The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
The expansion of the category has had some impact on the talk around the Oscars, mostly negative. It would appear that you could easily eliminate five films from the top category as being also-rans, if still good films. Where last year it would have served mostly just to allow The Dark Knight its nomination and sate the anger of so many over-hyped fanboys/girls, this year it felt as though the Academy was just reaching further to grab films from all corners, as if to indicate that they are not scared of honouring ‘popular’ films. The fact that they have never really done this and the actual small films almost always get screwed, that was left to the side of the discussion.
So, let’s cut down the category to a slightly more manageable size. The Blind Side has literally no chance of winning the top prize at all. None. Neither does A Serious Man and neither does District 9, though both are excellent in their respective ways. I tend to find with the Coens that when they become more personal, they become more odd. This film is undoubtedly extremely personal, but perhaps so much so that any universal themes don’t quite make themselves known. District 9 is a good choice for honouring the action/sci-fi genre but, if still five, it’s not getting anywhere near. Good to see that the voters at least understood that it was a couple of marks above the other summer flicks which could have been chosen.
An Education and Up are both also favoured films and managed to rack up a few nominations. Up isn’t Pixar’s best but it’s still wonderful. Unfortunately, it will take a true Pixar masterpiece again for the voters to rack up enough bollocks to let them win the big prize. An Education is brilliantly acted but, for me, everything else is a little undercooked. The script is somewhat trite and the direction is flat, not to mention the ending. It just doesn’t have the juice to battle for the top prize here.
So the long-shot dark horses then, which would probably have kept their nominations in a five-strong category. Precious is just too imperfect but connected with enough people to grab the nod. It’s chances of winning though, as with Lee Daniels as director, will rest on the shoulders of Mo’Nique and that will do them for the night. Up in the Air is pristine, well-made comedy. Clooney is great, Kendrick and Farmiga are also great, it’s script is great. But it doesn’t have the hype to make it to that top prize. Closer but still with only a tiny chance, Inglourious Basterds is a deserving nominee but Tarantino is going to just have to enjoy his script prize and celebrate’s Waltz’s acting win.
So the winner then. It’s still hard to choose. The Hurt Locker’s BAFTA win gives it a good deal of momentum and it’s been a top winner across the majority of critics circle ceremonies. At the moment, its my choice and I’m fairly confident that it will take the prize. It was my favourite movie of last year, so I’m pulling for it. But Avatar has been an unstoppable box-office force and, though it will get ample reward in the technical categories, it may lose out on any of the top prizes. The Academy could feel a sense of duty to reward the film which has revitalised the industry. Hopefully though, given how brilliant the film is and how far away from each other the two films are, The Hurt Locker will be given the prize it richly deserves and Avatar can go home and sleep on its bed of money.
Predicted Winner: The Hurt Locker