[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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The rules are here. Part one is here. Part two is here.]Jesse's takeBest Animated Feature
Nominees: Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, The Secret of Kells, Up
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.
I don't know why robots and sociopaths get such bad raps.
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
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
Pick: Instead of Abracadabra
Avatar, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Hurt Locker,
Inglourious Basterds, The White Ribbon (Das Weisse Band)
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
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.
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
Best Original Score
Nominees: Avatar, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Hurt Locker, Sherlock Holmes, Up
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.
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.