I know 2009 was, by in large, a bad year for movies. But if the (newly-extended) Oscar nominations are any indication, it might have been the worst year for movies.
My thoughts after the pmuj. Which, I’m told, is “jump” backwards. Or in Swedish. Maybe both. Click it or piss off.
Let’s start off with Best Picture…the only ones that belong are ‘Inglourious Basterds’, ‘The Hurt Locker’, ‘A Serious Man’, ‘Up’, arguably ‘An Education’ and I haven’t seen ‘Up in the Air’ so I can’t comment. But ‘Avatar’, ‘District 9’ and ‘The Blind Side’ do not belong, and ‘Precious’ is a weak choice based on undeserved hype. Look, James Cameron and Neil Blomkamp did pretty incredible things with their films. I have no problem with them being nominated for a category like Best Director or Best Visual Effects. But neither of those movies were Best Picture caliber. As everyone now knows, ‘Avatar’ is just a bastardized studio system production line mash-up of every noble savage film you’ve ever seen (aka ‘Dances with Wolves’, ‘Fern Gully’ and ‘Pocahontas.’) Its sole saving grace, though a large one, is what it did with 3D technology. That’s it. You cannot consider it one of the best films of 2009 because it looked pretty. That’s incredible stupid. ‘District 9’ – though more deserving than ‘Avatar’ from a story standpoint – falls into many of the same pitfalls.
On to Best Actor…how boring is this category? George Clooney gets his annual nomination. Morgan Freeman gets the annual biopic nom (see also: Jamie Foxx, Forrest Whitaker, Sean Penn, etc.) The only exciting choices are Jeff Bridges (‘Crazy Heart’), and I’ve not yet seen the movie but have only heard great things about his role, and Jeremy Renner (‘The Hurt Locker’) Personally, I’m pulling for Renner. He was really damn good in his role and I’ve been waiting for him to break through for a while now, specifically after his incredible performance in Michael Cuesta’s ’12 and Holding.’ Who got robbed, then, if I’m bitching about these guys? Sam Rockwell (‘Moon’), like always. I mean, he had to carry the entire damn film by himself – he was pretty much the only person in the cast. He absolutely succeeded. Also Michael Stuhlbarg (‘A Serious Man’) was surprisingly overlooked.
And Best Actress…if Best Actor was boring, Best Actress just puts you to sleep. If Sandra Bullock (‘The Blind Side’) wins, and then proceeds to win her Razzie (‘All About Steve’), she could potentially tear the very fabric of this universe by existing as both the Best and Worst Actress of the year. Meryl Streep (‘Julie and Julia’) and Helen Mirren (‘The Last Station’) are on the Clooney Plan, getting nominated every year, and it’s just boring now. That leaves Carey Mulligan (‘An Education’) – who probably should win – and Gabourey Sidibe (‘Precious’), who said like 20 lines, looked pissed-off and called it a day. No love for Tilda Swinton (‘Julia’), which shocks me…it might have been her best performance to date, and Swinton’s a great actress. I also thought Michelle Monaghan (‘Trucker’) deserved a nod, but am not at all surprised that the Academy totally passed over her largely-unseen role.
Supporting Actor…is actually the most exciting category. But seriously, how do you determine what constitutes a “supporting” role? Christoph Waltz (‘Inglourious Basterds’) had more screen time than Brad Pitt, yet Waltz is the supporting actor? I don’t understand it, and frankly, I think it’s a trite separation. That said, this is absolute Waltz’ Oscar to lose, after his Col. Hans Landa will go down as one of the all-time classic movie villains. I didn’t really think he was spectacular, but it’s always great to see Woody Harrelson (‘The Messenger’) nominated – he’s far too underrated. Ditto Stanley Tucci (‘The Lovely Bones’), though Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Alice Sebold novel was easily one of the worst movies of the year. I still can’t explain how Jackson managed to crap out such an abysmally terrible movie.
Supporting Actress…boring again, skip. All I know is that people from ‘Twilight’ should be banned from all Oscar consideration. Ever.
Best Director…cool story, Kathryn Bigelow (‘The Hurt Locker’) and James Cameron (‘Avatar’) – widely considered the front-runners for this award – were once married. Now comes the ultimate custody battle. That line was snazzy enough to land me a job with ET I think. I’ll be waiting by the phone. But anyway, Bigelow and Cameron absolutely deserve the noms. Quentin Tarantino (‘Inglourious Basterds’) absolutely does as well. Jason Reitman (‘Up in the Air’), I can’t speak on. But Lee Daniels for ‘Precious’? Are you freaking kidding me? There was nothing special about the directing of that movie. It was entirely unspectacular. The Academy failed miserably in not recognizing what Spike Jonze (‘Where the Wild Things Are’) and John Hillcoat (‘The Road’) did in adapting books widely regarded as unadaptable! Seriously, Jonze and Hillcoat were robbed here. I already hated ‘Precious’, now I want to burn every copy in existence.
But the one thing the Academy did get right…was considering ‘Up’ for Best Picture. It’s about time, as I said in my Junkie noms, that animated films start getting the same consideration as non-animated films if they are deserving of the same honors. ‘Up’ was effective in a way few non-animated dramas could ever strive to be, looking pretty damn amazing in the process. The Academy screwed up a lot of these noms, but at least they got this part right.
Don’t worry, though, because the Junkie results will start coming in soon, bound to correct all the things that the Academy sucks too hard to fix.