The BAFTAs and WGA Awards have come and gone so now it’s pretty much over but the waiting. It’s not unusual for the BAFTAs to match up with the Oscars (they gave the best actress award to Marion Cotillard, for example, when many, including moi, expected it to be Julie Christie), even though the voting bloc only partially overlaps. I think this year, their awarding Best Picture, Director and Screenplay to The Hurt Locker pretty much seals the deal for Bigelow and company. However, I think Best Actor will not go to Colin Firth (as it did at the BAFTAs, though common wisdom had it that Firth was going to win the Oscar until Crazy Heart was rushed to an earlier release), but to Jeff Bridges. And Carey Mulligan will also not win Best Actress (as she did at the BAFTAs). That should still go to Sandra Bullock (who wasn’t nominated for a BAFTA; The Blind Side hasn’t opened in England); even if it didn’t go to Bullock, the Oscar would probably go to Meryl Streep.
The WGA awards went to the expected winners of the Oscars: The Hurt Locker for original screenplay and Up in the Air for adapted. It is true that some screenplays nominated for Oscars, like Inglorious Basterds and In the Loop, weren’t eligible for WGA awards. But The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air were the expected winners long before the WGA nominations were even announced. The Hurt Locker should now win Best Picture and Director, which means it should win the screenplay award as well. Up in the Air, which for some time was expected to win Best Picture until it peaked too early, should get the adapted screenplay as the consolation prize.
A Town Called Panic is an animated film from France that uses plastic figures that stand on tiny plastic surfaces, like the ones your parents use to play with when they were kids, but one doesn’t see as often anymore. The main figures are a horse and the cowboy and Indian who live in his house. The inciting incident happens when the cowboy and Indian order bricks to build a barbeque for the horse’s birthday and instead of ordering 50, accidentally order 50 million (hey, it happens). After that, it’s one non-sequitorial sequence after another. I have to be honest. At first this feature went right over my head. I had no idea why it was suppose to be funny or what the jokes were. Part of this may be because I didn’t understand what a cowboy and Indian were doing living in a small French village or why the French would find that tres amusement. There were times I was wondering if the humor was a result of one of those great cultural divides. But about half way through when the three characters are trapped in a gigantic metal penguin by mad scientists who are creating humongous snowballs to throw at random targets, I started getting into it, realizing there really wasn’t anything to get into. It was just suppose to be funny because it was funny. It didn’t have to make sense in the same way Monty Python or The Family Guy don’t have to make sense. At the same time, I did feel the whole thing was stretched out a bit too long and so thought it would work better as a series of shorts in which the cowboy and Indian were always causing problems the horse had to solve. I wasn’t surprised then to discover it was based on a TV series (the writers and directors of that, Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar, also did the movie) and each episode was very short (four minutes or so). When I found that out, then it all really started to make sense.
District 13 Ultimatum is the sequel to District B13, a French action film about life in the future in a walled off section of Paris where all the poor and criminal elements are segregated. District B13 was exciting and fresh (in spite of being produced and co-written by Luc Besson) with non-stop Parkour action sequences (for those unfamiliar with Parkour, it’s a type of fighting and chase and pursuit scenes in which the participants are extremely acrobatic and use actual locations as part of the sequence—sort of the same thing that Jackie Chan does, but exaggerated and with more attitude, if that’s possible). The sequel is also exciting and still somewhat fresh (in spite of being written by Luc Besson) with non-stop Parkour action sequences. The plot in many ways is the same. Someone wants to blow up District 13 (is the area destined to become the new Tokyo which still gets destroyed periodically by various gigantic monsters). The motives have been updated; in this one the head of national security and head of the secret police are manipulating the President of France (who is totally innocent here; it’s one thing to go to the brink, it’s another to jump into it) to blow up the area so a business called Harriburton (not too subtle, but neither is the movie) can build skyscrapers (or as much of skyscraper can be built in France since no building can be taller than the Eiffel Tower). All the various gangs have to join forces to put a stop to what is going on; France’s honor is saved by those who have been most dishonored by their country (how French). The same heroes are back: Cyril Raffaelli is the honest cop and David Belle is the honest crook. There’s a great opening sequence where Raffaelli dressed as a stripper with chains in his butt crack (you had to be there) has to save a Van Gogh while taking out a drug lord; the plot doesn’t let up after that. If you liked District B13, I can’t imagine you not liking this. If you didn’t like District B13, well, that’s your problem.
I got all the Best Actor and Actresses right. I missed one Best Supporting Actor, choosing Alfred Molina over Stanley Tucci (not a surprise, but a disappointment for me). For Best Supporting Actress I got two wrong. I got the right picture, but wrong choice for Nine. I chose Marion Cottilard over Penelope Cruz, but I was stupid to have chosen Cottilard in the first place. The real surprise here is Maggie Gyllenhaal over Julianne Moore (a real disappointment).
As for animation, who would have chosen The Secret of the Kells even if they didn’t chose Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but I got the others right.
I did better than usual on the screenplays. This is usually my weakest guess. I got everything right, except I missed one in Best Original Screenplay. (500) Days of Summer lost out to Up, which for me is a real disappointment.
My biggest error though was in best foreign language film. Though I didn’t predict foreign language noms, I thought the Netherland film Winter in Wartime was going to win. It wasn’t even nominated.
So far my biggest shock is The Beaches of Agnes not getting a documentary nod.
Best Motion Picture
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man
Up in the Air
I dropped Nine and Julia and Julie and replaced them with An Education and Invictus. Nine crashed and burned upon opening and Julia and Julie, which was once a sure thing got lost in the shuffle, I think. I predict now that The Hurt Locker will win picture because Up in the Air peaked too soon and The Hurt Locker hasn’t even peaked.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie and Julia
I dropped Emily Blunt who was always questionable. After Bullocks win at the SAG and Golden Globes, her nom seems certain and will probably win now over Meryl Streep.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
I added Renner as the fifth. Bridges is expected to win.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Marion Cotillard, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Julianne Moore, A Single Man
I have no changes here, but I’m uncertain about Marion Cotillard, but not sure who would get in if she doesn’t make it.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Pictur
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Alfred Molina, An Education
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
I have sorrowfully removed Christian McKay for Me and Orson Welles and put in Matt Damon for Invictus. Christoph Waltz is suppose to walk away with it.
Best Animated Feature Film
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
The Princess and the Frog
No changes here.
Best Director – Motion Picture
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
No changes here, but I think Cameron may win director.
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture – Original
Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, 500 days of summer
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Pete Docter, Bob Petersen, Thomas McCarthy, Up; Alessandro Camon, Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Joel and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
I had In the Loop in the wrong category. So now I have to add another and am not sure what to add, but decided to go for the Messenger.
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture – Adapted
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, District 9
Nick Hornby, An Education
Harold P. Manning, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Ian Martin, Tony
Roche, In the Loop
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
I’ve added In the Loop to this list.