Ugh. I am so over the Oscars this year.
For a long time I was able to look the other way when it comes to the arbitrary bullshit, and actors or directors being "owed" awards from other years or just general goodwill/good marketing.
Now, with the Academy expanding the Best Picture to include 10 pictures, basically to allow for more popular films to be up for the big prize and therefore attracting more viewers.
For years, possibly a decade, I've really made an effort to see all 5 movies nominated for Best Picture. Almost every year I've been able to do it. This year, because I think the top ten are now meaningless, I have totally foregone all interest in the Oscars for the prizes and am now just going to watch for the reasons most people watch: to see beautiful people in nice clothes, and to hope to spot someone embarrassingly drunk on the red carpet.
I have seen five of the ten Best Picture nominees. Every other year that has been fine. I will go down the list of those I have seen, followed by my impressions of the ones I haven't.
Avatar. This was a great big popcorn movie from heck. It was loud and flashy with the 3D, good high concept story, strong characters. Best Picture? Yeah, I can see that. The Academy likes James Cameron, despite his constant jackassery when he wins awards. Postscript: Now that I think about it, they weren't strong characters. They were caricatures of rote characters. Meh.
An Education. This was a fantastic character study with great performances, and the Academy likes period pieces, but was it big enough? I dunno. It was a fantastic vehicle for Carey Mulligan, an actor I hope to see more of. She deserves all the accolades she gets for her performance in this movie. Sarsgaaaaaard was good, too.
Inglourious Basterds. Awesome. Beautiful, chilling, suspenseful, disturbing, funny, dripping with style: all those things you'd expect from Tarantino. Brad Pitt was a red herring. He was cool 'n' all, but he was clearly overused for the posters and trailers. All eyes were on Christoph Waltz and Mélanie Laurent, who will go down in the books as one of the greatest femme fatales in film for her turn as Shoshanna Dreyfus. Yes, the gore was there, but it was revenge fantasy gore that was cartoonish.
Up. This was a hard one for me to watch. I wept through most of it. I thought the lonely widower looked too much like my lonely widower grandfather, so I was a mess. That being said (read: if you're not an overly sensitive sucky baby), this was a fantastic film. One of the best of the year. There was so much said in the first 10 minutes without one word of dialogue. Now, it's animated, so does that mean it shouldn't be in the main Best Picture category? Other animated films have been nominated for Best Picture, but that was before a separate category was created in the last few years. I don't like that it is nominated for both Best Picture and Best Animated. No.
Up In The Air. Again, a great character study. We get Clooney, which is always a treat, but the best part of Clooney is, he can really deliver the goods. He is a good actor, and brings great depth to roles that go beyond his handsomeness. I think the buzz for this film was warranted. Perhaps it was too low-key to seduce most, but its quality was its subtlety. It should be on the list.
The Blind Side. I did not see this movie. I will never see it. Not if someone else pays my way, not if it's on TV, not nuthin'. It looks like the lowest-common-denominator bullshit Hallmark movie-of-the-week tripe I could imagine. It is on the list because it is a manipulatively emotional football movie and the Academy thought that all the big-haired Texan football mothers would tune in to cheer for between organizing church raffles and buying bulk meat. I shudder to think that Sandra Bullock, who could be called a good actor (at least in fits and starts) could win an Oscar for her performance in this.
District 9. I would have liked to have seen this. I like sci-fi, and it looks cool. It's nice to see a sci-fi movie nominated for Best Picture, but again, I don't imagine this would have been on the list if there were only 5 spots.
The Hurt Locker. I wanted to see this, but my apathy for the Oscars this year didn't drive me to even rent it. I'm curious about the suspense. My brother-in-law told me that it was sponsored by the American military and that left a bad taste in my mouth, even though I suspect that it is nothing but conspiracy speculations.
A Serious Man. Again, I would have liked to have seen this, although I've heard it's not a laugh-a-minute. I think I would get a movie like this. I think I could find the humour in the pathos. I've heard it described as a modern-day Job story, which isn't exactly Duck Soup.
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Boring' by Whocares. I will not see this movie for the same reason I will never see Passion of the Christ or Monster's Ball. I am not interested in watching stories about people being abused, beaten to a pulp, or chronically demeaned. Actually, it's not a lack of interest - it's more the fact that I am far too sensitive to watch that kind of story. (This was proven when I loudly bawled though The Pianist in a sold-out theatre. It was a beautiful, haunting film, but I can never see it again.)
So. There it is. I'm not going to choose what I think is the best since I have not seen them all. I would LOVE Inglourious Basterds to win because I think it moved me the most. Apparently because of some dubious tallying, that could happen.