Friday, March 5, 2010

Oscar Picks

They've snuck up on me again this year, but the Oscars are Sunday night. I wish they would wait one more week, I must confess. My show closes this week (boo!), we strike the set on Sunday, I have a visiting guest out of town . . . . and NOW I have to focus on the Oscars? I still haven't seen a ton of the movies I'd hoped to see and am wondering if I can quickly sneak a viewing of The Hurt Locker in late Sunday afternoon after strike to keep my streak alive.

It seems this year that the winners have become foregone conclusions outside of, possibly, Best Picture, so I wonder if my picks are just moot -- adding to the already deafening chorus in the blogosphere assuring all that Monique will win an Oscar. (I am still kind of struggling to wrap my head around that one, let me tell you.) And yet I feel as if I have a sort of primal need to join that chorus, so here we go . . . .

Best Supporting Actor: Christophe Waltz (Inglorious Basterds). Waltz has won every major precursor leading up to the Oscars this weekend. Hell, I think the guy even won a Super Bowl ring for this movie. Were he to lose, it would be a stunner for sure. And it is frequently in the supporting categories that the upsets come -- where Alan Arkin beats Eddie Murphy. Fortunately, Waltz hasn't been plastered all over our tv's lately advertising some film that features him in a fat suit and cracking fart jokes, so he may be okay. If the tide turns, though, I suspect that Woody Harrelson will be the one holding the trophy Sunday. But I'm still putting the money on the Nazi.

Best Supporting Actress: Monique (Precious). It is still a difficult thing to imagine -- someone who has been affiliated with Flava of Love in some fashion (by running a Charm School) could be an Oscar winner. Let me put this in perspective -- a woman who spent time teaching women to stop being sluts could possess an Oscar and yet the same cannot be said of Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Glenn Close, Richard Pryor, Steve Martin, Ralph Fiennes, James Dean, Lauren Bacall, Michelle Pfeiffer, Madeline Kahn . . . shall I go on? I'm not saying that Monique doesn't deserve the win, and I'm betting big money that I cry like a baby when she does win. It just points out the more unfortunate aspect of the awards that so many gifted people with a tremendous body of work go unrewarded. Just saying. If there's an upset, who will it be? To be honest with you, I'm not sure an upset is even possible. Not that the women nominated with Monique aren't deserving, but none of them have the same buzz she does. Penelope Cruz won last year (deservedly so) and is nominated here for a movie that was roundly recognized as, well, sucking (Nine). Maggie Gyllenhaal was a shocker nomination and is not really something discussed when people rave about Crazy Heart. (Again, how hard is it to pretend to be in love with Jeff Bridges? Can I please have that as my next acting "challenge"?) That leaves the ladies of Up in the Air, a film that had tremendous buzz in November but has since slipped off the radar. (The movie never even came to my town. EVER!) I have a hard time picturing either of them making the move for Monique's Oscar and suspect they could potentially split the vote of any impassioned Air fans out there. (I will admit, though, to secretly rooting for Anna Kendrick since realizing that this is Anna Kendrick.) So Monique for the win.

Best Actor -- Jeff Bridges is going to win this, and it's about damn time. Seriously. That guy is amazing. No, I've not seen Crazy Heart (it is in town this weekend, but with the show, I just don't know that I'll have the time to see it), but his body of work alone should get him a little something. Upset potential? Two months ago, before Crazy Heart really took off, I would have thought maybe George Clooney was a leading contender. I wouldn't necessarily count out Jeremy Renner or Colin Firth who have been slowly developing small but loyal (and vocal) followings amongst critics. Clooney, Renner, and Firth, though, are just hitting their strides and have a lot of amazing work ahead of them. Bridges walks in this weekend with a reel of work that has never been rewarded -- The Last Picture Show, Starman, The Big Lebowski, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Seabiscuit, Fearless, The Door in the Floor, The Fisher King. While there are probably a good many amazing roles and films ahead of him (Dude's only 60), the time to recognize him is now.

Best Actress -- It's Bullock versus Streep. Lately, the general consensus seems to be emerging that Sandra Bullock is going to win. The only person who doesn't seem to think that is Sandra Bullock herself. The advantage that Bullock has over Streep here is that Bullock's role gets to do the showier emotion whereas Streep could be written off as a comedic role. (Those who discredit Streep's Julia Child, though, as mere impersonation and comedy need to watch that movie again. Streep's work is so moving and so complex. That scene where she and her husband walk by the couple with the baby? The scene where she finds out her sister is pregnant? Perfection!) There are some in the critical camp who wonder if maybe Gabourey Sibide may pull out a major upset as Bullock and Streep voters battle it out, but I am still thinking Sandra Bullock is going to win. And won't that be nice?

Best Director -- And here is where the night will get awesome! The leading contenders going into the final two races of the night are Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron. Once upon a time, they were married. Now they're not. For years, Kathryn Bigelow has toiled away making brilliant, small little pictures that critics love but no one sees. James Cameron has been making a name for himself as the film world's biggest douchebag. He directed the two biggest moneymakers of all time. And now they are nominated against each other -- Bigelow's "little" The Hurt Locker (which, if it wins, will be the lowest grossing Best Picture winner of all time) and Cameron's huge Avatar (the highest grossing film ever made). Cameron has gone on record talking about how he's rooting for Kathryn and how he hopes they split the vote (love how he never even considers the thought that something ELSE might win). I'm rooting for Kathryn Bigelow here because there is a myriad of stories that it would tell -- ex-wife triumphing over ex-husband, first female winner in this field, a woman winning without directing a sappy, schlocky "female-oriented" movie, etc. Plus, I really hate James Cameron.

Best Picture -- Here, we have the nail biter of the night. Will tiny little The Hurt Locker triumph over the behemouth Avatar? I'm struggling here. As of this writing, I have not seen The Hurt Locker. I hope to this weekend. If I want my streak to live, though, I should probably be rooting for Avatar right now, right? And yet, I'm not. As much as I liked Avatar, I have serious issues with a film as flawed as Avatar is (and it is flawed -- just check out the script) being named Best Picture. To me, the Best Picture should in some way represent the best of all aspects of a film -- acting, script, cinematography, sound, etc. Avatar is a visually stunning film, but it's not a great script (Cameron has no ear for dialogue) and, frankly, the acting is often a bit on the wooden side. Let Avatar win all sorts of technical prizes, but let a film like The Hurt Locker capture the big prize in recognition of the fact that the best films don't have to be in-your-face technology driven but purely good storytelling. If I had my druthers, of course, Inglorious Basterds would pull off the upset of the night, but my gut tells me it's down to Locker and Avatar. I''m going to call it for The Hurt Locker. Here's hoping I see it in the next 48 hours!

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