Monday, March 08, 2010


So, for me the theme of the show this year was: "Very nice people giving terrific speeches in acceptance of awards they oughtn't have won."

Sandra Bullock seems like a lovely person, GREAT speech, obviously heartfelt... but "The Blindside" is a piece of shit and she's pretty bad in it.

No way did "Hurt Locker" - a serviceable but utterly pedestrian war-is-hell script - deserve a Best Original Screenplay win over "Inglorious Basterds." Yes, fine, hooray for low-budget indies and all that, but give me a break. Like I said, another great speech... but if anyone remembers "Locker" a year from now - which is a dicey prospect, at best - it's exclusively because Kathryn Bigelow is a peerless director of action sequences. Speaking of which...

It's unfortunate that the whole thing had to be between "Avatar" and "Locker" for Picture - utterly-shallow big-budget actioner versus equally-shallow low-budget actioner- and it's right and just that Kathryn Bigelow has freed herself from directorial limbo at last... but c'mon. "Avatar," at least, had the minimum novelty of being revolutionary and a pop-cultural "event," but there's no way "Locker" even belonged on the nominee list in the same year "Watchmen" and "Moon" got shut-out.

This is another Pulp/Gump/Shawshank year: People will bitch back and forth about "Avatar" and "Hurt Locker" for the next two years, and then by 2012 "Locker" will be in the $5 bin, "Avatar" will be the perenial big-box-store LCD "demo blu-ray" and people will be shaking their heads wondering why "Inglorious Basterds" - which by then will have been running in near-permanent rotation on the cables - was overlooked.

Whatever. Good on the "Hurt Locker" people for sincerely thanking the troops, if nothing else. On Monday morning, offers every un-attached action franchise on the planet will be piled up in Kathryn Bigelow's office. Show of hands on everyone who was surprised to be reminded that there has NEVER been a black Best Director winner. Taylor Lautner looks like a middle schooler in his older brother's tuxedo. The star of "Soul Plane" and the director of "Point Break" both have Oscars.

Oh, and if you're wondering: Yes, the Fisher Stevens accepting the Best Documentary award for producing "The Cove" IS Fisher Stevens the actor you might remember from "Hackers," "Super Mario Bros.," "My Science Project" and the "Short Circuit" movies.


Scythe said...

I saw The Hurt Locker a few days just so that I could say that I saw. I must say that I thought it was a really good movie, but as you said it didn't even belong on the nominee list let alone win. I'm sitting here trying to think of a way in which Hurt Locker was better than Up, Inglorious Basterds, and District 9, but I can't think of any. It was good, but everything else was better. Watching the Oscars this year was just disappointing.

weirdaljedifan2 said...

What did you mean by that Pulp/Gump/Shawshank thing?

Joseph Valencia said...

The biggest travesty of the night (beside the awful "slam dance" segment) was Avatar winning for best "cinematography". If that can qualify as cinematography, then the Academy might as well allow Pixar and other animated movies into the category. >_>

Bob said...

Cinematography is awarded for the use of the camera, not necessarily what it physically photographed. So long as the DP was making the final decisions on how the final rendered shots were composed, I'd say it's wholly valid - nevermind that more of the movie than people tend to think was shot "live."

Puddle Jumper said...

Is it me or is the Oscars slowly becoming worse than even Spike's GOTY awards?

Anonymous said...

Hold on, Bob.

Back in December, you said Avatar "meant something."

And now you're calling it an "equally shallow?"

Which is it? What did you exactly mean when you said it meant something? Can a film mean something and yet be shallow?

Sara Pickell said...

Yes, absolutely. All it has to do is not mean anything deep, and it didn't.

"Taking a shit on indigenous cultures and ruining environments is bad." Really? Never could have guessed that one on my own.

Anonymous said...

I just can't believe District 9 didn't win a thing. At least Inglorious Basterds won Best Supporting Actor.

Ben said...

The two classiest films by far, Moon and the french thriller A Prophet, were both completely ignored.

A Prophet is possibly the best gangster film i've seen since Casino and it got nothing.

Another shonky year for the oscars...

Tosh said...

I said this very same thing to my roommate when he got mad that Avatar lost out to Hurt Locker: While Avatar was a movie that basically nailed its message into your skull (i.e. fuck technology, yay nature), which is a theme that has been done a million billion times since Rousseau's day, Hurt Locker left it up to interpretation. I think to simplify it to a "war-is-hell" piece is to really discredit the movie. I went to see it with a couple of my friends, and some of them felt it was an anti-war film and the rest thought it was pro-war. It's really just an honest war film, and the viewer is entitled to interpret it in his or her own way. Now try to imagine presenting war to millions of people for an hour and a half without injecting your political bias into it. That is a really fucking hard thing to do, and requires some serious skills. So, yeah, I don't at all feel at all that The Hurt Locker was just a shallow war film.

But yeah, has the academy not even seen Moon? Sam Rockwell should have been nominated for and won everything. EVERYTHING! Oh, and to Monique for her acceptance speech: go fuck yourself. Way to come up on the stage and basically say "Everyone that I wanted to win at the oscars but didn't win, didn't win because of politics that I have no knowledge of, but my performance was so good that I superseded politics and stand before you now as a demi-goddess." Ugh. What a piece of shit.

Toomin said...

I agree with Tosh.
Of the movies that had any chance of winning or deserving to win...

Avatar: spectacular looking movie, epic sweep, simplistic but still classic story told in a new setting, and a pretty clear environmental/anti-corporation message. Does this deserve the win? I dunno. Maybe it's time we bring back the dual awards for best production and best piece of art, hm?

The Hurt Locker: another great looking movie (in a different way), with a far looser narrative structure, slice-of-life look at three soldiers in a war that doesn't tell you how to think about war, it just tells you how these three guys react and change when confronted with it. And it does it without political bias. I think to call it a shallow "war is hell" movie is itself a shallow opinion (no offense MovieBob, I still like your reviews).

District 9: similar look and feel to The Hurt Locker, with practically the same message as Avatar (fuck greedy corporations, humans will mistreat alien life if we can get away with it). It also has the audacity to have an asshole as a main character. It has it's own problems, mainly in its plotholes and the way it kinda dissolves into a pounding action-thriller, but I would say it's better than Avatar. To choose between this and The Hurt Locker is difficult, 'cause you have to weigh District 9's anti-apartheid metaphors against The Hurt Locker's ambiguity and arthouse film style.

Up: Pixar genius-fare again, enchanting story, brilliant 10-minute opening montage, quiet and studied observations about moving on after death and accomplishing things even in one's old age. Honestly, if this won I don't think anyone would've been too upset. And it would've left Best Animated open for Mr. Fox to win, which would please me to no end.

Yes, Sam Rockwell should've been fucking nominated. Someday they'll realize he's actually quite a good actor, hopefully.

Monique's speech wasn't as bad as whatever flighty bitch won Best Costume Design for the third time. The arrogance just RADIATED off of her through my TV screen.

Sandra's speech made me feel less annoyed about her winning--I still think Carey or Gabourey deserved it more, though.

Anyone else think that Kathryn Bigelow is fucking hot as hell? :P

beyrob said...

@Tosh. Yeah that's what I feel like too with Monique.

I still need to see moon!

Yeah anyway, I think the hurt locker is a LITTLE better than you're giving it cridit for ^^.
But, Inglorious deservied SO much more credit.

Josh said...


I'd like to offer my take on The Hurt Locker, if I may. In short, I can see why you might call it shallow, but I respectfully disagree and would argue that its "shallowness" is part of the reason it works as well as it does.

I haven't seen Basterds yet, but I plan on doing so tonight, and considering how much I love Tarantino, I'm likely to share your rage.

I adore your reviews. Keep up the great work.

And thanks for getting me and my wife out to see Daybreakers.

Leoja92 said...

Its funny when Bullock took the stage to revive her award she said "Did I earn this or did I just wear you down?" I think we all know the answer to that. I did however enjoy James Taylor's performance for those we've lost this year.

Bob said...


Just to be clear, Mo'Nique isn't talking about movie politics.

Prior to the show, the "story" surrounding her nomination was that she blew off the "campaign stops" acting nominees generally do to curry favor (i.e. meeting with critics groups, going to screenings and galas, etc.) before the voting. There was a lot of sniping in the awards press about how she shouldn't win because she didn't "know how to play the game," and she was talking about that.

Lance said...

Does anybody else feel that the Oscars this year was rather...I don't know the best word...subdued? It appeared that either tan, grey, or skin tone were the main color themes for the ladies and the jokes seemed to all fall flat (especially at the beginning). While bad/corny jokes are nothing new for the Oscars, this year just seemed a bit bland to me for some reason. [Note: I did skip over any segment with Martin and Baldwin, so I could be missing some information]

I also wanted Up or District 9 to win more. And I thought giving so many awards to The Hurt Locker was a bit of a snub to everyone else. I mean, did it really need to win best Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, AND Film Editing on top of everything else? It was a good movie, but I don't think it was THAT good.

Dav3 said...

First of all, I think the oscars are no more of a circle-jerk than any other awards show, and have for a long time. Obviously then, I shouldn't care who wins.

The problem is not that Hurt Locker won a pile of awards, but everyone seems to agree that it's a good movie, and I absolutely hated it.

Help me out here:

Wasn't every scene of Hurt Locker utterly predictable, and therefore devoid of tension? Shouldn't tension be fairly important in a movie about a military bomb squad?

Wasn't every character a one-note, war-movie, stereotype?

Did the dialog not meander pointlessly through each scene, often taking time to explain the obvious?

Was the camera not pointed up Jeremy Renner's nose while he was driving a Humvee about 2/3 through the movie?

If the bombmakers are watching him defuse the bombs, why don't they ever try to kill him?

Why was the bomb squad in the middle of nowhere when they got pinned down by the sniper?

Does blood really keep a .50 bullet from firing?

How the hell did he get off the base, wander who knows how far through a war zone to a specific house he'd never scene and what the hell was he going to do when he got there?

Why doesn't the bomb squad have a superior officer to report to?

Why do people in movies always shower with their clothes on when they're upset?

Why am I the only one who didn't enjoy this movie?

Am I going to have to sit through this mess again to make sure I'm not crazy?

I do have one final thought I'm sure will get Bob's attention.

I just noticed that Watchmen didn't get one single nomination!
Not just best picture or director, but even for Costumes?
Effects? Editing? Cinematography? Adapted Screenplay?... nothing.

I remember you(Bob) mentioning they must have forgot it came out in '09, but jeez... either it was ineligible somehow, or this a clear message that anything comic related will never, ever, win.

Tosh said...

Oh, thanks, Bob. Now Mo'Nique seems much less pompous for saying what she said. And yeah, that costume designer seemed pretty arrogant, but at least her speech was short. Also, what the fuck was up with that lady who got up during best short documentary and interrupted the guy trying to give his thank you speech mid sentence? I honestly thought for a moment that she was going to talk about how Beyonce had the best video of all time. ALL TIME!

Vincent said...

Bob, I think the theme "war is hell" is actually antithetical to the message of The Hurt Locker.

Yes, The Hurt Locker portrays some hellish warzones, but the actual theme of the movie is "war is addictive". "War is a drug".

War may be hell for some soldiers, but for the main character - William James - war was his way of getting an adrenaline fix. The shower scene was probably the only moment in the film where James probably questioned whether he should stay in Iraq, but before too long his addiction re-exerted its influence and he was back in the action, defusing bombs.

This is not to say that The Hurt Locker deserved all its awards. Up, District 9, Watchmen, and Inglourious Basterds were all much more worthy.

Anonymous said...

@Tosh: Seriously, who let Ethel Merman into the building?


Smashmatt202 said...

I was also a bit disappointed with some of the awards, like you, but I was glad that at least Up won best original score, not that it matters to anyone except me.

I also liked how, before the award for Best Animated Feature, characters from each of the nominees were shown talking about how they felt about the whole thing. It was fun, especially with Fantastic Mr. Fox, The PRincess and the Frog, and of course, Up.

Anonymous said...

@ Sara Pickell

Okay, I can buy that.

But does that make it a bad film? IMO, no. We need message films every once in a while. And so long as they're sincere, they'll be accepted for what they are.

B.J. said...

I thought it was pretty clear that Hurt Locker won because of it's topical nature and "edginess" (kidbombs, brutalizing Hajis, etc). Next year all the critics will look back and go "oh yeah I guess it wasn't all that good." It just proves once again that in order to win an Oscar you don't need your movie to be good as long as it has controversy.

And what the hell did happen with Watchmen? One of the best films of the year and didn't even get a bone anywhere. For shame Hollywood.

Mykal said...

Personally don't get why the Oscars matter other then give a pat on the back to themselves like the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Though I think Hurt Locker won because of how big of a stink people make over it. That way they could seem important since people are talking about it.

Though personally would of like to have seen Up win the best picture. A animated movie has never won. Be nice to see something unsuspecting as that.

Andrei Vajna II said...

One surprise that made me happy is that Up won for Best Original Score. Didn't expect it, but totally deserved.

But I still don't get how The Hurt Locker got Original Screenplay, instead of Up.

And yeah, Up was definitely the best movie of 2009, in my opinion.

Joseph Valencia said...

Cinematography is awarded for the use of the camera, not necessarily what it physically photographed. So long as the DP was making the final decisions on how the final rendered shots were composed, I'd say it's wholly valid - nevermind that more of the movie than people tend to think was shot "live."

If cinematography is awarded for use of the camera, then Avatar should have been disqualified from that category, because most of it wasn't even shot with a camera. Anything done in post-production is covered by the "visual effects" category. The award should've gone to a movie with real cinematography, achieved through real cameras.

Ninja-Z said...

@ Joseph Valencia

'Camera' not only refers to the physical camera often used in movies, but also the "eye" through which we see the action take place on-screen. How that "eye" sees the events, from what angle it records it, the lighting, etc. as manipulated by the filmmaker, is cinematography. It is NOT the same as visual effects for the simple fact that, sure, while a lot of the environments in Avatar are computer generated, that "eye" is not - there's someone who makes the decision on how the camera moves to record the action, be it live-action, CGI, or traditionally animated, so Avatar has every right to win the award.

T said...

While I understand you're upset about Inglorious Basterds not winning big, I can't help but think this sounds a wee bit bitter. Is Basterds, a film that basically invites the viewer to enjoy cathartic anti-Nazi violence and a happier ending to World War II (notably without really examining how Jewish soldiers might view such a mission beyond the urge to hit people with a baseball bat) really less "shallow" than a movie examining the psychological effects of war in a way we haven't really seen before?

One of the things I really liked about Hurt Locker is that it isn't overt with its characters or themes. On the one hand, one can see the William James character as a brave, skilled soldier who keeps cool-headed in intense situations, whether it involves explosives or enemy fire. On the other hand, one can perceive him as a reckless asshole who endangers his teammates. Like the morality of the war itself, the screenplay doesn't pass a judgment but leaves room for ambiguity and audience consideration. That subtlety also extends to Renner's performance. He doesn't need a lot of big emotional scenes or monologues to express his character's traits. He has the steely quality of McQueen and can say more with a quiet look and what he can't verbalize in many scenes, such as those with his wife back home, than in a big "Oscar" moment.

While I agree Rockwell should have been up for Moon, I definitely think Hurt Locker deserves the attention it's gotten. If you really crave some form of comfort regarding its multiple wins, why not take some in the fact that Basterds earned considerably higher grosses than Hurt Locker.

B.J. said...

There's nothing remotely new or original about The Hurt Locker; it's the same old gritty, ambiguous, war-is-hell movie we've seen a dozen times. It only won because ZOMG that's totally happening right now! This movie is so edgy and current!

Change the setting to ANY OTHER WAR and it wouldn't win shit.

Jack Kirby said... have launched a film deal for a limited time; £1 to watch ANY film at Cineworld up to the value of £12 - including 3D showings!

Vincent said...

B.J., you must have missed my earlier comment. The Hurt Locker is ANYTHING but a 'war is hell' movie. The Hurt Locker portrays hellish warzones, but its theme is 'war is a drug'.

Anonymous said...

You bitch and moan about how good District 9 was because it was a low budget indie flick, and then you get upset about how an indie flick wins over a vapid graphical giant like Avatar, which contrary to your opinion no one will remember it's characters or story in the years to come. And since when did being in shit movies prevent anyone from getting an Oscar.

tl;dr? All I can say is I waited a longtime for this post about the Oscars, and I must say after hearing your pretentious dribble over the last few months on what's good and bad, your butthurt in this case is sooo delicious...

Joseph Valencia said...

'Camera' not only refers to the physical camera often used in movies, but also the "eye" through which we see the action take place on-screen. How that "eye" sees the events, from what angle it records it, the lighting, etc. as manipulated by the filmmaker, is cinematography. It is NOT the same as visual effects for the simple fact that, sure, while a lot of the environments in Avatar are computer generated, that "eye" is not - there's someone who makes the decision on how the camera moves to record the action, be it live-action, CGI, or traditionally animated, so Avatar has every right to win the award.

It is visual effects, because every element that is seen by that "eye" is manipulated and rendered through a computer. With real cinematography, you can't push a few keys or tweak some digital parameters when the lighting isn't correct. It requires a technique that isn't comparable at all to framing an animation sequence, which is practically what most of Avatar is.

B.J. said...


I didn't miss your comment, I just think you're wrong. The "soldier who likes war" is a common character in gritty war dramas. Various characters in Full Metal Jacket, Jamie Foxx in Jarhead; they're all the same. I still maintain that The Hurt Locker won solely for being about current events.

Anonymous said...

27 mins. into the movie "Locker": jock RECKLESSLY disamrs bombs, next scene, jocks seen playing Gears of War... explicit message anyone?

Vincent said...


Hmmm, I doubt I'm wrong about the film's message, given that the filmmakers went out of their way to include a quote saying "war is a drug" right at the beginning of the film, lol.

The 'soldier who likes war' is actually a very uncommon character in war films. Many of the characters in war films, such as Jamie Foxx in Jarhead, don't actually like war in the sense of being addicted to it; they just act tough and fearless to fit in with the masculine culture of the army. And many other characters in war films aren't addicted to the adrenaline rush of war, but rather they are just psychopaths who get off on killing and violence. For example the platoon leader in Platoon.

William James in The Hurt Locker is genuinely addicted to thrill of war. He's not faking it, he's not just a psycho who likes to kill people, he's not deranged. He's an otherwise normal man who is hooked on the rush of warzones.

B.J. said...

Jamie Foxx in Jarhead wasn't some random grunt trying to act macho, he was the Staff Sergeant and leader of the scout Sniper unit. He explicitly stated that he "loved this job." Every character in that movie was psyched as hell about being in a war.

You seem to be altering the facts, or are merely ignorant of them, in order to support your conclusion, which bizarrely seems to be that the "adrenaline rush of war" and "violence and killing" are somehow unrelated.

The sniper wants to shoot people in the head, the engineer wants to disarm bombs; it's the same thing. They're both putting their lives on the line, "staring death in the face" blah blah blah. We're arguing semantics.

The bottom line is the message of a movie isn't what the director says it is, it's what the audience takes away from it.

Anonymous said...

Movies are purely for entertainment and if they make us "think" a bit, well that's fine. Best Actress, Actor, etc. doesn't mean you gotta like the movie. It credits the actor with a job well done. I think Bob and a few others are forgetting that.

Anonymous said...

No, you are forgetting (to paraphrase you) that it (the award) credits the actor for a job done BETTER than the other nominees. I don't think Bob and a few others are forgetting that...

Vincent said...

"the message of a movie isn't what the director says it is, it's what the audience takes away from it."

That's what the postmodernists say, but they're wrong. We can objectively assess the meaning of a film. For example, if I were to conclude that the message of Avatar is "big corporations ought to exploit the environment", I would be objectively incorrect.

Jarhead isn't really a good example of a war film because it didn't actually contain much warfare. Most of the film was about a bunch of bored soldiers sitting around in the desert, trying to pass the time and hoping to see a little action. For Jamie Foxx to say "I love my job" in that context is pretty unimpressive.

If you look at films that actually depict full-on warfare, you'll see that most of the characters who seem to love war actually just love killing people. There IS a difference. The psychos (like the platoon leader in Platoon) who enjoy killing on the battlefield would also enjoy killing off the battlefield. They get a kick out of ending people's lives or doing violence to others. They're the kind of people who probably torture animals for a laugh. But William James does not fit that mould. He genuinely likes war. It's not the fact that he gets to kill people or commit violent acts, it's that his life is on the line and he's getting a huge adrenaline hit every time he puts himself in harm's way. See the distinction?