Sunday, March 07, 2010

Best Pictures Oscar Picks, ranked from 5-1

Part Two of my Top 10 list, this one from 5-1
5. “Inglorious Basterds”: r My top five marks the field of serious contenders. “Inglorious Basterds” has been getting a late push for the big award. I wouldn't be surprised if it leapfrogs the competition. Still, in comparison to that other war film (“The Hurt Locker”) in contention, Quentin Tarantino's World War II revenge flick gets shot down.

4. “Up In The Air”: Talk about perfect timing. “Up In The Air,” a film about professional corporate hatchet men (and the women who love/use them) arrived in movie theaters on the heels of a reeling economy and public distrust of anything big business. It also might be the smartest movie in the field.
George Clooney is golden as Ryan Bingham, a man who has turned firing people into an art form. The film's light touch is the only thing preventing it from being a lock for Oscar gold.
3. “Avatar”: r I have to qualify this ranking because I did not watch “Avatar” in IMAX 3-D, as it was intended. This is all subjective anyway, so I'll just say why it doesn't deserve the win.
For all the people calling Best Picture a two-horse race, I understand. “Avatar” was one of those cultural watershed moments, something you had to see for yourself. That's important in film making. And it's a great film, with tremendous acting, beautiful visuals and a nice message.
However, I felt short-changed on the storyline, a by-the-numbers fairy tale taken straight from a Disney flick (“Pocahontas” is the one I keep hearing in reference). Maybe it's a bit much to ask for a more sophisticated script from a film with blue aliens, but this is the Best Picture category we're talking about.
2. “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”: r "Damn." Watching “Precious,” you can't help but utter that word to yourself at least once. Be it shock, or pity, or hope, director Lee Daniels' film about an abused Harlem teenage girl is the most emotionally riveting and brutal film of the year, with extraordinary acting performances galore.
Mariah Carey (Mariah friggin' Carey!) edges out Bullock for the most surprising performance of the year. She got snubbed for a best supporting actress nomination.
Gabourey Sidibe delivers an astonishing, best actress-nominated performance in her first professional acting job. Ever.
But this film is defined by Mo'Nique as Mary Jones, one of the most savage characters introduced to film in years. What's most incredible (and disheartening) is the empathy you wind up feeling for Mo'Nique's character by the end of the film, which will have you uttering that word I mentioned.
1. “The Hurt Locker”: Is this a perfect movie? Probably not. But watching “The Hurt Locker” leaves you satisfied with an active appreciation for the art of filmmaking.
In this year's best picture field, nothing is more intense than director Kathryn Bigelow's vision of the Iraq War, told from the perspective of an explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) unit. Jeremy Renner is perfect as Staff Sergeant William James, a cowboy adrenaline junkie who specializes in bomb disarmament. His role is likely to inspire a generation of soldiers to come.
Everything else shines, from the film's Middle East setting (mostly shot in Jordan) to Barry Ackroyd's sweaty cinematography to Mark Boal's powerful script.
Perhaps it's not a perfect movie, but “The Hurt Locker” is a perfect choice for this year's Best Picture award.

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