June 24, 2009
Double Down Oscars
Some interesting news today: the Academy decided to double the number of nominees for Best Picture this year from 5 to 10. So all those movies that you love but you know are never ever in a million years going to be considered for an Oscar? They could actually get in.
This move was probably prompted by last year's race, in which no Best Picture nominee was particularly successful at the box office. Slumdog did well for an independent, but other than that, there was stuff like Frost/Nixon and The Reader. The movie industry is probably worried about alienating those few remaining Americans that still purchase actual movie tickets, because those people tend to be interested in movies like The Dark Knight, and are less enthusiastic about The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
In the spirit of the announcement, here are 5 movies that have come out in the first half of this year that I'd love to see get a nomination, which in any other year probably wouldn't stand a chance once Shutter Island and A Serious Man and Ninja Assassin hit:
Adventureland. Funny, sweet, subtle, and smart. Anyone who has ever had an unrequited crush can get into this movie. Killer soundtrack and outstanding cast, especially Martin Starr and, surprise, Ryan Reynolds.
Goodbye Solo. So minimal you hardly realize anything is happening until you get to the end and your mind is blown.
The Girlfriend Experience. Hell, maybe. It's one of Soderbergh's better small movies, quietly moving and sadder than you think it's going to be. I can't get behind the stunt casting at the center of the movie, but it still holds up.
Drag Me to Hell. If there were awards for Best Genre Picture, this would be it. Hands down the funniest, grossest, most rollicking good time of a horror movie I've seen in forever. It's like Sam Raimi finally got to do all the awesomely sick stuff he's been saving up over 6 years of Spider-Man. Freaking fantastic. Like coming home again for horror fans.
Moon. This movie uses some ideas from 2001, Alien, Sunshine, and sort of Nabokov's Despair, but somehow still goes somewhere new and original. Sam Rockwell deserves a Best Actor nomination for creating more than one completely believable and engaging performance while acting in a vacuum on a big empty set. An unsettling exploration of what it would be like to encounter yourself, then discover that you're actually sort of a jerk.
There will be a lot more good movies this year, but this decision opens up the awards to lot of interesting stuff that would otherwise get overlooked. As the President of the Academy said, "Who knows, there might even be a comedy."
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