Some Random Thoughts About the Oscars

I'm surprised to realize it's time for the Oscars already. It doesn’t seem like a year since the last ones but I guess that's just one symptom of getting old. I've talked about some of the Oscar contenders at length in previous columns and this week I've also got a brief rundown, essentially one paragraph reviews, on all ten of the main picks.

Avatar – recycled story but visuals are a spectacle. Extremely popular film, much loved by many. Looked down upon by quite a few as a retelling of everything from Fern Gully to Pocahontas.

Blind Side – could not bring myself to see this film. The previews looked super schmaltzy and made me cringe. Word from my readers is that it is super schmaltzy but also very good and Sandra Bullock deserves an award.

District 9 – Still haven't had a chance to see it but have heard it is extremely good. In fact I've heard it is what Avatar should be. It has a message without being preachy and annoying.

An Education – excellent film, very well done but such a small story. When this movie ended I thought, that's it? That's the whole plot? I'm surprised the film is doing so well. Carey Mulligan, the young lady who plays the lead deserves some sort of award as she gives a tremendous performance.

The Hurt Locker – fantastic film, extremely powerful and heartbreaking. It could win and I hope it does, although I also really like Precious. The Hurt Locker really made it clear why so many soldiers returning from the Middle East have PTSD and can't stop expecting violence from every quarter. If you haven't seen it you should.

Precious – same as Hurt Locker but hit even more home. (Except not the Middle East thing, more like expect danger from walking into your apartment.) I was filled with rage through most of the film. Would love to see Gabourey Sidibe, the young lady who plays Precious get some recognition for her subtle, nuanced performance.

A Serious Man – Did not see and can't remember hearing about it. I feel kind of bad that a film good enough to be up for an Oscar made no impression on me whatsoever. Oops.

Up – there's no denying this movie is loads of fun but really, both best picture and best animated? Isn't that a little much? Also don’t talking dogs automatically disqualify a movie from the Best Picture award?

Up in the Air – everyone loves George Clooney and a story about losing your job hits home for a lot of people.

Inglourious Basterds surprised me in that it was more serious than I expected. I thought it was going to be all massive blood and over the top violence but Christoph Waltz made this film. His performance is incredible. He is just as chilling as Javier Bardem was in No Country for Old Men, albeit in a different way.

And on a different note, every year I do a rundown of the films up for the Short Film (Animated) category and this year is no different. There are five films nominated in this category, many of them focusing on the theme of death.

In French Roast by Fabrice O. Joubert a proud businessman gets into trouble when he realizes too late he's forgotten is wallet. He buys one more cup of coffee while he tries to figure out what to do… The theme of this eight minute film seems to be that you can't judge people based on their appearances.

Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty is a short film from Ireland directed by Nicky Phelan and produced by Darragh O’Connell. An angry grandmother with some forgiveness issues tells the story of Sleeping Beauty to her terrified grandchild. This short made me laugh quite a bit. It's done in two very different styles of animation, one for the story within the story and one for the narrator and grandchild. I would love to see more from this team.

The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte) is written and directed by Javier Recio Gracia. An elderly widow becomes the goal in a war between the grim reaper and a heroic doctor determined to save her at all costs. A cute and charming look at a difficult medical issue.

Brought to us by the H5 group, Logorama is a film set in a world populated completely by logos. Corporate sponsorship has gone made with the entire terrain made up of familiar logos. There is a hostage crisis in this film, as well as animals running amuck. I wasn't able to find the entire film online but you can watch the trailer here at the official site.

Nick Park is once again up for an Academy Award with his new Wallace and Gromit short film, A Matter of Loaf and Death. In this story Wallace and Gromit are bakers, which of course means trouble is coming for bakers in general. Sure enough a serial killer attacks and hijinks ensue.

Which short do I think will win? Most likely Logorama, simply because it always seems to be the one I like the least (no offense, H5.) Although Nick Park has successfully taken home the prize in the past, so there is hope for him. I think this year my favorite is the cranky grandmother who changes Sleeping Beauty to suit her fancy.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from DC who writes in to say, "The Marriage Ref is a stinker. Did someone forget to flush? LOL." Do you have a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me for consideration. You can reach me at