Friday, January 29, 2010

2009 Oscar Suggestions



In a few days, the nominees for the 82th Annual Academy Awards will be announced. I'd like to take a moment to make my own recommendations. Whether they will be taken or not I cannot say. However, it would be nice to hear the following names in the following categories.


BEST PICTURE

UP*

Now with the Academy opening up the Big Prize to 10 nominees (which I still think is a mistake), I can hope that the members will pick an ACTUALLY GOOD film to their ranks. To date, only one animated film has received a Best Picture nomination: Beauty & The Beast in 1990. The Pixar line has produced many excellent films, yet they are segregated to the Animated Feature category. Let my cartoons in! UP had it all: that sweet mixture of comedy and heart, and frankly, I liked it much better than No Country for Old Men.

(500) Days of Summer

True, it did bill itself as the non-love story. It also has the tough luck of being a COMEDY, a genre not generally liked by the Academy. We have to go back to Shakespeare In Love to find a comedic Best Picture, and even that is still filled with controversy. As it stands, (500) Days of Summer is the most truthful film about love/romance made in quite some time. In an age of Leap Year and When In Rome, why are people so willing to go for cookie-cutter films that don't require thinking when people make romantic comedies that are honest...even with the musical number.

District 9*

It's Avatar all the time. Yes, it's a cool-looking picture, and now it has its cult audience who think it's the Greatest Film Ever Made (damn that Citizen Kane). While these kids are moping about how terrible it is that they can't live in Pandora (here's a suggestion: try a commune), the intelligence and intensity of District 9 is being left in the dust. Cameron wants DESPERATELY to have his opus be this intelligent allegory about the destruction of the planet due to man's greed and how the military has always destroyed the beauty of the native peoples, but it doesn't work because as in almost all Cameron films, he's far too enamored of the visuals to go into a deep story. District 9, on the other hand, managed to do both: great science-fiction and great allegory, a remarkable balancing act.


BEST ACTOR
Joseph Gordon-Levitt {(500) Days of Summer}

I'll be the first to say that his turn in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra could do to any chance he has what Norbit did for Eddie Murphy's chances for Dreamgirls. However, his performance as the eternally lovelorn man was remarkably real, and in a way more challenging because we aren't accustomed to seeing MEN be vulnerable in romances. He's a star on the rise, and with a bit of luck could achieve the level of an Edward Norton or Ryan Gosling.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Zack Galifianakis (The Hangover)

No, this is not a joke. I'm being completely serious. Maybe I just have a penchant for comedy this year, but I feel that The Hangover would not have been as successful without Galifianakis' wonderful turn as Alan. Let's be frank: his "Wolf Pack" speech will be quoted by guys from now to eternity, and it takes a great amount of talent to pull off a character that could have been seen as just insane, but in his hands was both insane and endearing. Besides, just how many comedic performances have actually won? I can go back to Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda, but does Roberto Benini in Life Is Beautiful count AS a comedy?

Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes)

I didn't think much of the film. In fact, I thought it a sorry disappointment. One of the few things that were good in Sherlock Holmes were the performances of Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes & Watson. Is Downey a contender for a nomination? I think so, but I'm going with Law only because it's harder to play second fiddle (no pun intended), and he, along with Downey, did it so well it almost made me give it a positive rating. Almost.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Hans Zimmer (Sherlock Holmes)*
There were few things I liked about Sherlock Holmes. I've mentioned two, now to the third. No, I'm not a Zimmer fan, but I enjoyed Sherlock Holmes' score: it was jaunty and fun--two things the film itself was not.

Michael Giacchino (UP)**

When I saw UP, the beautiful score did what all great film scores do: draw you into the film without drawing attention to itself and distracting you from the visuals. Giacchino's score was to me reminiscent of Victor Young's score for Around the World in 80 Days, which curiously also involved soaring high over the world in a balloon. Don't that beat all.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS


Yes, Avatar will WIN this category. That, I grant you, will be a deserved one. However, Star Trek did what so few visual/special effects films do nowadays: not drown you in what they can do but instead on what is necessary to the film. Imagine that: a film where the effects serve the story rather than the other way round?


Well, those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I encourage any other suggestions. Though I hope against hope for some of these (while others are a good bet), we'll see when the nominations are announced February 2nd.

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