Perfect 10

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Ah I'm updating more lately, whatever could that mean? Namely that I work in an office that doesn't let you close (too) early on Christmas Eve, and forces you to work the following week when all of the suppliers you need to work with are CLOSED. Awesome!

Anyway, I'm going to post about the Oscars 2010, because I am watching them closely, because I am attending them (really). At least, the bleachers / screaming fans portion, at which point I've heard we're escorted to a nearby theatre to watch the show go down on the big screen. Eek giddiness.

Hey I just realized, maybe they're doing the 10 best picture nods because it's 2010. Clever! 10 in 10! Unfortunately, Hollywood sucks balls and makes shitty shitty movies and virtually all of the big buzz movies are keeling over under the spotlight. I'm looking at you - Nine, Lovely Bones, Invictus et al.

I've made a solid effort at seeing some of the early nods to be tapped and I haven't been that moved. In fact the last two years have been lackluster in best picture nominees - it was back in the 'No Country For Old Men' / 'Atonement' / 'Juno' etc. era that I was last quite moved by the cream of the crop.

As for where I stand in the whole 5 movie vs 10 movie debate...I think it definitely had merit in past years. Unfortunately 2009 was a crappy year for movies because no movie houses were predicting the top 10 thing and were content to sit on their haunches and produce crap like 2012 or Transformers. If it goes horribly this year and people opt not to do it again when the studios have time to prepare for such an event, that'll be disappointing, but unsurprising.

I also read a compelling argument by James Cameron recently regarding the 1970s when Annie Hall won over Star Wars for Best Picture. He had a really solid point that Star Wars changed filmmaking, and Annie Hall was just a nice sweet movie. Opening up the awards to commercially-loved but critically-acclaimed films (Wall-e, Dark Knight being the most frequently cited examples) makes sense to me, for sure. It just sucks that they decided to do this on such a bad year for movies.

Interestingly, some of the highest ranking films on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment haven't been released yet - they'll be coming out in the next couple of weeks. I wonder if any of them can capture the buzz necessary to launch an Oscar nod?

With that in mind, let's review the Golden Globe nods, and other contenders that might yet make it into this year's top 10.

Avatar - is doing surprisingly well for all of the turkey taunting that led up to its release. It didn't have a mind-blowing opening weekend, but don't forget what a slow burning film Titanic was. I'm definitely interested in seeing it, for the visual technical elements alone.
Oscar Nod Chances: 95% - it's one of the few big buzz movies that seems to be holding up, if not overwhelmingly positive.

The Hurt Locker - I never got a chance to see this on the big screen but it's generated enough consistent buzz over the last year it'll definitely make it to the top 10. Unfortunately I think the fact it was released in the summer in such a limited run might hurt its chances unless it starts promoting "NOW ON DVD" in the very near future, additionally because this is exactly the kind of film that inspired the academy to go to 10 movies - it was little seen, loved by critics, and not a major commercial success.
Oscar Nod Chances: 100% - there's no way they'd leave the first good film about the hot mess that is Iraq out.

Inglorious Basterds - Another film that's done surprisingly well, IB is almost like the phoenix rising from the violent / commercial / Tarentino ashes to become a bit of a critical / commercial hybrid darling, exactly what the Top 10 is all about. In fact, were the top 10 thing scrapped this year, I doubt Inglorious would get any sort of glory. It's sitting in my DVD pile to watch PS.
Oscard Nod Chances: 80% - there's still a chance the Oscars will shy away from more commercial fare, although they tend to have a decent respect for Tarentino's form of entertainment.

Precious - This movie seemed to receive a huge publicity push (no pun intended) in November when it was first widely released, and although the theatre was still quite full when I saw it this past weekend, it seems that the unstoppable fire behind it (like that of Slumdog Millionaire) has tapered off a bit. Probably cause the whole film is such a freaking downer. That being said, the raw, harsh realities of this film are heart-wrenchingly different from most of the trite stuff released these days, and Hollywood loves a star born from a virtual unknown.
Oscar Nod Chances: 100% - you don't get Oprah and Tyler Perry on your side and NOT get an Oscar nod.

Up In The Air - What a funny film UITA is next to all of these other films. Jason Reitman makes these very interesting, relatable, funny films that take a dash of reality and mixes it up with some eccentricities and romance. I saw Up in the Air in its local premiere here and the audience generally enjoyed it - but just like Juno, the film is on the bubble of not being taken seriously enough to take home the win. That's what happens when you make films about real life I guess. I definitely liked it, but as my sister and I discussed, I'm not sure it necessarily warranted being seen on the big screen (visually) - and that sort of thing is not what you say about an Oscar sweeping film. Hm.
Oscar Nod Chances: 100% - The Oscars like Jason Reitman and this film along with Precious have received the most consistently positive buzz and feedback.

(500) Days of Summer - This movie would have a snowball's chance in hell of making it to the Best Picture level if it weren't for a Top 10 year. Why you ask? I loved this movie, honestly. I have a major love for both of the lead actors, and the storytelling was reminiscent of the amazing 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' while still capturing the real humour found in Jason Reitman's films. Plus who doesn't love a good dance sequence? The problemo we have though, is that unlike Inglorious Basterds or Up In The Air, this movie never scored major points commercially and may suffer a worse fate than The Hurt Locker because it's a less serious film with less long-term buzz. Did I love this movie? Yes! Did it reinvent the romantic comedy? Certainly! But it doesn't quite resonate the way a successful 'serious' romantic comedy does like Jason Reitman's stuff.
Oscar Nod Chances: 60% - At this point, (500)'s positive Tomatometer score is looking like a major plus for the film as endless other movies keep on turning up DOA. I'm still skeptical though.

The Hangover - This is very much an example of commercial success taking up a throwaway spot in a lackluster year for the comedy/musical category. Then again, kudos to the Hangover for being such a runaway success despite some slightly hesitant affirmations from even the most boneheaded comedy fans (my boyfriend included).
Oscar Nod Chances: 0% - There's Wall-E and Dark Knight, and then there's the Hangover. Both of those other two films had amazing storytelling, filmmaking, and acting at play. The Hangover...was a funny dude film that did great. End of story, Oscars aren't THAT generous.

It's Complicated - This rom com for the just past their prime was hoping to garner the same kind of rolling buzz as 'Something's Gotta Give' or other empty nester romances, but so far it's getting quite lukewarm reviews for appealing more to the senses than the heart. I've got no plans to see it, sorry!
Oscar Nod Chances: 10% - Oscar rarely (if ever) brings a rotten scoring film (if you're going by the Tomatometer) into the fold, and I doubt this film will overcome its tepid reviews to get enough love from Oscar.

Julie & Julia - The main buzz behind this film comes from Meryl Streep, but overall it fared pretty favourably as a warm & fuzzy if slightly throwaway entry into the race. Definitely on my short list to watch in the near future along with Avatar & Inglorious Basterds.
Oscar Nod Chances: 75% - this movie is sort of in the bubble territory of (500) Days. It wasn't hugely released or a giant commercial success, but the fact it fared decently well critically when so many recent releases haven't might just keep it in the running so the Oscar Top 10 isn't a total critical mess.

Nine - This movie seemed dragged down from the get go, with nearly none of the long-running advance buzz and clamoring generated by past major musicals like Moulin Rouge or Chicago. Plus the more stars you have, the worse the movie tends to be (save for the Ocean's series!). This is one of those pre-buzz movies that seems to just be getting annihilated for crappy music (no wonder we've never heard of the show) and a boring storyline. Yawn, although I might see it as it'll probably generate some 'showy' Academy nods like best costumes / art direction.
Oscar Nod Chances: 40% This might be the film that rounds out the top 10 if nothing else manages to crop up, but again, it's getting poor reviews and I doubt Oscar will acknowledge it.

So based on the Golden Globes, we've got the following for sure & pretty good chance nominees:

10. Avatar
9. The Hurt Locker
8. Inglorious Basterds
7. Precious
6. Up In The Air
5. (500) Days of Summer
4. Julie & Julia

So we've got three spots up for grabs, potentially more if (500) Days and Julie & Julia don't make it. Incidentally had Oscar stuck with the top 5 that would be numbers 10-6 on my list, guaranteed. Maybe swap out Inglorious for something...

Here are the other contenders for those final three spots:

Invictus - I literally fell asleep towards the end of this film. Twenty-minute slow motion rugby sequences do not a compelling film make. Additionally I couldn't see past Morgan Freeman to embrace his portrayal of Nelson Mandela. The film tripped and hopped along but has done favourably enough (plus Clint Eastwood's involved) that it'll probably score one of those spots.
Oscar Nod Chances: 70%

The Lovely Bones - Another film that has an acclaimed director and cast attached to it that has failed to live up to the hype - mostly because Peter Jackson committed the cardinal, oft repeated sin of Hollywood these days: he watered down the original extremely powerful, disturbing story in Alice Sebold's book and overfantasized the in between (which in the book is not nearly the magical place the film seems to make it). I think this book adaptation will ultimately suffer the same fate of 'My Sister's Keeper' and 'Time Travellers Wife' of failing to live up to what thousands of readers are anticipating.
Oscar Nod Chances: 20% - I see it faring slightly better than Hangover or It's Complicated, but the Academy's audience (and members) read, and if they don't like the adaptation this movie has no shot.


An Education
- A movie mostly hailed for the starring performance of Carey Mulligan, this film has a shot based solely on the strong buzz surrounding her. I actually quite enjoyed the film, it was a solid effort, but definitely not winner potential. If Oscar wants to avoid public embarrassment with keeping low-rated films out of the top 10, they might include this one.
Oscar Nod Chances: 60% - Another example of the type of exclusive, indie film superiority I think the Academy is trying to avoid, but hey, it got good marks and Carey Mulligan and Peter Saarsgard both turned in fantastic performances (special shoutout to Alfred Molina!).

The Young Victoria - One of your typical classic English period pieces about a regal (see: The Duchess, Elizabeth, et al) that has earned Emily Blunt a few gold stars so far, although she stands tough BAFTA competition against Carey Mulligan. It's done alright, and again might slip in like 'An Education' if only so the Academy can save some face.
Oscar Nod Chances: 40% - The actual movie hasn't been as widely loved as 'An Education' and the two are similar in what they're getting buzz for (the lead actress' performance). Plus do they really want to send a slew of people to a snoozy film and get them up in arms about the top 10? Nay.

The Blindside - A solid example of what the Academy was probably hoping to accomplish with their top 10 movies. The Blindside looked to be one of those cheesy, throwaway inspirational sports stories - but wait! Sandra Bullock played an actual parent! Audiences loved the thing! The woman behind the real story is out there promoting it! It's been a commercial slow burn! The reviews aren't out of this world, but the word of mouth buzz for this movie is undeniable, which may equal Oscar throwing a bone to the fans (as the Globes did with the Hangover).
Oscar Nod Chances: 60% - It would be the lowest rated of the top 10, but also one of the most watched / loved, which might warm viewers to the Academy.

Crazy Heart - This little-known but relatively much-talked about film burst onto the scene in the last few weeks as a late, dark horse entry into the race. Jeff Bridges gives a Mickey Rourke-esque late in the game career-changing performance (apparently) and overall this movie is garnering fantastic critical praise and tantalizing viewers for a buzzy film that lives up to its hype.
Oscar Nod Chances: 75% - It's entering into things a little late compared to everything else, but it might emerge as a beacon that the Academy can point to as another very strong entry that could oust some of the other 'bubble' films like (500) Days, Julie, or Inglorious.

Sherlock Homes - I think this movie will go down more as a mid-level commercial success than anything. It doesn't have quite the level of prestige attached to it as 'Inglorious Basterds' which falls into the same 'caper' genre, but it might sneak away with a nod or two in the screenwriting or artsy departments.
Oscar Nod Chances: 40% - If they get desperate, this film might sneak in much as Nine might. I'm very doubtful though.

A Single Man - This movie seems to be getting good buzz despite of itself. It's almost like everyone is amazed a movie made by a fashion designer, starring Colin Firth in a non-Firth role, and set in the course of one small day, with a gay protagonist you're asked to be sympathetic to, could actually be any good! However this movie is mired by extremely limited release and extreme indie status - at least some of the other more indie films on this list are shown in at least one or two theatres in most major cities.
Oscar Nod Chances: 45% - More critically acclaimed than the 40%, but less accessible.

I could go on. I want to see "The Messenger" but it will be overshadowed by 'Hurt Locker' in the war movie department. 'The Last Station' has a few Globe acting nods but who knows anything about it at all? They could move 'Up' to best picture but it doesn't really live up to the level of buzz 'Wall-e' got. District 9 and Star Trek were both commercial / critical hits, but not to the level of Dark Knight. There are a couple of high-ranking movies (so far) sitting pretty on the release list - a dark & depressing war film called 'The White Ribbon', a Michael Cera coming-of-age (what else) film called 'Youth In Revolt', and curiously, Ethan Hawke's new vampire vehicle 'Daybreakers'. Overall though, none of these TBR movies have the level of buzz something like 'Crazy Heart' has.

For now I'll be hunkering down for some good ol' fashioned entertainment (or not) as I continue my road to the Oscars 2010.

Watch this space (and see if my predictions are right!)

- Britt's On

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