Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Oscar Watch: Foreign Language and Docs, and Will Avatar Win Best Picture?
Another week closer to the Oscars, it's time for another edition of Oscar Watch. As we draw steadily closer to the 82nd annual Academy Awards, certain trends are becoming ever clearer. Avatar is shaping up to be the film with the most nominations come February 2nd, and unless the DGA, PGA, or SAG can come up with an out-of-left-field winner, it's pretty much a two-horse race at this point. But let's get this thing started off talking about the final two categories I've yet to name my predictions for, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Documentary Feature.
In terms of Best Foreign Language Film it's really down between A Prophet from France and The White Ribbon from Germany (which brought home the Golden Globe). While some would like to put stock in Mexico's Backyard or Peru's The Milk of Sorrow, I doubt they will show up other than as a nomination, same goes for China's Forever Enthralled. Seeing as how such critical favorites like Broken Embraces, Red Cliff, and Sin Nombre missed the shortlist, I think it's safe to assume that this is pretty close as to how it will pan out.
As for Best Documentary Feature, really the only one I think with a genuine shot is The Cove, about mistreatment of dolphins off the coast of Japan. Some would like to put their clout behind Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, but I don't see it happening for him, not this year. Filling things out will most likely be Food, Inc.; The Beaches of Agnes; Mugabe and the White African; and Under Our Skin.
If you wanna know what this looks like, here it is:
Best Foreign Language Film
The White Ribbon
The Milk of Sorrow
Best Documentary Feature
The Beaches of Agnes
Under Our Skin
The Mugabe and the White African
As it is, the most exciting category of the year is shaping up to be Best Picture! This is exciting, purely because it has been a few years since this category has been so strong and could pretty much go any which way. The acting categories are pretty much locked into place after this past weekend with Christoph Waltz, Mo'Nique, Jeff Bridges, and Sandra Bullock most likely bringing home the Oscar; the only potential spoiler could be SAG this upcoming weekend (I'm still pulling for Carey Mulligan in Best Actress), but if there are no surprises, which I predict there wont be, then you can expect to see a pretty lackluster year for the acting categories. Still, with the likes of Best Picture and Best Director so heated up, I can overlook this miniature setback to this award's season; better than previous seasons when by this point we already knew who'd be taking home the gold in Best Picture and Best Director as well.
I think the talk of Avatar winning Best Picture is entirely reasonable, especially after Sunday night where it won Best Motion Picture-Drama at the Golden Globes. While some critics say too much stock shouldn't be put into the Golden Globes and their lean more towards commercialism in their own awarding process, it is still a major award all the same, putting it alongside The Hurt Locker, which brought home Best Picture at the Critic's Choice and their lean more towards arthouse fare Friday night.
At the end of the day, the Oscars is kind of where commercialism and art blend into one, so at the moment it is hard to really tell which film has the better shot, but that could make it all the more possible for a film like Inglorious Bas**rds, Up in the Air, or Precious to swoop in there and take the award away. Of course, the only one I think that has that shot is Up in the Air, and The Hurt Locker and Avatar are riding too high at the moment. While Inglorious Bas**rds has a lot of love and will most likely win Best Ensemble at SAG, that does not necessarily make it a better Oscar hopeful than Up in the Air, just because Inglorious had an ensemble cast. As for Precious, I think it peaked too early in the Oscar race and has to play some major catch up if it wants to hear its name called come time for the Oscarcast.
So at the moment it's a footrace between Avatar and The Hurt Locker (same for the directing category, though Quentin Tarrantino is lingering in the wings waiting to strike). Really, neither one has started to pull away yet, making it all the more exciting, and while I haven't seen The Hurt Locker yet, I'd really love to see a movie that I enjoyed a great deal win the Oscar, so at the moment I'm pulling full on for Avatar.