Thursday, February 4, 2010


If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, especially a year or more you know I am not always the biggest fan of the decisions and selections made by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in terms of what they think is worthy of being recognized for Oscar glory. I am still horribly distressed and upset by the fact that SLUMDOG MILLIONARE won the Academy Award for Best Picture last year while THE DARK KNIGHT wasn’t even nominated. I could and probably have gone on at length about many of the ridiculously blatant mistakes the Academy has made over the years so hopefully you’ll fully understand the significance of what I’m about to say next. Well done Academy, bravo! Tuesday morning the Academy announced their selection of Oscar nominees and I have to admit I am more than a little bit shocked and amazed at just how satisfied I am with most of their selections.

I dare anyone to look at this year’s list of nominees and argue that it’s more of the same. My hat is off to the Academy for nominating a wide selection of films, throwing in everything from gigantic blockbusters like AVATAR and THE BLIND SIDE to movies I’ve never even heard of like THE SECRET OF KELLS and IL DIVO. The Oscars are meant to honor the very best that the entire world of film has to offer and for the first time in a long time I think they’ve done just that. Instead of the same 3 or 4 movies getting nominated for every single award it really feels like each film that was released this year was judged on it’s individual merits for each and every category which is why we see nominations for films like the lesser known IN THE LOOP and PARIS 36 as well as movies like THE HURT LOCKER and UP IN THE AIR that every single critic with a pen or keyboard has fawned and blubbered all over.

Am I happy with everything the Academy has done? No, of course not. If I were I don’t think I’d be a true, honest to God movie geek. While I still haven’t seen it (Although I’m going to have to now that it’s been nominated) I highly doubt that THE BLIND SIDE deserved to be nominated for Best Picture. Likewise the complete exclusion of 500 DAYS OF SUMMER and the fact that STAR TREK didn’t get a Best Picture nomination sort of irk me but that pain is almost completely assuaged by the fact that the most assuredly worthy DISTRICT 9 was nominated instead.

At the end of the day I think two things can be taken from these nominations. First, I think we are in for one of the more entertaining, interesting and wide open Oscar races in a great many years. While I think certain things are a lock such as Jeff Bridges for Best Actor, I think just as many categories are still completely wide open. By this point each year I can almost guarantee you what will win Best Picture but as of now it looks like it’s a dead heat between AVATAR and THE HURT LOCKER but with 10 nominees who knows how the splits in the voting could effect each one’s chances. I’m also inclined to think that Sandra Bullock, Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique are locks for their respective categories but that’s some pretty strong competition that they’re up against. UP should have Best Animated Feature in the bag but will it’s nomination for Best Picture end up splitting the votes so that something like THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX can sneak in? I honestly don’t know but I like that. I like the fact that some mystery, some honor and prestige has been brought back to an institution that was starting to get real stale, real fast.

And that brings me to my second point. I think we can all agree that this new 10 nominee Best Picture category worked splendidly. The expanding of this category allowed many very worthy, very different types of films to be nominated. Along with all the usual critical darling films the movies that the movie going public as a whole embraced are getting a chance to have their day in the sun as well. It really is the best of both worlds and I think the Academy’s gambit will pay off huge when for the first time in a long time, people once again in mass tune in to see who gets the little golden, bald dude. If you think I’m wrong and that this has irrevocably damaged the image of this illustrious institution then I’m sorry but you’re never going to get me to see it any other way. How could I when 6 of my 10 favorite films of the year were nominated for Best Picture. For that matter how could anyone have an issue when not one, but TWO of those ten nominees were science-fiction films, one is a pulse-pounding action film directed by a woman, one is a perfect snapshot of our times, one is perhaps one of the best animated films ever made, one is a fantasy film about a bunch of dudes that kill Hitler and one is a Coen Brother’s movie? If you can think of a more eclectic, yet fully worthy list of nominees then man I want to be able to travel to the future with you because up until now this is about as good as it gets. Once again well done to everyone that voted, March 7th can’t get here soon enough.


Adam said...

"I think we can all agree that this new 10 nominee Best Picture category worked splendidly."

I think you know that's not the case. I still think what I thought before. The new system is a complete mistake. If I want a top 10 list, I'll turn to the critics that I respect to see what they've included. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the whole point of shortlisting anything for an award is that hard choices are going to HAVE to be made. Snubs are, by necessity, GOING to be the name of the game. If the Academy had decided to split the category like the Golden Globes, I would have understood, even though I wouldn't have been thrilled. If they'd added an extra slot to make it an even 6, I would have understood. This foolish decision to raise it to 10 really devalues what it means to have a Best Picture nomination. We can all figure out what the "real" nominees are by correlating the films that were nominated with the films that had their directors nominated too. 10 is far too many.

Megan said...

I am in love with the nominees this year. I have actually heard more than one person actually be excited about the Oscars this year because they've seen some of the films that are nominated.

Popular films, little films and all in all good films got nominated!

Ten does not devalue a category that chooses from thousands. If you say that is does then you're saying that IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, GONE WITH THE WIND, YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU & even CASABLANCA don't really count because they had 8-12 other films nominated with them.

Chris W said...

I also don't mean to jump on you but your arguement that you can just look at the films that had their directors nominated would be the only 5 that would be / should be nominated just isn't true. There have been more than a few cases in years past where not everyone that got nominated for Best Director had their film nominated for Best Picture and vice-versa. One of the major examples of this was MOULIN ROUGE. To also further drive home my point I'd like to point out that there are actually 10 films that are nominated for Best Screenplay as well. So are only 5 of those screenplays actually worthy? Not always but sometimes change is a good thing, heck in some cases its a great thing. This year the Oscars is what it should be again and what it was meant to be all along it is a celebration of the entire world of film, not 5 movies that very few people have ever seen and in the case of at least year weren't all that worthy. Like STAR TREK you'll look back on this decision years from now and probably realize it was for the best. Until then just be glad the Oscars did it because if they hadn't in another 5 or 10 years the ceremony would probably get about the same coverage and attention that the Miss America pagent does now. It'd be on TNT or something and very few people would care about it. You may think I'm being extreme but I don't think so. The Oscars... like STAR TREK needed to change or risk slipping into irrelevent oblivion. Thankfully that won't happen now.

Adam said...


I'm with you for the most part on the quality of the nominees. I don't think that 2009 was a great year for the movies, but I'm cool with the nominees. I would have liked to see Broken Embraces get some love though.


You seem to be playing fast and loose with what I will or will not be thinking in the future. I'm not really liking it too much. It's impossible to speculate as to what I will or will not think about almost anything as time passes. People change, and the way that they relate to the world around them changes with them.

That said, to say that in the future I'm probably going to change my mind about Star Trek and the new Oscar format is a stretch at best and putting words in my mouth at worst. I am almost positive that nothing in the future is going to make me like Star Trek, just as nothing I can say or do will make you like Star Wars: Episode I. For better or worse, those respective films left an impression on the both of us to certain ends that are most likely irreversible.

I still think that the 10 nominee system devalues what it means to have a Best Picture nomination. I understand the logic that out of the thousands of films released in a given year, adding 5 more to the nominee list is a drop in the bucket. However, if we're going to carry that out to its logical conclusion, then, technically, we could have a list of 15 nominees or even 20 nominees. Out of thousands, how much could it hurt?

Certainly, you'd have something to say if that were the course of action they chose. . . and I don't think it'd be positive.

Look, Chris, I know that we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one. That's OK. People do it all the time, and one of the strengths of this blog is that the writers are a diverse group with unique perspectives on film and life.

That's a wonderful thing, and something that I cherish. That said, it's important that we leave room for those differences when we're writing. If we use phrases and words that imply that there's no argument/debate/room for disagreement on certain things, it detracts from the diversity that makes us strong.

I don't deny that the Oscars will probably accomplish their goal of increasing ratings by nominating a diverse group of films, some of which have been seen by a large audience. But I think that that's really what this is about to a large degree: ratings. If ratings had been through the roof for the Oscar telecast for the past couple of years, would these changes have been implemented? I don't think so.

As for the films whose directors are also being nominated being the real nominees, I still think that holds up. However, usually if the Academy is going to recognize a director whose film wasn't also nominated, they're only going to do that with one slot AND it doesn't always happen. (still don't get how Luhrmann didn't get nominated for MOULIN ROUGE! . . . it was one of the biggest no-brainers in years) So I think that the argument still holds water, especially since I'm willing to bet money that, were we still using the old system, Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Precious, Inglourious Basterds, and Up in the Air would be the nominees.

All the best,