Thursday, March 4

My Movie Script Endings 2010

The Golden Globes. The SAGs. The BAFTAs. What are these? That's right, award shows. But what aren't they? That's right, the Oscars.

See, much like my 'If it ain't on HBO, I ain't on to it' TV rule, I undertake a similar ideal for the Academy Awards - 'If it ain't nominated for an Oscar...' So, dweeby elitism outta the way, here is my annual prognosis for the only movie prize-giving that matters...

Best Picture

Nominees: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air
What should win? Up in the Air
It's not only that this year's category, despite its size, offers little competition, but Jason Reitman's Up in the Air truly is the most deserving of an Academy Award. It's a pretty offbeat tale of an unattached man's desire to reach his goal of becoming one of the world's fewest American Airlines loyalty card-holders (or something). But see, that something stands for mankind's lust to assign itself to materialism, as opposed to the touch of an actual human being. It's a cast-back to the tech-crazed West we reside in - and not least because George Clooney's Ryan Bingham also fires people for a living, further typifying today's monetary tantrums. And when he does get a glimpse at real human love, Vera Farmiga's Alex beats him down like an East Coast snowstorm. It hurts, but that's people. For me, Up in the Air is honest, contemporary and, well, depressingly feel-good.
What will win? Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
You can't help but think some of these have been nominated only for the sake of it. I mean, to think that something alright-yet-inane like District 9 could knock out Up in the Air is alarming, to put it mildly. Precious, I can probably just about live with - and that's what I figure will take it on the night. A close-call with Jimmy C's Avatar and Jimmy C's ex's The Hurt Locker, Lee Daniels' Harlem drama has the wisdom, authenticity and fortitude to flabbergast those Oscar judges dandy. The plot itself is at points disturbingly dark (one scene in particular sees Gabourey Sidibe's Precious exchange blows with her vulgar, welfare-reliant mother Mary, played by Mo'Nique. Precious has her baby - born after a second impregnation by her abusive father - in her hands and all goes even farther than too far as Precious attempts to escape). Really, this awards thing is about as foreseen as a lengthy Jedward existence. But watching Precious, I just got that Oscar whiff.

Best Director

Nominees: James Cameron (Avatar), Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air)
Who should win? Quentin Tarantino
QT, QT, QT. Never have I come away from a movie so satisfied that a bunch of pitiless baddies got bumped off. 'Course, said pitiless baddies were a load of Nazis going about their, er, Nazi ways, but still, Tarantino's tense-charged cinema explosion near the ending was masterful to gawk at and rewarding to know had gone down. And the beginning? Oh, the beginning. Christoph Waltz's SS Colonel Hans Landa sniff of Jews hiding under a farm house's floorboards is downright suspenseful, knife-edging the audience within minutes of the opening credits. Inglourious Basterds is typical Tarantino in that so much, often erratic, shit ensues, yet somehow blends in via comic opera and farcical action along the way. Heck, more war movies should play out like this.
Who will win? Kathryn Bigelow
Talking of war movies, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker is most certainly not Inglourious Basterds, but without doubt is a more classical H'Wood conflict drama. Fact is, regardless of its political justification, we've a War On Terror transpiring, and this movie - no, this picture - paints its sequences so real you truly are left somewhat shaking. Its 'war = drug' thrust and total believability are what I think will lure the panellists, just nudging past James Cameron's way more trivial Avatar. It could be argued that The Hurt Locker is so bothered about convincing its audience of reality that the plot sorta drags behind - and Jeremy Renner's superb performance is noteworthier than the story, too. Bigelow's helming isn't as engrossing as Tarantino's for me, but could well be for the jury.

Best Actor

Nominees: 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? Colin Firth
So, Freeman's Mandela was a tad underwhelming; Clooney, although first-class, pretty much played himself (again); Bridges did good tugging along a weak text; and Renner, well, he'll probably win. But for I, Colin Firth in A Single Man (which itself should have been nom'd for Best Picture) was outstanding. Not commonly the lead, the Hampshirien performer took to his George Falconer role like a duck to a pond. His portrayal of the suffering gay college professor (whose longtime partner had died in a car crash) was both compelling and intriguing. I so believed in his hardship that any doubts of Firth's leading abilities went way out the window in the first few minutes. Please Oscar judges, hand it to Colin!
Who will win? Jeremy Renner
Sure, it would be nice to think that Firth has a chance at the glory, but I've an inkling that if any movie is to dominate the night, The Hurt Locker will. And to be fair, Renner's depiction of Sergeant First Class William James was nothing short of brilliant. A daring, unshakeable character, there were points at the start in which I simply wanted to bop the guy for all his obnoxious deeds - notably when James brushes aside Anthony Mackie's Sergeant JT Sanborn's authority while attempting to discharge a potential car bomb. Yet that's what in part made Renner so endearing to watch. For all the role's oddities, you couldn't help but approve of him. I think it really takes something to win over an audience with an offensive character - and this actor is sure to be rewarded for doing it so well.

Best Actress

Nominees: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)
Who should win? Helen Mirren
This category is seemingly tighter than its Actor counterpart. Sandra Bullock was about the best thing in The Blind Side; Carey Mulligan was too the standout in her role, though at least the picture was strong to boot; Gabourey Sidibe will absolutely deserve it if the prize goes her way; and Meryl Streep, albeit in a god-awful film, was her usual dazzling self. That leaves Helen Mirren, who via Michael Hoffman's pleasing ol' rom-dram The Last Station will hopefully pick up that winner's trophy. Similar to Firth, it was curious to see her in such a dominant part, yet she grabbed Sophia Tolstoy's begrudging identity with both hands and nailed it. Mirren looked to excel in maturing Sophia's personality, too. After setting out a sweet, tender image, she was later seen a woman on the edge, her jealousy over her husband Leo getting the better of her. This gave Mirren the platform to seriously amplify Sophia - and what a job she did.
Who will win? Helen Mirren
You never know. The panel might actually get something right.