Oscars 2010: “The Hurt Locker” Wins Big; “Up in the Air” Shut Out

Sometimes Oscar even gets it (mostly) right: The Hurt Locker cleaned up with six awards last night, including best picture, best director (Kathryn Bigelow), and best original screenplay (Mark Boal).

Bigelow had been widely expected to win for her direction of the riveting Iraq War drama, and in so doing she became the first woman to take home that award. But most Oscar guessers were about evenly split on whether best picture would go to her film or James Cameron‘s extraordinarily expensive and extraordinarily profitable 3-D sci-fi spectacular Avatar. The better film won in both top categories, IMO.

Boal’s win was a bit of a surprise, as some had expected that Quentin Tarantino might take a home win in this category, for his violent, funny, wildly imaginative Inglourious Basterds. QT’s film, though, only won in the category of supporting actor (Christoph Waltz).

An even bigger upset was in the category of best adapted screenplay, with Geoffrey Fletcher winning for his adaptation of Saffire’s tough-but-uplifting urban drama Precious.

The majority of the categories played out about as expected, although it was interesting to see another left-field choice win in the foreign-film category: Argentina’s The Secret in Their Eyes trumped two wildly acclaimed films — The White Ribbon and A Prophet.

Tallies: The Hurt Locker won 6 out of 9; Avatar won 3 out of 9. Precious (6 noms), Up (5 noms) and Crazy Heart (3 noms) each won 2. Inglourious Basterds won 1 out of 8. Shut out: Up in the Air (6 noms), District 9 (4 noms), Nine (4 noms), An Education (3 noms), The Princess and the Frog (3 noms).

Why did Avatar lose out in the big categories? Patrick Goldstein, writing in the Los Angeles Times, offers this insight: “My suspicion is that academy members still find it difficult to believe that films largely created and sculpted in the computer–whether it’s “Avatar” or the long string of brilliant Pixar films — can be just as worthy and artistic as the old-fashioned live-action ones.”

How’d I do? I made predictions in 15 categories. I guessed wrong in four. Score: 11/15.

Best Picture – The Hurt Locker. My guess: Avatar.

Best Director – Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (my guess).

Best Actor – Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart (my guess).

Best Actress – Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side (my guess).

Best supporting actor – Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds (my guess).

Best supporting actress – Mo’Nique, Precious (my guess).

Best animated feature – Up (my guess).

Best documentary – The Cove (my guess).

Best foreign language film – The Secret in Their Eyes, from Argentina. My guess: The White Ribbon. As I said – plenty of wild cards in this category, and one of them won.

Best adapted screenplay – Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious. My guess: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air.

Best original screenplay – Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker. My guess: Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds.

Best music (original song) – “The Weary Kind,” by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett, Crazy Heart (my guess).

Best art direction – Avatar (my guess).

Cinematography – Avatar (my guess).

Visual effects – Avatar (my guess).

For the complete list of Oscar winners and nominees, click here.

Salinger Goes Hollywood (Finally)

(Yes, satire from Borowitz, originally posted on Huffington Post; story here)

HOLLYWOOD (The Borowitz Report) – Just hours after author J.D. Salinger passed away at his New Hampshire home on Wednesday, Hollywood studios were salivating at the chance to finally ruin his masterpiece, Catcher in the Rye.

“If we are fortunate enough to acquire the rights to Mr. Salinger’s book, we pledge to stay faithful to the spirit of Catcher in the Rye,” said Dougy Binstock, a producer at Columbia Pictures. “And the best way to do that is by producing it as a rock opera.”

But even as Mr. Binstock was bidding for the rights to produce a film he hopes to call Phantom of the Rye, Mindy Hammerfur, an executive at Paramount Pictures, said that she thought Salinger’s book was “seriously in need of a reboot.”

“We never find out in the book how Holden Caulfield becomes the catcher in the rye,” said Ms. Hammerfur. “The movie really needs to be kind of a prequel.”

But of all the potential bidders hoping to desecrate Catcher in the Rye, Avatar director James Cameron may have the inside track.

“I loved this book as a boy and I’m not going to add a thing,” Mr. Cameron said, “except blue space-cats.”

DGA Nominations: Lee Daniels and Tarantino In; Clint Squeezed Out

Precious director Lee Daniels has become the first African-American nominee for a Director’s Guild of America award.

Daniels was one of five directors nominated for awards this morning, including James Cameron for Avatar, Jason Reitman for Up in the Air, Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds, and Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker.

Surprisingly absent from the list: Veteran director Clint Eastwood, whose Invictus has picked up glowing reviews and wound up on several year-end Top 10 lists. Eastwood previously received three DGA nominations; he won for Million Dollar Baby and Unforgiven.

Cameron won in 1997 for Titanic. This year’s other DGA nominees are first-timers. All except Daniels were nominated for Golden Globes, along with Eastwood, and all are expected to land Oscar nominations.

Bigelow, Cameron’s ex-wife, is the seventh woman to land a DGA nomination.

The DGA winner has gone on to receive the Oscar for best picture all but six times since the awards were launched in 1949, according to a column published today by Los Angeles Times writer Tom O’Neil.

The winner will be announced Jan. 30 in Los Angeles.

The Best Reviewed Film of 2009? The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow‘s gripping and emotionally exhausting drama following the ups and downs (and tragedies) of a U.S. military bomb squad in Iraq, was the overall best-reviewed movie of 2009.

That’s according to MetaCritic, the movie review aggregator, which this week published an extensive analysis of the 2009 year in film, based on critical response.

Bigelow’s film received a Metascore rating of 94.

Up topped the list of 2009’s wide releases, with a Metascore of 88.

And the worst-reviewed movie of 2009? Sex romp Miss March (Metascore: 7), followed closely by horror comedy Transylmania, and Sandra Bullock vehicle All About Steve (Metascore: 8), which tied with kung-fu disaster Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li for a Metascore of 17.

The Hurt Locker (91) was also the best-reviewed film in the category of limited releases, followed by 35 Shots of Rum (91), Still Walking (89), Goodbye Solo (89) and Tulpan (88).

Metacritic also surveyed various critics’ Top 10 lists, and determined that the films receiving the most mentions in those lists were The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, A Serious Man, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up.

Here’s that list (the Miami Herald was the only Florida newspaper included in the survey):
* Austin Chronicle (Marjorie Baumgarten) – Where the Wild Things Are
* Austin Chronicle (Kimberley Jones) – A Serious Man
* Austin Chronicle (Marc Savlov) – A Single Man
* Baltimore Sun (Michael Sragow) – The Exiles
* Boston Globe (Ty Burr) – A Serious Man
* Boston Globe (Wesley Morris) – 35 Shots of Rum
* Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert) [unranked list]
* Chicago Tribune (Michael Phillips) – Up
* Christian Science Monitor (Peter Rainer) [unranked list]
* Entertainment Weekly (Owen Gleiberman) – Up in the Air
* Entertainment Weekly (Lisa Schwarzbaum) – The Hurt Locker
* The Hollywood Reporter (Kirk Honeycutt) – The White Ribbon
* The Hollywood Reporter (Sheri Linden) – The White Ribbon
* The Hollywood Reporter (Ray Bennett) – Up in the Air
* The Hollywood Reporter (Michael Rechtshaffen) – Up in the Air
* The Hollywood Reporter (Stephen Farber) – Up in the AIr
* The Hollywood Reporter (Frank Scheck) – Up in the Air
* LA Weekly (Scott Foundas) – The White Ribbon
* Los Angeles Times (Betsy Sharkey) – Up in the Air
* Los Angeles Times (Kenneth Turan) – Bright Star
* Miami Herald (Rene Rodriguez) – Up in the Air
* New Orleans Times-Picayune (Mike Scott) – The Hurt Locker
* New York Daily News (Joe Neumaier) – Up in the Air
* New York Daily News (Elizabeth Weitzman) – The Hurt Locker
* New York Magazine (David Edelstein) – Summer Hours
* New York Post (Lou Lumenick) – Up in the Air
* New York Post (Kyle Smith) – Inglourious Basterds
* The New York Times (Manohla Dargis) [unranked list]
* The New York Times (Stephen Holden) – Up in the Air
* The New York Times (A.O. Scott) – Where the Wild Things Are
* The New Yorker (David Denby) [unranked list]
* The New Yorker (Anthony Lane) [unranked list]
* Newsweek (David Ansen) – The Hurt Locker
* The Onion A.V. Club (Noel Murray) – Inglourious Basterds
* The Onion A.V. Club (Keith Phipps) – A Serious Man
* The Onion A.V. Club (Nathan Rabin) – Big Fan
* The Onion A.V. Club (Tasha Robinson) – Where the Wild Things Are
* The Onion A.V. Club (Scott Tobias) – 35 Shots of Rum
* The Oregonian (Shawn Levy) – An Education
* The Oregonian (Mike Russell) – In the Loop
* The Oregonian (Marc Mohan) – Hunger
* ReelViews (James Berardinelli) – Avatar
* Rolling Stone (Peter Travers) – Precious
* Salon (Stephanie Zacharek) – Summer Hours
* Salon (Andrew O’Hehir) – Hunger
* San Francisco Chronicle (Mick LaSalle) – Inglourious Basterds
* San Francisco Chronicle (Peter Hartlaub) – The Hurt Locker
* Slate (Dana Stevens) [unranked list]
* St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Joe Williams) – (500) Days of Summer
* Time Magazine (Richard Corliss) – The Princess and The Frog
* Time Out New York (David Fear) – 35 Shots of Rum
* Time Out New York (Joshua Rothkopf) – A Serious Man
* Time Out New York (Keith Uhlich) – The Limits of Control
* Village Voice (J. Hoberman) – The Hurt Locker
* Wall Street Journal (Joe Morgenstern) – The Hurt Locker
* Washington Post (Ann Hornaday) – The Hurt Locker

Metacritic didn’t, however, tabulate the results of various critics group awards, unless I just didn’t see it on the site.

For all the lists and ratings (and extensive graphs) surveyed by Metacritic, click here.

Florida Critics Honor “Up in the Air”

Jason Reitman‘s comic drama Up in the Air has landed top honors in this year’s Florida Film Critics Circle (FFCC) Awards, with prizes for best picture, Reitman’s direction and George Clooney‘s performance as a corporate axeman.

Precious, the FFCC’s other big winner, a disturbing inner-city drama directed by Lee Daniels, won two top acting honors — Gabourey Sidibe, best actress, and the group’s Pauline Kael Breakout Award, in the title role; and hip-hop star and TV personality Mo’Nique, for best supporting actress.

The complete list of winners:

Picture: Up In The Air
Actor: George Clooney, Up In The Air
Actress: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Supp. Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Supp. Actress: Mo’Nique, Precious
Director: Jason Reitman, Up In The Air
Screenplay: Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, (500) Days of Summer
Cinematography: Mauro Fiore, Avatar
Foreign Language: Sin Nombre
Animated Feature: Up
Documentary: The Cove
Breakout: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Golden Orange: No Award

Founded in 1996, the Florida Film Critics Circle is comprised of 17 writers from state publications. Dan Hudak of hudakonhollywood.com has served as chairman since March 2008. For more information on the FFCC, visit floridafilmcriticscircle.webs.com.