As you may have heard by now, the Oscar scoring system is different this year for best picture because there's ten nominees instead of five. I still don't get why that means voters don't just vote for the movie they thought was best of the year but instead have to rank them, first choice, second etc.
But whatever the reasoning, I like the idea of ordering my favorites among the nominees and it's another list I otherwise wouldn't make, since my post-brain-surgery lack of interest in lists is still operating, but will because I have never missed making my choices and predicting what the Academy will do since I was a kid.
But first I want to say that none of the nominees for Best Picture really rise to the level of best pictures of previous years for my taste. AVATAR may deserve it for sheer movie technical artistry, HURT LOCKER for direction, UP IN THE AIR for story and performances, PRECIOUS for performances and risk taking, etc.
But my favorite movie of the year, post-brain surgery was probably IT'S COMPLICATED, which for my taste was pretty much flawless, especially the second time I saw it, and flawless is hard to do even if the movie is basically lightweight compared to most Best Picture winners (and even though plenty of people would disagree with me on the flawlessness I'm sure).
Two other movies I would have had on my top ten list for the year post brain surgery are A SINGLE MAN and THE LAST STATION.
And my favorite movie of the year, pre-brain surgery, is AMERICAN VIOLET, with BRIGHT STAR a close second and WHATEVER WORKS right behind it (I went back and looked over pre-surgery posts to refresh my memory for that part of the year).
But of the Oscar nominees I saw (I still have to catch A SINGLE MAN and DISTRICT 9) I'd rank them like this:
BEST PICTURE OSCAR NOMINEES I'VE SEEN:
2. THE HURT LOCKER
3. UP IN THE AIR
5. AN EDUCATION
7. THE BLIND SIDE
8. INGLORIOUS BASTERDS
As for who will win it, even though THE HURT LOCKER is the favorite at this point, if I was betting on it, I'd pick AVATAR.
The Best Actor category is missing some giant performances of the year in my mind, like Ben Wishaw as John Keats in BRIGHT STAR and Will Patton in AMERICAN VIOLET (I'm sorry I missed INVICTUS and the other movie Matt Damon was in based on that real life whistle blower mad man I heard was an incredible performance, etc.)
BEST ACTOR OSCAR NOMINEES I'VE SEEN:
1. Colin Firth in A SINGLE MAN
2. Jeff Bridges in CRAZY HEART
3. George Clooney in UP IN THE AIR
4. Jeremy Renner in HURT LOCKER
All my top three choices deserve an Oscar for their performances this year for my taste, but the favorite, Jeff Bridges will probably nab it for a lifetime of amazingly nuanced and amazingly underrated performances.
Best Actress category is missing what I thought were the greatest performances of the year. My first choice would have been Nicole Beharie in AMERICAN VIOLET, followed by Abbie Cornish in BRIGHT STAR and Evan Rachel Wood in WHATEVER WORKS.
BEST ACTRESS OSCAR NOMINEES:
1. Gabourey Sidibe in PRECIOUS
2. Helen Mirren in LAST STATION
3. Carey Mulligan in AN EDUCATION
4. Meryl Streep in JULIE & JULIA
5. Sandra Bullock in THE BLIND SIDE
The favorite seems to be Bullock but I would bet on Streep again (though I have my fingers crossed for either Sidibe or Mirren, whose performances were beyond a doubt the best of these five).
Many of my favorite Best Supporting Actor performances weren't nominated, like almost everyone in AMERICAN VIOLET, especially Michael O'Keefe, Charles S. Dutton, Tim Blake and Xzibit. I also liked Brian Geraghty in THE HURT LOCKER and found his performance at times more realistic than Jemery Renner's (as I did the cameo appreances in the same flick by Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes and David Morse, as well as Ed Begley in WHATEVER WORKS).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR OSCAR NOMINEES I SAW:
1. Christopher Plummer in THE LAST STATION
2. Christoph Waltz in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
3. Stanley Tucci in THE LOVELY BONES
Everyone says it's Christoph Waltz and I suspect that's gonna turn out to be right.
As for Best Supporting Actress, again there's performances missing I'd have chosen, like Alfre Woodard in AMERICAN VIOLET and Kerry Fox in BRIGHT STAR, but my choice would have been Patricia Clarkson in WHATEVER WORKS.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS OSCAR NOMINEES I SAW:
1. Mo'Nique in PRECIOUS
2. Anna Kendrick in UP IN THE AIR
3. Maggie Gyllenhaal in CRAZY HEART
4. Vera Famiga in UP IN THE AIR
Of course Mo'Nique deserves and most likely will get this one, no matter what you think of the movie this performance is undeniably precedent shattering (and not because the character is African American but because she is so realistically and believably evil without losing her humanity entirely).
I would have liked to have seen Tim Disney nominated for AMERICAN VIOLET because it's such a powerfully realistic movie for my taste and yet restrained in a way few directors would have pulled off (with amazing performances) and Jane Campion for BRIGHT STAR too.
BEST DIRECTOR OSCAR NOMINEES:
1. Katheryn Bigelow for THE HURT LOCKER
2. James Cameron for AVATAR
3. Jason Reitman for UP IN THE AIR
4. Lee Daniels for PRECIOUS
5. Tarantino for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
It's Bigelow's. Though maybe Cameron actually deserves it more for what he managed to pull off.
[I can't believe I forgot the screenplay and adapted screenplay categories, especially since I made my living for a while in Hollywood writing screenplays. Again I would have chosen some others, but as for the ones nominated, my choices would be:
ADAPTED SCREENPLAYS I SAW:
1. Geoffrey Fletcher for PRECIOUS
2. Jason Reitman for UP IN THE AIR
3. Nick Hornby for AN EDUCATION
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAYS I SAW:
1. Bob Peterson and Pete Doctor for UP
2. Marl Boal for THE HURT LOCKER
3. Quentin Tarantino for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
The favorite for Adapted is Reitman, but I'm thinking Fletcher just might win it. The favorite for Original is Tarantino, though some favor Boal and I'd bet on him.]