For someone who has literally nothing to do the vast majority of the time, I sure do seem to stay crazy busy. It feels like this is the first moment I’ve had to breathe in half a year. That said, let’s make some Oscar picks, shall we?
Note: Categories are presented in no particular order, and picks are being made regardless of whether or not I’ve see all the films in a given category.
Right away I’m torn for several reasons.
—George Clooney probably gave the best performance in Up in the Air, but he’s won so much already that it’s almost boring to see him get it.
—I like Jeff Bridges, but I think Crazy Heart is overhyped and not that great of a movie.
—Morgan Freeman seems like the go-to guy since you know he did a good job, and likely has the fewest years of eligibility (aka life) left in him.
—I don’t like Colin Firth, and furthermore can’t in good conscience select someone whose resume includes Love Actually, What a Girl Wants and the Bridget Jones series.
—Jeremy Renner did an ok job in Hurt Locker, but it’s just not the kind of character I like to see win.
Pick: Morgan Freeman. Eh, why not? Besides, he might smite us if we don’t give it to him.
—I’m not gonna lie, I heard (but didn’t see) that Invinctus was trite and predictable — and the casting of Matt Damon as a giant of a rugby player isn’t doing anything to sway me. That he got nominated just shows what a slow year it was for sidekicks.
—How could Woody Harrelson win an Oscar for a movie he did in the same year as Zombieland? Pass.
—Christopher Plummer is pure class, but I always feel like he just got doing an episode of Law & Order or something, like he’s not really focused on any given performance. I can’t picture The Last Station being any different for him.
—Stanley Tucci is an ok guy, but I’ve heard nothing but bad things about The Lovely Bones — Hollywood turns a great work of literature into a bad movie? I don’t know, sounds pretty farfetched…
— Inglourious Basterds (MS Word hates olde English spellings, fyi) was some of Quentin Tarantino’s best work, and everyone in this movie should win for whatever they’ve been nominated for. This includes Christoph Waltz, whom I’d never heard of prior to this film.
Pick: Christoph Waltz. Maybe he can take the Oscar back to his homeland and pawn it for food and clean water or something.
—Ok, so I’ve had an on-again (The Net), off-again (Miss Congeniality…and the sequel?) interest in Sandra Bullock for quite some time as an actress (obviously my physical attraction to her has remained consistently “on” since she’s an über hottie), but I just can’t picture anyone using the phrase “Academy-Award winning” to describe The Blind Side.
—Helen Mirren is going to get enough attention from the flood of sexual jokes that Oscar hosts Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are going to make about her; she doesn’t need an acceptance speech, too.
—Carey Mulligan is a British actress who’s also younger than me — you think she’d be a shoo-in to get my vote (as I love British accents and younger women). But then I saw this picture of her and totally lost interest. No — ahem — Mulligans on a haircut like that.
—So you guys know that really overweight chick from the unintentionally ironically-named movie Precious? …Well in five years, you won’t. Snooze button.
—In any given year it seems like Meryl Streep doesn’t compete for an Oscar — she simply decides whether or not she wants one. You don’t need to watch more than the trailer of Julie & Julia (which is all I watched, incidentally) to know that she has this one sown up with one of the better performances of the year.
Pick: Meryl Streep. She does a better Julia Child than Julia Child did (or Dan Aykroyd for that matter).
—I love it any time decent musicals can get some love from the general public…but I’m just not sure I want Penelope Cruz (nominated for the movie musical Nine) to be the conduit.
—Sure, Vera Farmiga’s performance looks good in Up in the Air…but she was playing opposite George Clooney for Pete’s sake — he makes everyone he works with better. George Clooney is such a great actor that he could even make that sidekick chick from Twilight look like a halfway decent actress. Which brings us to…
—Anna Kendrick. I have no idea why everyone is fawning over this chick; she doesn’t seem bad, she just doesn’t seem great, and I think she was miscast in this movie —she’s supposed to be playing an adult, but looks 16. George Clooney makes her look better than she is — just like Kristen Stewart did (but for totally opposite reasons).
—Maggie Gyllenhaal has always seemed kind of overrated to me. And nothing says “overrated” more than an undeserving Oscar win.
—I’m pretty sure Mo’Nique just signed on with Precious so she could be the second biggest woman on set for a change. I think she’ll end up with a failed TBS sitcom before she gets an Oscar.
Pick: Grudgingly I’m going to go with Penelope Cruz. Because even though her name would be on the award, I think secretly we’d all know that it belonged to Daniel Day Lewis, but America’s not ready for a Best Actor award to go to a leading man from a musical.
Best Animated Film:
This shouldn’t even be voted on, Up should win everything it’s nominated for (assuming Christopher Plummer isn’t nominated for Best Cartoon Villain or something). Although I will say that The Fantastic Mr. Fox is a spectacular movie, and absolutely worth seeing multiple times. But second best is still second best, and they don’t give out silver-Oscars.
Pick: UP! Pixar always manages to touch us where no one else can (…sorry I couldn’t find a less sexual-predator way to say that).
Art Direction, Cinematography, Visual Effects:
Yes, these are three separate categories, but Avatar is nominated in all of them and deserves to win them all just the same.
Pick: Avatar in the first two of the three dozen awards it will win that night.
Ok, so I’m dismissing Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Lee Daniels (Precious), and Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) right off the bat. Those three movies simply aren’t anywhere near the same caliber as Quentin Tarantino’s and James Cameron’s offerings (Inglourious Basterds and Avatar, respectively). The art-house, anti-establishment part of me wants to give the win to QT for making a spectacular movie…but the fact of the matter is that some directors make great movies, and some directors make movies that change the entire landscape of film-making as we know it. Quentin was just unlucky enough to be nominated in a year where one of those landscape-changing movies was also nominated. James Cameron singlehandedly raised the concept of 3D movies from gimmick to art form, and made a couple billion dollars in the process.
Pick: James Cameron. Anyone who’s seen the painstaking care that Cameron took in selecting/creating every element of this film can’t question that it’s direction at its finest and most magnificent.
Avatar. I wasn’t gonna include this category in my picks, but I wanted to point out that James Cameron developed a shooting technique that let him pick the best parts of every take from every actor, regardless of whether or not they were in the same scene. This is mind boggling for me to think about from his perspective, but a real win for those of us who just go to movies to watch the best possible performances.
It’d be nice to see Hans Zimmer (Sherlock Holmes) take the Academy Award home, and Sherlock Holmes deserves to win something, but it’s still up against fierce competition from the scorers of Up, Avatar, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Hurt Locker. And frankly, if anyone is going to beat Avatar at anything, this category is likely their only shot.
Pick: Hans Zimmer (Sherlock Holmes). Zimmer’s score really is top notch, and is just as vital to creating an image of London as the city’s brooding fog or the poorly-maintained teeth of its inhabitants.
Music (Original Song):
Randy Newman was nominated for two different songs for The Princess and the Frog, so I’m inclined to think that he really brought his A-game for this one. At the very least, he has better odds (percentage-wise) than Reinhardt Wagner (Paris 36), Maury Yeston (Nine), or Ryan Bingham (Crazy Heart).
Pick: Randy Newman (for either of the songs). Hopefully a win here will motivate him to really write some rad stuff for Toy Story 3.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay):
Though still challenging, the adapted screenplay category still always strikes me as not quite as difficult as producing an original work that gets nominated. However, this is the perfect (and only) chance for District 9 to score an Oscar win, so more power to them. (Other nominees include the writers of: An Education, In the Loop, Precious, and Up in the Air).
Pick: District 9. Whatever it takes to get District 10 made more quickly.
Writing (Original Screenplay):
This is the money category, and the only major creative-production category that Avatar didn’t get a nom for (which makes sense since Avatar’s base story is overdone to the point of cliché, and easily the weakest part of that film). The part of me that is in love with anything Joel and Ethan Coen write wants A Simple Man to win, but truthfully this W should be Quentin’s fifteen seconds to thanks his friends and apologize to his subordinates that he made them all compete with imaginary blue aliens in 3D for the year’s best awards. Up is also nominated, but doesn’t have enough street cred to walk away with this category, says I. Hurt Locker and The Messenger round out the bottom spots, per usual.
Pick: Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds). I’m already laughing at his acceptance speech, and he hasn’t even written it yet.
—Ok so if you’ve been keeping score till now, it will come as no surprise that The Hurt Lock, The Blind Side, An Education, Precious, and Up in the Air are off my list from the start. And in my opinion, those five movies are a pretty solid argument for why they should’ve kept this category at five nominations instead of expanding it to ten. They were trying to make the award more accommodating for viewer-grabbing blockbuster films, but really just ended up letting the scrubs in.
—Up, Inglourious Basterds, A Simple Man, and District 9 are all great movies, but this year none of them are the best picture. Which only leaves room for…
—Avatar. By this time of the night, we will all be sick of this movie’s winnings and James Cameron’s tiring acceptance speeches, but it doesn’t matter. That’s simply the price we have to pay in order to keep Jimmy C. around and reinventing cinema every ten years or so (80s: Terminator, 90s: Titanic, 2000s: Avatar).
Pick: Avatar. Whatever it takes to keep James Cameron happy so he’ll be kind enough to return in 2017 and recreate movie-making from the ground up. Again.
So there you have it. My picks for who should and shouldn’t win Oscar gold this year, and a full month early. Feel free to agree or disagree via the lovely comments section below, and until next time, Seacrest out.