The Oscars

Cameron Vs. Bigelow, and Other Exciting Cage Matches

Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side

Good morning, Dana.

Happy Oscar Season to you! I must confess that I haven’t gotten you a gift yet. Knowing how you admire the thrice-nominated Crazy Heart, I’ve been trying to get my hands on one of Bad Blake’s guitar picks for you, but I’ve had no luck so far. Perhaps you’d enjoy a fifth of whiskey instead? Or perhaps a DVD copy of one of the best-picture nominees of 1943, the most recent year in which 10 movies competed for the prize. Let’s see, there was Heaven Can Wait, The Ox-Bow Incident, For Whom the Bell Tolls … and also Madame Curie, The Song of Bernadette, and of courseNoel Coward’s In Which We Serve (“the greatest motion picture of our time!“). The winner was a small film critiquing French Morocco’s visa policies.

Before we commence our jabbering about the nominee list for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, let me take a moment to make sure that the readers eavesdropping on this conversation know where everything stands. (You never know who thinks that Christoph Waltz is something by Chopin and whose antennae have discerned that the backlash against Up in the Air has already come and gone, with plenty of time left before the March 7 ceremony for a re-backlash to crack through the zeitgeist?) And before we do that, please allow me to quote the fabulous Manohla Dargis by way of qualifying this whole discussion: “Let’s acknowledge that the Oscars are bullshit and we hate them.”

When last we convened to discuss this topic, Slumdog Millionaire was victoriously wagging its tiresome tail, and I signed off with the following:

The push for a supporting actress nomination for Mo’Nique in 2010 has already begun, and her movie doesn’t even yet have a release date. I can already sense the backlash to The Lovely Bones backlash beginning to lash back. And I have already made plans to spend next January in Los Angeles, where I will be campaigning personally for Penélope (for both Nine and Broken Embraces) with the passion of a Kenyon College junior canvassing Ohio for Obama.

Now here we are in 2010. Mo’Nique, like Waltz, is assured to win a prize. The Lovely Bones stiffed. I have still lobbied passionately for Penélope with mixed success, and I realize that it would have made for a better joke to reference Oberlin. Why do you suppose it is that Ms. Cruz, nominated for Nine, was never really in the mix for her sensational turn in the sensational Broken Embraces? Am I the only person who thinks that Pedro Almódovar is at his best when steering hard to noir?

Here is the buried lede: Sandra Bullock and The Blind Sidehad a nice morning, with the film earning a best-picture nomination at the presumed expense of Clint Eastwood’s Invictus. We’re looking at a Bullock-versus-Streep matchup for best actress—though Precious’ Gabourey Sidibe is in hot P.R. pursuit. Immediately after this morning’s announcement, she was giggling on the set of Good Morning America, her mood bright and light, looking like an ingénue more genuine than even Taylor Swift. Campaigning with panache, she was ebulliently girly at some points (Has she decided on a dress yet? “I have not, no—just the hair!”) and pushed her movie’s supposed uplift at others (“It seems to be helping people”). Can she go the distance? What if Sandy triumphed over her later this month at the NAACP Image Awards?

I leave it to you to talk about Avatar, The Hurt Locker, and the head-to-head matchup of directing exes James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow—which almost sounds like the plot of a Cary Grant-Kate Hepburn movie that exists in my imagination. Also, I wonder: Precisely how fired up are you for the possibility of Jeff Bridges dusting through the theme from Crazy Heart, a best-song nominee, at the ceremony? And are you at all hopeful that he might appear in character and vomit in a trash can after the weed hits him the wrong way?


Slate V: Oscar Nominations!