vote on the huge field of Best Picture nominees leading to a dark horse winner?

All of our questions will be answered during the live telecast at 8 pm EST.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the categories and examine who most likely will win as opposed to who should win.

I’m going to fit in one more Best Picture nominee this afternoon – Up in the Air. Can’t wait to see what’s going to happen tonight.

Best Animated Film

Nominated: Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, UP

Will Win: UP or Coraline.

Should Win: UP

This may seem like a pretty clear cut category. Of course the Academy would recognize one of the most brilliant animated films to be released in a long time, and Pixar seems to have a lock on the category which has only been around since 2001 (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and WALL-E have all won). However, with UP being nominated for Best Picture as well, it may split the votes. Some academy voters may want to see the second animated film ever nominated for the big award to win and might pick the second best animated film of the year for this category. In that case, Coraline would take the cake. It’s inventive plot and astounding visuals would sway voters to her side. Let’s hope the voters realize UP has no chance in the big dance and recognize it as it deserves – as an animated film.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Nominated: Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air), Penelope Cruz (Nine), Mo’Nique (Precious)

Will and Should Win: Mo’Nique (Precious)

Absolutely no question about this one, Mo’Nique will take this award tonight. Even without seeing the entire movie it’s apparent from the clips on the late night shows and at past award shows this season that Mo’Nique delivers an amazing performance as Mary, who physically, mentally and sexually abuses her daughter Precious throughout her life. The subject matter is Oscar gold as the academy loves films that delve into the gritty world of real life without glossing over the truly uncomfortable aspects of the world, and Mo’Nique is said to have delivered the performance of a lifetime. I can’t wait to hear her speech. If the Golden Globes was a warm up of her acceptance tonight, I expect a lot of tears from both her and myself.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominated: Matt Damon (Invictus), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Last Station), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Will Win: Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Should Win: Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)

The buzz around this category is leaning strongly towards Christoph Waltz, whose portrayal of a Nazi soldier in Inglourious Basterds is sadistic and cunning. There’s no doubt that he delivers a great performance, especially in the opening scene of the movie as he interrogates a German farmer about his former neighbors, a family of Jewish people. However, the movie drops the ball shortly after that scene and not even Waltz can rescue it. He does a decent job with what he is given, but thinking about what could have been overpowers his performance.

Christopher Plummer on the other hand is being nominated for the first time after a long and storied career. He delivers a masterful performance as Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station, all but disappearing into the character. Unlike Waltz’s character, Plummer’s allows him to explore different emotions and Plummer manages to exude them all with a grace that can only come with age and experience. If Heath Ledger could win this category last year just because he was dead (let’s be honest with ourselves, his performance in The Dark Knight was amazing, but it was made so because he was no longer with us…) then Plummer should take it home based on the breadth of his performance in this particular role, and as a testament to his entire career.

Best Actor

Nominated: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), George Clooney (Up in the Air), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

Will Win: Jeff Bridges

Should Win: Can’t answer – have only seen one of these films

It’s Jeff Bridges year for this category. Bridges has won the Golden Globe, SAG Award, L.A. Film Critics and Broadcast Film Critics awards for his portrayal of the singer Bad Blake. He has the award season momentum to take this performance all the way to the Oscar podium. If anyone can take it from him it will most likely be Morgan Freeman, who will win because the Academy seems to enjoy when actors step into the huge shoes of historical figures like Nelson Mandela.

Best Actress

Nominated: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)

Will Win: Sandra Bullock or Meryl Streep…with a heavy emphasis on Sandra Bullock

Should Win: Helen Mirren (The Last Station)

You’d think that only two women were nominated for this category if you listen to any sort of pop culture. Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock are supposedly duking it out for the top spot with Bullock stating she doesn’t expect to win at all. Her modesty may net her the award for her portrayal of Leigh Ann Touhy in The Blind Side. Admittedly, Bullock delivered an outstanding performance in the drama, given that she’s mostly known for her romantic comedies, but it’s not that hard when you’re given a strong woman who really exists to portray. What did Bullock truly do in the movie? She wore a blonde wig and spoke with an accent. The great character came through the true story aspect of the film. Meryl Streep’s performance is very much in the same vein. She played Julia Child and she played her well. She had her mannerisms down pat, she captured her voice¬† (though, I have to say, she seemed to match Dan Aykroyd’s Julia Child more often that the actual woman) and she had fun with the role. But she didn’t deliver the performance of a lifetime.

Helen Mirren on the other hand did the same thing as Streep and Bullock. She played a woman who existed in real life and she played her well. What makes her performance different is the passion conveyed every moment she’s on the screen. It sucks you in and makes you root for her as every emotion possible plays across her face. She became Sofya Tolstoy in all every sense of the word. It will be a sin for her not to win, and that sin will be committed tonight.

Best Picture

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

Will Win: Avatar

Should Win: The Hurt Locker

This is the first year that there are 10 nominees for Best Picture, and the extended field is showing it’s weaknesses. Sure, 5 might be too few a number, but 10 is way too many when films that fall short of excellence, like Inglourious Basterds are making the cut. That being said, Avatar will take this one home. Just like Titanic, Cameron is being glorified as a genius this awards season and the fact that he created an entire world with new creatures, flora, a language and characters will sway the votes towards him. There’s no doubt that the visual aspect of Avatar was amazing. It was pure eye candy. But the story falls flat as it’s been seen everywhere from animated films like Fern Gully and Pocahontas to Dances With Wolves. Conversely, The Hurt Locker proved to be a movie heaped in tension. This film has both a plot and depth as it explores a bomb squad in Iraq, both key aspects to a best picture that Avatar lacks. It wouldn’t exactly be an upset if The Hurt Locker wins, though. It’s running a close second as we get closer to show time.

Best Director

Nominees: James Cameron (Avatar), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Quentin Tarentino (Inglourious Basterds), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)

Will Win: James Cameron or Kathryn Bigelow

Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow

It’s the battle of the exes in this category as well. Both directed critically acclaimed films and both stand a decent chance of winning tonight. However, Bigelow should take this one, especially if The Hurt Locker loses out on Best Picture. Sure, Cameron directed an epic film, but most of his directing took place on a green screen and everything external to the actors was added digitally after filming. Bigelow, on the other hand, dealt with filming in the desert in Amman, Jordan. No comfy Hollywood sound stages here, Bigelow dealt with all the external forces of directing her actors in the real world.





Bullock, Head shine in ‘The Blind Side’

4 01 2010

Directed by: John Lee Hancock

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw, Jae Head, Lilly Collins

Release Date: Nov. 20, 2009

Football movies generally fit into one of four categories: the inspirational, feel-good, underdog story (see Rudy), the desegregation of a team and the players consequential growth and tolerance (see Remember the Titans), a gritty look at the realities which each player on a team faces (see Friday Night Lights) or a reminiscent look of a player taken from us too soon (see The Express). Ignoring the fourth, John Lee Hancock’s The Blind Side rolls them all into one.

Quinton Aaron, who plays current Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher as a gentle giant, stars opposite Sandra Bullock, in a turn dramatically different from her usual romcom fare, as Leigh Anne Touhy, the matriarch of the family who took the homeless Oher in during his high school years.

While the film is marketed as Oher’s journey with the Touhy family (with Sean (Tim McGraw), SJ (Jae Head) and Collins (Lilly Collins)), it’s less of a look at how Oher’s life is influence by them or theirs by him, and more of a tribute to the Touhy’s Christian spirit. It’s inspiring to see the trust and faith Leigh Anne and her family have in this young man, who ends up at a prestigious Christian school because of his sports ability even though he may not look like the most athletic man.

As the only African American in an all-white environment, the audience is given a quick glimpse into Oher’s feelings about the situation in a poem he wrote and discarded in high school that was found by a teacher. Other than that, the story is about Oher’s love and protective instincts for his new family, and the Touhy’s love and acceptance of him.

Football could almost be an afterthought at this point as the story is already inspiring and uplifting. However, Oher also turned out to be a phenomenal player at his high school and Ole Miss. He was also a first round draft pick in 2009.

But when he met the Touhy’s, Oher had never played the game. The Touhy’s recognized his protective instincts around the family and helped him to focus those instincts on his quarterback and team.

With a handful of legendary coach cameos, such as Lou Holtz from South Carolina and Nick Saban from Alabama, the recruiting scenes provide a bit of a side dish of comedy to the drama that follows Oher’s frequent trips back to his original home on the “wrong side of the tracks” to find his mother and belongings. Jae Head’s rambunctious enthusiasm as SJ, Oher’s adopted little brother, who manages to elicit bribes from the coaches courting the player, is a breathe of fresh air when the movie begins to get too deep.

While the story could cause some to cry foul that the movie portrays the Touhy family as Oher’s saviors without whom he’d be lost to a life of crime and drugs, and the script allows audiences to only scrape the surface of the emotions of each member of the family, it is done extremely well. You laugh, you cry and you feel inspired to do some good in your own community when watching.

Bullock slips seamlessly into the character of Leigh Anne, with only her tell-tale smirk in a couple of scenes giving away the fact that the actress is better known on the romantic comedy side of the camera lens. The Oscar buzz is not undeserved.

Final Verdict: Very Good