• Following Us

  • Categories

  • Check out the Archives









  • Awards & Nominations

Hindsight is 2020: In Defense of the Best Picture Nominations…

It’s a strange position to be in, to mount a radical argument that the Best Picture race is actually fairly solid this year.

To be fair, there are legitimate grievances to be had. The Academy went with old favourites in several of the acting categories, overlooking amazing work. The Best Actress category would be stronger if the voters opted for Lupita Nyong’o for Us over than Charlize Theron for Bombshell. The Best Supporting Actress race would have been more interesting had Kathy Bates for Richard Jewell been replaced by Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers. The all-male Best Director category is also frustrating, considering the fine work done by directors like Olivia Wilde, Lulu Wang, Céline Sciamma, Lorene Scafaria, and more over the past year.

However, there is also something inevitable about the tone of the debate over the Best Picture race. The Academy Awards is never going to actually please everybody. There are several hundred films released every year that meet the criteria for eligibility. Taste is inherently subjective. Everybody likes different things. More than that, the Academy is a large body comprised of a variety of different voices, especially after recent diversity pushes to modernise the membership. Even if there was a list of (up to) ten films that would satisfy everybody, the Academy would never be the body to produce it. And that is okay.

Instead, the Best Picture nominees this year offer a snapshot of cinema as it was in 2019. They offer a glimpse of the breadth and the depth of mainstream movie-watching, a list of nine very distinct films that offer nine very distinct perspectives on where the medium is and where it might be going. The beauty of the Best Picture nominees this year is that there’s something for everyone, but nobody gets everything. This seems fair, even if the impulse is to want an entire slate that reflects personal taste.

Continue reading

Oscar Fatigue and the Pain of a Predictable Race…

You know what? At this stage I’ve seen nine of the ten Best Picture nominees this year, and I’m quite happy. There isn’t a stinker amongst them, and all I’m short is 127 Hours (maybe this weekend, before the ceremony). And yet, despite being happier with the field than I have been in quite a while, I have to admit I’ve grown somewhat tired of the Oscars this year. Usually there’s some element of surprise, but everything this year seems so sown up that there’s really no energy left in the race. One need only look at the overwhelming consensus at Awards Daily to get a feeling for how stale the race is. Admittedly there’s generally a frontrunner or two, but this year it seems that most of the major awards might as well be handed out before the ceremony begins (just to make things more efficient).

You'd have to be trapped under a rock not to see the way this race is going...

Continue reading

Should There Be a Distinction Between The Best Picture and the Best Director Oscar?

Ignoring the fact that, in practice, the Best Director Oscar simply exists to be a “runner-up” award in a really tight Best Picture race (like with Crash and Brokeback Mountain), with there being a huge overlap between the winners in both categories, I have been thinking a bit recently about whether there should be a more practical distinction between the two. Perhaps we should divorce the two awards, and decouple them in public consciousness. Of course, this is a purely academic argument (as the Academy voters will continue to associate them), but is the link between the two yet another indication of Hollywood’s director-centric culture?

Is it two for one?

 

Continue reading

Has the Email Controversy Hurt The Hurt Locker’s Chances?

Well, balloting is official closed. The deadline has passed and, by the time you read this, counting will more than likely be under way. It’s been an interesting Oscar season, and – since this is my last post before the ceremony – I should probably make some sort of generic observation about the competition. In truth, the acting races seem to have been sewn up since before nominations were even announced, but it looks like there’s a genuine race on for the Best Picture Oscar. In the interest of objective journalism (okay, blogging), I should concede that I have a €10 bet with my brother on the race. He expects Avatar to win because (and I quote) “it looks awesome”. I was backing The Hurt Locker, but part of me wonders if the anti-Avatar fiasco means that I should just give him the tenner now and be done.

Chartier attempts to defuse the situation...

Continue reading

Could Avatar Flip The ‘Populist Oscar’ Debate?

With the Golden Globe firmly in hand, James Cameron’s double victory at the Golden Globes cemented Avatar as a serious contender for the Best Picture Oscar. Not that there was ever really much doubt about the film receiving a nomination: the Academy loves Cameron. It still just seems a surprise in a race that has generally seen debate over Precious, Up in the Air and The Hurt Locker, with a fringe advocating Inglourious Basterds. Still, give the people what they want, right? An Oscar win for Avatar clearly indicates that the Academy is moving back to embrace popular tastes, right? I’m not so convinced.

Yes, that's James Cameron biting his lips to stop himself from reminding you how awesome he is...

Continue reading

More Thoughts on the Best Picture/Best Director Voting Divergence

I read an interesting article over at The LA Times which suggested that we may be able to spot how radically the new voting rules have changed the way that the Academy awards people and films.

Going for gold...

Going for gold...

Continue reading

Awards Season Forecast…

It’s summer time! That means blockbusters, comic book movies! It’s comic con time! That means more blockbuster and more comic book movie gossip! It seems that everything from the Tron viral campaign to the impending release of the Alice in Wonderland teaser is generating a lot of buzz. And quite right, too. We do live in the era of the geek. However, once we get into autumn proper, there are more prestigious films approaching. Looks like the studios are sticking to the tried-and-true “cram as many Oscar contenders as you can into the least amount of time” method, and there’s a huge schlock of films coming out. Here are just some of the main ones I’m looking forward to during awards season.

Starring Morgan Freeman? Check. Directed by Clint Eastwood? Check. Story of an iconic figure? Check. Story of triumph over adversity/prejudice? Check. Set in the past? Check. Oscar Gold? Check.

Starring Morgan Freeman? Check. Directed by Clint Eastwood? Check. Story of an iconic figure? Check. Story of triumph over adversity/prejudice? Check. Set in the past? Check. Oscar Gold? Check.

Continue reading