I felt a little like John Lennon when I read the nominees for best picture at this year’s Oscars.
“So this is Christmas?”
Wait, isn’t this the year of the Oscars that the expansion of the best picture field would include the movies that deserved it in past years, but were squeezed out by art house pics? Good for District 9, which never would have seen the light of day any year before this one and was obviously the “We need to get a weird movie in here somewhere” pick that will have less than zero percent chance of winning. And good for Blind Side, too, even though I have about as much interest in seeing that as I do in double-dating with Marty McFly and his mom at the Fish Under the Sea dance. That’s two genres of movies that have been consistently ignored by the Academy, sci-fi and sports. So there is progress being made.
But where’s a great comedy like The Hangover? Where’s a groundbreaking chick flick like (500) Days of Summer? Or a new kind of kid’s movie like Where the Wild Things are?
Sure, Avatar’s in there. But you couldn’t convince me in a million years that it wouldn’t have been one of the five finalists this year or any other. And Up made it, but really, expanding the list of nominees from five to 10 should be called the Pixar Rule. No one wanted to include it in the list of five best movies of any year because of the animation prejudice, but no one has any problem saying it’s one of the 10 best.
The Hangover, best picture, best original screenplay. Say it’s the same thing as Dude, Where’s My Car if you’d like. But that’s kinda shot-sighted since Dude, Where’s My Car is bad and Hangover is very, very good, with a snappy, laugh-filled script and what could be the best casting job of the decade. It’s laugh-a-minute stuff, and if this movie isn’t making the Best Picture cut, especially with its Golden Globes win, then you have to wonder if a straight-up comedy like this will ever be nominated. Should be nominated over: Up.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, (500) Days of Summer, best actor. The only excuse for him not being nominated in the Best Actor category is that it’s punishment for him camping it up like he was at Crystal Lake or something as Cobra Commander in GI Joe. Frankly, I wouldn’t blame anyone if that’s the reason. But he completely and totally deserves to be in this category. Should be nominated over: George Clooney, who did a masterful job playing George Clooney.
Greg Mottola, Adventureland, best original screenplay: Best script of the year. How else do you explain Kristen Stewart turning in a great performance? Should be nominated over: Inglourious Basterds, which doesn’t belong in this category …
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds, best adapted screenplay: Why was he nominated for original screenplay when the movie is somewhat of a remake of an Italian 70s war movie? True, the stories aren’t that much alike. In fact, they’re not alike at all. But adapted screenplays are changed from the source material all the time. Adaptation was nominated for adapted screenplay in 2003, and it’s purposely nothing like the book The Orchid Thief. The movie is about how hard it is to adapt a screenplay from a book! Let’s just make a new rule now. When you take the same name of your source material, you’re officially adapting a screenplay no matter how different it is. Otherwise, it’s just confusing. OK? OK. You can see right now the original screenplay category belongs to Hurt Locker, since it tied Avatar for nominations and doesn’t look like it’s winning anywhere else. This will be its consolation prize. Should be nominated over: In the Loop. I giggled, I tee-heed, but I never laughed out loud. When you’re nominating a comedy, you better have five belly-laugh lines. You can’t just claim to be funny if you’re not funny.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, best picture: Granted, this is not the best Harry Potter movie. It’s too long and doesn’t completely make sense. But sooner or later, the Academy will have to get over the fact that these aren’t kids movies and consider it worthy to be included as a best picture contender. It took Pixar more than a decade to break into the best picture race, so it’s probably going to take Pott-ah that long. It probably will follow a similar pattern to Lord of the Rings since the first two were nominated for best picture but the third one won even though it is by far the weakest of the three. Well Pott-ah won’t ever win one, but it’s last installment will be nominated as a going away present. Should be nominated over: Up. If you can see my anti-Pixar stance coming out, good, I meant for that to happen.
Overall, it’s a pretty weak year for movies which means one thing — the whole night is going to set up perfectly for Avatar. It seems like a lock for best picture and best director and every tech award it’s nominated for — which would make it nine for nine, a feat of perfection bested only by Return of the King’s 11 for 11. Even Titanic wasn’t perfect because it lost the two acting categories it was nominated for. So maybe that’s what Cameron was aiming for when he used computer generations and a screenplay we’ve already seen a couple times, that he couldn’t even be nominated for the awards he had no chance in winning. He’s either a diabolical genius or … no, he’s probably a diabolical genius.