The Oscars go big, real big: not since 1943, have so many films gotten so lucky

Oscar StatueBy Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer

Special to the Surveyor

The 82ndAnnual Academy Awards are this Sunday, March 7, 2010 and for the first time in 66 years, ten films have been nominated for Best Picture, instead of the standard five.

When I first heard this astounding number, I was incredulous. Most years it is hard to find five films good enough to be nominated for Best Picture, let alone ten. The Academy claims they wanted a “broader range of titles in the mix,” but we all know they wanted more people to get their butts to the movies. Many of us, me included, attempt to see every Best Picture nomination.

The Academy also wanted the ratings for their show. By broadening the nominees to include such films as “Up” and “The Blind Side,” your favorite is certain to be in the mix and therefore, you will be more likely to tune in on Oscar night.

I usually make an effort to see all the Best Picture nominees, but this year I’ve only managed six out of ten, and I am unapologetic (and bitter about “Star Trek“ not making this very big cut). So without further ado, here are this year’s Best Picture nominees.

Avatar“ – Cameron’s 3D phenomenon combines the coolest graphics ever to hit the big screen with an uninspired and predictable storyline. In my illustrious opinion a best picture winner should be outstanding in multiple categories including directing, acting and storyline. “Avatar” fails to deliver on all three. rating: Graphics 4.5/5 Storyline 2.5/5

“The Blind Side” – I know a lot of you who love this feel good, sports flick, but I’ll wait until it comes to the Hallmark Channel. “The Blind Side” is a good example of the Academy’s attempt to use their nominations to appeal to the masses. rating: none

District 9“ – I definitely would have included this one in the top five. 2009 was am awesome  year for science fiction. “District 9″ was surprisingly good and distinctive sci-fi and  I’m rarely amazed by any movie. rating: 4/5

An Education“ – Fabulous directing, outstanding acting and a clever narrative made this film a HeidiTown favorite. “An Education” is as visually stimulating as it is emotionally engaging. Based on the memoir of Lynn Barber, a celebrated British journalist, I’ll be rooting for this one on Oscar night. rating: 4.5/5

The Hurt Locker“ – Set in Iraq in 2004, this plot stayed away from politics and concentrated on the things that make an excellent war movie – characters and ambiance. This movie was a huge winner at the British Academy Awards on Feb. 21, 2010, and I can only hope the Americans will follow suit. rating: 5/5 (highest rating of the year)

“Inglorious Bastards” – I have a lot of friends who loved this Quentin Taratino re-visualization of WWII history. I’m not a die-hard fan of Taratino, so I’m waiting to see this one on DVD. rating: none

“Precious” – I have purposely skipped this one. Yes, it has gotten critical acclaim, but I just never felt in a good enough mood to subject myself to this depressing of a film. rating: none

“A Serious Man” – I desperately wanted to see this Cohen brothers’ movie in the theater, but it only briefly played in northern Colorado. I’ve put this one in my NetFlix queue and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. rating: none

Up“ – A clever, cute little film, but no cartoon should receive a Best Picture nomination. Personally, I’d nominate “Fantastic Mr. Fox“ before Disney’s “Up.” rating: 4/5  

Up in the Air“ – Starring George Clooney as a traveling salesman who is forced to take stock of his mundane existence when a bright Cornell grad joins his company and begins changing things. This is definitely one of the best of 2009. rating: 4/5

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