Oscars 2010: More films means more filler

Charles McNeill isn’t impressed by this year’s nominees


It’s that time of year again: the awards season is in full swing. We already know who has taken home Golden Globes and who’s most likely to win at the BAFTAs next month. Yet when it boils down to it, nothing really matters except the alpha male of award shows, the Academy Awards. After all, its the Oscars that audiences remember and the golden statues that will forever be tagged to an actor or director regardless of their future cinematic disasters (think Halle Berry’s career).


This year, the academy has decided to acknowledge ten films, rather than the usual five, in the category of Best Picture. Why? Academy organizers have stated the expansion will make the show less elitist hence Up‘s nomination instead of an indie flick, like Moon. If you ask me, it seems more like of an excuse to reel in viewers. In other words, ABC can charge more for advertising; desperate times call for desperate measures, and it is a recession after all. Avatar and The Hurt Locker lead the competition with nine nominations apiece.  Other contenders include Inglourious Basterds with eight nominations, followed by Precious and Up in the Air  with six. 


This year’s selection seems considerably less deserving of praise than the leaner lists of past years. In 2008, for example, Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood competed for Best Picture. 


The epic, Avatar, banks on its special effects to win the big awards while the war film, The Hurt Locker, may rely on the novelty of its female director.  Inglourious Basterds and Up seem like unlikely contenders for the main prize; one is too satirical and gruesome, while the other may be too puerile for the Academy’s distinguished tastes. Similarly, I doubt there is much hope for either an action movie(District 9) or a coming-of-age football flick (The Blind Side).  The rest of the nominees are realistic low-budget, low-action films – Precious, Up in the Air, A Serious Man and An Education – worthy of praise, but unlikely to clinch the Academy’s votes. 


Besides the odd nomination here and there for other films (like Crazy Heart, The Messenger and Julie & Julia), the ten represented in the Best Picture category dominate most of the remaining categories. Could Carey Mulligan (An Education) steal the Best Actress award away from Sandra Bullock and Oscar veteran Meryl Streep? Could Colin Firth win Best Actor for A Single Man, making it the second consecutive gay role to win after Sean Penn’s Harvey Milk? It seems like the only guaranteed shoe-ins are MoNique for Best Supporting Actress in Precious and Chistoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor in Inglourious Basterds. Could this be a year of surprise Oscar wins and upsets? 


You can find out when the 82nd Academy Awards are broadcast on Sunday, March 7th.  Now, if only it was playing on the BBC instead of Sky…


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