It’s that time of year, kittens….The Academy Awards are here.
It’s a time of year that, as I advance in years, becomes more and more irritating. This is a fact that thrives in spite of my love of movies, awards shows (seriously) & best and worst dressed lists. The irritating thing for me is always the nominees, the politics, and the resulting “should/will” predictions (from everyone and their mother). Don’t get me wrong, I’ll watch the Oscars and I think I might even try one of Epicurious’ themed menus to get in the spirit.
This year I’m publishing my picks for the twelve categories I care the most about. Not my predictions. My picks. I don’t really care if I get any of them right or wrong–these are the films I personally feel deserve the recognition.
Fun Fact: My Minnesota home has major ties to this years nominees
Terry Gilliam directed The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Pete Docter directed Up, Neil Gaiman wrote Coraline, the Coen brothers wrote/directed/filmed A Serious Man here, and the University of Minnesota Press saved Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man from “out of print” hell a decade before it was turned into a motion picture. Boo-ya! So suck it, rest of the country.
On with the show:
Best Supporting Actors
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
I know. This is one of those “no contest” categories. Christoph Waltz was brilliant in Inglorious Basterds, and from what I have seen of Precious, it’s obvious that Mo’Nique truly transformed into Mary. I just can’t help but root for Harrelson’s surprisingly moving performance in The Messenger (especially in a year that he also brought us crazy conspiracy theorist guy in 2012 and crazier zombie killer in Zombieland), and Kendrick’s turn as one of the most true-to-life characters I’ve ever seen in Up in the Air (and bravo considering she was previously just “that girl” from Twilight). Tony Stone and Natalie Keener (Harrelson and Kendrick, respectively) were real people–not Hollywood constructs.
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Colin Firth, A Single Man
What I appreciate is stellar acting. For me, these are the only two in their respective gendered categories that you know those movies were theirs. Plus, they are both cool actors that get that life cannot be made up of dramatic doldrums–they are brilliant actors that also have fun. (Mamma Mia, anyone?) I think that’s what keeps them sharp, and that’s how they continue to surprise audiences. Also, I really love Jeff Bridges, but Firth shouldn’t have to pay because the Academy robbed Bridges of the award for The Big Lebowski.
Best Animated Film
Each year animation gets better and better; and it’s not that studios like Pixar are making cartoons adults can enjoy–they aren’t pandering to children. I like that people are giving kids credit for being a little more discerning than most assume. Now, Up is a superior film (hence the Best Picture nod) and I feel like it deserves to be considered in that category. That said, Coraline not only brings props to Minnesotan, Neil Gaiman, but it celebrates creativity. Henry Selick’s direction and Gaiman’s vision: c’est magnifique. It is the longest stop motion film to date AND it is the first stop motion feature to be shot entirely in 3-D.
Best Animated Short
A Matter of Loaf and Death
I know there’s a lot of love for Logorama, but you can’t go wrong with Nick Park & Wallace and Gromit.
Best Art Direction
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
I’d like to take up residence in the imaginarium of Mr. Gilliam (another Minnesota nod). It was a sumptuous place that took you away–it was a moving piece of art, and I was in. to. it.
Best Costume Design
This was a little tougher…you generally see the awards go to the period films (cue Bright Star and The Young Victoria), but I really dug the 60s vibe from Nine. Each woman was exquisitely dressed, with each thread a complete embodiment of that character. That’s why I think it deserves to win.
Original: The Messenger
Adapted: An Education
I loved District 9 and (from what I’ve read of the source material) Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner did a lot with Up in the Air. But…The Messenger was really one of the best films I saw last year, and I’ve NEVER cried as much in another movie. It was heart-breaking and awesome. On the adapted side of things…I just love Nick Hornby. That is all.
Quentin Tarantino, Inglorious Basterds
Let me say this: I would love to see Kathryn Bigelow win for the Hurt Locker, because she deserves it–not just because James Cameron “already has a few” (even though I’d love to see him eat his smug words) or because she is a woman (even though it’s about damn time). That said, I think I’d like to see Tarantino get some love. That crazy basterd worked every last inch of celluloid in the finest historical fiction I’ve ever witnessed.
I’ve thought a lot about this, and the fact of the matter is Up did more in its first act than any of the other nominees did with their entire film. I love that it is being considered for Best Picture (even if the category has been made ridiculous due to the number of nominees). I love it, because it was a cinematic experience.
Going to Pixar films makes me nostalgic for a time I never experienced but always wished I had (entertaining preshow shorts!). It was so WWII America, it was ridiculous. In that superior escapist wonderment sense; not the post-Vietnam/post-apocalyptic social commentary sense. Not that social commentary isn’t good and necessary–the most successful in that vein, I’d say, was District 9.
Fun Fact: The last time the Academy had 10 Best Picture nominees was in 1943.
Up should win Best Picture of 2010, because it was smart and funny and touching and technically brilliant and wonderfully cast and honest. Most of all, it deserves it because it is all these things and spans any demographic you can toss at it. It also brings yet another Minnesotan into the limelight (director, Pete Docter)!
Also, here is my quick list of films/actors that were robbed:
Star Trek: Um, like everything
Away We Go: Screenplay
(500) Days of Summer: Screenplay, Art Direction, Acting (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
Moon: Screenplay, Acting (Sam Rockwell)
Sherlock Holmes: Costume Design, Acting (Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law)
Watchmen: Art Direction
The Hangover: Original song, Stu’s Song (j/k)
The Messenger: Screenplay, Acting (Ben Foster and Samantha Morton)
What say you? Who would you pick? Who else was robbed?