Sunday, March 7, 2010

Thoughts about some ceremony!

Angela and I decided that this is the year to do the showcase for AMC.  For those that do not know it’s the awesome movie marathon AMCs around the country host for the Best Picture Nominees.  This year was difficult because there are ten nominees instead of the usual five.  AMC decided to split up the marathon over two weekends.  Here are our thoughts on those movies as it relates to their Oscar chances. 

Avatar: The supposed shoe in for the Best Picture win.  I have gone on how much I love this movie for the cinematic experience that it is, and as you can tell, that’s what it is a great experience, not a great movie.  I kept it on watching being thoroughly amazed by the great visuals but not its story.  Now I will never hate this movie for having a recycled plot because I believe that as long as you tell a good version of an overused plot it doesn’t matter, but my problem with the plot and characters is how it stacks up against others.  And that’s the issue; it feels like half of the Basterds have more character than Sigourney Weaver in Avatar. 

Up in the Air: Here’s an interesting contrast to Avatar, where one takes precedence of plot over characters, Up in the Air does the opposite.  It relies on the complexities and nuances of the characters to envelop you in its story.  This was my third time watching the movie and I must say that it still holds up really well.  You notice details in the way the characters act that wasn’t there before.  Ultimately an enjoyable third viewing, but unfortunately in contention with (ugh) Avatar, The Hurt Locker and (hopefully?) Inglouriuos Basterds it doesn’t seem like it would stand a chance at winning.  Nevertheless it is one of my favorites in this whole race.

Precious- Ok there was a reason I never saw Precious while: it felt like a pointless story.  I heard all of the tragic aspects and it sounded like an urban version of a Coen Bros. movie.  As a personal opinion, I didn’t like this movie, but I will admit that the chick playing Gabourey Sidibe was fantastic.  One of her monologues at the end of the movie almost moved me, while the whole time I was bored or just annoyed at it.  Definitely won’t have a chance for the Oscar and I think it was a pity nomination.

Haven’t seen The Blind Side before the other day, and I have to say it was surprisingly fun.  It’s yet another movie that I’m not sure how it got nominated.  The way I can compare it is a poor man’s Remember The Titans, and that’s giving it a lot love.  Maybe it’s because of this year’s apparent Sandra Bullock love affair, which once again is not warranted.  This movie didn’t seem to break new ground for her acting, unless you count her not being a romantic comedy lead groundbreaking.

Inglourious Basterds is my favorite movie of the year, and the most cinematic one at that.  I wish this one would win but once again there’s the big competition with Avatar and The Hurt Locker.  This is easily the best Tarantino movie that he has made, that shows all of his love that he has for the format of film.

Up: One of the most complex movies thematically that Pixar has ever released.  It is the spiritual counterpart of Up in The Air, where one Up is about a guy that has so much love and baggage in his life and learning how to let go of that, Up In The Air has a guy that has none and needs to learn to have some baggage.  It is a great movie, but unfortunately has no chance.  It will win Best Animated Feature though!

A Serious Man: Coen Brothers are basically kicking ass and taking religious names.  Unlike the ridiculously overrated Precious, it feels like the horrible pain that is inflicted on Larry Gopnik seems to have some purpose.  Or not, depending on your interpretation.  Regardless, this is a movie that will be discussed and thought about for a long time, much like No Country For Old Men.  I truly believe that this movie would have won if it had been released last year.  It is one of the most surprising releases of this race.

The Hurt Locker is the other obvious contender in the Best Picture race.  This is my second time seeing this and I have to say that the thrill of seeing it and the tension definitely goes away with the second viewing.  This does not diminish the impact of the story and the really crappy situations that the soldiers go through.  A lot of the issues that people have of this movie such as the episodic nature, and the Bella Swan-like empty shell characters, hold true but do not take away from the experience of the movie.  I really hope that if Inglourious Basterds doesn’t win, that this movie does.  Avatar really doesn’t hold up to it. 

An Education is a charming little movie of what it is to be young and naïve and stupid.  The movie doesn’t necessarily cover much new ground, just like most of the nominees, but it does it so well that you do not care.  Carey Mulligan is definitely a stand out, while Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour are fantastic as the very period-specific parents.  It’s easy to be creeped out by the premise of the movie, but when you think of England in the 1960’s it might make more sense.  Unfortunately, it is a really low-key movie that is just above average.  I hope to see Ms. Mulligan in more projects in the near future.

District 9 is the symbolic reason that the 10 nominations got start.  This is this year’s The Dark Knight, and seeing it for the millionth time (no kidding) I appreciated it even more.  I noticed the similarities between this movie and Avatar, in that you have what is essentially the same story, where a human turns against his own kind for the sake of another, and has a badass epic battle at the end.  When put in this context this makes people’s complaints about the movie less valid to me.  Why is it ok for Avatar to have a big epic battle but not District 9? Maybe it’s because it has a more compelling premise behind the familiar story.  Who knows? Regardless, unlike The Dark Knight it won’t win, but I am kind of happy that it won’t because I don’t want Neil Blompkamp to be in some way ruined by the win. 

In the end, the 10 nominations feel wasted due to the fact that a lot of the movies have a lot of similar themes.  The ones in Up and Up In The Air are similar as I mentioned.  Precious and A Serious Man share the almost sadistic torture that the main characters go through.  Avatar and District 9 are essentially the same story as I said above.  And as Angela mentioned there’s the running theme of prejudice and self-discovery that runs through all of these movies.  It’s gonna be exciting to see who all wins tonight though!

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