Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Second Annual You Don’t Know Dick about the Oscars

All I do on weekends is watch films from the local Blockbuster. I rent so many I think I might be the only one keeping the chain solvent. I am a hold-out: I don’t use video on demand nor do I Netflick by mail. I leave my apartment so rarely that the opportunity to meet anyone to practice my grunts and groans is worth the journey into sunshine and smog. I stay in my apartment so much I have to take night classes at UCLA just to learn how to reuse a fork. Video on demand might be the wave of the future, but I never learned how to surf and chlorinated water makes my skin itch.

Even with all of my expertise in film watching, I have never won an Oscar pool. Ever. I have never even come close. I’ve been betting on the awards since “Wings,” and all I've earned is derisive laughter. Years ago, I worked with a woman who promised to sleep with me if I could pick even one winner that year. Okay, so I didn’t think “Titanic” was that big a deal. Who knew?

I’ve lost to people who base their choices on astrological signs or the names of their deceased cats. I knew an accountant who used a complex algorithmic system to figure out his choices. It worked well for him in the Oscar pools although the IRS frowned on his methodology during tax season.

So these are my 2010 picks. I offer them knowing full well that by Monday morning no one will remember the results other than those who won and those who lost and are now too drunk to care.

BEST PICTURE: “The Hurt Locker”

I saw all the candidates and found this one the most compelling: There is no truer statement about how war warps man’s basic survival instinct to stay clear of danger. Second choice goes to "District 9." Not since the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” with its veiled commentary on McCarthyism has the use of a science fiction trope been used so effectively to make a political statement regarding current hellish attitudes. The budget of the entire movie was the honey wagon cost for “Avatar.”

BEST DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow

This is the year that a female director finally bests the males. Her film is superlative; her credits substantial. Even her ex, James Cameron, is rooting for her.

LEAD ACTOR: Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker”

Yes, I know it will go to Jeff Bridges. If I could actually vote for Oscar, I’d go with journeyman actor Renner’s breakout performance over Bridges who really should have won it years ago for “The Big Lebowski.” “Crazy Heart” is “Tender Mercies” lite and I have the black eye and the video bar fight to prove it.

LEAD ACTRESS: Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire"

“The Blind Side” gave me peripheral vision problems. Sandra Bullock will take the award playing a strong-willed, southern white woman helping a confused black kid out of a world far too difficult for him to escape on his own. Yawn! The movie itself is an excellent example of a feelgood Lifetime Network weepie. I’m waiting for the movie where an ornery black woman takes in an unloved overweight white kid and turns him into whatever the good Lord damn well wants him to be. I loved Helen Mirren in “The Last Station,” but then she could star in a Uwe Boll movie and I’d still watch her (as I did with Sir Ben Kingsley in “Blood Rayne1”).

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz in “Inglorious Basterds”

This is the first time I ever rooted for an actor playing a Nazi to win anything other than execution at dawn. Waltz’s performance is, at times, riveting, frightening, ghoulish, and gentlemanly. Find an American performer who could slide effortlessly between four languages and I’ll show you no one I know. Second choice: Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”. He continually amazes me as one of today’s most versatile actors though I still prefer him killing zombies and declaring that the world will end in 2012.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo'Nique, “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire"

Her performance so infuriated me that I burned both my “Phat Girtz” and “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins” DVDs, although somewhere I still have a few VHS copies of “The Parkers” that I should see sometime.


Odds on favorite looks to be “Inglourious Basterds,” although my second choice would be “The Messenger.” Did anyone notice that “Inglourious Basterds” is nothing more than a bunch of set dialogue sessions between shoot-outs? I thought Trini Lopez’s character was better developed in “The Dirty Dozen” than Brad Pitt’s Aldo Raine.


This is a Hubble long distance outer space Hail Mary shot. It looks like a slam dunk for “Precious.” but I keep drifting back to “District 9." Maybe the Academy would have paid more attention to the script’s merits had the movie been entitled "District 69" instead.


I liked them all. I picked “Up” because it’s the shortest title of the five and I have other things I need to work on today.

FOREIGN-LANGUAGE: “The White Ribbon”

This is a pure guess given that I only saw “The White Ribbon” which I thought was very evocative of the herky-jerky deconstructional negative space cinema movement of post-war Europe with its neo-realist approach to the vagaries of small town life against the forces of the bourgeoisie influences of urban encroachment. Actually I have no idea what I am talking about, but every time I sit through a subtitled film I go all Manny Farber or Dwight MacDonald on myself. Second choice would be France’s “The Prophet,” because who doesn’t love French prison movies?


  1. Great one Sidney! What a gifted writer you are. You definitely deserve an award from Hollyweird. Keep on 'trucking'.

  2. Hurt Locker seems to be....well, i've talked to a handful of people who ripped on it. wonder why such dissimiliar viewpoints?