Your Oscar Night Open Thread

I’ll be off today with family and friends doing things you do with family and friends that don’t involve computers, but while I’m away I thought I would leave you an open thread to discuss the Oscars, since I know it’s not like there’s anywhere else on the Internet to talk about them today.

As regards my own thoughts on this year’s Oscars, here are my initial thoughts on the likely winners, from when the Oscars were announced, and here are some thoughts specific to the science fiction films on the ballot. By and large my thoughts on what will win are unchanged from my initial guesses with the exception of Best Picture, in which I think it’s a toss-up between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. Put a gun to my head and I’ll pick Avatar, but for a reason which has nothing to do with the quality of either film. Simply put I think it comes down to whether the Academy wants to award its highest accolade to a film that’s made $2.5 billion worldwide in box office, or a film that’s made less than 1% of that. At the end of the day I think the money will talk enough to push Avatar over the top, especially if enough folks in the Academy think a Best Director Oscar for Kathryn Bigelow will be sufficient compensation.

But I could be very wrong about this, and the preferential ballot aspect of the Best Picture category this year could spin that Oscar into some place really weird. In which case Inglourious Basterds, my original guess, will sneak in and nab it. Honestly, the uncertainty around Best Picture is really the only reason to tune in at all tonight.

Please feel free to put in your final guesses into the comment thread, and, once the show starts, to post your thoughts on the winners and the show itself. As noted I’ll be offline for a lot of the day, but will try to check in from time to time.

38 Comments on “Your Oscar Night Open Thread”

  1. Don’t know, I think Hurt Locker is a pretty safe Best Picture bet. You’ve made the argument before that box office will always translate to a win, but that’s never been a consistent rule before. In 2007 No Country for Old Men was well behind Juno, and Crash was well behind Brokeback Mountain two years before that. Now, granted, $700 million is a metric fuckload of money. But I still think the consensus is that Hurt Locker is the artistically superior film, and that Avatar’s going to lock up every technical award they have to give, and no one wants Cameron up at the mike being a douchebag again (whether he really would or not). As for the one Hurt Locker producer who made a fool of himself, it seems pretty clear the Academy considers that faux pas dealt with, by disinviting him from the ceremony, and he even has his ardent supporters, as his own Oscar-night party is reportedly the hottest ticket in town.

    So, I’m thinking Locker has it locked up. Still, as the wholly undeserving wins of such movies as Crash and Shakespeare in Love prove, upsets do happen.

  2. #1 Mark Kloos: you nailed it. Thanks for the morning chuckle.
    Scalzi: I agree with your rationale, but I think that the Preferential voting will allow Hurt Locker to win, as I imagine many folks put that as their second guess.

  3. Except it doesn’t bother Cameron. (a) He’s got his Oscars from Titanic and (b) he’s been rooting for her.

    Dr. Phil

  4. A couple of days ago, I read an article in USA TODAY about the preferential ballot. It went on for several paragraphs about how it worked, and I’m fairly certain I saw the word “complicated” used at least two or three times

    The first time I saw “complicated,” I thought, “What complicated? The Hugos have been using this system for years.” And after looking at the Best Picture nominees, I concluded that it was a shame that the Oscars didn’t include a “No Award” option.

  5. How come everyone gets on Cameron for quoting the ‘I’m King of the World’ line from his movie?
    He’d just won a gazillion Oscars!
    John, when you won your Hugo, etc., etc., I’m sure you had the same feeling. I know when I won the big radio award, the Prix Italia, I was King of the World for at least a week. I was TOTALLY insufferable. (Still am, actually) Luckily, it was a radio award, so no-one else cared….
    But I’m willing to give Cameron all sorts of credit. That year, he really was The Best Ever.
    And he will be again, in some measure. (I’m with him in rooting for his ex as Best Director. She needs it/ deserves it. He’s already been there.)

  6. Best Picture, in which I think it’s a toss-up between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. Put a gun to my head and I’ll pick Avatar, but for a reason which has nothing to do with the quality of either film.

    This is the reason why I don’t understand the point of the Oscars. It’s clearly not about what film or performance was best. If you need an award for ‘film that made the most money ever’, simply look at the box office returns and your bank account, and there you go – your award is ready, and you don’t have to dress up. Either it’s about what’s best or it’s not. They give out lifetime achievement awards, too. The whole thing seems pointless. Actually, worse than pointless, when fantastic performances and films go completely unrecognized with even a nomination, and mediocre films like Avatar actually stand a chance at Best Picture. Best special effects, absolutely, but Best Picture? C’mon. Ridiculous. MTV Movie Awards have more credibility at this point.

  7. Romeo Vitelli@6:

    Schadenfreude is taking delight in someone’s misfortune. How would it be a misfortune to Cameron if a woman he by all reports amicably divorced almost twenty years ago after a brief marriage won some Oscars?

    Cameron does have a reputation for being a prize prick, but even people who have no reason to speak kindly of the man all acknowledge he’s a gentleman where his exes are concerned.

  8. One of the directors of the documentary “The Last Truck” is an Antioch College alumna, and living in Yellow Springs, OH.

    Thusly, if “The Last Truck” wins, OHIO IS STILL COMING TO KICK YOUR ASS.

    That is all. GO LAST TRUCK!!!!!!

  9. Well, I watched both IG and Avatar, and thought IG the much better overall film.

    I haven’t seen Hurt Locker, however it’s hard to see this Indy Film gain the traction it needs to get over the hump.

  10. What hump? Hurt Locker has won damn near every award it’s been up for. Where do people get this idea it’s considered some sort of underdog spoiler? It’s been pegged as the front runner for some time now.

  11. Mr. Scalzi,

    I know you do work on the Stargate series, I have an idea that I have outlined and I think has serious potential. Is there a way I could get this outline to you? I could give you my email first so that you don’t have to publish yours (if you can’t get it from this post even though it is hidden)…

    Thank you, Ian

  12. Star Trek just won Makeup- probably it’s only win tonight. At least it won’t be completely shut out. :)

  13. Maigoon

    “Maybe I watched a different version, but Hurt Locker was a BAD movie”

    No, no, you watched the same version as the rest of us; Hurt Locker was a bad movie (and I’ve read that a lot of currently serving soldiers/ vets are saying its horribly inaccurate, so it can’t even claim realism) but any film portraying an ongoing war or struggle gets automatic votes so…

  14. The Hurt Locker is currently sweeping the technical catagories that Avatar is supposed to be winning!

    …And while I don’t think that Hurt Locker was a BAD movie, I definitely don’t see what the big deal is. It was all right.

  15. This has been a frustrating night on several levels mostly because I can’t understand why they picked Bella and Shark Boy to introduce the tribute to horror movies.

  16. Well, the Obvious Oscar Picture® won, and the Academy can rest well that that nasty sky-fie stuff didn’t spoil their party.

  17. This was easily he worst Oscar telecast is a very long time. Not because Avatar lost Best Picture; I never thought it deserved the award. No, this was just a poorly put together telecast and the pairing of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin was just horrible.

  18. Cameron made a rather dickish statement about Bigelow in the “60 Minutes’ profile of her. He basically said that she would win because “the Academy wants a woman to win right now.”

    I’m wondering if there was a backlash against Cameron for that statement and that’s why Avatar didn’t win BP…or if he was right?

  19. I find myself wondering why people think Avatar should have won. It’s a really good, really enjoyable film with phenominal special effects. Those are great in and of themselves but certainly not reasons to give it Best Picture. Of the 10 films nominated I’ve seen Avatar, Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds, and Precious. IMHO it should have gone to Precious.

    Mo’Nique was certainly deserving of her award but I find myself wondering what this will do for her career. Supporting actress winners don’t have a very good history of being able to turn their win into more or better work. Considering Mo’Nique’s career to this point it will be interesting see where she goes from here.

  20. Hurt Locker was a bad movie. Badly plotted, very inaccurate etc.

    But it does something very important:

    It allows the Academy to vote for an “Anti-war” film while at the same time “supporting the troops”.

    For Hollywood, that’s gold.

  21. Well, I was all ready to say, “Billion-dollar blockbuster? Tiny indie film? I guess the Academy doesn’t care about how much money a film makes, so long as they can take one more swipe at George W. Bush.” However, from what I’ve seen about The Hurt Locker, it seems to be less overtly political than previous Iraq War pics. You’re never gonna have an entirely politics-free movie about Iraq; this is Hollywood, after all. But maybe it’s a step in the right direction…and maybe the Academy just picked it because it was a good movie. I have opinions, but not enough information to draw definitive conclusions.

  22. Also, can we just stamp Pixar’s name on the “Best Animated Feature” category now? They always do good work.

    And, John, since obviously you can’t write about how Avatar’s Best Picture win will affect the perception of SF movies now, maybe you could write about how its Best Cinematography win will affect the perception of movies made with a lot of CGI? That’d be interesting to hear about.

  23. No way was Up best animated feature. *sigh* I thought The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Coraline were both far better. They seem to just think the name Pixar means it’s the best. :(

  24. Mark in AZ–I also didn’t pick up an anti-war vibe from “The Hurt Locker”; all three of the men in the bomb squad are sympathetic, and it seems to be more about good-men-doing-difficult-jobs; the film avoids sweeping statements about war, and it’s written by a guy who was embedded w/ a unit in Iraq in 2004. (In fact, *Avatar* is far more political than “The Hurt Locker.”)

    I can’t speak to the accuracy; some soldiers have indeed found it inaccurate, but one soldier found it close enough to reality that he’s suing, and others have said they saw themselves in the main character.

    Anyway, I’m glad Bigelow won.

  25. Mark in AZ@25:

    Sorry, have you actually seen the film or are you just repeating the usual ditto-head talking points? The characters in the film are anti being-buried-in-a-hermetically-sealed-mason-jar, but one would think that would be a pretty non-partisan frame of mind.

  26. JD Rhoades@23:
    Cameron made a rather dickish statement about Bigelow in the “60 Minutes’ profile of her. He basically said that she would win because “the Academy wants a woman to win right now.”

    So what’s “dickish” about that statement — it seems like every story about Bigelow has played up the gender angle, and that a total of four women have received Best Director nominations.

    Personally, I’m rather bored with being reminded that Bigelow has a vagina (something I kinda picked up a quarter of a century ago when I saw her first film) and amicably got divorced from Cameron eighteen years ago.

  27. No way was Up best animated feature. *sigh* I thought The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Coraline were both far better. They seem to just think the name Pixar means it’s the best. :(

    You seem to be confusing “the majority of Academy voters thought it was best” with an objective fact. The animated category was the strongest it’s ever been, this year. Of those three, Up was the only one that brought me to tears…something that I’ve heard from many people who’ve seen the film. That sort of visceral emotional reaction leaves an impression on an audience.

    I think if any of those three films had one, it would have been the right choice. I haven’t seen the other two films, but my family has seen ‘frog’ and thought it was good (if not on a level of the other three). ‘Kells’ is only just opening on US soil, but looks fantastic, visually.

  28. It was a better average show as far as Oscars go. Hurt Locker and Bigelow winning were not big surprises (I agree with Mark in AZ about the Hurt Locker in general; I’m incapable of suspending the disbelief necessary to think it’s actually a good movie). Though I have nothing against Bigelow, she’s had a remarkably mediocre career (not including last night of course, where Cameron certainly should have won but just as certainly wasn’t going to as he and Tarantino have made far too many enemies in the Academy.). When your “best” picture to date was one staring Keanu Reeves, that pretty much says it all. I’m curious as what previous best director winner had such a mediocre resume prior to winning (no critically acclaimed movies, no box office winners, and at least one box-office disaster)?

  29. I think Avatar didn’t win because the Academy gave the sci-fi/fantasy genre it’s one-win-every-century when it gave 11 of 11 Oscars to Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.

    I looked on wikipedia to see how some of my most memorable/favorite pictures stacked up against the Oscars winners:

    Star Wars: A New HopeAnnie Hall. Annie Hall!? (I was 13.)
    Raiders of the Lost ArkChariots of Fire (two awsome pictures)
    E.T.Gandhi. meh.
    Saving Private RyanShakespeare In Love (If you weren’t moved to tears by the story and sacrifice of the characters, you aren’t human.)
    Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the RingA Beautiful Mind (great movie but certainly not in league with LOTR!)
    Lord of the Rings: Two TowersChicago (yes, Chicago sizzled but LOTR had balrogs!!!1 BALROGS!!)
    Lord of the Rings: Return of the King — Yes, Peter, we – the Academy – thank you for three fine pictures by giving you 11 of 11 noms)

    Last and certainly now least, AvatarThe Hurt Locker (epic glorious picture loses to great-but-techinically-inaccurate-introspective war piece).

    According to the All-Time box office hits by number of tickets sold, Avatar is still rising and has a good chance of breaking into the top 10 of all time – which I think it easily would have already if it weren’t for the deluge of movies which hit the theaters each weekend. When Star Wars was in the theaters, I remember it running for over a year. Avatar could have netted a lot more seats had its number of showings not been reduced only four weeks into its run.

    Balrogs, John, balrogs!!!

  30. Justin:

    Seriously, nice stats-wank but is there a point? Personally, I thought the LoTR trilogy was a a load of self-indulgent (yet massively successful) cack, while the sublime Heavenly Creatures received precisely one Oscar nomination for best original screenplay, and lost to Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery. There you go and here we are. In my not at all humble opinion, HC was much the better film but there you go, and here we are.

    And if you want to charge the academy with genre snobbery, perhaps you should pick a year they don’t give the two top gongs to a brutally effective action/war flick directed by a woman who couldn’t make a quote unquote “chick flick” if her life depended on it…

  31. Coolstar:
    I’m curious as what previous best director winner had such a mediocre resume prior to winning (no critically acclaimed movies, no box office winners, and at least one box-office disaster)?

    So, Bigelow hasn’t had any “critically acclaimed movies”? What was Near Dark – Uwe Boll’s frigging sizzle reel?