Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pushing the Envelope...

For those of us who live anywhere near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Los Angeles, this is a trying time of year. For the last week, traffic has been snarled for blocks in every direction. Helicopters hover overhead day and night. Busloads of tourists jam our favorite lunch places. Yep, it’s Oscar time again.

I suppose all these petty annoyances are a small price to pay, considering what the Academy Awards do for the entertainment industry. Those little Golden Guys can pump up the box office and restore many flagging careers. They are good for business and God knows we all want business to be good again.

Despite the onslaught of lesser award shows in the past few years, the Oscars are still the granddaddy of them all. Through some tragic oversight, I personally have never been nominated, but I’m not bitter about it. And even though I’ve never even been invited to the ceremonies, I still remain a loyal fan. I don’t think I’ve missed a single telecast since I first discovered the awards when I was about 12 years old. Sadly in the past few years, viewership has started to decline. Not that that should be a big surprise to anyone. Why the hell should it take three hours (or more) to present 24 lousy awards?—Only 5 of which anybody in the viewing audience gives a damn about.

Although it’s pretty clear what and whom will be winning most of the awards on Sunday, there are still a few categories with some suspense hovering around them. This year, I decided to pretend like I’m a big deal entertainment columnist and shoot my mouth off like everybody else seems to be doing. So, working my way backwards from the categories that nobody understands to the big ones people actually stay up to see, I give you my 2010 Oscar predictions:

For “Best Short Film” (“Animated” and “Live Action,” respectively), I predict the winners will be 'A Matter of Loaf and Death' (because it stars Wallace and Grommit) and “China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province.” Truthfully, I haven’t seen either film, so that’s a total guess on my part.

Most of the big tech awards will of course be split between the two most talked about films of the year. The visually groundbreaking “Avatar” will take home “Best Cinematography,” “Best Art Direction,” “Best Visual Effects” and “Best Sound Mixing” and while “The Hurt Locker” will score wins for “Best Film Editing” and “Best Sound Editing” since a major part of that film’s bone-jarring impact was in its brutal, in-your-face editing. For “Best Make-up,” I’d have to go with “Star Trek” since the other two nominees are relatively obscure movies that few people saw, while “Young Victoria” will no doubt take “Best Costuming” because of the Academy’s enduring love for really big dresses.

“Best Foreign Language Film” is always a little tricky to call, but I’m going with Germany’s entry “The White Ribbon” because it’s gotten the most press. Short documentary will go to “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” while “The Cove” will take the feature doc award. Why? Because we here in Hollywood all feel very bad about the demise of the U.S. Auto industry and nobody likes seeing dolphins being killed.

Although this year’s “Best Animated Feature” category is crammed with excellent options, I suspect that “Up” will take the prize because it’s a terrific flick that continues Pixar’s stellar record of producing fantastic films that anybody of any age can enjoy. I also predict that “Up” will win “Best Score.” “Best Song” will go to “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart” because it’s the only tune nominated that anyone remembers.

As you probably expected, I’ve got some strong feelings about the screenwriting categories. Although I think that Geoffrey Fletcher should win for his amazing adaption of “Precious,” I suspect that the “Best Adapted Screenplay” Oscar will go to Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner for “Up in the Air.” This will act as a sort of consolation prize since it will probably be the only award that “Up in the Air” will win on Sunday. A similar fate will befall Quentin Tarentino’s “Inglourious Basterds” which will no doubt win a much-deserved “Best Original Screenplay” statuette. In my humble opinion, if “Basterds” had been released in a non-Avatar year, it might well have gone home with shitload of major prizes. I know Tarrantino is not everybody’s thing, but I thought this film was genius.

The best supporting actor and actress categories are no-brainers. In the last few weeks, Mo’Nique (“Precious”) and Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”) have bagged every major prize in sight – and for good reason. Both of these actors turned in performances that redefined how a “villain” can be played on screen. It’s no easy thing to put a human face on despicable behavior and then (at least in Mo’Nique’s case) make the audience feel genuine sorrow for the perpetrator. Congrats to both.

Despite the best attempts of a few hardworking press agents to create a “Meryl vs Sandra” horse race, Sandra Bullock will win “Best Actress” for “The Blind Side.” Ms. Bullock has, in her years in Hollywood, been a real team player and has also managed to generate about 45 million in box office revenues this year alone. Plus, she’s terrific in the film and elevates what could easily have been little more than a limp movie of the week into something genuinely moving. I do feel a little bad that Meryl keeps having to get dressed up year after year to show up for these presentations; this being her sixteenth time. But she already has two statuettes (both for iconic performances), plus she’s still working at the top of her game at age sixty. So it’s okay.

The “Best Actor” award will finally, finally go to Jeff Bridges for “Crazy Heart”; a so-so film that’s held together by his beautifully calibrated and utterly honest turn as a fallen-from-grace country singer struggling for redemption. This guy should have been given an Oscar 25 years ago when he was knocking out truly terrific performances in films like “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” but better late than never. I gotta hand it to the Academy, in that sometimes they do double back and right their wrongs.

And now for the juicy stuff! For the first time in the history of the Oscars, an ex-husband and ex-wife are competing for the “Best Director” Oscar. And guess what, kids? It’s going to go to Katherine Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker.” We elected a black president. Now, we’re going to pick a woman as “Best Director.” About time! I wasn’t a huge fan of the script, but Ms. Bigelow skillfully took us right to the front lines of a gritty and unwanted war that most of us have only experienced in sound bites. “The Hurt Locker” was the first American film about Iraq that managed to avoid preachiness and instead offered us a good, sickening, up-close look at what we reap whenever we chose to wage war on one other. Bravo.

However, we need not shed any tears for Ms. Bigelow’s former husband, James Cameron whose visionary work, “Avatar” will take home the big prize for “Best Picture” (as well it should). I went to see “Avatar” kicking and screaming, because I generally hate films that depend heavily on CGI to dazzle us. I went totally expecting to be underwhelmed. Boy, was I wrong. Mr. Cameron’s 15-year wait for technology to catch up with his vision turned out to be well worth it. Amazingly, his movie – which takes place on an Eden-like imaginary world - actually managed to make audiences think a little about their own planet. Impressive. And the box office wasn’t so bad either! The guy’s quite a showman and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

So, my friends, that wraps up my predictions for the 2010 Oscar race -- and the timing is perfect because (even as I finish typing this) yet another freakin' helicopter has stationed itself over my house with its cameras trained on the Kodak theatre – and the damn awards don’t even start until Sunday afternoon.

Copyright 2010 Quitcher-Bitchyn Entertainment, Inc.

David Dean Bottrell is an actor (“Boston Legal”) and screenwriter (“Kingdom Come”) who writes a weekly blog about being strangely middle-class in Hollywood at
www.partsandlabor.tv

Follow me on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/QuitcherBitchyn

3 comments:

T said...

Don't forget the RAZZIES.

Rebecca Jupiter said...

Most of your predictions were correct. Great job! I like your breezy, familiar writing tone. Cheers!

Action Breeds Action! said...

I am amazed at how spot on your predictions were David! Well done! Whoever gets in the Academy first has to sponsor the other! Deal?