The Oscars is a strange season. It is spring, and hearts glow along with fresh green leaves and colourful flowers.
Best Film/Director Category
I am not surprised that James Cameroon, whose Avatar is vying for the Best Picture and Best Director Awards among others, has been urging the Academy to vote for his former wife, Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. Is it an emotional overdrive or just a clever ploy or utter resignation?
While The Hurt Locker has a great chance of taking home the statuette on March 7, Quentin Tarantino’s marvellous World War II Jewish fantasy, Inglorious Basterds, with eight nods is also inching towards the winning post. It is neatly scripted, wonderfully directed and ably performed, but it lacks the profoundness of The Hurt Locker, whose implied critique of George Bush’s misplaced adventurism in Iraq is shared by a whole lot of Americans, and most certainly much of Hollywood.
I really hope that the Best Director Oscar goes to the one who has helmed the Best Picture. That will be only fair.
Best Actress Category
The Best Actress race has lately become three-cornered with Helen Mirren joining Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock. Streep is an exceptional artist, and her role as a television chef in Julie and Julia is riveting. She has 16 nods and just one win in 1983, and the Oscar should go to her. But probably it will not. Maybe, because she has been taken for granted.
So, the Oscar may pick out Sandra Bullock, who essays a woman with a heart providing a home to a battered and bruised boy, eventually helping him to become a football star. Bullock has never been nominated before this, and at 45, this may be her last chance to deliver the “I Love You World” speech on the victory podium. Sympathy, and not strictly merit, may see her through the evening at Los Angeles’ Kodak Theatre.
Helen Mirren in The Last Station, an essentially family drama on Leo Tolstoy, is interesting and has an outside chance of getting to the Oscar. However, the movie by itself is a drag despite memorable acting by both Mirren and Christopher Plummer (Supporting Actor nod).
Supporting Actress Category
In the Supporting Actress category, Mo’Nique holds out the biggest promise as the welfare mother in Precious. Penélope Cruz, Vera Farmiga, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Anna Kendrick may have to contend themselves by applauding Mo’Nique.
Now in the male group, Jeff Bridges as the alcoholic country music singer in Crazy Heart is as exceptional as Streep. He has been garnering award after award, and it appears that George Clooney, Colin Firth, Morgan Freeman, and Jeremy Renner might have to troop into the losers’ party along with Cruz and company.
Supporting Actor Category
What seems like another sure shot is Christoph Waltz (I would have nominated him in the Best Actor category and not for the Supporting role he is competing for), the German SS officer who hunts out and hounds Jews in Nazi occupied France. He is brilliantly witty and sarcastic, and what a treat to the mind. I would be personally shattered if the Oscar misses him and lands on Matt Damon, Christopher Plummer, Stanley Tucci or Woody Harrelson.
But, then, the ways of the 5777 Academy members are not easily fathomable.
Gautaman Bhaskaran has been covering the Oscars for many years