Whose Turn is It Now? The 2010 Oscar Race

City Pulse | February 25, 2010
Whose Turn is It Now?

The 2010 Oscar Race (793 words)

By Cole Smithey

You can practically already hear Academy Award producers shouting, after the fact, "Whose idea was this?" about changes in the ceremony that are doomed to be criticized for months after the last statue is handed out. Following Hugh Jackman's stellar performance hosting last year's Oscars, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin have been chosen to dispel the adage that "less is more." The most glaring change in the program is the addition of five additional Best Picture Nominees, for a total of ten, in an attempt to broaden the show's mainstream appeal.

For a notoriously overlong awards show, you might imagine that a little sacrifice would be in order. Deleting the widely reviled song-and-dance numbers seems like a no-brainer. But no such trade-off is in store. Prepare yourself for a very, very long program.

Academy president Sid Ganis defends the switch as a "return to the past"--by which he means back to the depression era, when Americans camped out in movie theaters for a warm place to sleep. Maybe it's not such a bad idea in that light, but the real impetus seems to come from last year's exclusion of "The Dark Knight." Such obvious pandering to the film's fanboy supporters might get a pass if the adjustment weren't a 100% increase. Why not add one new slot, and see how that goes before turning the category into a marathon?

"Avatar," "The Blind Side," "District 9," "An Education," "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," "Precious," "A Serious Man," "Up," and "Up in the Air" are the ten films nominated for Best Picture. I would argue that, because it's better than "Avatar"--though no one in Hollywood will admit it--"District 9" gains the most advantage from the modification.

The Oscars are all about politics that frequently come down to whose turn it is to finally be handed the heavy little statue and precious seconds of limelight that have the potential to put some gas in the career tank. Seven years of war has finally put a past-due stamp on the Academy to shine a light in that direction. For that reason, coupled with the fact that no woman has ever received a Best Director Oscar, means that Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" is a heavy shoe-in for both a Best Picture and a Best Director Oscar. Personally I think "Inglourious Basterds" is a better movie.

Jeff Bridges is long behind schedule for an Oscar win. His mesmerizing performance in "Crazy Heart" means that he's crowning for an "it's his turn" Best Actor win.

Of the five women in the Best Actress category (Sandra Bullock - "The Blind Side,"

Helen Mirren - "The Last Station," Carey Mulligan "An Education," Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious," and Meryl Streep - Julia & Julia") the deck is heavily stacked in Carey Mulligan's favor in the Academy's "kid with a future" way of thinking. With a record 15 nominations, and two Oscars under her belt, Meryl Streep has already won plenty. Sandra Bullock's performance in "The Blind Side" is strong, but she takes a hit for two crappy films that preceded it ("The Proposal" and "All About Steve"). "The Last Station" wasn't a solid enough movie to lock Helen Mirren in, and Gabourey Sidibe's muted character in "Precious" didn't allow her to express enough range.

Christoph Waltz blew the roof off cinemas with his gleefully diabolical performance in "Inglourious Basterds." That kind of virtuosity is money in the bank for a Best Supporting Actor win.

The Best Supporting Actress category is tough, but I'd put my money on Maggie Gyllenhaal for her terrific work in "Crazy Heart." Over the course of her nearly 20-year career, she's proven that she consistently creates complex characters and makes very smart choices about the roles she chooses. However, Mo'Nique could take the prize for her fearless performance in "Precious."

"Up" has it sewn up for Best Animated Feature Film.

Jacques Audiard's "A Prohpet" should narrowly edge out Michael Hanake's impressive "The White Ribbon" in the Best Foreign Film category.

"Crazy Heart" with get trophy respect for Best Original Score and Best Original Song.

Original Screenplay is a toss-up between Mark Boal ("The Hurt Locker") and Quentin Tarantino ("Inglourious Basterds").

Jason Reitman ("Up In the Air") will pick up a consolation Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

James Cameron will lock up Best Cinematography and Best Editing awards for "Avatar"--if enough years have passed for Academy members to have forgotten his ridiculous "I'm the king of the world" proclamation for his "Titanic" win. In a perfect world statues would rightfully go to "Inglourious Basterds" for Best Editing, and to "The White Ribbon" for Best Cinematography. But the Oscars are far from a perfect world.

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