Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Oscar time again

Maybe it’s because the Oscars got it so very right last year—so far as I was concerned—but I find it hard to work up any great enthusiasm for this year’s awards. More entertaining than the announcement of the nominees was the bizarre response by Ms. Talking Head on CNN, who claimed that the real shocker was that there were ten movies nominated for Best Picture this year. Either she is remarkably ill-informed or she has just gotten used to trying to make the uninteresting sound interesting and newsworthy that she knows no better. I mean, this ten nominees idea has been pretty well known for some considerable time.

Anyway, this year we do have ten (count ‘em, 10) Best Picture nominees—five of which apparently directed themselves, since we do not have ten Best Director nominees. Those Oscar folks—what a bunch of cut-ups. I’m not in the least surprised that my choices for Best Picture are ill-represented. In fact, that offers me a degree of comfort. When I start thinking like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I’ll know I’ve been doing this too long. If anything I’m a little surprised that three of my ten best picks are among then nominees. That those titles came in at the bottom of my list, on the other hand, doesn’t surprise me.

So what we end up with are Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglouorious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up and Up in the Air. Of those, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, A Serious Man and Up seem to have arrived at greatness without benefit of a filmmaker. Of the overall ten, only two are actually embarassing choices. There is something to be said for that.

Taking the nominated films alphabetically, we get the embarassments out of the way pretty quickly—starting with Avatar. Yes, it’s made a ton of money and it’s been sitting at the top of the box office for weeks now (not that the challengers have been all that challenging), but that hardly makes it Best Picture material. Strip the film of its technical accomplishments—which, frankly, strike me as overrated—and what do you really have? The story is a hackneyed collection of cliches held together by bad dialogue and rampant predictability. Divorced from the technical aspects of motion-capture and 3D, what exactly is remarkable about James Cameron’s direction? It’s workmanlike and he manages to construct fairly coherent action scenes (the latter is admittedly increasingly rare these days), but remakable? Oscar-worthy?

And then there’s John Lee Hancock’s The Blind Side. What is there to say about this as an Oscar nominee? It’s nothing more than a standard issue uplifting sports movie that happens—as so many of these things are—to be based on a true story. It has an audience, sure, but so did Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I won’t hold it against the film—taken on its own merits—that it’s shamelessly manipulative or that, for all intents and purposes, it emasculates its main character. These things virtually go with the territory. But what about this movie marks it as a Best Picture contender? I suppose it’s Sandra Bullock’s performance that has propelled it to this level, but I don’t see it. (And, frankly, I think Bullock gave better performances in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood [2002] and Infamous [2006].) It’s certainly not the direction. In fact, this may be a case where I could buy the idea that the movie directed itself.

Neil Blomkamp’s District 9 is one of the more surprising films on the list, one of the more interesting ones—and probably the least likely to win. While I wouldn’t have included it myself, I’m not in the least sorry to see it get some measure of recognition. It’s a film that didn’t entirely stick with me—certainly not as much as I expected it to on the one viewing I had—but the fact that an adventurous, allegory-heavy science fiction film with no star power and an unknown director landed a slot on the list is encouraging. That it’s also at least 20 times the film that Avatar is makes its inclusion all the sweeter. That Blomkamp himself was overlooked for a director nod is another matter.

Lone Scherfig’s An Education is another pleasant surprise—complete with director snub—and another very long shot. It’s a good movie that at least flirts with greatness, if only by virtue of its spot-on depiction of pre-Beatles, pre-Swinging England London. The movie gives us an unusual look at the malaise of that period—of the hunger for something to break the dreariness of English middle-class and lower-middle-class life. (If you ever need to understand the line about prefering to stay onboard and defy the law if your option is going to Peckham in Pirate Radio, this film will help.) At the time of the events in An Education,  no one can even think of England in terms of excitement. Its main character, Jenny (Oscar nominated Carey Mulligan), enthuses early on, “I’m going to Paris, and I’m going to smoke and wear black and listen to Jacques Brel,” and that neatly sums up the mindset—a mindset that helped to shape the explosion to come.

Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker was a given for a nomination, as was Bigelow herself. It’s a solid choice and I have nothing against it. I saw it. I admired its boldness. But I wasn’t personally drawn to it in that way that makes me want to see a film a second time. It’s also one of those movies where I can’t quite escape the sense that the importance of the subject matter is getting confused with the importance of the film. Nonetheless, it’s a notable work—and the first film to deal with the war in Iraq to make a dent at the box office—and a worthy addition to the list. I won’t be in its corner for the win, but neither will I be tempted to throw anything at the screen if it does nab the Oscar.

Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds is my personal pick for winning, though I don’t think it will. It’s too personal, too quirky—and cinematically, it’s probably too daring. I don’t mean that it’s hard to follow, but it’s a film that moves at its own pace and that pace varies a good bit depending where you are in the film—and to some degree it depends on what movie or movies Tarantino is referencing. In that respect, the movie is one big movie-geek-a-thon that will mean more to you the geekier you are. (If you identify the clip from Hitchcock’s Sabotage [1936], know who G.W. Pabst was, and recognize the difference between the styles of Sergio Leone and Fritz Lang, you’re pretty high on the geek-o-meter and some kind of Tarantino kindred spirit.) One thing the film is is a very full meal, which is to say you know you’ve really seen something and that what you’ve seen is genuine moviemaking when you exit the theater.

High on the list of inevitable titles was Lee Daniel’s Precious—another film I was supposed to like better than I did. It’s also a good film, but it’s not quite the end-all be-all I’ve seen it portrayed as being. I like the fact that Daniels’ direction is on the fearless side—especially as concerns the seamless insertion of fanatasy sequences, many of which are at once heartbreaking and pointedly satirical. The acting is first-rate and much of the dialogue is very fine. Better still, it’s a movie that refuses to go for easy solutions—or even solutions of any kind. It doesn’t pander to the viewer and it isn’t interested in making you feel good about yourself—nor is it interested in assaulting your tear ducts (yes, I’m looking at you, Blind Side). These things are its strengths, but they may also be the very things that will keep it from winning the Oscar.

One of the bleakest films of the year was the Coen Brothers’ A Serious Man and its nomination feels like paying lip-service to the Coens, especially since they weren’t nominated for the film’s direction. That’s a patently ridiculous snub since so much of what makes A Serious Man work lies in the way the Coens made the film. Its success is so firmly tied to their filmmaking that this one film is the textbook example of why ten film nominations and five director ones is an absurdity. I don’t think modern day variation on the trials of Job stands a hope in hell of picking up Best Picture. It would be slightly ironic to find the Academy rewarding virtue for a movie about God not rewarding virtue.

The animated film Up from co-director-writers Pete Docter and Bob Peterson (who, of course, aren’t nominated for direction) is another fairly dark horse candidate. It wouldn’t have been my choice for an animated film for Best Picture. That would have been Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, but I wouldn’t in the least mind seeing the award go to Up—a film that penetrated even my pretty strong resistance to Pixar. Also, maybe it’s finally time that an animated film did win. Although I didn’t agree with the inclusion of the tepid Princess and the Frog, the very fact that the top three films on Time magazine’s Ten Best list were animated—Princess, Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox—suggests that the perception of animation as being on equal footing with live action filmmaking has arrived. There’s really no reason it shouldn’t be.

For a while Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air was being touted as the most likely Best Picture winner—and George Clooney as the likely winner of a Best Actor award. Well, the film and Clooney—and director Reitman—are all in the running, but the idea that any of these wins is a lock seems to have gone by the wayside. I’m not sure why—except in the case of Clooney who faces strong competition from Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart. One assumes that the people who were predicting its win early on had actually seen Up in the Air and were aware that although the film was being marketed as a comedy, it was actually pretty much of a downer. Oh, there are funny things in it, but I’d hardly call the film comic in overall tone. In fact, it’s perhaps the most deeply sad of the ten films up. It’s not as bleak as A Serious Man, but it lacks that film’s somewhat distancing period setting and its satirical tone. Up in the Air is very much a film of our time and its messages hit uncomfortably close to home. That may not help it with Academy voters.

So those are the ten to choose from. As I said, I’d like to see Inglourious Basterds win, but I don’t think it will. If I were prone to betting, I’d put my money on The Hurt Locker. Am I right? Who knows? Upsets are not unknown—and they might be a little more likely out of a field of ten. Time will tell. And if anyone wants to weigh in with views on the other categories, be my guest.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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29 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Oscar time again

  1. shadmarsh

    I hope Jeff Bridges wins, other than that I don’t really care. oh, and the Coen’s getting snubbed is BS.

  2. Ken Hanke

    I hope Jeff Bridges wins

    I’d be okay with that. I’d be more okay with Colin Firth, but that’s not going to happen.

  3. brianpaige

    Am I one of the few people who thought Inglourious Basterds flat out sucked? I’ve always been hot and cold on the whole Leone style though, at times finding it spellbinding and others simply boring. Maybe I need to watch it again on DVD but here are some major problems I had:

    –The whole revisionist aspect is only clear at the end with the fates of Hitler, etc. Tarantino needed to make it clear from the beginning that this was a wacky alternate universe and not a serious WW2 movie.

    –I don’t see a yokel goof like Pitt’s character being in charge of anyone.

    –Let’s be honest, this film’s marketing was totally misleading. Going in you’d think it was an action packed Dirty Dozen style WW2 movie done Tarantino style. Instead we get half the movie about a Jewish chick running a movie theater, mixed in with a yawn inducing subplot with the German actress and the British plotting against the Nazis. For a movie called Inglourious Basterds it seems like they aren’t IN IT.

    –As part of that last criticism, few of the Basterds themselves leave any impression or are developed at all as characters.

    –The whole revenge plot set up at the beginning goes nowhere. The initial scene is a very personal scene but Shoshanna never really gets even with Col. Landa and that is what the viewer wants to see.

    Anyway as far as what will win, it’ll be Avatar. Sometimes a movie makes so much money that it HAS to win Oscars, and this is one of those cases. District 9 (as well as another film featuring Zoe Saldana, the recent Star Trek) were better sci-fi films in 2009 alone.

  4. Waltz should win for Best Supporting Actor. I think he’s the best bad guy in decades. BASTERDS is what I’m hoping for as well, but I don’t know.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Am I one of the few people who thought Inglourious Basterds flat out sucked?

    Probably not, but you came to the wrong guy to get an agreement.

    Maybe I need to watch it again on DVD but here are some major problems I had:

    If those are problems for you, I don’t see how watching it again is going to do anything other than annoy you anew.

    The whole revisionist aspect is only clear at the end with the fates of Hitler, etc.

    Even if I agreed with that, it rates a big “So?” from me. I don’t find that a problem. And you don’t mean to tell me you went to a Tarantino picture expecting it to be a straightforward anything, do you?

    Anyway as far as what will win, it’ll be Avatar. Sometimes a movie makes so much money that it HAS to win Oscars, and this is one of those cases

    I hope you’re wrong. I’m not sure I’d consider it an appreciably more embarassing choice than, say, Million Dollar Baby was, but I just don’t want to see it happen.

  6. Ken Hanke

    Waltz should win for Best Supporting Actor. I think he’s the best bad guy in decades. BASTERDS is what I’m hoping for as well, but I don’t know.

    I think Waltz will win. I don’t think the film will.

  7. davidf

    This list seems suspiciously calculated to bring in as many viewers as possible, especially because it contains some suspicious foils that might excite a viewing audience that has been trained so well my contemporary media to relish in a good old “smackdown” cage match. I mean THE BLIND SIDE? Really? It seems like the only reason THE BLIND SIDE is in the mix is because it provides a foil for PRECIOUS to create a battle of the important race-related films. While I liked DISTRICT 9 a whole lot, I don’t think it has a chance, and I think it’s only there to bring in all the fan boys who keep blogging about how much better it was than AVATAR. Battle of the politically relevant sci-fi films! It just seems like the selection has less to do with perceived quality and much more to do with what combination will bring in the widest demographic spread of viewers in order to make the Oscars relevant again. I don’t know exactly how the Academy arrives at these nominations, though, so I could be totally off.

    If this analysis has any validity (which I’m really not sure about), the best smack down cage match the Oscars has going for it is AVATAR vs. THE HURT LOCKER. It’s established-white-dude-and-self-proclaimed-king-of-the-world (who already got his at the golden globes) against his x-wife, who if she won best director would be the first woman to do so. In today’s media climate, I’d say THE HURT LOCKER is a shoe-in, because it will provide viewers with the best story. And like you, Ken, if THE HURT LOCKER wins, I won’t through things at the screen. That’s just fine.

    Personally, I’d be happier if THE BROTHERS BLOOM or FANTASTIC MR. FOX won. Since that’s not a possibility, I’m crossing my fingers for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS or UP IN THE AIR.

  8. Ken Hanke

    It just seems like the selection has less to do with perceived quality and much more to do with what combination will bring in the widest demographic spread of viewers in order to make the Oscars relevant again.

    That may well be the intent. I definitely think something is going on here, because the Oscar folks have to be aware that the days of an Oscar win translating into a huge jump at the box office are pretty much behind us. It was losing ground even with my generation and hasn’t entirely worked since the generation before. Of course, the market has changed, too. Thirty years ago or so and Oscar win would mean a re-issue at the box office. Now? Well, several of the nominees are already on home video, so that’s no longer a factor.

    I don’t know exactly how the Academy arrives at these nominations, though, so I could be totally off.

    I understand some of the process, but not all of it and not this part of it. One thing that’s kind of interesting is the fact that An Education was booked into a lot of theaters the day before the nominees were announced, making sure it would re-open the week the announcement was made.

    It’s established-white-dude-and-self-proclaimed-king-of-the-world (who already got his at the golden globes) against his x-wife, who if she won best director would be the first woman to do so. In today’s media climate, I’d say THE HURT LOCKER is a shoe-in, because it will provide viewers with the best story.

    I think that’s how it will play out, but the actual final voting is another matter that oughtn’t be subject to what the Academy would like to see happen.

    Personally, I’d be happier if THE BROTHERS BLOOM or FANTASTIC MR. FOX won.

    Well, yeah, so would I, but it never occurred to me that there was even a chance either would be nominated.

    Since that’s not a possibility, I’m crossing my fingers for INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS or UP IN THE AIR.

    I would be good with either — based on the choices available.

  9. I mean THE BLIND SIDE? Really? It seems like the only reason THE BLIND SIDE is in the mix is because it provides a foil for PRECIOUS to create a battle of the important race-related films.

    MANY people whose opinions I trust like this movie.

    Sandra Bullock should also be noted for getting a Raspberry nomination as well an Oscar nomination in the same year. Is that a first?

  10. Ken Hanke

    MANY people whose opinions I trust like this movie

    I am not among them. Of course, I’m not sure that you trust my opinion either. Still, I’d be surprised if you would even sit through The Blind Side — based on what I know of your tastes.

    Sandra Bullock should also be noted for getting a Raspberry nomination as well an Oscar nomination in the same year. Is that a first?

    Probably not. Surely there was something Eddie Murphy was in on the Raspberry list for the same year he was supposed to be a shoo-in for Dreamgirls.

  11. LYT

    Briampaige – it occurs to me that the problems you had with Basterds were not a misreading – they were, rather, the whole point.

    “—The whole revisionist aspect is only clear at the end with the fates of Hitler, etc. Tarantino needed to make it clear from the beginning that this was a wacky alternate universe and not a serious WW2 movie.”

    I thought it was quite clear from the beginning, via the unusual score choices, the wink-wink transition into English, the Sam Jackson narration, the Stiglitz montage, etc., that this was very self-consciously a MOVIE and not reality — much like the propaganda movies both real and fictional that were referenced within it.

    “—I don’t see a yokel goof like Pitt’s character being in charge of anyone.”

    Indeed – yet another tip-off that this is NOT reality or a serious movie.

    “—Let’s be honest, this film’s marketing was totally misleading. Going in you’d think it was an action packed Dirty Dozen style WW2 movie done Tarantino style. Instead we get half the movie about a Jewish chick running a movie theater, mixed in with a yawn inducing subplot with the German actress and the British plotting against the Nazis. For a movie called Inglourious Basterds it seems like they aren’t IN IT.”

    Misdirection is part of the game here. I understand how that’s frustrating, so maybe a second viewing knowing what to expect would help. It’s like setting up Stilgitz with a whole background montage only to kill him off in short order, and killing Hitler – Tarantino is deliberately messing with your expectations. You can enjoy the fact that he’s doing it, or not.

    Though to be fair, “Tarantino style,” when you think about it, is primarily talk, talk, talk. Only the Kill Bill movies are heavily laden with action.

    “—As part of that last criticism, few of the Basterds themselves leave any impression or are developed at all as characters.”

    True, but I’m happy that at least, say, four of them did.

    “—The whole revenge plot set up at the beginning goes nowhere. The initial scene is a very personal scene but Shoshanna never really gets even with Col. Landa and that is what the viewer wants to see.”

    Again, it’s all about him messing with your expectations. It sucks when a movie can’t satisfy due to ineptitude, but this is a very deliberately thought out directorial choice. Of course, you don’t have to like it.

  12. Ken Hanke

    Though to be fair, “Tarantino style,” when you think about it, is primarily talk, talk, talk. Only the Kill Bill movies are heavily laden with action.

    For me, Inglourious Basterds is the most successful blending of action and talk. (And, no, I still haven’t seen Jackie Brown.) It’s not just that his movies are otherwise “talk, talk, talk,” it’s that they’re cinematically pretty uninteresting to me. Since I never liked Reservoir Dogs, I’ll go straight for a movie that I kind of liked, Pulp Fiction. When it was new and was all the rage, all I could think was, yeah, the dialogue is clever, but it’s presented indifferently for the most part. That was thrown into sharp relief for me with Four Rooms when I could contrast Rodriguez’s flashy, cinematic episode with Tarantino’s — to me — incredibly flatly directed one. (As far as I was concerned, history repeated itself with Grindhouse. I loved Planet Terror, but was mostly bored by Death Proof — even with T. Rex’s “Jeepster” on the soundtrack. I know there are those who prefer Death Proof.)

    The Kill Bill films were revelatory to me as concerns Tarantino’s abilities as a filmmaker, but they work for me mostly in bits and pieces. Basterds delights me pretty much all the way through. It may not make me like Eli Roth (I don’t think that would be possible), but it made me not mind him. That’s a major accomplishment in itself.

  13. I finally saw “District 9” last night, and it’s sticking with me today. A bit heavy on the allegory, and I’m confused why, if the aliens had all those weapons that instantly turned humans into mush, that they put up with being confined in a slum? But I loved the style and roughness of the film.

  14. Ken Hanke

    I’m confused why, if the aliens had all those weapons that instantly turned humans into mush, that they put up with being confined in a slum?

    It’s been a while since I saw the film, but I thought it at least suggested that this was the result of the fact that nearly all those alive on the ship were a very uneducated class.

  15. Bert

    You got it right on Avatar. The thing that bothered me most about it was how cartoonish the villains were. District 9 has the subtlety to have the military industrial pawn become the sympathetic character as tragedy befalls him. Compare the tawdry preaching of the last shot of Avatar with the beautiful tragedy of the last shot in District 9.

  16. Ken Hanke

    Compare the tawdry preaching of the last shot of Avatar with the beautiful tragedy of the last shot in District 9.

    Well, District 9 achieves true emotional resonance because it earns it. Avatar seems to think such resonance is its given right.

  17. Dread P. Roberts

    Just for fun, here’s my quick set of Oscar predictions:

    Best Picture – The Hurt Locker
    (I agree that it should be Inglourious Basterds)

    Director – Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

    Lead Actor – Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

    Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
    (Otherwise, this could potentially be the biggest upset for me.)

    Lead Actress – Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
    (But I’d prefer it go to Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia)

    Supporting Actress – Mo’Nique, Precious
    (I’m really unsure on this one, though)

    Best Animated Film – Up
    (Come on people, do you really think anything else has a chance when this one was nominated for Best Picture? It looks pretty obvious, doesn’t it?)

    Original Screenplay – Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino
    (I think this is Tarantino’s best shot.)

    Adapted Screenplay – Precious, Geoffrey Fletcher

    Original Score – Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders, The Hurt Locker

    Achievement in Art Direction – Avatar
    (However, I can’t tell you how much I’m hoping it’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.)

    Cinematography – The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd

    Documentary – The Cove

    Editing – The Hurt Locker, Bob Murawski and Chris Innis

    Visual Effects – Avatar
    (I’m pretty sure those other guys already know they’re screwed on this one.)

  18. Ken Hanke

    Lead Actress – Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
    (But I’d prefer it go to Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia)

    I’d prefer Carey Mulligan, An Education, but it’s not going to happen. Then again, I haven’t seen Helen Mirren in The Last Station, though that will change this week or next.

    Supporting Actress – Mo’Nique, Precious
    (I’m really unsure on this one, though)

    Oh, I think that one’s a lock.

    Best Animated Film – Up
    (Come on people, do you really think anything else has a chance when this one was nominated for Best Picture? It looks pretty obvious, doesn’t it?)

    I’m pulling for Fantastic Mr. Fox, though this wouldn’t surprise me or upset. The Princess and the Frog would upset me.

    Adapted Screenplay – Precious, Geoffrey Fletcher

    Actually, I think Nick Hornby might get this for An Education.

    Original Score – Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders, The Hurt Locker

    I’m guessing Michael Giacchino for Up — and I’m hoping that, too.

    Cinematography – The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd

    I don’t see why, but it wouldn’t surprise me. In a just world, this’d go to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

    Documentary – The Cove

    I don’t know. I’ve been quite surprised how highly regarded Food Inc is.

  19. Dread P. Roberts

    I’d prefer Carey Mulligan, An Education

    I should clarify that I haven’t yet seen An Education. It sounds interesting, though, and I certainly do plan on seeing it.

    I don’t see why, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    My theory with the Oscars is that there are always of couple of ‘throw away’ awards (if you will) that go to the best picture candidate, simply to help establish the said film as being fully worthy of the best picture nod. Now, I might be putting a bit too much thought into this, but my theory is that the categories that fall into this trap, are often the ones that everyday folk are most likely to be somewhat vague as to what exactly it means. Therefore, the average viewer will not feel that the award went to the wrong people. Then, when the best picture is announced, the viewers will feel that surely it must be worthy because it “won all those other categories”. That is my thought process behind a few of these categories. Of course it doesn’t always pan out that way.

    I don’t know. I’ve been quite surprised how highly regarded Food Inc is.

    I’ve gotta admit, I thought The Cove was a much better movie in every regard. Maybe it’s because I’ve heard big chunks of it before, but Food, Inc. just didn’t fully do it for me. The part that I can remember fully enjoying (and found interesting) was the part where they are talking about the excessive use of corn. But (for me) the majority just fell into the usual, somewhat boring pitfalls of a documentary. When all is said and done, there’s no comparison in my mind.

  20. Ken Hanke

    I should clarify that I haven’t yet seen An Education. It sounds interesting, though, and I certainly do plan on seeing it

    Well, it’s reappeared at the Carolina, but I think it goes to three shows a day come Friday.

    My theory with the Oscars is that there are always of couple of ‘throw away’ awards (if you will) that go to the best picture candidate, simply to help establish the said film as being fully worthy of the best picture nod. Now, I might be putting a bit too much thought into this, but my theory is that the categories that fall into this trap, are often the ones that everyday folk are most likely to be somewhat vague as to what exactly it means.

    I wasn’t really questioning your choice. I was more questioning the possible legitimate reason why it would win, since there’s really nothing visually remarkable about the film.

    I’ve gotta admit, I thought The Cove was a much better movie in every regard

    Not that I have any even slight desire to watch either one again, but I’d agree with that assessment. I’m merely commenting on the — to me — surprising number of accolades Food Inc has picked up.

  21. Dread P. Roberts

    Well, it’s reappeared at the Carolina, but I think it goes to three shows a day come Friday.

    If it was another time, then I would strongly consider going to see this. But (as usual) given my situation, I’m forced to choose just one movie. There’s no question that this week belongs to The Wolfman! I’m in total movie-geek mode right now; watching a plethora of older werewolf movies every night. (My poor wife)

    Not that I have any even slight desire to watch either one again

    I think you know where I stand on re-watching documentaries more than once. But I’ll give you a hint – I don’t do it. Sometimes I step back in astonishment at the number of docs that I’ve opted to even rent for one viewing. Perhaps it’s that I simply enjoy absorbing random bits of knowledge, even if the fantastical is far more to my liking.

  22. Ken Hanke

    There’s no question that this week belongs to The Wolfman! I’m in total movie-geek mode right now; watching a plethora of older werewolf movies every night.

    Oddly, I’ve limited myself just to the original 1941 Wolf Man. I don’t care that much for the other Chaney werewolf movies, though House of Dracula has much to recommend it, albeit no werewolf mayhem (the production code would never have allowed that, given the ending of the film). And I’ve avoided Werewolf of London simply because I like it so much that I think it might weigh too heavily against the new film if I see it in close proximity. I suppose I could try Curse of the Werewolf again, but it always seems sluggish to me,

    I think you know where I stand on re-watching documentaries more than once. But I’ll give you a hint – I don’t do it.

    Well, I’ve seen The Times of Harvey Milk and Dear Jesse multiple times, but the latter is colored because I know the filmmaker. I’d watch the 1970ish documentary on Warner Bros. again, except that it doesn’t seem to exist. Ditto on Bryan Forbes’ Say Goodbye Norma Jean Elton John documentary from around 1974 — a film so obscure that it isn’t even listed in either man’s credits.

  23. Dread P. Roberts

    And I’ve avoided Werewolf of London simply because I like it so much that I think it might weigh too heavily against the new film if I see it in close proximity.

    I just watched Werewolf of London last night. I’m not so much intending to form any comparisons in quality, as I am hoping to catch onto any possible subtle winks at the audience, that extend beyond the original Wolf Man. My expectation is for there to be pluses and minuses in The Wolf Man for different reasons. I certainly don’t expect the same level of zany fun that was in Werewolf of London, but if there was a brief moment with two goofy old drunk sisters sitting at a bar rambling on, then I would be a happy camper. (Probably more so than any self-respecting man should be, but I don’t care in the least.)

  24. Ken Hanke

    I just watched Werewolf of London last night. I’m not so much intending to form any comparisons in quality, as I am hoping to catch onto any possible subtle winks at the audience, that extend beyond the original Wolf Man.

    Reasonable, though in the case of that film, I don’t think you could throw anything at me I wouldn’t get. I once wrote a very long article analyzing the film. Come to think of it, I’ve written fair sized articles on The Wolf Man and House of Dracula. I had completely forgotten that last till this very minute.

    The problem for me is that so far as I’m concerned Werewolf of London is the ne plus ultra of werewolf movies. I’m actually glad they’re remaking the very flawed The Wolf Man and not it. That said, if Mrs. Moncaster and Mrs. Whack were to show up in the new film, I’d be charmed by the inclusion.

  25. The problem for me is that so far as I’m concerned Werewolf of London is the ne plus ultra of werewolf movies.
    Oh. For a minute there, I thought a Warren Zevon discussion had sprung up.

  26. Ken Hanke

    Oh. For a minute there, I thought a Warren Zevon discussion had sprung up.

    If memory serves, his werewolves were plural.

  27. DrSerizawa

    At least James Cameron proved that John Carpenter was wrong. You CAN polish a turd. “Avatar” puts that age old question to rest finally.

    And thanks, Ken, for easing my mind. I wasn’t sure whether I was a movie geek or not but I can tell the difference in style between Sergio Leone and Fritz Lang.

  28. Ken Hanke

    At least James Cameron proved that John Carpenter was wrong. You CAN polish a turd. “Avatar” puts that age old question to rest finally

    Proving, I guess, that every cloud has a silver lining — or maybe it’s tin foil.

    but I can tell the difference in style between Sergio Leone and Fritz Lang.

    But did you identify the Sabotage clip and know who G.W. Pabst was? That may not be the acid test, but it’d increase your score. Then again, there are almost certainly references in the film I don’t get, since Tarantino is up on movies I don’t go in for in many cases.

  29. jimmytwotimes

    Waltz for Best supporting, of course. Its not often these days I enjoy the bad guy so much. I think the last time an actor made me feel that way was Nicholson in Batman. The movie as a whole, however, left me slightly wanting. I think I wanted each of the stories a little more fleshed out, but it was an enjoyable experience nonetheless.
    For my part, I think Up should win best picture. It transported me back to the ten year old that went to the movies and had an adventure. I could use a little more of that from time to time.

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