Friday, March 5, 2010

For the Weekend: The Oscars, of Course!

I tried to do my usual scouring of television schedules and internet freebies for you, to find some good movies to talk about for the weekend, but I could only think of one thing to watch - the Oscars.  That's right.  If you haven't realized it yet by the borage of articles and TV specials and commercials now, the 82nd Annual Academy Awards is this Sunday on ABC.  So, since that's the only thing my movie-obsessed brain is thinking about today, I've decided to scoop up some trivia tidbits about some of this year's 10 Best Picture nominees.

James Cameron's "Avatar," of course, is one of the two front runners to win Best Picture, but if you haven't heard yet, Cameron's competition is "The Hurt Locker," directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who happens to be Cameron's ex-wife.  It's the battle of the exes!  However, "Avatar," basically a more violent version of "Pocahontas," is sure to win lots for its amazing special effects.  With an estimated budget of $280 million, Cameron created a film that is 40% live action, 60% CGI.  Although he originally thought of the story back in 1995, he was not confidant in the technology of the time, so he shelved his script.  But after seeing Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings" movies, he realized the technology was finally there, and picked up the production again.  And since its release, "Avatar" has grossed way over $2 billion worldwide, making it the highest grossing film of all time, and beating out the previous winner, Cameron's own "Titanic."

One of the nice things about the larger number of Best Picture nominees this year was Pixar's "Up" getting a nomination.  "Up" is only the second animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.  The first was Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," and with the creation of the Best Animated Picture category, many feared it would never happen again.  Luckily, it was not the case.  Of course, in my eyes, Pixar is a master at storytelling, and should never be left out the Oscar race.  Only Pixar could turn a story about an old curmudgeon into a beloved story by both kids and adults.  The role of Carl, voiced by famous curmudgeon Ed Asner, was based on the personalities of two other wonderfully lovable oldies, Spencer Tracy and Walter Matthau.  The villain Charles Muntz, though, was named after Charles Mintz, the Universal Pictures executive who stole Walt Disney's rights to "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" back in 1928, which in turn caused Disney to create a new character, Mickey Mouse.  After that is magical history.

The other "Up" Best Picture film, "Up in the Air" is one of my favorites as well.  Written and directed by Jason Reitman and produced by his father Ivan Reitman, this is only the second time in Academy history that a father/son team has been nominated together for Best Picture.  Jason Reitman, director of previous hits "Thank You for Smoking" and "Juno," originally wrote this story before his first films while the economy was booming, and wanted to make this his first film.  He later said it turned out to be a good thing that he waited because the change in the economy made the story much more poignant.  With the exception of the known actors in the film, all the interviews that bookend the story where actual people who had been recently laid off.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of the move by the Academy to expand the number of Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10, because there are still the predictable winners.  But I look forward to waiting to see that smaller gem sweep the award from the blockbuster.  Hopefully, I just won't have to wait that long to see it.  So, cook up those goodies and enjoy the biggest annual night in Hollywood this weekend.  See you Monday.

(Post-tidbit:  Each frame of "Avatar," which is approximately 1/24 of a second, took an average of 47 hours to complete.)


  1. I was pulling for "Up in the Air" to win a few Oscars too. Oh well.

  2. Too much popularity for "The Hurt Locker" unfortunately.