@ February 16, 2010

[Jesse and Jim will be making their picks for every Oscar over the next few days. To participate in this year's ObscureCraft Oscar Pool, email your own picks to The rules are here. Part one is here. Part two is here.]

Jesse's take

Best Animated Feature

Nominees: Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, Up

This is a surprisingly strong group. When the category was created a few years ago, some people saw it as the permanent, institutional ghetto-ization of animated features to the kid's table to make more room for the adults in the Best Picture category. But is it possible that we're seeing more high-quality animated films being produced instead? In another year I would be pulling big for Coraline. You might think 3D is a gimmick, so I encourage you to see it in 2D. The flat version remains visually inventive; the animation is breathtaking, and yes, it even manages to be a little freaky to all-grown-up me.

But I think we can all figure out that if Up doesn't win this award after getting invited to sit with the big boys in the expanded Best Picture category, then it would be a major upset. So instead let me just implore you to get over your anti-Pixar bias and see this movie. Remember that seen in Blade Runner where they do that interview to see if somebody is human? Well, in the real post-apocolyptic future when we are fighting a war against synthetic dopplegangers, we won't need a complex moral fable involving turtles. We'll just screen the first ten minutes of Up to a room full of suspects, and anybody who isn't tearing up at the end will be immediately shot in the face. Because they were either robots or sociopaths, and we don't want either of those things.

Pick: Up

Jim's take

I don't know why robots and sociopaths get such bad raps.

Pick: Up

Best Short Film (Live Action)

Nominees: The Door, Instead of Abracadabra, Kavi, Miracle Fish, The New Tenants

None of these are about the Holocaust. However, one is about a magic fish.

Pick: Miracle Fish

Jesse's take

Wow, this conversation sure has included the Holocaust alot, even for us.

I wish there was a way to screen these short films before picking. And I don't even mean the whole thing. Usually I just need to see the 3-second clip that they play before announcing the winner on the telecast. I still remember the 4 seconds they showed of West Bank Story a few years ago before its inevitable victory, and immediately thinking, "Dammit! This is obviously going to win!" But we can't, so I continue groping in the dark. Which can also be fun under the right circumstances.

Pick: Instead of Abracadabra

Best Cinematography

Nomineees: Avatar, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band)

I'm going to be so annoyed if Avatar wins this, because it shouldn't even be nominated. At some point, shouldn't we start requiring that cinematography require that something was fucking photographed? Whatever your opinion on Avatar as a film, it had about as much cinematography as a Disney movie.

Harry Potter and Das Weisse Band (which, like all German words, is really fun to yell: DAS WEISSE BAND! SCHNELL SCHNELL!) are just happy to be nominated, which leaves this between The Hurt Locker and Basterds. Basterds had beautiful cinematography that purposefully elicited feelings of a certain era of film. The Hurt Locker was, as I recall, dusty.

Pick: Inglourious Basterds

Jim's take

I've only seen two of the nominated films as of yet. I do agree that Basterds was well-lensed, and that Avatar is a head-scratcher in this category. Yeah, it's the juggernaut of technical achievement, but cinematography? Harry Potter was competently photographed, but it wasn't anything to write home about.

Pick: The Hurt Locker

Best Visual Effects

Nominees: Avatar, District 9, Star Trek

I have absolutely no commentary for this category.

Pick: Avatar

Jesse's take

Since there is nothing to say about this category, I instead pose this question: how long does the 3-D trend need to stick around before it is recognized with its own technical category, kind of like the black-and-white/color split in cinematography that occurred for a few years?

Pick: Avatar

Best Original Score

Nominees: Avatar, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Hurt Locker, Sherlock Holmes, Up

If I asked you to name 5 contemporary movie composers, could you do it? We all know John Williams thanks to Star Wars. We know Danny Elfman thanks to Tim Burton (and The Simpsons). You and I know Howard Shore from The Lord of the Rings, but we're starting to get a little wonky already. I think after this Oscars, we can add another name to the celebrity movie composer list: Michael Giacchino. He does the score for all of JJ Abrams projects, including Lost, Fringe, and Star Trek, plus the score for all of Pixar's movies, including the movie he's going to win for this year, Up. If you had to pick two modern creative teams to join up with, you couldn't do much better than those two.

Pick: Up

Jim's take

You forgot James Horner. And Hans Zimmer. And Carter Burwell. Alright, I'm a film score dork. I guess I have an unfair advantage.

However, I'm not going to vote against Up in this category. It seems like a lock to me.

Pick: Up


The first composers that sprung to my mind (after Williams, Elfman and Shore) were Ennio Morricone, Alan Silvestri, Jerry Goldsmith, and Henry Manfredini (and consequently Henry Mancini). I'm the wildcard.

We surely have to think even more in that direction and see a few things i can do over it.

We absolutely need to think more in that way and find out things i can do about it.

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