2. The Informant
3. The Lovely Bones
4. Untitled Clint Eastwood (now titled "Invictus")
5. The Boat That Rocked
with the alternates of:
1. Inglourious Basterds
2. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
3. The Road
4. Stutter Island
5. Away We Go
We're just over halfway into the movie year, most of those movies have yet to be released and already, there's obvious changes to be made. Unfortunately, not because great movies have been released. Starting at the bottom, "Away We Go" got some great reviews, but has been soon forgotten. The trailer for "Stutter Island" makes the film look mediocre at best. The buzz is still strong for "The Road." "Kavalier & Clay" still hasn't started production. And, unless QT makes a major save, "Inglourious Basterds" will not leave much of a mark.
Moving on to my gut instinct picks, "The Boat That Rocked" has already been released in most other countries and has gotten decent reviews, but whether that translates to U.S. appeal remains to be seen. "Invictus" is a question mark, just like "Million Dollar Baby" was a few years back. I'm still liking "Lovely Bones" chances, along with "Nine", even if it does look like "Chicago Part II". "The Informant" looks like a terrific film, sort of like a "Thank You for Smoking" about corn.
This may not sound like a lot of changes, especially since I still consider four of my five picks to still be serious contenders. But it's the OTHER six nominees that are going to throw people for a loop. If there aren't 10 "serious" films to consider, where are the other nominations going to go. THAT'S where things get interesting. What you are likely to begin to see are movies that people "loved", as opposed to "respected". Pixar's "Up" is likely to benefit from the new rules and that was everyone's first comment. But there are other non-Best Picture type films that could slip in. There's even talk about a movie like "The Hangover" slipping in if it's a particularly weak year. Something people really enjoyed. There's some buzz that J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" is a strong possibility, particularly since the DVD should be out around Christmas and hitting F5 on the voters' memory. Even the early buzz on the latest "Harry Potter" has people wondering if it could sneak in. But let's SERIOUSLY look at that for a moment.
It January 2010. The day of the nominations. And the nominees for Best Picture are...(Do me a favor and read this OUT LOUD)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Hurt Locker
If THAT were the list, any takers that a 10 nomination list would be a one year and out deal?
The big problem is that this was simply the wrong year to try it out. While there are a few Oscar winning directors putting out films this year (Scorsese, Coppola, Eastwood, Jackson, Cameron, Howard, the Coen brothers, Ang Lee, Mendes, Zemeckis), for the most part, outside of Eastwood and Jackson, they aren't doing Oscar type films.
Wow. I keep re-reading that list of directing firepower and can't BELIEVE only two of them are doing films worth considering for an Oscar list. Okay, Mendes did "Away We Go", probably to cheer up from the uber-depressing "Revolutionary Road" and Zemeckis' take on "A Christmas Carol" with Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman does sound intriguing. But Scorsese is doing strange thriller. Coppola is doing whatever the hell he wants and who cares if anyone else cares. Cameron is probably either going to kill his career forever or establish himself as a total visionary. Howard did "Angels and Demons". 'nuff said. The Coen brothers seem to be remaking "You, Me & Dupree". Ang Lee is getting awful notices for his Woodstock film. All we need is Spielberg and Polanski and it's every Best Director winner of the last 15 years. This year should have been better. But it's not. And trying to come up with an additional 5 Best Picture nominees will be a stretch.
What they should have done is changed Best Picture to be more like the new rules for Best Song. In order for a song to be nominated, it must received at least 8.5 percent of the vote. Make it 20 percent for picture and I'm there. Remember, they pick 5 on their ballots, so 20 percent is not too hard. But it will make it a LOT more interesting. There could theoretically be as many as 25 Best Picture nominees, if each received the exact same number of votes. Let's see the Oscar prognosticators try and guess who would win there.
Right now, I'm just hoping "Avatar" bombs and Kathryn Bigelow's rides the huge wave of buzz for "The Hurt Locker" and sweeps so she can give Cameron the finger from the podium and apologize for making "Point Break".