Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Snooch to the Nooch! The title says it all. Actually, it doesn’t this year, but read on. The Oscars are on March 7 at 8pm EST this year, with Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin hosting.

Click here for my full pre-nomination selections list.

Best Picture
Oscar’s Final Ten
“Up”
“Precious”
“Avatar”
“Up in the Air”
“The Hurt Locker”
“District 9”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“A Serious Man”
“The Blind Side” (Haven’t Seen)
“An Education” (Haven’t Seen)

Likes: “A Serious Man” may not be one of the Coen’s best in my opinion, but otherwise, there’s not a ringer in the bunch from what I’ve seen…

Dislikes: …that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have preferred nods for “(500) Days of Summer,” “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans,” “Michael Jackson’s This Is It,” “The Informant!” or any of the other films below.

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Red Cliff”; “Up”; “Moon”; “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”; “Precious”; “(500) Days of Summer”; “Avatar”; “Knowing”; “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans”; “Drag Me to Hell”

Oscar’s Pick: It looks like the Academy’s plan for the expanded Best Picture category worked. It’s a three-film race between “Avatar,” “Hurt Locker,” and “Basterds” (don’t discount that SAG Cast award- the bulk of the Academy is actors). That said, I think the box-office juggernaut “Avatar” will be Cameron’s second Best Picture Oscar winner in the past 12 years.

Best Director
Oscar’s Final Five
Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”
Lee Daniels, “Precious”
James Cameron, “Avatar”
Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”
Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air”

Likes: All five found compelling and mesmerizing new ways to tell their respective stories. All five deserved in.

Dislikes: With five so deserving nominees, it’s a shame other more-than-worthy nominees like Steven Soderbergh (“The Informant!”), John Woo (“Red Cliff”), Mark Webb (“(500) Days of Summer”), Terry Gilliam (“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”), and Duncan Jones (“Moon”) couldn’t make the cut.

Brian’s personal hopefuls: John Woo (“Red Cliff”); Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”); Terry Gilliam (“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”); Alex Proyas (“Knowing”)

Oscar’s Pick: Kathryn Bigelow. Don’t expect Cameron to repeat his Golden Globe win. The DGA got this one right, clearing the way for Cameron’s ex Bigelow to be the first female director to win an Oscar. Deservedly so.

Best Actor
Oscar’s Final Five
George Clooney, “Up in the Air”
Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”
Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart” (Haven’t Seen)
Colin Firth, “A Single Man” (Haven’t Seen)
Morgan Freeman, “Invictus” (Haven’t Seen)

Likes: That Renner, who I best know as a terrific one-ep villain in “Angel: Season One,” was recognized for his compelling turn as a thrill-junkie who is diffusing bombs in Iraq. And let’s face it, Clooney did have a pretty terrific year.

Dislikes: That I’ve been too lazy to see Bridges, Firth, and Freeman yet. Not to fret; I’ll be seeing the first two this weekend when they go wide. That makes it difficult to say whether Nic Cage (“Bad Lieutenant”), Joaquin Phoenix (“Two Lovers”), Red West (“Goodbye Solo”), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“(500) Days of Summer”), Matt Damon (“The Informant!”) and Sam Rockwell (“Moon”) were left out because of an embarrassment of riches or for other reasons I’d rather not consider.

Brian’s personal hopefuls: Matt Damon (“The Informant!”); Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“(500) Days of Summer”); Sam Rockwell (“Moon”); Joaquin Phoenix (“Two Lovers”); Nicolas Cage (“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans”)

Oscar’s Pick: Jeff Bridges. The Dude’s time has come. ‘Nuff said. Clooney could still sneak in, but I’d be surprised at this point.

Best Actress
Oscar’s Final Five
Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”
Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”
Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side” (Haven’t Seen)
Helen Mirren, “The Last Station” (Haven’t Seen)
Carey Mulligan, “An Education” (Haven’t Seen)

Likes: That “Precious'” wonderful and heartbreaking Sidibe found a slot in the final five. And even though I still haven’t seen “The Blind Side,” Bullock has really paid some dues, so if she’s as good as I’ve heard, she will have earned her first nod.

Dislikes: That again, I haven’t seen enough of the nominees to know whether Saoirse Ronan (“The Lovely Bones”), Natalie Portman (“Brothers”), and other actors like Jace Nicole (“Cookies & Cream”), Meissa Hampton (“Uptown”), Maya Rudolph (“Away We Go”), Michelle Pfeiffer (“Cheri”), and Sasha Grey (“The Girlfriend Experience”) were left out for more worthy choices, or other reasons.

Brian’s personal hopefuls: Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious”); Saoirse Ronan (“The Lovely Bones”); Meryl Streep (“Julie & Julia”); Jace Nicole (“Cookies & Cream”); Natalie Portman (“Brothers”)

Oscar’s Pick: Sandra Bullock. In what will probably be the most suspenseful race of the night, it’s a question of whether Bullock can ride the momentum of her Globe and SAG wins to an Oscar, or will Streep come from behind to win her third Oscar (and first in a quarter of a century). I’m betting on Bullock to ride the goodwill of her peers (and audiences) to a win.

Best Supporting Actor
Oscar’s Final Five
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”
Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”
Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”
Matt Damon, “Invictus” (Haven’t Seen)
Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station” (Haven’t Seen)

Likes: No real surprises, and it’s nice to see Damon and Plummer get nods, even if they weren’t for the movies I would have preferred.

Dislikes: That I haven’t gotten my lazy ass out to see “Invictus” and “The Last Station” yet. And that left-hand turns like Zack Galifianakis (“The Hangover”), Jackie Earl Haley (“Watchmen”), and Souleymane Sy Savane (“Goodbye Solo”) didn’t get more of a look.

Brian’s personal hopefuls: Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”); Souleymane Sy Savane (“Goodbye Solo”); Jackie Earl Haley (“Watchmen”); Christopher Plummer (“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”); Stanley Tucci (“The Lovely Bones”)

Oscar’s Pick: Christoph Waltz. It’s been his to lose since a Best Actor win at Cannes. Don’t expect it to happen now. Waltz has been the surest lock for the longest time.

Best Supporting Actress
Oscar’s Final Five
Mo’Nique, “Precious”
Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”
Vera Farminga, “Up in the Air”
Penelope Cruz, “Nine” (Haven’t Seen)
Maggie Ghyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart” (Haven’t Seen)

Likes: Yes, I forgot the “Up in the Air” women in my personal Oscar picks yesterday (sorry), but along with front-runner Mo’Nique, they all deserved it.

Dislikes: So now I guess I have to see “Nine” afterall (crap). Ghyllenhaal was a pleasant surprise, and yet another reason to see “Crazy Heart.” But really, having to see “Nine’s” the only real downside I know of right now.

Brian’s personal hopefuls: Mo’Nique (“Precious”); Melanie Laurent (“Inglourious Basterds”); Ali Larter (“Obsessed”); Leslie Mann (“Funny People”); Samantha Morton (“The Messenger”)

Oscar’s Pick: Mo’Nique. Before the awards season hit, some were curious as to whether Mo’Nique would do enough to promote herself. But with critics and SAG doing the job for her, she’s the closest thing to a lock next to Waltz among the actors.

Best Original Screenplay
Oscar’s Final Five
“Up” (Pete Doctor, Bob Peterson, Thomas McCarthy)
“The Hurt Locker” (Mark Boal)
“The Messenger” (Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman)
“Inglourious Basterds” (Quentin Tarantino)
“A Serious Man” (Joel & Ethan Coen)

Likes: Like so many categories this year, there’s not a ringer in the bunch, even there were some that I would’ve preferred.

Dislikes: No “(500) Days of Summer?” Really? Plus, wasn’t “A Serious Man” basically an adaptation of the Book of Job? Still, I can’t argue with the Coens’. But no “(500) Days of Summer?” For shame Academy!

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Moon” (Nathan Parker, Duncan Jones); “Knowing” (Ryne Pearson, Juliet Snowden, Stiles White, Stuart Hazeldine); “The Invention of Lying” (Ricky Gervais, Matthew Robinson); “Up” (Pete Doctor, Bob Peterson, Thomas McCarthy); ”(500) Days of Summer” (Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber)

Oscar’s Pick: This is probably gonna be the tightest race of the evening in the major categories (and the Writers Guild is not gonna help; only members were nominated). I’m not even sure if I know, but honestly, I’d kind of be surprised if “Inglourious Basterds” didn’t score a second writing Oscar for Tarantino.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Oscar’s Final Five
“Precious” (Geoffrey Fletcher)
“District 9” (Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell)
“Up in the Air” (Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner)
“An Education” (Nick Hornby) (Haven’t Seen)
“In the Loop” (Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche) (Haven’t Seen)

Likes: I currently have “In the Loop” at home via Netflix. And the ones I’ve seen, well, I do love that “District 9” got the recognition it’s gotten.

Dislikes: No “The Informant!,” “Watchmen,” “Star Trek,” “Coraline,” or “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” These were all pretty superb scripts.

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Precious” (Geoffrey Fletcher); “The Informant!” (Scott Z. Burns); “Watchmen” (David Hayter, Alex Tse); “Star Trek” (Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci); “Coraline” (Henry Selick)

Oscar’s Pick: “Up in the Air.” Reitman and Turner’s sharp and smart relationship story and middle age coming-of-age tale is a shoe-in. Seriously. Believe that Globe win.

Best Original Score
Oscar’s Final Five
“Up” (Michael Giacchino)
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (Alexandre Desplat)
“Sherlock Holmes” (Hans Zimmer)
“Avatar” (James Horner)
“The Hurt Locker” (Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders)

Likes: Ok, only one of the nominees are in my final five, but all of these are pretty great scores.

Dislikes: That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have preferred “Where the Wild Things Are” (Carter Burwell & Karen O.), “The Informant!” (Marvin Hamlisch), “Coraline” (Bruno Coulais), “Moon” (Clint Mansell) or “The Lovely Bones” (Brian Eno), however. It was that good of a year for film music.

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Up” (Michael Giacchino); “The Lovely Bones” (Brian Eno); “The Informant!” (Marvin Hamlisch); “Coraline” (Bruno Coulais); “Star Trek” (Michael Giacchino)

Oscar’s Pick: “Up.” “Fantastic Mr. Fox’s” Desplat has become an Oscar bridesmaid over the past several years with “The Queen” and “Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” so a win this year would not be questioned, but I’m guessing Best Picture nominee “Up” will be the first win for another up-and-comer in Giacchino.

Best Original Song
Oscar’s Final Five
“The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart” (T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham)
“Loin de Paname” from “Faubourg 36” (Reinhardt Wagner, Frank Thomas)
“Take It All” from “Nine” (Maury Yeston)
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog” (Randy Newman)
“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog” (Randy Newman)

Likes: Newman’s songs weren’t bad…

Dislikes: …just not as memorable as his Pixar classics. And where did the foreign film come from?

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “All Is Love” from “Where the Wild Things Are” (Karen O & Nick Zinner); “Dynomite” from “Black Dynamite” (Adrian Younge); “Dove of Peace” from “Brüno” (Sascha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Dan Mazer, and Jeff Schaffer); “The Spirit of Adventure” from “Up” (Michael Giacchino); “Sirens of the Sea” from “Coraline” (Bruno Coulais)

Oscar’s Pick: “The Weary Kind.” Look for T-Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham to be onstage together this time when this country crooner wins them an Oscar to go with their Golden Globe.

Best Animated Feature
Oscar’s Final Five
“Up”
“Coraline”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Up”; “Coraline”; “Fantastic Mr. Fox”; “Ponyo”; “The Princess and the Frog”

Oscar’s Pick: Wow, no Miyazaki (“Ponyo”) & the British “Secret of Kells,” which I don’t know about. Surprising stuff. What shouldn’t be surprising is that Pixar’s dominance will likely continue with “Up,” although personally, I wouldn’t put it past voters to give “Coraline” or “Mr. Fox” the nod over the Best Picture nominee.

Best Foreign Language Film
Oscar’s Final Five (Haven’t Seen Any)
“Ajami” (Israel)
“Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte” (Germany)
“El secreto de sus ojos” (Argentina)
“Un prophète” (France)
“La teta asustada” (Peru)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Red Cliff”; “Gamorrah”; “Thirst”; “Rudo y Cursi”

Oscar’s Pick: Like I said, I haven’t seen any of them (and why did China not submit “Red Cliff”- what were the requirements?), but look for Germany’s “The White Ribbon”- the film’s English translation- to win out.

Best Documentary Feature
Oscar’s Final Five
“The Cove”
“Food, Inc.”
“Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land” (Haven’t Seen)
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” (Haven’t Seen)
“Which Way Home” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Michael Jackson’s This Is It”; “The Cove”; “Tyson”; “Food, Inc.”; “Earth”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Cove.” If you doubt it, you haven’t seen it. It’s a heart-rending and important work.

Best Visual Effects
Oscar’s Final Three
“Avatar”
“District 9”
“Star Trek”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Avatar”; “District 9”; “Star Trek”

Oscar’s Pick: “Avatar.” This is the one award it’s guaranteed to win.

Best Sound
Oscar’s Final Five
“Avatar”
“Star Trek”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Red Cliff”; “Avatar”; “Up”; “Star Trek”; “Coraline”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Hurt Locker.” Finally, a year where the technical awards can (and will) be spread around. Look for “Hurt Locker” to win over “Avatar” here.

Best Sound Editing
Oscar’s Final Five
“Avatar”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Up”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Drag Me to Hell”; “District 9”; “Avatar”; “The Hurt Locker”; “Red Cliff”

Oscar’s Pick: “Avatar.” Another win to be celebrated on Pandora for Cameron’s epic.

Best Cinematography
Oscar’s Final Five
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Avatar”
“The White Ribbon” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Red Cliff”; “The Lovely Bones”; “Black Dynamite”; “Drag Me to Hell”; “District 9”

Oscar’s Pick: “Avatar.” Honestly, I don’t know how “Avatar” is nominated here since it’s almost entirely green screen. The black and white “White Ribbon” could win, but look for another “Avatar” win over “Hurt Locker.”

Best Film Editing
Oscar’s Final Five
“The Hurt Locker”
“District 9”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Avatar”
“Precious”

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Star Trek”; “Red Cliff”; “The Hurt Locker”; “Drag Me to Hell”; “Knowing”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Hurt Locker.” Those tension-packed bomb defusing scenes put “Locker” above all the rest.

Best Art Direction
Oscar’s Final Five
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“The Young Victoria”
“Avatar”
“Nine” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Red Cliff”; “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”; “Watchmen”; “Inglourious Basterds”; “The Lovely Bones”

Oscar’s Pick: “Avatar.” It’s great to see “Parnassus” nominated for something. Too bad “Avatar” is nominated, otherwise I’d say it had a chance.

Best Makeup
Oscar’s Final Three
“Star Trek”
“The Young Victoria”
“Il Divo” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Drag Me to Hell”; “Star Trek”; “Thicker Than Water: The Vampires Diaries- Part 1”

Oscar’s Pick: “Star Trek.” Look for J.J. Abrams’ reboot to finally get some Oscar love here.

Best Costume Design
Oscar’s Final Five
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“The Young Victoria”
“Bright Star” (Haven’t Seen)
“Coco Before Chanel” (Haven’t Seen)
“Nine” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s personal hopefuls: “Red Cliff”; “The Lovely Bones”; “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”; “Watchmen”; “Black Dynamite”

Oscar’s Pick: “Nine.” Yes, I’m predicting a win for the maligned musical, even though I’d love to see “Parnassus” win here also.

Now, onto the awards less likely to be cared about, and randomly-selected predictions.

Best Short Film- Live Action
Oscar’s Final Five
“The Door”
“Istället för abrakadabra”
“Kavi”
“Miracle Fish”
“The New Tenants”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Door”

Best Short Film- Animated
Oscar’s Final Five
“French Roast”
“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”
“La dama y la muerte”
“Logorama”
“Wallace and Gromit in ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death'”

Oscar’s Pick: “A Matter of Loaf and Death.” Oscar’s love affair with W&G continues.

Best Documentary Short Subject
Oscar’s Final Five
“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”
“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner”
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
“Królik po berlinsku”
“Music by Prudence”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”

Viva La Resistance!

Brian Skutle
http://www.sonic-cinema.com

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