Title: Oscar reactions
Posted: March 08, 2010 (04:20 PM)
Not totally surprised Avatar didn't win best picture. As much as I liked the movie, I will concede that the acting and the writing are not so spectacular. I mentioned in a previous blog that a lot of the reason I liked it was the particular fairy tale story it uses, which is practically designed to fill you with lots of strong emotions as long as it's executed well enough, which Avatar was.
I saw Hurt Locker, the winner, and while the acting is certainly better than Avatar, I don't think it deserved to win. My reaction to Hurt Locker was that it was a movie with a lot of potential that never really reaches it. The acting is great despite being filled with nobodies, but it's poorly paced, has no real plot, and ultimately doesn't amount to much beyond the hackneyed "war is hell" motif.
I think District 9 deserved it. Highly original, action-packed, but also very intelligent, loaded with meaning, and much more nuanced than both Avatar and Hurt Locker. I didn't know what to expect when I started watching that movie, but I think there's pretty much nothing else like it.
I didn't see the other two movies.
Posted: March 08, 2010 (04:28 PM)
I pity the fool who picks District 9 over Hurt Locker. Let me tell you somethin', sucka, when I was a kid, I ate three square meals a day: oatmeal, cornmeal, and no meal. That has nothing to do with anythang, chump, but yo' up-talk's deservin' of my bitch slap, so do a barrel or somethin', jigga.
Posted: March 08, 2010 (05:47 PM)
> I didn't see the other two movies.
You mean the other seven movies? There were 10 nominees:
"Avatar," "The Blind Side," "District 9," "An Education," "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," "Precious," "A Serious Man," "Up" and "Up in the Air."
I've seen 7 out of the 10. I haven't seen Up, A Serious Man or The Blind Side.
I think Hurt Locker and Jarhead have been the best 2 Iraq war movies I've seen so far. There have been a lot of others that in retrospect, really sucked - like The Kingdom.
I found Hurt Locker to be the first of these films which got into the business of being an expertly crafted film without being bogged down in expositional stuff about the war itself. I imagine it's probably taken the slogging along of the other 6+ movies to digest this material, so that we're able to reach this point. I agree with you in that I don't feel it's a world-ending Best Film, but that's often the case with the Oscars.
I don't agree that it has 'no real plot' or 'ultimately doesn't amount to much beyond the hackneyed "war is hell" motif.'
First I think people bandy around talk of things having no plot way too often these days. The same way teens on IMDB call everything a cliche if they've even encountered it once before. Or the way you have called the 'war is hell' motif hackneyed :)
Hurt Locker is definitely episodic, but not in the sense that you could arrange the episodes in any order and have the same film. It has a good dynamic where the guy is established as a maverick, you see him put his coworkers in danger, then more danger, then (erased for spoiler protection)
I agree with you on District 9 - it's a killer film and hugely original. I had a feeling when I was watching it that I could never have come up with all this. It's not like I even raise that issue with every film I watch, but I was in awe while watching it.
Posted: March 08, 2010 (06:23 PM)
The Hurt Locker is definitely episodic, though I think you got the movie's message completely wrong. It's not that war is hell, it's that "war is a drug," as the opening title card says. It's a completely different take on war than I've seen in any movie so far. If anything, the movie tried to sell war as a genuinely exhilarating experience.
My take on the movie? Good, but certainly not the best of the year. And while I'll take it winning Best Picture, it's absolutely ludicrous that it also beat Inglourious Basterds for screenplay, especially with the David Morse "hot shit" scene. Though I'm glad Avatar only won for technical stuff, since, let's face it, that was the only particularly good thing about the movie.
I'd have gone with Basterds (my favorite movie of 2009) but I also loved District 9, and it's a shame that one walked away with nothing at all. Waltz deserved his award, definitely.
Posted: March 09, 2010 (02:39 PM)
Yeah, I actually didn't know that there were 10 nominees. I just knew that Hurt Locker, Avatar, and District 9 were all up for the award, and for some reason I thought there were only two other nominees. Although those are the only movies I've seen, I think I was actually expecting the award to go to one of the movies I didn't see. I knew Avatar wouldn't get it, I didn't think Hurt Locker was that great, and I thought District 9 would be overlooked (which I think it was).
I guess episodic is another way of looking at it. The logical connection from scene to scene does feel much more tenuous than I would expect from a movie, and most of them are more or less self-contained. I get what you're saying about the thematic connections though. To some extent I even interpreted it as some sort of technique to make it seem more realistic by not really having the usual movie-like continuity.
I think the "war is hell" motif comes off as hackneyed because it's almost inevitably part of any war movie or show made after the 1950's, 60's, maybe 70's. Certainly when I think of movies like Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, Black Hawk Down, and especially Fullmetal Jacket, that's the main thing I remember about them.
Maybe it's just a stereotype for war movies, but it would still take a pretty exceptional case to really transcend it, and I don't think Hurt Locker is exceptional in that respect. "War is hell" is definitely part of it, and I wouldn't even say it's merely secondary. At the very least, it coexists with any other message in the movie, and I would even say that Hurt Locker was more forceful and ambitious than some of the other movies I mentioned about trying to get this across - I think of the man strapped to a bomb who James tried to save but there was nothing he could do, the fear and uncertainty they felt at any observing local, the dead child with the bomb in his body, and Sanborn crying and saying "I hate this place." I felt they tried to convey this message in a way specific to modern warfare rather war in general.
Posted: March 10, 2010 (11:51 AM)
"The Hurt Locker" creates a sense of time and place and danger like few other movies. For that reason, it deserves its Best Picture win and its place among the best war movies of all time.
Personally, I think "District 9" is one of the worst Best Picture noms in a while. (It is only outclassed by last year's "Benjamin Button".) It's not a bad movie, but it's not great science-fiction either. "Moon" was more deseving, I believe. "Watchmen" was also a much better movie along the sci-fi/comic line, something that will become a "Blade Runner" for our generation. Shame that it was forgotten by the academy. :-/