Pasatiempo - - Art in Review - Jonathan Richards

This year, Os­car’s eyes are big­ger than his stom­ach. Or big­ger than our stom­ach, any­way. Ten Best Pic­ture nom­i­nees? What, you may ask, is the point? If you an­swered com­merce, move to the head of the class. NOM­I­NATED FOR BEST PIC­TURE can scream from 10 ads, not just five.* Even with that ex­tra help­ing, Os­car still didn’t get it all right. A few highly de­serv­ing movies failed to get their just deserts. Re­becca Miller’s The Pri­vate

Lives of Pippa Lee mer­ited bet­ter than it got, and no pic­ture last year de­liv­ered more en­joy­ment than

Pi­rate Ra­dio; but com­plain­ing is a chump’s game, and hey, it’s only the Os­cars.


Ever look at a long menu and not find any­thing you want to or­der? Quan­tity is no guar­an­tor of qual­ity. Still, 2010 of­fers some strong choices and no clear fa­vorite. A Se­ri­ous Man had the ill luck to come out at the same time as A Sin­gle Man, and no­body could re­mem­ber which one they were go­ing to see. Up in

the Air was an early fa­vorite, but Hol­ly­wood loves a back story, and our hunch is that it will come down to a bat­tle be­tween ex-hus­band-and-wife James Cameron ( Avatar) and Kathryn Bigelow ( The Hurt

Locker). Cameron’s 3-D block­buster will draw votes from Os­car’s tech­ni­cal sub­urbs, which may put

Avatar over the top. Choice: Avatar Pre­dic­tion: Avatar


Our guess is that, whichever ex Os­car fa­vors in Best Pic­ture, he’ll make it up to the other in this cat­e­gory. Which is bad news for Quentin Tarantino ( In­glou­ri­ous Bas­terds) and Ja­son Reit­man ( Up in

the Air), both wear­ing their sec­ond nom­i­na­tions in this cat­e­gory, but nei­ther of them is likely to take home the big prize. And Lee Daniels should un­der­stand that Pre­cious: Based on the Novel “Push”

by Sap­phire is just too long a ti­tle to en­grave on a small stat­uette. If our the­ory holds up, Kathryn Bigelow should break the cel­lu­loid ceil­ing as the first woman to win this award. CHOICE: Kathryn Bigelow PRE­DIC­TION: Kathryn Bigelow


Now we’re mov­ing out of the quick­sand of guess­work and onto surer ground. This year, as so of­ten hap­pens, there is a tide in the af­fairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to for­tune. Some fine work will get swamped as that tide lifts a well and de­servedly loved vet­eran, Jeff Bridges, and car­ries him to the podium. It helps that there’s a “gotcha!” el­e­ment at work here; the lo­cally shot Crazy Heart was tick­eted for the DVD shelves un­til a last-minute res­cue pushed it into the big pic­ture. Ge­orge Clooney ( Up in the Air), Colin Firth ( A Sin­gle Man), Jeremy Ren­ner ( The Hurt Locker), and Mor­gan Free­man ( In­vic­tus) won’t waste much time pol­ish­ing ac­cep­tance speeches. Choice: Jeff Bridges Pre­dic­tion: Jeff Bridges


That same mojo of fate is turn­ing Best Ac­tress into a one-woman race. Never mind that Meryl Streep cooks up an­other de­li­cious dish (and a record-set­ting 16th nom­i­na­tion) as Ju­lia Child (in Julie and Ju­lia), or that that other grande dame, He­len Mir­ren, un­leashes an epic per­for­mance as Mme. Tol­stoy in The Last Sta­tion. New­com­ers Gabourey Sidibe ( Pre­cious) and Carey Mul­li­gan ( An Ed­u­ca­tion), thanks for play­ing. This time, the stars line up for San­dra Bul­lock, a tal­ented ac­tress who’s found Os­car gold in The Blind Side, a feel-good based-on-a-true-story sports movie just a de­gree re­moved from a TV movie-of-the-week. Choice: He­len Mir­ren Pre­dic­tion: San­dra Bul­lock

BEST SUP­PORT­ING AC­TOR In a field of locked-up act­ing cat­e­gories, the big­gest lock is prob­a­bly Cristoph Waltz, the un­known Aus­trian ac­tor dis­cov­ered and cast by star maker Quentin Tarantino as Hans Landa, “The Jew Hunter,” in In­glou­ri­ous Bas­terds. Left on the out­side looking in are Christo­pher Plum­mer ( The Last Sta­tion), Matt Da­mon ( In­vic­tus), Woody Har­rel­son ( The Mes­sen­ger), and Stan­ley Tucci, who should have been rec­og­nized for Julie and Ju­lia and was nom­i­nated in­stead for The Lovely Bones. Choice: Cristoph Waltz Pre­dic­tion: Cristoph Waltz

We see you, all right: Zöe Sal­dana in Avatar

* There is prece­dent, how­ever. In the ’30s and early ’40s, the Best Pic­ture lists swelled, top­ping out at 12 nom­i­nees in ’34 and ’35.

A queen no more: He­len Mir­ren in The Last Sta­tion

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