By Chris Gayomali
At least compared to last year’s field consisting of a gringofied Bollywood hybrid, an Oscar baiting post-Brokeback “progressive”, and an inversely handsomer — if pedophilic (?) — version of Robin Williams’ “Jack”, this year’s crop of Best Picture nominees round out a little more robustly. From the half of them I’ve actually seen (with the latest being last night’s stay-in with George Clooney’s Up in the Air, which was very, very good), so far they all seem as if they’d give Slumdog a run for its money.
Granted, this year’s list is bureaucratically larger and a lot more inclusive (sensitive much, Hollywood?), but at least we have a little bit of everything.
Other than the fact that several of these flicks utilize dangerous forms of cheaply manufactured white guilt*, I’d say about 70% of the crop aren’t completely undeserving of their Oscar nod.
Except Avatar, which will probably win, but really, it shouldn’t. Normally, I’d be the first person to thank James Cameron for all he’s done, but he’s about a hair short of Michael Bay save for the fact that he actually knows how to tell a story. Fern Gully/Pocahontas/Dances with Wolves comparisons aside, Avatar was pretty damn entertaining. But Best Picture of 2009? It feels like a stretch.
If the Academy had any cajones they’d give the trophy to Up (conceptually and aesthetically up there with Avatar, with the most poignant 4-minute stretch of silent storytelling in recent memory) and leave it at that. But they don’t, which is fine, because I’ll still probably end up watching the show anyway.
*major culprits: Avatar, District 9, Precious, and that Sandra Bullock movie.