“Dear Hollywood. You’re great. From Hollywood.”We can only assume that these six words were etched upon the envelope containing the nominees for the 82nd Academy Awards. Yep, the Oscars are the most self-congratulatory event on the Hollywood calendar.
But you know what? I love ‘em. I love ‘em love ‘em love ‘em. I love evaluating the nominees each year; celebrating the worthy and decrying the ridiculously undeserving. Sure, movies are works of art, and they shouldn’t be forced to compete against one another. But I don’t follow any sports, so for a movie buff like me, the Oscars are the closest thing to a Grand Final.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this year’s Oscar nominations is just how unsurprising they were. Pretty much all the acting categories filled out exactly as expected, with all of the nominees having picked up at least one prior nod during the torturous flesh parade that is the ‘Awards Season Circuit’. There’s not an unworthy nominee among the 20 actors; 16 of which now have approximately one month to prepare their ‘losing face’ when their name isn’t announced on the night. Good luck everyone!
Ex-husband and wife James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow are going head to head this year at the Oscars, with their respective films Avatar and The Hurt Locker dead-even in the Best Picture race. Bigelow is edging slightly ahead of Cameron in the Best Director category; if she wins she will become the first female in the history of the festival to do so. You may accuse the Academy of being behind the times for taking this long to recognise a lady director, but in their defence, women have only been allowed to vote for a couple of years now (that’s a joke).
Unfortunately, Cameron and Bigelow have a solid relationship, and the estranged couple have publicly encouraged and praised one another’s films. So, even though we probably won’t see any fur fly at the ceremony, there is a chance that they will accidentally reveal that they’re engaged in a post-divorce affair, a’la It’s Complicated. Perhaps during the Oscar telecast, host Steve Martin will accidentally walk in on a nude Cameron!
The Best Picture category is where the action is truly at. Sure, we all knew that Avatar, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious and Up in the Air pretty much had their names inscribed in stone. But the Academy, now with an extra five spots to play around, delivered more than a couple of surprises.
Sleeper hit The Blind Side scored a Best Picture nod, despite only having one other nomination to its name (for Sandra Bullock in the Best Actress category). The film is the one tepidly reviewed film amongst the ten nominees; a long-standing Academy tradition in which one undeserving film would replace three or four worthier pictures. Remember last year when The Reader trumped The Dark Knight, WALL-E and The Wrestler for a Best Pic nomination? Shudder.
Also surprising was the Best Picture nomination for Neill Blomkamp’s low-budget sci-fi satire District 9. Well, can a $US30 million film still classify as low-budget? It sure can when placed next to Avatar (which at this point, has a budget estimating ∞).
I was very happy to see Up become the first animated film since 1992’s Beauty and the Beast to score a Best Picture nomination. Of course, this watershed moment should have arrived in 2008 with WALL-E, or even in 2006 with Ratatouille. OK, every Pixar film (except Cars) should have been nominated for Best Picture in the past 15 years. But that’s OK Academy, no time like the present to make amends.
Despite a history of stealing Oscars from the damn Yankees, there are only two Australian nominees to gloat about this year. Sydney director Luke Doolan and producer Drew Bailey have a shot at Best Live Action Short for Miracle Fish, a film about a young boy’s birthday. Jane Patterson is also in the running for an Oscar, for her work as costume designer on Bright Star. It is her fourth nomination.
Australian film Samson and Delilah missed out on a Best Foreign Language Film nomination. Perhaps because voters saw it and realised that the film barely features any language, let alone a foreign one. Regardless, it deserved a nod. But hey, if the Oscars gave awards to deserving films, than Crash wouldn’t be a Best Picture winner.
Aside from this snub, I have few complaints about this batch of nominees. Sure, my Oscar wishlist wasn’t entirely fulfilled, but I didn’t really have my hopes set on Seth Rogen scoring a Best Actor nomination. And frankly, I approve of the Academy’s decision to expand the Best Picture category to 10 nominees. There are at least 5 films here I would like to see take home the prize, and the other nominees are all solid entries.
Saying that, if Inglourious Basterds doesn’t win, I’m gonna cut somebody.
Oscar pool tips!
I’m sure you, like us at Quickflix, are already deciding on your Oscar pool picks. Here’s a couple of not-so-secret insiders tip to help you choose Best Picture.
1) Since 1981, every Best Picture winner has also been nominated for Best Film Editing. That means, of the 10 films nominated for Best Picture, you should place your money on one of the Editing nominees, which include Avatar, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds and Precious (sorry Up in the Air fans!).
2) Only 3 films in the history of the Oscars have won the top prize without having also received a Best Director nomination. Therefore, you can further narrow down the likely winners above to just four: District 9 did not get a Best Director nod.
Discuss: Finish this sentence. “I’m putting all my money on …”