Tagged: academy awards

Oscar nominations: Were you nominated? I bet you were nominated

The 2013 Oscar nominations are out, and they are…mostly fine? They’re mostly fine. The Oscars are always this weirdly infuriating thing, in that they are meant to celebrate the very best in cinema, but they often wind up just celebrating the least offensive elements of a very particular type of cinema. Movies like “Crash” and “The Artist” seemingly exist just to remind us that yes, great movies come out, and yes, sometimes lesser films (or directors, or performances, or screenplays, or visual effects, or anything else) go home as Academy Award winners. Continue reading

The Oscars Were So Dull Meryl Streep’s Win Was The Only Semi-Shocking Element

At the risk of joining the “Everything sucks” mindset that seems to define my generation, there’s no avoiding this fact: This year’s Academy Awards were an awful, miserable hellpit, an absurdly grotesque monument to self-commendation that seemed particularly terrible because these are the Oscars, and they are very often very bad, and they are always very self-aggrandizing, so for this ceremony to stand out as being dull, predictable and painful means this ceremony had to be really, really bad.

It says something that the biggest surprise of the night was Meryl Streep winning Best Actress. If Oscar Mascot Meryl Streep winning an Oscar is the most surprising and newsworthy part of your ceremony, your ceremony is probably pretty dull (and there’s also the issue of the films you nominated, but we’ll deal with that in a moment). That being said, the Streep win was actually interesting because — despite her longstanding status as the Greatest Living Actor* — she hasn’t won an Oscar in a generation. Continue reading

Oscar predictions

The Oscars are on Sunday! I’ve already shared my complete and utter lack of enthusiasm, but I still want to have my say and show what I think will win and what won’t because if they’re going to have the damn things, no point in ignoring them, you know? Here are my picks:

Best Picture
Nominees: “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” “Hugo,” “Midnight in Paris,” “The Help,” “Moneyball,” “War Horse” and “The Tree of Life”

Should Win: None of the above? None of the above. I know that’s a stupid answer but whatever, it’s my list, and I don’t feel strongly about any one movie on this list being so much better than any other movie. Last year, I felt very strongly about “The Social Network,” “Toy Story 3” and “Black Swan” being better than “The King’s Speech.” I could have passionately argued for “Inception” or “True Grit” or “Winter’s Bone.” The year before, I felt strongly about “Up” and “The Hurt Locker.” This year, while I really liked several of these movies, none of them make me feel that they deserve to win over the inevitable triumph of…

Will Win: “The Artist.” It’s a wonderfully made, technically brilliant ode to the heyday of cinema, and that combination of nostalgia and reverence for old-school Hollywood is way too powerful for Academy voters to resist. It’s a very good movie, and it’s also reliably inoffensive (unless you’re Kim Novak and therefore are easily offended). The damn thing isn’t “Crash” or anything; it’s a good movie in a weak year, and it’s also the perfect frontrunner for this year. And it’s charming! It’s thoroughly charming.

Dark Horse: I know it won’t win, but “The Tree of Life” is the most ambitious movie up there and a truly remarkable visual experience as well as a film from an auteur who doesn’t work all that much. It’s also a rambling, contemplative, plot-less movie, so again, I don’t expect it to win. If only.  Continue reading

Remember That Time Hollywood Threw An Awards Ceremony To Celebrate Movies And Nobody Cared?

The Oscars are on Sunday! Can you feel the excitement? Can you feel the palpable sense of joy possessing the entire country — really, the entire world — at the chance we have to celebrate this year’s Oscar contenders? The movies that are up for the major Oscars must matter because they are the movies up for the major Oscars, ex post facto and so on and so forth.

Unless…not. Unless the movies up for this year’s Academy Awards are not the kinds of movies that get people fired up. Unless the Best Picture nominees this year are all fine and everything, they’re perfectly decent movies insofar as movies go, some of them are even excellent films worthy of discussion and multiple viewings, but none of them are the kinds of movies that really warrant arguing for or against in any meaningful way. Unless so many of the categories are foregone conclusions rewarding middling films. Unless the movies that connected with the general culture are, as usual, largely absent from the proceedings. And that would only happen if the Academy was some kind of hegemonic group that in no way represented the demographics, tastes or interests of the population, and if that were the case it would mean that the entire Academy Awards are nothing more then an overly-long, self-congratulatory-and-bordering-on-masturbatory ode to the tastes and and opinions of a select few (the One Percent, to use the current parlance) masquerading as the recognition of the very best in cinema in a given year. And that can’t be the case, or else why would we even care about the Oscars? Continue reading

I suppose I’ll try and predict the Oscar nominees

On Tuesday morning, the 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced. We can parse the snubs, dissect the choices and generally act shocked and scandalized that one person or film was included over another, clearly superior person or film, because that’s what we do.

But not today! Today, we try to predict something that really defies proper predicting. I mean, anybody who has paid even a little attention to the Oscar race could predict 80 percent of the nominees. There are a few curveballs — the surprise nods, the fact that nobody knows how many nominees will land in the biggest category (for the the biggest awards show of the year, people) — but the majority of it is settled. The long, slow slog of the Oscar season gives shape to the race.

Whatever, this is all a long way of saying let’s discuss what we think we know and what we think we think we might think going into next week’s announcement of the nominations: Continue reading

Now the Academy will have between five and 10 Best Picture nominees

It was just two years ago that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to expand the Best Picture category from five to 10 nominees. They announced another change late on Tuesday night, this time opting to “allow as few as five nominees and as many as 10.” And they will only announce the number of nominees when they announce the actual nominations in January.

A movie will need at least five percent of the first place votes to earn a nomination, and the final round of voting in the category will still use the preferential system to ensure the winning movie is “endorsed” by more than half of the voters, the Academy said in a press release.

I’ve never been a fan of the move from five to 10 nominees, and having a random and unpredictable number seems no better or worse than having 10 films. This seems like it will mostly impact the studios involved in the Oscar season, which is to say the studios shelling out major money to market their Oscar contenders; will these companies continue spending major dollars to snag a Best Picture slot that might not even exist? I look forward to 2013, when the Academy decides there will be a rotating group of nominees, call-in voting and the final list will only be locked 12 minutes before the Oscars begin.

A look at the Best Actor field

Since we just discussed the Best Actress race, it would be unfair if we didn’t note the far, far less engrossing Best Actor field. This one isn’t uninteresting because of the talent involved, but just because there are some contenders so far ahead of the competition. James Franco (“127 Hours”), Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) and Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”) are pretty locked-in (particularly the first two). After that, a lot of contenders are fighting for scraps (i.e. losing to Firth or Franco) in the last two slots.

A pair of past winners are likely to grab the last two slots: Javier Bardem’s “Biutiful” and Robert Duvall’s “Get Low” are the kind of small, character-driven films that can get attention and fill out a category like this. Aaron Eckhart (“Rabbit Hole”) and Ryan Gosling (“Blue Valentine”) are lurking around the edges, and if the Academy doesn’t feel like rewarding a foreign language film like “Biutiful” or remembering “Get Low” (which came out over the summer), they could sneak in.

Leonardo DiCaprio could slide in for “Inception” if the film picks up big steam, but I doubt nominations for Best Picture/Director/Screenplay (and multiple technical nominations) push him into this category. Loathe though I am to admit it, Jeff Bridges is probably not getting nominated for the second year in a row, despite last year’s win (and playing the “True Grit” role that won John Wayne his Oscar, because remember, that was mostly a lifetime achievement thing).