Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Same old lineup

Maybe I'm becoming a little jaded, but with Oscar speculation off and running and the Golden Globe nominations announced, it's really starting to look like the same kind of movies get to go on the award circuit every year.

To illustrate this, let's play a game. Match up the stock award movie types with this year's major contenders for Best Picture!

1. Historical drama that relies on a superb lead acting performance to grab acclaim.
2. Well-written, though smug, "comedy" with only intermittent laughs but a finger on the pulse of current societal anxieties. Soundtrack composed of wistful "indie" music is a common trait.
3. Expensive crowdpleaser.
4. Dark, upsetting drama with overtones about race/gender/sexuality in America.
5. Edgy, violent movie that might not otherwise find itself at the Academy Awards were it not for its legendary director who has never won.

A. Avatar
B. Invictus
C. Precious
D. Inglourious Basterds
E. Up in the Air

Answers: 1.B, 2.E, 3.A, 4.C, 5.D

This is not 100 percent set in stone. Sometimes you get two of the same type, like the famous Crash vs. Brokeback Mountain matchup (both are type 4) of 2005. If one of the types doesn't make it in, 9 out of 10 times it will be the expensive crowdpleaser. Just ask The Dark Knight.

This isn't to say that any of these movies are bad. The 5 ones for this year are actually pretty good. I can always evaluate the quality of a year in movies by how similar by top 10 list is to the Academy Award nominees. If they are fairly close, that probably means there were slim pickings. But this year, none of those movies will make my list. There were just too many interesting new offerings from genres which are almost never represented in the Best Picture category - comedy (not a "dramedy," a real comedy where you laugh a lot), horror, documentary, science-fiction and especially animation.

However, this year will have a wild card. As you may have heard, there will be 10 Best Picture nominees, not five. I'm psyched about that for the novelty alone. I've been so conditioned to think in terms of what will make the final five and now the numbers of contenders will double! What will the other five movies be? There are so many choices.

Top Ten List will come in about two weeks.