Oscar Wild

You know, 17 years ago, this would have been a pretty serious blog post for me, if they’d had blogs back then. (Pretty sure they didn’t; think that’s around the time the Web itself came into being.)

Back then, I was working at The Daily Mississippian student newspaper at Ole Miss, and the Academy Awards merited rather lengthy coverage from myself and the other entertainment writers. In those days, and for a while afterwards, I made a serious effort to watch all five nominees, and generally succeeded; no small feat when living in small town Mississippi.

These days, not so much. This year, I did a bit better than usual — having seen six of the 10 nominees, a little better than half. Don’t know that I’ll watch the Oscar broadcast; to be honest, I haven’t in years.

I’ll note here that the switch to 10 Best Picture nominees didn’t make that much difference in terms of making the awards more accessible to me personally; of the movies that they say would have been nominated in a standard five picture year — Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Precious, Up in the Air and Ingloriious Basterds — I’ve seen three, the same ratio for the five as for the 10.

Last year was an odd year for me in terms of life in general, and the Oscar nominee list sort of captures that for me; hard to think about the movies and not think about where I was when I watched them. And, ironically, putting them in order of when I watched them, the list starts with “Up” and ends with “Up In The Air”:

— Up — Maybe it’s where I was when I saw it, but I cried watching this movie. Heck, I get a little moved just thinking about it. That said, from a technical standpoint, it was almost two different movies to me. I like it, and own it on Blu-Ray, but find it less deserving of Best Picture than, say, WALL•E.

— District 9 — Great movie. What science fiction was in its heydey, and arguably should be — I could speculative fiction story, used to deconstruct modern society. The combination of seriousness and genre, I expect, will hurt it in the awards.

— Inglorious Basterds — Quentin Tarantino doing his Quentin Tarantino thing. Nothing I hadn’t seen before.

— The Blind Side — OK, obviously my odds-on sentimental favorite for a few reasons, not the least of them being that I love the idea of a movie where the hero perserveres, and, as a result, in the end, gets to go to Ole Miss. As I’ve said before, there’s a happily-ever-after story for you. Doubt it will win due to critical backlash, but a good movie.

— Avatar — It’s Avatar. It’s pretty. It’s ground-breaking. It’s well-produced. It will influence the making of motion pictures for years to come. If that’s what makes a Best Picture, it should win. I can’t imagine that 10 years from now anyone will be quoting it or even remember the names of the characters. If that’s what makes a Best Picture, it shouldn’t win.

— Up in the Air — You know, this movie could win, and I would be perfectly happy. Just a good, solid, intelligent, emotional drama. Nothing flashy, but, really, I’m OK with that.