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Expansion of Best Picture Category Allows for Some Oscar Surprises

Oscar Yay! The Oscar nominations were announced today! Whether you think they're the ultimate Hollywood circle jerk or the pinnacle of cinematic achievement, there's no denying that an Oscar nomination means you now have serious credentials in the movie industry. A nod in the Best Picture category makes most of the movie-viewing population regard the film with some degree of reverence.

Oscar For a long time, critics of the Oscars have complained that the Best Picture category's five slots was too limiting. Contenders were almost always dramas and period pieces, leaving no room for films like animated features that were way more than just kid fluff. 2008's Wall-E is a good example. While it may have been primarily directed toward children, I don't know any adult who saw that movie and didn't walk away deeply affected. Nonetheless, it was relegated to the Best Animated Feature category, which is basically the bridesmaid of the Best Picture.

This year, the Academy expanded the category to allow for 10 nominees and this year there are some surprising choices that you wouldn't have seen in previous years. The nominees are:

Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

Avatar isn't a total surprise, though it may have also benefited from the expanded category. I'm pleased to see sci-fi flick District 9 in the running, animated feature Up, and oddball Coen Bros. flick A Serious Man

Another really fantastic side effect of the expanded category is that two of the nominees were directed by women: The Hurt Locker and An Education. When's the last time that happened? Has it ever happened?

I think this is an opportunity to highlight the leaps that many genres have taken. I'm a sci-fi fan, so I've always been fascinated by the stories in such films, but it will perhaps (and I hate to use this word) legitimize the genre, exposing it to a wider audience, opening their minds to different possibilities. And as we've been seeing in the past few years with films like Wall-E, Up, and Coraline (my pick for best picture of 2009), animation is not just for kids anymore. These can be serious films that can be enjoyed and pondered by wide audiences. And though this will piss off the reader who yesterday told me to quit thinking so much and analyzing films and TV, I am thrilled at the possibility of cinematic culture being more than just something for me to mindlessly consume.

A full list of nominees is below.

Best picture 

Avatar

The Blind Side

District 9

An Education

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Precious

A Serious Man

Up

Up in the Air

Best actor 

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

George Clooney, Up in the Air

Colin Firth, A Single Man

Morgan Freeman, Invictus

Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Best actress 

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

Helen Mirren, The Last Station

Carey Mulligan, An Education

Gabourey Sidibe, Precious

Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best supporting actor 

Matt Damon, Invictus

Woody Harrelson, The Messenger

Christopher Plummer, The Last Station

Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

Best supporting actress 

Penelope Cruz, Nine

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart

Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

Mo'Nique, Precious

Best director 

James Cameron, Avatar

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Lee Daniels, Precious

Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Best foreign-language film 

Ajami Israel

El Secreto de Sus Ojos Argentina

The Milk of Sorrow Peru

Un Prophete France

The White Ribbon Germany

Best adapted screenplay 

Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, District 9

Nick Hornby, An Education

Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche, In the Loop

Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious

Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

Best original screenplay 

Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman, The Messenger

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, A Serious Man

Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Tom McCarthy, Up

Best animated feature film 

Coraline

Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Princess and the Frog

The Secret of Kells

Up

Best art direction 

Avatar

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Nine Sherlock Holmes

The Young Victoria

Best cinematography 

Avatar

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

The White Ribbon

Best sound mixing 

Avatar

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Star Trek

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Best sound editing 

Avatar

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Star Trek

Up

Best original score 

Avatar, James Horner

Fantastic Mr. Fox, Alexandre Desplat

The Hurt Locker, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders

Sherlock Holmes, Hans Zimmer

Up, Michael Giacchino

Best original song 

"Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman

"Down in New Orleans" from The Princess and the Frog, Randy Newman

"Loin de Paname" from Paris 36, Reinhardt Wagner and Frank Thomas

"Take It All" from Nine, Maury Yeston

"The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from Crazy Heart, Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Best costume design 

Bright Star

Coco Before Chanel

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Nine

The Young Victoria

Best documentary feature 

Burma VJ

The Cove

Food, Inc.

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

Which Way Home

Best documentary short 

China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province

The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner

The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant

Music by Prudence

Rabbit a la Berlin

Best film editing 

Avatar

District 9

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Precious

Best makeup 

Il Divo

Star Trek

The Young Victoria

Best animated short film 

French Roast

Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty

The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)

Logorama

A Matter of Loaf and Death

Best live-action short film 

The Door

Instead of Abracadabra

Kavi

Miracle Fish

The New Tenants

Best visual effects 

Avatar

District 9

Star Trek

Source







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Comments

other heidi

i'm stoked on the expansion of the best pic category because it means i've actually seen some of the movies that are nominated.

i always say i'd like to see them all before the big show, but yeah. that never happens.

Suzy Q

I think there are too many nominees in the Best Pic category now. It was hard enough to begin with, and now 9 cast/crew get super-disappointed rather than 4. Is it really enough just to get nominated?

funda62

I agree, if you haven't seen District 9 Netflix it today! Loved it, husband loved it, and he and I usually do not enjoy the same films. A Serious Man is now on my list to see.

dee

Not to jump on a soapbox but did you catch that Kathryn Bigelow is only the 4th female director to be nominated? 4 in 82 years, take that glass ceiling.

ljpock

And if y'all haven't seen The Hurt Locker I would recommend it. Intense pic, but very good.




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