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.

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.

People’s Choice Awards: Lessons To Be Learned

I’m clueless about how the winners of the People’s Choice Awards are determined, and I’m not sure I really want to know. Not unlike the American Music Awards, the whole thing comes off as little more than the entertainment world’s version of a high-school popularity contest.

But the film industry can always learn lessons when these shows come along.

A few takeaways, aside from that whole no-accounting-for-taste thing:

Four wins for Twilight: New Moon — 1)Even long past those ginormous box-office returns, “Twilight” fever remains in full force, meaning no end on the horizon for the movies and tie-in products; 2)The teenybopper crowd has the power to break a movie big; 3)Vampire fever lives.

Breakout Actress: Miley Cyrus (for Hannah Montana: The Movie, over the likes of, oh, never mind) — See No. 2, above.

Actress: Sandra Bullock & Comedy Movie: The Proposal — 1)Time to bid adieu to that whole notion about actresses of a certain age no longer getting the good roles or pulling in filmgoers (also see Meryl Streep, but not in these awards) and 2)When it comes to second acts in the lives of American actors, determination and persistence sometimes pay off big.

Independent Movie: Inglourious Basterds — 1)You can always count on a Nazi to make a good villain, even more than 60 years after Hitler’s atrocities and 2)Celebrity can help even the most independent-minded directors (like Quentin Tarantino) find audiences for their movies.

Actor: Johnny Depp (Public Enemies, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus)
— See No. 2, above, and substitute “actors” for “directors.”

Action Star: Hugh Jackman (X-Men Origins) — Some (handsome) guys have all the luck.

Family Movie: Up — Sometimes even high-quality animation wins out.

Comedic Star: Jim Carrey (A Christmas Carol) — Go figure.

3D Animation Opens Cannes

cannesFor the first time ever, an animated movie will open the Cannes Film Festival: Disney Pixar’s 3D Up is the opening-night selection for the 62nd annual fest.

upUp, directed by Pixar vets Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, features the voice of Ed Asner as a 78-year-old retiree who uses helium balloons to turn his home into a floating adventure ship, bound for South America. Unbeknownst to him, he’s accompanied by a nine-year-old stowaway.

Up may or may not be included in the official fest competition.

Cannes in recent years has spotlighted Middle Eastern-made animated flicks Persepolis and Waltz with Bashir, and in the past featured Shrek, Dumbo, and Fritz the Cat.

The fest runs May 13-24, and the full lineup will be announced on April 23.

For more info, click here.