It's Oscar night, and I'm completely ready for it:
I've seen all ten of the Best Picture nominees:
Avatar: great visuals and graphics, but it's just like Dances With Wolves, only blue.
The Blind Side: an inspiring true story, told with heart.
District 9: interesting concept, and a different story from most. But weird.
An Education: coming-of-age story, which is usually predictable, but this has something to say.
The Hurt Locker: a socially-relevant, honest portrait of a difficult situation. Very intense.
Inglourious Basterds: a very Tarantino interpretation of history - magari!
Precious: socially relevant, and full of heart.
A Serious Man: very Coen-esque depiction of a realistic family story.
Up: heartwarming and lovely Pixar film.
Up in the Air: an honest, poignant look at a man and a commentary on life.
When I heard that there were going to be 10 nominees, I was a bit confused - were there that many exceptional movies last year? No. There were a lot of good movies, but exceptional? Come on! Last year I would've believed it (hello, Academy, way to snub Gran Torino, which was the best film last year), but this year's nominees left me underwhelmed. But I watched them all, and here are my overall impressions.
District 9: really? I heard an interview on NPR, and they said that they chose to nominate 10 films because people are more likely to watch the Oscars if they've seen the films nominated, but why not nominate The Hangover - it was hilarious, easily one of the most entertaining movies of the year, and most people saw it. It's easy to suppose that more people saw The Hangover than saw District 9; I thought that the underlying apartheid commentary was interesting, but the movie was just kind of lacking overall.
Up: now, I loved Up. I thought it was a great movie. But it was also nominated for Best Animated Feature, and it just seems like it shouldn't be nominated twice. Maybe that's just me, but I didn't think that it was one of the best films of the year. I actually liked The Fantastic Mr. Fox a bit better, and I thought that Wes Anderson's use of the stop-animation was more inventive, but I don't think that it has a chance to beat Up, especially with two nominations. I saw four of the five Best Animated feature nominees, and it really is just a race between these two (though I really liked Coraline and thought The Princess and the Frog was a charming throwback to old-school Disney princesses).
A Serious Man: this was the last of the ten films that I saw (I finished it the morning of the Oscars). The Academy loves the Coen brothers, and I usually really enjoy their films, but I didn't think that this one was one of the best pictures of the year.
Okay, so in conclusion, I'm rooting for The Hurt Locker and Precious - I don't think that Avatar was one of the best films of the years, but it seems that the bells and whistles of all the special effects are allowing people to overlook the fact that the story wasn't original. Yes, it was good, and yes the effects were awesome, but it wasn't the best picture of the year. I would also be really happy if An Education won, but that isn't likely, since it's been mostly a race between Bigelow and Cameron. But what about Invictus? Clint Eastwood's two principal actors are nominated, but he loses out again?
I'm still really looking forward to the Oscars. I love watching the red carpet. I think that Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin are going to be hilarious as hosts. They celebrate the films that were the best this year, for the most part; the Academy always gets some things wrong (The Reader was terrible, but they all loved it), but it still makes for an excellent and entertaining night.