AND THEY’RE OFF: The 2009 Award Season has started


I’m an award whore, I’m afraid, and the Academy Awards are especially the ones I’ll lift my legs for. Every year I and Jerry, my best friend in Chicago, start predicting what is going to be nominated for the Oscars. I know, I know, I should have more self respect, but I can’t help it. It’s a lot of fun (even though my top ten list almost never has one film from the films nominated for best picture). But I’m not addicted. I’m not. I can stop anytime I want. I just don’t choose to.

Last week the National Board of Review revealed their list of best films and performances, etc. of 2009. For a complete list see http://www.nbrmp.org/awards/. With that, I and Jerry both agreed the award season had officially started.

However, that’s not quite accurate. For me, the season started when I noticed in L.A. that Bad Lieutenant was moved from Grauman’s Chinese to the art house Nuart Theater in Westwood, which I can’t help but think was done to try to reach Oscar voters in order to get nominations, especially for Nicholas Cage. In addition, just down the street from the Nuart, Bright Star has returned to the Royal, another art house (though a bit safer in what it shows). I thought Bright Star had imploded, but it’s back, ostensibly for the same reason as Bad Lieutenant (no, not to get Nicholas Cage a nomination—BS’s best chances are in technical categories like costumes and a possible supporting actor nomination for Paul Schneider, the brightest star in the movie—that was a fairly bad pun, wasn’t it; I should edit it out).

But back to the NBR. Of the top eleven films (the best film of the year Up in the Air and then the top ten), I’ve seen all but Up in the Air and Invictus (…Air just opened and Invictus hasn’t—oh, a note to the NBR: you didn’t alphabetize the list correctly, (500) Days of Summer should come first). Up in the Air now has the strongest buzz for winning the Oscar, but it’s early yet. Of the top five foreign language films, I missed Song of Sparrows (it’s on my Netflix list and Jerry says it’s really good) and The White Ribbon has yet to open. The winner of the best foreign film, The Prophet, also hasn’t opened yet. The best foreign language film nominations are the hardest to predict because of the way they are nominated.

Of the top indie films on the list, I missed Amreeka (it wasn’t at a convenient theater); Goodbye Solo (which I didn’t like from the previews, but Jerry says is good); Sugar (which also didn’t thrill me from the previews, but got raves from the critics); and Me and Orson Welles (which just opened, so don’t rush me, okay). The biggest surprise here, and I keep rereading the list to make sure I’m right, is that Precious wasn’t listed. Precious at this point is suppose to get a best picture, director, screenplay and supporting actress nomination, with a possible actress nom thrown in. There is some buzz of it taking the prize (but Up in the Air may have burst that bubble).

A Serious Man got best original screenplay, which probably indicates a nom for that as well.

So far I only see six definite to very probable nominations for best picture at the Oscars: Up in the Air, Up, Julie and Julia, Inglorious Basterds, Precious and The Hurt Locker. Invictus looks good, but I have to wait and see how well it is received when it opens. NBR tends to like these sorts of well meaning political dramas more than the Academy does.

The other big surprise is that Woody Harrelson won best supporting actor over Christoph Waltz for Inglorious Basterds. Though Waltz is still expected to win the Oscar, this probably means that Harrelson will at least get a nomination. Also, the NBR awards also probably indicated that acting nominations will go to George Clooney, Morgan Freeman, Carey Mulligan, though I wouldn’t be so quick to throw in Anna Kendrick for a Best Supporting Actress nom, yet. It’s still too early. Jerry thinks this means that Clint Eastwood will also get a directing nomination for Invictus, but I’m not going there yet. Everybody says that Eastwood always gets a nomination when he brings a film out; I don’t know why, since if one looks at the films he directed, he actually often gets overlooked for a directing nomination (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Changeling and Gran Torino and rumor had it that they brought out Letters from Iwo Jima early because the buzz was that Eastwood wasn’t going to be nominated for Flags of our Fathers).

The Golden Globe noms are coming our around the 15th.

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