Sunday, March 7, 2010

Hooray For Hollywood!

by Caren Crane

I love movies. I adore films of all genres, from slapstick comedies to experimental indies to reality-baring documentaries. I also love the Oscars. The hoopla, the mad campaigns, the red carpet preening and the acceptance speech snafus.

This year, the Academy expanded the Best Picture category from 5 films to 10. This has made this year's Oscar race a bit more...interesting, let's say. Some big box office hits have been nominated, but few Hollywood insiders believe a wildly popular film like Avatar will win Uncle Oscar, no matter how many billions it makes at the box office.

I have another passion, however. I love underdogs. I like to root wholeheartedly for those fortune frowns upon, who have more guts and willpower than credibility. Those with more luck than skill, who come from behind to surprise the crowd. Those who fight the good fight, even if they are ultimately defeated. (Yes, Firefly fans, I was thinking of our beloved Brown Coats, thus the picture of Nathan Fillion as Capt. Mal Reynolds!)

Here, for your consideration, are my underdog Oscar picks for tonight:

Best Picture - Up. It was romantic, heartbreaking, funny, uplifting and just plain fun for all ages. An animated picture has never won Best Picture, so its chances are slim to none. I loved Inglourious Basterds (and yes, that IS how it's spelled) but even a Quentin Tarantino movie has a better chance of winning than an animated one.

Best Actor - Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker. I didn't see this movie, but this kid obviously came out of nowhere and has almost no chance of winning against the likes of Jeff Bridges, George Clooney, Colin Firth and Morgan Freeman. So, Jeremy Renner it is!

Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds. Now, Christoph Waltz is an exceptional actor and he was such a sadistic rapscallion in this movie that he won me over forever. The Academy, however, prefers weightier roles such as those carried by nominees Matt Damon, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Plummer and Stanley Tucci. I fear Christoph will be snubbed by Oscar, so he has my vote!

Best Actress - Forget Meryl, Sandra, Helen and Gabourey. My vote goes to Carey Mulligan for her role in An Education. Even though it's one of those movies only movie snobs and fans of art house films saw, the Academy will not give Carey the love. That's okay, she'll get it from me!

Best Supporting Actress - This is a tough category because all the nominees were so fabulous, but I think Vera Farmiga of Up In the Air will be snubbed. I expect Mo'Nique to win, actually, even with two nominees from Up In the Air on the ballot. Anna Kendrick was wonderful, as were Penelope Cruz and Maggie Gyllenhaal, but I expect Vera to get the least love of all these talented ladies.

Best Director - Jason Reitman, Up In the Air. James Cameron worked years and invented technology in directing Avatar. Kathryn Bigelow practically invented a whole new way to tell a war story with The Hurt Locker. With Precious, Lee Daniels brought a story to the screen that no one thought could be told with sincerity, passion and dignity - but he did that and made it look easy. Quentin Tarantino climbed right out on his usual loony limb with Inglourious Basterds and had the unmitigated gall to kill Hitler in the middle of WWII - hilarious work of genius! So, I think poor Jason will get totally overlooked in the shadow of all this filmmaking greatness and slink home without a statue. (Plus, he looks like one of those guys I knew in engineering school who liked me but would never ask me out because dating would have wrecked his grade in thermodynamics. Pffft!)

I won't even bother with all the other categories because really, who even saw any of the Live Action Short Films? I do think my beloved Coraline is an underdog in Animated Feature, especially since Up was nominated, but I couldn't even hazard a guess about Sound Mixing or Sound Editing. They never choose who I would for Cinematography, either, so pfffft on the Academy.

Who is your favorite front runner - or underdog - for the Oscars? Which of your favorite movies/actors/actresses was totally dissed by the Academy this year (hello, Robert Downey Jr.!)? And will you be watching the Academy Awards at all - maybe just the red carpet coverage? Do tell!


limecello said...


limecello said...

Um... well, I rarely watch any movies. And I've only seen a few of the nominations, yet I always love watching the Oscars. I might have to miss some tomorrow, but I hope not! Love the red carpet.

I was totally burned by Inglourious Basterds- got Inglorious Bastards from the library and... yeah. Apparently hundreds of other people have had this happen to them too - video stores, redbox, etc. And the library waiting list was like 400+ people when I put it on hold (and there were 200 behind me... so that's 600 right there...)

So I'm useless on predictions :) But yay on the show!

Jane said...

Hi Caren,
I love awards shows, so I'll definitely be watching the Oscars. I think Kathryn Bigelow will win for Best Director and hopefully "The Hurt Locker" will be able to pull another upset and win Best Picture. I did enjoy "Up in the Air" and "Inglorious Basterds." Didn't see the other movies. I thought Melanie Laurent was snubbed for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Basterds.

Helen said...

Congrats lime have fun with him

I very rarely watch movies if I do they are on DVD and I am not a big watcher of the awards but I do like looking at the red carpet in the news love some of the dresses they wear.
One movie I did go and see at then end of last year was Sherlock Holmes and I loved it so I am sorry that it wasn't nominated and Robert Downy Junior was fantastic in the role oh well maybe next time

Have Fun

Caren Crane said...

Lime! I'm sure you have "plans" for the GR, so I hope they go off without a hitch. Remember: no sharp implements and no alcohol. Oh, and make sure he gets his medication...

Caren Crane said...

Lime, not sure what you mean about being burned by Inglourious Basterds. Was is not what you expected at all? I can completely see how that could happen, since Tarantino is usually a love/hate reaction. I loved it, but then my tastes are never a predictor of anything. *g*

I confess to loving the red carpet, as well. Again, I don't always agree with the commentary on the women's dresses, but I like the pretty show. Ooh, shiny!

Caren Crane said...

Jane, I totally agree with you about Melanie Laurent. She was sort of the glue that held the whole movie together, since so much of the story hinged on her past and her subsequent actions. She was gorgeous, fabulous and fearless in that role.

Wouldn't it be wonderful for Katherine Bigelow to win? I have a feeling she will. Another historic Oscar moment! I caught some of a little retrospective thing last night and they showed Halle Berry's acceptance speech after she won for Monster's Ball. It made me teary all over again!

I hope tonight has some drama and upsets. I'm also looking forward to Steve Martin and Alex Baldwin. Should be fun!

Caren Crane said...

Helen, I'm still waiting to see many of the nominated films on DVD, but I got to see a few over the Christmas holidays (while we were on vacation). I regret that I haven't seen Precious yet. That is one I am impatient to see for myself.

I do think Sherlock Holmes should have been nominated for more than what it got: Art Decoration and Set Decoration. What? I thought Robert Downey Jr. deserved some love for his incredibly complex and nuanced take on Holmes. Then again, I adore him so I may be prejudiced. *g*

Helen, I may have to start a campaign to make you and my mother watch Avatar. My mother had no interest in that one, but I think you would both enjoy the story line. It has a great story arc and some lovely character arcs. Good fiction, as well as having great effects. I recommend!

Caren Crane said...

Btw, if anyone wants to see someone who is not from the Southern USA do an exceptional Southern accent, watch Mel Gibson in We Were Soldiers. He nailed it! No idea how that happened or why, but the man can seriously do Southern...

Caren Crane said...

Oh, and Sandra Bullock did a credible Memphis accent in The Blind Side. It helps that she went to East Carolina University. That is Down East and seriously full of rednecks (I mean that with great affection, y'all). And no, living in D.C. does not give one a Southern accent. *g*

Caren Crane said...

I watched some Oscars coverage last night and saw that Christoph Waltz is heavily favored to win Best Supporting Actor, because he's won a jillion other awards for Inglourious Basterds. Huh. There goes my underdog theory about Austrians winning! *g*

limecello said...

Caren - I don't know! I haven't seen Inglourious Basterds yet!
lol as I said - I and hundreds of other people got Inglorious Bastards. Darn us for our proper spelling! :P I started watching it - got the story line, and my friend told me she did the same thing, and that Basterds is different.
So... I hope to see Basterds soon!

And... no alcohol?!?! Well guess the GR is crazy enough anyway ;) As for these meds you're talking about... O_o

Caren Crane said...

Lime, I GET it now! You got the original Italian one, right? How was it? I'll admit I was curious about it once I heard there was another movie with the same title (sort of). I'm sure everyone else will get the same surprise you got! *g*

Wonder if it was as weird as the Tarantino one. If you like QT in all his absurdity, you'll love this one. It is hilariously, ridiculously amusing and Christoph Waltz is fabulous!

I heard QT say last night that he didn't think he would make the movie because he couldn't find anyone to play the intelligent, charming, sadistic Nazi. He wasn't familiar with Waltz's work at all, but when they did a reading of the farmhouse scene at the beginning of the film, he knew he had finally found his Nazi. I can't imagine anyone else in that role!

Speaking of Southern accents, Brad Pitt's is ridiculous in the movie but still enjoyable. *g*

Miranda Neville said...

I love your attitude, Caren. The movies I like never win awards, proving that the 4000 members of the Academy have lousy judgment.

I shall be watching, however (as long as I can stand the commercial interruptions) for the clothes. I miss the days when you could rely on a few actresses showing up in really wild outfits (where is Cher?) Now they all have stylists and have discovered Good Taste.

Louisa Cornell said...

YAY Lime!! He isn't an Oscar, but he is GOLD and he THINKS he's sexy and special.

I have watched the Oscars every year until the switch to digital. Now I don't get television at all. (One day I will join the ranks of my neighbors who live in a rundown trailer, but have a satellite dish!)

So, I will have to watch the results online. I have dial-up so there is no chance for me to even watch a live feed.

I do love the Oscars - all the glitz, the glamor, the stunned faces from people who never thought they'd win.

And I always get the skinny on who wore what the next day. And more important - who SHOULDN'T have worn what!

I haven't seen any of this year's movies. I spend so much time writing that I never go to the movies anymore. And I hate that because I do love movies.

So, I will have to resign myself to seeing them on DVD.

My Mom and her grandchildren went to see The Blind Side and they absolutely loved it. They saw UP together too and loved it as well.

The nephews and niece saw Avatar. Said the special affects were "Wicked Awesome" but the story was "So so. They should have let you write it Aunt Pam. You write great stories!" No they have NOT read my historical romances. I used to write adventure stories for them when they were younger. They're all teens now. The oldest is 19. When did THAT happen?

And I have to agree with Miranda. The Hollywood elite seldom like what I like. In years past when I have seen the films the ones I like never win and sometimes don't even get nominated.

I really want to see Robert D's Sherlock Holmes. I really like him as an actor and I have been a HUGE Sherlock Holmes fan since I was 8 or 9 years old.

What I am waiting for is for one of the Banditas to have her book turned into a film AND get nominated for an Oscar. Don't you think the little gold guy would fit in GREAT in the Lair ?

Although the cabana boys, the gladiators and Sven might get a bit jealous. And we won't even TELL the GR.

Can't you see Claiming the Courtesan on the big screen? Who would play Verity? More important, who would play Kylemore!!

Happy Oscar Day, Banditas!

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Caren -

I usually try to see all the nominated movies before the Oscars, but I have to admit I haven't seen many of them this year at all.

I think Avatar may sweep the Oscars - not due to acting, not due to plot, but due to the fantastic technology. That 3D version really, really did take your breath away. I think in future years people will look back and say the Avatar was groundbreaking. It isn't the first 3D film, but it was the first that did it right. We'll be seeing a lot more 3D to follow. I hear there's even talk of 3D TV.

I think Meryl Streep should win best actress for her portrayal of Julia Child. No one could have done it better.

Kate Carlisle said...

Uhh, Caren, you had me at Nathan Fillion! :-)

I have seen so few of the movies, I'm not at all qualified to judge. And yet, I will. LOL. I hope Inglourious Basterds does well because I really love Quentin Tarantino. He just makes me laugh. And I agree with your best actor theory. If a guy can come from nowhere and stand up to the likes of those huge names, good on him! Still, I think Jeff Bridges is the sentimental favorite. Oh, but wait. Colin Firth. Yum!

Okay, obviously I haven't got a clue. But I'll be watching from the moment they step on the red carpet to the last name on the credits. :-)

Kate Carlisle said...

Oh, P.S., I'm with Donna on Meryl Streep winning. She's just fabulous. She WAS Julia Child. Then again, I didn't see any of the other movies so I'm talking through my...what??

And congrats to Lime!!

Oh, and what fun to have a double blog Sunday!! Two times the fun!

Nancy said...

Limecello, congrats on the rooster!

Caren, Jeremy Renner was very good as the villain in SWAT. I'm curious to see how he does as the hero.

We don't see many movies, but the Oscar buzz has drawn my attention to an animated film out of the UK about the Book of Kells, so now i'm curious to see that.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Yes, indeed, Jeremy Renner came outta NOWHERE, also known as Modesto, California (about a 2 hour drive south of me)! :-) And I am really HOPING he wins it (though I also LURVE Jeff Bridges). And Christoph Waltz absolutely MADE Inglorious Basterds!

Caren, I belong in the club with Helen and your mom. I don't have much interest in seeing Avatar. The only Best Picture nominees I've seen so far this year are UP (LOVED it, but it's animated so no chance), District 9 (VERY thought provoking but too quirky PLUS science fiction seldom does well except for effects), Inglorious Basterds (LOVE Tarantino but don't think this is his year) and parts of The Hurt Locker (which really should probably win). Yes, I only saw parts because it was just too intense and I wimped out on some of the more gruesome scenes. :-P

I'll be watching, like everyone else, more for the clothes than anything.


Helen said...

Caren everyone I have spoken to that has seen Avatar tells me I should see it and I guess we will when it comes to DVD although I am not sure whether the 3D glasses will come with th DVD LOL

Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

Caren, I sound like Scrooge when I say this but I stopped watching the Oscars a few years ago and never went back. Too much guff! I'm always interested in what wins, though. I always watch the Golden Globes. That has a slightly more homemade feel about it that appeals to me.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Louisa! I dread to think of the ratring they've give CTC if they made a movie. I think Richard Armitage would make a wonderful Kylemore and not just coz he's purty. Verity was always based on a young Olivia Hussey (like she was in R&J). I can't think of a modern actress who has quite that quality of ethereal beauty and innocence. Verity can't look like a hooker, yanno?

Nancy said...

AC, re: Avatar--I don't see the need to make Sam Worthington blue or change his shape.*g*

Seriously, the boy saw it and pronounced it fabulous, but I just don't feel drawn to it.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

AMEN, Nancy!

Leave Sam just the way he is!!!


hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Will I be kicked out the lair if I say I don't watch the Oscars? I don't usually see movies until they are old hat to everybody else.

Louisa Cornell said...

Ooh! I DO like that casting, La Campbell. Richard Armitage could do Kylemore to a T ! And Olivia Hussey would be perfect as Verity.

As far as a rating, well have you SEEN some of the crap that comes out of Hollywood? A film of Claiming the Courtesan might be a bit racy, but at least it has a PLOT and a glorious love story.

Much of what they label romance or even suspense in films these days is just a loose series of scenes and some raunchy sex between two people you could care less about and who end up together in a dysfunctional ever after relationship. Give me a good historical romance any day over that crap!

And wouldn't Donna's The Education of Mrs. Brimley be a fabulous film as well?

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Miranda, darling I am with you. Everyone was so horrified about Bjork's swan dress, but I thought it was really clever. And Cher's wild head-dresses and spangles and quasi-nudity? Fabulous!

I knew we were in for it when "vintage" designer dresses became the rage. Yes, they're gorgeous but oh, so tame! Maybe someone will shock us tonight. We can always hope! *g*

Joan said...

I'll watch up until my work bedtime then DVR the rest.

I've seen some of the nominated films. I personally am pulling for "Up" though an animated film has never won best picture.

Meryl Streep is fantastic but I think Sandra Bullock should win...I haven't been able to see Blindside yet, but I'm for anything that's positive and upbeat!

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, I'm glad you and Miranda are firmly in my posse of "those who only like films that are populist" - and lowbrow. *g* I like entertaining. I like fun. I like - but don't demand - happy endings. Not the sort of movie the Academy enjoys, for sure!

Hey, you need some sort of converter box thingy for your TV, btw. They have them and they don't cost much. You would at least be able to see the network channels and PBS, I think. Maybe Wal-Mart will give you a digital-ready TV as a thank you for making them look good! *eg*

Oh, and I disagree with the teen brethren about the goodness of the Avatar storyline. It had all the requisite Hero's Journey stuff and some good people died (a prereq of good adventure fiction). It also had a nice against-all-odds romance. I think you'll like it once you see it.

Don't worry about missing anything by seeing it in 2D, either. I can't see 3D much, because of my glasses, and didn't miss the 3D effects at all. I also didn't mind not paying the extra $3 for 3D. At all!

Caren Crane said...

Donna, I think Avatar will win lots of awards for just the reason you said - but it does have a great story, as well (though not the kind Hollywood esteems *g*). I'm sure it is groundbreaking 3D, but for those of us who can't enjoy 3D, it matters not at all. The human-animation techniques, though, were wonderful. It was crazy to see what it took to get it made. James Cameron is a demon about getting it right and he and his did it. Great stuff!

Yes, they already have 3D TVs for home use, though they are incredibly pricey now and will no doubt be much better later on. There is also little you can watch in 3D besides some movies as of yet.

They have talked, though, about having sporting events and other things in 3D in the future. How cool would it be to watch the winter Olympics in 3D at home! Maybe they'll make 3D so awesome that even those with incredibly strong prescription glasses will be able to see it. That would be great!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, and Donna, I completely agree about Meryl Streep's portrayal of Julia Child. I also loved Stanley Tucci as her husband, but Meryl was perfection!

Caren Crane said...

Kate, a lot of people think Jeff Bridges will get the Oscar. I think he should have at least an honorary Oscar for The Big Lebowski, so I'm not going to begrudge him the golden statuette. *g*

I usually only know who is favored to win, but I have NO CLUE what Academy members are looking for. Hey, maybe we should register with the Actors Guild and become members. People might court our votes and invite us to screenings! It could become a Lair sideline. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Kate, et. al., my apologies for double blog Sunday. I think I got my signals mixed and should have posted this yesterday. Oh, well. Make sure to visit the other blog post, because we have a fabulous guest!

Caren (slinking off to cow corner...)

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, if you see the Book of Kells animated film, let me know how it was. Apparently, it's the Little Engine That Could Launch an Oscar Campaign this year. *g* I'm intrigued by the old-school animation and charming storyline!

Caren Crane said...

AC, I love it that Jeremy Renner is from your neck of the woods. He sounds like someone who will have a long, successful career. It doesn't hurt to start off with an Oscar nom, does it?

Yes, I can hardly wait to get a gander at the gowns this evening. Beautiful people on parade!

Caren Crane said...

Anna C., I know what you mean about the guff. There is a lot of hoopla and hype and it can be exhausting. I do love to see the pretty people all dressed up, though. And if the host is someone funny, I look forward to it. (Loved Billy Crystal hosting and Steve Martin is also a hoot!)

Tomorrow, you'll be able to see all the best (and worst) moments on YouTube, so I don't think missing the broadcast is even an issue anymore!

Caren Crane said...

Anna C., I hope if they ever make a movie of ANY of your books, they have you as an artistic consultant. You would add so much lush detail to a movie and you have a great eye for casting. Maybe we should petition someone to see it done!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, Sam Worthington was worth the price of admission. Also, I liked Zoe Saldana the least in this movie of any I've seen her in. It wasn't her, though, it was her alien culture. She was a great character in the end, but very unfamiliar initially if that makes any sense. Now, Zoe as Uhura (sp?) was magical casting!

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, I usually put Oscar noms in my Netflix queue and end up pushing the ones I'm not drawn down and down and down the queue. I just saw Sideways about 6 months ago. I could have waited the rest of my life, truthfully. It just wasn't for me.

But, it took me about 2 or 3 years to see Crash and I thought it was fabulous. Seriously, great movies will be great no matter when you see them, so why break your neck? *g*

Caren Crane said...

Joan, I'm with you on Up. It really was one of the best films I saw last year. Completely fulfilling in every way and never treacly (amazing for animation). We should have started a grass-roots campaign. *g*

I thought Sandra did an amazing job in The Blind Side but Meryl was such a fantastic and vulnerable Julia Child that I'm torn...Whoever wins in the category, it will be well-deserved!

Nancy said...

Caren, Zoe Saldana was, indeed, excellent as Uhura.

I think I might go for The Green Zone (much boom) before Avatar, and I really do want to see that animated piece. If it comes anywhere near here. If not, I guess I'll be renting!

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flchen1 said...

Hi, Caren! I'm such not a movie person! I haven't been keeping up with anything this year, so I've got no idea about the movies and actors up for awards this year! I do love seeing their outfits though, so I'll try to catch some of the show, and I'll be flipping through photos of them in the latest In Style magazine ;)

Louisa Cornell said...

Got the converter box thingy, Caren, but I live SO far out in the country that even with a converter box and an outside antenna I can't pick up a single station.

I love the solitude and peace out here, but it would be nice to be able to watch the news and DWTS !

Dina said...

yep, I'm watching to see Gerard Butler look smashing and he was. ;)

Cassondra said...

Posh, I am so not aware of anything going on in movie-land these days. I've turned into an old fuddy-duddy.

However, that pic of Nathan is sigh-worthy. My husband just got Firefly on DVD, so I will probably get to enjoy a bit more of him.

As to who will win, they never pick anybody I like. :0/

Caren Crane said...

Fedora, I always love to see how Entertainment Weekly grades the outfits. I agree about many, but some of the ones they rave (or rant) about, I just can't see.

I'm sure Style will have a great spread. I may have to take a significant pause in my grocery shopping to check that one out! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Louisa, that is tragic! I mean, it's great that you have no TV to distract you from writing, but EVAN LYSACEK will be on DWTS this season!! Indeed, a satellite dish may be in your future...

Caren Crane said...

Dina, Gerard is reliable that way. *sigh*

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, I recently watched the entirety of 'Firefly' on DVD. It is AMAZING. I already loved Nathan Fillion, but I LURV him as Mal Reynolds. The writing is spectacular, the character actions/reactions and arcs are wonderful.

This would have been a great series if it had had, say, 5 seasons to grow those characters to their next stages, you know? As it was, the whole thing was truncated. Abruptly. Tragic!

jo robertson said...

Great topic, Caren. I love the Academy Awards and never miss them if I can help it.

I was very happy The Hurt Locker won best picture!