a theatre, film & pop culture review
Note: My personal rankings are listed in order from best to least accomplished, with #1 being my favorite, while predictions for the actual winners appear in orange.
What I believed would become my favorite film of the year, Up in the Air, is decidedly low on my list, and that’s due to Jason Reitman’s slick, gimmicky direction (could we possibly show Clooney’s Bingham precisely and efficiently packing a suitcase one more time? We get it, we get it). What should have been emotionally striking (reactions of “real” people to their sudden unemployment) was not; instead, focus was on clever camera angles and the earnest indie soundtrack. I wanted to love this film, and the screenplay seems to indicate that that was a real possibility. Unfortunately, Reitman’s direction left me rather indifferent to it all.
Quentin Tarantino’s directorial choices matched the boldness of his historical rewrites in Inglourious Basterds, and Lee Daniels did the best he could with messy screenplay of Precious, churning out some of the year’s finest performances; in fact, if there was a “Best Ensemble” category, I’d vote for Precious without hesitation.
Admittedly, James Cameron took on the most tremendous task in his directing of the epic Avatar, and the film, regardless of its horrible screenplay and oft-times cringe-worthy performances, is striking to behold largely thanks to his helming. But let’s be honest: Kathryn Bigelow deserves this one. In the Academy Awards’ 82 years, only four women have been nominated in for Best Director, and it’s time to make some history. Just like Jeff Bridges, Bigelow deserves it. The woman made a super-tense, fantastically acted film about an incredibly difficult subject; how many other Iraq-war films can we actually say that about? (Bonus: sweet, sweet revenge of the Ex)
Remember the simpler days of yore when voters cast their ballots for one film and the film with the most votes triumphed? This is no longer, my friends.
With the new 10-nominee craziness, there’s a chance that a film with only 11% of the vote could win if we played by the old rules. So now we’ve got a brand-spankin’ new system that makes everything a bit more complicated. Voters will now rank the films from 1 to 10. All the #1 votes will be counted and if no film has more than 50% of the votes (which will probably be the case), the last-place film will be eliminated (see ya, A Serious Man), and the voters who cast their ballots for that film will have their #2 selections counted instead. That process will continue until one film has a majority of votes. This means that the film with the most #1 votes may not actually win. (Al Gore would certainly sympathize.)
While an upset would be fantastic – all signs point towards my #2 + #5s not garnering a single award, so wouldn’t it be ridiculously fun if either won the Big One? – it’s clear that this race is solely between the The Billion Dollar Green Screen Epic and the Little Indie War Movie That Could. Each has won approximately the same number of awards up until now, but usually the Best Picture goes hand-in-hand with Best Director, and most everyone has their money on Bigelow. But that certainly doesn’t mean you should count out Avatar just yet: remember that just 5 years ago Crash took home the gold even after Brokeback Mountain’s Ang Lee earned Best Director. As whack as that possibility is, it truly is anyone’s game.
Next Up: Oscars 2010 Postmortem