While the idea to alter the "Best Picture" category to include 10 nominees was never met with universal praise, it was thought by some that it would at least make the race for the top Academy prize more interesting. That hope appears to have died now that we close in on the famous awards show. As the awards circuit receives more attention every year, the result is a well-publicized race that weeds the contenders down to a praised pair (in this case, Avatar vs. The Hurt Locker). In a field of five, this isn't that big of an issue, as everyone can sort of pretend that the others have an "outside shot." But when you expand the field to ten, it becomes glaringly obvious that 5 of the films have no shot at all. If you put films into a category where everyone knows they don't even have a 1% chance of winning, then why include them in the first place? I guess the answer is that getting nominated *is* the Oscar for these films. And that we should celebrate them for their achievement today, but forget about them on Awards Night. As for my pick, I'm going with Avatar. It wasn't my favorite movie of the year (that goes to District 9), but I think when you talk about the best FILM, you gotta go with the James Cameron goliath. It excels in so many areas of the filmmaking medium. So that's where my money's going. Which about you? Here are all the nominees.
The Hurt Locker
The Blind Side
A Serious Man
Up In The Air
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
In the adapted screenplay category, I think this one's pretty clear cut. Up In The Air has been getting a lot of publicity out of the Reitman/Turner credit-gate, and in a category that plays 8th fiddle to the brawnier Oscar categories, sometimes a little publicity is all you need to get people to vote for you. It's a fine screenplay so I'm down with the choice, but I wish there was something with a little more oomph leading the way. Out of the nominees, the only other screenplay I read was "An Education," and I didn't like it. I loved the randomness and unpredictability of District 9, but I get the feeling the script is a bunch of incomprehensible notes scribbled in a notebook. I haven't read or seen In The Loop so I can't comment on it. And I think Precious is a little too heavy-handed to win the award. Here are the nominees...
Up In The Air by Jason Reitman
An Education by Nick Hornby
Precious by Geoffrey Fletcher
District 9 by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
In The Loop by Armando Iannucci, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Ian Martin and Tony Roache
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Finally, the big cajomma, or at least as far as the writing world is concerned. Best screenplay for a completely original work. To me, this is as done a deal as going to In and Out at least once a week. Quentin's got the thing wrapped up. I still haven't read or seen The Messenger, so I'm coming at this with a bit of ignorance, by I feel pretty confident about my choice. The reason you gotta give it to Quentin is that he takes so many chances in his work where no one else would even try. He's the only writer I'm comfortable with writing a ten minute dialogue scene. His characters are always bursting with originality. I don't always like his movies, but I'm always impressed with what he brings to the table. Inglorious Basterds may be the best script he's ever written, so you have to give it the Oscar. As for the others, I couldn't make it past 30 pages of A Serious Man. It's just too scattershot and, quite honestly, wasn't my thing. Up starts off wonderfully but becomes increasingly predictable as it goes on. And The Hurt Locker likewise starts off great, but gets lost for awhile in the second act in my opinion. But I mean, this category isn't even a race, is it? The nominees...
The Hurt Locker by Mark Boal
Inglorious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino
The Messenger by Oren Moverman and Allesandro Camon
A Serious Man by The Coen Brothers
Up by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson and Thomas McCarthy
What about you? What are your picks?