Initial Oscar Thoughts, 2010

As I do every year (except last year, when WordPress ate my entry, BOO), I’m giving you my thoughts on the Oscar nominee field and who, at first blush, I suspect will win their categories. Because I want to keep today’s previous entry near the top of the Whatever front page, I’ll put these thoughts behind the cut.

Note also that I’ll be writing about the nomination as they relate specifically to the science fiction films nominated in my AMC column on Thursday.

Now, then:

Best Picture Nominees: “Avatar,” “The Blind Side,” “District 9,” “An Education,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Precious: Based on the Novel ’Push’ by Sapphire,” “A Serious Man,” “Up,” “Up in the Air.”

First, throw out any nominee here that doesn’t have a commensurate Best Director nomination. So long The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, A Serious Man and Up. Next out: Precious, which I think is too flatly down and depressing this particular year, and Up in the Air, which I think peaked early in terms of its viability. Of the three that remain, Hurt Locker is hurt by making almost no money at all at the box office and Avatar is hurt by being science fiction — yeah, I know. I’m just telling you how it is. The real question is do both of their disadvantages weigh in enough to allow Inglourious Basterds to slip through the middle.

Additionally complicating things this year: As I understand it, the Best Picture nominees will have a different voting system than the rest of the ballot, in which voters will rank their selections and then there will be instant runoffs (science fiction fans will recognize this as this the Hugo voting system). This means that it’s entirely possible that a film initially in the middle of the pack can emerge as Best Picture winner. This is good for the five films that are handicapped by not having Best Director nominations, although I’ll tell you what, if The Blind Side ends up winning Best Picture, the Academy’s flirtation with a 10-nominee Best Picture field will be a short one.

What should win: The Hurt Locker.

What will win: Right now, I’d go with a coin flip between Avatar and Inglourious Basterds, because science fiction or not, $2 billion in worldwide box office does a lot of talking, and Avatar is genuinely a technically revolutionary film. But Inglorious Basterds also has screenwriting and acting nominations, which will help its cause, and at the end of the day, everyone loves it when the Nazis get it. This will be close.

Best Director Nominees: James Cameron, “Avatar”; Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”; Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”; Lee Daniels, “Precious: Based on the Novel ’Push’ by Sapphire”; Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air.”

Lee Daniels and Jason Reitman out of the boat first, although I suspect at this point Reitman’s got a date with a directing Oscar at some point in his future, and now we’re left with the same quandary we had in the Best Picture category. Unlike Best Picture, however, I think this one is more clear cut: Cameron and Tarantino already have Oscars, The Hurt Locker is going to miss Best Picture but it deserves a major award, and Kathryn Bigelow has been underappreciated director for years, and deserves the thing not only for this movie but for her body of work. And yes, her being a woman will let the Academy feel good about itself.

Should win: Bigelow, although a very big tip of the hat to Cameron on managing the crazy technical innovation of Avatar.

Will win: Bigelow.

Best Actor Nominees: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”; George Clooney, “Up in the Air”; Colin Firth, “A Single Man”; Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”; Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker.”

Jeremy Renner is just happy to be nominated. So is Colin Firth. Clooney and Freeman have Oscars and are cool with themselves. Anyone who doesn’t think Jeff Bridges is getting this one, as much as a career award as anything else, is seriously deluding themselves. The dude has abided long enough.

Should win: Renner. Because, damn.

Will win: Bridges.

Best Actress Nominees: Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”; Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”; Carey Mulligan, “An Education”; Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”; Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia.”

I do wonder, when Meryl Streep passes on, if they are simply going to retire her annual nomination slot. Gabourey Sidibe and Carey Mulligan are happy to be nominated. Helen Mirren has an Oscar and her film here was largely unseen. Sandra Bullock is having a career year, is well liked and this is where The Blind Side gets its acknowledgment for, yes, coming out of the blind side and making $200+ million.

Should win: Sidibe. Because, damn.

Will win: Bullock.

Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, “Nine”; Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”; Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”; Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”; Mo’Nique, “Precious: Based on the Novel ’Push’ by Sapphire.”

Penelope Cruz is the “Uh, I’ve nominated everyone I wanted to nominate, who do I nominate now?” nomination, and anyway she just won one of these. Farmiga and Kendrick are in the same film and seem likely to split each other’s vote. Maggie Gyllenhaal has a decent chance, especially as Bridges is likely to swamp the actor category. But Mo’Nique has been rampaging through the run-up awards, and is likely to continue her streak. This is where Precious gets its due.

Should win: Mo’Nique. Because, damn (and yes, I’m done with that now).

Will win: Mo’Nique.

Best Supporting Actor: Matt Damon, “Invictus”; Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”; Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”; Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”; Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds.”

Good field, but ten years from now people are going to remember Waltz’s completely unhinged Nazi and not a single one of these other performances. If Waltz doesn’t dance off with this one, there’s something very wrong.

Should win: Waltz.

Will win: Waltz.

Other stuff: I would pick Reitman and co-writer Sheldon Turner for Adapted Screenplay for Up in the Air, and Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds, as another example of the Screenplay awards being consolation Best Director awards. Avatar will sweep technical categories, because, DUH — although if it wins Cinematography that would be really interesting, considering how much of its cinematography relied on server farms. Neil Gaiman is happy Coraline is nominated for Best Animated Feature Film, as he should be, and as am I, but inasmuch as Up is also nominated for Best Picture, this is where Up is likely to pick up its award.


68 Comments on “Initial Oscar Thoughts, 2010”

  1. I’m completely torn between District 9 and Inglorious Basterds for Best Picture. I think that, despite District 9 being sci-fi, its chances are improved by it also being a political allegory for apartheid. Everyone loves them some political allegories.

    I’m torn, because as much as I would love a smart, quality sci-fi film to win Best Picture, Inglorious Basterds was just so GOOD. And Tarantino has been ignored as a director for WAY too long. He’s one of my FAVORITES, and it pisses me off that he’s never recognized.

    All I know is that if Avatar wins Best Picture or Best Director, I quit. See why here:

  2. I think I’m turning into my jaded bastard friends because the field in general doesn’t impress me so much this year. I don’t like my jaded bastard friends. help!

  3. I would not be terribly surprised if Up won Best Picture and Best Animated Feature Film, if only because of all the (more or less deserved) swooning over it, but I don’t know much about these things and am usually wrong.

  4. I took my 17 year old son to see The Hurt Locker a week after its release. I hope it wins best picture just for the conversation it generated with questions along the lines of, “Dad, is that what it’s really like in war?” and, “Is that why a lot of guys are really messed up after coming back from Iraq?” It’s the first time I’ve talked with him about what being in combat is really like and it’s the first time he showed interest in my military past.

    My reaction to The Hurt Locker: Damn.

  5. For the record, I would pay cash money for a tight close-up on James Cameron’s face if “The Hurt Locker” grabs both Best Director and Best Picture.

  6. So you’re predicting no technical-award love for Star Trek? Avatar has it all over that film overall, but it seems like Trek deserves something, too.

  7. Doctor Memory:

    Actually, I expect he’d be pleased. He remained friends with Bigelow after their divorce and in fact suggested she take on the film.

    Mark J. Reed:

    Nope, I expect it all to go to Avatar.

  8. The Hurt Locker was by far the best movie I saw last year. I’d love to see it win best picture.

    Christoph Waltz’s character was the most evil thing I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. He was fantastic – and having to speak four languages while playing this character was also very impressive.

  9. Sorry for being the one to pop a question here, bu why is The Hurt Locker so deserving? It has the same issues with no name actors, weak storyline and unimaginative ideas – basically what I see on TV daily. Not to mention that it has several facts wrong, military tactics are absurd, and the whole notion of 3 soldiers going around disarming bombs without backup is either a grave mistake or a really bad indicator of what is happening in Iraq. If anyone can give counterpoints to this, I’d be pleased.

    Oh and don’t forget that the Hurt Locker has won the Director’s Guild award for Director and Film. This means that it’ll most likely receive the same honours at the Oscars. With which I disagree of course – if only war deserves awards then why should we even think about peace, exploration, that kind of stuff…

  10. AlexB–it won the DGA award for director. There is no separate film award given out by the guild.

  11. Raising the best picture nominees to 10 has really done nothing to increase the competition. There’s just no suspense this year as to who’s going to win. The difference is that this year, most of the winners will deserve it.

    Here’s who will win: Hurt Locker, Bigelow, Bridges, Bullock, Mo’Nique, Waltz. Every technical award goes to Avatar. Up gets Best Animated.

    As for SF in the Best Picture category: Moon was more deserving of the nom by an order of magnitude over District 9. Sure, D9 had more going on in the brains department than your average Hollywood Studio Product for Illiterate 12 Year Olds. But even its script did the typical Hollywood thing of replacing anything like a third act with just one big chaotic action scene. Moon, on the other hand, was both intellectually stimulating and emotionally compelling drama, with a knockout performance by Sam Rockwell. The fact it was shut out proves that Oscar is still a little too influenced by box office than artistry.

  12. Gabourey Sidibe is astonishing. I don’t usually go in for celebrity interviews, but I adore watching her. The drones on the morning shows and chat-fests seem completely thrown that she is actually a vivacious, clever, and damn funny young woman and not actually her character from the film. She should sweep, but she’s got years to get back to the show.

    Hurt Locker didn’t get more business because people assumed it was another movie about “THE WAR” and how “THE WAR” is “WRONG” and we will be told this in “ALL CAPS”. But it’s really about war, any way, as a drug. God, Renner? Who is this guy? Mind-blowing.

    A movie I think got completely overlooked, “Away We Go”. Just this sweet little story about two young people kind of drifting into their 30’s. Maya Rudolph and John Krasinki have as natural a chemistry as you’ve ever seen in a movie. They feel so utterly real it’s kind of eerie. Sad it didn’t get more attention. From Sam Mendes and David Eggers to boot.

  13. With District 9, I couldn’t get over the clownish and cartoonish way Wikus is depicted at the beginning of the picture … I think it would have been a stronger film if there was a little more depth to him, notwithstanding the rather stereotypical way his father-in-law (Smit) and MNU mercenary chief (Venter) are drawn.

    I would like to have seen James Broadbent on the best supporting list for The Young Victoria. He was priceless as King William IV.

  14. Any other year and I’d give the VFX Oscar to District 9, it’s really impressive, cohesive work. I’d love to see Star Trek win it because, hey, both I and the wife worked on the vfx, and it’s a nice feeling. But there’s just no way either are going to surmount the technological terror Cameron has created, and deservedly so.

    It’s pretty amazing, though, that all three noms this year actually do, at the end of the day, deserve it, which is a major improvement over most years.

  15. Disclaimer – I missed Hurt Locker and Moon in theaters, though HL is on DVD on my shelf since last weekend and will be seen soon.

    I am not insulted by any of the nominations, based on what I’ve seen, and what I’ve heard about what I haven’t seen yet.

    I know people are grumpy here and there, but overall? Good year for movies, and I think for Speculative fiction movies, and the Oscars decently represented that.

    Who’s going to win? Who cares. I don’t see movies to hypothesize about champagne toasts and a silly gold statue months later. I enjoyed last year’s watching. If the Academy approves of some of the stuff I liked, good on them.

  16. So they’re using Instant Runoff in the Best Picture voting, huh? That’s intriguing. I wonder if they’ll make the voting results public (a la the Hugos).

    I also wonder if using instant runoff in the other categories would make much of a different. As always, probably depends on the closeness of the category. Though it would be interesting to see full results if they did use it. And it would certainly give entertainment pundits a whole lot more to talk/speculate/jabber about…

    – yeff

  17. Ok I’m going to try to explain my dislike of The Hurt Locker.

    It’s too serious to be a popcorn action flick. That in itself isn’t good or bad, because I like both serious movies and popcorn action flicks. The problem is that it’s completely inaccurate when it comes to how things are actually done in Iraq. So taking it as a serious movie is impossible for me.

    I think it’s an issue of too close to the subject to suspend disbelief. I can suspend reality, or not really care, when it comes to the military in a popcorn movie, but when a movie tries to be serious then it’s much harder for me to ignore when it’s completely wrong on military tactics. None of the military people I work with or know liked the movie.

    Just my two cents.

  18. Another thing going for Bigelow is having won the DGA top honor since those winners tend to have a greater chance of taking Best Director.

  19. Star Trek could get a token nod in Best Makeup, as Avatar isn’t in that category. And dear gods, if Cameron gets another Best Picture for making visual brilliance out of a hack script, I’m going to turn into an indie/foreign flick addict. But then, at least I’ll see more women in strong parts. I am beyond tired of my demographic (35+ and female) being treated as non-existent by Hollywood unless it’s time for Meryl Streep or Glenn Close to remind us they exist (as if we need it). My husband loves going to the movies. I don’t. That’s why in a nutshell.

  20. Alex B:
    I don’t think Hollywood is concerned with the logistics of a story, so some of the (admittedly valid) nitpicks you have with the film won’t weigh in the voting process. I’d call the storyline spare instead of weak, but Hollywood has shown that’s not a hindrance (SlumDog, Million Dollar Baby, Gladiator). The no name actors do a pretty good job, and the film does an excellent job of creating and maintaining suspense. So its not outside the realm of possibility.

    I’d be surprised to see Avatar win, despite all of the hype and market success. I don’t think an animated film has ever one Best Picture. Maybe I’m just prejudiced against Tarantino, but while some of the acting was inspired, I thought Basterds itself was kind of flat (in a bloody and violet sort of way) sort of like Natural Born Killers. I could see a relative sleeper stealing the title this year, something that can be defended on artistic grounds, so I could An Education or A Serious Man or most likely Precious sliding in.

  21. Serious question, since I don’t watch Entertainment Tonight-type programs: How does one pronounce “Mo’nique?” Is it just like Monique, or is the apostrophe voiced somehow? Google didn’t help.

  22. Nickp @22: From the way I’ve heard it, there’s a tiny little pause where the apostrophe is placed, but other than that, it’s simply pronounced moe-NEEK.

  23. uh, how can i do italics in my posts? and who is this picture Moon you speak of Sir Thomas? I love Sam Rockwell! I must see it. I must.

  24. Justin @24: Moon was a smart, well-done little indie flick that came out this summer that didn’t wind up on many screens but made a whole bunch of sci-fi nerds very happy, myself included. If you love Sam Rockwell, then indeed you must see it; aside from Kevin Spacey channeling Hal 9000, it’s pretty much a one-man show.

  25. How many years ago was Renner playing second banana to Colin Farrell in SWAT, and now he’s up for best actor? Pretty cool, and an excellent film.

    Didn’t understand why they included the sniper duel, though, although it did give an opportunity for much gunplay and Ralph Fiennes to show some chops as the brick leader. I wasn’t sure whether he’s still 22nd or not, though. And why were they carrying AKs? But, I digress…

  26. If Christopher Waltz does NOT win, I will hold my breath until I pass out and bang my head on the coffee table, AGAIN!

    Waltz’s performance can be simply summed as to most awesome, bat-shit insane Nazi, EVER in film.

    I’m hoping the Best Picture goes to “UP”. That was simply one of the most sweet (and I don’t use that word often) and charming movies I’ve seen quite a while. It’s wonderful when you find yourself watching a film with your Wife and Daughter and suddenly realize you’ve been smiling the whole time.

  27. Justin,

    Moon is out on DVD (sitting on my desk from Netflix actually) so you can grab it that way. Oh and italics are simply done by putting tags around the word. For example, if you took [i]this phrase[/i] and replaced the square brackets with angled ones (the less than and greater than ones) it would be italicized. Do that and use b instead of i for bolding.

  28. The Hurt Locker was an amazing movie but I still won’t be surprised if it gets passed over. On the other hand I have to apologise if I seem unappreciative of Precious but it just seemed overplayed to me. I still have to admire Mo’Nique’s acting chops thought because damn.

  29. Nope, nope, nope. Best Picture goes to The Hurt Locker. The directors and producers have already weighed in, and that’s a substantial bloc of AMPAS voters. And, as I’ve pointed out before, the Producers Guild also expanded its Best Picture field to 10 nominees this year, and even on that playing field, Hurt Locker still beat Avatar.)

    Does it deserve top honors? Debatable, but in the end, as Clint once told us, “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

  30. I am *so pissed* that I missed Hurt Locker when it was in theatres. I’m hoping to catch it in one of the second-run theatres in the area but just in case, I’ve got it on my Netflix queue.

    I agree with a lot of this – except now the noms are out. I’m kind of torqued that Saldana didn’t get any love for Avatar; she really deserved it, and I don’t think she gets enough credit for what honestly was a bravura performance under all the CGI “makeup”.

    I was unaware of some of these other films; now I want to check up on them – gotta maintain my “movie whore” cred. So thanks for that, Scalzi.

  31. Oh yeah — freakin’ Moon. That’s another one that slipped under my radar. [curses up a blue streak]

  32. Which movie will win best picture?

    Which movie has more maudlin social importance? Which is more pretentious, overblown, and takes itself much too seriously? Answer those questions and you’ve got the best picture winner for 2009.

  33. For those annoyed by Moon being overlooked: Sony decided not to support it for the Oscars or send out screeners due to fear of piracy. (here’s more).

    Yes, this was colossally stupid of Sony.

    What’s even stupider is that a couple months before Academy screener DVDs were due to be sent out, Moon was already out on DVD in the UK and thus easily available via the usual Bittorrent sites.

    I veer between being aghast at how much Sony has cut off its nose to spite its face with Moon, and thinking aw bless, Sony didn’t realise that the internet works across borders.

  34. Since I never get to see first run movies, I have to rely on my sixteen year old son. And yes, I did let him see The Hurt Locker. The person taking tickets at the artsy theater that was showing it thought it was great that a teenager wanted to actually watch this movie. He’s all for The Hurt Locker winning best picture, best actor, and best director. He thought that Avatar had no plot, but was pretty to watch. He loved Invictus, thought Inglorious Basterds was overblown. He didn’t see Precious, which I glad because Damn, subject matter. I do hope it wins something.

  35. Completely surprised that Up made it into the Best Picture category, what with Best Animated Feature being created specifically to give Disney and Pixar the accolades they deserve without it effecting the “real” movies. Personally, I’d like to see Basterds take it. Anything but Avatar, because really, that will only encourage Cameron to be even more insufferable and hacktastic. Avatar 2 will not just be in 3D but Smellovision as well.

  36. The only serious miss I see on your list is that In the Loop should win for best screenplay. No idea if it will, but it’s a fabulous movie, and although the performances are strong, they’re driven by an excellent screenplay.

  37. Totally agree with Mr. Scalzi’s list, with one exception. re: Laen’s comment, Hurt Locker is a
    movie, not real life. As a former EOD, I watched it, because my son suggested I see it, so I watched it.
    OK movie….real life?….Crap. Never Happen.
    So, in closing, maybe a nomination will let the crew do a real life movie next, the award will go to a real-life/OK movie.

  38. I expect plenty of Doctor Who fans will be rooting for Carey Mulligan, who was the lead in the new-3rd season’s “Doctor-lite” episode, Blink (2007), and was great in it.

    There’s generally a Doctor-lite episode each season, something to do with production schedules – at some point they need to shoot two episodes at the same time. In this one the Doctor appears on a TV screen and only briefly in the flesh, and Mulligan as Sally Sparrow carries the episode. It was one of the best-received of the revitalised Doctor Whos.

  39. #41 Keith

    Winning Best Picture will only encourage Cameron? Dude, the man comes pre-encouraged. His ego gets Executive Producer credit. They had to invent a new system of mathematics to describe how much money his movies make. Cameron is going to want $500 million for his next technological firehose of a movie even if the only award he wins is the MTV Movie Award “Best Alien Kiss”.

    Anyway, give the guy some credit. He made Aliens and Terminator II, which have to rank as two of the greatest sequels ever made.

  40. David J. Batista @ 45 – No, and I’m glad to see I’m not alone in my chuckling. Sometimes it’s like being in a secret Lebowski society.

  41. Wow, I didn’t want to see The Hurt Locker even before people pointed out all the things wrong with it. Unfortunately, it probably WILL win at least for best director. I think of movies like it and Precious as being the movie equivalent of playing Rainman or similar characters: easy to show off and to make a splash but not really technically difficult. Of the actresses I’ve seen, I’d vote for Carey Mulligan in a hearbeat as she was incredibly good in An Education. Tarantino is such a bastard I’d never vote for him to win ANYTHING (see John Varley on Tarantino). He’s essentially Roger Corman with a big budget and a hugely bigger ego.

  42. Seeing that Slumdog Millionaire–a lightweight and sentimental story, to be sure, but very artfully shot and edited–won the “best picture” Oscar last year over four much more traditional pieces of Oscar-bait (two biopics and three serious-minded literary adaptations, with Frost/Nixon qualifying as both), I have to say I disagree with Alan Kellogg @ 36. This year’s Oscar winner is more likely to be noted for its filmcraft than for its perceived “relevance” or “importance” (not that it can’t have all of these, of course).

    More than that I cannot say until I see more of the nominees. Inglourious Basterds is my favorite of the four current “best picture” nominees I’ve seen, but Up, Up in the Air and A Serious Man were all fine pictures in their way.

  43. Alan@36–while that’s been true of a lot of Oscar best pic winners (Gandhi, A Beautiful Mind, Crash, and I’d even note that Return of the King was a little overblown), more recent years have demonstrated a much better trend–say what you will about “The Departed,” it’s a fast-moving piece of entertainment (and, indeed, was criticized for being too *shallow*), and it sure ain’t pretentious. With the possible exception of using “Comfortably Numb” on the soundtrack at one point. And 2007 brought “No Country for Old Men,” another, yep, tightly plotted thriller.

    That being said, Avatar is pretentious as all get out. I haven’t seen The Hurt Locker yet so can’t comment on that specific duo.

  44. It would be fun to see Cameron and Tarantino both win (maybe Cameron for director and Tarantino for screenplay) to see which of them can be more obnoxious in his victory speech. All that said, Hurt Locker was my favorite of 2009.

  45. I think there would be something odd if Avatar didn’t win the statue for cinematography. The virtual camera system allowed them to film virtual sets and landscapes as if they were real, physical places, in real time, as if with a real camera. It’s actually one of the film’s biggest technological innovations.

    As far as best picture I’m not sure Avatar even deserves the nomination (of course, neither do half the other nominees) and I’m an admitted, full blown Avatard. James Cameron has said in a number of interviews that his intent was to make a deliberately populist movie for the purpose of pushing the technology. He never expected anything but technical awards. Not that he’s going to turn any down, mind you.

    I’ve only seen four of the films that were nominated for Best Picture and of those four I think The Hurt Locker deserves the win.

  46. What will win: Right now, I’d go with a coin flip between Avatar and Inglourious Basterds, because science fiction or not, $2 billion in worldwide box office does a lot of talking, and Avatar is genuinely a technically revolutionary film.

    Yes, but… I’ve just finished reading Rebecca Keegan’s rather puff-y biography of Cameron, The Futurist, and come away quietly gob-smacked at what a drama queen-sized douche nozzle the man can be. I have my suspicion that, in the privacy of a secret ballot, a few people who respect (and even fear) but don’t like the man aren’t going to be inclined to reward Avatar with best picture.

  47. Oye…. I think Zombieland should have at least gotten a nod for it’s 32 rules. ‘Nuf said.

  48. Is it just me or all the rest of the world is scientifically blind? Shouldn’t humans on Pandora hop a little because of the lower gravity? After all the N’avi are 4 meters high. Isn’t this a directing mistake that should disqualify Cameron winning anything?

    Anyway, I quit watching the movie after 20 minutes. It was sooo boring. So, sue me. Or shoot me if it suits you better.

  49. Do any of you see what the Oscars have become? People not receiving awards because they’re, quote “douchenozzles”??? Am I the only one seeing this as boycotworthy? And you care about this kind of award? Really surprised about this, considering how Avatar deals with the same issues with which people have been avoiding since the start of colonialism – abuse of misunderstood societies and cultures, breaking boundaries, and oh yes – big bad capitalism (which isn’t the damned second coming some people thought it was). But nooooo, you focus on the love story and graphics. I expected more from Science Fiction readers and fans and especially a writer such as yourself Mr. Scalzi. (Considering how your own “Old Man’s War” saga ends, I’m really surprised about your comments on this issue. I was just overjoyed to be able to see SF as I imagine it in my head – putting the things is read on the screen, instead of creating new SF…)

    The Hurt Locker does not deserve an award because there is nothing worthy about it. It is “just” another Iraq war movie, and there have been other who were much more deserving and had more of a PLOT than it. So I’m sorry, if I’m popping up some bubbles here, but this movie has nothing that makes it a “best movie” and nor “best director” (what filming in the desert? working with Israelis?). Living in Israel, this isn’t as hard as it might sound, so please lets not compare it with the directorial vision of Tarantino, or the fact that Cameron worked on this for 3 years and helped reinvent a part of the cinematic experience as we know it.

    Lets get past the movie, past the man or woman, and judge the MOVIE and not the political interests behind the Oscars.

  50. John@54:

    Fair enough, and I guess Fox is crying all the way to the bank however high maintenance Cameron is. :) All the same, the voting membership of AMPAAS is made up of human beings, and Cameron is remarkably casual about fire-bombing his bridges to people who think they’re actually on his side. When your nine features have grossed just under six point seven billion dollars, nobody is going to bitch you to your face — but they don’t have to like you in the privacy of a ballot box.

  51. Avatar was certainly gorgeous, and worthy of many technical awards, but no movie in which a major plot point turns on “just so happens to” should win best picture.

  52. BTW, I’ve got a thought about the media coverage of the Oscar nominations.

    Cheese and crackers, enough with the BATTLE OF THE EXES already!

    Yes,, I know it’s a punny headline – and an easy lede — but Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow divorced eighteen years ago, and it was obviously amicable enough (and they can separate their professional and personal relationships) that she went on to direct Strange Days, which was co-written and produced by her ex. As far as I’m aware, the pair have never trash-talked each other but sincerely respect the other as film-makers.

    Could it be possible that Bigelow got her Oscar nominations for making a damn good film (one among many, IMNSHO), and the personal stuff is not only gratuitous but more than a little patronising?

  53. This is turning out to be a stellar year for women at the Oscars. But like Craig said, the battle of the exes bit has been completely overshadowing that.

    At least Bigelow will win for Best Director and actually deserve it. Unfortunately that will just lead to speculation that she won it because she’s only the fourth woman to be nominated in that category.

  54. With District 9, I couldn’t get over the clownish and cartoonish way Wikus is depicted at the beginning of the picture

    That’s actually intentional, and is a nod to South African humour at the same time (at least that’s what the wife tells me and she grew up there). “English” South Africans, i.e. white South Africans who aren’t Afrikaners tell jokes about “thick” Afrikaners in exactly the same way that the English would tell Irish jokes starting “Paddy did …” and some other groups tell Polish, Finnish or (insert stereotype).

    Only in South Africa the jokes are all about a thick Afrikaner called Van De Merwe. His portrayal at the start of the movie is as much a nod to the allegory of apartheid and what actually happened in District 6 in Jo’berg as the rest of the movie. Frankly, I don’t think it would have worked as well if he’d been anything other as a stereotype at the start.

  55. I’d like to think D9 could get it purely because now I know more about South Africa than I did, say, 10 years ago, I realize how damn clever it was and how amazing it was to get made. It’s not though.

    I’ve not seen all the nominees yet but of those I have seen, The Hurt Locker stands out by a country mile. It was one of the most compelling movies I’ve seen in ages. And Bigelow deserves the best director nod.

    Christoph Waltz should win and probably will win. It was an amazing role and it’s a great Oscar fairy story for an unknown German actor in his 50s to appear on the scene and win.

    I fear that Avatar will win everything – and it shouldn’t. It is an amazing technical feat, but it was a dull film.

  56. Didn’t understand why they included the sniper duel, though, although it did give an opportunity for much gunplay and Ralph Fiennes to show some chops as the brick leader.

    We had a friend over when we watched Hurt Locker who is an ex Sniper and the entire scene annoyed him. He liked the rest of the film.

    Apparently they were all terrible shots, they used the wrong sight on the riffle and from the perspective of the bullet, the building may as well not have been there.

    He loved the rest of it.

  57. I’m picking “Precious” for best movie specifically because it IS so depressing. They always go for movies about the life of a so and such who is talking about their dead father or their abusive father or their miserable life. If anything it’s happier than their usual choice because there’s a happy-ish ending. Give the main character a promising future after a long hard struggle and then have her hit by a bus or caught in gangland crossfire. There’s Oscar material for you.

  58. I agree with the many that felt “Moon” was slighted, and wanted to add that I thought “The Road” should’ve been a contender as well.

    I am pulling for Bigelow, though. I agree that she’s got a nice body of work that isn’t appreciated enough.

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