Sunday, March 7, 2010

OSCARS 2010 (2009)

I love The Academy Awards, ok, I do love any kind of ceremony, but nothing comes close to the Oscars.

It's hard to explain without sounding silly, sentimental or strange, but they are sort of like my religion.

I love them mostly because I love film - not movies or blockbusters but real cinema. The type of film that challenges you, makes you think and transports you to another place or headspace, preferably not via a bluescreen or by asking you to leave your brain at the door.

I like a lot of different styles of cinema and they range the entire era and genre of film. I love silent film, particularly the films of Chaplin. I love films from the 30s and 40s, most especially Screwball Comedies with fast talking women and smooth talking men, Manhattan apartments and cute dogs. I also like film noir, westerns, Hitchcock and Frank Capra. The 50s and 60s also have some great films, mostly extensions on what I mentioned in the 30s and 40s but also musicals, b-grade sci-fi and foreign films, particularly those of Fellini. The 70s were gritty, real and the original independent era with stellar actors like Brando, DeNiro, Nicholson, Hackman, and Pacino at the forefront and directors like Altman, Coppola, Scorsese, Kubrick and Polanski shining through. The 80s were about my teen years so often chock full of guilty pleasures like Ferris Bueller's Day off, Ghostbusters and Jumping jack Flash and a really great range of excellent dramas like Reds, Sophie's choice, Kiss of the spiderwoman, The last metro, My beautiful laundrette and Betty Blue. Independent film and foreign film rule the 90s for me and there are just too many modern day classics to mention. From 2000 onwards it is harder, it is more about the director and the script and what I call modest film - the ones that often slip under the radar but pack a real punch. The last 10-15 years has also seen a huge rise on documentary as feature film - sometimes I think I like more docos than actual films.
There are so many brilliant films, just too many to mention....possibly another post for another day.

So when you look at The Academy Awards they hold the most history, they have been around the longest and therefore include the chance that they just might decide to showcase that history within the ceremony. What I mean is they may pay homage to a genre of film, roll out an older actor or actress to present or just have some sort of golden age of Hollywood moment - and as a film buff, it would be insane to miss out on viewing that. Think about the spectacular moment post 9/11 when Woody Allen (my favourite modern director) surprising everyone by turning up to do a magnificent homage to New York Films, a surprise like that is more than worth the night's viewing. Having said that they are often a flawed couple of hours - think of who wins against who loses (I mean Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction - I have a fabulous cartoon on my study wall of Tarantino with a gun to Gump's head - fantastic!!!!) and how bloody long it took for Scorsese to win one and people who never won one - Alfred Hitchcock!!

For the record - my favourite moments from the past decade or so are (in no particular order):

  • Roberto Benigni and his absolute joy
  • Woody Allen presenting a Post 9/11 'bit' on films of New York City (actually this is probably Number 1, mainly because it was a genuine surprise and beautifully presented)
  • Billy Crystal hosting (every single time)
  • Whoopi Goldberg arrivals as host (both times)
  • The anniversary shows with the 'class' photos
  • Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway last year
  • Cher winning for Moonstruck
  • Jack Nicholson grinning in sunglasses in the front row - it's never quite the same without him
  • Martin Scorsese finally winning best director (for one of his lesser films!)
  • Uma....Oprah, I actually thought it WAS funny, but then I love Dave!!
  • The Lord of the Rings sweep

Yeah, the fashion is fun but it is really the ceremony and the surprises that I love, so much so I have a media ban for the day, and for the past decade have taken a day off work to ensure that ban is met. The nutty (but hey I have no children and am always focused when I am at work, so I am entitled to ONE day!) reason behind this is the year that Russell Crowe won was spoilt by a staff member (I was working at HQ at the time) with a incredibly loud voice blaring that he had won, I was furious and outraged at such a display of insensitivity (although, not entirely surprised) that I left early before anything else was ruined and have done so ever since, LOL!! Tomorrow is actually my RDO, so no A/L this year. To date every year, a close friend will ring me part way through to tease me and ask if I want to know who won best actor, it makes me laugh every year!!!!!!

As you can see I could go on for ever about Film and The Academy Awards, but I shall spare you all from complete boredom and give you my predictions!!!!!

I have been trying to pick winners for since the late 90s and I hope to beat my personal best of last year when I choose 20 out of 24.

OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2010 (for 2009)

Best Picture

Hurt Locker - this is the only main category I am not 100% sure of. I most certainly do not want Avatar (or more likely James fucking Titanic Cameron) to win. I do think Inglourious Basterds should be right up there, but Hurt Locker is what I have locked in. (with 10 categories and different voting it will be interesting to see how this one pans out)
Kathleen Bigelow all the way - only the 4th woman to be nominated, come on academy let's settle this one right now!!!!!!! Shame for Quentin as IB is his masterpiece to date (sure I loved Pulp Fiction better) but this is a cinematic masterpiece and the direction needs to be honoured, however this year I feel it for the women!!!!!
Leading Actor
The dude abides....if this means nothing to you, then shame on you!?! Jeff Bridges pretty much has this pre-stamped, not just because this subtle yet messy performance is note perfect but because he has a career, decades long chock full of subtle, yet messy performances. My favourites are The Fisher King, Fearless and the aforementioned Big Lebowski. I think it is a shame Colin Firth is up against Bridges, but hopefully Mr Darcy will have opportunity to shine again, as this year it is Jeff all the way.
Leading Actress
At this point it is Meryl (whom I love and adore) against Sandra Bullock (who is one of those actresses who is normally just there, not great, sometimes bad, often amusing, but never shines). Meryl is divine as Childs, but if she wins this year that puts her unenviably close to matching Katharine Hepburn's record of 4 wins (for acting) - a record I do not believe should ever be broken. Plus the academy really loves to reward younger actresses - my money is with Sandra.
Supporting Actor
A great selection of character actors, and this year it has Christolph Waltz written over it, expect a classy and witty speech.
Supporting Actress
This is often the wild card genre - Marissa Tomei anyone? However it looks certain to be Mo'nique's year and I shall stick with her.
Animated Feature
Up it is, heart, story, characters, fun and poignant. I did love Coraline, but as I had read Gaiman's brilliant book it did not surprise, it was note perfect. Up was also note perfect but DID surprise.
Art Direction
no freaking clue - I suppose Avatar.
Going with Inglourious basterds.
Costume Design
Young Victoria looks pretty gorgeous, although it does seem wrong to vote against a movie about Coco Chanel!
Documentary Feature
I have had the pleasure or should I say displeasure of viewing the very distressing film The Cove (about the senseless slaughter of dolphins in Japan) and feel it would appeal to the academy.
Documentary Short
Going with the one about the 2008 earthquake in China, China's unnatural disaster.
Film editing
Usually matched to best film, so going with The Hurt Locker.
Foreign Film
The devilishly wonderful Michael Hanaeke deserves a golden boy, so going with The White Ribbon
Star Trek because it needs an Oscar and the make up WAS cool!
Original Score
Up had a great soundtrack.
Original Song
Has to be T-Bone Burnett and The weary kind (from Crazy Heart)
Short Film Animated
Always go with Aardman and Wallace and Gromit, so money is on A matter of loaf and death
Short film Live action
Kavi is about child slaves and a hollywood topic at the moment, so let's give it a go!
Sound editing and Sound Mixing and Visual Effects
Avatar for all three
Screenplay adapted
As much as I would love my man Nick Hornby to get an Oscar, my money is with Up in the air, a much loved film with not much chance of getting anything else
Screenplay original
Inglourious Basterds all the way ---- go Quentin, we do love you!

I hope you all have a wonderful day doing whatever you are doing tomorrow, I will be chilling with a glass of champagne and enjoying the ride that is The Academy Awards.