Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Oscar Noms By Day and Lost at Night

Oscar nominations and the beginning of the end of Lost all in one day?! It was too good to be true, I thought, when I first entered these events into my calendar several months ago. And yet, it is true. Both glorious events were set to take place on February 2nd. Take that, Punxsutawney Phil.

Not only are the Oscar nominations and the season premiere of the final season of Lost all together in one day, but we also have an even more traditional major event this week: moving! PLUS, we just got back from a road trip, plus we have a concert (including one of my favorite musicians) and a sporting event to attend this week. I heard at the end of this week there will be some big football game that billions of people watch or something? Yeah, pretty funny how the biggest game of the year is like not even in my top five due to the timing of fate! "What a WEEK I'm having!" (As Kornbluth/Eugene Levy said in Splash. Mine sounds a bit more cheerful though.)

With no further ado, here are some quick, brief thoughts on the Oscar nominations, to be expanded later.

1. Far and away my favorite, happiest thing about the Oscar nominations is the screenplay nomination for In the Loop. That is my favorite film of the year. Now, if only it can win! It is competing against Up in the Air, An Education, Precious, and District 9. While I do love the Up in the Air and An Education screenplays, and would love to see Nick Hornby win for the latter, my preference is ever so slightly for In the Loop. It was just phenomenal. I'm totally going to watch it again to celebrate.

2. Nothing else really stands out as amazingly marvelous and wonderful, although a few things stand out as surprisingly odd. Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique are such sure things, and Jeff Bridges is a surer and surer thing, leaving all the acting competition to Meryl Streep versus Sandra Bullock. I suppose we are a little surprised that Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) and Penelope Cruz (Nine) were nominated for Best Supporting Actress instead of Julianne Moore (A Single Man), but those are the three movies I haven't seen yet, so I can't fully comment. I will, however, be seeing them soon. Did I mention that our new apartment is AROUND THE CORNER from an independent movie theater? Back flips. I am going to do back flips.

3. But speaking of Sandra Bullock and surprises, there is this little matter of the Best Picture nomination for The Blind Side. Really? Really, though? Now, I am not a Sandra Bullock hater and I found her and Tim McGraw to be very enjoyable when I watched The Blind Side. But Best Picture? No. It is cliche after cliche, stereotype after stereotype, predictable scene after predictable scene, and one of the most annoying Token Cute Kid performances in recent (or long past) memory. When you say it's cliched, people say, "But it's based on a true story!" Those people don't understand what cliched storytelling is. You can take the oldest plot in the world (Shakespeare, Bible, Greek myth) and turn it into a wonderful piece of art; it's not about that. Every writing group participant in the world knows that "But that's how it happened!" is no excuse for bad writing. The scenes where rich, white Sandra Bullock waltzes into the ghetto had their charm, and then quickly gave that charm away with some pathetic line delivered by One-Dimensional Scary Black Thug Character instead of a human being. The script itself was just amateur, amateur, amateur.

4. Then there's Up. Look, I know that I don't appreciate animated films as much as other people do, and that I don't appreciate them as much as I appreciate live action films. But this isn't about that. This is about suspending my disbelief and watching the animated film and just not seeing what other people apparently see. So, it's The Incredibles all over again: someone, anyone, please tell me what was so great about Up? What makes it unique or special? I see Pixar being Pixar again. But I hear you all saying "It was sooooooo amaaaaazing!" Please, articulate why. I am perfectly capable of being blown away by an inventive, awesome animated film. See The Triplets of Belleville and Ratatouille. So tell me: what is the awesomeness of Up? What? I am not appalled or disgusted that it got one of the ten Best Picture nods -- but I am rolling my eyes.

5. And the final Best Picture eye roll goes to District 9. I wanted to adore District 9. I saw the trailer, I read about the making of it, I thought it was a genius premise, and it was about society and human rights and international law and stuff! Well guess what. The genius stopped at the premise. The script was actually cheesy and it was so predictable. It was a great idea ruined by becoming a TV movie plot. I'm not 100% sure whether I care enough to be opposed to the ten-instead-of-five Best Picture nods, but I could have filled that category with better stuff. In the Loop, Where the Wild Things Are, The Men Who Stare at Goats, maybe The Invention of Lying and The Road. Or, we could have just kept the five nominees like always. What kills me is that there are probably ten even better films out there that I haven't seen, because I moved to middle America this year, and that many of you haven't seen either, because the movie theaters were too busy cramming widely opened crap down our throats. But we are too busy nominating Up, The Blind Side, and District 9 to care?

6. I hope Fantastic Mr. Fox kicks Up's ass in the Animated Feature category.

7. Happy about Fantastic Mr. Fox being nominated for score.

8. Genuinely satisfied with the Film Editing nominees: Avatar, Precious, District 9, The Hurt Locker, and my fave, Inglorious Basterds. Any of those winning Editing would be good; they were all done well.

9. I am less happy about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince being nominated for Cinematography - because now I will have to see it. Harry has reared his Oscar nominated head in the past, but sometimes I can ignore my lowest priority one or two films if they are in "non-major" categories and I'm really busy with law school or whatever and don't make it ALL the way to the bottom of my list by Oscar night. I did see Prizoner of Azkaban, which was nominated for Score and Visual Effects in 2004 because I had made it through ALL the other multiple nominees I could get my hands on and had even seen Spider Man 2. Well, guess I'll be watching another Harry for Oscar purposes.

I have a lot to see - partly because of our stints in middle America, and partly because my Netflix watching has been thwarted a bit of late. But all that is changing in this Amazing Week of Weeks!

Onward to March 7th!

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