Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"Up" Balloons Pixar to Oscar's Greatest Glory with a Best Picture Nomination

Up Baloons Pixar to Oscar's Greatest Glory with a Best Picture Nomination - Avatar also nominated for Best Picture - image by Franco Esteve

The Academy Award nominations for 2010 have been announced a couple of hours ago, and though many were unsurprising, the nomination of Walt Disney's Pixar Animation Studios' film, Up, for Best Picture was definitely unexpected as the Academy has historically ignored animated films for the Best Picture Oscar relegating them to their specific format category, the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar. Pixar had been coming closer and closer to this honor, yet, despite the staggering amount of awards their films had received, it seemed they were never deemed enough when compared to live action films as it pertains to the Best Picture Oscar.

Other nominations for the film include Best animated feature film, Original score, Sound editing, and Original screenplay making for a total of five nominations for the movie. Despite the wonderfully touching story of the film, I would not expect it to win the Best Picture Oscar, but for it to receive the Best animated feature film award and perhaps one of the others. The honor of the nomination alone is impressive, but considering there's a specific category, it will be difficult for Up to achieve the Best picture recognition, though not impossible considering similar cases with the Best foreign film category.

Another surprise is the amount of nominations for District 9, also including a Best Picture nomination. I must admit that the film was very fresh, current and overall excellent, but to see two science fiction films and an animated film nominated for Best Picture is definitely rare. As a fan of both science fiction and Pixar's animated films, I'm definitely glad to see them getting such a level of recognition.

And then there was Avatar

Avatar didn't quite match its Dances with Wolves (12 nominations, 7 oscars including Best Directing and Best Picture) inspiration when it comes to nominations, but nine nominations is certainly impressive and includes the two top honors of Best Picture and Best Directing. It didn't get any for acting though, which is not surprising considering the effects driven (read animated) nature of the film.

That Avatar would get nominated was not surprising, particularly in the more technical categories, and though expected by many for Best Picture and Best Directing, I'm glad the Academy members saw through James Horner's rehash of Titanic's original song and didn't honor it with a nomination. They did give him a well deserved original score nomination though. It was certainly excellent and served the film well.

Avatar Official Movie Website | Highest Grossing Film of All TimePerhaps the one omission here was Best Adapted Screenplay. I'm sure it was promoted for Best Original Screenplay, but considering the story reads more like a science fiction adaptation of Dances with Wolves, I'm sure everyone at the Academy laughed that one up quite a bit. Had it been submitted as an Adapted Screenplay, I for one would have been one to happily promote it to Academy members as it was an awesome sci-fi version of Kevin Costner's magnum opus.

In the end, I think Avatar could care less about the awards, as it continues its rise to best selling film of all time (not accounting for inflation), though I'm sure James Cameron and everyone who worked so hard to make one of the best movie experiences in history appreciate the recognition of their labor. When it comes to this year's nominations it's like seeing Dances with Wolves meets Titanic in a Science Fiction dressing. How it all turns out we'll still have to wait and see as the Academy begins their voting process running up to the final awards show in March.

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But there are others

With all the talk surrounding Avatar and the surprise nomination of Up for Best Picture, one cannot ignore such fantastic films as Inglourious Basterds with its eight nominations and Up in the Air with its six and very likely win by George Clooney for a leading role performance (you read it here first, unless I'm wrong and it's Jeremy Renner… but it will definitely be Penélope Cruz for Nine, or is it Meryl Streep?… I think Penélope but this is definitely difficult to predict). The real one to look for is The Hurt Locker which was directed by Cameron's ex-wife and like Avatar, has nine nominations.

The Hurt Locker - Directed by Kathryn Bigelow and Academy Award Nominated for Nine Oscars including Best Director and Best PictureThe Hurt Locker, for those who have yet to experience it, is a movie based on the real accounts of a freelance journalist, Mark Boal, during his time as a freelance journalist embedded with a U.S. Army Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) squad (read Bomb Squad) during the Iraq War. It follows the unit's tour together as they deal with all the difficulties of the war, themselves, the bombs, the insurgency, etc. It's certainly one of the year's best films if not the best, for the way the Kathryn Bigelow presents the seemingly familiar subject matter of the Iraq war in a way that really communicates, through the relationship of its three main characters, a very real story about war and having to work in a hostile, unfamiliar, and unfriendly foreign environment and all the hell that stems from it.

It's quite a peculiar battle, that between Avatar and The Hurt Locker, James Cameron versus ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow, Most expensive blockbuster success versus Economical, Indie, Critical Sensation, Science Fiction Fantasy versus Crude Earthly Reality. It's a battle of absolute opposites and one whose outcome will be difficult to predict. The Academy tends to favor films like The Hurt Locker over big budget, effects laden films such as Avatar, but in this case (and there have been a number of exceptions), and with the Best Picture category extended to ten candidates, it's a toss up.

The road to March 7th is definitely an exciting one. Time to start the voting lists and the planning for the Oscar parties! Have your picks already? Sound off!

List of Nominations for the 82nd Academy Awards (click here to open their site in a new window):

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

Actor in a Supporting Role
• Matt Damon in “Invictus”
• Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”
• Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”
• Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”
• Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds

Actress in a Leading Role
• Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
• Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
• Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
• Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
• Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”

Actress in a Supporting Role
• Penélope Cruz in “Nine”
• Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air
• Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”
• Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air
• Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Animated Feature Film
• “Coraline” Henry Selick
• “Fantastic Mr. Fox” Wes Anderson
• “The Princess and the Frog” John Musker and Ron Clements
• “The Secret of Kells” Tomm Moore
• “Up” Pete Docter

Art Direction
• “Avatar” Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
• “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
• “Nine” Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
• “Sherlock Holmes” Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
• “The Young Victoria” Art Direction: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Maggie Gray

• “Avatar” Mauro Fiore
• “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” Bruno Delbonnel
• “The Hurt Locker” Barry Ackroyd
• “Inglourious Basterds” Robert Richardson
• “The White Ribbon” Christian Berger

Costume Design
• “Bright Star” Janet Patterson
• “Coco before Chanel” Catherine Leterrier
• “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” Monique Prudhomme
• “Nine” Colleen Atwood
• “The Young Victoria” Sandy Powell

• “Avatar” James Cameron
• “The Hurt Locker” Kathryn Bigelow
• “Inglourious Basterds” Quentin Tarantino
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels
• “Up in the Air” Jason Reitman

Documentary (Feature)
• “Burma VJ” Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
• “The Cove” Nominees to be determined
• “Food, Inc.” Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
• “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
• “Which Way Home” Rebecca Cammisa

Documentary (Short Subject)
• “China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province” Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
• “The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner” Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
• “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant” Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
• “Music by Prudence” Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
• “Rabbit à la Berlin” Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra

Film Editing
• “Avatar” Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
• “District 9” Julian Clarke
• “The Hurt Locker” Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
• “Inglourious Basterds” Sally Menke
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Joe Klotz

Foreign Language Film
• “Ajami” Israel
• “El Secreto de Sus Ojos” Argentina
• “The Milk of Sorrow” Peru
• “Un Prophète” France
• “The White Ribbon” Germany

• “Il Divo” Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
• “Star Trek” Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
• “The Young Victoria” Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

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

Music (Original Song)
• “Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
• “Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog” Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
• “Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36” Music by Reinhardt Wagner Lyric by Frank Thomas
• “Take It All” from “Nine” Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
• “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart” Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Best Picture
• “Avatar” James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers
• “The Blind Side” Nominees to be determined
• “District 9” Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers
• “An Education” Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
• “The Hurt Locker” Nominees to be determined
• “Inglourious Basterds” Lawrence Bender, Producer
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers
• “A Serious Man” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers
• “Up” Jonas Rivera, Producer
• “Up in the Air” Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers

Short Film (Animated)
• “French Roast” Fabrice O. Joubert
• “Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty” Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
• “The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)” Javier Recio Gracia
• “Logorama” Nicolas Schmerkin
• “A Matter of Loaf and Death” Nick Park

Short Film (Live Action)
• “The Door” Juanita Wilson and James Flynn
• “Instead of Abracadabra” Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellström
• “Kavi” Gregg Helvey
• “Miracle Fish” Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey
• “The New Tenants” Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson

Sound Editing
• “Avatar” Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
• “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson
• “Inglourious Basterds” Wylie Stateman
• “Star Trek” Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
• “Up” Michael Silvers and Tom Myers

Sound Mixing
• “Avatar” Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
• “The Hurt Locker” Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
• “Inglourious Basterds” Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
• “Star Trek” Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
• “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson

Visual Effects
• “Avatar” Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
• “District 9” Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
• “Star Trek” Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
• “District 9” Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
• “An Education” Screenplay by Nick Hornby
• “In the Loop” Screenplay by Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
• “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher
• “Up in the Air” Screenplay by Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Writing (Original Screenplay)
• “The Hurt Locker” Written by Mark Boal
• “Inglourious Basterds” Written by Quentin Tarantino
• “The Messenger” Written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
• “A Serious Man” Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
• “Up” Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

P.S. Can someone explain to me what Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is doing on this list?
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