02.22.10: oscarizer {it begins}

pop culture is crawling with are-you-a-true-new-yorker? quizzes and commentary; it's an easy and popular subject to cover, what with new yorkers' fondness for identifying themselves. being californian isn't quite like that: it seems to have something to do with good mexican food, and with understatement (in dress, in the treatment of concluding consonants, in self-identification), but definitions are fugitive. it's hard, then to describe the ways in which i'm less californian these days, though i think my near-total failure to keep up with current film is part of it. while i still adore movies, i'm perfectly happy to fold most of them into my netflix queue.

...so there's still a hell of a lot to watch before the academy awards this year, is what i'm saying. one must start somewhere, though, no? as in previous years of slack, i'd love peanut gallery guidance on what's worth seeing in the days that remain. pluses indicate titles i've surfaced and watched before descending back into cultural darkness (read: the first season of homicide); i've italicized my picks to win in each category.

best actor

jeff bridges - crazy heart +
george clooney - up in the air
colin firth - a single man
morgan freeman - invictus
jeremy renner - the hurt locker

i reserve the right to change my mind if jeremy renner blows me away (which is totally possible; i hear the hurt locker is stunning, and i've been eyeing our netflix copy for the past few weeks), but for my money, jeff bridges is a shoo-in. crazy heart is character sketches and a kick-ass soundtrack rather than a full-fledged movie, but those sketches are weirdly indelible. jeff bridges is an utterly plausible old country singer - musically, emotionally, visually - and everything about his performance sticks with you. i've had "fallin and flying" in my head for the last week and will, er, probably buy the whole soundtrack.

best supporting actor

matt damon - invictus
woody harrelson - the messenger
christopher plummer - the last station +
stanley tucci - the lovely bones
christoph waltz - inglourious basterds +

speaking of shoo-ins, christoph waltz (and david bowie's "putting out fire" from cat people in the theater-torching sequence) gave inglourious basterds a weight it otherwise lacked; he deserved his golden globe, and he'll deserve his oscar. if i'm wrong, i predict a left-field win for woody harrelson. christopher plummer was a lot of fun as tolstoy in the last station, but the character as written and played said "idealized grandpa" much more than "russian icon" to me. also...

best actress

sandra bullock - the blind side
helen mirren - the last station +
carey mulligan - an education
gabourey sidibe - precious
meryl streep - julie and julia +

...i think helen mirren gets the last station's oscar, if it's to receive one. her character is too big for the first part of the film - plummer as tolstoy calls her "operatic," which is on the money - but the undertones of her performance in its last act, as her husband flees their home and she tries to join him at his deathbed - had me weeping like a baby. i prefer this performance to her work in the queen, a movie i adored; sofya tolstoy is elizabeth 2's alter ego, i think. meryl streep was fun and streepy, but ultimately forgettable; i think mo'nique overshadows gabourey sidibe, recognition-wise, and that an education will be recognized for its screenplay, not its acting.* sandra bullock...is a german opera singer's daughter. fun fact!**

best supporting actress

penélope cruz - nine
vera farmiga - up in the air
maggie gyllenhaal - crazy heart +
anna kendrick - up in the air
mo'nique - precious

i know i need to see precious, and that i'll need to see it without joe; part of my film-slacking this year has been his utter disinterest in just about all of them. he couldn't even get behind crazy heart, which would shock you if you knew how he feels about dwight yoakam.

best director

kathryn bigelow - the hurt locker
james cameron - avatar
lee daniels - precious
jason reitman - up in the air
quentin tarantino - inglourious basterds +

bearing in mind that it's deeply unfair to judge before seeing either of their films, i sure do hope kathryn bigelow beats the snot out of james cameron. i think the backlash to the avatar backlash's backlash is still in effect; let's hope it makes it through the next fortnight.

best picture

the blind side
district 9 +
an education
the hurt locker
inglourious basterds +
a serious man
up in the air

in a distant but parallel universe, district 9 wins; when did sci fi become so fluent in modern politics? inglourious basterds will not win, nor will the blind side, an education, or up.

best dressed (actor or actress)

maggie gyllenhaal - something one-shouldered
helen mirren - tailored (plunging?) brocade
amanda palmer - a more family-friendly version of her golden globes flapper dress
cate blanchett - alexander mcqueen
tilda swinton - the david byrne big suit and/or nothing at all

cate has a fondness for mcqueen on the red carpet as a general proposition, and i think she'll be paying tribute to him this year; i wouldn't be surprised if maggie gyllenhaal wore him as well, actually. as for SWINTON, note that i predict with love; she'll look fabulous either way. i still want her hair a little.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 am i a new yorker? (joe and i moved here in may of '03, if that helps.)

02 when did sci fi become so fluent in modern politics? in a contemporary sense, i mean. otherwise i'd say 1932.

03 is it unreasonable to want the hurt locker to best avatar just...because? if you've seen both films, how do you feel about them?

04 if you care about that sort of thing, who are your red carpet power animals?

05 which of this year's nominees stand out for you?

*an education's screenplay, incidentally, is a good read; i've yet to see the movie, but i quite liked nick hornby's comments on adapting it from lynn barber's essay. he's got some excellent things to say about adapting memoirs as a general proposition, actually.

**i love sars's take on sandra bullock's "bestower of virtue and mercy — [who's] still sassy enough to call a homeboy "bitch" right back! You go, girl! To get me some insulin!"


uncle paul said...

I'm more film-illiterate now than I was in 2000, if that's possible, but the Battlestar Galactica premiere in 2003 seems to have been a watershed. Children of Men a couple years later was great, though I don't know what kind of specific influence it's had. There's always the subset of sci-fi books that know what they're doing; the earliest I can think of whose politics looks like our politics is probably 334 (1972).

LPC said...

Oddly, I found Hurt Locker to be a little too ain't it hard to be a man heroism etc. Thought it was funny that Cameron won for an attempt at a chick flick, i.e. Titanic, perhaps tonally perfect if his ex wins for an attempt at a buddy movie. One where, as they do, people die.

Rachel (heart of light) said...

I meet Californian criteria on everything except keeping up with current films. I have managed to not see a single movie that is being nominated in any category. What was I doing last year?

baby jo said...

i am the same way as rachel -- definitely a californian (if i cared about stuff like that...hmph) but totally blew it in terms of seeing oscar films this/last year. julie/julia, inglourious basterds, and up were it for me -- but i did just throw hurt locker and district 9 on the queue. which we will get once we watch discs 2 through 4 of angel season 1. because we are dorks.

oh, that's another thing for a more specific category of true californians: angelenos loooooove watching movies and shows that take place in los angeles. it's sick, really. i realized the other day that the most recent shows that i had watched on dvd or on the air were ALL set in los angeles: nip/tuck, alias, angel, lost. the last movie i saw in the theater was also set in los angeles, though it will remain unnamed.

kidchamp said...

oh, jo. you totally saw valentine's day.

in terms of blowing it, i really only caught up (slightly) because i forced myself to go out and see the last station and crazy heart over the past few weekends. it's been a weird year - a lot of the nominees just came out, and who comes out of the holidays wanting to see, like, molestation, land mines, or people getting fired? no wonder avatar's box office has been so gargantuan.

paul, i was thinking of BSG when i asked; i agree. ditto with children of men, re: which i recently heard some crazy bit of trivia...that i'm currently forgetting. it's not that ed westwick was in it, though that's awfully apocalyptic on its own.

ETA: aha! it's that jarvis cocker's "(cunts are still) running the world" is on the soundtrack. that's not all kinds of revolutionary, but 1) he's not wrong and 2) it sure is satisfying when folks i like make art together.

Milkmaid's dumb friend said...

01: Has Jules Winnfield ever given a foot message?
02: Prez Reagan’s “Star Wars” speech in ’83 (thanks in part to the highly decorated Chewbacca-super fan Gen. Daniel O. Graham).
03: Not unreasonable. Just feel for Bigelow. Must be cruddy to make a mostly brilliant film and then have all the award talk necessitate a reference to her “ex-wife of Cameron” status. She wasn’t his first—or his last—wife and they got divorced almost two decades ago. This is the woman who brought us Point Break for pete’s sake- “…bank robbers who may be surfers.” She deserves better.
04: Rihanna, because she’s “tougher than a lion;” or, a lion. I’m not sure I understand the question.
05: Put them all on the backburner if you haven’t seen Wristcutters: A Love Story, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Sunshine (for sci-fi lovers), or this year’s real best picture: The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.
00 Bonus Points (?): Is it that the Dwight Yoakam he feels so strongly about is the psychotic nincompoop from Panic Room?

east side bride said...

you haven't seen Me and You and Everyone We Know? GO RENT IT RIGHT NOW. fuck the oscars.