Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Highlights of the Year

As an antithesis to yesterday's bout of bitching, I'm going to officially conclude my 2010 Oscar season coverage with a list of some of the things that made this year's awards derby a worthwhile one. It's so easy to complain about the way these things turn out year after year, but the truth is, we wouldn't be coming back to watch it year after year unless there was the promise of something satisfying and enjoyable to be gained. A promise that, one way or another, has always managed to be fulfilled.

[EDIT:] (I can't believe I almost forgot this!)
Delbonnel nominated:
No single nomination this year thrilled me as much as Bruno Delbonnel's in Best Cinematography for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was a surprising but hugely deserved mention. Even the foreknowledge that he had the least chance of winning couldn't sour it for me!

The Dude abides:
Jeff Bridges' Oscar was a long time coming, and there was no sweeter sight than to see him gleefully take the stage as the crowd at the Kodak rose to their feet. The icing on the cake: the win was actually merited by an awards-worthy performance.

The Hurt Locker defies the odds:
After opening to enthusiastic welcome at the 2008 TIFF, Kathryn Bigelow's brilliant thriller was relegated to a summer 2009 release, adored by critics but ignored by audiences. In a year where the upper AMPAS brass did everything within their power to ensure a show with strong ratings, it was so satisfying to see this lowest-grossing nominee trump the multibillion dollar movie that all of America tuned in to see win. The Academy voters have, if ever so briefly, restored my faith in them.

The Cove and the cause:
As a devout worshiper of strong film-making, to see Louie Psihoyos' powerful documentary dominate the awards season was indeed a treat, but more inspiring was to see how much it raised awareness of the activists' noble battle against a horrendous practice. While the rude truncation by the shows' nervous directors of what could have been an impassioned Oscar speech will irk me to no end, it seemed that Rick O'Berry's and Louie Psihoyos' brief moment on stage was enough to spike up the attention to their cause, as this story from Awards Daily tells us. You can keep the ball rolling by texting DOLPHIN to 44144 and signing a petition requesting an end to the annual slaughters in Taiji.

And that puts a cap on what has been one of the wildest Oscar seasons I can remember. Looking to 2011, it seems like the door has been opened for more traditionally unfavoured movies to find awards attention. While the preferential ballot unfortunately promises another season of grotesque and manipulative campaign tricks to come, it'll be great if we can have another Best Picture slate as diverse and generally strong as this year's.

I'm taking a break. I need to collect my thoughts on the year ahead. I'll be back with advance Oscar predictions in April. Until then I'll keep reviewing new films as I see them, and begin work on a special Oscar Nazi Awards ballot; The Best of the Decade! Should be fun.


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