Musings on Oscar 2011 nominations… in pictorial

The stars are probably still either basking or sulking as a result of yesterday’s Academy Award nominations. If you’re connected with me on Twitter, then you know I’ve been tweeting about it on Tuesday morning. The noms were released at 7:30 am CT yesterday and you can see the full list here. I actually had been drafting my last-minute Oscar prediction post on Monday night but decided to talk about the Razzies instead. Now I wish I had posted it after all as now that I’ve looked at my list again (the version of the draft saved 1/24 at 20:57), I actually got ALL of my Best Picture predictions right. Imagine that! I mean, not even a SINGLE film nomination amiss. I’m quite flabbergasted by that as in the previous years, I often didn’t have a clue what some of the nominated films were about!

Anyway, now that the cat is out of the bag, I thought I’d chime in on what I think of the nominations just for the heck of it. After all, this is the first year I’m a lot more aware of the names on the ballot, even if I haven’t seen some of the films/performances nominated. Of course I don’t agree with everything the Academy picked, nothing new there, but instead of being negative, I’d rather focus on the ones I do agree with. So here they are in pictorial… ’cause we’re all visual people, right? 😀

BEST PICTURE

The three I’m rooting for:

I’m totally ok if either one of these three wins as I see the merit in each of them. My favorite of these three is probably The King’s Speech, as I’m a sucker for movies about British monarch (as you can see in this list), and I adore that film so much I can watch it repeatedly. Glad to see all of the three major actors got nominated, as I really think despite Colin Firth‘s outstanding performance as the stuttering King, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham-Carter are both equally fantastic and deeply engaging as the eccentric speech therapist and the warmhearted queen, respectively.

Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter & Colin Firth at TKS premiere

BEST DIRECTOR

First let me say, where on earth is Christopher Nolan??? So his movie is good enough to be nominated for Best Picture, but the writer/director who is the mind behind the film and what makes it great is not worthy of a nomination?? I don’t understand that logic. Danny Boyle is also missing from the shortlist, though his film 127 Hours made the Best Picture noms. I had thought either one of those British directors would make the cut over the Coens, but clearly they’re one of the Academy’s favorites.

Nolan directing Leo in Inception, both notably absent from this year's Oscar noms

So I guess amongst those who did make the cut, I’d root for either one of these guys. Probably leaning more toward Fincher as he’s done a lot of exceptional work in the past and I truly respect The Social Network.


David Fincher, The Social Network | Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

 

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

The pair I’m rooting for:

I’ve always liked Colin Firth and he’s done such amazing work in the past decade, so I’m totally for him taking home the golden statuette. However, I can’t discredit how good Jesse Eissenberg was as Mark Zuckerberg. It’s a more understated performance that perhaps isn’t as ‘noticeable’ as playing someone with a handicap, but I think the quieter roles often get overlooked even though to me, it seems equally (if not more) challenging to pull off.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

As I actually have not seen ANY of the performances in this category (I know, shame on me!), I can’t really say who I’m rooting for. I guess for all of the buzz Black Swan has been receiving, Natalie Portman seems like a shoo-in, but the race might come down between her and Annette Benning in The Kids are All Right. However, based on what I’ve been reading about Nicole Kidman’s captivating performance as a grieving mother in Rabbit Hole, she might very well pull an upset and win her second Oscar after she won Best Actress in The Hours in 2002. After all, the Academy usually loves an actress who de-glamorizes herself for a role, I think the more plain-jane (or even ugly), the better the chances. Just look at Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball and Charlize Theron in Monster.

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The pair I’m rooting for:


I’d love for Helena Bonham Carter to win as she’s consistently been churning out noteworthy performances in various genres. Whether it’s a fantasy films like Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter or a classy period drama like The King’s Speech, she seems at ease and believable in her roles. At the same time, Melissa Leo is just tremendous as Alice Ward, the tough-talking mother of the two boxers in The Fighter. Besides Christian Bale, I think she is one of the two most-deserving actors to be recognized for their amazing performance.

Which brings me to…

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The pair I’m rooting for:


My vote goes to Christian Bale, hands down. Granted I have not seen Mark Ruffalo’s nor John Hawkes’ performances, but I can’t possibly think they would sway me to think that either of them deserve to win over Bale. Besides, this guy has been overlooked waaay too many times it’s not even funny! I mean, his work in The Machinist, Rescue Dawn and even Batman Begins are of Oscar caliber that if anything this recognition is long overdue. The only person in that list whose possible winning I probably would not be so up in arms about is Geoffrey Rush. One, because his performance is just superb and so darn delightful I wish I could invite his character to dinner, and two, because Rush is one of the best thespians working today. But even despite all that, I’d be sorely disappointed if Bale doesn’t win.

Garfield as Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network

I know one should not make silly promises like this but I seriously doubt I’d watch the Oscars again if Jeremy Renner wins over Bale! Seriously, as I said in my tweet, I haven’t the slightest idea why the Academy loves him so much. He was just ok in The Hurt Locker (good but not spectacular) and was even less memorable in The Town for which he’s nominated. I’m still scratching my head right now, maybe someone can clue me in?? Having seen both performances, I think Andrew Garfield should’ve been in his place for his engaging and expressive performance in The Social Network. Bonus points for nailing down the American accent, but the Brits seem to have less of a problem with accents than American actors doing attempting British accent.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

I think it’s a definitely going to come down between these two:

Toy Story 3 definitely has the edge as it’s also nominated for Best Picture, which really when you think about it, it has no chance of winning over the other nine. Which automatically means it’ll win this category. I guess I’m ok with that, even though I think How To Train Your Dragon is equally exceptional and totally deserving of recognition. It’s not only technically outstanding, but the story is quite charming and poignant.


Well, what do you think about the nominations? Feel free to chime in on who you’re rooting for or those who you think have been snubbed.

2010 82nd Oscar Highlights: Part 2

By 9 o’clock last night [Part 1 Highlights], three of my predictions lined up with the Academy’s: Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. And here’s what the rest of the night had in store:

  • Classy lady in red Sigourney Weaver presents Best Art Direction award. Avatar wins. YAY! Can’t imagine any other movie matched the beauty that was Pandora!
  • The best dressed man in the whole event (and probably responsible for the well-dressed men in the audience as well) Tom Ford and fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker presented Best Costume Design award. The costumes are indeed pretty, but does The Young Victoria really does the best job amongst the other great nominees? Not sure.
  • Charlize Theron introduces Precious. Ok, just one question, what was she wearing??! Yikes!
  • Ok now, Tribute to Horror Movies??! Well at least the Paranormal Activity spoof with Steve and Alec was knee-slappingly hilarious! Definitely the highlight of the whole event for me! The Twilight kids Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart (R-Patz’s not invited?) introduced past notable horror flicks, man The Exorcist never fails to terrify me, still the scariest of all even amongst other bone-chilling flix.
  • WOW, The Hurt Locker practically cleans up the sound category by winning both Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. The best part of the whole sequence was Morgan Freeman introducing last year’s winner The Dark Knight with one of the best clips from the blockbuster.
  • John Travolta, whose career was pretty much revived by Tarantino himself fittingly introduces Inglourious Basterds. I hope you win, QT!!
  • The affable miss Bullock presents Best Cinematography. The winner is: Avatar. Why am I not surprised. Must be fun for the guy to be sent to Pandora for work, eh? 😉
  • Demi Moore in a ruffly dress with sky-high platform pumps tried really hard not to trip. Sheesh, does she ever age? She looks like Anna Kendrick’s slightly older sister, it’s ridiculous! James Taylor sang during the In Memoriam sequence… time for a bathroom break.
  • What’s with J Lo and Aussie boys? Her upcoming rom-com The Back Up Plan stars Alex O’Loughlin and now she’s presenting with Sam Worthington. Anyhoo, instead of musical performances, we’ve got the street performers dance troupes dancing to the nominated scores. Best Original Score goes to Michael Giacchino for Up. Definitely deserves it, probably the only score I remember out of the lot of ’em.
  • Hunkiest presenters award goes to ...

    A high doze of tall, dark and handsome in the form of Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper present Best Visual Effects. Bradley looked a bit nervous while the slimmer Gerry was all smiles. Obviously Avatar has this in the can, I’d be very surprised if it didn’t win.

  • Writer-turned-action star Matt Damon (as Alec said) presents Best Documentary Feature. The Cove wins. Yay!!! Congrats Louie Psihoyos for bringing Ric O’Barry’s cause to light, and hope it changes things in Japan.
  • Three actresses (Michelle Pfeiffer, Vera Farmiga, Julianne Moore) and two actors (Tim Robbins, Colin Farrell) introduced the nominated actors. Followed by luminous Kate Winslet presents Best Actor award. And the winner is: surprise, surprise, Jeff Bridges! Love the fact that he thanks his wife of 32 years, wow, there is still a family man left in Hollywood!
  • Now it’s the women’s turn. Forest Whitaker, Michael Sheen, Peter Sarsgaard, Oprah, and Stanley Tucci introduce the nominated actresses, I really like this feature of the telecast, I hope they keep this up. Sean Penn rambling about something intelligible before presenting the Best Actress Oscar to: Sandra Bullock. So she’s not an ‘Academy type’ but I for one think she delivered a good performance in TBS, and obviously her peers think so, hence her SAG award win. I’ve always liked her, and her gracious speech makes me like her more. Boy, even her tough guy husband Jesse James tears up! Btw, Bullock is the first actress to win a Razzie (for All About Steve) and an Oscar in the same year. I believe Halle Berry has also won both a Razzie (for Catwoman) & an Oscar (Monster’s Ball), but not in the same year though.

    Bigelow makes history
  • Barbra Streisand introduces Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow. Wow! She makes history tonight as the first female director to win Best Director. But seriously, all politics aside, and even as a woman who’s all about Bigelow breaking Hollywood’ glass ceiling and all, I think Cameron or Tarantino deserves it more. 
  • Tom Hanks practically blurts out the winner for Best Picture. I guess he just can’t bear the suspense like the rest of us. And the winner is … The Hurt Locker! [pout] Bummer, Tarantino is robbed!!!

    So, in the end THL swept up 6 Oscars whilst Avatar only earned half of that with 3 wins, mainly in technical categories — visual effects, cinematography and art direction. In a perfect world, at least half of THL‘s statues would’ve gone to IB instead! Avatar and Inglourious Basterds are far more memorable and compelling films, those I’ll remember years from now. I could barely remember much of THL even a couple of weeks after I saw it! I echo the sentiment of Peter Sciretta @ SlashFilm: “I’m sure that in 20 years we’ll look back and wonder how Avatar didn’t win either Best Picture or Best Director … I’m not saying Avatar is an incredible film, but in 50 years it will be the film we remember, definitely over Hurt Locker.” Oh well, I guess this just proves my point that a lot of the times, films that win Oscars aren’t exactly the ‘enjoyable’ ones nor the most memorable.

In any case, out of the ten categories I predicted, I’ve only got ONE wrong: the Best Original Screenplay statue went to Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker instead of QT for Basterds. Not bad for a first-timer I guess, but then again it seems like this year’s winner is quite predictable except perhaps the Best Picture & Best Director categories.

Well, that’s all folks. Overall it was an enjoyable telecast, Steve + Alec did a pretty good job as hosts and I really dig some of the new features this year, i.e. the actor-to-actor introductions for the Best Actor/Actress nominees. Plus, the jokes were pretty funny, the dance performances entertaining, and best of all, it actually went by quite fast.

So readers, any gripes/kudos about this year’s Oscar picks/snubs or the telecast itself? Sound off below.

2010 82nd Oscar Highlights: Part 1

Happy Monday folks! Did you happen to catch the Oscars last night? Since this is the first year I watch the festivities as a movie blogger, I thought it’d be fun to blog the highlights and see how my picks stack up. I’m going to break this into two parts. So here goes part 1:

  • Ok, enough with the red carpet stuff. Man, I don’t know how these celebs do it, I’d totally hate being asked about what I’m wearing every other minute! Anyway, the telecast opened with all ten Best Actors/Actresses nominees trotting down the stage, kind of like at a pageantry? Anyway, Neil Patrick Harris sang & danced with his cabaret dancers, boy, that guy can sing! He would’ve been a great host, too.
  • The hosts poking fun at Avatar – AP Photo

    Steve Martin & Alec Baldwin were literally lowered down to the stage of the Kodak Theater. The hosts happen to be Meryl’s co-stars in It’s Complicated, so dirty jokes on her are a given, naturally. Steve + Alec are actually pretty funny together, they play each other off well. The joke on James Cameron are absolutely spot-on with them putting on 3D glasses, ha..ha!

  • “The Inglorious Basterds section is here… and here are the people who make the movie.” LMAO!
  • Now, why did they leave Clooney alone? Alec’s staring down at him didn’t count! Clooney’s nervous smile cracked me up though.
  • Lots of jokes about the generational gap between the hosts and a lot of the presenters. Steve Martin poking fun at the young’uns Zac Efron and Taylor Lautner: “Take a good look, guys. Here’s you in five years!” and later on when introducing Amanda Seyfried & Miley Cyrus, he said: “The next two presenters are young actresses who have no idea who we are.” Good one, he’s probably right, too!

    Congrats Christoph!
  • First award already, this thing is moving right along, good. Best Supporting Actor award presented by Penelope Cruz. Wow, Stanley Tucci’s so darn creepy in The Lovely Bones! But this Oscar belongs to Christoph Waltz all the way! YES, YES!! Congrats, Christoph, you deserve it! Plus, his acceptance speech is always good, though not as memorable as other ones he’s given.
  • Studly Ryan Reynolds introduced Best Pic nominee The Blind Side … just saw them together in the banal The Proposal.
  • Steve Carrell and Cameron Diaz came on serenaded by Snow White’s One Day My Prince Welcome theme song. The stop-motion animation videos of the animated characters are pretty amusing. The winner of Best Animated Feature is Up … no surprise there. But suffice to say it definitely won’t win Best Picture.
  • Capt. Kirk … er Chris Pine introduced another Best Picture nom … and one of my personal favorites, District 9. But hey what’s with the spoiler clip?? Sheesh, some people might not have seen the flick, come on! Anyhoo, spotted Sharlto Copley sitting behind director Neill Blomkamp as District 9‘s being introduced. I wish he had been nominated, but still what a journey it must be for them to go all the way to the Oscars!
  • Tina Fey & RDJ - AP Photo

    Robert Downey Jr. was too cool for school with his bluish spec that matches his bow tie. Him trading jabs with Tina Fey was a great intro for Best Original Screenplay award. I love how Tina narrates the script for each of the nominated flix. And the Oscar went to: The Hurt Locker. Well, I guess the controversies didn’t make a dent after all. Tarantino looked disappointed, and rightly so! I really wanted Inglourious Basterds to win this! Anyway, HitFix tweeted “Has anybody started the “Tina Fey and Bobby Downey Jr. For 2011 Oscar Hosts” petition yet?” I agree, and they’d win ‘best presenters’ award hands down!

  • Molly Ringwald and Matthew Broderick gave a moving tribute to John Hughes, wow, brought back so many memories… especially with all those 80s actors on stage. In their seats Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner probably whispered to each other, ‘who the heck are these people??!’
  • Ben Stiller showed up as a blue Na’vi: “This seems like a good idea in rehearsal” (ha!) presenting the award for Best Makeup. Ironically Avatar wasn’t even nominated, ha! James Cameron looked amused as Stiller fumbled with his Na’vi tail, he..he.. The winner is: Star Trek! Well, it obviously pulled off a challenging task in making hunky Eric Bana looks repulsive! As I said before, I think District 9 deserves to be nominated here rather than The Young Victoria though.
  • Jake Gyllenhaal and the lovely Rachel McAdams introduced the Best Adapted Screenplay award. Hoping for District 9 to win… but I’m not holding my breath. The winner is: Precious. Haven’t seen the movie but from what I’ve heard looks like Geoffrey Fletcher indeed deserves it. What a moving speech! Of course it doesn’t stop Steve Martin from making light of the dramatic moment… “I wrote that speech for him.” Ha!

    Mo'Nique accepts the award
  • Queen Latifah is the queen of cool, love her confidence and healthy sense of self. She’s just awesome. She introduces the honorary award recipients, one of ’em is the sassy Lauren Bacall.
  • Robin Williams presented Best Supporting Actress award: ““Later this evening, the Governor’s Ball will be held — just one of many balls being held all over Hollywood tonight.” LOL!! Anyway, even just by looking at the nominees clips, it’s clear the Oscar belongs to Mo’Nique.

Ok, end of part 1. Continue reading part 2 »

Which Oscar’s Best Picture winner(s) are great for repeat viewings?

Three more days until Oscar time! I was going to publish my Oscar chatter post on my winner picks vs. predictions on the major categories, but allow me to digress. I had an email conversation earlier today with a colleague/friend of mine and she confessed how The Hurt Locker is not something she’d enjoy watching because she finds war movies really depressing. Then another colleague who might be going to see Precious with her friends told me she was a bit reluctant about it after reading about how some scenes might be too painful to watch. This is the same colleague who couldn’t keep her eyes open during A Serious Man last weekend. All three of those movies I mentioned are up for Oscar this year, which begs the question: are the Academy Best Picture nominees the kind of films that are really enjoyable to watch? What I mean by ‘enjoyable’ is that they’re the kind of flix that don’t make your skin crawl or depress/bore the heck out of you that you actually don’t mind, or even look forward to, watching them again.

Looking back at some of the older movies that won Best Picture, the Academy is notorious for nominating ‘powerful’ movies that aren’t necessarily ‘entertaining.’ For me, there are only a handful of past winners that I actually enjoy watching them over and over again: Gone with the Wind (1939), Ben Hur (1959), My Fair Lady (1964), and The Sound of Music (1965).

But amongst the contemporary best picture winners (let’s just say those released in the 80s up until now), I only count Gladiator (2000) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) as those I can definitely re-watch again, in fact I have all of the dvds in my collection. I’m sure The Godfather (1972), Rocky (1976) or Titanic (1997) are popular picks in that category. As for the rest, either I don’t have interest in seeing them or they fall in the category of ‘great movies one would only watch once’ because they’re just too overwhelming, disturbing, emotional or a combination of all three. So for me, those would be something like Schindler’s List, The Last Emperor, Braveheart, and The Silence of the Lambs. They’re all worth-watching but I don’t think I can bear watching ’em again.

Of the ten nominees this year, three of them I wouldn’t mind watching again: Inglourious Basterds, District 9 and Avatar (which in fact I have watched twice!). You know how I feel about The Hurt Locker, so suffice to say no repeat viewing on that one for me.

Anyway, how about you, readers? Please do share which previous Best Picture winners you could really watch over and over again, or which one(s) fall under the ‘great movies you’d watch only once’ category.

Just what exactly is the Academy??

In response to my earlier post about new members added to the Academy (that is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), I thought I ought to give a bit of a history about the organization that give out the Oscars each year. Thanks Becky for asking me just who are the other members and how do they get to be one, as truthfully, I have NO IDEA. At the beginning of a new year, after the water-cooler talk about new year resolution dwindle, we can always count on the ‘Oscar talk.’ ‘Who’s getting nominated this year? Who gets robbed?’ But just like most people, I usually never paid much attention to who gets to decide all that.

I haven’t been able to find the full list of members, all 6,000 of them, but a sampling of them can be found at the Oscar official site. Here’s the gist of what makes up the elite organization: the members are divided into 15 different categories that contribute to the art form of  film making (actors, directors, cinematographers, songwriters, writers, sound technicians, etc.). Apparently it’s pretty much an elite corporation where the who’s who of Hollywood decides who’s ‘worthy’ to be a part of their über exclusive club. This is right from their site:

Membership in the Academy is by invitation of the Board of Governors and is limited to those who have achieved distinction in the arts and sciences of motion pictures.

A candidate must be sponsored by at least two members of the branch for which the person may qualify. Each proposed member must first receive the endorsement of the branch’s executive committee before his/her name is submitted to the Board.

Ah, now that explains why almost every single time the nominations are announced, we the average moviegoers are left scratching our heads with a big ‘huh?’ written across our faces. Not sure how the additional 134 members are going to change all that, even though at first glance the actors category does seem to represent a pretty diverse mix.

As if the membership process isn’t mind boggling enough, NPR explores the world of how the Oscar voting works here. As the article writer says, it’s all one big mystery and they probably intend to keep it that way.

Look who’s joining the Academy!

Not only they’re extending the Best Pic list, the Academy has extended the invitation to comedian Seth Rogen, as well as his bromance pals Paul Rudd & James Franco. With members like this, looks like The Hangover just might score a nomination next year =) See full list of new Academy members here that includes Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, etc.

In any case, my colleague thinks the whole expanding the Best Picture list is just a marketing gimmick just to get more pictures labeled as “Oscar Nominated” so people will go to see them. There might be some truth there.

Oscars broadens Best Picture list to 10

Oscar

Perhaps in attempt to get the early buzz out for next year’s Oscar, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just announced they’re adding an extra FIVE flix to the Best Picture list. Or perhaps an attempt to make amends to excluding the immensely popular (and critically-lauded) The Dark Knight from a list of nominees? Apparently it’s been over 60 years since they had 10 nominees (the last year they did was 1943 when Casablanca took home the gold bald dude).  Hmmm, that darn show is already 4+ hours long, perhaps next year we should just have winners’ acceptance speech be done via Twitter? They (or their publicists) are going to do that anyway so why be redundant? Either that or they ought to plan on having an Oscar slumber party within the Shrine Auditorium.

In any case, does this mean more unlikely-but-otherwise-first-rate flix would have a better shot? Something like Star Trek, Avatar, a musical like Nine (with Daniel Day-Lewis singing & dancing), or perhaps the slick comedy The Hangover could end up being short-listed. Oscar’s long been out of touch with the public’s taste anyway, nominating flix nobody actually paid to see (In the Bedroom, The Hours, Capote). Then they wonder why the show’s ratings keeps going down every year? So I see this is a positive move in the right direction.

I’m curious to see what’s the Best Pic nominees next year. Well as long as they don’t nominate Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I mean what’ll be left for the Razzies to nominate then? =) So folks, start your predictions now.