Mary the Borderstan Movie Fan shares her Oscar Picks in advance of Sunday’s 82nd Academy Awards. Normally, her column runs every two weeks and previous reviews are listed at the end.
I would rank best director picks differently: The Hurt Locker first, then Precious, Avatar and Up in the Air. I suspect that The Hurt Locker will actually get the Oscar for best picture through sympathy with its director who did a lot with a little, whereas Avatar did a lot with a lot. But for me, Avatar should take the prize for its imaginative rendering of another world in Pandora, though not for its simplistic version of evil in its good versus evil plot.
Ten Nominees is Five Too Many
I believe that five nominees is enough, but this year the Motion Picture Academy raised the number to 10 in an effort to publicize more movies. Of the remaining five, I would go for An Education, and then, in order of preference, Up, A Serious Man, and District Nine. I haven’t seen Inglorious Basterds, partly because I haven’t had time, but mainly because I can’t associate myself with Quentin Tarantino’s gory sensibility. He thinks the “eeeuw” factor is entertainment; I think it’s sadism.
There’s a fair amount of gore in District Nine–what are those creatures butchering so bloodily in the background?–but still this sci-fi movie has its devotees. One reason is its thematic inventiveness in imagining extra-terrestrials as giant crustaceans (the people of South Africa, where their ship gets stranded, call them “Prawns”) who seem to wear their entrails as chin whiskers.
Another reason is that the film allegorically links the enclaves devised for the Prawns with the South African history of apartheid, though there are nasty racial overtones in the depiction of the outlaw exploiters of the Prawns as “Nigerians.” Finally, it counts for many that the film was made on the cheap by an independent film-maker. That attracts some movie buffs who react against the extravagantly expensive Avatar.
By the way, the AMC Theater in Georgetown is running a marathon showing of the ten best picture nominees starting at 12:01 on Saturday morning, and charging $45 for the lot. Go to amcentertainment.com/bps for other venues.
As for actors, I would go for Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, not only because he’s excellent in that film, but also because he’s been so excellent in so many others. I can admire “His Dudeness” in The Big Lebowski (1998) and in The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009), but I go way back to The Last Picture Show (1971), Starman (1984), and The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) as well.
My real favorite for one sheer performance rather than a history of fine work, though he has that too, is Colin Firth in A Single Man. Watch his face as he hears of the death of his lover on the telephone, and you’ll know what I mean.
Then there’s George Clooney in Up in the Air. He’s better than he might seem as he walks through that film, but I don’t think it’s his year. I worry that he’ll end up like Cary Grant–finally getting a consolation Oscar only at the end. Finally, Jerry Renner is good in The Hurt Locker, but he seems more like a member of an ensemble than the main actor. I haven’t seen Invictus–again no time and a premonition that the film may be too upliftingly didactic. But I would bet that Morgan Freeman is at his solemn best there.
I’m plopping for Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side for best actress. She’s funny and believable as an aggressive steel magnolia, and she carries the film without going too sweet on us. Of course Meryl Streep is terrific as Julia Child, but we can’t give it to her every year.
My next choice would be Carey Mulligan in An Education; this young lady actually carries her film by being both innocent and shrewd at the same time. I’m by-passing Gabourey Sidbe in Precious because I’m not sure whether her lack of expression is good acting or personal habit. I would need to see more to decide. I did not see The Last Station, but I would bet that Helen Mirren, like Streep, can’t hide her acting chops in any film.
Best Supporting Actor
I have to skip the supporting actor category because I haven’t seen any of the films in that category. My instinct, though, goes to Woody Harrelson in The Messenger. I haven’t seen the film as of this writing, but I’ll be able to test out my intuition before Sunday because the next Netflix disc comes in before the weekend.
Best Supporting Actress
In the supporting actress category, I don’t think there’s a rival to Mo’Nique in Precious. It took courage to do that role, not just to show such unbounded malice, but to play the scene at the end in which the bad mother explains herself. The film gave her no sentimental forgiveness at the end, for which I give the director thanks.
I’m not sure why the two actors–Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick–got nominated for doing their professional duty well in Up In the Air. They were good, but not spectacular. If I were going for really, really, good acting, I’d give the award to Maggie Gyllenhaal in Crazy Heart. I have to confess that I’ve skipped Nine because it has gotten terrible reviews, and I love Fellini’s 8½ (1963) too much to sit through a bad imitation, even though Penelope Cruz is always worth watching.
So, That’s All, Folks. I don’t know, or remember, enough to give my picks on music, costumes, and the like. Besides, I’m not a professional film person, just someone who likes to go to the movies.
Other Reviews by The Borderstan Movie Fan
- Borderstan Movie Fan: Black History Month and the Media
- Catching Up: The Movie Fan is Back with New Reviews
- Opera Lite: Opera at the Movies
- Borderstan Movie Fan: “Avatar” and Films for the Big Screen
- Borderstan Movie Fan: Movies for Christmas
- “Precious” and “The Blind Side” Tell Some Hard Truths
- Borderstan Movie Fan: Children’s Movies for Grandparents, Part 2/Older Kids
- Borderstan Movie Fan: Children’s Movies for Grandparents (Part 1)
- High School Musicals
- Movies for Foodies
- Health Care Options at the Movies
- My Favorite Sexy Movies
- Borderstan Movie Fan” Tells You What to Rent