Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar Reactions

I always feel so...let down after the Oscars. Y'know, insane, lifeless people like myself follow the Oscar Season all year round, and then they're done in three hours. Oh well. As far as this year is concerned, I must say that the awards were generally deserving and pleasing (with a few noticeable exceptions), and the show was mostly garbage. Seriously. The John Hughes tribute was great, but Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin never really hit their comedic stride. Most of their lines fell flat. The orchestra must have been on crack or something, because I've never seen them so quick to jump on a speech. Plus...That dance number. That stupid, stupid dance number. I can say with confidence that a man in a navy jacket doing the robot to the score for Up is the worst thing I've ever seen. And I've seen Transformers 2. I hated it. So, so much. Admittedly, some of the choreography was cool, but it was absolutely ridiculous in context and didn't fit the music at all. I mean, do we really need someone spinning on their head during clips from The Fantastic Mr. Fox? Adam Shankman, one of the show's producers and the choreographer of 'So You Think You Can Dance' should be ashamed of himself for so unabashedly shoe-horning his own career into a night that shouldn't be about him at all. But enough about the show. It wasn't good, we'll get over it. The important things are the awards. I predicted 17/24 correctly (22 if you count my alternates).

Picture-The Hurt Locker (predicted correctly)
I'm just so happy that this one. What a wonderfully atypical winner to finish off a decade of, frankly, lackluster winners in this category. It's quite rare for the Academy to give the top award to the best film of the year, but they did it this time, and for a politically ambivalent, action-fueled war movie as well. This is the first full-out war genre pic they've rewarded since Platoon in 1986.

Director-Kathyrn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (predicted correctly)
Yay Kathryn! Completely sidestepping the whole "first woman" deal, I'm glad that Ms. Bigelow won the Oscar because she's just a fantastic artist. She refuses to compromise her artistic sensibilities in the face of studio pressure or genre stereotypes. Good for her.

Actor-Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart (predicted correctly)
This is one of the awards I'm disappointed about. I know, I get it: Jeff Bridges is due. But honestly, this performance wasn't anything special, and the film it's in is just piss-poor. Jeremy Renner, Colin Firth, and George Clooney would all have been more deserving here. Oh well.

Actress-Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side (I predicted Gabourey Sidibe for Precious)
Sandra Bullock is wonderfully charismatic and likable, and that's probably why she won. It sure as hell wasn't on strength of performance. Yes, she's a comedian doing a dramatic role, but said role is bland and hardly three-dimensional in a film with very few redeeming qualities. I know I should have predicted this, but I couldn't do so without crying. So I went for Gabby; not because I thought it was correct, but because it was right, dammit.

Supporting Actor-Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds (predicted correctly)
This award has been his to lose since Cannes in May. And he wasn't going to lose. Not up against such weak competition.

Supporting Actress-Mo'Nique, Precious (predicted correctly)
If Mo'Nique had lost, I would have driven to Hollywood and killed everyone, as this is easily one of the best performances of the decade.

Original Screenplay-The Hurt Locker (predicted correctly)
Inglourious Basterds is showier, but I admire Mark Boal's taut, suspenseful script that gets its ideas across without any overt moralizing.

Adapted Screenplay-Precious (I predicted Up in the Air)
This was easily the biggest surprise of the night. But kudos to Geoffrey Fletcher: Push can't have been an easy book to adapt, and he did it with style and heart.

Art Direction-Avatar (predicted correctly)
Of course it won. They designed an entirely new world, for goodness sake.

Costume Design-The Young Victoria (predicted correctly)
I'm kind of sick of the Academy's royalty fetish. They haven't given this award to anything other than an Elizabethan/Victorian era European Monarchy Movie since 2005. Grow an imagination, people.

Visual Effects-Avatar (predicted correctly)
Commentary not needed. This is the most deserving award of the night.

Makeup-Star Trek (predicted correctly)
I loved Star Trek's creature effects. Thank goodness this won over The Young Victoria. Seriously, even watching their little nomination featurette, I couldn't figure out what makeup made that movie awards-worthy. I could do that makeup.

Film Editing-The Hurt Locker (predicted correctly)
The Hurt Locker dominated the technical awards, and this one was very deserving. The Hurt Locker was shot in a Super-16 format, which means that four cameras shot it simultaneously. This left the editors with over 400 hours of footage, and they sifted through all that and created something fast-moving, suspenseful, and breathlessly entertaining. Bravo!

Cinematography-Avatar (predicted correctly)
Some people will complain about the CG imagery, but someone still had to plan and shoot that. Plus, they invented an entirely new camera just to make this movie, which deserves the award in and of itself. Doesn't hurt that the movie looks beautiful, either.

Original Score-Up (predicted correctly)
I love Michael Giacchino's score for this movie, and it was easily the most important to its film success of all the nominees. Plus, any win for Pixar is welcome in my book.

Sound Mixing-The Hurt Locker (I predicted Avatar)
More than a little surprised here. The Hurt Locker's sound design is complex and nuanced, but Avatar is big and loud, and the Academy normally loves big and loud. Chalk this one up to more love for The Hurt Locker than Avatar.

Sound Effects Editing-The Hurt Locker (I predicted Avatar)
Doubly surprised here. Hurt Locker has an impressive soundscape, but the Avatar folks created an entire new world of sound. Perhaps the voters, like myself, noticed the re-used sounds from Jurassic Park (the T-Rex sounds an awful lot like the thanator, and the raptors sound a lot like the horses whose name I forgot), and that put them off.

Original Song-"The Weary Kind"-Crazy Heart (predicted correctly)
I suppose I can't complain. It's a good-enough song.

Animated Film-Up (predicted correctly)
Pixar continues their winning streak, then. Fun fact: since the inception of this award in 2001, the only Pixar films to lose this have been Monsters, Inc. and Cars, which lost to Shrek and Happy Feet, respectively. They've taken this award 4 times out of 9 times. Not a bad track record.

Foreign Language Film-The Secrets of Their Eyes-Argentina (predicted correctly)
Once again, the Academy chooses the big, dramatic, obvious, easy movie over the challenging one. Michael Haneke goes home empty-handed. I hate this.

Documentary Feature-The Cove (predicted correctly)
I haven't seen any of the nominees, but I like watching dolphins getting slaughtered as much as the next guy, I suppose.

Documentary Short Subject-Music By Prudence (I predicted China's Unnatural Disaster)
I should have seen this coming. This branch loves heart-warming, inspirational tales, and this story of a poor, developmentally-challenged girl becoming a singer fits that bill to a T.

Live Action Short-The New Tenants (I predicted The Door)
Man, I sucked on the shorts. I'm surprised they went for gritty over classy here.

Animated Short-Logorama (I predicted A Matter of Loaf and Death)
Also surprised here, but thrilled that they went for the clever, inventive Logorama over the incredibly safe territory of A Matter of Loaf and Death.

Well, there we have it. The only winners that weren't my first or alternate choice were Music by Prudence (my first two choices were China's Unnatural Disaster and The Last Truck) and The New Tenants (my first two choices were The Door and Kavi). Not too bad, I suppose.

What do y'all think of the winners? Surprises? Regrets?
Fun fact: this was my 12-year-old sister's first year at attempting Oscar predictions, and she guessed 15/24 correctly. She missed all three shorts, like myself, Actor (she was predicting an upset for Jeremy Renner), both Screenplays (she went with Basterds and Up in the Air, which was where the smart money was, so it's not her fault), cinematography (her love for Harry Potter kept her from being objective), sound effects editing (like everyone else on Earth, she predicted Avatar), and Foreign Language Film (she optimistically went for The White Ribbon). Not too bad, considering she hasn't really followed the season. She also called The Hurt Locker winning at least one sound award, which impressed me, and had Music by Prudence as her alternate choice. Not bad, kid.


  1. I didn't think the dancing was that bad...but I did think something like contemporary ballet would have been more appropriate. Also, I haven't seen Crazy Heart...but Colin Firth should've gotten best actor.

  2. Y'know, the dancing wasn't bad, it just didn't fit with the movies in any way. It was as if the choreographer said 'screw it, let's just break-dance LIKE THERE'S NO TOMORROW. Oh, and we'll play movie music or something.' Colin Firth is my #2 choice for the year: it's an absolutely fantastic performance, but I prefer Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker. It's a close call, though.