Per usual, I have not seen a single one of the nominees, but this year I find myself strangely more knowledgeable about them. Either the Academy is picking more mainstream films, or I am simply paying much closer attention to Entertainment Weekly. Probably the latter.
Which is why, in case I don't have the patience to sit through the actual awards night, I want to use my ultra-discriminating cinema tastes and talk about my uninformed impressions of all 10 Best Picture nominees.
Funny story, it took me until mid-December to figure out that this was a completely separate production from "Avatar: The Last Airbender." You have no idea how confused I was that people were enraged about "whitewashing" if all the characters were blue CGI people...
Regardless, it is CGI. Sometimes in 3-D. It is also a mixture of fantasy and futuristic space travel to another planet, so really, I cannot think of anything that would appeal to me less? It doesn't activate my rage buttons or anything, I just think it would be pretty dull.
**The Blind Side**
My favorite on principle alone. Sandra Bullock, looks heartwarming (I'm a sucker for down-on-their-luck students), and I'm pretty sure it involves football. High school football stories have this tendency toward a super homey, American heartland atmosphere, which I adore. My mom theorized that one of the reasons this did so well at the box office is that it's a) an actual (dramatic) story, as opposed to STUFF BLOWING UP, also ROBOTS, and b) it's uplifting, as opposed to the doom and gloom and depression that you can find in most adult movies and/or the news, and people wanted a distraction. I know that's partly why it appealed to me...
What's this even about? Is this something to do with aliens? Because if so, do not want.
I'm actually curious about this one, for starters because I adore Carey Mulligan (her hair's not as short in the film as it is now, right? Because after Sally Sparrow, her current boy-hair makes me weep). And it is the 60's (a/k/a, period piece, one of my favorite genres!). And England. AND it hits my particular fondness for age-mismatched relationships, even if it's the more squicky, underage, sexualized version of that. I also see it's rated PG-13, which gives me hope that it wouldn't force me to pour bleach on my eyeballs if I failed to fast-forward at some point. Dare I risk it?
-The Hurt Locker
The only thing worse than war movies are modern war movies. The desert: IT'S DULL.
This just looks stupid in every way.
Mom thinks this movie looks AWFUL. I actually think it looks fascinating, but I doubt it will be for the powerful messages everyone is raving about. I am interested in it solely for the gawking-at-tragedy aspect, the same reason I like YA novels about teen pregnancy and drug addiction: to see how messed up other people can be.
A Serious Man
...I have no idea what this is. [Edit: Oh, crap, this the one set & shot in Minnesota. WELL, SO WHAT, HOME STATE PRIDE ISN'T ENOUGH REASON TO BE INTERESTED/CHEER FOR YOU.
Yes, I know. Everyone loves it and thinks it is magical. But I've been deeply averse to every children's film since 2000, unless it stars an animal (preferably one that doesn't talk). Also, those of you who loved it, did you also start out with a deep desire to shove the obnoxious Boy Scout over the side, and let him plummet to his death as a lesson to leave people alone?
-Up in the Air
I still can't figure out why this is supposed to be so compelling, because honestly, it looks like the most desperately boring offering on the list. Does it even have a plot? What is the plot? What about it is exciting in any way?
So I've got a 30-40% chance of liking the big prize winner. This should be fun. -.-
And now, voting by appreciation/using purely outside factors:
Best Lead Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
George Clooney, because I have the dominant gene that causes women to be hypnotized him for no apparent reason. Also acceptable: Morgan Freeman because he's God, or possibly - were we to judge by actual merit - Colin Firth because I suspect that his acting in that film is actually remarkable. I suspect it from a single promo picture and some critic's reviews, and yet.
Best Lead Actress
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
I love everyone! Helen Mirren less than the others, but the previews for Julie & Julia were amazing, Sandra Bullock is my favorite, Carey Mulligan is my other favorite and she may have delivered a better performance, and I get the sense that Gabourey Sidibe may never have another shot at it, because I've no doubt she shines, but "Precious" seems like a kind of niche role.
Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
I hate everyone! Except Matt Damon, so despite his awful accent, he has my vote. Of note: I cannot stand Woody Harrelson. And Tucci looked sufficiently terrifying in the previews, but I haven't gotten over how he temporarily ruined ER for me, so this is a revenge-vote.
Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Let's see, who do I like...apparently, no one. Penelope Cruz just doesn't aggravate me like the other two I know. I don't even know the two from Up in the Air, and again, WHY IS IT SUCH A GREAT FILM, WHY? Probably I would not be fussed if Mo'Nique took it for this particular role, though. She scares me in the promo pics alone.
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Dear Lord: Please let Kathryn Bigelow win, solely so that everyone will SHUT UP about it. I am over James Cameron's ego too, but I can't really, you know, cheer for movie that looks dull just because a woman helmed it. In related news, I particularly loathe Tarantino, so as long as it's not him we're fine.
Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy, Up
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Interesting. "Up" is the only one that a) I know anything about, and b) doesn't ping my ANGRY RADAR. Besides, any animated movie that can captivate a nation probably deserves accolades.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche, In the Loop
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Nick Hornby, An Education
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
Precious or An Education, I'm not fussed. I'm also wondering if I could actually tackle the novels (?) they're based on, because in the past I've found that books they've made appealing movies out of are one of the few useful guides for my adult fiction reading.
Best Animated Film
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
Awww, look at that, I theoretically applaud all of them. I want "The Princess and the Frog" to win solely because it's in 2-D, but I approve of Fantastic Mr. Fox and Coraline on principle. I don't even think I'd hate it if Up won. I'm not sure why The Secret of Kells is allowed when it won't be released until after the awards show, though.
Other categories: apparently not on my radar.
Medium, 6x13, "Psych"
Still waiting for hair to grow, SIGH, but last week's installment just hit it out of the park in terms of sheer enjoyment and quality. I haven't loved it like that for a long time. Definitely not during this season. And only part of it was due to the adorable fact of Danielle Panabaker guest-starring, because she's perfect in every way but especially playing a mentally ill girl, because crazy teen girls always make for better storylines.
I think a large part of it was that for once, Allison didn't sound completely off her rocker. Everything she said, did, all her hunches, they were plausible and/or correct. She wasn't deranged and demanding, and best of all, she actually pinned the blame on the guilty party in an official capacity. I especially loved her cool, calm, collected take-down at the end.
Furthermore, it was actually an entertaining mystery, complete with interesting and well-fleshed-out characters (especially adored Kaylin), where I had strong suspicions but was never quite certain what had happened, or why, until each piece was laid out. Her dreams also moved in a fairly linear reveal towards the truth, rather than jumping around having a completely crazy red herring or two. I don't know, it all just seemed remarkably ON.
The B-plot was cute, too. I was ecstatic just over the opening scene - I had forgotten how much sheer joy can be produced by the simple act of Joe cuddling Marie - but then it turned into a Bridgette story and I didn't hate it. This is the first time I've ever really found her an engaging character with interesting thoughts, instead of an obnoxious, smart-mouthed brat. It's fascinating to realize how much she's grown up, passing all the way through elementary school since this show began. Loved Joe's mild freakout that their second daughter now likes a boy.
And Ariel shepherding her through the stages of a crush (complete with her first make-up job!) - after taking some necessary time to have a giggle about it, of course - was one of the sweetest sister-bonding things ever.
Rena Sofer! That's her name. Now more obnoxious than ever. Actual reaction to last scene: "No, don't, wait, what, oh my God, ew, stop, STOP!", boom. That was...not the most encouraging time to end the episode. But it's cool. He's just messing with her, right? Trying to get her flustered enough so he can gain the upper hand? YES.
I like how you tried to sneak in that Tiva moment there. "You never talk about it." More importantly, you really should have swapped the order of the episodes and aired this one before last week's; last week I might have had some vestiges of my heart that were not a blackened lump and would have let his tone of voice ignite a spark or two in some forgotten corner. NOT ANYMORE.
Ziva running up with popcorn was good, though.
Bones, 5x14, "The Devil in the Details"
I had heard it was a filler episode, and that people weren't too excited about it, but I LOVED it. Not even sure why, since the previews didn't look like anything special, but everything just felt snappy and on at all times. It's so great when there's a strong case to anchor episodes. I was hooked from to start to finish - maybe just because setting episodes in mental hospitals, not unlike the Medium episode above, make for stronger plots? Or at least better one-note characters. Was very fond of the delusional psychiatrist; he fooled me too. I mean, pushing the cart I thought he was a patient, but the minute he started talking it was like, "oh, my bad. Wonder how Booth will have to chase this suitor away?"
Plus the opening not only featured a great, non-gross body, but was legitimately spooky - although, you know, if I see an altar on fire, I am pretty sure I would a) call the fire department and b) run, not kneel down right in front of it and start praying. But that's just me. I fear death via flames/burns/smoke inhalation. I do wish there had been a little more significant symbolism to it, not just "I'm pissed at God, take that!" I mean, it takes some ingenuity to set up that kind of message in a church. You could influence a lot of people. Probably make some money off it.
In other words, I wish it had been more integral to solving the case, whose conclusion wound up being incredibly anti-climatic after all the great people we were introduced to. I guess it was good, since I liked all the people we were introduced to (especially the earthly angel!), but still. And Friendly Lloyd is already going down for drug possession/distribution...which reminds me, I wanted something to come of those paintings. I didn't think that part got explored enough.
Angela: I got an ID on the victim.
Cam: Is his last name Lucifer?
Hodgins: Can we please call him Hellboy?
Oh, Hodgins, I love you (also, yes. Booth will refer to him as such a lot). I would have been more thrown by the horns had I not already seen them on CSI: NY, and watched Flack make like 127 snarky jokes about it. On the other hand, these seemed much more realistic and creepy, apparently starting as coral implants but somehow fusing with bone? You'd almost think that sort of thing would show up on X-Files, where the explanation given here would only be Scully's attempt at plausibility, and it turned out he actually was some sort of demon.
Lastly, mocking Sweets' age will never get old (even if he was...fairly useful in this episode. See, if they would only pull him out when he's distinctly useful, instead of all the time, I would like him more. Because he shone in this story).
And I really like that someone finally called Brennan out on her open disdain, and the insulting tone that accompanies it, for things she deems less than rational. Even though it was horribly embarrassing to watch her get taken aside and lectured like a smart-mouthed student (*has maybe happened to me before*), it needed to be said.
On to the B/intern plot, I'm actually not familiar with the "Great Satan" phrase, so I just assumed Arastoo was talking about the evil inherent in all the people who murder the bodies he studies. But it was great fun to watch Cam's paranoia run rampant, and Hodgins totally not getting it until the "ohhhh" moment. But his real story, about killing an insurgent husband/father, even in self-defense, works too. Still 4th on the intern totem pole, but he's pulling sharply ahead of #5 Vincent.
PLUS: The joy in Hodgins eyes upon realizing Cam is actually suggesting he do a (carefully controlled) experiment, only to promptly smack himself in the head with nunchucks. LMAO. That, and I really want to call Arastoo "The Persian Ninja" now.
Geeze, all that and I haven't even really touched on Booth/Brennan yet. They didn't have a lot on their own, past Booth's distinct apprehension about approaching a demon corpse, but I always love when they squabble about religion --
"Right now I'm more worried about a safe distance between you and me." // "Why?" // Why, because we're going to a church, and you tend to get blasphemous."
"Although, Zeus apparently had better aim than your god."
"See, stuff like that, just don't say stuff like that."
-- and when they do things at the end, like find common ground over their faith in their respective styles of faith.