Sunday, January 24, 2010

"Bob SAGet!"

Okay, now you can panic.

If this post sounds more than a little vent-y, my sincere apologies, but the fact that the SAG Awards last night really indicated that Sandra "Miss Congeniality" Bullock is a better actress than Meryl "Soon-to-Be 16 Oscar Nominations" Streep is mind-numbing to me. What movies were voters watching? Yes, I understand that it's hard to accept Streep is doing her best work because she's done so much great work, but that's hardly a reason to snub her; rather, it's a reason to celebrate her!

I'll give you that I found Sandra Bullock charming in The Blind Side, and I love that she had such an incredible year, but this is not an Oscar-worthy performance. Not over the likes of Precious' mind-blowingly good Gabourey Sidibe, or the charming, absolutely worthy Carey Mulligan from An Education, and certainly not over Meryl Streep.

So what's the state of the Best Actress race? Will Bullock really walk away with Hollywood's highest honor over the above-mentioned ladies? Have voters become so obsessed with the Oscars being commercial again that they're willing to give Avatar Best Picture and award the former romcom queen? Read on... (Since there were no director or screenplay awards given out this week, I'm just focusing on the acting races and, of course, Best Picture, for this post.)

Best Picture
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
An Education
Up in the Air
District 9
A Serious Man

Personal Pick? An Education, which isn't getting nearly the love it should. It was a fun, entertaining movie that still managed to be deep and raise serious issues. If it were to be nominated, A Single Man would definitely be among my top picks, along with Inglourious Basterds, Precious, The Hurt Locker, and Up in the Air.

I know it's surprising that Up in the Air has been knocked down more than a few notches, but Inglourious Basterds really raised its game with the SAG Best Ensemble win, Precious' campaign has apparently really been making an impact and is by far the more emotionally-driven piece, and An Education got a big boost from the BAFTA nominations. Yes, it is more inclined to get those nominations since it's a British film, but seriously, it tied with Avatar and The Hurt Locker for the most nominations, and those two are the front-runners. Up in the Air has fallen victim to an absolutely vicious backlash, the likes of which I just don't understand, but let me just say this: from the bomb action in The Hurt Locker to the visual treats in Avatar, this is not an acting- or writing-focused movie's year. Which sucks.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Personal Pick? Firth was instantly memorable and mesmerizingly devastating in this role that went beyond gay or straight and was instead a look at what loss of love does to a man's world.

Bridges is locked and loaded. He'll win easily on Oscar night. Everyone else is, as I've said before, just here to party.

Best Actress
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Helen Mirren, The Last Station

Personal Pick? I liked so many of these performances, but Streep is an absolute chameleon in all her performances, and this time was no different. She's truly the Best Actress not only of this year, but of any year. The fact that she doesn't have ten of these things by now is a crime.

Mirren replaces Emily Blunt for one reason: neither of them got a BAFTA nomination. That may sound like poor logic, but in reality, Blunt needed that nomination (for a VERY British movie) to stay alive, and Mirren has a lot of the momentum that Blunt doesn't. I still say Streep is the favorite for this one, but we could be surprised on Oscar night. The only truly interesting thing is the timing of the SAG Awards: usually held during voting time for Oscar winners, the awards were held in the awkward period between nomination ballots being turned in and nominations being announced. So it's entirely possible that tonight had no effect on the awards whatsoever. Wouldn't that be ironic?

Best Supporting Actor
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Matt Damon, Invictus

Personal Pick? This one isn't even a debate. Waltz made like his name and danced around his competitors at the Globes, as he will at every awards show. His Colonel Hans Landa is insanely good, whereas the rest of these performances were, uh, not.

I feel strongly tempted to replace Damon with either Christian McKay or Alfred Molina, but I'm going to resist for the moment, if only because their lack of SAG support indicates that the momentum is not with them, and their BAFTA nominations came too late to have any impact on Oscar nominations. It should probably still go to Damon. Oh, and in case you weren't aware, Waltz is gonna win this thing.

Best Supporting Actress
Mo'Nique, Precious
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Julianne Moore, A Single Man
Penelope Cruz, Nine

Personal Pick? Is that a question? Mo'Nique is not only my pick in this category, not only in this year, but is the single best film performance in years.

...*cough* Um, well, I'm, uh, sure there are many different, er, twists and turns that, uh, this race could take... Ah, hell. It's Mo'Nique's.

Three of four acting races are locked up. The fourth is a question mark. The Best Picture race is still uneasy. The year that should have been the most outrageously hard to predict just became like all the others: a couple of still-confused races, but everything else is known before nominations even come out.

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