Tag Archive: oscars


omar-un-certain-regard

Not entirely sure if I should approach this as more a political story or a personal one. I don’t think it comes to any conclusions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, other than to observe the difficulty of living under someone else’s thumb, though the ending — which felt abrupt but I might admire more over time — might represent the inevitable result of the cycles of violence and mistrust.

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There came a moment early during the evening when I, and I’m sure many other close Oscar watchers, thought the foregone conclusion of The King’s Speech winning Best Picture might not have been so foregone after all. At the beginning of the show, Tom Hanks presented the first two categories, Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography, mentioning an odd, mostly irrelevant statistic: no film had won those two categories as well as Best Picture since Titanic. The first envelope opened and Art Direction went to Alice in Wonderland. Then Cinematography went to Inception. So much for that.

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Oscar punditry isn’t an exact science, but it’s close. As the years go by, nearly two months of precursors are more and more accurately distilled into predictions, removing most of the suspense on the morning of Oscar nominations. Some of this year’s choices were more surprising than others (Javier Bardem in Biutiful, John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone), but every single one was mentioned at at least one stop on the Oscar campaign highway. These days, the Oscars feel more like the victory lap than the race.

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It’s a new year and a good time for wishful thinking. Ballots have been mailed to Academy Award voters and must be returned by January 14, so to all my Oscar-voting readers — let’s for the moment assume I have any — here are some eligible contenders you haven’t been hearing about but deserve your attention.

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Hurt Locker wins

Is it because I thought it was the year’s best film? No, not really. In the category, I preferred Up, An Education, and District 9, but those films had no hope of prevailing; they were swept up by the category’s expansion to ten nominees. I admit to being in the minority on The Hurt Locker, which is one of the most critically lauded films in the last ten years; I thought it was effective, but too fragmented and familiar to be called great.

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Academy Awards 2009: Oscars in Review

Kate Winslet, Sean Penn, and Penelope Cruz after winning at the Oscars

How did you do in your Oscars pool? My guess is very well. Like the rest of us. I made predictions for every category except the short-film races, which I knew little or nothing about. Of the categories I predicted, I was correct on every race but two: Sound Mixing (I picked The Dark Knight, the winner was Slumdog Millionaire) and Foreign-Language Film (I picked France’s The Class, the winner was Japan’s Departures). Was the Oscar telecast predictable? Resoundingly so. Was it boring? No.

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BEST PICTURE:
Nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Frost/Nixon; Milk; The Reader; Slumdog Millionaire

BEST DIRECTOR:
Nominees: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire); Stephen Daldry (The Reader); David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button); Ron Howard (Frost/Nixon); Gus Van Sant (Milk)

'Slumdog Millionaire'
Winner of Both: Slumdog Millionaire
Both director and picture have the same five nominees, and since they will have the same winner, we may as well consider them together. Slumdog Millionaire has won virtually every award it has been nominated for: Golden Globe, WGA, DGA, PGA, SAG, BAFTA — possibly also the KGB, QVC, and ASPCA. It’s a feel-good drama with the underdog spirit of other Best Picture winners like Rocky. It’s a critical darling. It’s not the most nominated film of the year (Benjamin Button leads with 13 to Slumdog’s 10), but you won’t be hearing late-night talk show jokes about how long and boring Slumdog is. Slumdog Millionaire will win — count on it.

Academy Awards 2009

• We shoulda known: the Caped Crusader and the loveable robot got the cold shoulder from Oscar voters when it came to nominating the year’s five best pictures. Oscar’s choice instead was the stuffy Holocaust drama The Reader, which scored a lowly 58 on MetaCritic; that makes it the worst reviewed movie nominated for Best Picture this decade. The irony is that The Dark Knight and WALL-E both received more nominations: eight and six, respectively, compared to Reader’s five.

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