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Peter T Chattaway

Oscars 2010 - nominations

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Whew. I've just finished creating polls for all the nominated categories, but I figured we might as well have a thread for discussing the broader trends, etc.

Those hoping to pitch this Oscar season as a "battle of the exes" between James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow will have plenty of ammunition for the next few weeks, it seems. Both Avatar and The Hurt Locker scored 9 nominations each, which means that one of the old rules-of-thumb for predicting the Best Picture winner, i.e. which film has the most nominations, won't help us settle this one.

After that, Inglourious Basterds has 8 nominations, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire has 6, and Up in the Air has 6 but two of them are in the same category (Best Supporting Actress) so it's really only eligible for 5.

As far as other rules-of-thumb for predicting Best Picture are concerned... well, it used to be that, with extremely rare exceptions*, you could discount the Best Picture nominees that weren't also nominated for Best Director... but now that there are ten Best Picture nominees, it was quite easy for all the Best Director nominees to get Best Picture nominations as well.

However... the last time a film won Best Picture without being at least NOMINATED for Best Film Editing was, I believe, way way back in 1980... so it bears mentioning that Up in the Air is the only one of the Best Director nominees that did NOT get nominated for Best Film Editing. That would seem to move this former front-runner out of contention... though again, with a ten-movie slate of Best Picture nominees, it's hard to say how the dynamics might change this year.

In other news, one of the Best Foreign Language Film nominees managed to break out of that ghetto, namely The White Ribbon, which is also nominated for Best Cinematography. However, this is not to say that no other non-English films have been nominated for anything. Coco before Chanel is nominated for Best Costume Design, Il Divo is nominated for Best Makeup, and Paris 36 is nominated for Best Music (Original Song).

I am also intrigued by the fact that, while this is now one of those rare but blessed years in which five films are nominated for Best Animated Feature, only ONE of the nominees -- namely Pixar's Up -- is computer-animated. Coraline and Fantastic Mr Fox are stop-motion, while The Princess and the Frog and, I believe, The Secret of Kells are hand-drawn. While I personally mourn the absence of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, I must also say I am kind of delighted to see DreamWorks get snubbed, and I am especially delighted that the Academy is no longer mistaking "animated films" for "kids' films" (as they seemed to do in 2001, the year the award was created, when they nominated Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, which surely couldn't have been one of the three top animated films of that year).

Finally, Star Trek has four nominations, which matches the franchise record set by Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in 1986 -- though it must be said that, while both films had (or have) nominations for sound editing and sound mixing, ST4:TVH had nominations for music and cinematography, which might seem more prestigious than the makeup and visual effects nominations that the new Star Trek has. FWIW, only five of the eleven Star Trek films have been nominated for Oscars: the others are Star Trek: The Motion Picture (music, art direction, visual effects), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (makeup, sound editing) and Star Trek: First Contact (makeup).

More later, perhaps.

(*The only exception I can think of in my adult lifetime is the Best Picture award won by Driving Miss Daisy, which wasn't even NOMINATED for Best Director, which in the end went to Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July... but in that case, Driving Miss Daisy had more nominations than any other film that year, so it still benefitted from the most-nominations-gets-the-prize rule-of-thumb.)

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I have to admit that my film going in 2009 was at the lowest in I don't know how many decades... that's right, I said decades... so my input is going to be limited. But, I am curious to try a little experiment for those who have seen all ten nominated films.

Keeping the five nominees for Best Director as they are, and using the ten films nominated for Best Picture - What five films would you whittle away to bring the Best Picture category back to the traditional five nominees?

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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Those hoping to pitch this Oscar season as a "battle of the exes" between James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow will have plenty of ammunition for the next few weeks, it seems. Both Avatar and The Hurt Locker scored 9 nominations each, which means that one of the old rules-of-thumb for predicting the Best Picture winner, i.e. which film has the most nominations, won't help us settle this one.

I don't think this will turn out to be "Battle of the exes" as much as it will be "Battle of the Sexes." Anything close this year goes to a woman.

Edited by Persona

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Don't know how to answer your question, Baal; I'm still in fact-noting mode, not in opinion-forming mode. :)

What I find interesting is that the five films with the most nominations are also the five films that got nominated for Best Director, which suggests to me that, from the Academy's POV at least, the Best Picture nominees probably would have been identical to the Best Director nominees this year. Those were the films getting the most attention from the various branches of the Academy, period.

FWIW, here are the nominated films listed from most-nominated to least-nominated, with the films I have not yet seen in italics (I am restricting this list to feature films, but FWIW, I have seen two of the nominated animated shorts):

9 nominations:

  • Avatar -- Picture, director (James Cameron), cinematography, film editing, art direction, original score, sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects
  • The Hurt Locker -- Picture, director (Kathryn Bigelow), original screenplay, cinematography, film editing, actor (Jeremy Renner), original score, sound editing, sound mixing

8 nominations:

  • Inglourious Basterds -- Picture, director (Quentin Tarantino), original screenplay, cinematography, film editing, supporting actor (Christoph Waltz), sound editing, sound mixing

6 nominations:

  • Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire -- Picture, director (Lee Daniels), adapted screenplay, film editing, actress (Gabourey Sidibe), supporting actress (Mo'Nique)

6 nominations in 5 categories:

  • Up in the Air -- Picture, director (Jason Reitman), adapted screenplay, actor (George Clooney), supporting actress (Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick)

5 nominations:

  • Up -- Picture, animated feature, original screenplay, original score, sound editing

4 nominations:

  • District 9 -- Picture, adapted screenplay, film editing, visual effects
  • Nine -- Supporting actress (Penelope Cruz), art direction, costume design, original song
  • Star Trek -- Makeup, sound editing, sound mixing, visual effects

3 nominations:

  • Crazy Heart -- Actor (Jeff Bridges), supporting actress (Maggie Gyllenhaal), original song
  • An Education -- Picture, adapted screenplay, actress (Carey Mulligan)
  • The Young Victoria -- Art direction, costume design, makeup

3 nominations in 2 categories:

  • The Princess and the Frog -- Animated feature, original song (x2)

2 nominations:

  • The Blind Side -- Picture, actress (Sandra Bullock)
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox -- Animated feature, original score
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus -- Art direction, costume design
  • Invictus -- Actor (Morgan Freeman), supporting actor (Matt Damon)
  • The Last Station -- Actress (Helen Mirren), supporting actor (Christopher Plummer)
  • The Messenger -- Original screenplay, supporting actor (Woody Harrelson)
  • A Serious Man -- Picture, original screenplay
  • Sherlock Holmes -- Art direction, original score
  • The White Ribbon -- Foreign language film, cinematography

1 nomination:

  • Ajami -- Foreign language film
  • Bright Star -- Costume design
  • Burma VJ -- Documentary feature
  • Coco before Chanel -- Costume design
  • Coraline -- Animated feature
  • The Cove -- Documentary feature
  • El Secreto de Sus Ojos -- Foreign language film
  • Food, Inc. -- Documentary feature
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -- Cinematography
  • Il Divo -- Makeup
  • In the Loop -- Adapted screenplay
  • Julie & Julia -- Actress (Meryl Streep)
  • The Lovely Bones -- Supporting actor (Stanley Tucci)
  • The Milk of Sorrow -- Foreign language film
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers -- Documentary feature
  • Paris 36 -- Original song
  • The Secret of Kells -- Animated feature
  • A Single Man -- Actor (Colin Firth)
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen -- Sound mixing
  • Un Prophète -- Foreign language film
  • Which Way Home -- Documentary feature

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A couple more factoids:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which was nominated for Best Cinematography, is the 4th of the 6 Harry Potter films to date to score at least one Oscar nomination; none of them have won, so far. Philosopher's Stone was nominated for art direction, costume design and John Williams' original score; Prisoner of Azkaban was nominated for visual effects and John Williams' original score; and Goblet of Fire was nominated for art direction.

Inglourious Basterds, with 8 nominations, is now the most-Oscar-nominated movie of Quentin Tarantino's career. Pulp Fiction was nominated for 7 (and won one, for Best Original Screenplay). The only other Tarantino-directed movie to be nominated for an Oscar was Jackie Brown, which earned a single nomination for Robert Forster, for Best Supporting Actor (he lost to Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting).

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I'm just catching up with the nominations. Thrilled for A Serious Man and The Messenger, each of which should've received at least one more nomination. But I'm delighted that they were nominated at all.

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More fun facts via Cinematical:

  • The Blind Side and A Serious Man received the least amount of nominations for a Best Picture nominee since Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). That film's second nomination was for Original Screenplay, just like A Serious Man. The Blind Side was for Best Actress.

  • Avatar becomes just the 6th film since 1981 to receive a Best Picture nomination without receiving either a single writing or acting nomination. The others are: Master & Commander (2003), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), Beauty and the Beast (1991), The Mission (1986) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).

  • Congratulations to Matt Damon and Woody Harrelson on their second nominations, George Clooney & Penelope Cruz for their third, Helen Mirren her fourth, Morgan Freeman and Jeff Bridges for their fifth and Meryl Streep for her record-holding 16th.

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Patrick Goldstein @ Los Angeles Times:

How is it possible that the two most prestigious academies can have such radically different attitudes toward awards? My theory is that the Recording Academy, whose industry has already been devastated by a disastrous, decade-long economic tailspin, has been forced to shed any lofty ambitions and reach out for its core fan base. In a sense, the music business has finally embraced the future. If you watched the Grammys on Sunday night, you saw a show making a naked grab for TV ratings, even borrowing from "American Idol" by having viewers vote on a song that would be performed by Bon Jovi toward the end of the broadcast. It worked beyond the recording academy's wildest dreams--and of course puts the pressure on the Oscars to deliver a similar kind of ratings bounce.

It hardly matters whether the Grammys' producers decided to go for the gold or had a CBS shotgun at their heads. It was an awards show in survival mode. The broadcast was transformed into a completely populist variety show, full of eye-popping carnival acts, from Lady Gaga's surreal show-opening musical number with Elton John to Pink's amazing Cirque du Soleil-style high-wire number. The show barely gave a nod to the best-reviewed artists of the year--not a minute was wasted showing off the Animal Collective or Neko Case or the Dirty Projectors. The broadcast embraced the industry's top-selling acts, showcasing Beyonce, Swift, GaGa, the Black Eyed Peas and the Dave Matthews Band.

It was instructive to notice what didn't get airtime. The Oscars, maddeningly, still insist on giving out every minor award on air, encouraging millions to tune out while the winners of best sound editing or best documentary short are onstage. The Grammys only gave out nine awards in a 3 1/2-hour broadcast--everything else was pure entertainment. The industry's legends got short shrift too. Michael Jackson had a lengthy tribute, but one enlivened by performances by commercially viable stars. When it came to honorary tributes, if you blinked, you missed 'em. Leonard Cohen got all of 14 seconds of face time for winning one of the night's lifetime achievement awards.

So what can the motion picture academy learn from this? I'm not saying the Oscars have to stoop to conquer, although it would be pretty funny to have viewers vote--Bon Jovi-style--on having Robert De Niro and Robert Downey Jr. come out and perform the viewers' favorite scene from a big 2009 hit, like "Taken" or "The Hangover." (OK, OK, just kidding). But the Grammy telecast was a glimpse of the future, not just for the Oscars, but for all awards shows.

I am so, so sick and tired of people saying "How DARE they spend time on awards that don't involve celebrities! How DARE they!" Good grief, people, why rob these hardworking people of their moment in the spotlight?

I say this, BTW, as one who got up early to watch the nominations for the first time EVER today, and was surprised that the live announcement covered only 10 out of the 24 categories: 4 for actors and 2 for screenplays, as well as the obligatory Director, Picture, Animated Feature and Foreign Language Film categories. (I guess we should count ourselves lucky that that last category slipped through.) I had to get the info on the other categories from the press release that was posted on the Oscar website shortly afterwards.

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More fun facts via Dave Karger @ Entertainment Weekly:

  • Avatar wasn’t nominated for SAG Best Cast, lost the PGA and DGA awards, and is likely to lose the WGA prize later this month. Since the SAG Best Cast prize was introduced in 1996, no film has ever won Best Picture without winning at least one of the four major guild awards. . . .

  • Up in the Air producers Jason and Ivan Reitman are the first father/son producing team to be nominated for Best Picture since Mario and Vittorio Cecchi Gori for Il Postino in 1995.

  • Precious is the first-ever Best Picture nominee to be directed by an African-American filmmaker. . . .

  • The last time Meryl Streep won an Oscar, in 1983, was before her competitors Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe were even born.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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FWIW, more factoids, this time courtesy of Scott Feinberg:

  • Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) becomes only the fourth woman to be nominated for best director, joining Lina Wertmüller (“Seven Beauties, 1975), Jane Campion (“The Piano,” 1993), and Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation,” 2003).

  • The best picture nominations for Lone Scherfig’s “An Education” and Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” increase the total number of best picture nominees directed or co-directed by women to 9. The 7 others: Randa Haines’s “Children of a Lesser God” (1986), Penny Marshall’s “Awakenings” (1990), Barbra Streisand’s “The Prince of Tides” (1991), Jane Campion’s “The Piano” (1993), Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” (2003), Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’s “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006), and Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan’s “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008).

  • With her best actress nomination today, Meryl Streep (“Julie & Julia”) extends her record number of acting nominations from 15 to 16. This is her 13th nomination for best actress — she also has garnered 3 for best supporting actress — which sets a new record for most best actress nominations, breaking a tie with Katharine Hepburn.

  • “Up in the Air” producers Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman become only the second father and son to be nominated together for best picture, joining Mario Cecchi Gori and Vittorio Cecchi Gori for “Il Postino” (1994).

  • Best supporting actress nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (“Crazy Heart”) follows in the footsteps of her brother, 2005 best supporting actor nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (“Brokeback Mountain”), making them only the 9th example of siblings who have garnered acting nominations. The others: Ethel Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore; Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine; Vanessa Redgrave and Lynn Redgrave; Shirley MacLaine and Warren Beatty; Jane Fonda and Peter Fonda; Julia Roberts and Eric Roberts; Meg Tilly and Jennifer Tilly; and River Phoenix and Joaquin Phoenix.

  • Lee Daniels (“Precious”) becomes only the second black producer to be nominated for best picture, joining Quincy Jones for “The Color Purple” (1985), and only the second black director to be nominated for best director, joining John Singleton for “Boyz N the Hood” (1991).

  • Today’s best actor nomination for Morgan Freeman (“Invictus”) and best supporting actor nomination for Matt Damon (“Invictus”) bring the total number of nominations for performances in Clint Eastwood-directed movies to 12 — another of which was Freeman’s best actor nomination in “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), for which he won. Only five living directors have generated more Oscar-nominated performances: Martin Scorsese (20); Sidney Lumet and Mike Nichols (18); Woody Allen (16); and Francis Ford Coppola (14). 5 of Eastwood’s actors’ nominations have resulted in wins, a total that only Allen (6) can top.

  • Best supporting actor nominee Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”) — who speaks German, French, Italian, and English in his film — has given only the 33rd performance delivered largely or entirely in a foreign language to be nominated for an acting Oscar.

  • “Up,” which received a rating of PG from the MPAA, becomes the first best picture nominee with an MPAA rating of PG or lower in 4 years. The last was “Good Night, and Good Luck” (2005).

  • Best adapted screenplay nominee “In the Loop” becomes the first day-and-date theatrical/Video-on-Demand release to receive a major Oscar nomination.

  • Today’s 20 acting nominees, listed from youngest to oldest according to the age they will be on March 7: Anna Kendrick and Carey Mulligan (24); Gabby Sidibe (26); Maggie Gyllenhaal (32); Penelope Cruz (35); Vera Farmiga (36); Jeremy Renner and Matt Damon (39); Mo’Nique (42); Sandra Bullock (45); George Clooney and Woody Harrelson (48); Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci; Christoph Waltz (53); Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep (60); Helen Mirren (64); Morgan Freeman (72); and Christopher Plummer (80).

I like that last one in particular. Note that THREE of this year's acting nominees had not even been BORN yet the last time Meryl Streep actually WON an Oscar (for Sophie's Choice, back in 1983). And come to think of it, at least two of those nominees were still in elementary school the last time Matt Damon won an Oscar (for writing, but not acting in, Good Will Hunting, back in 1998).

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Donald Miller's picks are up.

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Biggest surprise for me is the limited attention Inside Llewyn Davis received.  Two nominations - cinematography and sound. 

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So, Fruitvale Station may have been too early in the year to get serious attention.  The Butler got lots of acting buzz.  But 12 Years a Slave seems to be the token (although much respected token) Black film this year.  That's not quite fair.  12 Years without a doubt deserves to be here.  But it is easy to get the feeling that AMPAS really doesn't look beyond the most obvious film for a sense of diversity.

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