Monday, March 08, 2010

Team Jacob Edward Oscar

Is it me or was the ceremony shorter this year? They seemed to pack so much stuff into last year's production that this all felt very slight, neither terrible nor wonderful. Just, plain. Even the opening musical number didn't work (I managed to make out about three lines of lyric) and the hosts, beyond the amusing introduction, became pretty much redundant as it went on. And speaking of redundant, I like John Hughes as much as the next guy but a lot of people died in 2009, some of which I hold in much higher regard than him. Did he even manage an Oscar nomination? I also reckon I'm more of a horror fan than most but the genre-dedicated montage was the most random, throwaway element of the entire show. It also didn't help that there were ten Best Picture nominees to present, which I suspect is where some of the extra time went, the remainder being given to more advertisers?

The positive changes were the extended clips for the Supporting nominees (even if this didn't transfer to the Leading nominees), and the more patient approach to speeches and timing, even if that seemingly gave Tom Hanks the thankless task of rattling off the Best Picture winner in about five seconds. The friends/colleagues launching into praise about each Leading Actor and Actress nominee initially felt cute with the presence of Michelle Pfeiffer, but I just don't buy this approach to presenting the category. Tradition is sometimes best, and trust me I don't say that very often.

What I really didn't like about this year's Oscar race overall was that the bigger Best Picture field made voters more obligated to include "popular" films, as if there is suddenly a lot of doubt about the Academy's ability to represent contemporary cinema. If you ask me, it's taken a hell of a long time for them to realise this, but the state of contemporary studio productions generally leave a lot to be desired, so I guess the snob in me kind of doesn't want them to lower the traditional bar. You may recall I was hugely upset at the exclusion of The Dark Knight and Wall-E from last year's Best Picture lineup, but there are rarely action and animation films as good as these two. Shouldn't we be encouraging the Academy to nominate quality in whatever form, rather than passable films they assume the public liked? If they hadn't been so hasty in altering the category and voting system then wouldn't the lowering age demographic of the Academy have taken care of old-guard ideas of prestige anyway?

So in the end this year's Academy Awards resulted in the most predictable set of acting winners since 2003's quartet, anointing Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique. Despite the continued attempts to appeal to a younger audience, anchored by the presence of Zac Efron, Taylor Lautner and co. Best Picture and Director was given to The Hurt Locker, a film that didn't even make $10m at the U.S. Box Office, and who I doubt most teenagers hadn't heard of until this moment. The Hurt Locker is my favourite Best Picture winner since James Cameron made Titanic, one of the greatest films I've ever seen and worthier than Avatar by a country mile.

Here is the full list of winners:

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Best Actress: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Best Foreign Language Film: The Secret in Their Eyes, Argentina
Best Visual Effects: Avatar
Best Original Score: Up
Best Cinematography: Avatar
Best Sound Editing: The Hurt Locker
Best Costume Design: The Young Victoria
Best Art Direction: Avatar
Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique, Precious
Best Live Action Short: The New Tenants
Best Makeup: Star Trek
Adapted Screenplay: Geoffrey Fletcher, Up in the Air
Best Animated Short Film: Logorama
Best Documentary Short Subject: Music by Prudence
Best Original Song: "The Weary Kind," Crazy Heart
Best Original Screenplay: The Hurt Locker, Mark Boal
Best Animated Feature: Up
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds

My Prediction Score: 17/24 (Not bad, huh?)
Plus, I made over £25 betting on The Cove and The Secret of Their Eyes


Mr Betty Draper said...

I agree with most of your points here, well said.

The winners were generally predictable and quite safe, but that doesn't stop some of them being amongst the best picks of the decade. Mo'Nique for Supporting Actress and Waltz for Supporting Actor were expected precisely because both performances are towering pieces of work, and any other result would have been a travesty.

I also think The Hurt Locker is a worthy winner in Picture and Director, although I would have picked Inglourious Basterds in both categories myself.

Cal said...

Oh definitely. I didn't love Mo'Nique as much as other people but especially from the clips it was obvious that she gave the best performance. Everybody else seemed boring in comparison.

Inglourious and Tarantino would be my second choices, but I didn't like any of the others much apart from mild admiration for Up and Avatar.

Roll on 2010!

Jose said...

You know I also felt it was extremely short, but it clocked in at three and a half hours long.
I heard the theory that it was those of us who were drinking a lot who felt it go by in two seconds.
And I still think Cruz was better than Mo'Nique :P