By Charly SHELTON
Well, we made it. Oscar weekend. The big night is this Sunday, March 7. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin co-host the Oscars on ABC, starting at 5 p.m. Some nominees may seem like obvious choices for who the winner may be, others are a complete toss-up.
For instance, Disney’s Animated “Up” would not be nominated for best short subject documentary because it is neither short nor documentary, but it is nominated for Best Picture because it was voted as one of the ten best films since last February. What Best Picture means is obvious, but Sound Editing, Visual Effects, and many other aspects of the Oscars that most people ignore while they wait for Best Actor and Actress have been included in this column so you can have a better understanding of all things Oscar. This is the fifth and final installment of the column. Last week, we covered Cinematography, Special Effects, Sound, Shorts, and Editing. This week, we jump into the last, and some would say biggest, of categories: Best Animated Feature, Best Directing and Best Picture of the Year.
Best Animated feature was added as a category for the 74th annual Academy Awards in 2002, and has since been one of my favorite ones because animated films rarely got recognition up to that point. The nominees in this category are “Coraline,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Princess and the Frog,” “The Secret of the Kells” and “Up.” In 1991, “Beauty and the Beast” was the first animated film nominated for Best Picture, but lost to “Silence of the Lambs.” It was the only animated film to be nominated for that category until this year, when “Up” (2009) was announced as one of the ten nominees.
But up until 2001, animated films got little recognition except for their music and even then they were rarely judged among their peers but rather among live action films. The first round of animated films to be nominated included “Shrek” (released in 2001) and “Monsters Inc.” (2001), along with “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” (2001). Other films up for Best Animated feature over the years have included “Ice Age” (2002), “The Incredibles” (2004), “Finding Nemo” (2003), “Brother Bear” (2003), “Ratatouille” (2007) and last year’s nominees “Wall-E” (2008), “Bolt” (2008) and “Kung-Fu Panda” (2008). “Wall-E” won last year.
“Up” is up against so many heavy hitter movies, it probably won’t win Best Picture but has a great shot at Best Animated Feature. Just being nominated for Best Picture shows that the Academy respects this film. It is a shoo-in for best animated. Granted, “Princess and the Frog” was a great film and the first hand-drawn animated film from Disney in several years, but it is probably going to lose to “Up.”
Best Director and Best Picture are two categories that go together. Not always, but most of the time when a director wins Best Director, his film will win the Best Picture award. This year looks like a race between two films. The heavy hitters for director this year are Kathryn Bigelow for “The Hurt Locker” and James Cameron for “Avatar.” The latter is the highest grossing film of all time and critically acclaimed. “The Hurt Locker” director Bigelow won the Director’s Guild of America Award and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award both times she faced Cameron.
Other nominees in this field are also impressive and include Quentin Tarantino for “Inglourious Basterds,” Lee Daniels for “Precious,” and Jason Reitman for “Up in the Air.” The deviation between Best Director and Best Picture may come between Cameron and his film “Avatar,” and Kathryn Bigelow, director of “The Hurt Locker.” Though “Avatar” is the juggernaut that seems that it cannot be stopped but “The Hurt Locker” may be the one to throw a wrench in the works and swoop in the for the win at least in the director category.
For the rest of this article analysis for Best Picture, as well as the previous articles in this series and a chance to cast your ballot , visit our website at cvweekly.com.