Once again I've managed to sit through every single movie nominated for an Oscar. So now you don't have to watch this crap and you can just take my word for it when I make my picks. And yes, these are picks, not predictions. I'm not trying to figure out what these dummies are going to do, I'm saying what should happen. Because I've got a keyboard and that makes me smarter. We'll start out with the smaller categories and work our way up. All the nominees will be ranked from bottom to top with #1 being my choice. Some of these will have lengthy reasons, some won't. The only categories I'll be skipping are the two short films ones because I don't know how you see these. Has anyone ever seen an Oscar nominated short? Are we sure these aren't just made up? Anywho, we got a lot to get to so we better get going....
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
First of all....why do they only have 3 nominees here? There were way more visual effect heavy movies released than 3. Where is Watchmen? Where is Transformers 2? The only nomination TF2 got was for sound? Did anybody come out of the movie saying wow, did you hear that sound? No, people came out going wow, did you see them two big ass racist robots? Those big ass racist robots were not real, they were visual effects. Terminator Salvation? 2012? I dunno, seems to me they could've found 2 more movies to throw in this category.
3. District 9 - This one had some really good effects and it had some really bad effects. No big shock since it is by far the lowest budgeted movie here. Some people will probably hand these guys the award just for that fact, but I won't. If you're the best, you're the best, doesn't matter how much the movie cost.
2. Avatar - Look, they pretty much have to give Avatar this award, but I don't. There was a lot in Avatar that looked amazing. A lot of it worked great. The backgrounds, the ships, the world.....all looked tremendous. But when it came to actual living characters the wheels kind of fell off at times. The blue kitty people still didn't look much better than Jar Jar Binks did in 1999 and while they seemed completely believable at times, they came off very cartoony at other times. The real problem was all the other animals that lived in the woods. None of them felt real enough to get me to believe in them They seemed weightless and cartoony and they were really a distraction that kept me from being sucked into the world of the movie. Another huge gripe was those big robot suits people wore. Whenever they showed those close up they looked great since they actually had a guy sitting in a little robot cockpit, but when they had to do it from a distance and tried to just super impose the guy into the suit....it was horrible. The guy never seemed lined up right and was always out of place. That was something else that pulled me right out of the movie. How could something that amateurish be in this movie of all movies?
1. Star Trek - This on the other hand had no problem whatsoever in keeping my head in the movie. There wasn't a single effect in this entire movie that didn't work for me. Everything looked good. Everything was believable and kept me firmly inside the reality of the movie. This movie by far has the best effects. Unfortunately the hype machine behind Avatar means it doesn't stand a chance. Avatar will win this because it was nearly 99% visual effect, but I prefer quality over quantity.
BEST SOUND MIXING
5. Inglourious Basterds
4. The Hurt Locker
3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
1. Star Trek
BEST SOUND EDITING
5. Inglourious Basterds
4. The Hurt Locker
3. Star Trek
A lot of people don't understand the difference between these categories so first off... Mixing is the actual mixing of volume levels of all sounds in the movie. Editing is the actual creation of the sound. When you see those behind the scenes things where the guy is slapping a banana peel on a car fender and that somehow makes a laser sound effect, that goes under sound editing. And that makes these categories really easy.
I put Basterds last in mixing because when I watched it I had to adjust the volume level about 10 notches between dialogue scenes and action scenes. In my simple mind, that's bad mixing. Star Trek is the movie where I had to adjust the volume the least with Avatar a close second.
I put Basterds last in editing because there wasn't much there. 99.9999999% of Basterds is a bunch of dullards sitting around having long boring conversations. There's very little action and, as a result, not a whole lot of sound to go with it. I don't even understand why it's nominated here. Avatar wins because I figure when the vast majority of everything in your movie is absolutely fake, you have to put in a lot of work to create the sound of this imaginary world. I usually give these awards to the animated movies because every single sound in those are completely invented, but Avatar pretty much is an animated movie. Sorry, Up.
BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
5. "Loin de Paname" from Paris 36
4. "Down in New Orleans" from The Princess and the Frog
3. "Take It All" from Nine
2. "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog
1. "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart
This is a really easy category. Weary Kind is far and away the best real song of the bunch and it comes from a movie where that song being great was essential for the movie to work. Almost There is a pretty catchy little tune that is close on its heels but Weary Kind is a song that could be a hit had it never even been in a movie. Almost There is a through and through Disney cartoon song. Take it All isn't even the best song in Nine, Down in New Orleans is annoying and Loin de Paname is in French and to that I say USA! USA! USA! USA!
BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
5. The Hurt Locker
4. Sherlock Holmes
1. Fantastic Mr. Fox
Up is almost a lock to win this but I much preferred the offbeat music from Fox. Without actually sitting here and putting on the OSTs of all these movies, Fox has the only music I can remember. Usually with these scores you should be able to sit down and hum the movie's main theme, but I can't remember a single note from any of these but Fox and Up. I would've bet money that The Hurt Locker didn't even have a score, I guess it did though.
3. Il Divo - I absolutely despised watching this. I hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. I was too busy thinking about how horrible it was to notice the make up.
2. The Young Victoria - I am sooooo tired of these period movies. Every single one of them is the same movie with the same costumes, wigs, sets, etc. And for some reason they keep getting nominated in these categories. I saw absolutely nothing here that made this movie stand out in the makeup department from any of the rest.
1. Star Trek - This one wins by default. Actually this movie is the only one that had a part with makeup that bothered me. They put Rachel Nichols in the movie and painted her green. Why would you do that?? It was still a better job than these other two though. But where is District 9 in this category? You know, the movie where they turned a guy into half an alien. The guy wasn't really half alien, that was a lot of makeup. Shouldn't that be rewarded more than painting some lines on Eric Bana's face or putting some blush on Emily Blunt?
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
5. The Milk of Sorrow
4. Ajami Israel
3. The White Ribbon
2. El Secreto de Sus Ojos
1. Un Prophète
A really tough category. I don't think there's really a wrong answer in my top three. I won't be mad if one of the other two win it, but I will be mad that A Prophet didn't.....if that makes any sense. The other movies are good but A Prophet was my favorite. It's about a young Arab guy who gets sent to a French prison for something that seems to be fairly petty. He ends up hooking up with the Corsican Mafia on the inside and over his 6 year stay in prison we watch him grow from being a petty criminal to a crime lord. It is obviously inspired by American gangster films like Scarface, Goodfellas and The Godfather and it's pretty close to being just as good as those. It also goes somewhere those movies never go because it's not only a great crime thriller, it's also a commentary on social and racial issues. It's a tad long and subtitled so it's not for everybody but I highly recommend it. But I think if you want, you could probably wait....because I will eat my hat if there isn't an American remake of this soon. It's just waaayy too blatantly obvious that this will get remade. The story is perfect for American audiences, but it's foreign so most will never watch it. Even while watching it myself I kept thinking about what the American version will be like. I even started writing it in my head and figuring out what parts would need to be changed. I'd bet a shiny nickel that in 2-3 years we'll be seeing Leonardo Dicaprio in Martin Scorsese's A Prophet. It's just too damn perfect for it.
BEST FILM EDITING
4. Inglourious Basterds
2. The Hurt Locker
1. District 9
There was absolutely nothing special about the editing of Precious so that's out. I'm not sarcastic enough to give an editing reward to a movie that needed at least an hour edited out so that kills both Basterds and Avatar. The Hurt Locker had the pacing of a snail. That leaves District 9. It didn't really do anything to impress me but I can't think of a reason to not vote for it like I can the others.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
5. Which Way Home
4. Burma VJ
3. Food, Inc.
2. The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
1. The Cove
Before I go off here can I ask where the hell is Anvil: The Story of Anvil? How can that not be nominated? The big theme of this year's awards was to get more mainstream fair involved yet the most successful documentary of the year is nowhere to be seen. Much the same could be said about Tyson and Capitalism: A Love Story. Really strange nominations in this category for me. Anyway....
If you're an animal lover, this category is a bit tough. Between Food, Inc. and The Cove even Ted Nugent might become a vegetarian for a minute or two. My pick for The Cove doesn't come from it being the best made. It's really hard to say that this is a "good" movie or that I like it. It's pretty terrible and I absolutely hated watching it, yet it's the one that impacted me the most. I think that's what a good documentary should do and this one definitely made me feel something. Sad, depressed and extremely angry, yet very proud of the people who made it and hopeful that it leads to something good. But it won't unless people see it and people need to see this. It needs an Oscar win so people will seek it out. There is a 10 minute segment of this movie that is insanely shocking and awful. The only people who won't cry during it are complete psychopaths. But mixed in with all the insanity is a lot of fun. It's about this guy who has spent his whole life trying to save dolphins. He finds out about this cove in Japan where the Japanese are apparently really putting a foot up some dolphin ass. He can't get proof of it so he seeks out help to get it. He basically puts together an A-Team of animal rights guys, prop makers from ILM and world champion divers to break into this highly guarded place and get footage of whatever is going on.
I know animal rights activists really come off like douches a lot of the time, but these guys aren't like that. They're not the annoying PETA type. They're just normal guys who believe something messed up is happening and want to stop it. And it is messed up. We've seen all those hidden camera videos of what goes on in food factories and slaughterhouses. What these Japanese savages are doing goes way, way, way, waaaaaaayyy beyond any of that. It's nothing but unnecessary savagery. As I watched the footage all I could think was I'm sooooo glad we dropped those bombs on Japan but I wish we dropped 50 more. If a movie can make me feel so strongly about its subject that I want to blow up a country full of innocent people just to punish the 20 of them who I hate, how can I not give that movie an Oscar?
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
5. The Young Victoria
4. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
2. Coco before Chanel
1. Bright Star
Bright Star is a movie I never heard of and I'm happy it got nominated so I would watch it. I would never have watched this for any other reason. It's another period romance movie like The Young Victoria. It's something I shouldn't like at all. But its sooo well made that I couldn't help but enjoy every second of it. And while I refuse to give any of these types of awards to most of these period pieces because they all seem so cookie cutter, Bright Star is the complete opposite of that. While watching it I actually noticed and liked the costumes. This category is usually tough as costumes aren't really something I'm into normally. So for me to watch a movie and think, wow, I'm really digging these costumes, that's really saying something. The thing that was great about them is that they were just so different from the costumes we usually see in these movies. They were original. A million movies come out every year that are set during this time period and this one managed to do something unique with it.
The sad thing is that this movie didn't get more nominations. I could pick out at least 2 - 3 actors who would be better choices than the ones we have. Not only does Jane Campion deserver a nomination for direction but she deserves to win it hands down. The best directed movie I've seen by far. I don't know about you but when I sit down to watch some romantic tragedy about a 19th century poet I figure this is going to be a real borefest. Instead I sat there and watched the whole thing straight through without ever getting bored and just marveled at the complete and total competence of everybody who had a hand in making it. I am also amazed that movies like this come out in a year where the Oscars expanded the best picture category to 10 nominees and they picked the drivel they picked over this.
I just realized how hilarious saying period romance is. Ewww.
5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
4. The White Ribbon
3. Inglorious Basterds
1. The Hurt Locker
I lied when I said I watched every one of these movies. I've never watched a Harry Potter movie in my life and I don't plan to ever change that. If I did, I wouldn't start with the 6th one.
When I try to pick who should win this category I think back to the movies and see which movie has the most cool shots that I still have stuck in my mind. (That would be Watchmen hands down but the people who pick the nominees can't remember movies that came out more than 2 months ago much less 11.) If that's all that mattered I'd give it to Avatar with Hurt Locker being a close second. But there's something else to consider here. How many of those great shots in Avatar were actually created by great camera work and lighting and how many of them created by a bunch of guys on computers during post production? There's no denying that Avatar had some great looking scenes, but if we're really going to stick with what this category is supposed to be for, I have to give it to The Hurt Locker. If we're going to start giving out awards for cinematography to movies like Avatar, we might as well go ahead and start giving them to movies like Up.
BEST ART DIRECTION
5. The Young Victoria
4. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
3. Sherlock Holmes
This was the hardest category by far because I really didn't want to give it to any of them. But then I figured, well, Avatar created a whole planet. If that's not good enough to get best art direction, I don't know what is.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
5. The Secret of Kells - This was one of the WTF nominees. There were plenty of animated movies released last year that could've been here but the Academy decided to pull this one, that nobody in the world had heard of, out of their collective ass. The thing is.... when they do that, it usually makes sense once you see it. In this case? It makes no sense. This is just not very good. The animation itself is terrible. It looks like any cartoon that comes on in the afternoon on Cartoon Network or NickToons. And the story is......well, I have no idea. I don't really know what this was about. There's a kid, a cat, a book, a wall and a forest. The big problem is that there was a very good movie hidden in there. I could see it through the fog. At times it started to resemble a children's version of The Dark Tower. The filmmakers just couldn't pull it out of the fog. So not only was it not very good, it was also very frustrating because I could see the awesome potential it had.
4. The Princess and the Frog - The standard Disney princess movie they've made a million times except this time they used a different color crayon. It was nice to see a return of traditional animation but the movie just wasn't worth seeing. It feels hollow and forced. They didn't seem interested in making a classic Disney movie here, they just seemed to be content with making a very cheap marketing gimmick and saying look everybody, we put black people in this one!!
3. Coraline - Meh. I'm firmly in the middle on this one
1. Fantastic Mr. Fox
It was tough to choose between these two. I've flip flopped back and forth numerous times. When I started writing this paragraph I had Up in the lead, by time I finished it, Fox was in the lead. Fox is probably my favorite movie of the two. If I ever watched one of these again, it would be Fox. I don't think I'd ever watch Up again. I thought the first 20 minutes of Up was really, really great and that 20 minutes is better than Fox and better than most of this year's nominees in all categories. The problem is that there was another hour or so after that. If I only judged Up on that first 20 minutes, it wins. If I compare the movies as a whole, I have to give it to Fox.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
5. District 9 - I don't see how watching Enemy Mine and Alien Nation and then combining the two into one movie should earn you an Oscar.
4. Precious - I don't see how just doing a bunch of really mean things to a made up character to the point that it just becomes funny should earn you an Oscar.
3. Up in the Air - I don't see how writing a movie that leaves many people sitting there staring at the end credits wondering "what was the point of that" should earn you an Oscar.
2. An Education - I really liked this movie and it is a strong second place, but I don't see how I can't give the Oscar to....
1. In the Loop - I had never heard of this movie before but I'm very glad it got this nomination which caused me to seek it out. It's one of my favorite movies of the year now. It's a farce loosely based on the events leading up to the Iraq war and one of the things that makes this movie great is that the script doesn't beat you over the head with any real political message. It's not really anti-war or pro-war. It's not pro-liberals or pro-conservatives. It makes fun of them all. It's a hilarious mocking of the ridiculous world of politics in general. It wisely ignores all the big hitters like the President and instead focuses on the "middle-management" of the Government, so even if you don't care about the political aspect you'll still get the humor because these people aren't any different than the weaselly middle-management at any other job. It's a really fun movie that fully succeeds thanks to its script and cast. It reminded me of early Woody Allen mixed with the original British version of The Office. I can't give much higher praise than that.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
5. A Serious Man
4. The Hurt Locker
3. Inglourious Basterds
1. The Messenger
Do I have to give it to one of these? Well....uggh..... The Messenger was the best movie of the group. Don't really think it was a great script but it was the best movie.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
5. Mo’Nique (Precious) - I have never seen a more over-rated acting performance in my life. Was she even acting? I didn't see much acting. She was loud. That's pretty much it. The Academy loves to give out supporting acting awards to whoever can be loudest. To me this wasn't even the best supporting actress of this movie much less every movie. I thought Paula Patton as the teacher was better, but the one I would've rather see get nominated is.....wait for it.....Mariah Carey. I thought Carey was surprisingly impressive in her role. She did it by doing what Mo'Nique did NOT do, she played a character. We know Mariah and we know that this person was not her in any shape or form. She toned herself down, took off the makeup, left all that diva BS behind and acted. Mo'Nique did NOT do that. She did the opposite. She is already a loud, annoying and obnoxious woman in real life, in the movie she just turned it up to 11. She didn't seem to play a character, she played a louder, meaner version of herself. She stole every scene she was in simply because she was louder than everybody else. That is not supporting, that is distracting. Mariah Carey stole her scenes because she was actually surprisingly good in her role.
4. Penélope Cruz (Nine) - The Academy has an unhealthy obsession with Penélope Cruz. That's the only logical reason why she is here.....again.
3. Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) - I'm a fan of hers. I think she's good in most everything. She was good in this too but the role just wasn't meaty enough to make me stand up and shout that she was great and the movie could never be as good without her. It's a role that demanded nothing but an attractive older broad be in it, there really wasn't much acting required. I saw this before the nomination was announced and there was nothing there that made me believe a nomination was on the way.
2. Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air) - The same can be said for her as well. She did fine, but didn't blow me away. I did like her a tad bit better than Vera as her character had a little more to do, plus I just had zero expectations for a girl who I only know as "friend #2" from Twilight. Maybe that's not fair to Vera but I'm not giving the award to her anyway.
1. Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) - I'm giving it to this ugly broad. If you doubt Maggie Gyllenhaal is a good actress, watch Dark Knight. She's so good that she can almost convince you that the two most eligible bachelors in Gotham City (one a billionaire) could fall in love with her. In real life? No way does either one of those guys give her the time of day, but somehow she almost pulls it off. She does it again here. Somehow her wily ugly girl charms manages to make a famous country singer fall in love with her to the point that he stops drinking and starts writing hit songs. In real life the only song anybody would write about this girl is a funeral dirge, but somehow she pulls it off with her acting. Am I being really mean here? Is this going too far? I can't help it. She's not a good looking woman. Long on talent, short on the looks. Ya can't have everything. But the point is, I thought she was really good in this.
But, this makes me wonder....how the hell is Sarah Jessica Parker famous? She is absolutely one of the ugliest women on Earth, she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag, yet she's famous. I don't like Megan Fox, I can understand why others do. I can't figure out why anybody in the world would like Sarah Jessica Parker except ugly people who get some kind of hope from her that they too could some day crawl out from under their bridges and make something of themselves. Yuck.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
5. Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) - You've got to be kidding me with this. When I saw Sandra Bullock nominated for a Golden Globe for this movie I thought.....eh, whatever. The Globes are a lot more "fun" and less serious than the Oscars. They throw in some goofy famous people just so they can show them on TV drunk. So whatever, it wasn't like they'd actually give her the award. Then they gave her the award. Are you joking me? Even she questioned it when she made a comment about somebody paying for her to win this award. But still....it's just a Golden Globe. They are famous for being an award the studio can buy for its stars. Sooooo, no biggie, not like she won a prestigious Oscar or anything. Then this nomination was announced. Is this a prank? How does this woman get nominated for an acting award? She's not a good actress. That's why she doesn't do good movies. She does movies like this one where her entire role consisted of variations of this one scene over and over again....
Bullock: You've never had a real bed before??
Big poor black kid: No, ma'am.
Bullock: Well, you have one now!
(She exits the room with a big strong look on her face but once she is out of view she stops, leans against the wall, lets her shoulders sag and then her bottom lip gives a little quiver as she begins to cry.)
That happened at least 20 times in the movie over various items and I groaned at every single one of them. I'm not saying all this because I hate Sandra Bullock. I don't. But there are some people who are famous and get roles because they're a likable personality and some who get them because they're good actors. Sandra is a personality. That's why all she does is romantic comedies and melodramatic garbage. You can't be in Demolition Man and Speed 2 and ever win an Oscar. NO. Not having it. There's no way she should win this. Never. But I'm sure I'll be starting the screen with my jaw on the floor in a few days when she does.
4. Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) - Let’s be honest here for a minute. She got this role because she was fat enough and ugly enough. Sorry, but it's true. She's not some rare talent they plucked out of obscurity. She's not a diamond in the rough. She's like the guy that played Corky on Life Goes On. He wasn't a good actor, he was a good retarded actor. He didn't win an Emmy for that. They had to find some ugly fat girl that could half way act and they did. She stumbled her way through it and since everybody knows she'll never do anything like this again they give her a nomination for it. And I don't hate her for it. Good for her. She managed to parlay weighing 500 pounds into the acting role of a lifetime and got a deserved 15 minutes of fame for it. She'll get a few small roles in a couple of movies over the next few months, maybe she'll get a crappy sitcom or something and then she'll vanish. In a few of years we'll be watching her on Celebrity Fit Club and it'll be a real hoot, but an award for it would be a bit much though.
3. Helen Mirren (The Last Station) - I can't say anything bad about Helen Mirren. She's good in everything. I just wasn't grabbed by this one the way I was by the top two. Plus I'm so tired of every Oscars host having to make the joke about Helen Mirren having great tits in her 60s. We get it. She's a "hot" old lady even though there's no such thing.
I sure did get mean talking about these categories. I must really hate women.
2. Meryl Streep (Julie and Julia) - I'm tired of Meryl Streep being so damn good that I can never get sick of her. Every year she gets nominated and I think "great, I gotta watch whatever garbage this is" and then I end up liking whatever it is because Streep is so good at everything. The same happened here. I had no interest whatsoever in seeing this goofy movie. I was shocked when she got nominated for it because I thought she looked silly in the trailers. She seemed to just be doing a half ass Julia Child impression more than acting. Then I sat down to watch it and, once again, she's awesome. I sat through a 2 hours+ long movie about Julia Child and wasn't bored a single second. Plus it made me hungry! I wouldn't be sad at all to see Streep win another Oscar here but.....
1. Carey Mulligan (An Education) - I really liked this movie but it is a movie that only works if its cast works. The cast worked perfectly and Mulligan leads the way. It's just a shame that she's the only one nominated. This movie was filled with at least 3 worthy performances and the fact that this unknown girl (her most famous role before this was one episode of Doctor Who) could not only hold her own against the rest of this cast, but to shine above them, should win her this awards hand downs. It won't, but it should.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
5. Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
4. Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones)
3. Matt Damon (Invictus)
2. Christopher Plummer (The Last Station)
1. Woody Harrelson (The Messenger)
Waltz is the big favorite in this category. I don't get it. Sorry. I found him grating, obnoxious, annoying and stupid. People say he's one of the great movie villains of all time. I don't see it. I didn't find him to be a scary person for a single second of this movie. Dark Helmet was a more serious villain than this.
This category should be Woody Harrelson's to win without a single doubt in my mind. His performance in The Messenger is absolutely the best of his entire career. He is brilliant in this movie. It is an amazing performance. Comparing these five performances, it's not even close. Plummer is good. Damon is good. Tucci is good. Harrelson is great. Every second that he's off screen was nothing but waiting for him to come back on. He steals the entire movie. He is the movie.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
5. Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) - No other movie had a performance I hated more than this one. Every time I see this guy's face I want to punch him.
4. Morgan Freeman (Invictus) - Morgan Freeman has been playing Morgan Freeman in every movie for the past 20 years. In this movie Morgan Freeman plays Morgan Freeman with a horrible African accent that he goes in and out of more times than Kevin Costner did in Prince of Thieves. But I will say that I thought Invictus was a pleasant surprise that I figure is better than at least 7 or 8 of the best picture nominees.
3. George Clooney (Up in the Air) - George Clooney has played George Clooney in every movie for the past 20 years. In this movie George Clooney plays George Clooney on an airplane.
2. Colin Firth (A Single Man) - Would probably win this award if it wasn't for....
1. Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) - This year this category should be called Best Jeff Bridges. This is very reminiscent of Mickey Rourke last year. Bridges never fell quite as far as that, but he hasn't been in this kind of spotlight in a while and despite a career of amazing performances he's never won this before. Suddenly this role has everybody remembering oh yeah, this guy is awesome and we've been taking him for granted all these years. Even the movies are similar. Crazy Heart is The Wrestler except with country music instead of wrestling. It's completely the exact same story and nearly the exact same character arc. The movies are also similar in that they're really not that great and it is only the performances of these two actors that made them what they are. Crazy Heart would be an epic fail if it wasn't for the performance of Jeff Bridges. It’s one of those times where you feel this guy was born to play this character. I can't say that for the other nominees. I can envision other actors in those roles. Nobody else would've made this role work the way Bridges did.
5. Lee Daniels (Precious)
4. Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)
3. Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)
2. James Cameron (Avatar)
1. Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)
Precious is not a good movie, Basterds is nothing but a Tarantino ego trip, Up in the Air is average at best so it comes down to Avatar vs The Hurt Locker. Ex-husband vs Ex-wife. It took a lot of debating to make a decision here. I actually like Avatar better than The Hurt Locker. As a matter of fact, I despised The Hurt Locker, so here is how I came up with picking Bigelow over Cameron....
A - I think Avatar is Cameron's second best movie behind the original Terminator. The problem is...that isn't saying much because I hate every other movie he's ever made. Even Terminator and Avatar are pretty stupid movies, they just have enough there to overcome how terrible they really should be. I think Cameron is the most over-rated director in the history of Hollywood. To me there is not a single bit of difference between James Cameron and Michael Bay. They both make nothing but big budget, over the top, shut off your brain, popcorn munching, summer blockbuster flicks with flimsy stories, cornball dialogue, bad acting and a million explosions. For some reason one is considered a hack and the other a genius. They're both hacks. Only Michael Bay accepts who he is and embraces it while Cameron walks around like he's Jesus Christ with a 3D camera. You can't give Cameron an Oscar for Avatar without giving one to Michael Bay for Transformers 2. They're the exact same movie except one is in 3D and they're the exact same directors.
B - I said there's no difference between Cameron and Bay. I was wrong. They're both egotistical assholes but at least Bay appreciates that he is able to be one. He appreciates his fans. He interacts with them and thanks them and understands what a phenomenal lucky person he is. James Cameron hates his fans and treats them like trash. He has lost all perspective and doesn't realize how lucky he is to be James Cameron and have millions of fans who watch whatever crap he makes. To him, it's the rest of the world who should be thanking God that he allowed us to walk the same Earth as James Cameron. Without the blessing that is James Cameron all of our lives would be cold and empty.
The Oscar telecast was supposed to include a comedy skit about Avatar from Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Stiller but it has been cut out because they were afraid Cameron would walk out. The skit itself was pretty lame and I'm glad it's out, but it's very sad that Cameron is such a famous cry baby with no sense of humor that they're scared to put it on the show.
C - But I really did like Avatar for the most part and Cameron did help create some amazing stuff here. But I can't help but to go back to the fact that most of this movie was created in a computer, not on a set. The majority of what made this movie great was made by a bunch of nerds on their trendy Macs. It was not created by Cameron. Cameron had the ideas, but not the abillity to make it himself. Cameron says go create me a weird alien dog. Computer nerd goes and creates a weird alien dog. Cameron says go create me a weird alien horse. Computer nerd goes and creates a weird alien horse. Cameron says go create me a weird alien dinosaur. Computer nerd goes and creates a weird alien dinosaur. People will say, but Cameron created a whole brand new type of camera for this movie! Yeah? Really? So? That is why they have a separate Scientific and Technical Oscars show.
D - I think it's insane that a woman has never woman this category. I can think of several that should have and it's about time it happened. (Does that make up for my earlier comments, ladies?)
E - Bigelow directed Point Break.
F - The Hurt Locker is not only a terribly boring movie but also a complete insult to every single man and woman who've risked life and limb to "protect our freedom" in the Middle East. Yet, somehow this brilliant woman has managed to convince people that this is not only a good movie, but one of the best movies of the year! If she doesn't deserve a reward for accomplishing that amazing feat I just don't understand this world.
G - I really just want to see her beat out that SOB she was married to.
Now we finally get to the big one. I've been saying here and there for the past few months that I thought 2009 was the worst year of movies in my life. Getting to watch all these nominated movies has led me to find a few more good ones than I originally thought, but I can say without a doubt that this is still the worst year I've seen come out of Hollywood in my life time. I think this list of best picture nominees completely proves my point.
I am very far from being one of those anti-Hollywood, too cool for the room guys. I think the vast majority of stuff Hollywood puts out is great. The problem is that the majority of the public would rather go see the latest kids movie starring The Rock than most things worth seeing. I generally like most of what I see. I'm pretty easy to please. Every movie I watch I put in maximum effort to find something to like about it and when I find something to like, even if it's just one little thing, I will grab on to that one little thing and let it carry me to the credits. Even if it's a movie that I shouldn't like, like some goofy romantic comedy, if it's made well and makes the slightest bit of effort to be original, I'll love it. I was just gushing about Bright Star a little while ago. I should not like that movie. I shouldn't. I'm not the demo. But it's so well made that I can't help but respect it.
Seriously, I'm easy to please. I'm the one guy on the internet who is willing to fight you if you say Pearl Harbor sucks. I will defend Transformers 2 and GI Joe to anybody. I can watch Citizen Kane and Friday the 13th back to back and tell you they're both works of pure genius. I am a bona fide movie lover, not a movie hater. So for me to think this was the worst year of movies I've ever seen, I think it's really saying something because I don't want to say it. I'd rather they had all been entertaining and enjoyable. I don't watch things because I don't want to like them. I can't believe that this year was sooooooo bad that this is considered the best ten movies out there. And while I can name a couple I feel should be in there that aren't, I probably couldn't even pick my own top 10 because I didn't see 10 best picture worthy movies this year.
The thing that's really hilarious is that this is the year they decided to expand to 10 movies instead of 5. What a bad year to do that! The sad thing is that this has become known as "The Dark Knight Rule". The Dark Knight was a movie that showed you could make a big budget summer action flick and make an Oscar worthy film at the same time. Many people expected it (and Wall-E to a lesser extent) to be nominated for best picture. When it didn't get nominated and word got out that it finished 6th in the voting to the pretty terrible "The Reader" people complained loudly. The Academy started realizing how out of touch they seemed and decided the best way to fix the situation was to do 10 nominations instead of 5 so they could get more "popular" movies in the voting. But it really wasn't about people wanting more "popular" movies nominated. Most "popular" movies are crap. It was about this one particular movie getting snubbed. The Dark Knight, a movie that combines massive box office with critical praise, is a rarity. Just because people wanted that nominated doesn't mean any movie that makes a lot of money should get nominated. It almost makes The Dark Knight snubbing even worse that because it missed out, the Academy tried to make up for it by nominating such undeserving garbage this year.
The other change they made this year is how the voting itself works. Up until now the best picture voting process always involved the voters looking at the nominees and picking the best one. This year they have switched to a weighted system. Voters now rank the nominees from 10-1 and each spot is worth a certain amount of points which are added up to pick the winner. So it’s now a possibility that the movie that gets the most first place votes, doesn't actually win the award. It also gives them the ability to actually vote against a movie. And that is a power that these egotistical and petty Hollywood people should not have. Even if a movie is the clear cut best picture, maybe the director or somebody is really hated and causes people to say screw him and vote it at #10. So despite a lot of people voting it #1, a group of people voting it #10 could be enough to bring it down a notch and then the wrong movie wins. It's a really silly way to do it and at this point I'm wondering how long it will be before this thing becomes a reality show and the public gets to call in and vote.
As far as predicting who I think will win. I think, like most, that it's a tossup between The Hurt Locker and Avatar with Locker in a slight lead. Basterds is looking to sneak in there and steal it out from under them though. But the new voting system really makes it a crap shoot. A lot of actors hate Avatar. They're looking at it as Cameron basically trying to make them obsolete. They're looking at it almost like silent actors looked at sound. I could see a scenario where Avatar gets a bunch of votes, but then a bunch of the actors put it in 10th and it brings the average down. Meanwhile, one of the producers of The Hurt Locker caused quite a firestorm last week when he sent out an email to voters telling them to vote for his movie instead of "a $500 million dollar film" which is a big time no-no and he's be banned from the show. I could see a situation where that would cause people to vote against it and bring its total down a bit. Plus, it just seems that a backlash is building against them. A month ago no other movie stood a chance but they seem to be slipping as people grow tired of all the hype while Basterds seems to be rising for some reason. I really wouldn't be shocked at anything that happens at this point. It could be the predictable or it could be absolutely shocking. The one thing about not having any really good movies nominated is that it's the most wide open race in a long time. If you put a gun to my head I think they reward Avatar by giving Cameron the directing category and reward Hurt Locker with best picture.
As far as my picks go....
10. A Serious Man - This is the most mind boggling choice out of all these movies. I think the Coen Brothers are almost as over-rated as Cameron is. I never actually hate their stuff but I always feel let down by it and never think they live up to their ideas. But I've never out right hated one of their movies. Until now. A Serious Man is TERRIBLE.
I enjoy watching bad movies. I have bad move nights. I actively seek out bad movies to watch them and laugh. I've seen some of the worst movies ever made. This movie made my top 10 worst movies I've ever seen list. I despised it to an unbelievable degree. Every character was annoying. Every word they said was annoying. The cast was terrible. The writing was worst. The movie just had a bad look to it. Hell, the first ten minutes or so of the movie were so damn confusing I didn't even know if I was watching the right movie. It starts out in full screen, looking like a movie from an old VHS tape, it looks foreign and it's sub-titled. It's telling a story about some ghost or demon. Both me and the person watching it with me were completely confused. We couldn't even pay attention to what was going on because we were so confused and wondering what was going on. We thought it was the wrong movie. I had to take the disc out and make sure it was the right one. Then I started wondering if maybe they messed up in the factory and put the wrong movie on the disc. I eventually gave up and skipped to halfway through the movie and saw that it was the right movie. Then I started wondering if the disc was defective and had part of another movie on it and then it would switch to the right one. It was so friggin confusing.
The sad thing is that this confusing part was a million times better than the real movie and once we got a little bit into the movie I really missed it. I can't believe this movie is nominated for anything other than a Razzie. It's bloody awful. If the Coens didn't direct this nobody would give it the time of day.
9. District 9 - The original teaser trailer for District 9 captivated me. It looked amazing and laid out the ground work for an entirely original and fresh take on the alien invasion movie. The full trailer wasn't as great as that teaser was but it still looked cool. I was sooooooo looking forward to it. Yet.....only 10 minutes into the movie I got that bad feeling in my bowels. Honestly, I really wanted to cut the movie off because I did not want to be disappointed by it. I wanted to cut my losses and just remember the greatness I saw in the teaser trailer. The person with me wouldn't let me cut it off so I was forced to sit through the whole thing and every second was painful. All my hopes for this movie were crushed a little bit at a time with each passing moment. I honestly can't really say why I hated it so much. I really can't. It just didn't work for me at all. Everything rubbed me the wrong way. Like I started wondering what the aliens stranded on Earth ate. The movie soon answered my question by showing that they ate cat food. That just annoyed me. It seemed so silly. Cat food? At least ALF ate cats. But I guess the main thing that made it such a disappointment was that all the originality I saw in that teaser trailer and expected from the movie never appeared. The scene from the trailer wasn't even in the movie. There was nothing in this movie that hasn't been done before. Take Alien Nation, combine it with Enemy Mine and that is District 9. It's nothing original, nothing new, just more of the same old stuff with fancier computers. Giving this movie a best picture nomination is a complete joke. If they really wanted to nominate a movie of this type I'd think Paranormal Activity would be a better choice.
8. The Blind Side - The last few years have seen the release of a seemingly never ending string of cheaply produced, reality based, family friendly, overly melodramatic, cornball, feel-good sports films. It started with The Rookie and its success spawned movies like The Express, We Are Marshall, Miracle, Glory Road, The Greatest Game Ever Played and about a dozen others and there is absolutely no sign that they'll stop anytime soon. The movies are usually made for a low $20m budget, so there is no way to not make money no matter how hack they are, and they always only have one star surrounded by a bunch of unknowns who are usually real athletes trying to act. This one features Sandra Bullock as its star and about a dozen former SEC football coaches in its cast. And it's truly awful. By faaaaaar the worst example of these modern day sports movies. The worst, the hackiest and the corniest. This is a Lifetime movie wearing a sports movie Halloween costume. It's complete cheese. The real life story this is based on could never be this lame, because nothing in life could ever be this lame. And its treatment of the race issue is beyond belief.
I friggin HATE the way our society is so quick to label people racist. Especially when it's white people labeling other white people racist. But good gawd, Transformers 2 was called racist and this wasn't? Transformers 2's "racism" was using stereotypes as a vehicle for humor. This movie claims to be an uplifting story for the whole family but seems so much more evil than a movie just making a few silly race based jokes. You could put Stepin Fetchit in the lead role of The Blind Side and nothing would change.
The whole message of this movie seems to be black people suck and they need a sassy rich white woman to come help them. They are also very scared of sassy rich white women which is proven when she goes to the projects and defeats a group of pistol packing gangstas with nothing but her sass. This is supposed to be a football story about the true story of Michael Oher's rise from being homeless to being an NFL player. Instead the movie puts the entire focus on Bullock's annoying privileged white woman character. Oher is presented as nothing more than a pet adopted by a bored housewife. Even the way she teaches him football is more like somebody giving a dog a treat to teach him to do tricks rather than coaching somebody to play a sport. Most of the movie is nothing but Sandra Bullock sassing around town acting like a raging c-word to everybody she meets while the rest of the cast just stands to the side shaking their heads and smiling like ooooh that woman, she's soooo sassy! In between that is a bunch of sappy dialogue like "You're changing that boys life"......"No. He's changing mine!" And the acting of those lines is the worst acting I've seen since Jon Lovitz's Master Thespian character on SNL. And that's not even getting to all the thrown in jokes to try to get the Red Staters into the theaters like "Who would've thought we'd have a black son before we met a Democrat?" YUCK.
The only reason it made it this high on my list is that it has a few unintentional funny moments that made me laugh out loud. I hate the movie but unlike A Serious Man, I enjoyed hating it.
7. The Hurt Locker - The main problem I had with this movie is that nothing happens in it. There's no story, no plot, no character development, nothing. I can go through the whole movie right here....
A long, drawn out scene of a guy trying to defuse a bomb.
He blows up.
A new KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy replaces him.
A long, drawn out scene of the new KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy trying to defuse a bomb.
Another long, drawn out scene of the new KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy trying to defuse a bomb.
Another long, drawn out scene of the new KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy trying to defuse a bomb.
A long, drawn out homo-erotic scene of the new KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy and his team getting half naked and punching each other. (Think the volleyball scene in Top Gun.)
Another long, drawn out scene of the new KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy trying to defuse a bomb.
A long, drawn out sniper scene.
Another long, drawn out scene of the new KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy trying to defuse a bomb.
KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy sneaks out of Army base and wonders around town.
Another long, drawn out scene of the new KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy trying to defuse a bomb.
KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy goes home.
KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy comes back.
All these bomb scenes are tense and dramatic. They're directed perfectly. But after you see one or two it's like, ok, we get it, and the tension goes away. The total lack of story in between the bomb scenes makes you not care if the bombs go off and kill every single character in the movie. As a matter of fact I openly cheered for them to go off.
The second worst aspect of this movie is Jeremy Renner's character. You may know him better as new KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy. His character is such a tired cliché that I am shocked somebody used this type of character in a serious movie in the year 2009. He is the typical anti-hero of most cheesy 80s action flicks. He's the typical "plays by his own rules" nutty cop from every buddy cop movie ever. He's Sylvester Stallone in Cobra. He's Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. He's Assy McGee. He shows up and he refuses to do anything by the book and he's constantly acting KRAZEEEEE!!!!! He takes off the protective suit while defusing a bomb because if he dies he wants to die comfortable. That's KRAZEEEE!!!! He's so cool!! I want to be him when I grow up!
The problem is that The Hurt Locker is presented as a realistic depiction of what’s going on in the war. It's not sold as just some goofy action flick starring a KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy. This character kills every single bit of realism. Nobody would be allowed to act this way and risk the lives of every soldier around him like this. It's insane. The guy would be peeling potatoes, cleaning toilets or in military prison. Many soldiers have started campaigning against this movie winning the Oscar in recent weeks and I can't blame them one bit. It's insulting. It makes them look like complete arseholes. The only thing I give this movie credit for is that it does not contain the typical liberal anti-war Hollywood message. If anything its message is war is fun as hell and if you're a KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy you'll love it.
6. Precious - The 3rd funniest movie of the year. I haven't seen The Hangover yet so it might slip but I don't see how. This movie is sold as a "powerful" and "uplifting" drama about an abused girl who somehow manages to rise above all of her troubles. The problem is that they took her problems to such an over the top level that the movie becomes ridiculous and I just started laughing every time they threw another log onto the abuse fire. As I began watching it I had assumed that this was a true story. But once it started and all this insanity started happening I started feeling like there's no way this all could be true. I had to look it up to see that no, this isn't a true story. So then I started thinking, then what the hell is the point? People call movies like Hostel and Saw "torture-porn" and to me this is way worse and more insulting than that. Neither Hostel or Saw made big fat black girl run around eating a bucket of fried chicken until she puked. The author just seemed to create a character and then put the character through hell. There are no redeeming qualities about this movie. Precious never rises above any of this. There's no message of hope. The only message is life sucks and then you die.
I can you tell exactly when I turned on this movie and started laughing at it. Around 20-25 minutes in there is a big fight between Precious and her mother. Instead of showing it, the screen fades to black and we just hear the fight for a few seconds. We hear the typical fight type sound effects like dishes crashing on the wall and then it ends with....I kid you not.....the cat screech sound effect. It was like something that would happen on Looney Tunes or in the Three Stooges. The Stooges get into a pie fight, the pie flies out the window, cue cat screech sound effect. That was my first laugh in this movie and where I figured our that this was a comedy.
After that, as more and more crap happened to this poor girl, I laughed more and more and more. It was impossible to take this movie seriously. At first it's just her mother is kind of abusive and she's been raped by her father. At that point it's sad and you feel for her and if they had just kept it at that level, it would've worked. But they had to throw in incest by the mother, they had to throw in her retarded daughter which she named Mongoloid, they had to throw in her delivering her baby on the floor while her mother beat her in the head with a frying pan, they had to throw in her mother trying to throw a TV set at her head, the fried chicken scene, allt he stuff about welfare, she had to get kicked out of school, she had to be fat, ugly and illiterate, the list just goes on and on and on. And in the end.....once she finally escapes and gets away from her abusive mother? She finds out she has AIDS!!! The end. What a heartwarming tale of a young single woman rising above her troubles only to die from a terrible disease and leave behind two parentless children for the tax payers to take care of. A truly lovely movie and an unintentional laugh riot. And this is coming from a complete pussy who cries at movies at the drop of a friggin hat.
5. Inglourious Basterds - I found this to be an epic disappointment and an epic case of false advertising. All the hype for this movie claimed that this movie was about Brad Pitt and his group of Inglourious Basterds (you know, the people the movie is named after) going around and killing Nazis. That's all the trailers and posters and everything else showed. Tarantino himself said it was his "bunch-of-guys-on-a-mission film. It's my Dirty Dozen or Where Eagles Dare or Guns of Navarone kind of thing." So that's what I expected and wanted to see when I watched it. Instead, the Basterds are actually only on screen in Basterds for about 30, 35 minutes and for the majority of that time all but 3 of them are dead. We only get one actual scene of the Basterds killing Nazis. The other 2 hours of the movie is nothing but long scenes of people sitting around tables talking. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. There is very little action, very little violence and very little of a bunch-of-guys-on-a-mission.
Tarantino's last movie, Death Proof, was very similar. It was sold as a horror movie but then you sit there for an hour watching people just sit around tables talking. The difference is that Death Proof had an absolutely action packed and breath taking climax that totally redeemed it. Basterds doesn't have that. The movie starts in low gear and it never shifts up. Also different from Death Proof is that the dialogue in that movie just felt like Tarantino being Tarantino. Basterds feels like Tarantino's love letter to himself. There's even dialogue in there about how great directors are. It seems that Tarantino couldn't let the movie or its cast be the stars, he had to make sure he was the only true star and get all the attention. "Look at me and all the words I can write!" This movie is theatrical masturbation.
4. Up in the Air - Finally a movie I don't have a lot to say about. That's why it's around the middle. Up in the Air is completely average in every way imaginable. It's not bad, it's not good, it's just there. The writing is OK, the acting is OK, the directing is OK. It's just not memorable or special. I can take it or leave it but in no universe is it Oscar worthy.
3. Up - I've always said the thing makes Pixar great and what separates them from all the other computer animation out there is that Pixar tries to make good movies, not good kid movies. They're not trying to win Best Animated Feature, they're shooting for Best Feature. My dream movie is a Pixar animated Superman movie. I think that would be the bee’s knees. I loved Wall-E and think it greatly deserved a nomination for Best Picture. But Up....this is where they lost me.
The first 20 minutes of Up were great. Great writing, great character work, great story. But once the house floated off to the jungle everything changed. Then we got this big weird bird thing, some talking dogs, a bunch of goofy plot twists and all this crap about the floating house to begin with......it just went plain goofy. All of sudden it wasn't much different from any of the other goofy kid movies out there like Cloudy with a Chance for Meatballs.
I didn't hate the movie. I liked it. There were still a few moments of greatness in the rest of the movie and tears were shed, but for the first time I felt that Pixar had let me down. This felt like they had settled for just making a goofy kids movie and not a movie. I would not be mad if Up wins but I can't make it my pick and I damn sure don't think it deserves it if Wall-E didn't get it.
2. Avatar - I liked Avatar a little better than Up and I did consider putting it in first place but I just couldn't bring myself to actually do it. The movie is just too flawed and the biggest problem is the script. James Cameron is a lot like George Lucas in that they both think they're geniuses who can do no wrong and they're surrounded by too many yes men who won't tell them they're not. Despite the fact that the best Star Wars movie was not directed or written by Lucas, he just haaaaad to do The Phantom Menace on his own. Look how that turned out. James Cameron may be a good director, but he is not a good writer. His writing is very clichéd and seems to be written by a 13 year old boy. Had he let a legit screen writer come on board and help fix the script, the movie itself could have been as great as the technical achievements that went into making it. Instead it's an average at best movie with amazing FX and a fantastic vision that's just a tad bit out of reach.
One of the most distracting things about the writing was the over use of voice over. One of the main things you learn when you study the world of screen writing is that movies are primarily a visual medium. That's pretty much the main rule. If you can get something across by showing it on screen you always do that before having a character say it. Exposition is the hallmark of a bad writer. And that's just for dialogue. Voice overs?? Voice overs are pretty much considered total garbage and if you use them it's because you're an amateur who doesn't know how to write a movie. They're a crutch. An opening voice over to set up the story? That's one thing. Voice over through the whole movie? Big time no-no. So that was distracting. Probably not to most, but for me I kept thinking why is this guy talking again?
And it just seemed like every single time I was really getting sucked into it, something Cameron did would completely distract me and pull me right out of the movie. When we find out the precious material the humans are trying to mine on Pandora is called "unobtainium" I laughed out loud. What a goofy ass name to call it. Or whenever the soldiers would fist bump. I'd stop paying attention to everything because I was so amazed that in the 2154 people are still fist bumping. Or better yet, still acting like Will Smith and screaming "YEAH! TAKE THAT BITCH!" after shooting an alien. This is the kind of stuff that makes me believe Cameron is a 13 year old boy.
But perhaps the biggest problem with the writing is all the cries of plagiarism. We've all heard the chatter about Pocahontas and Dances with Wolves and Ferngully. One wise man even said Avatar is nothing but The Gungans vs Halo. But perhaps the biggest claim, and least reported, is the book Call Me Joe which is so similar that it makes Avatar's originality seem quite suspect. Call Me Joe centers on a paraplegic who telepathically connects with an artificially created life form in order to explore a harsh planet. He revels in the freedom and strength of his artificial body, battles strange creates, gradually goes native and leaves his real body behind to join his new race. Even the cover of the book shows him to be a big weird blue guy. THAT IS AVATAR!
There's been talk of suits and the possibility of having to add the authors name to the credits of the movie. The sad thing is that this wouldn't be the first time Cameron pilfered a story. Cameron ripped off two episodes of The Outer Limits, written by Harlan Ellison, to create Terminator. Ellison sued after the movie came out and is now credited in the film.
At the end of the day I liked Avatar just fine. There was more good than bad there. Just not enough good to say it was the best movie of the year. I have too many complaints and reservations and I just see way too many flaws. And isn't being the #1 grossing movie of all time reward enough?
1. An Education - 10 years from now I will look back at 2009 and the only movie I'll still give a hoot about is Watchmen. I likely won't even remember watching An Education. But out of these 10 nominated movies it is by far the best of the bunch and I would say it's maybe the only one that would get an Oscar nomination in any other "good" year. If I made my own top ten list, it would probably be the only one of the ten that would make my list too. It's not a great movie. It's not a great original story that blows you away with its twists and turns. It's just a good, solid, well made movie with an extremely likable cast and I think that is the main thing that separates it from the other movies. It's just likable. The characters and the actors who play them, every single one, are likable. The main characters, the supporting characters, the heroes, the villains, they all have some degree of likability to them. I enjoyed being with these people for a couple of hours. Unlike KRAZEEEEE!!!! guy or the rich white woman characters in these other movies, I cared about these characters and what happened to them. Also unlike the other movies, I can't find a flaw to complain about or make fun of. The writing is fantastic, every single character is fully fleshed out and goes through their own big or small arcs. No character ends the movie the same person they were at the start. It’s not the big flashy spectacles that these other movies are, it's just a good, solid, competent movie with a great cast and great writing. In other years that might not be enough to make it my favorite, but this year it is.
TA DA!! THE ARISTOCRATS!!!