Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Snooch to the Nooch!

Well, with the Oscars finally happening on Sunday, it’s now time for my final look at the nominees, and a look at my final predictions (all nominations listed in order of preference), and whether they’ve changed in the past month.

Before I get to the festivities, though, an update on where my Top 10 Best and Favorites for 2009 stand now.

Brian’s 10 Favorite Films of 2009
1. “Up” (Pete Doctor)
2. “The Hangover” (Todd Phillips)
3. “(500) Days of Summer” (Marc Webb)
4. “Star Trek” (J.J. Abrams)
5. “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” (Terry Gilliam)
6. “Knowing” (Alex Proyas)
7. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (David Yates)
8. “Watchmen” (Zack Snyder)
9. “Cookies & Cream” (Princeton Holt)
10. “Drag Me to Hell” (Sam Raimi)

Brian’s 10 Best Films of 2009
1. “Red Cliff” (John Woo)
2. “Up” (Pete Doctor)
3. “Moon” (Duncan Jones)
4. “Precious” (Lee Daniels)
5. “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” (Terry Gilliam)
6. “(500) Days of Summer” (Marc Webb)
7. “Avatar” (James Cameron)
8. “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans” (Werner Herzog)
9. “Knowing” (Alex Proyas)
10. “Drag Me to Hell” (Sam Raimi)

Viva la Resistance!

Brian Skutle

Best Picture
“Up in the Air”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The Hurt Locker”
“An Education”
“District 9”
“A Serious Man”
“The Blind Side”

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

Brian’s Pick: “Up”

Oscar’s Pick: “Avatar”. There are a few reasons I’m going with James Cameron’s $700 million hit over “The Hurt Locker.” The recent controversy about a producer for the indie drama who emailed Oscar voters to get them to vote for his film is one (though not the main one). The record-breaking box-office is the big one. Plus, it’ll be a way for them to honor the groundbreaking epic since they’ll be honoring “Locker” in other places.

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”
Lee Daniels, “Precious”
Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”
James Cameron, “Avatar”
Jason Reintman, “Up in the Air”

Brian’s Top Five: John Woo, “Red Cliff”; Duncan Jones, “Moon”; Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”; Terry Gilliam, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”; Alex Proyas, “Knowing”

Brian’s Pick: Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”

Oscar’s Pick: Kathryn Bigelow. Cameron could upset if “Avatar” sweeps, and honestly, I can see Tarantino sneaking in if “Basterds” gets some real love. But I’d expect Bigelow to be the first woman to ever win Best Director for her tense and gripping work for “Locker.”

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
George Clooney, “Up in the Air”
Colin Firth, “A Single Man”
Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”
Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”

Brian’s Top Five: Matt Damon, “The Informant!”; Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, “(500) Days of Summer”; Sam Rockwell, “Moon”; Joaquin Phoenix, “Two Lovers”

Brian’s Pick: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”

Oscar’s Pick: Jeff Bridges. It’s the Dude’s time to abide. There’s not a film fan out there that won’t tell you it’s time.

Best Actress
Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”
Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”
Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”

Brian’s Top Five: Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”; Saoirse Ronan, “The Lovely Bones”; Carey Mulligan, “An Education”; Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”; Jace Nicole, “Cookies & Cream”

Brian’s Pick: Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”

Oscar’s Pick: Sandra Bullock. As great as Sidibe and Mulligan are, these newcomers are in the “just honored to be nominated” race this year with Streep and Bullock. Streep is still catagorically in it for her third Oscar, but Bullock is the one to beat for her entertaining and dramatically-surprising performance in the hit film “Blind Side.” The Best Picture nomination for “Side” also helps.

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”
Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”
Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”
Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”
Matt Damon, “Invictus”

Brian’s Top Five: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”; Souleymane Sy Savane, “Goodbye Solo”; Jackie Earl Haley, “Watchmen”; Christopher Plummer, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”; Peter Capaldi, “In the Loop”

Brian’s Pick: Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”

Oscar’s Pick: Christoph Waltz. The closest competitor is Harrelson, whose soul-wrenching turn is a career-best for the actor, but let’s be honest, “Basterds'” deviously brilliant Waltz was in a class by himself this year as the most enjoyable villain since Hannibal Lecter. He gets the golden boy in a landslide.

Best Supporting Actress
Mo’Nique, “Precious”
Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”
Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”
Penelope Cruz, “Nine”

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

Brian’s Pick: Mo’Nique, “Precious”

Oscar’s Pick: Mo’Nique. Just don’t think about it. If you disagree, you haven’t seen her performance. It’s a lock.

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

Brian’s Top Five: “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)

Brian’s Pick: “Up” (Pete Doctor, Bob Peterson, Thomas McCarthy)

Oscar’s Pick: “Inglourious Basterds”. Here’s the thing. Yes, “Hurt Locker” won the Writer’s Guild, and in the event of a sweep by “Locker,” I can definitely see it winning. But I think love for “Basterds” will run deep, and Tarantino- for his sharpest original script since “Pulp Fiction”- will take home his second screenwriting Oscar.

Best Adapted Screenplay
“Precious” (Geoffrey Fletcher)
“An Education” (Nick Hornby)
“District 9” (Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell)
“In the Loop” (Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche)
“Up in the Air” (Jason Reitman, Sheldon Turner)

Brian’s Top Five: “Precious” (Geoffrey Fletcher); “An Education” (Nick Hornby); “The Informant!” (Scott Z. Burns); “Watchmen” (David Hayter, Alex Tse); “Star Trek” (Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci)

Brian’s Pick: “Precious” (Geoffrey Fletcher)

Oscar’s Pick: “Up in the Air”. “Up in the Air” will win this for the simple fact that it’s the best chance for the Academy to reward the one-time front-runner.

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

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

Brian’s Pick: “Up” (Michael Giacchino)

Oscar’s Pick: “Up”. In reality, one can think of scenarios in which each of these scores can win (maybe except for “Holmes,” despite it being one of Zimmer’s finest). But I think Giacchino will win his first Oscar for a score that’s just as important to the film as the writing and acting.

Best Original Song
“The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart” (T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham)
“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)
“Loin de Paname” from “Faubourg 36” (Reinhardt Wagner, Frank Thomas) (Haven’t Heard)

Brian’s Top Five: “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart” (T-Bone Burnett & Ryan Bingham); “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)

Brian’s Pick: “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart” (T-Bone Burnett & Ryan Bingham)

Oscar’s Pick: “The Weary Kind”. This song just lives within you after you’ve heard it. Is there a better example of a great song than that? Look for this instant classic- the best song nominated for an Oscar in years- to win.

Best Animated Feature
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells” (Haven’t Seen)

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

Brian’s Pick: “Up”

Oscar’s Pick: “Up”. I think there’s a bigger potential for a “Coraline” or “Fantastic Mr. Fox” upset than most pundits (the industry loves “Coraline” director Henry Selick, and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is a genuine original), but I’d be very surprised if Pixar didn’t win its’ third Oscar in this category in a row.

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

Brian’s Top Five: “Red Cliff”; “The White Ribbon”; “Gamorrah”; “Thirst”; “Rudo y Cursi”

Oscar’s Pick: “Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte”. Known as “The White Ribbon” in the US, a potential upset is there for France’s acclaimed “A Prophet” (which just opened in Atlanta), but the black-and-white drama of “Ribbon” is too filled with shades of gray for Oscar to ignore.

Best Documentary Feature
“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 Top Five: “Michael Jackson’s This Is It”; “The Cove”; “Tyson”; “Food, Inc.”; “Earth”

Brian’s Pick: “The Cove”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Cove”. It’s just too heartbreaking, and too important, to ignore this thrilling look at activism at its’ most urgent.

Best Visual Effects
“District 9”
“Star Trek”

Brian’s Top Three: “Avatar”; “District 9”; “Star Trek”

Brian’s Pick: “Avatar”

Oscar’s Pick: “Avatar”. You’re just crazy if you think they’re going to pick something else.

Best Sound
“Star Trek”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Brian’s Top Five: “Red Cliff”; “Avatar”; “Up”; “Star Trek”; “Coraline”

Brian’s Pick: “Avatar”

Oscar’s Pick: “Avatar”. Is it just me or does “Revenge of the Fallen” just feel out of place with the other five? Doesn’t matter. In the beginning of the back-and-forth with “Hurt Locker,” “Avatar” wins the first battle.

Best Sound Editing
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”

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

Brian’s Pick: “Avatar”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Hurt Locker”. Expect those tension-packed diffusing scenes to take “Locker” over the top here.

Best Cinematography
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Das weisse Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte”

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

Brian’s Pick: “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”

Oscar’s Pick: “Avatar”. Again, it’s more “Locker” vs. “Avatar” here, and while “Hurt Locker” shined in this area, “Avatar” pushed the envelope for what’s possible with 3-D. It wins this round.

Best Film Editing
“The Hurt Locker”
“District 9”
“Inglourious Basterds”

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

Brian’s Pick: “The Hurt Locker”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Hurt Locker”. Some say this will determine what Best Picture will be. I say it’s more a miracle all five nominees are actually in the big race also (that doesn’t always happen). If anything but “Locker” wins this, I’d seriously question the Academy’s judgement…not that I don’t do so already.

Best Art Direction
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Sherlock Holmes”
“The Young Victoria”

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

Brian’s Pick: “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”

Oscar’s Pick: “Avatar”. Oh how I’d love to see Gilliam’s brilliant “Parnassus” win this. But “Avatar” created a new world before our eyes…even if none of it was real. It wins here.

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

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

Brian’s Pick: “Star Trek”

Oscar’s Pick: “Star Trek”. Yes, Trekkies, your franchise will win an Oscar. Don’t get too excited in your parent’s basement now…

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

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

Brian’s Pick: “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Young Victoria”. It’s a really pretty film to look at. Or maybe I was just thinking about Emily Blunt. No matter. “Victoria” wins over other period choices.

Here are the three awards those most devoted to movies care about. I haven’t seen many of these, so all these are just guesses.

Best Short Film- Live Action
“The Door”
“Istället för abrakadabra”
“Miracle Fish”
“The New Tenants”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Door”

Best Short Film- Animated
“Wallace and Gromit in ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’” (Have Seen)
“French Roast”
“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”
“La dama y la muerte”

Oscar’s Pick: “A Matter of Loaf and Death”. Wallace & Gromit win Oscar again for their latest delightful adventure.

Best Documentary Short Subject
“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”

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