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2009 Oscar Nomination Reactions

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

The ten best picture nominees were pretty much what I expected. The one surprise was that “Invictus” didn’t get nominated. I guess the support for the film wasn’t there. It only landed nominations for Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. “The Blind Side” took its spot among the ten best picture nominees. It’s a horrible, terrible film and doesn’t deserve to be among the ten. I liked the other 9 films nominated for best picture. It was good seeing “Inglourious Basterds,” “The Hurt Locker,” “A Serious Man” and “District 9” among the nominees.

Among the acting nominations, the only real surprise was Maggie Gyllenhaal for best supporting actress in “Crazy Heart.” She doesn’t deserve to be in there. Neither does Penelope Cruz in “Nine.” She’s terrible in the film. The Academy passed up the best performance in “Nine,” Marion Cotillard. The voting members were probably swayed by Cruz’s lingerie-clad musical number. It’s disappointing that Melanie Laurent or Diane Kruger of “Inglorious Basterds” didn’t make it in either the lead or supporting category. The best supporting actress award is going to Mo’Nique in “Precious.” The best actress race is contest between Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock. It will be a dark day if Sandra Bullock wins best actress.

Among the male acting nominations, there was no real surprises. Jeff Bridges is certain to win best actor for “Crazy Heart.” Christoph Waltz has the best supporting actor award in the bag. Other than Waltz, the best supporting actor nominees were very dull. Matt Damon is okay in “Invictus,” but not award worthy. The same goes for Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones.” There were a hell of a lot better performances that deserved to be nominated. Take a look at my outstanding picks for the best supporting male performances of the year.

Glad to see “In the Loop” make it in the best adapted screenplay category. Jason Reitman AND Sheldon Turner will probably win the adapted screenplay award. The best original screenplay award will go down as a battle between the two war films, Quentin Taratino’s “Inglourious Basterds” and “The Hurt Locker.” I was happy to see “Star Trek” and “500 Days of Summer” ignored in the screenplay categories.

It was great to see “Inglourious Basterds” make it with 8 nominations. I think it should win, but the race for best picture will probably come down to “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker.” Both films are tied for the most nominations with 9 each. It seems proper that the director of those two film, James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow, were once married and will now battle it out for the best picture and best director awards. If I had to guess now, I would say “The Hurt Locker” takes home best picture and best director.

Complete List of the 82nd Annual Academy Award nominations:

Best Picture
“Avatar”, James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
“The Blind Side”, Nominees to be determined
“District 9”, Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
“An Education”, Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
“The Hurt Locker”, Nominees to be determined
“Inglourious Basterds”, Lawrence Bender, Producer
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”, Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
“A Serious Man”, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
“Up”, Jonas Rivera, Producer
“Up in the Air”, Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers

Actor in a Leading Role
Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart”
George Clooney in “Up in the Air”
Colin Firth in “A Single Man”
Morgan Freeman in “Invictus”
Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”

Actor in a Supporting Role
Matt Damon in “Invictus”
Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

Actress in a Leading Role
Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”

Actress in a Supporting Role
Penelope Cruz in “Nine”
Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”
Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”
Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Animated Feature Film
“Coraline”, Henry Selick
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”, Wes Anderson
“The Princess and the Frog”, John Musker and Ron Clements
“The Secret of Kells”, Tomm Moore
“Up”, Pete Docter

Art Direction
“Avatar”, Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”, Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
“Nine”, Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
“Sherlock Holmes”, Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
“The Young Victoria”, Art Direction: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Maggie Gray

Cinematography
“Avatar”, Mauro Fiore
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, Bruno Delbonnel
“The Hurt Locker”, Barry Ackroyd
“Inglourious Basterds”, Robert Richardson
“The White Ribbon”, Christian Berger

Costume Design
“Bright Star”, Janet Patterson
“Coco before Chanel”, Catherine Leterrier
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”, Monique Prudhomme
“Nine”, Colleen Atwood
“The Young Victoria”, Sandy Powell

Directing
“Avatar”, James Cameron
“The Hurt Locker”, Kathryn Bigelow
“Inglourious Basterds”, Quentin Tarantino
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”, Lee Daniels
“Up in the Air”, Jason Reitman

Documentary (Feature)
“Burma VJ”, Anders Ostergaard and Lise Lense-Moller
“The Cove”, Nominees to be determined
“Food, Inc.”, Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”, Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
“Which Way Home”, Rebecca Cammisa

Documentary (Short Subject)
“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”, Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner”, Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
“Music by Prudence”, Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
“Rabbit a la Berlin”, Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra

Film Editing
“Avatar”, Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
“District 9”, Julian Clarke
“The Hurt Locker”, Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
“Inglourious Basterds”, Sally Menke
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”, Joe Klotz

Foreign Language Film
“Ajami”, Israel
“El Secreto de Sus Ojos”, Argentina
“The Milk of Sorrow”, Peru
“Un Prophete”, France
“The White Ribbon”, Germany

Makeup
“Il Divo”, Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
“Star Trek”, Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
“The Young Victoria”, Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

Music (Original Score)
“Avatar”, James Horner
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”, Alexandre Desplat
“The Hurt Locker”, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
“Sherlock Holmes”, Hans Zimmer
“Up”, Michael Giacchino

Music (Original Song)
“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog”, Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog”, Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36”, Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
“Take It All” from “Nine”, Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart”, Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Short Film (Animated)
“French Roast”, Fabrice O. Joubert
“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”, Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)”, Javier Recio Gracia
“Logorama”, Nicolas Schmerkin
“A Matter of Loaf and Death”, Nick Park

Short Film (Live Action)
“The Door”, Juanita Wilson and James Flynn
“Instead of Abracadabra”, Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellstroem
“Kavi”, Gregg Helvey
“Miracle Fish”, Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey
“The New Tenants”, Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson

Sound Editing
“Avatar”, Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
“The Hurt Locker”, Paul N.J. Ottosson
“Inglourious Basterds”, Wylie Stateman
“Star Trek”, Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
“Up”, Michael Silvers and Tom Myers

Sound Mixing
“Avatar”, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
“The Hurt Locker”, Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
“Inglourious Basterds”, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
“Star Trek”, Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson

Visual Effects
“Avatar”, Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
“District 9”, Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
“Star Trek”, Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
“District 9”, Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
“An Education”, Screenplay by Nick Hornby
“In the Loop”, Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”, Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
“Up in the Air”, Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Writing (Original Screenplay)
“The Hurt Locker”, Written by Mark Boal
“Inglourious Basterds”, Written by Quentin Tarantino
“The Messenger”, Written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
“A Serious Man”, Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Up”, Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

Invictus: or How Nelson Mandela and Rugby Saved South Africa

December 13, 2009 Leave a comment

I guess rugby can solve an entire nation’s problems.

This film is not a hard-hitting look at the issues facing South Africa after the election of the country’s first black President, Nelson Mandela. On some level I thought the film kind of trivialized the real social and economic problems facing the country. But in defense of Clint Eastwood’s film, I don’t think he trivialized these issues because his film isn’t trying to tell the entire history of problems facing South Africa. The film is simply telling one important event in the country’s history.

Set in 1995, Nelson Mandela, played by Morgan Freeman, is South Africa’s first black elected president. The country is divided among black and whites after the end of apartheid and his election as president. Realizing that he has to unite the country, Mandela realizes the importance of symbolism to help his country heal. The symbolic measure that will help bring his country together is if the South African rugby team is able to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Mandela enlists the help of the captain of the rugby team, played by Matt Damon, to help make this happen.

Morgan Freeman is the logical choice to play Mandela, who comes across as more saint than man. He is sure to get an Oscar nomination for his performance. At times Freeman does slip in and out of his accent. Matt Damon is also very good as the rugby team captain, Francois Pienaar. Damon is able to disappear into his role. I do wish his character could have gotten fleshed out more.

I do admire that Eastwood didn’t decide to direct a straight biopic about the life of Mandela. That would be boring. The film does have a couple of cheap scare moments involving Mandela’s safety. I felt these scenes were handled very poorly. We already get a believable sense of the threats facing Mandela through the sub plot involving his security personal. It seems like Mandela only has 8 security officers, half white and half black. Of course during the course of the film the two sides, like the country, eventually come together.

The Rugby World Cup game at the end does rile you up with excitement. The game does go on a bit long, but you do get a real important sense of the game’s meaning. There is a nice visual moment that is intercut with the game involving a small black boy and two white cops who grow closer as the game reaches its climax.

The film is one of Eastwood’s good pictures that somewhat succeeds on the level of being an inspirational sports picture. Invictus does gets my vote for best film title of the year. I love saying Invictus, which is latin for unconquered.

3 Stars