Sunday, March 07, 2010

Oscar day open thread

The Academy Awards are tonight, and I know a lot of you will be watching. (Though not, unfortunately, if you live around here and subscribe to Cablevision.)

So feel free to use this post to discuss the films you think will and/or should win in certain categories, and then to discuss the Oscar telecast (including hosts Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin) as it goes along.

The only thing I ask is that we try not to spoil the movies too much while talking about them, okay? Not everybody has seen all the nominees (particularly in a year with 10 Best Picture nods instead of 5), and we can talk about whether, say, "Hurt Locker" or "Inglourious Basterds" deserves a screenplay award without giving away much about pivotal plot points, okay?

Have at it.


renton said...

I wish I could be more excited about it. I used to really look forward to the Oscars, but all of the pre-Oscar awards have taken most of the surprise out of the night. It also means we pretty much know what the favored winners will say, too.

Zac F. said...

This is the second year in a row that I've been able to see all the Best Picture nominees before the ceremony. Here's how I would rank them:

1) Avatar
2) The Hurt Locker
3) Up in the Air
4) Up
5) Inglourious Basterds
6) An Education
7) A Serious Man
8) Precious
9) District 9
10) The Blind Side

My predictions:

Picture: The Hurt Locker
Director: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker
Actor: Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart
Actress: Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side (day after winning Worst Actress at the Razzies for All About Steve)
Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds
Supporting Actress: Monique for Precious
Original Screenplay: Mark Boal for The Hurt Locker
Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for Up in the Air

I think Avatar wins the most Oscars with 5 (Visual FX, Sound Effects, Sound Editing, Editing and Cinematography).

Devin McCullen said...

Call me crazy, but I still have a hard time believing ABC is going to willfully hurt its own ratings on one of their biggest events.

Anonymous said...

Best Score: UP
Best Song: "The Weary Kind"

Nice of ABC to pull the Oscars. I'm on Cable's side this time 'round even if they come to some magical agreement right before showtime.

Josh said...

I've seen all but one of the Best Picture nominees (I purposely avoided The Blind Side, as I appear to be the sole person in this world who isn't charmed to death by Sandra Bullock), and would rank them as follows:

1. Up
2. The Hurt Locker
3. Inglourious Basterds
4. Up in the Air
5. Avatar
6. District 9
7. An Education
8. Precious
9. A Serious Man

That said, Hurt Locker will probably take the big prize and Best Director.

At this point, I'd just love the show to happen, so I don't have to hear about it anymore; I'm very wary about the potential trainwreck of a show, but hopeful that the awards themselves won't disappoint.

Alan Sepinwall said...

but all of the pre-Oscar awards have taken most of the surprise out of the night.

That's been the case for the last few years, at least, though. And, if anything, it feels like there's a little more suspense this year than recently, at least in that nobody is 100% sure on what will win Best Picture, even if the acting trophies, director and probably the screenplay awards are already locked down.

Michael said...

I have seen eight of the movies, so I am really looking forward to the telecast. More, I really loved three of the movies, although not Avatar, so I may be disappointed. Anyway, I thought the Hurt Locker, the Basterds and Up were all original, interesting, AND entertaining and would be happy to see any of them win best picture.

Avatar was what is me a textbook example of why writing matters. And as far as the technical achievement goes, I honestly didn't see it as the leap forward everyone else did. I thought the FX in Lord of the Rings were just as good, if not better.

I really liked Up in the Air, but it's just not as good as my top three (I won't say why for spoilers). Ditto District 9.

And I just found Precious and A Serious Man too difficult to watch, and ultimately tragic for tragedy's sake.

As far as the act goes, I haven't seen enough to comment, but I am frustrated that it seems pre-ordained that Bridges will win the award because everyone likes him. I haven't seen the movie, but it seems like a cookie cutter role that's been done before. On the other hand, I really thought Jeremy Renner was outstanding in a difficult physical role that was original and, I think, unforgettable. I admit I could be wrong (especially since I have not seen Crazy Heart), but I would guess in ten years Renner's performance will still be discussed, whereas Bridges' will be seen as mainly a lifetime achievement award.

Has anyone seen both? What do you think?

JT said...

Can I just say that I am SO TIRE of hearing about these dang movies. Seriously. I never want to see any of them again as long as I am sucking in air. that being said, it would be cool if WHITE IBBON won its two noms cause that is one of the best and most, truly cinematic experiences I had at the movies in a long time. Piercing, great film.

JT said...


Jenn said...

While I do think it's Jeff Bridges' time (the guy has been doing great work for decades and recognition is long overdue), if the award was based on straight performance, I'd give it to Colin Firth for A Single Man. I never saw what was so great about him until that movie. He was extraordinary.

I've seen 9 of the 10 picture nominees (sorry, Avatar) and I'd like to see Hurt Locker or Basterds take it.

Adam said...

We are going to do a live chat over at A List of Things Thrown Five Minutes Ago -- feel free to join us starting around 8:15p at , where we'll do what we can do introduce an appropriate level of mockery into what George C. Scott famously called a "two hour meat parade."

Also, we will as always run an applause-o-meter during the necrology. Patrick Swayze's the big favorite this year.

miles said...

The only thing I'm curious about is how Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin will do as hosts. I like them both, but the Oscar stage is riddled with the remains of very funny people who bombed as hosts--see Letterman, Stewart. In the past Steve Martin has bee so-so as Oscar host. By combining him with Alec Baldwin who is so naturally funny--it has possibilities.

Paul said...

To me, the academy has a rater simple, yet stark choice. IF they name Hurt Locker as their best picture, they will be putting up a middle finger to not only everyone in America, but everyone on planet earth itself who saw Avatar, loved it, and then came back again and again and again. They will do long-term damage to their TV ratings for 2011 and beyond, because why would any casual fan watch it when some artsy-fartsy Sundance-esque film will always have an edge on a Dark Knight, an Avatar or another film embraced by critics and fans alike ('Inception', perhaps, this year?). The Oscars' relevance is on the line like it never has been before. Hurt Locker has earned less than $15 million in its run. It will be the lowest-grossing BP winner in 54 years (only 'Marty' had a lower take - $8m).

A vote for Avatar will be a recognition of 4 years of filming, and 12 more of preparation from the man who nobody thought he could top Titanic; and then went out and did just that. As of this weekend, it has earned $720 million at the domestic boxoffice and the actors, the visuals - the STORY - one or all of 'em kept bringing people back into the theater to see it.

What say you, Oscars?

Unknown said...


They already goofed naming Dances With Wolves as Best Picture, they don't need to give the same story another one.

renton said...

Paul, box office performance plays a role, but just because a movie was a huge hit doesn't make it the BEST picture.

Yes, Avatar was a technological triumph and yes, if it wins, that aspect of it played a role.

But picking something else doesn't mean the Academy is flipping the bird to America or anything else. It just means they collectively thought something else was BETTER.

If we go by the standard of financial success, that would mean McDonald's is the best restaurant in America. Do you believe that?

princessapr said...

According to my husband, SNY is airing the awards in the NY area so that's good for those who want to watch. I told him that someone needs to get the news out to women what channel SNY is because if I wasn't married to a Mets/Jets fan, I wouldn't even know the channel existed.

I haven't seen all of the movies, but I do have favorites. I'm all for whatever will surprise me though. I saw a handful of the films but very few of the best picture nominees.

Anonymous said...

Whats this talk of ABC not airing the Oscars?

Henry said...

All these ads and profiles on Up in The Air (which comes to DVD on Tuesday) makes me wish it was more of a contender in these Oscars. It's really a better movie than people have been giving it credit for.

I think the award I'm looking forward to seeing the most is Best Director, just to see the reaction if/when Kathryn Bigelow (who's the favorite) wins.

I honestly hope the Academy doesn't give Best Picture to Avatar, just because it seems like James Cameron has become even more smug than his Oscar campaign for Titanic fourteen years ago. Avatar, honestly, is a good movie. Not a great one, and I honestly hope it gets shut out from the major awards.

And I think it will be great if Inglorious Basterds wins anything beyond Best Supporting Actor (Christoph Waltz is a big favorite).

Anonymous said...

I think James Cameron is not-so-secretly commenting under the name of Paul.

Easy there, James.

compain87 said...

I enjoyed The Hurt Locker the most of the Best Picture Noms but I would rather see Avatar win to stick it to all the people tearing it apart. I can not stand the small budget films that won the last 2 years since 2007. I like to judge how good a movie is by if a couple days later I randomly think about that movie. This years movies did that for me so I have no qualms with who will win. I thought it was a great year at the movies and can't see how you could complain(ya I'm talking about you Michael Wilbon).

Maggie said...

Anonymous/3:22: if you follow Alan's helpful link, you'll see that it's not ABC who's not airing the Academy Awards, but Cablevision who is not airing ABC.

Glad to see a few here who didn't care to see "The Blind Side." I saw the other 9 best picture nominees, but couldn't bring myself to see that one, based on what I'd heard about it. And, I am a HUGE Sandra Bullock fan, but to me she's candy and popcorn, not someone I expect to deliver an award-winning performance. With all that said, I would love to see Meryl Streep win for her Julia Child. That is a performance we'll be talking about for years (to steal Michael's definition) while if Sandra wins, it will be more about how interesting she won all those awards that year, than her performance itself.

mike said...

1) Inglourious Basterds
2) A Serious Man
3) An Education
4) The Hurt Locker
5) Avatar
6) Up in the Air
7) Up
8) District 9
9) Precious
10) The Blind Side

Anonymous said...

@Jenn - it's difficult to imagine that anyone who saw the movie would consider Colin Firth's performance in A Single Man as "straight", but Firth certainly did a great job.

SR said...

Let me be the first to gripe that Anvil! The Story of Anvil! absolutely should have been nominated in the feature doc category.

It seems that every year the Academy boneheadedly overlooks some great doc or other, going back at least as far as Hoop Dreams.

Also, why oh why is Avatar up for a cinematography nom? Can you give an award to one D.P when it took an army of FX wizards to create nearly every frame of that film? I'd argue that Coraline, an animated film, has more of what we normally think of as "cinematography" than Avatar.

Question Mark said...

As luck would have it, I just wrote up my Oscar preview/movies year in review on my blog. Click my profile to find the link!

/self-promotion over

My top ten of the nominees....

1. Inglourious Basterds
2. A Serious Man
3. The Hurt Locker
4. Precious
5. Up
6. Up In The Air
7. District 9
8. An Education
9. Avatar
NA. The Blind Side (didn't see it)

Matthew said...

1) Inglourious Basterds
2) A Serious Man
3) The Hurt Locker
4) Up
5) District 9
6) Up In The Air
7) Avatar
8) The Blind Side
9) An Education
100) Precious: Based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire

I really really really despised "Precious". Not because of the subject matter, but because I thought it was bad storytelling that at every point seemed to push that extra little bit to pile on the misery, and that excess instead just broke the film. (Really? You going to name the Down syndrome incest-rape-child Mongo? You don't think you've made Mariah look plain enough without the moustache? Really? And I'm supposed to take this film seriously how?) Plus the general filmmaking was just generally clumsy and incoherent, with barely five minute passing without some artless decision (either in the shooting or often the editing) that would just throw me. The acting in the film was uniformly great, especially given the material they were given, but it was a bad film that offended my every filmlover bone.

As for the other categories, "Up" seems guaranteed two Oscars, but while I really love the film, I'm not sure it deserves either. I do feel like there is a slight inconsistency between the powerful realistic emotion of the first ten minutes and the fantasy of flying a house with balloons or the comedy of a talking dog. The film works, really well, but there is that slight clash in tones. "Coraline" isn't quite as great as the opening of "Up", but as a whole film, I think it's slightly better, and deserves the Oscar.

And in Best Score, much as I love Giacchino's score for "Up" (one of my favourites of the year), and as a Giacchino fan I've very happy that he'll probably have an Oscar tomorrow, but have you heard how good the "Sherlock Holmes" score was? Phenomenal.

Anonymous said...

Since this is a TV blog, I have an interesting TV-related tidbit. Since Israeli distributors didn't hurry to buy "The Hurt Locker", it aired tonight on TV, four days before the film opens in theaters here. This is probably the first time in Israeli history that an Oscar-nominated film (or any film, for that matter) was shown on TV before its theatrical release.

I've seen four of the ten movies up for best picture (The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, Precious and A Serious Man - I'm probably the last person in the world who hasn't seen Avatar). I hope "The Hurt Locker" wins, and if not that then Precious.

Hmm... Word verification is "dench". Is this Jodi Dench's way of getting into Oscar discussions even when she isn't nominated? :)

Michael said...

My beef with Up is that the first 10 minutes were great then it turned into essentially the same plot as ice age (I don't think that's too spoilery, I just noticed alot of parallels between Ice Age and its characters on their trek and the main characters from up).

I loved Hurt locker but if we have to see commercial success for a film to win best picture I would place Inglorious Basterds over Avatar. Truth be told any of those three will be worthy winners. I just feel like the derivative story from Avatar can't bee ignored despite the film's unprecedented visuals.

I've seen all of the movies nominated for Best Pic except Precious so my list goes:

- Hurt Locker
- Inglorious Basterds
- Avatar
- An Education (Hope Carey Mulligan upsets Sandra Bullock)
- A Serious Man
- District 9 (God I love a great - South African accent)
- Up In the Air (Had a lot of trouble understanding the hulabaloo over this film)
- The Blind Side
- Up

Stef said...

I just watched Ponyo today, and it's such a charming and beautiful movie. Since Up seems like such a lock, it's too bad this wasn't released in another year because I would love to see it win an Oscar!

Nicole said...

Glad to see that I am not the only one who has avoided The Blind Side even though it is on the list. There were so many better films this year, I cannot see how this made it to the final ten.

Although I want The Hurt Locker to beat Avatar, I think that Avatar will get Best Picture to acknowledge that it is a worldwide event, even if the plot is pretty bad. Titanic wasn't that great either but it won too. The Academy is pretty conservative by Hollywood standards, and with the strong likelihood of Hurt Locker getting director and a few other awards, the voters will probably give this one to Avatar. Besides, it will be interesting to see if Cameron can be anymore arrogant in his acceptance than his King of the World jibe.

I also hope that Colin Firth gets the awards for A Single Man, but the Jeff Bridges' train seems unstoppable... and you know everyone wants to put The Dude Abides in the headlines the next day.

renton said...

"it will be interesting to see if Cameron can be anymore arrogant in his acceptance than his King of the World jibe."

I've never understood the beating he's taken over that. He was repeating a line from his own movie.

Anonymous said...

You gotta admit, the Academy opened the door to complaints like Paul's when they expanded Best Picture from 5 to 10 in the hopes of getting a ratings boost. They've already conceded that they haven't been considering "the voice of the people"; now that they are, they're on the slippery slope down to awarding the biggest prizes to the biggest box-office successes.

Unknown said...

And as far as the technical achievement goes, I honestly didn't see it as the leap forward everyone else did. I thought the FX in Lord of the Rings were just as good, if not better.

There are two less apparent "inside baseball" aspects that make it revolutionary. First, it's the "vindication" of 3D as a way to bring people into the theaters and pay real money. I just saw a commercial for Clash of the Titans emphasize how it's coming in 3D and by the way, "also in 2D" in the last half-second. Even though (as far as I know) it was not shot in the same 3D process -- but of course you can also count on the weasels at the studio to misrepresent and spoil their movies just to get asses in the seats.

Second is that process, which allows the director to shoot the scene once in virtual space and get all the coverage they need; then completely rework the scene later if necessary. With "performance capture" the actors' work gets on the screen, and they don't have to spend hours in makeup.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, ABC pre-show perhaps the most brutal half-hour of TV I've ever sat through.

Kristen said...

I'm getting ABC through CableVision again, yeah!

Was there a big opening number? It came on with Steve and Alec pointing to people in the audience?

Stef said...

Thank goodness for NPH's surprise opening number. Steve and Alec are not as funny as I want them to be.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Was there a big opening number? It came on with Steve and Alec pointing to people in the audience?

On the down side, you missed Neil Patrick Harris doing a musical number with showgirls (or possibly the cast of So You Think You Can Dance dressed as showgirls).

On the up side, you weren't exposed to a second of ABC's horrifying pre-show, in which someone thought it would be a good idea to have Kathy Ireland conducting interviews.

Nicole said...

Yay NPH! best part so far... The clips for each performance are soo long.. why not just show the whole movie?
This is going to be a long broadcast if they continue this route.

Henry said...

Oscar thoughts so far:

-- Oh, man. If it was District 9 or Star Trek for Best Visual Effects, that'd be a total surprise.

-- Dear God! That's Molly Ringwald?! What happened?

-- Gigantic blue bowtie. Well, at least it's different, Robert (Downey, Jr.)

-- Once again, Miley Cyrus dresses way too old for her age. What is that dress?

-- The monologue is always the most useless part. Why are the hosts necessary for the Oscars again?

Stef said...

-- The monologue is always the most useless part. Why are the hosts necessary for the Oscars again?

I actually think the presenters have better than normal banter this year, especially the Tina Fey / Robert Downey Jr. bit. That's all been better than the monologue. They really could cut that and just make the show snappier, funnier, and faster throughout.

Anonymous said...

When did they stop having the lifetime awards have a big introduction with clips and have them come up on stage? I'd rather see Lauren Bacall then most of the other people that I've seen on the show so far.

Otto Man said...

Did I just see someone pop-and-lock to "The Hurt Locker" score?

Anonymous said...

Hurt Locker is taking the ancillaries, so hopefully that means Avatar won't win best picture. Not that I think Hurt Locker should (I am for Inglourious Basterds), but Avatar is NOT best pitcure worthy. Give it all the technology awards. Fine. But the story and the acting were all derivative. I was glad I saw it, but I'll never watch it again.

Anonymous said...

Up In The Air not winning for screenplay is a surprise to me.

Michael said...

I thought the White Ribbon was supposed to be one of the best films of the year, any land of origin. Is this an upset (people in the know)?

Unknown said...

Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum!

Stef said...

Hooray! The show was very up and down, but I did like some of the changes to the production. Having costars introduce the Actor and Actress awards worked much better than last year's former winners.

And I'm happy for Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker. I'm one of those people with little interest in Avatar, so I'm glad to see that even in the more commercial year with 10 nominees that such a strong, critically-acclaimed film will still win.

Bryan said...

I think the right movie and director won and the show actually seemed fairly brisk compared to past year. Can't believe Up in the Air did not win a single thing - was there some kind of backlash for that movie I missed?

Is Precious the most depressing movie ever made or is it just the clips they show?

Jeff Bridges definitely broke the record for use of the word 'man' during an acceptance speech. He is kind of the man though.

Anonymous said...

Break dancing to a medley of the nominees for Best Original Score? What? A new low, and the most depressing thing is think about the fact that whoever made that inane decision probably makes far more money than I do.

erin said...

I actually quite enjoyed it. the length is not even worth mentioning, since they always go over. But i thought Steve and Alec were pretty dang funny, NPH was terrific as usual, I loved that Avatar got what I thought it deserved (...not much besides visual effects) and i even liked the dance score sequence (but then again i love SYTYCD). It was one of the more enjoyable Oscars I've seen in a while.

Hurt Locker...very pleased it won so much.

Henry said...

Last remaining thoughts:

-- Sandra Bullock. Oscar winner. Still sounds weird in my head. That she has a statue and Julianne Moore doesn't have one is something I will never understand about the Academy.

-- Interesting that there wasn't much hoopla around the whole "Kathryn Bigelow being the first woman Best Director winner" thing. Then again, only four women have even been nominated so I guess the excitement in the moment is a little muted.

-- The show ran long. Again. Do they really need that "horror movie" montage? By the way, can you really justify some of the films included in that montage? Beetlejuice, Jaws, even Psycho? They aren't technically horror films. Do they need the interpretive dance routines for Best Original Score? That was ridiculous. Do they really need the anecdotes for each of the Best Actor and Actress nominees? It was a nice changeup last year, but not it just seems redundant. And I loved John Hughes as much as the next person, but really, they could've clumped him in with the rest of the "In Memoriam" segment people. What really makes Hughes so special that he had to have a montage all to himself? Just some of the things they could've worked in to make the show a little tighter.

-- The Hurt Locker taking home Best Picture was the best possible indictment of James Cameron there could have been. That win demonstrated the level of disdain in the industry held for Cameron (and his gigantic ego) and I think the very fact that Avatar could only secure three technical awards shows that The Hurt Locker (which took home six, including three major awards) was the better film.

afoglia said...

Alan, a correction for something you tweeted. Last year, for the best actor/actress, they didn't have former co-workers describe the nominees, but former winners. Which lead to a few odd cases where the speaker obviously did not know anything about the nominee other than what was in the bio. This was better. Still not worth the time though.

Now, if I could just figure out why someone is asking you to bring back Farscape in an Oscar thread...

Anonymous said...

Does any sane person think Hurt Locker was an anti US/Troops movie? I know not many people saw it but that this opinion is actually out there is crazy. There's no room for nuance, I guess. A film is either The Green Berets/Rambo or it's Full Metal Jacket/Apocalypse Now - if you're practicing demagoguery.

Up in the Air was shut out because it's a movie nobody needs to rewatch - you get everything there is on first viewing. It could be a nice movie on repeat but you won't pick anything new up.

belinda said...

While I enjoyed the experience of watching Avatar in a theatre, I didn't really love Avatar either, and can't imagine how rewatchable the movie would be in a couple of years when the 3D stuff isn't so new anymore - I truly think the movie worked primarily because of the aesthetics and NOT the unoriginal story. So, phew for Hurt Locker's win for best movie.

I can argue that Cameron (as someone making a successful breakout 3D movie) was just as worthy as getting an award as Bigelow, it was really nice to see Bigelow win instead (though I would have understood a Cameron win). She obviously didn't just win because she's female, but there is a little part of me going 'yay, girls!' Nice to see her recognized for the great work she's done.

Matthew said...

Break dancing to a medley of the nominees for Best Original Score? What? A new low

On the other hand, I loved that they gave prominence to the scores this year, since the scores normally get neglected and it has been such a strong year for movie scores. And really, they needed to show something while they were playing the music, and dancing seems logical.

Craig Ranapia said...

Interesting that there wasn't much hoopla around the whole "Kathryn Bigelow being the first woman Best Director winner" thing. Then again, only four women have even been nominated so I guess the excitement in the moment is a little muted.

Really? I haven't noticed a story about Bigelow's nomination that didn't remind us all of the well-concealed fact that she doesn't have a penis. (Oh, and she amicably divorced James Cameron EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO -- shame the media couldn't get over a lazy and patronising lede, because they certainly have.)

Matthew said...

On the other hand, I loved that they gave prominence to the scores this year, since the scores normally get neglected and it has been such a strong year for movie scores. And really, they needed to show something while they were playing the music, and dancing seems logical.

Just wanted to add that I'm not saying all the dancing decisions were right. I mean, doing the robot to "Up"? That was weird. I just liked getting to hear more than five seconds of each score, and accept that the dancing was necessary to allow that.

Hyde said...

Anyone who missed Kathy Ireland doing red carpet interviews missed comedy for the ages. Not that she's ever been confused with a Nobel Prize winner, but my word is the woman vacant.

bakija said...

Paul wrote:
>>They will do long-term damage to their TV ratings for 2011 and beyond, because why would any casual fan watch it when some artsy-fartsy Sundance-esque film will always have an edge on a Dark Knight, an Avatar or another film embraced by critics and fans alike ('Inception', perhaps, this year?).>>

Just curious how Hurt Locker was an "artsy-fartsy Sundance-esque" film. I mean, yeah, ok, it didn't bust box office records or anything, but it was hardly "My Dinner with Andre" or anything. It was a pretty straight forward millitary movie with lots of production and explosions and death and whatever.

That being said, I'm kind of baffled that it won Best Original Screenplay, as, well, it wasn't really so much a cohesive story. I mean, it was certainly a good movie, but I don't think the screenplay was a super strong point relative to, like, Ingorious Basterds.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I did a fuller Oscar telecast review that you can move to comment in if you want.

Anonymous said...

I just don't get what people see about The Hurt Locker. It wasn't a coherent story, the lead character was kind of psycho and constantly putting people at risk, and the only reason it stood out was because it was a war movie directed by a woman. Much like Dances With Wolves to Goodfellas, The Hurt Locker is the one that won the award but Inglorious Basterds is the one you'll watch over and over again for years!