Did you watch the Oscars? Did you tune in to see the first woman ever win an Oscar for Best Director, or to see Ben Stiller dressed as an ‘Avatar’ Na’vi? See a full list of winners here.
This year, the Oscar committee tried to appeal to a larger audience by opening the Best Picture nomination to ten films, and that left me confused about who truly deserved the honors, but the advisors here at the Writers’ Program were not at all shy about their Oscar picks. Who would have thought that asking a bunch of writers about an award ceremony would lead to an email firestorm the likes of which my Outlook mailbox has never seen before?!
Best Animated Feature: Most of us at the Writers’ Program agreed that UP would probably win top honors, but Fantastic Mr. Fox held a place in advisor Sara Bond’s heart. “I saw this movie in the Beverly Cinema in a rain storm. You wouldn’t think that would matter, except that the Beverly has a leaky roof. I felt like one of the foxes, moving from seat to seat, sneaking about, trying to escape the plops of water on my head. So I guess you can say I was hooked from the beginning. The scene with the wolf and fox raising fists to each other actually made me teary-eyed.”
Best Original Screenplay: Writers’ Program staff bet on Inglorious Basterds to win this one—a bunch of Tarantino fans here! There was also a nod to The Hurt Locker and A Serious Man for their efforts.
Best Director: Tarantino got a thumbs up from advisor Corey Campbell who said, “The first half-hour of Inglorious Bastards is mind-blowing.” The rest of the gang felt pretty confident naming Kathryn Bigelow as this year’s top contender for The Hurt Locker. As advisor Katy Flaherty put it, “I’d really like to see a female director recognized in this category. Plus, she directed the best bad movie ever—POINT BREAK!”
Best Supporting Actor/Actress: For Best Supporting Actor, no one could compete with Christoph Waltz for his role in Inglorious Basterds. As Writers’ Program assistant Smaranda Gildea put it, “The humor with which he delivered his lines and his body language throughout the film was so creepy that it really made the movie entertaining. I think his character pulled the whole movie together. He stayed true to the historical aspect, was consistent with his character even though he had lines in three languages, and he made actually me laugh about genocide!”
For Best Supporting Actress, the crew divided their votes between Mo’Nique for Precious and Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air. Personally, Mo’Nique has my vote hands down for her performance as Mary, mother of Claireece “Precious” Jones. The character is monstrous, but Mo’Nique is able to make her human…well, sort of.
Best Actor/Actress: Jeff Bridges’ performance as Bad Blake in Crazy Heart was the obvious pick for Best Actor from my cohorts. But, the Best Actress question spurred an intense debate with everyone choosing sides, mostly against Sandra Bullock. However, advisor Chae Ko was unwavering in his devotion to Sandra, even among the many, many naysayers. “Meryl Streep out-acted everyone in the category, but she’s won so many times. Gabourey Sidibe would be a cool upset, but she’s young. Sandra paid her dues . It’s her time.” This didn’t sit well with other staffers, who felt that Meryl Streep should win no matter how many times she’s won before. All in all, after the mud-slinging, Chae was left to stand alone for Bullock and The Blind Side, while the rest of us put our tents squarely in Camp Meryl for Julie and Julia. Sorry Chae!
And the moment you’ve all been waiting for….
Best Picture: Answers were all across the board on this one, with only two staffers choosing the same film, UP (Corey loves the talking dogs). There was one vote for Avatar which drew fierce skepticism from the rest (most of which isn’t fit for print). Seeming to sense the naysayers, Chae had this to say. “Although Avatar wasn’t the revolutionary film that people hyped it up to be, it was definitely evolutionary in terms of the next stage in filmmaking. The movie for me is like a visual buffet. There is so much to see I had to keep going back.”
Avatar hasn’t sunk its 3-D hooks into me, so I can’t comment, but Sara was there to be the voice of opposition. “Avatar is fun to look at, sure. But the story fell flat. It was like looking at a really good-looking dumb guy. You want to believe in him, but you just know some pieces are missing.”
No one foresaw The Hurt Locker’s big sweep in the Best Picture category, when now it seems so obvious. Do you think Oscar got it right this year? And how about those hosts? Weigh in on the Writers’ Program Facebook page at facebook.com/writersprogram.
Gabrielle Stephens is the Program Representative in (Screenwriting) Onsite.