It's nearly that time again...Oscar Night is practically its own holiday here at Chez Loebrich South! As usual, we've been out and about in our Annual Oscar Push, although it has been a little hindered this year. The Winter Olympics always impede our Oscar film viewing because, rather than going out to the cinemas, we're staying home watching figure skating or hockey (or bobsled, or luge, or freestyle aerial skiing, or...). The Oscars also always fall during Pledge Drive, so my work schedule doesn't always allow us enough time to go to the movies. Then there is the historic change to 10 nominees for Best Picture this year, which was done in the hopes of allowing more "blockbusters" into the nominations to attract more viewers/ratings.
That said, it has been an very odd year for movies. Most of 2009 we were going out around 2 times a month to see movies with our friends, we actually saw quite a lot of movies overall. And most of those films were our standard fare, that is to say "popcorn flicks" rather than the more "cerebral" movies the Academy usually notices. Nonetheless, we were doing pretty well when the nominations came out, making it fairly easy to pick up several others. Movies On Demand from the cable company also helped out quite a bit, and was way cheaper than the cinemas!
We've only seen about half of the Best Picture nominees, but this is a pretty easy one to predict. In fact, I kind of wonder whether the 10 nominees plan is going to backfire on the Academy, solely because Cameron released Avatar this year. If you think anything else is going to win this category, you're nuts, it is an amazing cinematic achievement. That said, I'd rather see almost any of the other films win myself. I found Avatar to be beautiful, technically amazing, but plot poor and predictable with flat acting. I was not really taken with The Hurt Locker either. I already knew that war is hell, and that all the military personnel involved are brave and talented people who are being affected in more ways than we can understand. Inglourious Basterds was brilliant, and I love Quentin Tarantino, so you'll see me holding out hope for him here, even though I know it's pointless.
In another unusual development this year, Up is nominated for both Best Animated Feature and Best Picture. I don't think that has ever happened before. The Best Animated Feature category came about after Beauty and The Beast was nominated for Best Picture and didn't win. The uproar was such that the Academy decided there should be a separate category. Up is definitely the Best Animated Feature of the year, but I wonder what the ramifications would be if it were to win in both categories. Unlikely, and something I really don't think *should* happen, thus I'm rooting for it in the Animated category and against it in the Picture category.
When it comes to Best Director (my sentimental favorite category), you know I'm rooting for Tarantino. In this case, he's a good bet. I'm hearing a lot of "sympathy vote" buzz for him (also in the Original Screenplay category). Could go to Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, but I wish it wouldn't. And James Cameron bugs the heck out of me, he's like Juggernaut or The Tick - nigh indestructible.
The acting categories are where we lost a lot of ground this year. I think that Jeff Bridges has a really good shot for Best Actor. Crazy Heart was awesome and he was spot-on perfect in it. All the buzz I'm hearing about Best Actress says Meryl Streep, and I love her in general, but I haven't seen Julie & Julia, although "biopics" are always a good way to get an Oscar - if you have a meaty enough character to sink your teeth into, you can do a really good dramatic turn. Everybody knows Mo'Nique is going to win the Supporting Actress category. I have not seen Push either, but I hear she's brilliant. When it comes to Supporting Actor, I've only seen two of the nominated roles. Matt Damon is pretty, but, amazingly, that's almost all he does in Invictus - be pretty, oh yeah, and play rugby rather well. The guy from Inglourious Basterds was really good.
Our standard category, the one in which we have usually already seen all the films when the nominations are announced, is Visual Effects. Yes, we had it done again this year. Guess what is going to win. Come on, you know this one!
Amazingly, the other categories we usually have locked up early on - Art Direction, Costume Design, and Cinematography - are ones in which we fell short this year. We also only saw 2 of the Animated Feature nominees, and none of the Foreign Film nominees. Like I said, we had rivals for our attention this time around.
Then, we got an unexpected bonus - the Oscar-nominated live-action and animated short films came to town on tour *before* Oscar Night! We squeezed those in around my Pledge Drive shifts last week and had a great time. We pretty much agreed on our favorites, too. If any of you regular readers have the opportunity to catch the Short Films, do it! There are some good ones in there. Our faves? Animated: Logorama. Live-Action: The New Tenants.
Tonight, we start getting ready for *next* year's Oscars - we're going to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D! Then, Sunday night we'll be settling in with our popcorn, M&M's, and bottle of Coppola wine to see who takes home the Golden Boys.