Michael Fassbender makes, shall we say, a costly error, in Inglourious Basterds.

Michael Fassbender makes, shall we say, a costly error, in Inglourious Basterds.

My Top 20:

  1. Inglourious Basterds
  2. The Hurt Locker
  3. A Serious Man
  4. An Education
  5. Broken Embraces
  6. Up
  7. Up in the Air
  8. The White Ribbon
  9. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  10. District 9
  11. The Informant
  12. Sin Nombre
  13. Crazy Heart
  14. Coraline
  15. Revanche
  16. Precious
  17. (500) Days of Summer
  18. A Single Man
  19. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
  20. Duplicity

note:  There has been a slight change since I first posted this, because I finished re-watching film for Best Picture and dropped District 9 a few spots and moved Up up a few spots.

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The Hurt Locker
  • Best Director:  Kathryn Bigelow  (The Hurt Locker)
  • Best Actor:  Jeff Bridges  (Crazy Heart)
  • Best Actress:  Meryl Streep  (Julie and Julia)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Christoph Waltz  (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  M’Onique  (Precious)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Up in the Air
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Hurt Locker
  • Best Cinematography:  The White Ribbon
  • Best Animated Film:  Up
  • Best Foreign Film:  Summer Hours

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The Hurt Locker
  • Best Director:  Kathryn Bigelow  (The Hurt Locker)
  • Best Actor:  Jeff Bridges  (Crazy Heart)
  • Best Actress:  Sandra Bullock  (The Blind Side)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Christoph Waltz  (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  M’Onique  (Precious)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Precious
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Hurt Locker
  • Best Cinematography:  Avatar
  • Best Animated Film:  Up
  • Best Foreign Film:  The Secret in Their Eyes
#1 critics by a long way.

#1 with the critics by a long way.

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. The Hurt Locker  –  (#13)
  2. A Serious Man  –  (#65)
  3. Summer Hours  –  (#66)
  4. Inglourious Basterds  –  (#70)
  5. The Fantastic Mr. Fox  –  (#75)
  6. Up  –  (#106)
  7. The White Ribbon  –  (#118)
  8. Police, Adjective  –  (#150)
  9. A Prophet  –  (#168)
  10. In the Loop  –  (#183)

note:  Because so much of the focus for the Top 1000 is on classic films, because they have had a longer time to sink into the critical consciousness, they have a separate list called the Top 250 of the 2000′s.  The number in parenthesis is for their rank in the Top 250 for the 21st Century.  There are no post-2007 films on the Top 1000.

Top 10 Films  (2009 Best Picture Awards):

  1. The Hurt Locker
  2. Up in the Air
  3. Avatar
  4. Precious
  5. An Education
  6. Inglourious Basterds
  7. Up
  8. District 9
  9. A Serious Man
  10. Invictus

note:  The Blind Side becomes the first Oscar nominee since 1988 (and only the second since 1980) without any other Best Picture points.

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. The Hurt Locker  –  3110
  2. Up in the Air  –  1699
  3. Avatar  –  1655
  4. Inglourious Basterds  –  1545
  5. Precious  –  1328
  6. Up  –  1075
  7. An Education  –  846
  8. District 9  –  686
  9. Crazy Heart  –  588
  10. A Serious Man  –  533

note:  The Hurt Locker has the largest margin of victory since 1999.  With the expanded Best Picture selection from the Oscars, they take the first 8 spots and #10.  But finishing at #18, The Blind Side is the lowest ranked Best Picture nominee since 1954.

James Cameron wins the big box office again.

James Cameron wins the big box office again.

Top 10 Films  (Domestic Box Office Gross):

  1. Avatar  –  $749.76 mil
  2. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen  –  $402.11 mil
  3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince  –  $301.95 mil
  4. The Twilight Saga: New Moon  –  $296.62 mil
  5. Up  –  $293.00 mil
  6. The Hangover  –  $277.32 mil
  7. Star Trek  –  $257.73 mil
  8. The Blind Side  –  $255.95 mil
  9. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel  –  $219.61 mil
  10. Sherlock Holmes  –  $209.02 mil

note:  Avatar shatters most box office records (it is also the first completely original film to finish #1 since 1998).  Transformers becomes the first film to gross $400 million and not be the #1 film.  For the first time since 1998, three films have a metacritic rank below 45 (Transformers, Twilight, Alvin).  For the first time since 2003, there is more than one film on this list I haven’t seen (Twilight and Alvin).  For the first time since 1988, I see less than 4 films in the theater (Harry Potter, Up, Star Trek).

Top 10 Films  (Worldwide Box Office Gross):

  1. Avatar  –  $2771.5 mil
  2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince  –  $934.4 mil
  3. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs  –  $886.7 mil
  4. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen  –  $836.3 mil
  5. 2012  –  $769.7 mil
  6. Up  –  $731.3 mil
  7. The Twilight Saga: New Moon  –  $739.8 mil
  8. Sherlock Holmes  –  $524.0 mil
  9. Angels and Demons  –  $485.9 mil
  10. The Hangover  –  $467.5 mil

note:  In spite of its record domestic gross numbers, Avatar has the highest percentage coming from international gross for any #1 film – almost 73%.  It sets a monstrous new record, becoming the first film to ever gross over $2 billion.  Star Trek doesn’t travel well (33% internationally) and Blind Side not at all (17.2% internationally – the lowest percentage ever for a film grossing more than $200 million).  On the other hand, Ice Age and 2012 both earn more than 3/4 of their money on the international scene.  As it was released before Avatar, Ice Age‘s $690 international gross becomes the 3rd highest all-time by the end of its run (now down to 9th, as it has been passed by its own sequel, which earned even less domestically) and becomes the highest grossing worldwide film to earn less than $200 million in the States.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

The best performance of the year, and oh so adorable in the rain.  Carey Mulligan in An Education.

The best performance of the year, and oh so adorable in the rain. Carey Mulligan in An Education.

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  Inglourious Basterds
  • Best Director:  Quentin Tarantino  (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Best Actor:  Jeremy Renner  (The Hurt Locker)
  • Best Actress:  Carey Mulligan  (An Education)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Christoph Waltz  (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  M’Onique  (Precious)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  An Education
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Inglourious Basterds

Comedy:

  • Best Picture:  A Serious Man
  • Best Director:  Joel and Ethan Coen  (A Serious Man)
  • Best Actor:  George Clooney  (Up in the Air)
  • Best Actress:  Meryl Streep  (Julie and Julia)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Malcolm Tucker  (In the Loop)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Anna Kendrick  (Up in the Air)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Up in the Air
  • Best Original Screenplay:  A Serious Man

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Inglourious Basterds
  • Best Director:  Quentin Tarantino  (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Best Actor:  Jeremy Renner  (The Hurt Locker)
  • Best Actress:  Carey Mulligan  (An Education)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Christoph Waltz  (Inglourious Basterds)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  M’Onique  (Precious)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  An Education
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Inglourious Basterds
  • Best Editing:  Inglourious Basterds
  • Best Cinematography:  The Hurt Locker
  • Best Original Score:  Up
  • Best Sound:  The Hurt Locker
  • Best Art Direction:  The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
  • Best Visual Effects:  Avatar
  • Best Sound Editing:  The Hurt Locker
  • Best Costume Design:  The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
  • Best Makeup:  The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
  • Best Original Song:  “The Losin Kind” from Crazy Heart
  • Best Animated Film:  Up
  • Best Foreign Film:  Broken Embraces
Penelope Cruz doing a bit of Audrey Hepburn in Broken Embraces.

Penelope Cruz doing a bit of Audrey Hepburn in Broken Embraces.

Top 5 Foreign Films:

  1. Broken Embraces
  2. The White Ribbon
  3. Sin Nombre
  4. The Secret in Their Eyes
  5. I Am Love

This year actually has a very strong group of Foreign films.  My top 5 includes the Oscar winner and another nominee (White Ribbon) and two of the other nominees make my Top 10 (Ajami at #7 and A Prophet at #8).  Moreover, the Academy doesn’t chunk it.  Of the 11 films that I rank as **** or ***.5, every film that was submitted to the Academy was nominated.  Aside from those listed above, that also includes an eclectic group – my #6 is the oddly wonderful Micmacs, my #9 is Vincere and my 10 and 11 probably aren’t on other people’s lists – OSS 117: Lost in Rio (the hilarious spy spoof sequel that would become more well-known when its star and director would win Oscars in 2011 though it’s not quite as good as the first one) and A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (the Zhang Yimou remake of Blood Simple).  This, by the way, is the sixth time that Pedro Almodóvar has earned a Best Foreign Film nomination from me and the second time he has won (All About My Mother was the other).

Still seriously sexy after 40: Julia Roberts in Duplicity.

Still seriously sexy after 40: Julia Roberts in Duplicity.

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master and he made me this collar so that I may speak. Squirrel!”  (Bob Peterson in Up)
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “I feel old, but not very wise.”  (Carey Mulligan in An Education)
  • Best Opening:  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Best Ending:  A Serious Man
  • Best Scene:  the love story in Up
  • Best Use of a Song (comedic):  “You Make My Dreams” in (500) Days of Summer
  • Best Use of a Song (dramatic):  “Here Comes Your Man” in (500) Days of Summer
  • Best Ensemble:  Inglourious Basterds
  • Funniest Film:  The Hangover
  • Most Over-rated Film:  Avatar
  • Worst Film:  2012
  • Worst Sequel:  Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Carey Mulligan in An Education
  • Sexiest Performance:  Julia Roberts in Duplicity
  • Best Sex Scene:  Ben Foster and Jenna Malone in The Messenger
  • Sexiest Moment:  Vera Farmiga wearing only the tie in Up in the Air
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Kristen Stewart in Adventureland
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  Fanboys
  • Best Soundtrack:  Crazy Heart
  • Best Original Song from a Bad Film:  “Take it All” from Nine
  • Read the Book, SKIP the Film:  Watchmen
  • Coolest Performance:  Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker
  • Greatest Disparity Between Two Roles:  Joseph Gordon-Leavitt  ((500) Days of Summer  /  GIJOE: The Rise of Cobra)
  • Best Trailer:  Star Trek
  • Trailer Way Better than the Film:  The Men Who Stare at Goats
  • Best Tag-line:  “No goats.  No glory.”  (The Men Who Stare at Goats)
  • Best Cameo:  William Shatner in Fanboys
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Bob Peterson in Up  (Dug)

Film History:  Avatar shatters almost every box-office record on its way to a stunning $749 million domestic gross and well over 2 and a half billion dollars worldwide.  It also heralds the revitalization of 3-D, much to the dismay of Roger Ebert and myself.  The White Ribbon wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes while Lebanon wins the Golden Lion in Venice.  Precious wins the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival (and then becomes the first winner to ever get nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars) and then dominates the Independent Spirit Awards, winning Picture, Director, Actress and Supporting Actress.  The Hurt Locker wins Best Picture, Director and Actor at the Satellite Awards.  Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen wins Worst Picture, Director and Screenplay at the Razzies while Battlefield Earth is awarded Worst Picture of the Decade but the real news is that Sandra Bullock wins Worst Actress for All About Steve the night before she wins the Oscar and she actually attends the ceremony.  Karl Malden dies in July at age 97, John Hughes dies suddenly in August, Patrick Swayze in September and Jennifer Jones in December.

Academy Awards:  After a lot of complaining over the exclusion of The Dark Knight the year before, the Academy (in a theoretically unrelated move) expands to a Best Picture slate of 10 films for the first time since 1943.  This immediately begins speculation on what the other five films would have been every year (like this one).  For the first time, in the showdown between critics favorite (GoodFellas, Pulp Fiction, L.A. Confidential, Sideways, The Hurt Locker) vs. more populist fare (Dances with Wolves, Forrest Gump, Titanic, Million Dollar Baby, Avatar), the critics favorite wins the Oscar.  The Best Picture choice is also, incorrectly offered as a choice between the lowest grossing Best Picture (The Hurt Locker) and the highest grossing film of all-time (Avatar); this is a fallacy in that The Hurt Locker is not by any means the lowest grossing winner, but, adjusted for inflation, is likely the lowest-grossing film to ever win; though if you want to do that, then you have to remember to adjust Avatar as well, in which case it drops from #1 to #14.  District 9 and The Blind Side become the first films since 2001 to get Best Picture nominations without having received a BFCA nomination.  The Blind Side becomes the first film since Dangerous Liaisons in 1988 to receive an Oscar nomination without a critics award, BAFTA nom, Globe nom, PGA nom or BFCA nom.  The Blind Side becomes the first Best Picture nominee since 2002 to fail to earn either a Director or Screenplay nomination and the first since 1994 to only earn two nominations.  Though Avatar earns all five major tech nominations (Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound, Art Direction), it is also the only Picture / Director nominee not to get a Screenplay nomination.  The Best Foreign Film winner is from South America for the first time since 1985 and only the second time ever (both times for Argentina).  It’s also the first time since 1998 and only the second time ever that South America has two nominees (Peru has the other).  With its 9th loss in the Best Foreign Film category, Israel sets a new record for a country without ever having won.  The Hurt Locker is nominated for Best Actor – the first Best Picture winner in five years; this is the longest gap in Oscar history.  It also becomes the first BP to win Best Sound Editing since 1997.  District 9 becomes the first TriStar film since As Good as It Gets in 1997 to earn a Best Picture nomination.

This is an interesting year, in that they actually do a pretty good job.  First, the only serious problematic winner is Sandra Bullock, and even she was my #8 for the year.  And this is one of those rare years like 1977 and 1986, in that my #1 film was nominated and lost, but my #2 film was the actual winner and they are so close that I am okay with the other winner.  To me, the most egregious omissions are for Broken Embraces (Picture, Original Screenplay, Actress) and that both Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus had their technical achievements under-rated.  It also would have been nice if they had gone for the U2 song from Brothers and “The Other Father Song” from Coraline rather than the mediocre Randy Newman songs from The Princess and the Frog.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Actress for Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Picture for The Blind Side
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Makeup for The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Nine
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Broken Embraces
  • Best Eligible English-Language Film with No Oscar Nominations:  The Informant
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Makeup
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Supporting Actor
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Score, Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Original Song, Animated Film

Golden Globes:  Avatar joins Babel as the only films since 1992 to win Best Picture – Drama without winning any other Best Picture awards.  It is also the first film to win both Best Picture and Director at the Globes but win neither at the Oscars since Prizzi’s Honor in 1985.  With only 225 points (it earns Score and Song noms), Avatar has the lowest point total for any Picture / Director winner since 1952; it is only the third Picture / Director winner since the Screenplay award began in 1965 to fail to earn a Screenplay nom (joining Yentl and Return of the King).  The Hurt Locker is nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay and loses them all; yet, it goes on to win all three at the Oscars – the first film to do this particular feat since Silence of the Lambs (and joins Midnight Cowboy, The Godfather Part II and Annie Hall as the only ones to do it).  Hurt Locker also becomes the only film in history aside from Day of the Jackal to get nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay at the Globes but receive no other nominations.  Also earning Picture, Director and Screenplay nominations are Up in the Air (6 noms but only wins Screenplay) and Inglourious Basterds (which only wins Supporting Actor).  The Hangover, with only one nomination, wins Best Picture – Comedy / Musical over Nine, which has 5 noms and wins nothing; it joins Toy Story 2 as the only films to win Best Picture without any other nominations since 1954.  The Globes continue their fondness for Clint Eastwood without fondness for his films – he is nominated for Best Director without a Best Picture nomination for the second time in four years (he also won in 1988 without a Best Picture nomination – the only time this has happened since 1968); this makes 7 nominations and 3 wins for Eastwood as a director to only go along with 3 Best Picture nominations and no wins (though one of those seven films did win Best Foreign Film).

Golden Globes Best Picture – Comedy / Musical:  In 2007, Sweeney Todd (a great film) won Best Picture – Comedy / Musical over Juno, Across the Universe, Charlie Wilson’s War and Hairspray (3 great films and a good film).  In 2008, Vicky Cristina Barcelona (a very good film) won Best Picture – Comedy / Musical over Happy-Go-Lucky, In Bruges, Burn After Reading and Mamma Mia (3 very good films and a terrible film).  In 2009, The Hangover (a good film) won Best Picture – Comedy / Musical over 500 Days of Summer, It’s Complicated, Julie and Julia and Nine (a very good film, a good film, a mediocre film and a bad film).  Is 2009 really that much a worse year for comedies than the previous two years?  Well, part of that depends on what you qualify as a comedy.  The argument could be made for Inglourious Basterds (though I put it as a drama).  Up in the Air makes my comedy list, though the Globes said it was a drama.  And Up and Coraline were considered Animated and didn’t qualify.  But just look at the acting categories.  They could have gone with A Serious Man (the best comedy of the year).  Or The Informant, an excellent film, better than any of their nominees.  Or Duplicity, which I have in my Top 20, unlike three of their four nominees.  Hell, I have The Hangover as the second best of their nominees and it’s my #34 film of the year.  Other films that I rate as high three star films (which means, not worthy of a nomination, but much better than It’s Complicated, Julie and Julia and Nine): Sherlock Holmes, Away We Go, Cold Souls and Taking Woodstock.  So, if you don’t count Up in the Air and you don’t allow Up and Coraline to compete, it’s not a great year, but not nearly as bad a year as it would seem.  Of the 62 full slates of Best Comedy / Musical (or both, when they were separate categories from 58-62), I rank this one 54th; and it is the worst since 1976.  I know, because I took a good look at all the years and it might just become my next blog series after Year in Film is complete.  But, I’ll say this for the nominees – they’re a hell of a lot better than the ones that would follow in 2010 – the second worst slate ever.

Awards:  While The Hurt Locker does become the third film in a row to win the Oscar after getting the most points at the critics awards, it is the first truly dominant critics film since Sideways in 2004 and the first to win the Oscar since Schindler’s List in 1993.  It wins all the Best Picture and Director awards except the NBR (which is also contrary in that it is the only group not to give Christoph Waltz and M’Onique its supporting awards); it also wins three Best Actor awards (NSFC, BSFC, CFC), Screenplay (Chicago), Cinematography (Boston, Chicago) and Editing (Boston).  Its five Best Picture wins tie for 3rd all-time as do its five Best Director awards.  Its 360 point at the Boston Society of Film Critics sets a new record while its 390 points in Chicago are 4th all-time.  It joins GoodFellas, L.A. Confidential and Brokeback Mountain as the only films to win Picture and Director in both New York and LA.  It comes in 6th all-time in critics points in spite of not getting any points from the NBR (every film above it won at least one award from all six groups).  The only other big winners are all in specific categories – 5 wins for Inglourious Basterds in Supporting Actor, the same for Precious in Supporting Actress, 3 wins for A Serious Man in Screenplay (NSFC, BSFC, NBR), 4 wins for Summer Hours in Foreign Film (NYFC, LAFC, NSFC, BSFC) and 3 for White Ribbon in Cinematography (NYFC, LAFC, NSFC) – but the only other win for any of those films is White Ribbon‘s win for Foreign Film in Chicago.

After not having happened since 1999, The Hurt Locker becomes the third film in a row to sweep the PGA, DGA and WGA.  The Coen Brothers are nominated at the WGA for the third consecutive year – the first writers to do this since Woody Allen’s five year streak of 83-87.  Avatar’s 22 guild nominations tie for the 2nd most all-time and its 700 points are 5th all-time.  It also becomes the first film since the SAG Ensemble Award was created in 1995 to finish first in the year for points without winning either the PGA or SAG Ensemble.  Star Trek ties Iron Man‘s mark for most guild noms with no wins (11).  As the PGA expands its Best Picture lineup to match the expanded Oscar lineup, Up becomes the first animated film to get nominated for both PGA awards and the first animated film nominated in the regular category since 2004.  Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air and Precious are all nominated for the PGA, DGA and WGA (Inglourious Basterds, nominated for the PGA and DGA and winner of the SAG Ensemble is ineligible for the WGA).  Precious, Hurt Locker, An Education and Nine are the other nominees for the SAG Ensemble.  Nineteen of the 20 SAG nominees end up earning Oscar nominations (the only one who fails is Diane Kruger for Basterds) – the best total ever except for 2006 – and all four SAG winners go on to win the Oscar for the first time since 2004.  It is also the only time other than 2006 when all ten lead performances match with the Oscars.  Because of so many prominent films being ineligible for the WGA, only four WGA nominees go on to earn Oscar nominations – the lowest total since the WGA went to its current categories in 1984.  With the new expanded Oscar lineup, all five DGA nominees earn Oscar nominations for Picture and Director for only the third time ever (joining 1981 and 2005).

An Education leads the BAFTA longlist with 17 bids, including 7 for acting, but only ends up with 7 actual nominations.  Moon, on the other hand, which earns 10 longlist bids, gets nominated for none of them, only managing a nomination for Best British Film, which doesn’t appear on the longlist.  The Hurt Locker and Avatar lead with 8 nominations, with Hurt Locker dominating by winning 6, including Picture, Director and Original Screenplay.  An Education loses Best British Film, in spite of being nominated for Best Picture, while Fish Tank, nominated for nothing else, wins the award.  An Education is the only film aside from Hurt Locker to be nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay.  Avatar misses out on Screenplay, Up in the Air and Precious on Director (though Up in the Air wins Adapted Screenplay) and Inglourious Basterds and District 9 on Picture.  Clint Eastwood films continue to underperform at the BAFTAs, as Invictus, with 5 longlist bids, earns 0 nominations (though Changeling had done well, Mystic River had not gotten Picture or Director noms and Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of our Fathers received no nominations).

The Broadcast Film Critics expand their awards, including all the technical categories that are found at the Oscars except Sound Editing.  With that, Nine sets a new BFCA record with 9 nominations and then becomes the biggest BFCA loser of all-time by winning none of them.  Even with the new expanded Oscar lineup, the BFCA is a great barometer, matching them 8 for 10 (Nine and Invictus are nominated rather than District 9 and The Blind Side).  Even with the expanded categories, no film approaches Sideways‘ record of 405 points, because the wins are split.  The Hurt Locker wins Picture and Director but none of its other 5 nominations.  Avatar wins five awards, but they’re all technical.  The other films nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay (as Hurt Locker was) all win awards (Up in the Air wins Adapted Screenplay, Inglourious Basterds wins Original Screenplay and Supporting Actor, Precious wins Supporting Actress), but Avatar is the only film to win more than 2 awards.  Clint Eastwood becomes the first director to get four nominations from the BFCA, earning one for Invictus, but remains the only person with more than two not to have won the award.

Best Director:  Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t just become the first female to win Best Director at the Oscars.  She crushes all the competition.  She wins five critics awards (all but NBR), the DGA, Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA and Satellite.  She only fails to win the Globe, losing out to her ex-husband, James Cameron for Avatar.  With that win, and nominations at the DGA, Globes, BAFTA and BFCA, Cameron comes in a very distant second.  He’s followed on the Consensus list by Quentin Tarantino for Inglourious Basterds (DGA, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe and BFCA noms), Lee Daniels for Precious (DGA, Oscar, BFCA, Satellite noms, Indie Spirit win) and Jason Reitman for Up in the Air (DGA, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms).  My own list is Tarantino, Bigelow a very close 2nd, the Coens in third for A Serious Man (Indie Spirit nom), Pedro Almodovar for Broken Embraces and BAFTA and Satellite nominee Neill Blomkamp for District 9.  My 6 through 10 are Michael Haneke for The White Ribbon, Reitman, Steven Soderbergh for The Informant, Lone Scherfig for An Education and David Yates for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Best Adapted Screenplay:  Up in the Air does an absolutely unprecedented thing.  It wins the WGA, Globe, BAFTA and BFCA (the fourth film to do so, after Traffic, Sideways and Slumdog Millionaire), but then fails to win the Oscar.  It also adds three critics groups (LA, NBR, Chicago) – giving it 7 wins.  Its 7 wins is a record for a script that fails to win the Oscar and its 600 points ties it with Adaptation (though Adaptation had lost at the WGA and Globes).  Instead, Precious becomes the first film since 1998 to win the Oscar without having won any previous awards.  Combined with its WGA, BAFTA and BFCA noms, that’s enough to get Precious into 2nd place.  The rest of the Consensus list are In the Loop (NYFC win, Oscar, BAFTA noms), District 9 (Oscar, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA noms) and An Education (Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA noms).  My own winner is An Education, followed by Up in the Air, The Informant, District 9 and Precious.  My 6 through 10 are Crazy Heart (WGA nom), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, A Single Man (BFCA nom), The Damned United and In the Loop.  With both Screenplay awards, this is the first of a few years where several prominent films are ineligible for the WGA because of their more stringent rules, including In the Loop, District 9, An Education, A Single Man and The Damned United.

Best Original Screenplay:  The Consensus is almost a tie – The Hurt Locker barely eeks out the top position over A Serious Man.  The former wins the Oscar, WGA, BAFTA and Chicago Film Critics, while earning Globe and BFCA noms while the Coens’ film earns Oscar, Globe, BAFTA and BFCA noms while winning critics awards from Boston, the NSFC and the NBR.  In a distant third is Inglourious Basterds, which wins the BFCA and earns Oscar, Globe and BAFTA noms (while being ineligible for the WGA).  Also ineligible is Up, which comes in fourth, earning Oscar, BAFTA and BFCA noms.  In the final spot is The Hangover, with WGA and BAFTA noms.  My own list goes: Basterds, Serious, Locker, Broken Embraces and Up, with my 6 through 10 being 500 Days of Summer (WGA, BFCA noms), Sin Nombre, The Messenger (Oscar nom), Summer Hours and The White Ribbon.  It feels like a flashback to the sixties, as 4 of my top 10 are foreign films.

Best Actor:  This Consensus is a slam dunk.  It was such a slam dunk that I wrote an article for LAMB on the Best Actor nominees for their Oscar piece and I wrote it the night before the nominations were announced.  I was so dead certain of who would be the nominees that I didn’t bother to wait.  And I was right.  That’s because the same five actors nominated for the Oscar had been nominated for SAG and the BFCA and four each had been nominated for the BAFTA and the Globe.  So the separation comes with the wins.  In order, they are Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA, LAFC wins and BAFTA nom), Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker (NSFC, BSFC, CFC wins, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA noms), George Clooney for Up in the Air (NYFC, NBR wins, SAG, Oscar, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA noms), Morgan Freeman for Invictus (NBR tie, SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms) and Colin Firth for A Single Man (BAFTA win, SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms).  My own list is very similar: Renner, Firth, Bridges, Clooney, Michael Stahlberg for A Serious Man (Globe – Comedy nom).  My 6 through 10 are Freeman, Matt Damon for The Informant (Globe – Comedy nom, though if you remember the ceremony, you’ll know Robert Downey’s wife predicted Damon would win), Peter Sarsgaard for An Education, Ben Foster for The Messenger and Sharlto Copley for District 9.

Best Actress:  Meryl Streep win the Best Actress Consensus for the 4th time (1981, 1982, 1985, 2009) with only one Oscar to show for it (her other, for Supporting Actress, she also won the Consensus for).  This time she does it by winning the NYFC, BSFC, BFCA and Globe – Comedy for Julie and Julia (and earns SAG, Oscar, and BAFTA noms as well as a Globe – Comedy nom for It’s Complicated).  She’s followed by Carey Mulligan for An Education (CFC, NBR, BAFTA wins, SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms), Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA wins, Globe – Comedy nom for The Proposal), Gabourey Sidibe for Precious (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BAFTA noms) and Yolande Moreau for Seraphine (LAFC, NSFC wins).  My own winner is Mulligan, and she’s followed on my list by Sidibe, Streep, Melanie Laurent for Inglourious Basterds and Penelope Cruz for Broken Embraces.  My 6 through 10 are Helen Mirren for The Last Station (SAG, Oscar, Globe noms), Juliette Binoche for Summer Hours, Bullock, Abbie Cornish for Bright Star and Marion Cotilliard for Nine (Globe – Comedy nom).

Best Supporting Actor:  The National Board of Review was the only group who didn’t seem to think that Christoph Waltz gave the best performance of the year.  He won the other five critics groups and all the awards.  That left Woody Harrelson, with his NBR win and SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms for The Messenger in a very distant 2nd.  They’re followed by Stanley Tucci for Lovely Bones (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA noms), Matt Damon for Invictus (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms) and Christopher Plummer for The Last Station (SAG, Oscar, Globe noms).  My own list is Waltz, Tucci, Alfred Molina for An Education (BAFTA nom), Damon and Plummer with Harrelson in sixth.  My 7 through 10 are Malcolm Tucker for his gleefully profane performance in In the Loop, Stanley Tucci again, this time for Julie and Julia, Zachary Quinto as the new Spock in Star Trek and Anthony Mackie in The Hurt Locker.

Best Supporting Actress:  Just like with Supporting Actor, the NBR is the lone hold-out on Supporting Actress.  Everyone else agreed on M’Onique, as she won the other five critics groups and all the awards.  Anna Kendrick, with her NBR win for Up in the Air (and SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe and BFCA noms) comes in a distant 2nd.  Her co-star, Vera Farmiga, with the same five nominations comes in third.  They are followed by Penélope Cruz for Nine (SAG, Oscar, Globe noms) and Julianne Moore for A Single Man (Globe and BFCA noms).  My nominees are M’Onique, Diane Kruger for Inglourious Basterds (SAG nom), Kendrick, Farmiga and Moore.  My 6 through 10 are Samantha Morton for The Messenger (BFCA nom), Cruz, Maggie Gyllenhall for Crazy Heart (Oscar nom), Paula Patton for Precious and Olivia Williams for An Education.

The Best Foreign Film of 2009 and one of the most of Pedro's career.

The Best Foreign Film of 2009 and one of the most of Pedro’s career.

Under-Appreciated Film of 2009:

Broken Embraces  (dir. Pedro Almodóvar)

The Best Foreign Film branch of the Academy can be forgiven this one because their stupid rule kept the film out of the nominations.  Spain didn’t submit Broken Embraces, so they couldn’t nominate it.  But other branches can’t be offered the same excuse (the other awards groups did better – Broken Embraces was nominated at the Globes and BAFTA and lost to good films, while it won at the BFCA).  But in a year where you find room for The Blind Side in the Best Picture slate and Sandra Bullock in the Best Actress race, you can definitely find room for Broken Embraces and Penélope Cruz.  And to add insult to injury, she was nominated for a lesser performance in Nine.

Cruz has an interesting relationship with Pedro.  She has clearly been a muse to him, starting when she was a young actress in Live Flesh, moving on to a key role in All About My Mother, and then earning her first Oscar nomination in Volver and then deserving another one here in Broken Embraces.  But, unlike a lot of actress-director relationships that have flowered for both (Bette Davis and William Wyler, say, or Ingmar Bergman and, first Harriet Andersson, then Bibi Andersson, and later Liv Ullmann, or Woody Allen and Diane Keaton and Mia Farrow), Cruz and Pedro have never been a couple.  But they have each inspired the other, her starring in several of his best films, and he directing her in some of her best work (that she will be starring with Antonio Banderas, another Pedro star, in Pedro’s next film almost makes me giddy with excitement).

In this film, Cruz gets to play a variety of roles.  We slowly discover who she has been over the course of the film.  We first see her in a shot from a film being made, then later see her as the secretary, and later the mistress, of a powerful businessman.  We soon discover the story as it unfurls around us, and we watch her in her desperation, first to save her father, then to please the man who came to her rescue (there are so many films about a businessman wanting to put his mistress in show business, but this is the first one I remember that shows us so perfectly how she became his mistress in the first place and it adds a much deeper human story to the film), then falling so desperately in love with her director that she acts against all sensibility.

And then we get to see her in the movies.  For this film is coming to us through the eyes of her director, years afterwards, now blind, and remembering back over those days, with a love so passionate and painful it could have ended his sight right then and there, rather than waiting for the horrible accident which changes so much for so many in the film.  But we see the film they have made together, and it, like Inglourious Basterds, reminds us how much these particular directors love movies to begin with.  This film within a film harkens back to Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, the film that made Pedro an internationally acclaimed director to begin with, and its tantalizing glimpses come to a wonderful conclusion when the film is finally finished, long after the director has been blinded and the star is gone.

And what have I really told you about this film?  Nothing about the way it looks, with its vibrant colors and wonderful shots.  Nothing about the performance of Lluís Homar as the director who has had his life altered forever from the first time she steps into his path.  Nothing about the depths of human emotion that the various characters undergo, and as we slowly realize who certain characters are and how all of this fits together.  And indeed, not very much about the depths of Cruz’s performance, from desperation, to happiness, from heartbreak to pure unbridled carnality, from Audrey to Marilyn, complete with hair to match.  But it comes to this.  Either you already know who Pedro Almodóvar is and you would have hopefully sought out this film because of the promise that any of his films bring, or you need to find his films and this film is more than a good place to start, is, indeed, one of the best places to start.

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