Having seen almost every movie nominated for an award tonight, I was excited to watch the Oscars. I was very confident that I knew who would win most of the awards. As the night progressed, I guessed correctly on every major award with the exception of Film Editing. So you can imagine my surprise when Hurt Locker won Best Director and Best Picture. Don't get me wrong - when I saw Hurt Locker I knew it was going to be nominated for a number of awards. I knew right away that it would get a Best Picture nomination. But to be honest, 2009 was a really terrible year for movies aside from a few good ones like Avatar, Hurt Locker, Precious and Up in the Air. Those were all good movies, but 2009 was not loaded with great films. None of those could stand up to the likes of Crash, Babel, There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men or Slumdog Millionaire. The bar was pretty low this year.
Hurt Locker was a good movie. But I can't conceive of how it beat out Avatar, the most successful movie ever made. Bigelow did a great job of directing, but there's no way she outdid James Cameron. I can't imagine how the members of the academy came to that conclusion. Avatar was not strong because of its acting. It was superb because of this world James Cameron created, something so surreal and yet so believable. The visual effects were stunning, the story was engaging, and the film certainly deserved its award for cinematography. He was robbed.
It also bothers me to see the kind of chicanery that Hurt Locker's promoters engaged in, casting the film as an underdog competing with a Goliath like Avatar. As you may know, they were disciplined by the Academy for attempting to inappropriately influence Academy voting. If you're so confident that your film is the Best Picture, then there is no need to engage in that kind of nonsense. The fact that they did so only goes to show that they didn't think the film would win on it's own merits. They were right - it shouldn't have.
I also have to say I thought Sandra Bullock's performance, while great, was not as great as Gabourey Sidibe's performance in Precious. Bullock's performance reminded me of many of her earlier performances, though this is a much more serious role than Hope Floats or Miss Congeniality. I thought she turned in a much better performance in Crash. Sidibe's performance was so entirely unique from just about anything that had been done before. I knew Bullock would win, but I didn't think she gave the best performance this year.
These things happen. Just ask Steven Spielberg how Saving Private Ryan could have ever lost to a lesser film like Shakespeare in Love. For the most part, the academy got it right thie year. But where it counts, the biggest awards, I wonder whether they were watching the same films I was.