Spoiler Alert : Best Picture Oscar is a Two-Horse Race

7 03 2010

Tonight the Awards Season continues with the 82nd Academy Awards being beamed live from the City of Angels.

LA will be filled with the great, good and talented of the film industry. Parties will be thrown all over town, sparking a desperate scramble for the paparazzi to find out who will be where and in what sort of state. The successful parties will be exclusive affairs for those who have achieved something in their business, others may see a steady stream of wannabes and those whose desperation for acceptance far outshines any meaningful contribution to cinematic art.

Picture courtesy of the BBC

This post is not going to dwell on where Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton will be spending the evening.

The big talk in Lala Land is which movie is going to walk away with the Best Picture Oscar. Will it be Avatar, the biggest grossing movie of all time, effects laden and a “masterpiece” eight years in the making? Or will The Hurt Locker, a gritty portrayal of bomb disposal in Iraq be the ultimate victor?

Will it be a night to remember for James Cameron or will Kathryn Bigelow become the first woman to take home the Oscar for Best Picture and possibly Directing? Of course the fact that Jim and Kathy used to be married is a minor diversion to the sideshow that follows the circus of Oscar night. 

Both Avatar and The Hurt Locker have 9 nominations, it is not inconceivable that one could walk with the majority of peer acceptance.

I don’t really want to dwell on my views of Avatar, if you want to know my thoughts you can read my piece at http://bostinnovation.com, or you can just click on www.bit.ly/bpJFYi.

I do think that The Hurt Locker is a fantastic piece of cinematic art. Notwithstanding the subject matter, it is an absorbing drama that keeps a good pace throughout and the performance of Jeremy Renner as a slightly cavalier bomb disposal expert is excellent. There are some films that you want to end quickly – Transformers : Revenge of the Fallen seemed to last for days – but I would have been more than happy to spend hours engrossed in Bigelow’s vision.

However in all the Avatar vs Hurt Locker hype, it can’t be forgotten that there are 8 other films vying to take home the title. Normally there are only 5 nominations, and I would have possibly seen 2. This year I have seen 7 out of the 10, which is not a bad vindication of the quality of movies being considered.

I have not seen Precious (possibly very depressing but apparently brilliantly acted and directed), The Blind Side (starring Sandra Bullock, a reason to avoid) or An Education (which did well at the BAFTA’s but had not appeared on my radar until now) so I can’t comment on their chances but of the other 5, I enjoyed each one for differing reasons.

District 9 was my film of last year until I saw Hurt Locker. I loved the premise of a film which highlighted apartheid in South Africa whilst merging what appeared to be documentary footage with a good old sci-fi homage to the works of (ironically) James Cameron et al.  Sharlto Copley – unknown outside an inner circle of South African filmmakers – was so convincing as the unwilling p(r)awn in a Corporation’s masterplan that he will next be on screens as Murdoch in The A-Team.

Inglorious Basterds is a typical Tarantino flick. Effortlessly cool, sparkling dialogue (in several languages) and with terrific acting by an ensemble cast that had few star names but who brought an alternative history of WW2 to a gripping (if predictably violent) finale. If Hurt Locker doesn’t win, then I would be happy to see Quentin on the podium.

Up is unlikely to get the Best Picture Oscar for the very reason it should win Animated Feature Film. Animated films don’t win the big prize, irrespective of how good they are. Up is a great piece of cinema and the opening ten minutes are easily amongst the most riveting I have seen in a while as we are shown how Carl and Ellie meet, fall in love and live their lives without realising all of their dreams. Throw in a talking dog, a chubby boy scout and an improbable bird and you have animated heaven. But it won’t win Best Picture.

The same can be said of The Coen Brothers’ film A Serious Man. It has the dialogue we expect from the Coen’s and the cinematography is excellent throughout but it doesn’t hit the spot as consistently as The Big Lebowski, Fargo or O’Brother, Where Art Thou?. A movie that may require repeated viewing to appreciate all the nuances that Joel and Ethan work so hard to bring to our attention. 

Finally we have Up In The Air, the latest chance for George Clooney to show how unbelievably suave he can be whilst portraying a character that is incredibly familiar. By that I mean that, George just plays George – a combination of Danny Ocean and Dr Ross from ER – seeming to put in the minimum of effort in his almost constant time on the screen but ensuring that the film was watchable without being a classic. To be fair, I thought his supporting cast made the movie and it is pleasing to see that their efforts have not gone unnoticed by the Academy.

But tonight, it will be about the battle of the exes. Avatar vs The Hurt Locker. Cameron vs Bigelow.

Environmental film disguised as love story vs the perils of doing a job in a hostile land for people who didn’t want you there in the first place. Big Blue Smurfs vs Crazy Bomb Disposal Guy.

Pandora vs Iraq.

Let the best man, woman or Na’vi win.

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