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The Oscars. The most prestigious show that honors the esteemed works of an intimate community? Or meaningless, arbitrary titles that are granted to the elitists of Hollywood? Either way you look at it, here are my opinions on some of their nominations.

Full List of Nominations

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and The Frog
The Secret of Kells
Up

2009 was an excellent year for animation, and the Academy thankfully decided to recognize that by extending the number of nominations to five. It is, however, pointless because Up is destined to win; its transcendence to Best Picture nominee is enough to seal the victory in its own specific category.

Unashamed to admit this, I think Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is more deserving of the award . The hands-on approach that went into developing the minutiae of his world is such an astonishing feat in today’s world of cinema, and it shouldn’t be overlooked. His meticulous vision served as both a nostalgic nod to old-school filmmaking and as a reminder which demonstrated what the stop-motion medium can surprisingly achieve.

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ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Mark Boal – The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds
Oren Moverman – The Messenger
Joel and Ethan Coen – A Serious Man
Pete Docter and Bob Peterson – Up

Seeing Quarantino Tarantino and the Coen Brothers up for a writing award makes sense. The screenplays to Inglourious Basterds and A Serious Man could only spring out of the minds of geniuses who’ve been penning wonderfully creative stories for over a decade. Both of these films were personal and audacious, and they were exactly in touch with what the authors love-Tarantino and his love for film, the Coens and their love for absurdity.

The Coens have won twice for screenplay (Fargo and No Country for Old Men). Tarantino won for Pulp Fiction, and I think he’ll be taking home his second Oscar this year.

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell – District 9
Nick Hornby – An Education
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche – In the Loop
Geoffrey Fletcher – Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner – Up in the Air

Of all the great nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay,  District 9s inclusion makes me the most content. It fits more in the realm of original screenplay (it’s an “adaptation” of the short film District 9), but it still surprisingly rests as a science-fiction screenplay among three dramas and a British satire. Cynics who disregard the Academy for its pretension can be appeased by its decision to honor a Summer popcorn flick. How much of a chance does it have? Not too much. Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air should be walking away with the victory.


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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Penelope Cruz – Nine
Vera Farmiga – Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal – Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air
Mo’Nique – Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Matt Damon – Invictus
Woody Harrelson – The Messenger
Christopher Plummer – The Last Station
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique have sauntered through this year’s awards circuit. They’ve nabbed just about every award that precedes an Oscar, and the humility with which they have accepted all of their prestigious and critical praise shows how much all of this means to them. The two gave memorable and terrifying performances, and it will be touching to see them give one more great acceptance speech this Sunday.

Two more nominees that deserve attention are Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air and Woody Harrelson in The Messenger. One, a young budding star; the other, an experienced veteran. Both performances were surprisingly wholesome and unforgettable. However, it’s not their time to win.

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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side
Helen Mirren – The Last Station
Carey Mulligan – An Education
Gabourey Sidibe – Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart
George Clooney – Up in the Air
Colin Firth – A Single Man
Morgan Freeman – Invictus
Jeremy Renner – The Hurt Locker

Having only seen the performances of Carey Mulligan, George Clooney, Gabourey Sidibe, and Jeremy Renner, I can’t really say anything substantial about these two prominent categories. It is apparent, though, that this awards season has been very kind to Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock, and with only a week left until the big show, they seem more like solidified locks than assumed frontrunners.

How does that make me feel? Well, I’d love to see Carey Mulligan take home the statue for her charming performance in An Education. But it’s not her time, and such is life. As for Jeff Bridges…he is a truly amazing actor who’s gone far too long without touching gold.

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DIRECTING
Kathryn Bigelow – The Hurt Locker
James Cameron – Avatar
Lee Daniels – Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
Jason Reitman – Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds

Kathryn Bigelow is the fourth woman ever to be nominated for Best Director, and she has a damn good chance of actually grasping the title. Seeing her join the pantheon of directors, amongst the ranks of Martin Scorsese, Ang Lee, the Coen Brothers, and Clint Eastwood (all winners in the 2000’s), would be an incredible moment for cinephiles. Here’s hoping she gets it. I’ve extensively professed my affection for The Hurt Locker, and Ms. Bigelow is absolutely deserving of the acclaim.


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BEST PICTURE
Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

This year’s race for Best Picture has truly been exciting. During the Summer, Precious and Up in the Air received unanimous praise from indie festivals while The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds were slowly gaining buzz from their theatrical releases. Then came Winter and James Cameron’s tour de force that swept the entire globe. His revolutionary Avatar became a phenomenon among the common man, and while it was mixed amongst critics, it’s been too large to ignore. Precious and Up in the Air eventually made their ways into theaters, but their status as frontrunners diminished with Cameron’s international campaign. The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds have maintained their energy due to the inherent quality of the two films.

So who will win? My bet is Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. But the Academy has been known to surprise us.


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OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Entourage
Family Guy
Flight of the Conchords
How I Met Your Mother
The Office
30 Rock
Weeds

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Breaking Bad
Damages
Dexter
House M.D.
Lost
Mad Men
Big Love

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Jemaine Clement, The Flight of the Conchords
Tony Shalhoub, Monk
Steve Carell, The Office
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Simon Baker, The Mentalist
Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Michael C. Hall, Dexter
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Hugh Laurie, House

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR A MOVIE
Kevin Cline, Great Performances: Cyrano de Bergerac
Brendan Gleeson, Into the Storm
Sir Ian McKellan, King Lear
Kevin Bacon, Taking Chance
Kiefer Sutherland, 24: Redemption
Kenneth Branagh, Wallander

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Christina Applegate, Samantha Who?
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, The New Adventures of Old Christine
Sarah Silverman, The Sarah Silverman Show
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Toni Collette, The United States of Tara
Mary-Louise Parker, Weeds

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Glenn Close, Damages
Sally Field, Brothers & Sisters
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Holly Hunter, Saving Grace
Elisabeth Moss, Mad Men
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Shirley MacLaine, Coco Chanel
Drew Barrymore, Grey Gardens
Jessica Lange, Grey Gardens
Chandra Wilson, Accidental Friendship
Sigourney Weaver, Prayers for Bobby

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men
Kevin Dillon, Entourage
Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother
Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock
Tracy Morgan, 30 Rock
Rainn Wilson, The Office

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Christian Clemenson, Boston Legal
Michael Emerson, Lost
William Hurt, Damages
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
William Shatner, Boston Legal
John Slattery, Mad Men

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Len Cariou, Into the Storm
Tom Courtenay, Little Dorrit
Ken Howard, Grey Gardens
Bob Newhart, The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice
Andy Serkis, Little Dorrit

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies
Jane Krakowski, 30 Rock
Elizabeth Perkins, Weeds
Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Vanessa Williams, Ugly Betty

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES
Rose Byrne, Damages
Hope Davis, In Treatment
Cherry Jones, 24
Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy
Dianne Wiest In Treatment
Chandra Wilson, Grey’s Anatomy

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE
Shohreh Aghdashloo, House of Saddam
Marcia Gay Harden, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler
Janet McTeer, Into the Storm
Jeanne Tripplehorn, Grey Gardens
Cicely Tyson, Relative Stranger

OUTSTANDING HOST FOR A REALITY OR REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars
Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race
Heidi Klum, Project Runway
Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio, Top Chef
Jeff Probst, Survivor
Ryan Seacrest, American Idol

OUTSTANDING MINISERIES
Generation Kill
Little Dorrit

OUTSTANDING MADE FOR TELEVISION MOVIE
Coco Chanel
Grey Gardens
Into the Storm
Prayers for Bobby
Taking Chance

OUTSTANDING VARIETY, MUSIC, OR COMEDY SERIES
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Late Show With David Letterman
Real Time With Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live

OUTSTANDING VARIETY, MUSIC OR COMEDY SPECIAL
Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger — London, New York, Johannesburg
Kathy Griffin: She’ll Cut a Bitch
Ricky Gervais: Out of England — The Stand-Up Special
The 31st Annual Kennedy Center Honors
Will Ferrell: You’re Welcome America — A Final Night with George W Bush

OUTSTANDING REALITY PROGRAM
Antiques Roadshow
Dirty Jobs
Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan
Intervention
Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List
MythBusters

OUTSTANDING REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM
The Amazing Race
American Idol
Dancing With the Stars
Project Runway
Top Chef

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Pixar…How I Love You

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/pixar-up-movie-2468059-home-show

A very touching article about a girl’s dying wish to see Pixar’s Up. Her vascular cancer deters her from being able to go to the theater, and her life’s tenuous hold is about to break. Pixar comes to the rescue by bringing Up to her. This simple post doesn’t do the article justice so if you have time, please read the link posted above!

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The Last Post

This is the last post. Maybe for just a while, or maybe forever.

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For our enjoyment, a photo from shooting part 1 of The Deathly Hallows. Emma Watson looks so pretty, and Daniel Radcliffe looks kind of fucked up. Good old Ron seems…bewildered. Overall, a fairly funny picture.

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It’s been a while since I’ve seen this, but my thoughts are still the same. It’s wonderful, insightful, and pretty hysterical at times. Most of my praise goes to Sam Mendes, who creates this delicate suburbia for us to laugh at. The satirical insight into the life of Lester Burnham is both dramatic and comical;  both surreal and real; both artificial and true. The camerawork subtly hints towards all these parallels with its slow pans and zooms, and the careful craft of lighting both reveals and hides things from the audience.

It’s a technically intricate piece that never really draws attention to itself, thus complimenting the film’s theme even more.

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My initial reaction upon first seeing Sin City was contrived out of ignorant opinion. When I first saw it three years ago, I was disappointed to no end. There was no substantial reason to it other than it just didn’t click well with me. Now, after rewatching it last night/this morning, I, although still very ignorant, have had a serious change of heart towards this movie.

What caused me to pop this DVD back in was my recent outburst of infatuation with film noir. I’ve always been a fan of the great genre, but I’m really really getting into it.

Within the first few minutes, I was pretty dumbfounded by the style that Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller created. The city itself drew me in so quickly, and I just couldn’t believe that I, at one point in my life, didn’t like this movie.

The acting for the most part is pretty stellar. Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, and Benicio Del Toro steal the show for me, but I was pleasantly surprised with Josh Hartnett and Brittany Murphy. Hartnett had this mystique that most of the actors from Mad Men have, so he was for sure doing something right. Murphy seemed to have done her research on the old 40’s noir movies because her acting represented exactly those films-she was melodramatic, but that’s the way it was supposed to be. However, I have to say I was turned off by Michael Madsen…and Jessica Alba, while very very very attractive, is just…terrible.

Each story was grimy and awesome. The violence was pretty badass and visceral, and the voiceovers created a perfect and gritty pitch for the noir element. Overall, almost everything about the stories was great.

The comic book style was impressive. Even though a lot of the action sequences were pretty fantastical, cartoonlike, and ridiculous(ly awesome), that was kind of the point, and I was thoroughly entertained.

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