jesse
@ March 4, 2010


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[The thrilling conclusion! To participate in this year's ObscureCraft Oscar Pool, email your own picks to craftj2@gmail.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 take

Best 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?


Jim's take

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 weekend.

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?

2008:
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

2007:
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.]

2006:
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
Honorable 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.

2005:
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
Would 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)

2004:
Actual Nominees: Million Dollar Baby, The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways
Jim's 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*
Would 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.

2003:
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.

2002:
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 Wedding
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)

2001:
Actual 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
Would 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?!?)

2000:
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
Would 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.

1999:
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
Honorable 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 nominated.

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?

Jesse's take

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 enough 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

PS: 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?

Jim's take

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

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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 craftj2@gmail.com, 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.

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Brief aside: your addition of (500) Days of Summer makes me want to punch you in the face. Hard. And then, when you're objecting about getting punched in the face - "Hey why are you punching me? Reasonable people can disagree about movies" - I could then hit you in groin repeatedly. Just like in They Live.

As for the rest of it, what does anybody really expect? Do the Oscars ever really get it right? Ever? As definitive proof of that question's obvious answer, I'll point you toward the 1997 Oscars. (http://www.popculturemadness.com/Trivia/Oscars/Top-1997-O.html) Do any of those winners look right to you? Especially when compared against what they were up against?

Sam,

I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy (500) Days of Summer. I thought that it was an enjoyable, well-made film that was worth my time and money. It wasn't a transcendant cinematic experience, but it is a film that is in contention for recognition with a field of ten nominees. Remember that this is coming from the guy who thinks that "She Hate Me" is one of Spike Lee's five best films.

As for 1997, it was a titanic atrocity for certain. My ten nominees would have been: Deconstructing Harry, LA Confidential, Boogie Nights, Gattaca, The Ice Storm, Jackie Brown, Mononoke Hime, Titanic, Waiting for Guffman, As Good as it Gets

Honorable mentions: The Game, Grosse Point Blank, Hana-Bi (Fireworks), Kundun, Taste of Cherry, The Apostle

For my money, that award goes to Jackie Brown. Underappreciated then because it wasn't Pulp Fiction or Resevoir Dogs, it's a subtle film (for Tarantino) that doesn't get enough praise. LA Confidential runs an extremely close second.

When putting the theoretical nominee lists together, I realized that I could not simply pick my favorite movies from each year. I'm a film geek, the type who will sing the praises of the restored edition of Sam Fuller's "The Big Red One" and Shintaro Katsu's "Zatoichi" films in one breath. The kind who knows that Takeshi Kitano is Takeshi Kitano when he directs, but he's Beat Takeshi when he acts. The kind who owns every Criterion Collection DVD and Blu-ray, even the original pressing of "Salo."

So I tried to identify films that have aged well, but still had enough critical traction at the time of release to garner a nomination in the theoretical field of ten.

And I never, ever seem to agree with the Best Picture choice. No Country for Old Men may be an exception, even though I was all about There Will Be Blood at the time -- that was a year of 1 and 1a rather than 1 and 2 for me.

Jim, is that true about She Hate Me? Can that be true?

Do The Right Thing, 25th Hour, Inside Man... I haven't seen Malcolm X... does When the Levees Broke count?

Jim,

(500) Days of Summer should be burned so that nobody else has to endure it. It would be a net gain for all of society.

Otherwise, arguing about movies won't go very far, because we'll always disagree. Titanic, for instance, never should have gotten any awards. Robert Duvall's performance in The Apostle should have run away with the Best Oscar. Curtis Hanson was owed the best director for LA Confidential. I'm not sure any of the winners deserved it, any many of the nominees certainly didn't. Ugh.

She Hate Me as a top 5 might be a slight exaggeration -- DtRT, 25th, & Malcolm X are top three (note, you should see Malcolm X. After watching that movie, you will have the urge to go outside and kill the first white person that you see -- that's powerful). I think you have to count When the Levees Broke, it's a fantastic example of long-form documentary filmmaking, so put that at 4. Can I slide She Hate Me in front of Inside Man? Possibly... but I'm also a big fan of Summer of Sam and He Got Game. I haven't seen Crooklyn, Mo Better Blues, and Clockers.

So top 5 was a bit of a reach. My point is I enjoyed the hell out of it, when most critics panned it and it enjoyed absolutely zero financial success -- it's 20% at Rotten Tomatoes -- his lowest-rated film there as a director. I probably owe it another viewing... but for me, it's certainly in the discussion of Spike's better work. The problem is, it's easy to forget just how good a filmmaker he is (Miracle at St. Anna & Bamboozled notwithstanding).

Sam, your absolute ire for (500) Days of Summer surprises me on one hand, but not on the other. I imagine (500) Days of Summer is to Sam Wilkinson as Bamboozled is to Jim Fisher.

My wife and I watched (500) Days of Summer on one of those glorious nights when both of my kids were at grandma's house. The next day, we went to Target and bought a brand new television, just so we'd never have to see the damned box that abortion played on.

(Our decision had nothing to do with finding a television priced very well and having just received our tax refund.)

Wait, who doesn't like Bamboozled?

And where does Jungle Fever rank?

Were you at RPI when Bamboozled showed at UPAC, Kevin? I had one of the strongest negative reactions I've ever had after seeing the film -- stronger than my post-Salo stress disorder. I remember being in the front house kitchen, debating heatedly about the lack of merits of the film with none other than Michaelangelo McKasty, who -- of course -- loved the movie.

McKasty & I would have a similar debate (with Jesse on my side and Gabe on his), after Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Granted, that movie wasn't polarizing, it just sucked.

(Re: Jungle Fever -- I enjoyed it, it's one of his better movies, but not up near the top)

That was a bit before my time, I'm only familiar with Bamboozled from a 15 minute clip shown in one of my cinema classes. Obviously that's not enough to really expound on, but what I saw didn't strike me as causing that strong a reaction.

I actually liked Jungle Fever more than Inside Man, which was a totally competent and enjoyable movie but one which made no lasting impression on me whatsoever. If you put a gun to my head and asked me to name all his movies I doubt I'd even come up with it.

Nothing else I've seen from him holds a candle to Do the Right Thing, although I should really get around to Malcolm X some day. Not a knock on his other work, just saying that DtRT is really fucking good. A revolutionary opinion, I know.

In passing (his) it's difficult not to think that the killing of Osama Bin Laden hasn't been faked just to give Obama a boost in the ratings just in time for him to be relected. The whole thing is staged by idiots, all the more so because they expect us to believe this obvious nonsense.

Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government. -Thomas Jefferson

I actually certainly need to think much more in that direction to see a few things i can do concerning this.

Pas tout à fait d'accord, mais dans l'ensemble, beaucoup de choses vraies !

Not Siskel and Not Ebert At The Movies, Oscars 2010 edition - Part 6 - ObscureBlog - just great!

Trims buat infonya boss, salam kenal aja dari Blogger Indonesia kapan-kapan mampir ke blog ku ya, nanti saya berkunjung lagi kemari untuk silaturahmi..salam sukses selalu

Hai, thanks Sist buat Tipsnya udah browsing kesana sini akhirnya ketemu juga... salam kenal dari Blogger Indonesia mampirlah ke Blog saya lumayan dapet temen baru....Sukses selalu

Habitaba buscando informacion a su respecto. Muchas gracias por este tema. �Como me suscribo a el feed respecto de noticiero?

japon se tiene ke recuperar es los mayor pais

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