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.