Oscar Season!

The Oscar Nominations are out this morning! And while I did not get to see too many movies this year, I sure saw a bunch of them that were nominated and sort of noodled on several more. And now, my highly controversial predictions which will so be wrong:

Best Picture: “Avatar,” “The Blind Side,” “District 9,” “An Education,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Inglourious Basterds,” “Precious: Based on the Novel ’Push’ by Sapphire,” “A Serious Man,” “Up,” “Up in the Air.”

Who I want to win: Up
Who will win: The Hurt Locker

I want animated moves to be taken seriously, finally, in this country. Up is an amazingly fine film and it deserves to be nominated. I adore Inglourious Basterds so much I have it on Blu-Ray but I bet this is the year of the “woman made film” and the Academy will show their progressive spirit by giving it to the Hurt Locker.

Actor: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”; George Clooney, “Up in the Air”; Colin Firth, “A Single Man”; Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”; Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker.”

Who should win: Jeff Bridges
Who will win: Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges is due, he won the Golden Globe, and he sung all the songs himself. I haven’t seen the Hurt Locker, though.

Actress: Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”; Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”; Carey Mulligan, “An Education”; Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”; Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia.”

Who should win: Meryl Streep
Who will win: Sandra Bullock

What a change from all those terrible movies to have Sandra Bullock win an Oscar. The Oscars loves a feel-good story. Although I bet I am wrong and they will give it to Gabourey Sidibe.

Supporting Actor: Matt Damon, “Invictus”; Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”; Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”; Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”; Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds.”

Who should win: Christoph Waltz
Who will win: Christoph Waltz

Best. Nazi. Ever. Best Nazi Ever! And look at the last several supporting actors! All mass murderers! You cannot go wrong with death! I loved him to death. Blows everyone else away.

Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, “Nine”; Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”; Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”; Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”; Mo’Nique, “Precious: Based on the Novel ’Push’ by Sapphire.”

Who should win: I haven’t seen any of these but I will guess Maggie Gyllenhall
Who will win: Mo’Nique

All of the pre-Oscar buzz has Mo’Nique winning this award for her performance as the horrible Mom in Precious. Precious is a film that sort of repels even me, but I know that it has heavy Oscar buzz and they’ll want to give it some award somewhere.

Directing: James Cameron, “Avatar”; Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”; Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”; Lee Daniels, “Precious: Based on the Novel ’Push’ by Sapphire”; Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air.”

Who I want to win: Kathryn Bigelow
Who will win: Katheryn Bigelow

No woman has ever won for best director before. Never. This is the 82ntd Oscars so in 82 years of movies there has not been one woman. I bet people will vote for her just to get the chance.

Adapted Screenplay: Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, “District 9”; Nick Hornby, “An Education”; Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche, “In the Loop”; Geoffrey Fletcher, “Precious: Based on the Novel ’Push’ by Sapphire”; Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, “Up in the Air.”

Who should win: District 9
Who will win: Precious

Oh, come on. You know they’ll give it to Precious. I sort of want it to go to Jason Reitman but I can already see the future and say that we’ll all be pulling for District 9 in this category and it will go to Precious.

Original Screenplay: Mark Boal, “The Hurt Locker”; Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”; Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman, “The Messenger”; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “A Serious Man”; Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Tom McCarthy, “Up.”

Who should win: Inglourious Basterds
Who will win: The Hurt Locker

This is a throw-down category for me. I think Inglourious Basterds is a masterpiece of dialogue but doesn’t Tarantino already have one of these for Pulp Fiction? The Coen brothers as well. I want to give it to Up because again, I want animated movies taken seriously as art in the United States but I bet it’s a big night for the Hurt Locker.

Note that I have stiffed Avatar on everything. It will win a huge slew of technical awards including cinematography, sound mixing, sound editing, and, of course, visual effects. Like the Matrix before it, it is a masterpiece of visual wizardry. But as a piece of great film? You have got to be kidding me.

Edit: Sorry, I thought it was 83 years, when it is in fact 82. To make up for it I give you the Slate Oscar Nattering which is some of the best Oscar nattering on the Internets.

Another Edit! And the John Scalzi picks, too!

Ultimate Star Trek

I saw the Star Trek movie last night and it left me full of squee! I can honestly say I loved the movie.

I am really not a huge Star Wars fan, and I never got very deeply into Lord of the Rings, but Trek lives in a special place in my soul. I love Trek on a cosmic nerd level. I have the collection of technical readout books with ship schematics. I have Trek encyclopedias. I used to read terrible little Trek novels.

The new Star Trek movie reminded me strongly of Mark Millar’s run on Ultimate X-Men or Brian Michael Bendis of Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s not Star Trek, it’s Ultimate Star Trek in a Star Trek Ultimates universe where the characters are the same and the soul is the same but the characters have been updated to be more modern and drop an awful lot of accumulated baggage. It feels fresh and awesome while being the same core of Trek goodness.

Thus and therefore, the movie made me deeply happy. Specific shout-outs — I loved Karl Urban’s Leonard McCoy and Zachary Quinto’s Spock and Simon Pegg’s Scotty of which there was not screen time and John Cho’s Sulu. Like alot of people, I would happily watch the Spock and Sulu show with some added Snarky Uhura. Or watch this cast on a weekly Star Trek show. This cast? This is what I want out of a new Star Trek show.

Also, new Chekhov is adorable.

Without giving spoilers, I will say that I totally adored the movie and would love to see it again and I will watch the DVD when it comes out periodically for a Renewal of Purpose. Maybe even back to back with Wrath of Khan.

Watchmen

I have always liked the Watchmen graphic novel, although I have to confess that of all of Alan Moore’s work, From Hell was always my favorite. Or maybe the Green Lantern short story, “Mogo Does Not Socialize.”

Watchmen is essentially unfilmable in its complete form unless it has a 13-part HBO mini-series. It has too much stuff. And I don’t mean just the pirate story that was left on the cutting room floor: extended character backgrounds, extended backgrounds of characters within characters, sub-characters with full backgrounds, side stories, everything that makes Watchmen.

Zach Snyder did, what I felt, was the best possible job he could have with the material in two and a half hours — and it is a full two and a half hours. He stripped Watchmen down to the main story, he gave as much background as he could, and he filmed the essential panels. Jackie Earle Haley is awesome as Rorschach. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a great Comedian. The opening credit sequence does a great job of summing up huge swaths of the graphic novel. It is a distilled Watchmen. It is a more faithful adaptation than his adaptation of the 300 simply because he didn’t need to pad out the material with extra story. It preserved dialogue. It even preserved the pacing and scene transitions.

And being a big comic nerd I am, I greatly enjoyed the very faithful adaptation, and I understand there is only so much Watchmen one can cram into the two and a half hour time frame. I will buy the three and a half hour version with all the cut parts put back in and the reams of director’s commentary.