Billy Soistmann

Academy Award Nominations Reactions

In Awards, News on February 3, 2010 at 10:00 PM

On Tuesday, Anne Hathaway and Academy president Tom Sherak announced the nominees for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. With the Best Picture field widened to 10, anticipations were high for a potential reinvigorating of the declining Oscars.

Now, here are the nominees and my thoughts:

Best motion picture of the year
  • Avatar
  • The Blind Side
  • District 9
  • An Education
  • The Hurt Locker
  • Inglourious Basterds
  • Precious
  • A Serious Man
  • Up
  • Up In the Air

Here they are. The 10 Best Picture nominations. I really hope Avatar doesn’t win, but I have a bad feeling about this. Considering the sheer amount of money involved and the amazing technological innovations, the Academy may give it the win without thinking. I was surprised by the nod to The Blind Side. This is definitely the kind of movie that the Academy wants to gain more viewers, but there were several other films that were more deserving of the nomination. The nods to District 9 and A Serious Man were also pleasant surprises. An even bigger surprise, however, was Up. I never thought an animated film would ever get nominated for Best Picture after the addition of Best Animated Film. Up in the Air, The Hurt Locker, and Inglourious Basterds all were locks, and deservedly so. My biggest disappointment was that Duncan Jones’ brilliant Moon, was snubbed. More on the best picture race later in the month.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
  • Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
  • Helen Mirren (The Last Station)
  • Carey Mulligan (An Education)
  • Gabourey Sidibe (Precious)
  • Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia)

I was delighted to see that Carey Mulligan, only 24, was nominated for An Education, which I hope to see when it expands this Friday. However, this is mainly a race between Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep. I have yet to see The Blind Side, but I don’t see how Streep’s Julia Child can be beat. However, the glaring omission in this category is Tilda Swinton in Julia. She so becomes the character, it is a great shame she wasn’t nominated.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
  • Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
  • George Clooney (Up In the Air)
  • Colin Firth (A Single Man)
  • Morgan Freeman (Invictus)
  • Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

This is a strange category this year. George Clooney, although very good in Up in the Air, didn’t show anything special. Morgan Freeman has the prestige vote, but the favorite is definitely Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, another film that expands to my area on Friday. I’ll have to see, but Jeremy Renner was excellent as the cocky bomb-squad leader William James. I was disappointed that Matt Damon was not recognized for his incredible transformation in The Informant!, but even more so by the lack of a nomination for Tony Servillo in Il Divo. I understand that the Academy focuses on American films, but I don’t see how you can overlook his masterful performance.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
  • Matt Damon (Invictus)
  • Woody Harrellson (The Messenger)
  • Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
  • Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
  • Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Once again, the Supporting Actor Category is an open-and-shut case. Christoph Waltz will easily get this award, and rightly so. It’s great to see an Austrian get recognized by the Academy.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
  • Penelope Cruz (Nine)
  • Vera Farmiga (Up In the Air)
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart)
  • Anna Kendrick (Up In the Air)
  • Mo’Nique (Precious)

Wow, two actresses from the same film nominated in the same category! Although Mo’Nique is the favorite, Anna Kendrick was fantastic as the naïve Natalie in Up in the Air.

Best animated feature film of the year
  • Coraline
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • The Secret of Kells
  • Up

This is another sure-fire category. The obvious winner is Up, but, Coraline was also great. In any case, the biggest surprise of the all the awards is The Secret of Kells. I had never even heard about it before Tuesday, but I’m excited to catch it in theaters in March.

Best Documentary Short Subject
  • China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
  • The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
  • The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
  • Music by Prudence
  • Rabbit à la Berlin

Of all the films, these are the most overlooked. Every year, I try to see as many nominated movies as possible and I never know how to see these.

Best Short Film (Animated)
  • French Roast
  • Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty
  • The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)
  • Logorama
  • A Matter of Loaf and Death
Best Short Film (Live Action)
  • The Door
  • Instead of Abracadabra
  • Kavi
  • Miracle Fish
  • The New Tenants

I am very excited that my local independent theater is showing both the animated and live-action short films as a pack once again this year. I’ll write up my thoughts on the shorts after I see them.

Achievement in art direction
  • Avatar
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
  • Nine
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Young Victoria

I’m very happy to see that Terry Gilliam’s Parnassus got a few nods. It has some tough competition, though with Nine and The Young Victoria.

Achievement in cinematography
  • Avatar, Mauro Fiore
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Bruno Delbonnel
  • The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd
  • Inglourious Basterds, Robert Richardson
  • The White Ribbon, Christian Berger

Now, this is an interesting race. This is a good mix of foreign, big-budget, and medium-sized independent. I’m not sure which I favor, either. Harry Potter was a surprisingly beautiful film, yet Inglourious Basterds was composed in such an awesome style, and The Hurt Locker looked great as well.

Achievement in costume design
  • Bright Star, Janet Patterson
  • Coco before Chanel, Catherine Leterrier
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Monique Prudhomme
  • Nine, Colleen Atwood
  • The Young Victoria, Sandy Powell

Not much to say about this, virtually the same as Art Direction.

Achievement in directing
  • James Cameron (Avatar)
  • Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Lee Daniels (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman (Up In the Air)

I have mixed feelings about this category. On the one hand, it was extremely predictable. On the other, it is an excellent group of directors who all deserve credit. Now, many people are calling these five movies the “real” Best Picture nominees. It’s unfortunate that the expanded category could be discredited in this way and I don’t agree with that reasoning.

Best documentary feature
  • Burma VJ
  • The Cove
  • Food, Inc.
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
  • Which Way Home

Here is another Oscar snub. Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore’s biting attack on American consumerist culture. Although Food, Inc. was very enlightening, I think it is overrated as a film. Currently, I have The Cove from Netflix, so I’ll have more to say on this category in the future.

Achievement in makeup
  • Il Divo, Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
  • Star Trek, Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
  • The Young Victoria, Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

I think Il Divo is an interesting choice, but at least it got something. I can see where it’s coming from, though.

Achievement in film editing
  • Avatar, Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
  • District 9, Julian Clarke
  • The Hurt Locker, Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
  • Inglourious Basterds, Sally Menke
  • Precious, Joe Klotz

First, it was interesting to see James Cameron listed for editing. I’m sure he had a large part in the editing process, but should he really be listed as an editor? Overall, all of these are well-deserved, especially District 9 and The Hurt Locker.

Best foreign language film of the year
  • Ajami
  • El Secreto De Sus Ojos
  • The Milk of Sorrow
  • A Prophet
  • The White Ribbon

I’m really lacking in this category, but I plan on seeing The White Ribbon later this onth.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
  • Avatar, James Horner
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox, Alexandre Desplat
  • The Hurt Locker, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
  • Sherlock Holmes, Hans Zimmer
  • Up, Michael Giacchino

This is one category where I wouldn’t be upset if Avatar won. The music in that movie was epic, but Up was great as well.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
  • “Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • “Down in New Orléans” from The Princess and the Frog Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • “Loin de Paname” from Paris 36 Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
  • “Take It All” from Nine Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
  • “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from Crazy Heart Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
Achievement in sound editing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson
  • Inglourious Basterds, Wylie Stateman
  • Star Trek, Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
  • Up, Michael Silvers and Tom Myers
Achievement in sound mixing
  • Avatar, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
  • The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
  • Inglourious Basterds, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
  • Star Trek, Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson

Transformers does not deserve this award. I have no problem with it winning for special effects, but the film was way too loud.

Achievement in visual effects
  • Avatar, Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
  • District 9, Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
  • Star Trek, Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

Is this really up for debate?

Adapted screenplay
  • Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell (District 9)
  • Nick Hornby (An Education)
  • Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche (In the Loop)
  • Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious)
  • Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner (Up In the Air)

It’s odd that District 9 is being considered an adapted screenplay. It was an expansion on Blomkamp’s short Alive in Joburg, but considering that it is the same creator, there is no real adaptation going on. In the Loop was hilarious and extremely well-written, but I’m in the process of getting the scripts for these films and I will have a more defined opinion later.

Original screenplay
  • Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker)
  • Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman (The Messenger)
  • Joel and Ethan Coen (A Serious Man)
  • Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy (Up)

The Up nomination is surprising, but I like Basterds for this one. Tarantino is one cool dude.

Nominations courtesy of Rope of Silicon.

So, those are my rough thoughts on the nominations. I am now rushing to see as many of these movies as possible. Look for much more Oscar coverage coming soon.

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