It's Oscar time again, dear Vaulties, and for the first time in years I'm kinda interested in what's going to happen.
Hollywood movies have majorly sucked ass in general for far too long and, consequently, I have not given a good goddamn about awards doled out to the industry by the industry. As any kind of genuine nod toward artistic merit, the Oscars are more often than not wholly invalid and I certainly don't take them seriously these days, but how sad and desperate is it that the movies churned out by the Dream Machine during the past year are so wan that there are now ten Best Picture nominees as opposed to the usual five? Let's look at our ten nominees, shall we?
I enjoyed this movie as a bit of visually spectacular escapism, but Best Picture? No fucking way. I fully get that it's a hugely popular sci-fi adventure loaded with jaw-dropping special effects in damned near every frame, but not even the original STAR WARS (1977) pulled off the Best Picture Oscar, and it also had all of that going for it, as well as being a far superior film. (For the record, STAR WARS lost to ANNIE HALL.)
A SERIOUS MAN
Made by the Coen Brothers, so it's automatically worth at least checking out.
A coming of age flick taking place in 1960's London. I'd see this on cable or DVD, but this seems like what I usually refer to as a "filler" nomination.
THE BLIND SIDE
Yet another in the long line of "save us, white lady/man" flicks, which is also kinda what AVATAR is when you stop and think about it. It may be genuinely good, but I never need to see this kind of film again. The same sentiment applies to films featuring sagacious ethnics who set white people on the path of enlightenment or some such equally patronizing bullshit. (Although I give Mr. Miyagi a pass on this one because he at least had the decency to be able to seriously kick some ass when needed. Not so, Sandra Bullock.)
A tarted-up DOCTOR WHO-style Apartheid parable. We already have one human rights parable in sci-fi drag on this list and that one would edge this out, if for no other reason than the eye candy.
THE HURT LOCKER
An intense war drama from the director of NEAR DARK, the best vampire film of the last fifty years (if you willfully ignore LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, that is).
Quentin Tarantino's well-made but overrated (and over-long) war flick.
One of the most painfully depressing films ever made, starring Negroes and notable for Mo'Nique playing the worst mother in screen history. (Worse than Dawn Davenport, so think about that for a moment!) No pun intended, but this could be this year's dark horse to bet on.
UP IN THE AIR
Good, but Best Picture material? I dunno...
This Disney/Pixar effort was hands-down my favorite film that I saw theatrically in 2009 and I'm not one bit ashamed to admit that its study of the effects of loneliness on its characters kicked me square in the heart. The first ten minutes alone, a mostly wordless prologue in which the protagonist's relationship with the love of his life is chronicled from their childhood through his wife's death, held more genuine emotional impact than most full-length features can muster, and that aspect definitely colors my opinion of the film as a whole. That said, while I love UP and would be very happy to see it snag the big prize, I cannot deny that THE HURT LOCKER is easily the year's best film and deserves to win as such. With that in mind, coupled with the Academy having never given an animated film the Best Picture Oscar, UP is a lock for the Best Animated Feature award, which would be sort of a repeat of James Baskett winning a "special" award for his performance as Uncle Remus in SONG OF THE SOUTH, this time throwing a bone to animation rather than to a black actor.
Best Picture is the only Oscar that ever holds real interest for me, so who's up for Best Actor and Best Actress in this or any other year is something I just do not give a flying fuck about. That said, occasionally I'm intrigued by what's going on with the Supporting thespic category and this time around the betting could not be any simpler. This year's Best Supporting Actor category is really only narrowed down to a wholly deserving field of one, namely Christoph Waltz for his performance in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.
The charming Kraut bastard you love to hate: Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa, aka "The Jew Hunter."
I've already discussed my admiration for Waltz's work in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS in an earlier post, but I cannot stress enough just how fucking good his performance was. No two ways about it, the little gold nekkid guy is going home with Christoph. As for Best Supporting Actress, look no further than Mo'Nique.
A mundane monster of ghastly proportions: Mo'Nique in PRECIOUS.
Terrifying and abusive mothers are always fascinating, and Mo'Nique plays the most monstrous example of such — in a mainstream film, that is — since Shelly Winters in A PATCH OF BLUE (1965), a role that nabbed Winters the Best Supporting Actress statue, so let's see if history repeats itself.
James Cameron seems like a lock for Best Director, but while AVATAR was an undeniably impressive achievement on the visual effects front (for which it will undoubtedly win), it has none of the human resonance of Kathryn Bigelow's THE HURT LOCKER. She deserves the Oscar and I hope to all the gods of cinema that she gets it.
So what do you have to say to all of this, dear Vaulties? Write in and speak your film-addled mind!
Bugs Bunny gets more than he bargained for with his failed Oscar bid in WHAT'S COOKIN', DOC (1944).