Monday, March 8, 2010

82nd Academy Awards: A Review Part I: Picture, Acting and Directing Winners

Well, the Oscars are over. I can't say I was surprised by ANY of the winners (disappointed is another matter). Allow me a brief moment to go over a few things and present how I would have handed out the awards. First, the Top Prize and the Acting & Directing categories.


Now that the Academy voters had to rank them in order from 1 to 10, here is how I would have ranked them:
  1. UP
  2. District 9
  3. Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire
  4. An Education
  5. The Hurt Locker
  6. Inglourious Basterds
  7. Avatar
  8. The Blind Side
  9. Up in the Air
  10. A Serious Man
On an emotional level, UP was the only one of the ten to move me in every way: yes, I laughed, I cried. It was a toss-up between UP and District 9 (which is something you don't see often: both an intelligent allegory on apartheid AND a rip-roaring action sci-fi film). The first six were overall excellent films, Avatar was a visual splendor but a weak story, The Blind Side a so-so inspirational film, and the last two I found smug and pointless.

  1. Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
  2. Colin Firth (A Single Man)
  3. Morgan Freeman (Invictus)
  4. Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)
  5. George Clooney (Up in the Air)
It's hard when you haven't seen all of the performances. I think that except for Clooney any would have been very good winners. However, I give the edge to Bridges only because he was the only one who has been rather pushed aside in spite of great performances. Still, this is one case where I'm willing to go with popular consensus.

  1. Carey Mulligan (An Education)
  2. Gabourney Sidibe (Precious)
  3. Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
  4. Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)
  5. Helen Mirren (The Last Station)
I think Bullock did a great job in The Blind Side (though her accent still drove me crazy). However, Mulligan's girl growing into a woman (mentally and sexually) was a brilliant performance, followed by Sidibe's heartbreaking portrayal of a viciously put-down girl in Precious. Streep gets points knocked down for it being Julie & Julia. If it had been Julia alone, then maybe she had a greater chance, but since it was a double act...

  1. Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
  2. Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
  3. Woody Harrelson (The Messenger)
  4. Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
  5. Matt Damon (Invictus)
Waltz was brilliant. It may an overused term, but he was brilliant. Plummer and Harrelson (who has erased any memory from Cheers) fight it out for who would follow, but I give the elder statesman his due. As for Tucci, I can't award a child killer, and Damon will never convince me he's a true Afrikaner.

  1. Mo'Nique (Precious)
  2. Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air)
  3. Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart)
  4. Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air)
  5. Penelope Cruz (Nine)
I still contend that Cruz was whore-able in Nine, and I thought Kendrick was annoying and dumb. Farmiga's older woman was a strong performance, but nothing could beat Mo'Nique's wounded mother from the Ninth Circle of Hell.

  1. Lee Daniels (Precious)
  2. Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
  3. Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
  4. James Cameron (Avatar)
  5. Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)
It was just a question of who did a better job in leading the actors and putting the film together. Daniels brought out brilliant performances from newcomer Sidibe, raunchy stand-up comedienne Mo'Nique and pop diva Mariah Carey. He also told an extremely disturbing story with delicacy. Bigelow made an intelligent film about the Iraq Intervention, Tarantino a glorious revenge fantasy in his style (all 70s-style film-making), and Cameron a visually stunning science-fiction spectacle. Only Reitman managed to make a film I couldn't get enthused about. Based on that criterion, I would pick Daniels.

Another time, the Screenplay categories along with Cinematography and Foreign Language Film.

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