[The thrilling conclusion! To participate in this year's ObscureCraft Oscar Pool,
email your own picks to email@example.com. The rules are here. Part one is here. Part two is here. Part three is here. And here's part four. And, for the love of Christ, here is part five.
]Jesse's takeBest Picture
Nominees: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An
Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Token, A Serious Man,
Up, Up In The Air
Jim, I know nobody reads this blog, but the
expansion of the Best Picture category from 5 movies to 10 almost feels
like a direct response to our discussion last year. If I may briefly
jog your memory of a time long, long ago in an email conversation far
away: last year, the 5 nominees were The Curious Case of Benjamin
Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, and Slumdog Millionaire. This
group left what seemed to be an egregious number of snubs, including
well-received box office smashes that people could root for like The
Dark Knight and WALL-E, as well as smaller films that maybe didn't get the
love they deserved like The Wrestler (I say maybe because I never saw
it; I know you'll go to your death bed ranting about this snub).
I wasn't necessarily arguing for an expansion of the category; I was
just lamenting that the list of worthy snubs was especially long. But when
I first heard about the move from 5 films to 10, I was prepared to
defend it. Think about it: the BAFTAs nominate 10 films. Every film critic on Earth
publishes a Top 10 list at the end of the year. 10 seemed like a good
change. And then I saw this list.
Much like how a
sculptor can look into a piece of marble and see the shape he wants to
create, I can look at this list of 10 and find the 5 "correct" Best
Picture nominees and the 5 that are padding. Under last year's rules,
here's how it goes down: Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds,
Token, and Up In The Air are nominated; I bitch about Up getting
snubbed because it was animated; and that's it. This category is more
padded than a mall Santa.
So, which is it: right idea, wrong year? Or wrong idea in any year?
Before I give you a definitive answer to your query, I have some news
to share. I SAW THE HURT LOCKER! And District 9. All in one weekend. So
that means I only have six more nominees to see before Sunday (Avatar,
The Blind Side, An Education, Token, A Serious Man, Up). A Serious Man
is en route from Netflix... I don't think I'll get to the others this
Alright, so the move from five to ten. My gut says
"right idea, wrong year," but can I back this up? Let's look at the 5
nominated films form the past ten years, and see if there were another
five worthy films, shall we?
Actual Nominees: Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader
Jim's Five Additions: The Wrestler, The Dark Knight, WALL-E, Tropic Thunder, Vicky Christina Barcelona
Honorable Mentions: The Reader
Would Ten Have Been a Good Idea?: An emphatic yes
Actual Nominees: No Country for Old Men, Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood
Jim's Five Additions: Zodiac, Sunshine, The Bourne Ultimatum, Eastern Promises, Gone Baby Gone
Honorable Mentions: Rescue Dawn, The Darjeeling Limited, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Into the Wild
Would Ten Have Been a Good Idea?: Does Daniel Day-Lewis love milkshakes? [ed. note: he does.]
Actual Nominees: The Departed, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen
Jim's Five Additions: A Prairie Home Companion, The Prestige, Volver, Children of Men, The Fountain
Mentions: Casino Royale, Inside Man, The Devil Wears Prada, Miami Vice,
Stranger Than Fiction, Blood Diamond, Notes on a Scandal
Would Ten Have Been a Good Idea?: An outstandingly strong year.
Two of my honorable mentions (Miami Vice, Inside Man) are very questionable,
but all of the other additions are worthy to contend.
Actual Nominees: Crash, Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich
Jim's Five Additions: Match Point, Grizzly Man, Hustle & Flow, The Constant Gardener, Walk the Line
Honorable Mentions: Cinderella Man*, Last Days, Match Point
Ten Have Been a Good Idea?: No. I was reaching for an additional five,
for the first time having to struggle to get to ten, with many marginal
choices in my additions & mentions. Really, the issue with this
year was that Crash won. Of the nominees, the award should have gone to Munich, GNAGL or
Brokeback (in that order). Match Point was the best movie that year,
with Grizzly Man a close 2nd
(* Based on reputation, never saw it, same for future *'d films)
Actual Nominees: Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways
Five Additions: Spider-Man 2, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,
Hotel Rwanda, The Incredibles, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Honorable Mentions: I, Robot, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Layer Cake, Primer, Downfall*
Ten Have Been a Good Idea?: Yes, but marginal -- despite the number of
additions -- Ray & Finding Neverland seemed like filler then, and
they seem like filler now.
Actual Nominees: The Lord of
the Rings: Return of the King, Lost in Translation, Master and
Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River, Seabiscuit
Jim's Five Additions: 21 Grams, Dogville, Kill Bill Vol. 1, Oldboy, The Triplets of Belleville*
Honorable Mentions: All the Real Girls, Coffee and Cigarettes, The
Barbarian Invasions*, Shattered Glass, X2: X-Men United, Zatoichi (The
Blind Swordsman), Whale Rider
Would Ten Have Been a Good
Idea?: I'm not sure if Oldboy was actually eligible. I'm just going by
Wikipedia for this, my memory isn't perfect. But yes, a strong year.
Actual Nominees: Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist
Jim's Five Additions: 25th Hour, Adaptation., Bowling for Columbine, Catch Me If You Can, City of God
Honorable Mentions: Eight Legged Freaks**, In America, K-19: The
Widowmaker***, My Big Fat Greek Wedding*, Punch-Drunk Love, Monsoon
Would Ten Have Been a Good Idea?: 13 strong --
Monsoon Wedding, In America & Punch-Drunk were tough to leave off
my additions. Perfect year for ten nominees.
(** Inside joke)
(*** Commentary on Kathryn Bigelow's career; consider a dishonorable mention)
Nominees: A Beautiful Mind, Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, The Lord of
the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge!
Jim's Five Additions: Amelie, Dogtown and Z-Boys, Ghost World, Monster's Ball*, Mulholland Drive*
Honorable Mentions: The Royal Tenebaums, Y tu mama tambien
Ten Have Been a Good Idea?: Yeah, they could swing it. Not the
strongest, but it's not a year we would be blindsided by some
ridiculous nomination. (GET IT?!?)
Actual Nominees: Gladiator, Chocolat, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Erin Brokovich, Traffic
Jim's Five Additions: Almost Famous, Amores Perros, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Dancer in the Dark, High Fidelity
Honorable Mentions: In the Mood for Love, Memento, Best in Show, Sexy Beast*, Unbreakable, Wonder Boys, Yi Yi
Ten Have Been a Good Idea?: This year is a head-scratcher. Two
Soderbergh movies? Crouching Tiger? Gladiator?!? Looking at the five
the Academy chose, you have to wonder what the voters were thinking.
I've seen four of the movies (Chocolat is the odd-man out), and none of
them were that great. Stick a gun to my head and I'll say Traffic.
But then I look at the movies *not* nominated.
Let's assume that Chocolat is actually a great movie (reputation wise,
it is). Add my five additions, and you've got six. That leaves you to
pick four of the honorable mentions -- a pretty strong field of seven.
You have ten worthy nominees, Almost Famous or O Brother wins the award
and everyone is happy and the abortion that is the Gladiator win never
happens. Time to build a hot tub time machine and fix this.
So yes, emphatically, this is a year that would have been helped by ten nominees.
Actual Nominees: American Beauty, The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense
Jim's Five Additions: Being John Malkovich, Eyes Wide Shut, Fight
Club, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Sweet and Lowdown
Mentions: All About My Mother, Dogma, Ghost Dog: The Way of the
Samurai, Man on the Moon, Bringing Out the Dead, Election, Magnolia,
Run Lola Run, Three Kings
Would Ten Have Been a Good Idea?: Yes. Yes. Yes. Some excellent
films got snubbed in '99, with M. Night's one-trick sneaking in with a
nomination and Sam Mendes plastic bag winning the award. The two best
films of the year - Malkovich and Fight Club -- didn't even get
So, it looks like they just picked a bad year to
start this. Also, they could have done a little bit better with this
year's nominations. Here are my honorable mentions for 2009:
The Hangover, 500 Days of Summer, Coraline
Ok, so that's only three movies. But if you get rid
of The Blind Side and sub in any of those three, are we bitching as
much? Especially if it's "The Hangover"? I don't think so. Yes, it
looks like they're scraping the bottom of the barrel a bit this year --
because they are -- but, by most critical accounts, we got 9 solid
nominees in the category. The issue is that the two favorites are a
movie you called 'silly' (Avatar) and a movie I thought was just-ok
(The Hurt Locker). The best movie of the year (Basterds, we both
agree), for whatever reason, doesn't seem to have a snowball's chance
in winning. It would be more interesting if this was a three-horse or
four-horse race. What if there was a good possibility that the award
could go to Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds, or The
Hangover? Wouldn't you be excited for Sunday? Sitting on the edge of
your seat, even? Wasn't The Hangover the second-best movie this year?
Wasn't the point of ten nominations so that movies that are
traditionally overlooked in this category (comedies, action films,
foreign language films, animated films, and documentaries****) could
get nominated? It seems like it's getting there. I thought the change
was crazy when it was announced. Now, not so much. Especially after
I've gone through and reviewed the last ten years of film.
(**** Under the current Academy rules, to my
understanding, a film cannot be eligible for Best Picture if it is
submitted into the Best Documentary category. This is stupid. If Up can
get a nomination in both Best Animated & Best Picture, a worthy
documentary should as well. Unfortunately, this was an off year for
docs, so there you have it. They should also review the Foreign
Language award -- I'm not sure if being nominated by your country
before release in the US disqualifies the movie if it has a subsequent
theatrical release in the US the next year).
Anyway, over to you... what are your thoughts on the rundown?
Jim, you deserve an award for that list. I could see us going way down
the rabbit hole on this one. I'm really tempted. I'm SUPER tempted. But
before this turns into a 50,000 word review of the last 10 years of the
Oscars that nobody wants to read, I'll just save that for when we do
our movie countdown for the aughts
(remember that? remember when we were going to do a bunch of lists on
the aughts? good times).
Here are my brief(er) comments: I haven't seen 500 Days Of Summer, but
I'm intrigued by your substitution of The Hangover. The Hangover did
with the Golden Globe for Best Comedy/Musical, which reminds me of
something: things could be alot worse. Here's what the Top Ten lists
looks if you go by the Golden Globes (5 dramas and 5 comedies): Avatar,
The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up In The Air, The
Hangover, 500 Days of Summer, It's Complicated, Julie and Julia, Nine.
If those had been the nominees Focus on the Family would have protested
the ceremony because it would have been a giant abortion. It just shows
that it doesn't matter how many films you nominate as long as you get
the right ones.
Based on the list you compiled, 2010 is the
second worst year to go to 10 films of the last decade. 2005 was the
worst year. I'm not
even sure 2005 should have gone to 5. They should have followed the
lead of categories like Best Makeup. Some years where there aren't
good movies, so they just nominate 3. Here are my 3 Best Picture
nominees for 2005: Munich, Good Night and Good Luck,
and Brokeback Mountain. Also for this year, lots of people would have
added Star Trek as an honorable mention (it definitely had some Best
Picture buzz), although
between the lens flares and the lack of handrails
, I don't think either of us
was too upset about it being left off.
Once we get past the
arguable quality of the nominees, there is the question of how the
shift from 5 to 10 nominees will affect the voting. The Academy will be using an
instant runoff system for the voting this year. Here's how it works:
voters don't just put an X next to their Best Picture vote, but instead
rank the films from 1-10. If a single film fails to get a majority of
the vote, the lowest vote getter is thrown out, and everybody who
selected that film as their first choice then has their vote counted
towards their second choice. This continues until a single film has a
majority of the vote.
How does that affect things? Do you think
that there is a film that is more likely than others to be towards the
top of everyone's list? Or, conversely, do you think there's a film
that is likely to be at the bottom of alot of lists? I think that this
system hurts Avatar. There will be some large portion, 20-30% maybe,
that will vote for it. But that won't give it the win. And I bet
everyone who doesn't vote for it puts it towards the bottom of their
list. Remember, actors are the biggest voting bloc in the Academy, and
Avatar was basically a giant blue middle finger at the whole concept of
human performance. On the other hand, I bet most everybody has The Hurt
Locker near the top. That's why I'm giving it the nod.
Pick: The Hurt Locker
Here are the movies you put an asterisk next that I hated: Sexy Beast,
Mulholland Drive, approximately 4 minutes of My Big Fat Fucking Stupid
Wedding Filled With Shrieking Harpies. Monster's Ball was meh, although
Halle Berry shows her boobs, which wins the Oscar for Best Nudity. My
love for Triplets of Belleville, however, is well-documented.
PPS: I forgot to mention about Monster's Ball that it might be the most
depressing movie made in the last 10 years that didn't involve Darren
Aronofsky. Like, really depressing. SPOILER ALERT: Here's a thing that
actually happens in the movie: Heath Ledger's character kills himself.
How fucked up is that?
The run-off certainly adds a wrinkle. If I'm not mistaken, in prior
years a plurality (the most, but not greater than 50%) could walk away
with the Oscar. I agree with your logic with Avatar - it's going to be
either #1 or #2 on the list, or down near #8 or #9. So, despite my
lukewarm reaction to The Hurt Locker, I'm going to agree with you.
Pick: The Hurt Locker
Well, that's it, boys and girls! Still reading? Boring day at work? I
hear you. And there's no need to get back to being productive just yet!
See if you can do better than me and Jim by entering in the 3rd Annual ObscureBlog Oscar Pool
Just send your picks in each of the categories to firstname.lastname@example.org,
and after the ceremony I'll tally up the points and announce the
winners. And the prize? Well, you'll just have to wait and see*!
*There is no prize.