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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    And the Oscar goes to…

    The Academy Awards mark the end of the awards season for movies, and is one of the most anticipated awards shows. This year’s Oscars add an interesting twist: 10 Best Picture nominees instead of five. From the usual arthouse films to Nazi revenge fantasies and 3-D animation, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has opened up the category in an effort to reflect American tastes in cinema. The Arizona Daily Wildcat’s WildLife staff members weighed in on this year’s nominees. (Note: Some staff members abstained from certain categories, resulting in ties.)


    Leading Actor

    Jeff Bridges in “”Crazy Heart””: 5 votes

    Bridges could put on an acting clinic with his work in this film. He cascades from comedic pathos to tragic disillusionment to unfettered helplessness in a devastatingly human performance. He filters Bad Blake’s misery through profoundly affecting eye work and pitch-perfect body language, creating a train wreck of a man. Bridges owns the character of Bad Blake, and his work in this film obfuscates the line between an actor and his craft. Nobody could ever do this role better.

    —Zachary Smith

    Colin Firth in “”A Single Man””: 4 votes

    Morgan Freeman in “”Invictus””: 2 votes

    George Clooney in “”Up in the Air””: 3 votes

    Jeremy Renner in “”The Hurt Locker””: 1 vote

    Leading Actress (TIE)

    Sandra Bullock in “”The Blind Side””: 3 votes

    Normally left with clichéd “”girl next door”” roles, Sandra Bullock has finally found her “”Erin Brockovich.”” Her experience playing the quirky, romantic ingénue is not entirely absent in her “”Blind Side”” performance. As wealthy Memphis housewife Leigh Anne Tuohy, Bullock meshes the subtleties of comedic timing with a mature understanding of dramatics to create a dynamically brash modern woman worthy of an Oscar.

    —Jessica Leftault

    Gabourey Sidibe in “”Precious””: 3 votes

    Listen. Gabourey Sidibe is a long shot to win, but this girl deserves it nonetheless. Did you see “”Precious?”” Probably not, but that’s beside the point. Her portrayal of Precious, an illiterate teenage girl who has been physically and mentally abused by her mother, raped and twice impregnated by her father, was heartwrenching. The depth of the performance was unlike anything I’ve seen from an actress so new to the screen. Sidibe has never acted in a film before and, because of her specific look and Hollywood’s obsession with tall, blonde leading ladies, she may never have the opportunity to play the lead in a feature film again. It’s unfortunate, but it’s how the world works. For all these reasons — Gaby for the win.

    —Katie Gault

    Meryl Streep in “”Julia & Julia””: 3 votes

    From my Aug. 10 review of “”Julia & Julia””: “”Meryl Streep is Julia Child in this movie. Her uncanny performance brings to life Child’s spirit of humor and optimism, recalling the joie de vivre of her PBS shows. Whether it’s discovering the deliciousness of sole meunière or buying all sorts of gadgets for her kitchen, watching Streep portray all of Child’s physical and vocal mannerisms is a joy.”” Enough said.

    —Steven Kwan

    Helen Mirren: 0 votes

    Carey Mulligan: 0 votes

    Animated Feature

    Up: 8 votes

    It is probably no surprise that “”Up”” takes the trophy hands-down in the Best Animated Feature category. It sold me in the opening sequence. Not a single movie to date has caused me to shed tears, but “”Up”” came the closest with its heartwrenchingly realistic opening montage about breaking into the bank and setting your dreams aside. The wide audience appeal, breathtaking computer graphics and storyline make it a shoe-in for a winner. Come on, who doesn’t like hot air balloons?

    —Marisa D. Fisher

    Fantastic Mr. Fox: 4 votes

    Coraline: 3 votes

    The Princess and the Frog: 1 vote

    The Secret of Kells: 0 votes

    Best Picture

    Inglourious Basterds: 4 votes

    While it isn’t as easy a film to digest as “”The Hurt Locker”” or “”Up in the Air,”” it’s better than both. It features Christophe Waltz alongside the best acting ensemble of the year, a hilariously irreverent and creative script, stunning editing and Tarantino’s strongest directing yet.  “”Basterds”” is the perfect showcase for Tarantino’s non-linear, massive cast storytelling, allowing his scathing witticisms to dazzle just as much as his blistering imagery. Some people outright hated the film, but put it this way: No other movie was as impressive a feat as “”Inglourious Basterds.””

    —Zachary Smith

    The Hurt Locker: 2 votes

    A Serious Man: 2 votes

    An Education: 1 vote

    District 9: 1 vote

    The Blind Side: 1 vote

    Up: 1 vote

    Up in the Air: 1 vote

    Avatar: 0 votes

    Precious: 0 votes

    Original Screenplay

    Inglourious Basterds: 8 votes

    There are World War II movies, and then there’s “”Inglorious Basterds.”” Finally, a Tarantino movie that’s cinematically explosive and still makes sense for those of us who just didn’t get “”Reservoir Dogs.”” The best parts: Brad Pitt drawling through Italian, an infamous American soldier fond of scalping Nazis, beautiful femme fatales who kick Hitler’s arse and Christoph Waltz as a wickedly delightful German officer. With awesome amounts of violence, a plethora of quirky characters and more plot lines than laces on Gestapo boots, we’ll see if the Academy is ready for this war comedy — America sure was.

    —Kathleen Roosa

    A Serious Man: 3 votes

    Hurt Locker: 2 votes

    Up: 1 vote

    Up in the Air: 1 vote

    Adapted Screenplay (TIE)

    In The Loop: 4 votes

    Or, “”How I Stopped Worrying and Started a War in the Middle East.”” From the hilarious BBC series “”The Thick of It”” comes this vulgar lampoon of the British and American political systems, following the chain of publicity blunders and surreptitious spin-doctor sessions that lead to the declaration of war. Amid the all-too-familiar representations of shifty defense secretaries and bi-partisan bickering is a script that is as raunchily hilarious as it is satirical. Some of the better insults tossed around in the juvenile chambers of government include “”Nazi Julie Andrews,”” “”master race of highly-gifted toddlers,”” “”ass-spraying mayhem”” and a new expression of exasperation for the ages: “”difficult, difficult, lemon-difficult.”” We’ll see if it can spin the win.

    —Brandon Specktor

    An Education: 4 votes

    “”An Education”” is based on the memoir by British reporter Lynn Barber. It was first printed in issue 82 of the magazine Granta in 2003 before its solo debut alongside the movie in 2009. Nick Hornby, author of “”Fever Pitch,”” “”High Fidelity”” and “”About A Boy,”” rolled up his sleeves and took the plunge. With an author’s eye for minute details and a natural talent of manipulating content for film, Hornby captures Barber’s ruthless — sometimes serious, sometimes humorous — thoughts, magnifying them with tasteful subtlety to fit on the big screen.

    —Kim Kotel

    District 9: 3 votes

    Up in the Air: 1 vote

    Precious: 1 votes


    Quentin Tarantino: 5 votes

    Some might immediately point to the directors of “”Avatar”” or “”The Hurt Locker”” for this award, but neither of those technically-impressive films worked on as many levels as “”Basterds.”” Tarantino worked with four languages, three plotlines and approximately 2000 genres and never missed a beat. The first scene alone is enough reason for him to win this award. Despite being the most unorthodox war film since “”Apocalypse Now,”” “”Basterds”” succeeded because Tarantino coaxed lights-out performances from all of his actors and assembled the best-staged finale from last year.

    —Zachary Smith

    James Cameron: 4 votes

    Kathryn Bigelow: 3 votes

    Jason Reitman: 1 vote

    Lee Daniels: 0 votes

    Best Animated Short

    French Roast: 3 votes

    Although it is up against some pretty stiff competition such as Javier Recio Gracia’s “”The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)”” and the Wallace and Gromit short titled “”A Matter of Loaf and Death,”” “”French Roast”” is our pick for the Best Animated Short Film of 2009. The first Academy Award nomination for creator Fabrice O. Joubert, “”French Roast”” is a lighthearted comedy that chronicles a Parisian businessman’s dilemma when he discovers that he has forgotten his wallet as he goes to pay for his morning coffee. Not only is the film clever and entertaining, but it also gets two thumbs up for delivering a heart-warming message. You can watch the film at

    —Dallas Williamson

    The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte): 2 votes

    Logorama: 2 votes

    A Matter of Loaf and Death: 1 vote

    Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty: 0 votes

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