Oscar gold stained by 'Avatar' blue

George Clooney in "Up in the Air" (Photo courtesy of imdb.com).
George Clooney in "Up in the Air" (Photo courtesy of imdb.com).

By Nick Stanojevic
Staff Writer
The 82nd Oscars are here, and they are already off to a better start than the 81st. The hosting combination of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin should be hilarious together, and the race is much closer than in previous years. Last year, anybody with eyes could predict all of the winners except for Best Actor. Everyone knew Vietnamese to get her Oscar. Only the Best Actor category was a toss up  between Mickey Rourke and Sean Penn, which was justified because nobody had any doubts the year before after watching Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will be Blood” (I DRINK YOURRRR MILKSHAKKKEEE!!!!).  This year, no clear favorite exists for most of the awards, making the Oscars the most exciting event of the year (yeah, my family isn’t big on Christmas).
First, allow me to debunk the myth that “Avatar” was the year’s best film.
Call me a traditionalist, conservative or just dumb; it doesn’t matter, but “Avatar” was not the best movie of 2009. It’s a popcorn flick that stretches for more than two hours and 40 minutes, essentially defeating its own purpose. There is nothing wrong with movies that take forever: epics like “The Godfather,” “The Deer Hunter” and “Seven Samurai” come to mind. “Avatar,” however, avoids being a drama with a legitimate plot and script. It fails to engage a viewer the way these films do.”Avatar” is just “Dances with Wolves” plus a lot of technology and blue . If I were Kevin Costner, I would be pulling out my skills from “Wyatt Earp” and using them on “Avatar.”
Additionally, The script of “Avatar” is nearly as bad as the “Transformers”  script : the character development feels forced, and the acting is not real, regardless of what James Cameron and the actors might say. Having your actions replicated into a blue Avatar is not acting. I am sure those “actors” did not worry about wasting money on film since they had Tiger Woods-like money to spend (don’t worry, they only had one love story but even that was one too many). For $15 , I needed to be completely blown away. When you want people to pay more money to see your movie, I had better be as ravaged as I was when I first saw “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Needless to say, I wasn’t.
Many might be wondering now, “Who do you think deserves Best Picture, then?”
The answer is “Up in the Air.”
“Up in the Air” was a favorite to win Best Picture since the summertime when suddenly, its publicity was lost amidst the blue people (by the way, doesn’t Sam Worthington’s avatar look like Sean Penn in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High?”).  “Up in the Air,” however, succeeds where “Avatar” fails.
The movie is a lot like its main actor, George Clooney: mature, stern, subtle and mysterious, but at the same time humorous. The film is also helped a lot by the fact that Clooney gave a terrific performance and that his fellow cast members, Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, delivered solid  performances.
The script for “Up in the Air” is very fitting; after all, it was written by Jason Reitman, director of “Juno”  and writer-director of “Thank you for Smoking.”  “Up in the Air” is perfect for its time, a film about unemployment and downsizing in a time of…unemployment and downsizing — who would have thought that simplicity could work?
In the acting categories, Jeff Bridges is the favorite to win Best Actor for his performance in “Crazy Heart,” but Clooney delivered a better performance—contrary to what many believe. Clooney played a unique role that will likely never be duplicated. I had never seen a character whose job it is to travel around the country and fire people.
“Heart’s” story is just like the other 1,000 movies that went the same way before it . Main character, Bad Blake, is a run-down alcoholic country singer with a crazy life style that has prevented him from seeing his son since he was four and then Blake might be getting another chance and is using Maggie Gyllenhall’s character, Jean Craddock, to revive himself and yeah, the same movie you’ve seen a thousand times. Heart feels like it is trying to duplicate “The Wrestler,” which follows a very similar pattern and relies on a brilliant performance from Mickey Rourke.  Unfortunately, “Heart” fails to prevail the way “The Wrestler” does. “Wrestler” was, after all, directed by master Darren Aronofsky.  Aronofsky amazed with “Requiem For A Dream,” “The Fountain,” and “Pi.”  “Heart” was solid, as was Bridges, it was not worthy of any Oscars.  Regardless, Bridges will win the Oscar, since this is his fifth nomination and would be his first victory, as opposed to Clooney’s one previous win.
For Best Actress, there is almost no debate amongst all experts: Sandra Bullock should run away with the Oscar this year. Bullock is receiving a large amount of praise for her performance as Leigh Anne Tuohy in “The Blind Side,” and rightfully so. Bullock delivered a better performance than Meryl Streep in “Julie and Julia.” The only other actress being talked about is Gabourey Sidibe, who plays the role of Precious in “Precious.”
With that said, Bullock’s performance was not “legendary” as some critics are saying.  Bullock is a beneficiary of a year that was very good for actresses but not excellent by any means.  If Streep has only won two Oscars for her 15 nominations, I doubt that she will win on her 16th nomination for just an okay performance in “Julie and Julia.”  I was shocked to see Bullock deliver a strong performance; I must have been blinking in between Bullock’s old movies like “Fire on the Amazon” and “Two if by Sea” and “The Blind Side.”
The Oscars for supportive acting have been decided for months now. Ever since I first saw “Inglorious Basterds” in August, I was convinced that Chrispoh Waltz deserved the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor; I haven’t changed my mind, and I would be shocked if anyone disagreed with this opinion.
Mo'nique in "Precious" (Photo courtesy of imdb.com).
Mo'nique in "Precious" (Photo courtesy of imdb.com).

Best Supporting Actress belongs to Mo’Nique for her role in “Precious” (I know, I am just as shocked to be writing this as R.P. McMurphy in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”). Mo’Nique’s performance was superb and just edged out Farmiga for the award. From the moment Mo’Nique’s character, Mary, is on the screeen until the end, the viewer absolutely hates her. After the first time Mary hits Precious or every time she yells at Precious to drop out of school and apply for Welfare, the audience absolutely hates Mo’Nique. But that is the definition of good acting, and fortunately it was just acting.  Penelope Cruz won this award last year, but there is no way that she is going to repeat this year despite getting nominated for her role in “Nine.” Kendrick was just a step behind the competition, although her role as Natalie in “Up in the Air” was perfect for her, and she performed it well. Maggie Gyllenhaal was okay in “Crazy Heart,” but her nomination looks like it served only to fill that fifth slot.
Two less popular but still very important awards that should be looked out for are Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay. The latter should belong to “Up in the Air” since Reitman’s writing is perfect at almost all times. The competition is also pretty weak. The only nominee that could sneak a victory is “Precious.”  “Precious” manages to maintain proper tone for all the different characters and their constant evolving. The story seems out there to suburbanites like you and I but the well crafted script managed to prevent the story from getting too out of hand.  In that sense, the film reminded me of “Forrest Gump.”  With that said, “Up in the Air” is a stronger all around script without a doubt.
Best Original Screenplay is a very close race, on the other hand, and could go either way.  Most people agree that “Inglorious Basterds” has a great script that was perfectly executed. The excellence of the script is no surprise since it was crafted by the master hands of Quentin Tarantino.  With that said, this race should be interesting since “Inglorious Basterds” is based off the Italian movie … “Inglorious Basterds.”  Many Academy members find it questionable that the movie is even in the original screenplay category instead of adapted.
In addition to that, Tarantino has already won an Oscar for his writing of “Pulp Fiction.”  Typically, the Academy prefers to spread awards to more people rather than allow for one person to always win; this can, of course, cause much controversy. After all, Paul Newman’s only Oscar was for “The Color of Money,” but I will let that one slide.
This logic, however, also works for the second-best screenplay this year: “A Serious Man,” written by the Coen Brothers. The Brothers   have already won writing Oscars for “Fargo” and “No Country for Old Men.” This leaves “The Hurt Locker,” “The Messenger” and “Up” in the running. While “The Hurt Locker” is a phenomenal film (better than “Avatar”) and is by many people’s polls a front-runner for Best Picture, the film deserves a writing Oscar as much as Stephanie Meyer deserves wealth . The script is not as great as the cinematography, realness and uniqueness of the film. Nobody is picking “The Messenger” to win, although Woody Harrelson gave a great performance.
And if “Up” wins, I will cease watching movies forever. How can an animated film even be in the same category as a film like “Basterds” or “Man? ” How do you judge the script of an animated movie? Is it good if it doesn’t confuse the little kid  and all of Prospect that’s watching it? It makes no sense whatsoever, although the film was… survivable.
Many of you likely don’t care about the Oscars or just didn’t watch enough movies to be well informed. If your family is like mine, however, you are as excited as Forrest Gump is slow. Regardless of who wins (although if “Up in the Air” wins, you heard it here first) let’s just hope that these Oscars are better than last year’s. All I want is the winners to deserve their victories, unlike last year.
Yes, I am looking at you, “Slumdog Millionaire.”