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82nd Annual Academy Awards Poster

82nd Annual Academy Awards - Oscar Picks by Reviews by Matthew

Oh this is just aggravating. I took the time to see most of the nominees this year, not a bad selection but a few of them are not worthy of the accolades they’re receiving, in my opinion. And that makes for a bit of a struggle this year. To add to this, the little movie “that could”, The Hurt Locker, has hit some pretty big snags. The first, being that a producer of the film emailed Academy voters, asking them to vote for The Hurt Locker, before the balloting closed, a big no-no. The Producer has since been banned from the awards ceremony, and now, after balloting closed, a court case has been filed by a serviceman claiming that the film’s storyline has been stolen from him. He’s suing for millions, of course. Oh how this could hurt, if the film wins big. Let’s see what the Academy thinks.


Oscars at a glance How many will I get Correct ? Totals - 14 out of 19 picked
Category -m-'s Picks The Oscar goes to
Best Picture – Up In The Air The Hurt Locker
Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Best Actor – Jeff Bridges (The Weary Kind) Jeff Bridges ( Crazy Heart )
Best Actress – Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Best Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds)
Best Supporting Actress – Mo’Nique (Precious) Mo’Nique (Precious)
Best Animated Picture - Up Up – Pete Docter
Best Screenplany (Original) – The Hurt Locker The Hurt Locker
Best Screenplay (Adapted) – Up In The Air Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire – Geoffrey Fletcher from Push by Sapphire
Best Cinematography – The White Ribbon Avatar – Mauro Fiore
Best Art Direction – Avatar Avatar – Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
Best Costume Design – The Young Victoria The Young Victoria – Sandy Powell
Best Makeup – The Young Victoria Star Trek – Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
Best Film Editing – The Hurt Locker The Hurt Locker – Chris Innis and Bob Murawski
Best Original Score – Up Up – Michael Giacchino
Best Original Song – The Weary Kind (Crazy Heart) "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart – Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett
Best Sound Mixing– Avatar The Hurt Locker – Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
Best Sound Effects Editing – The Hurt Locker The Hurt Locker – Paul N.J. Ottosson
Best Visual Effects – Avatar Avatar – Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
Best Foreign Language Film - No pick  
Best Documentary (Feature) - No pick  
Best Documentary (Short Subject) – No pick  
Best Short Film (Animation) – No pick  
Best Short Film (Live Action) – No pick  

PICTURE – A rebirth of an old adage, the 10 nominees list. This was ousted a number of years (decades actually) ago. Each Academy member selects his or her top 3 favorite films of the year. Each selection is given a point value: 1st pick = 3 points, 2nd pick = 2 points, 3rd pick = 1 point. Total the points at the end and you have your best picture. Theoretically, if everyone selects Avatar as their 2nd place film, it could win the Oscar. That may happen, so be prepared. A week ago, I believed that the Academy would have picked The Hurt Locker, unanimously, but with the email from a rookie producer, I can see many members using this as just the excuse they need to vote for Up In The Air. Academy friendly in every respect, Up In The Air is the best picture of last year, and deserves the accolade. This all remains to be seen. No Science Fiction film has ever won an Oscar for Best Picture and Avatar, although good, isn’t strong enough to
take the prize in my opinion, it would be the overall achievement rather than the quality of the story itself. I’m sticking my neck out, I do that in this category a lot actually, but my upset pick is Up In The Air. And deservedly so, regardless of the outcome, see the movie.

DIRECTOR – Yay! This is a better category, not much but I can get into it. Quinten is out, we have better work from better artists this year. Sadly Lee Daniels (Precious) and Jason Reitman (Up In The Air) can’t compete with the heavyweights, Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron this year. But briefly, Jason will win this award soon, with Up In The Air and Juno under his belt, I can only see better things from him. Cameron is the shoe-in. With that said, the Academy will award the David in this Goliath story. Kathryn Bigelow is recognized outside of the shadow of her former husband. I really didn’t like The Hurt Locker, but along with the Academy, I want to honor what Kathryn’s achieved.

ACTOR – Colin Firth won the BAFTA (British Oscar) this year. Keep an eye on him, he’s earning his future Oscar. Morgan Freeman has his and I think only 6 people saw Invictus, too bad because he finally got to play Nelson Mandella. Jeremy Renner was impressive in The Hurt Locker and one of only 2 things that I really liked about that movie. George Clooney stands heads above them this year in Up In The Air, but this is not that film’s category. This year, it’s all about The Weary Kind. Ladies and Gentleman, Jeff Bridges and his Best Actor Oscar; look out too cause he’ll be here next year for playing Rooster Cogburn in the Coen’s Brother’s new version of True Grit (shameless plug).

ACTRESS – The acting Oscars are really an easy group this year, the Best Actress category included. While we can exclude Helen Mirren, early on, we want to take a quick look at the other two early outs: Carey Mulligan (An Education) and Gabourney Sidibe (Precious), both of whom give stellar performances but are so young in their careers, that the nominations stand as the Academy’s “hopeful” praise. Note: Carey has this incredibly hot Mod thing going on in Wall Street 2 and Precious is a fantastic film (far more funny and enjoyable then you would think and Gabourney was perfect). Now Meryl Streep. There will never be a year that she’s not nominated, at least it feels that way, she hasn’t won since 1983 so she’s due, and she’s wonderful as always in Julie & Julia. However, Sandra Bullock gets the win. I think the Academy loves to honor as many different actresses as it can. I don’t want to call them one-offs but sometimes it
feels like that in this category. They’re deserving winners, but not so big on the repeat visits to this category.

SUPPORTING ACTOR – The only award Christoph Waltz didn’t win this year was the London Film Critics award; he was nominated for Best Actor. He’s a sure bet here.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS – This is another slam-dunk category. Penelope won last year, Maggie, Vera, and Anna simply don’t have the popularity behind them that this award recognizes; although Vera Farmiga is incredibly strong and Anna Kendrick is pitch-perfect in Up In The Air. Mo’Nique’s won the rest of the awards in this category this season, no reason to see another outcome here.

SCREENPLAY ORIGINAL – I’m not so moved by this group this year. I can’t get behind Up and The Messenger as winners. I’ve heard great things about the Coen’s, “A Serious Man” but never even knew of the film before the nominations where released. Seems to me that many are thinking Quinten’s a shoe in this year, but the Inglorious Basterds writing pales (big time for me) when put up against his previous winner Pulp Fiction. To win this feels wrong this year, when your film’s losing the Best Picture and Director awards. I have faith in Quinten, and expect a directing Oscar at some point in his career, a 2nd writing Oscar feels like placating. In this case, with the Producer scandal closed, the Academy awards The Hurt Locker’s writer. He can deal with the legal aftermath.

SCREENPLAY ADAPTED – An Education, In the Loop, and District 9 don’t promote their source material in the same fashion as “Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire”. My goodness what’s in a name, right? So we’ve got the over and under achievers, by and large, this year. The capper for this award comes in what is actually the best film (my opinion) of the year. Up In the Air is quiet, within reason, and pointed. This script helped deliver 3 nominated acting awards, best picture and director nods as well. Crap, the bottom line is the Academy has to give it something and in this case, it’s well earned.

PRODUCTION DESIGN / ART DIRECTION – What a great score of nominees this year: Avatar, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Nine (the musical), Sherlock Holmes, and The Young Victoria. How do you choose? Well, I have this handy category definition list here, and under Art Direction is states: “An art director creates the setting in which a story unfolds, persuading moviegoers that what they see - whether ordinary or incredible - is real”. To me, that sounds like Avatar. How about you guys with the ballots?

CINEMATOGRAPHY – Ugh. Simply Ugh. I can count out Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince only. Then it’s a matter of weight; uncomfortable weight. I’d have to rank Inglorious Basterds next and it was sweeping in so many respects, swallowing you up into itself, I loved that about this film, and Avatar did that on an epic scale, but I’m hard pressed to go with it here. The Hurt Locker was a shoe-in, not because it deserved it so much as everyone else was going with it. The White Ribbon though, the German film, is really holding my interest the most. I’m hoping the Academy sees it that way too.

FILM EDITING – Yuck again, another hard one. Avatar, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds, and Precious. Avatar was epic, District 9 incorporated a lot of documentary footage, The Hurt Locker is The Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds has Quinten’s ace editor, and Precious was cut impeccably. In this case, I have to go with the heavy favorite, The Hurt Locker just because it has the best chance of winning. Yuck.

COSTUME –Not much to say here this year. Bright Star and Coco Before Chanel are not in the running. I’d love to give it to “Nine” but overall I’m having a tough time getting behind the musical this year. Don’t be surprised if it wins, but I just can’t pick it. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus did win a costume designers award for Best Fantasy film (it beat Avatar and Star Trek), but I’m falling back on the classic Victorian vision this year. Big costumes, big hair, etc. It’s won 3 other costume design awards while “Nine” lost 3. The Young Victoria picks up the first of it’s 2 Oscar wins this year.

MAKEUP – The Young Victoria wins it’s 2nd Oscar beating out Il Divo and Star Trek. By no means a heavy weight bout.

ORIGINAL SCORE – Not my best category and I really took a good look at the nominees this year. I didn’t listen to the scores but I see that James Horner (Avatar) has 10 noms and 1 win, okay he’s great but I’m not feeling a win for him here. Alexandre Desplat (Fantastic Mr. Fox) would be the shoe in (he was nominated last year for Benjamin Button) but the Academy will give him an Oscar for a more interesting film. Hans Zimmer (Sherlock Holmes) has 8 noms and 1 win. Sure he’s good too, but Sherlock’s Theme doesn’t match Indiana Jones, am I right? So we’re down to Marco Beltrami (The Hurt Locker) with 2 noms, but I watched this film, knowing that this was a category it was nominated for and I still didn’t catch one note of music. Am I deaf? The explosions and gunfire where loud but… Finally Michael Giacchino (Up) with 2 noms to his credit (the 1st for Ratatouille), has composed scores for “The Incredibles”, “Mission
Impossible 3”, the JJ Abrams led “Star Trek”, “Lost” (the tv series) “Alias”, and the “Medal of Honor” video game series. No small list of credits here and the score for “Up” has won a Grammy and a BAFTA so far. Ultimately my vote for him comes from one other critics quote, “Of this year’s nominees, “Up” has the most uplifiting score.” Kudos to Michael.

ORIGINAL SONG – I don’t see any real competition here this year. Princess and the Frog has 2 noms to cancel each other out and both songs are not the best Disney fare. “Loin de Panama” is in French, not that that’s bad but if the song is in another language, it better be catchy and this one isn’t. And “Take It All”, from “Nine” is not the tune that should be used to sell this film, so let’s take a look at T-Bone Burnett and “The Weary Kind”. Crazy Heart’s success, as a film, depended on this song. Jeff Bridges owes his Oscar to this tune. The Academy’s got to return the favor.

SOUND MIXING – Sound mixing is still a technical award. And technically, the best overall mix goes to Avatar.

SOUND EDITING – I was reading a great description of this category. The award goes to the film with the biggest “Boom!”. As such, The Hurt Locker gets the prize. We’ll reevaluate this thinking if anyone heard the tree fall in that forest on Pandora.

VISUAL EFFECTS – So this is the Avatar shoe-in. It’s more than deserving. Not that Star Trek and District 9 are anything to shake a stick at. This year, this is a great category, all 3 films are very deserving but c’mon, Avatar, visually Oscar.

ANIMATED FEATURE - I have no qualms with this category this year either. Up is by far the best of the lot. Getting this win doesn’t help it with the Best Picture Oscar, but if that category where only 5 nominees, it wouldn’t be there anyway, so kudos to the guys at Pixar. Wonderfully deserving entertainment, yet again.

QUICK PICKS IN CATEGORYS I’M NOT PICKING – I’m just tossing these out cause I feel confident in the winners. I’m not officially picking these categories, never do, but they’re both movies worth a look. For BEST FOREIGN FILM – The White Ribbon and for BEST DOCUMENARY – The Cove. Even if they don’t win check them out. The White Ribbon looks amazing (cinematography-wise, all b/w and shit) and The Cove is fantastic.

And there you have it. We’ll see how this all shakes out in the wash. I only missed 4 out of 19 picks last year (I haven’t picked so well consecutively) but cross your fingers and let the awards show begin.


Turn Down The Lights, Turn Up The Sound.

Matthew Gilbert © 1999-2017 All Rights Reserved

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