The Friday Five – Best Picture Nominees

Ok — so the Oscars are this weekend, so this seems appropriate:
1.  The group I haven’t seen:
'Avatar'—I still haven’t been able to overcome my dislike of the “Cameron hype machine” to go see this despite all the positive feedback from people I know.
'The Blind Side' – I’ve had a long-time crush on Sandra Bullock, but I’m happy to let this movie slide onto the Netflix queue.*
'An Education' – I am very curious about this movie and look forward to seeing it.
'The Hurt Locker' – I really don’t like realistic war movies and so have no desire to see people get blown up in Iraq.  Or anywhere else for that matter.
'Precious' – Like the above, I watch movies for escapist entertainment usually, so I have about zero interest in this film.
'Up in the Air' – this is one movie that both the Beloved and I really want to see but just haven’t gotten around to it, yet.
The group I have seen:

2. 'District 9' – this is a movie for true science fiction fans – not special effects laden space-opera (I’m looking at you “Star Trek”**).  Gritty and plausible, I thought this was the best science fiction film since “Contact”.
3. 'Up' – I’m a sucker for the Pixar movies but I have to admit that I scratched my head at the premise of “Up” – Old guy, kids and house becoming airborne via balloons?  Of course, the movie had me after the introductory sequence and Kevin The Bird might be my favorite character in any movie this year.

4. 'A Serious Man' – The Beloved and I often agree on movies, but we really differed on this Coen Bros. film.  I loved it, she thought there wasn’t much to it.  This story of a physics professor with a host of issue (from his wife cheating on him to a student blackmailing him for grades) looks for answers as to why his life is careening out of control.  And you know what?  There aren’t any.  Not from his self-absorbed family, not from his platitude-delivering rabbis, not from his doper sexpot neighbor, not from science.  And naturally, when he thinks he’s navigated this particular minefield, we are reminded that life’s not fair.  Of this whole set, this is the movie I keep thinking about.
5. 'Inglourious Basterds' – I enjoyed this Tarentino yarn of intrigue and kicking Nazi-butt, though I could have done without the gratuitous blood sprays and head bashing.  Great screenplay.  I’m not a huge Brad Pitt fan, but I really did enjoy him in this.
BONUS MOVIE 

The other night when the Beloved was out of town I watched the movie "Paranormal Activity" which was apparently made for like 20 bucks.  It was essentially “The Blair Witch Project” but instead of goth douchbags you have a nice childless couple that lives in suburban San Diego.  Really.  Apparently, the house is like a mile and a half from The Aerie.  It's the story of the couple as they try to document and deal with their poltergeisty happenings — and there are some genuinely creepy moments.  I didn't stay up late with the lights on or anything on purpose afterwards — I was "reading".  Got that?
*I believe that Netflix is responsible for teaching a generation of Americans to correctly spell the word “queue” without having to look it up or have a little red squiggly line appear.  All for the low price of $4.95 a month.  Nice job.
** I actually really enjoyed “Star Trek” as an excellent example of special effects laden space opera.  Don’t get me wrong, it has its place, it’s just not great science fiction.

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42 thoughts on “The Friday Five – Best Picture Nominees

  1. I loved The Blind Side, Up in the Air, and Up, liked Avatar but am confused as to how it rates a Best Picture nod (the writing was atrocious), have District 9 in my Netflix queue, and have zero interest in the rest – especially Hollywood's interpretation of anything happening in Iraq. I'll probably skip the Awards like I do every year because Up in the Air and Anna Kendrick won't win, and those are really the only categories I'm interested in.

  2. I really liked Avatar for the special effects. They were really amazing. The story? Nothing special. At all. But visually? AMAZING.District 9 was awesome, wasn't it? I LOVED that movie! Up was SO good, but I haven't watched it again, even though we have the movie at home. I liked A Serious Man. I didn't love it, but I thought it was pretty interesting. Star Trek is just good ol' plain fun! :D (I LOVE sci-fi, though. I usually end up rating sci-fi movies higher than other genres.)I haven't watched any of those other movies, but most of them are on my queue. Also, I'm totally with you. I've noticed more people spelling the word 'queue' correctly. BLESS YOU, NETFLIX. Thank goodness. I would get so mad whenever people would spell it 'cue.'

  3. Avatar and The Blind Side got nominated because the Academy wants to appeal to people who think that the movies they love are the same thing as the best movies of the year.* And it's going to backfire, because those people don't watch the Oscars. (Yes, I'm still annoyed by that.)
    I want to see An Education and Precious. I will probably end up seeing Blind Side. I have no desire to see Avatar. (A movie needs more than "but everyone's seen it" and "the special effects are awesome!" to sell me on seeing it.)
    Of the 10 nominated (or at least of the six I've seen), Hurt Locker will win, A Serious Man should win and Up in the Air is my favorite.
    * = I love Up in the Air, but it's not better than The Hurt Locker.

  4. And also, I can't wait to hear what you think about Up in the Air. I've heard a lot of things about Anna Kendrick in that, but I thought Vera Farmiga did the better job by far. (But it might also be that I have little patience for people in their early 20s–her character was annoying as hell, although I think she was supposed to be. In that case, brava.)

  5. And also, I can't wait to hear what you think about Up in the Air. I've heard a lot of things about Anna Kendrick in that, but I thought Vera Farmiga did the better job by far. (But it might also be that I have little patience for people in their early 20s–her character was annoying as hell, although I think she was supposed to be. In that case, brava.)

  6. I think Moon was my favorite scifi flick of the year. Insofar as it was "real" science fiction, rather than science fantasy (not that the Academy differentiates between the two.) District 9 was too full of unlikeable characters for me to really enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

  7. I think Moon was my favorite scifi flick of the year. Insofar as it was "real" science fiction, rather than science fantasy (not that the Academy differentiates between the two.) District 9 was too full of unlikeable characters for me to really enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

  8. MM — I've heard nothing but good things about "Moon" and it's definitely at the top of our "to see" list. I agree that "District 9" didn't have a lot of sympathetic characters (except for maybe the prawn kid), but I thought that, and the use of unknown (at least unknown to American audiences) actors gave it a great "realistic" feel.

  9. Also, sorry to hear about your adventures with Paranormal Activity. I'm glad it didn't distract you from your reading.
    (And how annoying was Micah? He kept taunting the demon–everyone knows you don't do that.)

  10. Also, sorry to hear about your adventures with Paranormal Activity. I'm glad it didn't distract you from your reading.
    (And how annoying was Micah? He kept taunting the demon–everyone knows you don't do that.)

  11. I liked 'Avatar' for its special effects and for its old-fashioned story, but I agree with you that it is over-hyped. Whenever I read that Cameron had written the script many years back but was waiting for the technology to make giant leaps to implement his vision, I can't stop smiling :) I wish technology-forecasting was so reliable!I liked 'The Hurt Locker' very much (actually I don't remember many people getting killed in the movie, though it is a war movie). I also liked 'Up in the Air' very much. Hope Vera Farmiga wins the Best Supporting Oscar :)I found 'District 9' quite interesting – a very different kind of science fiction movie. I liked 'A Serious Man' – it is a wonderful movie as you have put it so eloquently! I liked 'Inglourious Basterds' – hope Christoph Waltz wins the Oscar :) I agree with you on Brad Pitt – he was a surprise in the movie – for some reason I am not a big fan of his too, and I avoid his movies, but his performance in this movie was enjoyable.

  12. I enjoyed this Tarentino yarn of intrigue and kicking Nazi-butt, though
    I could have done without the gratuitous blood sprays and head bashing.
    Er, Tarantino=gratuitous blood sprays and head bashing, just as Cameron=hype.I agree with you on Up; the first fifteen minutes alone is worth the Oscar.As to Star Trek, I respectfully disagree; it was garbage. In order to enjoy it, you have to completely ignore everything that you know about military discipline [1], fighting [2], shot composition [3], and logic [4]. This is much different than the older Star Trek films, where you merely had to mostly ignore everything that you know about…John[1] If you get kicked off of a ship, you are no longer in the chain of command.[2] An epee? Atop a miles-long skyhook? Really?[3] Jerking the camera around every ten seconds does not make a bad fight scene good; it merely makes the audience dizzy.[4] Trapped back in time 200 years and not once do they think "Gee – maybe I'd better send the Vulcans a note so they can get there in time to keep my planet alive"? Instead, they destroy Vulcan, thereby enduring that Romulus will also be destroyed. And these are the logical aliens?!?

  13. I'm sure you already know about my obsession with District 9, but of course I agree. Genius. I would almost call it a hybrid of sci fi, and maybe something else. To me, pure sci fi is a bit cheesy. At least slightly. D9 was so unique. I actually felt like I learned something about us, about the human race. It was eye opening.
    I'm still disgusted that Sharlto Copley didn't get nominated (I don't think) for that, it was the best acting perfomance ever in any movie. (As I I would know…but that's still what I think).
    I haven't seen Avatar either.

  14. I'm sure you already know about my obsession with District 9, but of course I agree. Genius. I would almost call it a hybrid of sci fi, and maybe something else. To me, pure sci fi is a bit cheesy. At least slightly. D9 was so unique. I actually felt like I learned something about us, about the human race. It was eye opening.
    I'm still disgusted that Sharlto Copley didn't get nominated (I don't think) for that, it was the best acting perfomance ever in any movie. (As I I would know…but that's still what I think).
    I haven't seen Avatar either.

  15. Vishy — apparently, "Watchmen" had a long history of being pitched for a movie, but issues about control kept delaying it. In a way, I'm glad it did because it gave the technology a chance to just get that much further ahead.

  16. Emmi — actually true science-fiction is supposed to create a plausible extrapolation and reflect back upon our current times and issues. The sad part is that so little of what's produced now fits that description.

  17. MM — I agree that Paranormal Activity didn't deserve all the "scariest movie in years" hype that I heard, but I actually think watching it in a dark, empty house that looks an awful lot like the house in that film makes suspending disbelief easier!

  18. I generally like Brad Pitt as long as he's playing someone a little off center, remember Twelve Monkeys and Jesse James. I thought he was good in Basterds alongside Waltz who really stole the show.

  19. Interesting to know about 'Watchmen'. I remember reading somewhere that Alan Moore dissociated himself from the movie. It is one of the movies I want to watch, but I have been sitting on it because I want to read the book first :)I haven't seen 'A River Runs Through It'. I will add it to my 'To be seen' list.

  20. Interesting to know about 'Watchmen'. I remember reading somewhere that Alan Moore dissociated himself from the movie. It is one of the movies I want to watch, but I have been sitting on it because I want to read the book first :)I haven't seen 'A River Runs Through It'. I will add it to my 'To be seen' list.

  21. Yes — Moore was very public about his "distance" from the movie. Definitely read the original before seeing the movie. While there are differences, I do think the film keeps to the heart of the original and maybe improves it in a couple of instances.

  22. I agree with you about what sci fi should be. For me there are 2 categories. Fun sci fi, should be good quality, but can be humorous and cheesy. The more in depth kind you speak of, I find it's rare but a real treasure when made correctly. I guess what I really meant was, District 9 was in a category of its own. Certainly somewhat sci fi – but also similar to Spinal Tap in the beginning mockumentary style, also some horror and lots of political / social justice.
    The big disappointment was the military element, similar to Men in Black, which I did not like at all, it's too much like teenage video games. But otherwise, a stellar movie. But in my mind, not exactly pure sci fi.

  23. Yes — Moore was very public about his "distance" from the movie. And darn near every other movie that has been made from one of his stories (V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell,and Constantine); there are days when I think that Hollywood would close shop if they didn't have Alan Moore to pick on.John

  24. Steve – I personally think Avatar was so over-hyped that everyone is saying it's awesome simply because they're afraid they're the only one who will be questioning why the emperor has no clothes. Really – the dialogue was terrible, the acting mediocre, and how many anti-capitalist-you're-destroying-the-planet-contrived-didactic-over-hyped-under-delivered movies have to come out?! That being said, if you see it, see it in 3D if you can. There are some interesting aspects to the movie, and I get why it connects with a lot of people….but I still think it pales in comparison to some of its rivals.

  25. J — I've have some very discerning movie goers say they were blown away by the experience of seeing "Avatar" — that it was literally unlike anything they said ever seen before and that made the experience more than worthwhile. As a film, one of my friends summed it up after gushing about the technical prowess… "Oh the story? It's Dances With Aliens".

  26. "Dances with Aliens"….or, as Cori put it "Dances with Smurfs". :-) It was much better the first time around as Dances With Wolves or Pocahontas. I think some "anti-establishment" films have thought-provoking stories that, even if you ultimately disagree, make you *think*. Avatar, IMO, was *not* one of those. Stereotypical characters, assumptions/generalizations of motive and the embrace of an eco-political agenda that's under serious fire for mishandling, hiding and destroying evidence are all factors that admittedly fuel my anti-hype stance on it.

  27. Go see "Shutter Island". If you are like me you will leave the theater feeling disturbed and wishing you had chosen the comedy that was playing next door. LOL (I like happy endings where good wins over evil.) Be sure to pay close attention to Leonardo's last line….which spins the ending of the movie. Worth the price of the admission but don't expect to have a light and happy feeling when it is over.
    Denise ;)

  28. I loved Up so much. They showed in on the aeroplane last trip back to the States. Then I rented it and my son watched it with us. I did love the bird, but Doug stole my heart. Did Kirk Douglas do the old man's voice? I forget.SQUIRREL!

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