Can “The Hurt Locker” “Blind Side” “Avatar”?
Are Sandra Bullock’s chances of winning best actress really “Up in the Air”?
These questions and more will be answered when the Oscars are handed out next month.
The Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday and already there’s talk in the industry that it’s the “battles of the ex’s” between James Cameron’s megahit other-worldly “Avatar” and his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow’s independent no money-making intense Iraq war drama “The Hurt Locker.”
Insiders are giving the edge to Bigelow’s picture in this quintessential David and Goliath struggle, movie-wise.
This year there are 10 films nominated for best picture, with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opening up the playing field for more of the box office favorites that wouldn’t have made the final cut if there was just the traditional five nominees.
This still narrows the list down to the five in the running that have corresponding best director nominations. The Academy seems to have nominated popular movies that won’t win but will grab a TV audience that will root for them anyway.
What “Inglorious Basterds” those Academy members.
The telecast would grab a big audience anyway since “Avatar” is nominated and everybody has seen “Avatar.”
“Avatar” would certainly be an audience favorite should it win. In fact, of all the movies that have the best chance of winning, it’s the only one that’s capable of sweeping in the nine categories in which it’s nominated. The reason: Besides the two big prizes, best film and best director, the other nominations for “Avatar” are in technical categories like cinematography, editing and sound. Even original score could be lumped in that group.
“Avatar” has no nominations in the screenplay or acting categories. Movies have won best picture without a single cast member garnering a nomination (like last year’s winner, “Slumdog Millionaire” and the winner a few year’s back, “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” which went on to win 11 Oscars.)
But a screenplay nomination is as key to a movie winning best picture as the director’s recognition —- almost 100 percent of the time. There are exceptions, though —– the last movie to win a best picture Oscar without a screenplay nomination was “Titanic,” directed by James Cameron.
This works in favor of “The Hurt Locker.” By looking at the key categories movies get nods offers clue as to what movie is likely to win the top award.
“Hurt Locker” scored nominations not only in the two major categories, but for best actor and best original screenplay. Though it in no way will sweep, it could take home at least four Oscars: picture, director, original screenplay and film editing.
If “Hurt Locker” should win, it would be the first best picture winner in decades that essentially bombed at the box office. Considering its praise from critics and how it matched the mega-hit “Avatar” with the most nominations, that doesn’t seem to matter.
What could see “Hurt Locker” lose the top award is politics. In show business? Politics? You bet’cha.
Will liberal Hollywood vote it down because the movie is about Iraq —– George W. Bush’s war?
Maybe the producers of the film could campaign for the movie winning best picture using a Fox News technique:
“A vote for ‘The Hurt Locker’ means you support the troops. A vote against it, and the terrorists have won.”
It’s a tough call for which of the two most nominated front-runners will win best picture. Arguments could be made for both sides.
There were few surprises with the announcement of the nominations. There will be fewer suprises come Oscar night.
Here are some of the shoo-in winners:
1. Sandra Bullock, best actress, “The Blind Side.” With her new (and not quite fair) moniker as “America’s new sweetheart,” Bullock finally found a sure-fire role that will put her in the same Oscar company as the actress some Hollywood types say she’s replacing, Julia Roberts.
2. Mo’Nique, best supporting actress, “Precious.” Like Bullock, she’s a force to be reckoned with in the category in which the four other nominees, while worthy of a nomination, are actually supporting her star turn.
3. Jeff Bridges, best actor, “Crazy Heart.” The popular favorite who has been in the bidness for 40 years and has been nominated four other times, and lost. Sure, the role he plays —- alcoholic washed-up country-western singer — is a movie cliche, but this is “The Dude” we’re talkin’ about, dammit.
4. Christoph Waltz, best supporting actor, “Inglorious Basterds.” A scene-stealer in a Quentin Tarantino movie means you’re stealing the thunder from the filmmaker himself. No easy task. Waltz, like Bullock, Mo’Nique, and Bridges, has won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards.
All four should repeat at the Oscars. Sidebar: On some occasions, there is an upset in one of the acting categories. If it happens this year, it will come in the supporting actor category. The veteran actor Christopher Plummer, now 80, received his first Oscar nomination this year playing Leo Tolstoy in “The Last Station.” There could be a Jack Palance, Alan Arkin sentimental moment on the Oscar horizon.
1. Best animated feature: “Up.”
2. Visual effects: “Avatar.” (Duh!)
1. Original screenplay: Mark Boal, “The Hurt Locker.” Though a last-minute surge by Tarantino is possible.
2. Adapted Screenplay: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, “Up in the Air” —- the film that could upset the two top contenders. On the other hand, if the film gets shut out, a better possibility, look for Geoffrey Fletcher for “Precious” to win.
Best song: Who cares, after a win in this category a few years ago for “It’s Hard Out There for a Pimp,” does this award matter anymore?
Speaking of songs, the Oscarcast is missing out again this year by not having Billy Crystal as host (Steve Martin will be one of the hosts — OK; the other is Alec Baldwin, Really, enough of him already.)
Crystal’s opening act for the show would always be titles from the nominated movies put to hilarious words and the music of famous songs.
It would have been a hoot seeing how he’d handle the 10 nominated movies.
One could only imagine the words and music he’d come up with for “Inglorious Basterds.”