When I looked at the Oscar nominations only a couple of things startled me. One was Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs not being nominated for Best Animated Feature. Another was seeing Christopher Plummer getting nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Last Station. I have not seen the movie (one of the very few among nominees that I can say that about), but it just brings up angry thoughts of 10 years ago when he was snubbed for a nomination for his portrayal of Mike Wallace in The Insider. And there was good news – District 9 was nominated for Best Picture. However, besides the excruciatingly mundane An Education getting nominated, there is an egregious error among the best picture nominees. The Blind Side.
The Blind Side is an average movie. It has some good moments for sure, but it abounds in awful old and new Hollywood cliches. It has the sassy southern white woman, which is now the female Oscar equivalent of a man playing a mentally handicapped person – automatic Oscar nomination. She has a reticent daughter, but a spunky and fun son who says such cute and witty things for a little kid! And most importantly it has a poor black person in dire need of white people’s help. Now I know this is based on a true story, but even the subject of the film, Baltimore Ravens lineman Michael Oher said in a NYT article, “I wish they hadn’t made me look so dumb.” His coaches also remarked on how bright he is and h did make the Dean’s List at Ole Miss. But perhaps if Michael had been portrayed smarter at first it might have looked more like… gulp.. affirmative action – and that is not as feel good for America.
I have seen almost every best picture nominee in the last 30 years and unequivocally The Blind Side is the worst by a lot. I am not saying it’s terrible. Most movie critics already did that. I am saying it is like seeing a C+ student make the Honor Roll. I have received some comments about how opening up the Best Picture category to 10 nominees led to this. I disagree. Although I think they should have stayed at 5, there were better movies than The Blind Side. That is like saying if there had been ten nominations a few years ago then Coach Carter would have been nominated (that was a trick- of course it would not have been. not only was it a mediocre film, but that was a black man – Samuel L Jackson helping minority kids – not a white woman!).
Perhaps this was the Academy’s concession for nominating Precious, a gritty, depressing book at the plight of inner city African Americans. They watched Precious and were like, “Wow that was good, but sort of sad – quick nominate a feel-good, whites-helping-Negros-movie before we feel compelled to actually do something constructive. Quick do we have anything? The Blind Side? FINE!”
Mo’Nique and Christopher Waltz in the supporting actor categories. No one else should even show up.
Best Actor – Jeff Bridges. I would vote for Clooney if I had a vote (I thought his performance was finally the one that Hollywood has pretended for the last ten years that he has delivered. In Up In The Air he actually delivered it – funny, subtle and awesome). But Jeff Bridges has all the momentum and has had a quality and varied career.
Best Actress – I’d take Meryl Streep, Precious (she was really good) or even Helen Mirren because she’s very good looking for an old lady, but Sandra Bullock seems to be a lock. Yikes. I think I’d pick Precious.
Adapted Screenplay – District 9 was the most original film of the year (barring technical originality of Avatar), but I will accept all (included In The Loop which is hysterical) except for An Education – what a fu-king bore, except when it seemed to inject bizarre out of place humor.
Original Screenplay – I think I’d go with The Hurt Locker or Inglorious Basterds, but I will guess that Basterds takes it.
Best Director – James Cameron or Quentin Tarantino – I think Cameron just for the scope and technical achievement of Avatar.
Best Picture – I’d pick District 9, but would be ok with Inglorious Basterds or Up In The Air. However I feel that it will be between The Hurt Locker or Avatar. Avatar in a close one.