Monday, August 31, 2009

Oscar Watch: Part 1

Today is the last official day of the Summer movie season. That means that we are now entering what is deemed awards season. I've decided to take a look at all the films that have come out this year so far that I think might be Oscar worthy in one way or another, and then shed some light on some hopefuls coming out later this year. Today I will feature Part 1 of my two-part series where I look at the films that have already been unveiled at this point.

As a whole I've been fairly impressed with all that I saw this past summer and many of them I think could have a legitimate shot when it comes time for the Oscars. (500) Days of Summer was a charming, highly original romantic comedy that could easily follow the path of something like Juno or Little Miss Sunshine and wind up in the original screenplay category, and possibly since there are now ten nominees, Best Picture.

As well I think it is safe to say that both Star Trek and District 9 should have a strong presence in the tech categories, in particular visual effects and sound mixing/editing; while both of these films were really good, the Academy tends to ignore science fiction, still both were liked enough to get Best Picture consideration, but if one got in it'd most likely be District 9.

There were two films that failed to live up to expectations so far this year and they were Watchmen and Public Enemies. While I actually quite enjoyed Public Enemies (Watchmen not so much) the film failed to impress the way in which an Oscar film must in order to wow the Academy, which is a shame for something that was so well made and in the end quite entertaining.

Then we had Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, probably the most polished Harry Potter film since Prisoner of Azkaban. The cinematography in this film is the only cinematography I've seen thus far this year that has any shot in this category when it comes time for year's en, but as much as I loved this film (being probably my favorite film of the year so far), I don't think the Academy will give it much recognition in the major categories.

Another solid Oscar hopeful is Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo. After winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature for Spirited Away I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Miyazaki walk away with it once more after seeing this enchanting film. The only film that could rain on Ponyo's parade in this category is Up. Up is one of the finer films released thus far this year, and not only has it pretty much been guaranteed a slot in the animated race, it is also being touted as a possible Best Picture contender. Course if Up is pushed heavily for Best Picture, that'd possibly take away from the money needed to promote it for the animated category and could allow something like Ponyo or Coraline to swoop in there and take it away.

Moving on there was also The Hurt Locker. While I never saw this film, it opened to rave reviews, becoming a critic's favorite for the Oscars already. It could easily be a hopeful in both the Best Picture race and Best Director.

Then the festival circuits have already given us three more Oscar hopefuls, while none of these have been released in theaters just yet, they've already had their premieres so I think it's safe to include them in this first part of my Oscar Watch. An Education and Precious stormed out of Sundance last Winter to rave reviews and have held up amongst analysts to become Oscar hopefuls in nearly all the major categories. As well Bright Star, the winner of the Palm d'Or in Cannes, has gotten much early Oscar attention, but the Academy rarely lines up with Cannes so this is a hit-or-miss situation.

And that'll do it for today. Tune in later in the week to catch Part 2 of Oscar Watch.

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