Hump Day Report: Popular Films In Oscar Mix
Rants and raves about burning topics that have caught my attention midweek, be it greedy corporate shenanigans, frustration or joy in regards to the Philly sports teams, a movie, show or DVD that has fired up my imagination, an intriguing personality, or my on-going battle to lose weight in our fast food world. — Lori Hoffman, Associate Editor, Atlantic City Weekly
As the holiday season is heading for the home stretch, the Oscar Watch season is just getting started. As one checks out the numerous critics association awards and this week, the Golden Globe nominations, a pattern is beginning to emerge. While the Academy Awards will continue to find acting nominees from a mix of smaller scale, art house movies and studio-produced dramas, the populist style flicks will have a legitimate chance in the expanded best picture category.
In case you missed it, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is well aware that their Academy Awards have lost their luster (and plummeted in the ratings in the past decade). Most likely it was the plunge in TV ratings that pushed Academy members to go back to a format used decades ago, namely having ten best picture nominees. The last time there were ten nominees was in 1943 when Casablanca beat out nine other films for the top prize. The idea behind the change is that modern moviegoers would like to see movies they have heard of nominated for best picture.
Back when the announcement was made in June, Academy President Sid Ganis noted, “Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going to allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories, but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize.”
Ballots go out to the Academy voters on Dec. 28. They are due back Jan. 23; the nominees will be announced Feb. 2.
The top two frontrunners to date are Up In The Air and The Hurt Locker. The former is a terrific and relevant drama with a comedic edge. The latter is a gut-wrenching look at a bomb disposal unit deployed in Iraq. One is a popular hit (or will be when it goes in wide release Christmas Day); the other suffered from audience indifference towards movies about the war in Iraq. Up In The Air has earned the top prize from the DC Area Film Critics, the Southeastern Film Critics and the Dallas Fort Worth Critics. The Hurt Locker was named best picture by the New York Film Critics’ Circle, The LA Film Critics (with Up In The Air as the runner-up), the Austin Film Critics and the Boston Society of Film Critics.
Another film earning accolades is Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (San Diego Film Critics, Toronto Film Critics best picture).
That split suggests that Avatar, opening this Friday, might earn an Oscar nomination despite the fact that’s its only best picture nod to date has come from the New York Film Critics Online. I also have a feeling that one “populist movie” slot will be filled by the unexpected smash hit The Blind Side. Sandra Bullock is a sure thing for best actress but I think the film will earn a nod as well.
As for the acting nominees, Bullock, George Clooney, Jeremy Renner from The Hurt Locker, Gabourey Sidibe from Precious and Meryl Steep from Julie & Julia will be nominated. In the supporting roles, the Oscars will go to Mo’Nique for Precious and Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds. Others will be nominated but they will win.
There will also be nominees from films you’ve never heard of, including An Education (see my review here), The Messenger and Crazy Heart.
Tags: Academy Awards