Complete Oscar Coverage

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Luke Miller’s Picks

BEST PICTURE NOMINEES REVIEWED

Avatar

Verdict: The film is titanic in every way, from its dazzling images and special effects to its messages and attention to detail. But with big budget comes big demand, meaning Cameron must make a crowd-pleaser. Dumbing down the dialogue, character depth and dynamics, he creates a universal story the whole world can understand and enjoy. Avatar is whatever movie you want it to be, a love story, a message movie, or an visually imaginative heyday, but to sophisticated moviegoers it’s only meh. Grade: B- Full Review Here

The Blind Side

Verdict: John Lee Hancock’s bombastic, preachy and watered down The Blind Side is the one movie nominated for Best Picture this year that didn’t deserve its slot. This is the crowd-pleasing, melodramatic sports movie that moved both the Monday Night Football crowd and Sarah Palin wannabes to tears.  Hancock directs this film with a style right out of the sports film playbook, taking no chances and milking every crowd-pleasing scenario for maximum fluff. Grade: D Full Review Here

District 9

Verdict: District 9 is the greatest display of gritty sci-fi, with its scathing political undertones and pulse pounding action.  Blomkamp is able to mesh aliens seamlessly into a very real human world that echoes our own. While the obvious political undertones make this an allegory for apartheid, more conceptual parallels can be made with our current human rights, terrorism, and corporate moral dilemma. It’s expert movie making from top to bottom.  Grade: A Full Review Here

An Education

Verdict: Warning: boring period piece this is not. Adults looking for a time capsule back to the early 60’s should stick to AMC’s Mad Men.  Though evoking that same atmosphere, An Education is a decidedly modern film, especially thematically, and that atmosphere will most likely be one that those growing up in the period don’t remember. Grade: A- Full Review Here

The Hurt Locker

Verdict: This Iraqi War depiction tells a story and throws political commentary aside.  It’s near perfect on page, with its clever tinkering editing of sound and hand held camera work. But it’s this near perfection that restrains it from being truly great. It’s a film with little flaws and a film with little risks, but nonetheless still a ticking time-bomb of a film. Unfortunately that bomb fails to really ever go off. Grade: B Full Review Here

Inglourious Basterds

Verdict: Tarantino’s knack for fiction is demonstrated in his WWII recreation, which is arguably his most successful film to date with eight nominations and $120 million gross.  Though it’s hardly Tarantino’s best, it may even be his worst. A flawed, overwrought success with too many characters and not enough good ones.  However, Tarantino knows how to direct a movie with style and substance, and with the help of the great Christoph Waltz his movie entertains and comes to life. Grade: C+ Full Review Here

Precious

Verdict: On the surface, this film seems conventional.  At a glance, it appears to be yet another urban tale about a poverty stricken youth escaping the clutches of the ghetto.  Then again, if this film teaches you anything it’s to never take anything at a glance again.  Daniels makes sure you look straight on into the eyes and the life of a person that you would typically pass on the street and write off as stupid and fat. Precious, with its cast of misfits, proves to be a true gem.  Grade: A Full Review Here

A Serious Man

Verdict: The Coens have managed to not only write one of the funniest scripts of 2009, but also layered it with philosophical musings and darker thematic elements.  All of this is set against the the late 60’s Midwestern Jewish background the Coen brothers grew up in. The film just happens to be shot as brilliant and beautifully as it is written. Grade: A- Full Review Here

Up

Verdict: Up, although heavy with story, substance and creativity, manages to be light and effortless enough to sail up and away, and while it does it is raising the bar for Disney-Pixar. It is a beautifully crafted story that can make you laugh and warm your heart like Wall-E and other films of Pixar past. Grade: B+ Full Review Here

Up in the Air

Verdict: From takeoff to touchdown, Up in the Air is flawless piece of entertainment that can stand the test of time to classic Hollywood, both in its germane humor and cultural journey from the traditional to the contemporary. It’s a great character piece with even greater messages. Reitman’s mostly subtle and conventional techniques are never too bold, but still as clever and sharp as the film’s smooth sailing dialogue. Grade: A Full Review Here

OTHER RELATED ARTICLES

The Hurt Locker vs. Avatar: Stuck Between a Bomb and a Blue Face?

Oscar Acting Up Close: Quite a bit Country, not enough Rock ‘N Roll

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2 thoughts on “Complete Oscar Coverage

  1. Pingback: Last Decade’s Best Picture Nominees Ranked by Year « CyniCritics

  2. Pingback: Complete Oscar Coverage 2011 « CyniCritics

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