I know that I made a promise that I would continue to write through the off-season. I haven't broken that promise; however, I will not be writing in this space anymore.
I've had an incredible year of keeping up with this blog, writing almost every day about what's going on during the Oscar season. But a new year means new beginnings, and I'm hoping you will follow me over at my new website:
A friend and I will be sharing our reviews, commentary, and criticism in this new online space. I hope you will be there (with comments?) in good spirit. But if you can't find your way there, I hope you've enjoyed this space as much as I have.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
As the 82nd Oscar ceremony made its way down the red carpet last Sunday, the Academy made history by awarding its first female director for Best Directing (Kathryn Bigelow, of The Hurt Locker) and its first African American screenwriter (Geoffrey Fletcher, of Precious) for Best Adapted Screenplay.
In a year when both ABC and the Academy have ostentatiously fought for viewership and higher ratings, you might expect that the biggest cash cow on the ballot would win Best Picture. However, Academy voters served up the greatest slice of irony by honoring The Hurt Locker, which is now one of the lowest grossing Best Picture winners in years, instead of Avatar. Quality has trumped box office, and Bigelow and her screenwriter, Mark Boal, have the critical community to thank for that. Although I'm disappointed that two of my favorite films of the nominees, Inglourious Basterds and Up in the Air, were left with one and zero Oscars, respectively, I'm happy that The Hurt Locker has defeated some more garish threats from Avatar, which is a technically brilliant picture but not a well-rounded one.
The Hurt Locker managed to rake in six awards—Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing, and both of the Sound categories (apologies to those who followed my lead and went for Avatar in sound—thought it was a sure thing!). Avatar took three technicals, and Precious took two awards (Best Supporting Actress for Monique and Best Adapted Screenplay for Fletcher). After watching juggernauts like Titanic and even last year's Slumdog Millionaire take away almost the entire pie, I'd say that that's spreading the wealth pretty evenly, which makes for a much more exciting ceremony. With each technical award on deck, I wondered if it would go to Avatar or The Hurt Locker.
But although the Academy commendably got most of the awards right, the producers delivered what was probably the worst telecast I've ever seen live.
My list of grievances:
-The American Idol-style opener with acting nominees onstage waving at the audience.
-Boring, albeit underused hosts
-Poor direction and lighting
-A horror movie montage (note to Producers—New Moon is not a horror film)
-The John Hughes tribute—A prolific director? Yes, but if Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella didn't get this type of treatment, why should John Highes, who has never even been nominated at the Oscars.
-The cutting of Best Original Song performances in favor of an interpretive dance sequence for Best Original Score.
-Overlong Best Actor and Actress tributes, especially when the supporting categories didn't get the same treatment.
-An incomplete In Memoriam segment (um, what about Farrah Fawcett? Bea Arthur?)
-Cutting people off in their speeches. The worst offense was when the orchestra prevented The Cove's director Louie Psihoyos from giving his speech. You can (and should) read what he would have said here.
Surprisingly enough, ratings were up this year. If you tuned in, what did you think?
Posted by Suzanne at 1:04 PM
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Happy Oscar Day, folks!
Best Picture: “The Hurt Locker”
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
Best Actress: Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”
Best Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, “Precious”
Adapted Screenplay: “Up in the Air”
Original Screenplay: “Inglourious Basterds”
Animated Feature: “Up”
Foreign Language Film: “El Secreto de Sus Ojos”
Art Direction: “Avatar”
Costume Design: “The Young Victoria”
Film Editing: “The Hurt Locker”
Makeup: “Star Trek”
Original Score: “Up”
Original Song: “The Weary Kind”
Sound Editing: “Avatar”
Sound Mixing: “Avatar”
Visual Effects: “Avatar”
Documentary Feature: “The Cove”
Documentary Short: “The Last Truck”
Animated Short Film: “Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death”
Live Action Short Film: “The Door”
And finally, I'm sure there will be some action on my twitter feed tonight. Follow me @suzanneday. Enjoy the show!
Posted by Suzanne at 11:04 AM
Thursday, March 4, 2010
The Oscars are three days away, folks. As I expressed in an earlier post, it has been a particularly long season for this Oscar watcher.
This year, the Oscars were pushed back about two weeks to prevent a ratings clash with NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics. As a result, the season's schedule has shifted in an odd way that allowed several precursors to unfold before the nominations were even announced. It's been about a month since the nomination unveiling, and we've only had the BAFTAs, the SAGs, and a handful of guild awards to talk about. In other words, just give out the damn awards already.
Starting around two weeks ago, the smear campaign began against the current frontrunner, The Hurt Locker. There's already some great stuff out there written on this subject (like this piece from the NYT), but the big question is "what are the consequences?"
Last year, the smear campaign began against Slumdog Millionaire when stories popped up on the internet about the modest salaries of the child actors. This year, it's interviews with Iraq soldiers on how The Hurt Locker's portrait is inaccurate. The LA Times published 11 stories over 4 days that put The Hurt Locker in a negative light, culminating in the Chartier email and his ultimate banishment from the ceremony. Last year, Slumdog Millionaire was unstoppable. I'm not so sure that The Hurt Locker is.
I'm of the opinion that this year's smear campaign was simply too little, too late. With the Chartier story breaking just under a week before the ballots were due, I have a feeling that most voters had 1) already turned in their ballots, or 2) enough sense not to punish Bigelow and Boal for one financier's stupid move.
That being said, I'm not all that attached to any of the nominated films for Best Picture this year. And if an upset is on its way, I'll be grateful for the excitement.
Cheers, and check back on Saturday for my final predictions.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
The animated short category is among the most difficult categories to predict, not unlike best documentary short, or best documentary for that matter. Voters must see all the nominees in order to vote.
My instinct is to predict the film that draws the greatest emotional response. Derive from that what you will. Which do you think has the best shot at Oscar?
Have a look at the films after the cut. Unfortunately, the Wallace and Gromit one is not available to us; but really, I doubt they'll go for another Wallace and Gromit.
Embedded videos after the cut!
Posted by Suzanne at 6:03 PM
Thursday, February 25, 2010
The latest scandal on the awards circuit, yet again, involves The Hurt Locker. First-time nominee Nicolas Chartier, who is one of the producers nominated for Best Picture, sent out an email last week to an undisclosed amount of Academy members asking them flat-out to vote for his film: "If everyone tells one or two of their friends, we will win and not a $500M film."
Once the higher-ups at AMPAS caught on, they demanded that Chartier send an apology to the entire Academy. They have also suggested that they may revoke his tickets to the ceremony. Chartier has since apologized, but the talk continues.
The good news for Chartier and The Hurt Locker camp is that most ballots are likely already in the mail. And really, I'm inclined to refrain from slandering this guy the way others have been carrying on. Sure, he's a prized idiot for sending an EMAIL, which can always be traced and come back to haunt you; but really, this sort of "vote for me!" plea happens all the time in Hollywood. The only difference is that most nominees have the sense to say it in person, off the record, in a way that can't be traced back to them.
As a first-time nominee, Chartier likely just wasn't aware of the rules here. And trust me, this is no worse than some of the things Harvey Weinstein has pulled in the past.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Every so often, I join some friends of mine in watching stand-up comedy around Boston. Usually we thoroughly enjoy the experience, but every so often, you watch someone sink like a ship. Case in point: Once, the emcee of an event alluded several times over an hour to a joke he was "going to tell later." As you might expect, by the time he actually delivered the joke he continually alluded to, it was dead on arrival.
This is how I feel about the current awards season. This has got to be the longest, most drawn out season we've had since moving the show up to February in 2004 (before, we had to wait until the end of March...yeah, think on that). Since the nominations were announced two weeks ago, I have seen Oscar bloggers ruminate over and over, trying to find some way for an upset to creep in.
Here's my question: How much of this rumination might reach the voters? We still have six days until ballots are due; meanwhile, studios are hard at work to remind us that Meryl Streep really hasn't won anything in the past two decades and that Inglourious Basterds was the most fun we've had in the theater in a while.
It's also worth mentioning that backlash has indeed settled in for The Hurt Locker.
As the PR machines in Hollywood are hard at work, I'm doing everything I can not to forget that the Oscars are in 11 days.
Posted by Suzanne at 2:43 PM