It’s that time of year again: time for celebrities, red carpets, and acceptance speeches. So as the biggest night for movies nears, our in-house movie buff outlines which films will most likely bring home the little golden men on Sunday, and which ones deserve to.
BEST PICTURE AND DIRECTOR
Prediction: Avatar and James Cameron
My pick: Inglorious Basterds and Quentin Tarantino
After receiving the coveted award at the Golden Globes this year, Avatar is sure to get some Oscar love. Whether it deserves it though is highly debatable– so, I’ll go ahead and take this opportunity to debate. It’s a shame we’re now awarding movies not for their quality (overall quality, not CGI quality, folks) but for their hype. Just because 3-D biased audiences call it a masterpiece doesn’t mean it is one. (This isn’t the People’s Choice Awards.) I guess all that reaching out into the screen to touch Pandora distracted audiences from the stilted dialogue and lame plot, but we’re now in a day and age where style is awarded over substance (refer to last year’s best picture, Slumdog Millionaire). But, I haven’t even gotten to my pick yet! Inglorious Basterds keeps it stylish without sacrificing story, and Shoshanna’s story (Melanie Laurent) is masterfully paced and told. Ticket sales should not be an indicator of a movie’s storytelling quality (there is a time and place for the summer blockbuster), but unfortunately Avatar is going to get it.
Prediction: Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
My Pick: Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
The Blind Side is terribly flawed and annoyingly obvious in its clumsiness with racial issues. What’s even more distressing is that it doesn’t even try to nuance its white-person-can-only-save-black-person message. (It doesn’t have to nuance it though, because it’s a true story and therefore anything offensive or questionable is immediately excused.) What kept me from walking out of the theater was Sandra Bullock’s performance. It wouldn’t have been a successful movie without her, and, unlike the movie’s racial maladroitness, Bullock’s performance is deftly composed. Her Southern accent and blonde hair didn’t seem at once unnatural, and she still managed to keep the movie entertaining without losing the sincerity or authenticity of Mrs. Tuohy. (Disclaimer: I do not personally know Mrs. Tuohy, but Bullock definitely makes her seem sincere and authentic.)
Prediction: Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart
My pick: George Clooney in Up in the Air
I really wanted to pick either Jeff Bridges or Colin Firth, but then i saw both Crazy Heart and A Single Man and wasn’t impressed either either more so with A Single Man which was basically just a few well-accessorized conversations amidst “artsy” gratuitousness. After seeing Up in the Air with a friend, I remember my friend asking me what I took away from the movie and I said, “I want to be a suave traveller just like Clooney.” I think he was expecting something a little deeper, but sometimes urbane travel efficiency trumps “deep.” Well, for me anyway. It was nice to see Clooney play corporate-dude-with-issues, a role I’ve been waiting for him to play since Michael Clayton (I could watch/listen to the opening monologue for days). Even though I credit much of Air‘s success to director Jason Reitman, there were a few terrible moments (could’ve done without some of the self-help seminar scenes) which were redeemed by Clooney’s charisma. Even if he doesn’t win the award (which he most likely won’t) at least he made it to my “people I want to emulate” list.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Prediction: Mo’Nique in Precious
My pick: Mo’Nique in Precious
We all know Mo’Nique is going to win it. So, instead of coming up with adjectives to describe her performance, I’m going to complain about the roles black women in Hollywood are forced to play in order to get nominated for a best supporting actress role. (Mo’Nique was Precious. She should be freaking nominated for best picture. Supporting? Hardly. Remember Kate Winslet’s performance in The Reader last year? Totally a supporting role, although she got nominated for best actress, but that’s another article for another day.) Just look at a couple of Mo’Nique’s competitors. Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air. Great performances but honestly too generic to be Academy Award worthy. Precious required Mo’Nique to become ugly and to show her inner monster; but why must black women constantly have to play these extreme roles just to be nominated alongside generic performances? Regardless, Mo’Nique will win.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Prediction: Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds
My pick: Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds
Waltz’s performance in Inglorious Basterds is altogether terrifying yet one of the most exciting to watch. With composure and nonchalance, Waltz’s Hans Landa is able to lead the execution of a frightened family hiding under floorboards and strangle Diane Kruger under her wiggling body becomes lifeless. When Waltz forces Shosanna to have dessert with him, the intensity on screen was evident when I glanced over at an audience member who was closing their eyes and waiting for something terrible to happen (Landa and Shosanna were just talking over strudel and cream!). If Waltz doesn’t win, all I know is that dessert-eating scenes will never be the same.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
My Pick: The Princess and the Frog
Remember my little diatribe against hype and its strong influence on what is considered “a masterpiece?” Same argument but this time directed towards Disney/Pixar’s Up, which is endearing but in now way a masterpiece. It’s visually stunning but seems to lose steam after Carl and Russell land near Paradise Falls. The opening scene and then later flashbacks of Carl’s wife are too maudlin to keep me from watching Up more than once, but The Princess and the Frog will have you crying without employing melodramatic flashbacks. Although its ending is very “frog ex machina,” and the first black Disney princess is a frog for 90% of the film, I loved the lightness of the story and the classic Disney feel. As wonderful as Up’s 3-D computer animation was, it completely lost its charm when the characters’ traumatic backstories began to overwhelm the film. The Princess and the Frog is definitely something you can watch with the whole family without having to worry about offending grandpa or worrying about grandma’s health.
Supporting Actress: Bailee Madison as Isabelle in Brothers
If you’re able to outshine Natalie Portman in every scene, you deserve a nomination.
Animated Feature: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
One of the funniest films I’ve seen this year, even if it wasn’t as sophisticated or as obscure (The Secret of Kells? WTF) as the other nominees.
Original Song: “I See You” by Leona Lewis for Avatar
Just kidding. I just wanted to let everyone know how much I hated this song and its music video. They were totally trying to channel Celine Dion in Titanic, but it wasn’t happening. Cameron was trying to rack up more awards, quite the rapacious little award whore.