Thursday, 4 March 2010

Oscar buzzin'.

I watched every single film nominated for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards, like I said I would.

My favourite of the nominations was A Serious Man. It was pure Coen brothers gold, a stylish portrait of a man unravelling, as Coen brothers films often are. It's in turns hilarious – the kid getting stoned for his intense Bar Mitzvah was genius – and dismaying, but completely stylish and original throughout.

However, as I was forced to watch films I never usually would, my opinion as to who should get the Oscar changed. I don't like gory films or war films, so it was an effort to sit down to watch The Hurt Locker. But I'm glad I did. It was intense, suspenseful and brilliantly acted.

I was dreading Inglourious Basterds having read some terrible reviews. The opening scene is harrowing but gripping, but that didn't last. Brad Pitt should be banned from ever being allowed to appear in a film again: he wasn't wooden so much as downright rubbery. And the same goes for the sick bloodbath at the end. I'm no horror expert but seeing a rubber dummy of Hitler getting sprayed with machine gun bullets is a bit silly. I thought Diane Kruger was great though.

The Blind Side was a fun insight into soccer mom America. Wealthy blonde Texan interior designer takes a homeless young black student into her family. Despite the potential for mass cheesiness, it was actually quite touching and enjoyable and I really liked Sandra Bullock in it. Maybe she'll steal the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading role... my opinion Bullock should definitely be front running Carey Mulligan, star of The Education, another Best Picture nomination. I found this film flat and dull, Peter Sarsgaard's accent was terrible, the plot wasn't believable (I know it's a true story, but still). And Carey Mulligan was okay but not amazing. Rosamund Pike was the star of the film, to me.

Up In the Air I didn't get at all. I found it charmless, flat, lacking in plot and basically a vehicle for Clooney to play Clooney. Snore.

Precious was both moving and depressing. I was left feeling a bit confused as to what its message or purpose was. Triumph of spirit over shocking adversity? It was certainly a powerful film but I didn't really understand what it was trying to tell us.

Avatar was a REAL effort for me to get to the cinema to watch. I was pleasantly surprised at first: it's visually stunning and who wouldn't enjoy a 3-D day trip to a lush space jungle? The plot is abysmal, though, and the film almost a third too long. I had to leave before the end. (Sorry, but enough was enough.) I was left with the overall feeling that we had been watching the product of a boy playing with his new toy. I really hope this doesn't win, if it does my shaky faith in the Oscars is gone for good.

Up was fabulous, funny, sweet, touching, perfect. It's not a film though, it's a cartoon. Hope it wins the Animated Feature Film award. I'm sure it will.

OK, I have to admit I didn't watch all of District 9. I'm not into alien films. What I did see seemed to be a novel approach to the genre. James (my co-viewer for all of these films) rated it highly.

Our joint scores (I took James' score for District 9) put A Serious Man and Up in joint first place. Apparently there is a new voting method this year, but we scored out of ten. But who can tell what the voting criteria for the panel are. Not me. I wanted to fully inform myself this year to try and understand it better. If they choose Avatar that's me and the Oscars through, forever! I want The Hurt Locker to take it.

I also really, REALLY want Armando Iannucci to win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for In The Loop. I can't even fathom how brilliant his speech would be! Check out this interview documenting his Oscar experience here.

Obviously I can't wait to see the frocks, either. I love the glamour of the myth of the attendees holing up in LA hotels and prepping themselves to within an inch of their lives. And how amusing is the whole James Cameron / Kathryn Bigelow face-off. They're probably really good friends, who knows, but I loved scrutinising their reactions at the recent Baftas. This is going to be even BETTER fun!

I must say that I hope that amidst this circus of superficiality, someone will bring attention to Jafar Panahi, the Iranian film director currently being detained by authorities in Iran, seemingly for nothing more than being in opposition to the ruling regime.

But finally, on a lighter note, check out this hilarious gem from McSweeny's with their Oscar predictions. (My friend @jennalee tweeted this!) Roll on Sunday!

[Picture of Jack Lemmon (love his silly face!) taken from the LIFE photographic archive, which is full of fantastic photographs of the Oscars over the decades.]


  1. Nice synopsis (hey, I do know how to spell this word!), I only watched 2 of your long list: Inglorious Basterds, which I enjoyed (even Brad Pitt), but District 9 I couldn't get through (although I normally like SFs). My family is pushing me to watch Avatar, but I'm not too keen. I think I'll wait for Alice i.W. for my first 3-D.

  2. Great round up!
    For some reason I'm ridiculously excited about the Oscars this year; I can't wait to see Jeff Bridges win one! Strangely I'm also looking forward to Diane Krugers frock!

  3. well done! I am failing I'm afraid- loved a serious man and actually I really liked an education- not sure if it's quite oscar stuff but I think it will last the test of time. I really like Peter Skarsgard in it- it's interesting isn't it- I mean obviously don't like the character. Agree Rosamund Pike was excellent, very good comic timing and her wardrobe was to die for.

    I need to watch the hurt locker this weekend really- I wish I had Monday off so I could stay up with some fizz and watch the oscars in all their glory.

  4. I watched The Hurt Locker last weekend - just like you I found it so intense, gripping and 'real'. Superb.

    I have just ordered An Education from Amazon, and have District 9 sitting here for this weekend.

    UP and Avatar Huzz and son raved about.

    Wish I had the time to sit and watch them all before the awards, but no chance, so I'll just work my way through them slowly.

    Love looking at who's wearing what. Will you be wearing a party dress on for the Oscar night too?

  5. I've only seen District 9, Avatar and Up. I agree with you about Up, Avatar was lush visually but a ridiculous story, badly scripted and terribly acted. District 9 was one of the best and funniest films I've seen in years (and I'm not a great alien fan either).

  6. Cant believe you watched All the films,but hey,since when did we ever count on the Oscars to get it right...we know the formula,Hurt Locker will win because its anti-war etc,and dish the actor gongs out to our mates without one

  7. Am very impressed with your diligence!

    The only thing I feel strongly about is NOT wanting Sandra Bullock to win. After seeing her in All About Steve, not to mention all the other crappy rom coms she usually does, it would hurt to see her push Merl Streep out of contention.

    Poppy xox