Oscar Nominations Review by guest Brent Hines

26 Jan

David and I have plenty to say about the nominations that were released yesterday. Though we accurately guessed many that were going to make the list, both of us held off on a good amount of our Drama Viewings until after the announcement. So presuming you don’t want to hear our thoughts on the measly 25% of the nominees (not even including documentaries and shorts–good Lord, we’re behind), we’re going to hold off on giving our opinions until right before the Award Ceremony. Without further ado, I present the musings of foreign correspondent, Brent Hines.

I have never watched Oscar Nominations live.  They fall in an ungodly time slot, and since 6:30 am and I don’t get along, I tend to pick up the news on a lunch break.  Still I love to see the list, and once upon a time, when I lived in the U.S. I tried to do that movie fiend trick of seeing all those big award nominees before the ceremony.  Without getting those pre-screen copies, this usually turns into a scramble, and during those Februarys it was pretty easy to find me sitting alone with a stack of rented movies and a resolution to exercise more in March.

The past three years I have been living abroad during the announcement, the scramble time, and the awards, and still I have watched the news for Oscar buzz.  I read Indian reporters repeat assessments of the distant and quiet (and maybe quite undeserving) role Brad Pitt slogs through in The Case of Benjamin Button, and I found a single DVD collection of Anne Hatheway films just to watch her in Rachel Getting Married.  I flipped a lid later when Lara pointed out news of the expanded 10 best picture nods list.  And her in Armenia, I pulled along with most for Katheryn Bigelow because, yes, it was a great movie, and, yes, a lady should win, and, yes, I’d like the opportunity to say ‘Bigelow’ as much as possible (Bigelow, Bigelow, Bigelow).

But this year, I happened upon live streaming AND fast internet at the same time.  Thank you cell phone ubiquity in the developing world. Because of you, my Oscar fever is alive and well.  And so is my desire to judge the nominations right out of the box (as well as judge the box they came out of… if you will).  Here’s what I think as of 6:00pm Armenian Standard Time (9:00am in Oscar-announcing land).

First of all, someone get that Tom Sherak some personality.  I know they strut out Mo’Nique looking all curvacious and big haired to spice things up, but I need to believe that the Academy President is as excited to be doing this as I am.  Please catch up with me, Sherak.

Also, the two of them seemed very, very nervous.  From pronouncing Bonham Carter’s first name as “Helen-Ay” to over-chuckling after announcing “Best Foreign Film Language” (easy: Japanese), you can tell they are worried.  I suppose you can’t blame them; they are standing in front of The Press, armed with pore-magnifying cameras and keyboards ready to analyze their mistakes and their very personality.  (Wait a second…)  It is a little terrifying, the roar of pressed keys after the final announcements.  The announcements themselves were nice really, with a great mix of box office hits and art house favorites.

So, here’s what I’m not surprised by:

The Social Network: I haven’t seen it.  I have only heard Fresh Air’s Terry Gross talk to Justin Timberlake about it after another lengthy discussion about his time in the Mickey Mouse Club.  I keep not wanting to see this movie because despite liking The Squid and  The Whale and Zombieland and Adventureland I still can’t bring myself to like Jesse Eisenberg.  The Academy has, of course, nodded his way, but I’m pretty tired of the mumbling and the diverted eyes.  Also, I’m tired of Facebook.  I keep thinking I’m going to delete it.  And watching this movie feels like the final giving-in to the Zuckerberg tidal wave.  Academy, I’m going to watch it with the one of the other Americans in town very soon, but only because you told me to.

True Grit: Now here’s something I can get behind.  Coen brothers + zesty child star + John Wayne legacy = A movie I am dying to see.  I kind of fall into a similar Eisenberg rut with Jeff Bridges, though.  Can we please see him do something that isn’t old and whacky (wait… Iron Man… right…)? Ok, he does do non-old-and-whacky things, but usually I’m bored by them (re: Seabiscuit).  However, Matt Damon playing a self-aggrandizing Texas Ranger, that sounds to me like it’s worth seeing.  And of course, all we’ll hear about for months is Hailee Steinfeld’s miracle discovery, her homemade 1800’s skirt and that cute, ruffley, thrift store find she paired with it for her audition.  Then, of course, will come the debates about how ridiculous it is that she’s nominated for Supporting Actress when she narrarates and plays in almost every scene of the movie.  These feathers are ruffled almost every year though (re: Jamie Foxx in Collateral or Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock).  Still, I’m a little riled by the whole Steinfeld thing.  It’s just that my little sister auditioned at an open casting call, AND SHE WOULD HAVE DONE IT BETTER.  Ok, there you are internet, I said it.  (When I calm down, I will commence rooting for Steinfeld anyway.)

Nicole Kidman’s nom for The Rabbit Hole: Come on, we were all pretty sure that was going to happen after NYMag’s feature on her wrinkly forhead.

Toy Story 3: People are all saying, “Wow, only the third time that an animated film has been nominated for Best Picture.”  Well, yeah, there are ten nominees.  I’m fairly certain had the field opened up to ten noms back in say 1980 you’d see a lot more films including most Pixar movies with a nod to their name (I’m thinking The Lion King, Toy Story and Finding Nemo at least).  So can we stop talking about that?  Let’s instead say that THIS MOVIE IS NOT FOR CHILDREN.  It’s scary, y’all!  All the near death experiences and the giant fire at the end and the holding-hands-on-the-way-to-doom and the SCARY MONKEYS, I just think that’s a lot ask a kid to bear and not expect nightmares.  I can pick about twenty things from this film that frightened me and I’m grown, twenty things that are easily as scary as Mommy Fortuna’s Harpy in The Last Unicorn.  And let’s be real, you know that it doesn’t matter what the happy ending is, kids have nightmares about the scary parts.  Great, now I’m thinking of Judge Doom screeching under a steam roller.  Movies scar, people.

And here’s what I’m surprised by:

Not enough love for The Kids Are Alright: I’m going to skip right over the 12 noms for The King’s Speech (except to say Helena’s getting a nom for an uncharacteristic role.  There’s a lesson for you to learn, Bridges).  Where’s the love for one of the most talked about movies of the year?  Ok, Best Picture, Best Actress, and you threw Ruffalo a bone, yada yada yada.  But here we are with only four noms for The Kids.  Give some love to Lisa Cholodenko who made a movie that could have been terribly schmaltzy and/or terribly pushy and made it calm, truthful and let it settle gently into that hole in our movie-loving hearts that really needed to be filled. And why the burn on Julianne Moore’s Jules?  You could practically smell the California all over her.  And that confessional moment in front of the tv?  I almost fell right over.  Julianne is a late-comer to the big screen, but she has done some incredible and very diverse work (The Hours, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, Magnolia, Jurassic Park: The Lost World).  And this by-the-rhubarb seduced lesbian deserved a chance at the statue.  Give here Jackie Weaver’s spot.  Who’s even heard of The Animal Kingdom?  I looked it up.  The movie poster’s ugly.

I could give the same no-love schpeel for Black Swan. But I won’t.  I’ll just say that, I’ve loved you in a lot of things, Annette, dear, love, but I am completely behind Natalie Portman for the win.  This is the first performance in a long time that kept me thinking about the story for days.  Not only does Portman carry this film (with a little help from Kunis and despite cheesy offerings by Cassel), Portman pushes it into soul wrenching territory.  She takes us to a cusp of emotion and holds us right there (better than Jolie’s turn in Changeling). Of course I’m behind Aronofsky all the way as well.  The way he lets the viewer become another dancer on the floor, the way we go crazy with her watching every corner and listening for every whisper.  Basically what I’m saying is, Portman, Aronofsky, you are my Oscar favorites this year.

¿Se puede? Now here’s one for the record books.  Javier Bardem’s nod for Biutiful is the first for a role completely in Spanish.  Tell me if I’m wrong, but outside English, nods (and wins) have only before gone to roles done completely in Italian (Roberto Begnini in Life is Beautiful) and American Sign Language (Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God).  Can someone add to that list of non-English performances getting Oscar love?

And look at that, Amy Adams. There she is again.  I hadn’t heard much about this performance, but that scene where her Charlene meets Leo’s Alice is probably one of my favorite film moments I’ve seen all year.  I won’t say a lot more about The Fighter as I’m hoping to review it soon.  But I will ask, who is giving out Oscars for Best Hair?  Where does that one go?  Because whoever did up those women, did ‘em up right.  Jill Quigg, I wish you well in your rehabilitation, but just know that next time I see you I’m giving you and your stylist a statue for Best Hair of 2010.


One Response to “Oscar Nominations Review by guest Brent Hines”


  1. On the Oscars « bread to be eaten - January 27, 2011

    […] I have a lot of thoughts about them.  Please go check them out in my guest post at Lara and the Reel Boy.  And also, please go see at least some of these movies because there are some great ones up in […]

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