The Oscars…

Okay, thanks to my five-movie marathon yesterday (which included a second viewing of Inglourious Basterds) I’ve now seen eight of the ten Best Picture nominees.

The only really unworthy one in the bunch is The Blind Side. I enjoyed the movie–it’s entertaining and funny and well-acted–but there’s almost no conflict. It’s supposed to be inspiring, but what’s inspiring about a movie where an obscenely rich white family takes in a homeless black kid, who causes no financial difficulties and creates no real problems and the other kids are totally cool with everything and maybe the father has a brief moment of doubt but conflict there is less intense than if Sandra Bullock had brought home a stray puppy, and he doesn’t really “get” football, but a one-minute speech takes care of that, and he almost kills the younger son in a car accident because he’s not paying attention while he’s driving but it’s no big deal, based on a 10-second video clip every school wants to give him a full scholarship, and his grades are poor but that’s nothing that a full-time tutor can’t handle?

If you want an inspiring football movie, Rudy is the way to go. They should’ve widened the field to 10 nominees THAT year!

The race seems to be Avatar vs. The Hurt Locker for Best Picture, though my own personal debate is Up in the Air vs. Inglourious Basterds vs. District 9. Immediately after seeing Up in the Air yesterday, I was ready to proclaim it my favorite of the nominees, but I liked Inglourious Basterds even more the second time. That said, I may have to deduct a point for the scene with Mike Myers and give it to Up in the Air.

I loved Up, but I actually think it’s one of Pixar’s weaker efforts and a bit too heavy-handed with the emotional content. (Note that “weaker efforts” by Pixar standards just means “less brilliant.” It’s still worthy of a Best Picture nomination, at least with the larger playing field.) As for Avatar…can mind-blowing visuals and thrilling action sequences overcome some weaknesses in the story? In this case they can. It wouldn’t be my pick for Best Picture, but I won’t throw pizza at the television if it wins.

The Hurt Locker proves that shaky-cam can be used for realism while still maintaining coherence. It’s all hand-held and wobbly, but you always can follow what’s going on. Obviously, that alone doesn’t make it Best Picture material, but frequent readers of this blog know that I freakin’ HATE the current wave of incoherently edited action sequences. (Even when I saw Twilight I thought “This movie is a piece of crap, but at least the action sequence at the finale is edited in a coherent manner.) It’s a fantastic movie even beyond the tense bomb-defusing scenes.

An Education is the requisite “The Academy Awards are for pretentious snots! They have no idea what kinds of movies REAL people like to see! Now let’s go see Cop Out again!” flick. But it’s smart and funny and brilliantly acted and thoroughly entertaining.

I’m not going to pick my favorites category by category, but I am rooting for In The Loop for Best Original Screenplay. It’s a hilariously, savagely funny political satire and unless they took a sucky script and turned it into a spectacular film, it totally deserves the Oscar.

I saw all of the Oscar-nominated short films, and honestly, none of the live-action ones impressed me that much. I’ll give it to Miracle Fish by default. I enjoyed The New Tenants until the unspeakably stupid ending, and Instead of Abracadabra is like an episode of a mildly amusing sitcom–would it have ever stood a chance at an Academy Award nomination if it weren’t in a foreign language with an extremely unattractive main character?

The animated short films were much better. I’m rooting for Logorama, a breathlessly paced, almost exhilarating film comprised entirely of corporate logos and characters (most notably a foul-mouthed homicidal Ronald McDonald).

TRIVIA: Last year, 3 of the 5 Best Picture nominees featured graphic scenes of people throwing up. This year, I don’t recall any scenes of regurgitation in any of them, though I haven’t seen Precious or A Serious Man.

MORE TRIVIA: Two of this year’s Best Picture nominees feature the song “Bust a Move” by Young MC.

PREDICTION: Steve Martin was never more than mildly amusing as Oscars host, but by joining forces with Alec Baldwin he will reach the level of “moderately amusing” but still not quite “funny.”

What are you rooting for? Post your comments!

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