Friday, February 5, 2010

OSCAR NOMINATION Surprises and Snubs! Plus: FRINGE goes out with a bang!

Sweet - the weekend is here. It's been a loooong week, and I am ready to kick back and enjoy a couple of days off. But, I have a lot I want to talk about, so, here we go:


So everyone is talking about the Oscar nominations, announced this past week. Personally, I can't help but get into the Oscars, because hey, I love movies. At the same time, it's hard to get too worried about who was or wasn't nominated. Afterall, the Oscars tend to ignore a lot of worthwhile movies, while recognizing films that have a "prestige" label to them, earned or not. I think the Oscars have had a pretty good track record the last couple of years in terms of Best Picture winners. I was on the same page with Oscar when movies like The Departed, No Country For Old Men, and Slumdog Millionaire won the big prize. And I have a feeling that this year there may once again be corrallation between my pick for Best Movie of the Year and the Oscar award for Best Picture. Still, it's always annoying to see how predictable the Oscars can be when it comes to some of their nominations. So what are my hits and misses when it comes to this year's nominations?

Kudos to:

- THE HURT LOCKER deserves all of the acclaim it's getting, in my humble opinion. I hope it wins for Best Picture, and I hope Kathryn Bigelow wins for Best Director. I think it will be cool if a female director is able to win the category, especially someone like Bigelow who completely defies any stereotypes about the type of film that a woman is capable of making. A woman made the most intense and badass film of 2009 - that's awesome, and I hope it's recognized. Similarly, I'd love to see Jeremy Renner win for Best Actor. Some call his nomination a surprise, but that's only because he wasn't already a star before this movie. To me, his was the best and most memorable leading actor performance of the year. As much as I loved Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, Renner is the guy who deserves this one.

- DISTRICT 9 is probably the most pleasant surprise on the Best Picture list. Even more so than Avatar, this is the kind of movie that I wanted to see included in the Best Picture race with the expansion to ten nominees. District 9 would be a worthy Best Picture winner - I personally wouldn't put it above The Hurt Locker, but still ... it's one of 09's best movies, period. And the fact that it beat out movies with much more hype and much bigger budgets at their own game ... well, that makes this one all the more appealling.

- It's funny to me that JEFF BRIDGES is now a favorite for Best Actor. Nobody was talking about Crazy Heart until recently. And yet, it's a very likable movie and Bridges is great in it, as always. On a side note, I was happy to see MAGGIE GYLENHAAL nominated for Crazy Heart as well - she was great in the film.

- Some seem surprised that A SERIOUS MAN was nominated for Best Picture. Um ... why? It's another amazing film from the Coen Bros., right up there in the upper tier of their filmography. For some reason, people don't like to give comedies the same acclaim as dramas, but The Coens' comedies are almost always sublime works of genius. The Coens would also be my pick to win for Original Screenplay - they are such talented writers, their scripts always blow me away. They always amaze, and A Serious Man is no exception - I think it was near the top of the list in '09, and it would be a worthy Best Picture Winner.

- Same goes for INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. Amazing to look back and see how mixed the reviews were upon its release. This was a phenomenal movie, and if anything, it should have gotten more nominations. Still, Christoph Waltz is a lock for Supporting Actor, and deservedly so. Similarly, Tarantino would be a worthy winner for Director and Original Screenplay. I still like Bigelow and the Coens over him, but man, it's a close call.

- CORALINE and THE PRINCESS & THE FROG are both very worthy entries in the Animated category, and it would be interesting if either one somehow upset Up.

- I liked THE LOVELY BONES a lot, and was happy to see Stanley Tucci get a nom for Supporting Actor. Too bad the movie didn't get more overall love.

- I definitely don't consider UP IN THE AIR worthy of *best* picture, but I do think it's in the Top 10 of '09 - and the same goes for AVATAR. So I'm happy to see both nominated, but don't want to see either one win. I feel similarly about the Supporting Actress Race. Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga are both deserving nominees, but neither was as good as Mo'Nique in PRECIOUS.

- Which brings me to PRECIOUS. Again, I wouldn't quite put it as the best film of '09 (though it's close). But, I think both GABOUREY SIDIBE and MO'NIQUE deserve to win for Best Actress and Supporting Actress. They were just that good. Both turned in amazingly powerful performances.

- Back to AVATAR for a second though. While it's not Best Picture worthy in my opinion, I do think it deserves every technical award in the book. Its visuals are phenomenal and game-changing, and for all you former doubters ... I told you that back in July!

Who Got Snubbed?

- Inglorious Basterds got a lot of well-deserved nominations, but what about its amazing cast? MELANIE LAURENT did a fantastic job as arguably the film's lead character, Shoshana, in what was to me one of if not *the* best female performances of the year. WTF. Plus ... DIANE KRUGER deserved a Supporting Actress nomination. Christoph Waltz was great in Basterds, but the movie's leading ladies were right up there as well.

- Here's a movie that got totally snubbed: THE ROAD. Not a single nomination for what was, to me, one of the year's best films. Even if the movie itself didn't get a Best Picture nom, how could you overlook the always-great VIGGO MORTENSEN for Best Actor? His performance in The Road was amazing - ultra-intense. Bottom line: The Road wuz robbed!

- One more movie that got totally ignored: MOON. It's been well documented how the movie never got a proper Oscar push, and I get that. But still, I mean are Oscar voters just sheep that vote for whatever is shoved down their throats? Most big film fans I know jumped on the Moon bandwagon many months ago. I mean, look, personally I wouldn't rank it in the Top 10 movies of 2009. So I'm not going to say it deserved a best picture nomination. But - SAM ROCKWELL turns in one of the most remarkable and memorable performances in Moon that I've seen in a long while. Are you honestly telling me that Morgan Freeman in Invictus was better?

- Also, what the hell, ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL was one of the best movies of the year - how was it not even nominated for Best Documentary? Imagine the awesomeness that would have resulted if "Metal on Metal" was played live at the Kodak theater? Damn you, Academy!

- The Best Director category is really loaded up with strong talent already, but, there are definitely some big omissions in my book. Neil Blomkamp for DISTRICT 9, The Coens for A SERIOUS MAN, etc.

- The Hurt Locker got many awards and could win Best Picture, but ... whyyyy isn't anyone from its supporting cast nominated? Especially given how week the Supporting Actor category is, how about a nom for ANTHONY MACKIE, who was superb in the film?

- Finally, I know this movie had pretty much no shot of getting any nominations, but ... I still maintain that OBSERVE & REPORT was one of the year's best. Just goes to show that the Oscars may have accepted sci-fi and other genre fare into the fold, but not comedy! At least not yet.

Kudos *Not* Deserved:

- I really liked UP, I did. the first ten minutes of the film are incredible, and overall, it was good enough that I gave it an A- grade when I reviewed it this past summer. But, it's no Wall-E, and *that* was the Pixar film that deserved a Best Picture nomination, not this one. I don't get why the Oscars have to overcompensate for past failings. I'm not *that* upset by this, but I actually think Coraline and Princess and the Frog were better overall.

- How did INVICTUS score Best Actor and Supporting Actor noms? The movie was definitely not Clint Eastwood's best, not by a longshot. Morgan Freeman was good in it - he always is - but ... there were so many great performances this year that I'm very puzzled as to why he got the nom. How about Viggo Mortensen in The Road, or Michael Stuhlbarg in A Serious Man, or Sharlto Copley in District 9? Even worse is Matt Damon's Supporting Actor nom - I mean, he was barely in the movie! It really was, I think, one of Damon's least memorable roles ever! He was actually much better in The Informant this past year. And, again, so many deserving actors got snubbed. Anthony Mackie in The Hurt Locker, Fred Melamed in A Serious Man, etc. Weird.

And there you have it - my Oscar rant o' doom!


- FRINGE last night was pretty kickass! Maybe Lost coming back forced JJ Abrams' other show to up its game, I don't know. But last night's "winter finale" (WTF! The show *just* came back from hiatus, and now it's off until April?!) delivered the goods. The episode was a welcome return to the show's overarching, otherdimensional mythology, as dimensions began to collide and previously hidden truths began to surface. But first, how about that opening, in which parallel realities converge and some poor guy from "the other side" finds himself with several additional limbs and a second head coming out of his stomach! Gross! And yet, intense. Definitely a memorable way to kick off the episode though.

I loved the ratcheted-up intensity though as the long-foretold otherdimensional upheaval began to unravel. The increased insight into Walter's old, morally questionable experiments reminded us that Walter can be funny and sympathetic, but he also participated in some pretty objectionable stuff in his younger days. John Noble once again ruled it in this one, going from funny to scary to pitiful at the drop of a hat. Lance Reddick also showed up to give injections of gravitas at key moments.

The one moment of cheesiness? Olivia, after being unable to access her special abilities, suddenly"feeling fear" and using that fear to trigger her latent powers, which allow her to spot people and objects that are of otherdimensional origin. A bit hokey, in my opinion.

But still, there was enough intensity and coolness in this ep to make up for it. The setup for future storyarcs was really intriguing - I can't wait (for April - ugh!) to see the full story of Peter's death and resurrection via his parallel-universe double. One caveat: I don't want to see Peter and Olivia hook up. I hope the show doesn't go down that path for a while, if ever, as was hinted at in this ep with some sexual tension between them.

Overall though, this episode was quintissential Fringe. Exciting, intriguing, daring, and filled with moments that were alternately funny, scary, and jaw-dropping. In this ep, business picked up.

My Grade: A-

Okay, I'll be back with more later. Have a great weekend!

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