Aside from a large squirrel predicting the weather, today is also the day that the Academy Award Nominations are announced. I’ve long gotten over attaching any serious emotion to the Oscars; there’s no reason to graft any pain or anger on an awards show because of various snubs, overlooks, etc. It’s fun to wonder why certain choices were made, act bewildered, and then speculate; but ultimately, films belong to viewers, and if you like a movie or a performance, you shouldn’t put unnecessary emphasis on the opinions of a voting board. Case in point, my second favorite movie of the year, Observe and Report, received exactly zero nominations. I didn’t expect it to receive any, but I staunchly believe it worthy of a Best Picture, Best Actor (Seth Rogen), and Best Original Screenplay nomination. Life goes on, the film exists, and I still love it.
Nonetheless, the Oscars do make for enjoyable discussion and good-natured ribbing, so here are my observations on the surprises, pleasant and otherwise, about this year’s noms.
I like the Academy opting to have ten Best Picture nominations, since it allows some more outsider pics to sneak it and get extra recognition. I don’t believe that two of my favorite films of the year, Up and District 9, would have slipped under the barbed wire to make a nomination list of only five. The Academy would usually just assume that Pixar would feel satisfied with a Best Animated Feature nomination (and Up will win that, no question), but with ten slots, there is no way the voters could ignore this wonderful film. District 9, my top movie of 2009, hasn’t a chance of winning the golden statue, but it sure looks great sitting on the list. We just want to go home.
Two major acting snubs: Mélanie Laurent for Best Supporting Actress in Inglourious Basterds, and Sharlto Copley for Best Actor in District 9. I knew Copley would get pushed out of the category from the moment I saw the film, but Laurent’s absence is really, really mystifying. She’s the backbone of that movie, and the Academy showed a lot of love for it in other categories.
Because Avatar did not receive a Best Original Screenplay nomination (not a “snub” in my opinion; the script is the film’s weakest aspect), Tarantino will win for Inglourious Basterds, and that’s great—even though it’s in the same category as Up. District 9 is in the Adapted Screenplay category, another victory for my great love of the year. But it will lose to Up in the Air.
Speaking of Avatar, the best “snub” of the year is denying a Best Original Song nomination to “I See You.” I really like Avatar, enjoyed it as visceral visual filmmaking and a killer science-fiction action adventure, but I think everybody hates this song. The most die-hard Avatar advocates loathe it. Good for the Academy for opening their ears during the credits and not letting the rest of the film’s qualities make them deaf to this horrendous musical dreck. According to one of CHUD.com’s critics, who is an ardent lover of Avatar, “If they'd had included that nightmare song from Avatar I’d have gotten on the Avatar hate bandwagon for about six minutes myself.”
The Blind Side got nominated for Best Picture. Predictable, but still lazy and sad. It won’t win, however.
In the Best Score category, I think that Christopher Young’s score for Drag Me to Hell more than deserves a nomination, but no member of the Academy probably saw the movie.
As for the future: The Hurt Locker will proably take the win for Best Picture, although there is some possibility for Avatar. I would prefer District 9, but come on . . . this is the real world. Jeff Bridges for Best Actor, more of a career award than anything else, but it will be a nice boost for Tron Legacy. Bigelow for Best Director, ‘cause Cameron’s already got one; possible Tarantino win if The Hurt Locker doesn’t grab Best Picture and Avatar takes the Oscar instead. I have no interest in either Actress category this year. Up for Best Animated Feature is the Sure Thing of the Night.