Monday, 5 October 2009

A Funny Year

It is a funny year for Best Picture. Firstly the Academy’s choice to have 10 Best Picture nominees seems a little ‘broad’ to me. It is as though they are trying to get the public at large thinking they are relevant again after snubbing ‘The Dark Knight’ last year.
However if you look at all the predictors on the web, no-one is actually predicting two of the most popular films of the year, both summer block busters.

‘District 9’ and ‘Star Trek’ are no-where on peoples radar, and that is a shame because they were two extremely well received big budget and popular films with critical support.
‘District 9’ is, out of the two, definitely the film that could surprise.
With its message of unity and humanities ugliness so current today, it will speak to people on many levels (human drama, political, action adventure, sci-fi .......and more).
This is a summer blockbuster that could still be in with a shot, but it is a long one unless its Oscar campaign is as creative as its advertising campaign then anything goes.
It could end up being the only Peter Jackson film in the mix.

Could it be that Academy’s idea of increasing the nominee pool will allow more variance back fire a little? Variety is not something that us predictors are even thinking about or seriously considering.
With the exception of ‘Up’ there no other unconventional genre being thrown about. No documentaries, no foreign films, just more of the same – drama’s, serious comedies and musicals.

Genre aside, there is an interesting mix of films being considered – none of which were on anyone’s radar at the beginning of the year. The only conventional ‘Oscar’ films are ‘Bright Star’, ‘Nine’ and ‘Invictus’. Right now it seems that any of those could make it in, or left out – who knows?

No-one knows anything about Peter Jacksons emotional special effects extravaganza ‘The Lovely Bones’. It is one of those films that seems like it could easily fail – and this is not wishful thinking – I want it to be great.

‘Inglourious Basterds’ is a movie that was initially dismissed, but it seems to have this magical growing buzz. People are still going to see it and there is very strong support for it. It does seem likely that the film could make it in.

Also we have ‘A Single Man’ about a gay man grieving for the loss of his lover. Not Oscar fare, but the ole boy has been getting a little more open minded as the years go on, so you could see the love for the film translate here.

The four films that seem the most likely is the Iraq war film that plays like a summer blockbuster ‘The Hurt Locker’. The festival fav about a corporate down-sizer ‘Up in the Air’. A story about an English teenager growing up too fast in ‘An Education’ and finally the film that is the least likely on paper to get a nomination – ‘Precious’ – about an overweight black illiterate teenage girl who is pregnant for the second time by her father.
I do not think I have seen anyone predicting this film for a win, but why not? ‘The Color Purple’ guilt may factor, as may Obama, as may the growing black members of the Academy.

Whatever the reasons for the lines in which people are predicting, we can all agree that it is a strange year.
There is nothing that screams WINNER yet for Best Picture. Best Actress is a stronger category than Best Actor, and the same for the supporting categories.

And this is the reason no one can get the heads wrapped around predicting what will happen.
In such a strange movie year, with new nomination rules, what we thought to be straight-forward is all of a sudden very perplexing.
Small films, who did well on the festival circuit, are being considered front runners, and unknowns are giving amazing performances.

Madness I tell you!!

What will be wonderful and hysterical is if, come nomination morning, we see a flux of films no one could bother to predict because they did not fit what the Academy usually likes.
We have always wondered just what would come in 6th, 7th or 8th.
Now we will find out!

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