Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Early Oscar Picks

I was pretty outraged by many of the winners of the Golden Globes for movies (less opinion about the TV, but I've fallen in love with 30 Rock, which lost this year).

A lot of it comes from the Globes' signature distinction from the Oscars, the division of movie awards between those for "Drama" and those for "Musical or Comedy". The problem would seem to be the dearth of worthwhile musicals or comedies. Thus, the award for best actor in a musical or comedy went to Robert Downey, Jr. for his performance in the musico-comedic classic role of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes? Are you kidding? Or trying to sing me a song?

I'll get to my other objections in the discussion of specific awards. Suffice on the dichotomy question to say I will not be breaking the range of films into the categories that the Globes do.

One other preface: There are a whole raft of films that I have not seen. Some it is "their" fault, as the film has simply not been distributed well, or not yet--at any rate I haven't had a chance to see them, even if I wanted: falling into that category are "Young Victoria", "The Last Station" (I was a fan of the book and want badly to see it), "Crazy Heart" (feel like I've seen it before; not keen on seeing this year's version), "The Lovely Bones" (just arriving--I'll look but I'm skeptical) and "A Single Man" (Coen brothers--haven't seen it yet but will, just a matter of time and opportunity). There are some that have visited our little town, but I haven't seen them, so I have only the excuse that I'm not getting freebies, here: "Invictus" (though I was interested), "Precious" (too much so for me), "Brothers", "500 Days of Summer", "Its Complicated", and "Nine" (just got here--might see it just for the beauties).

Still, I think when you add up the number of good films I have seen, plus the potential from those I haven't, this past year stacks up as a very good one.

Best Film: Both Globes' choices--"Avatar" and "The Hangover"--are dismal ones. "Avatar" might stand up in a decade or so for its technical achievements, but it has too many major flaws to be considered this year's best. "The Hangover" (my nephew got it on DVD for Christmas, so I didn't have to pay) was pretty stupid and not particularly funny, plus it wasted the talent(!) of Heather Graham (in comedy, she's been much better, in either Steve Martin's "Bowfinger" or Mike Myers' "Austin Powers").

"Julie & Julia" was in the M&C group, so it would've been a superior choice. As for drama, give me the nominated "Up in the Air" or "Hurt Locker", or better yet, "Where the Wild Things Are" or the funniest movie of the year, "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" (neither of which were nominated for anything, as far as I can see). My choice: Where The Wild Things Are.

Best Actor: I've already complained about Downey in M&C. Best drama actor award went to Jeff Bridges in "Crazy Heart". My choice: George Clooney in "Up in the Air": I've decided that he really was acting and not just being an egotistical jerk in the early, confident part of the movie.

Best Actress: OK, they did give these to the right people, I think: Sandra Bullock for "The Blind Side" and Meryl Streep for "Julie and Julia" (over Streep for "It's Complicated). I'd also like to see the nominated performances by Helen Mirren in "The Last Station" and Emily Blunt in "Young Victoria". Which will win: Bullock's role of her lifetime vs. Yet another brilliant Streep performance? I'd go with Bullock as the likely winner, but I'd choose Streep's. My choice: Meryl Streep in "Julie and Julia".

Best Director: Here, the choice of James Cameron for his signal achievement in creating "Avatar"seems more appropriate (at least they didn't nominate him for his story), and I could accept his winning. In fact, all the nominees but one (Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker", Clint Eastwood for "Invictus"--I'm guessing here, and Jason Reitman for "Up in the Air") are good ones, excepting that I would put Spike Jonze in "Wild Things" way over Quentin Tarantino for "Inglorious Bastards" (sp).

Like most Tarantino movies, the best thing about "I.B." was the music soundtrack (though I would've chosen the "Cat People (Putting Out Fire with Gasoline)" version with the flaming Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar solos over the quiet one he used, and I would've used it in the climactic scene rather than the build-up). My Choice: Kathryn Bigelow, "The Hurt Locker" (which never came to town, but I got it on PPV recently).

Supporting Actress: Here the Globes give up on their splittist logic and give only one award (MoNique for "Precious"). I see they had both Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick from "Up in the Air", both worthy but probably ensuring neither could win--I'd have put Farmiga's under lead actress. My Choice: Anna Kendrick in "Up in the Air".

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds" got the Globe. It was a nice slimy performance and not a bad choice. I haven't seen the other four nominated performances, though I've heard good buzz for Woody Harrelson's in "the Messenger", and doubt Christopher Plummer's in "The Last Station" should be considered a supporting role. My choice: None yet.

Best Animated Film: This category is getting more lively each year. The Oscar should be between "Up" (odds-on favorite) and "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" (not nominated by the Globes); I'd be happy with either. My choice: The Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Screenplay: Here the Oscars are the splittists, with one award for original and one for adapted (and sometimes the line is fuzzy for them, too). I give credit to "the Foreign Press Association" for nominating "District 9", which had a script that was way, way out there. In terms of originality, it's tops. Nominating Tarantino must have been a joke, in my view.

The actual award went to Reitman and Sheldon Turner for "Up in the Air", which had both great dialogue and some quality narration. I'll buy that. My choice: Reitman and Turner, "Up in the Air" (original), and I'm going to guess adapted screenplay will go to "The Last Station" and not "Where the Wild Things Are", which was perhaps adapted a bit too much for some.


Chin Shih Tang said...

I've now seen "500 Days of summer"which makes me wonder even more what Globes' voters were thinking when they picked "The Hangover". Really good movie--that is what a short affair is about--and nice selection of tunes for the soundtrack.

Chin Shih Tang said...

The other thing is that I saw an interview with Reitman today (on Oprah!) and he said that he wrote his screenplay from a novel, which leaves me totally unclear what should be the best original screenplay (I'm pretty sure it's not Avatar, though).