Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Markademy Awards

Live from my basement, it's the Xth annual Markademy Awards! With your host, a guy who has seen most Steve Martin films and less then a dozen Alec Baldwin films, me!

Thanks, announcer who is also me! This year's Markademy Awards (or, the 'Markscars' as the tabloids call them, not to be confused with the scars on Mark's face that he received in that knife fight with the hobo) will be presented thusly.....I'll give you my take on who deserves to win the award of the actual nominees, suggest a couple of 'alternative' nominees, and then hand out the award from this so-called uber-ballot. It's so simple even a chimp could understand it. Or a chump. Or a champ, though given their status, several things probably come easy to them. Or a Chomp-Chomp from the Mario games. Or a....chemp? Is that a word? This bit is dead. Onto the awards!

Actual nominees: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Helen Mirren (The Station Agent), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabby Sidibe (Precious), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)

Overlooked: Penelope Cruz (Broken Embraces), Kristen Stewart (Adventureland), Evan Rachel Wood (Whatever Works)

First of all, holy crap, did I actually just put forth Kristen Stewart's name for an acting nomination? These awards have already lost all credibility. But seriously, she did a commendable job in the surprisingly good Adventureland. Emergency Room Wood did similarly good work in being charming enough in 'Whatever Works' to distract us from the creepiness of her marrying and presumably boning Larry David. Cruz continued her streak of suddenly becoming awesome whenever directed by Pedro Almodovar, though I'd probably rank her third of the trio. Let's give Wood the nod as the new nominee on the uber-ballot, bumping Sandra Bullock. Now, to be fair, I haven't actually seen Blind Side, Station Agent or Julie & Julia, but c'mon, in a race of "who do I bump?" do you seriously think Bullock would be safe over Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren? The worst thing is, Bullock is actually going to win the Oscar, which will be one of those decision that people will look back on with horror in future years. (Or, by Monday.) Streep's record at the Oscars will drop to 2-for-16, Mirren gets a nice token nomination and Sidibe and Mulligan share the 'youngster happy to be here' honours. Were I actually making a vote, I'd pick Sidibe by a hair over Mulligan in a tough call between two excellent, film-carrying performances. Or, maybe literally by a hair, since Mulligan got one of those awful pixie haircuts that has maybe looked attractive on, like, six women ever yet otherwise good-looking women continue to insist on ruining their looks in a vain attempt to be Audrey Hepburn. Rant over. Fun fact: if Bullock wins, she'll be the first person to win both a Razzie and an Oscar in the same year.

Will win: Bullock
Should win: Sidibe

Actual nominees: Matt Damon (Invictus), Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Christopher Plummer (The Station Agent), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)

Overlooked: Peter Capaldi (In The Loop), Zach Galifianakis (Hangover), Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen), Fred Melamed (A Serious Man), The Cameo (Zombieland), Jason Segel (I Love You, Man)

Ok, 'The Cameo' is the actor whose name I'm keeping secret if you've never seen Zombieland, since it's a hilarious surprise. And, call me naive, but I actually thought that Galifianakis had a legit shot at a nomination. But, supporting actor was a tough category this year. You had Harrelson's excellent 'sensitive Stone Cold Steve Austin' character in Messenger, plus his Zombieland role. You had Tucci getting in for his supporting roles in both Lovely Bones and Julie & Julia. Even Damon could be considered a 'body of work' type of nominee given his (better) role in 'The Informant!' But, they all pale in comparison to Christoph Waltz, who will literally waltz his way to a well-deserved win. It's somewhat too bad that Waltz is such a lock, since a Christopher Plummer win would make him the first Oscar winner whose hand I've shaken before. He was the keynote speaker at my college graduation ceremony; he made a bunch of jokes about getting drunk, all of which were delivered impeccably. This is Zach Galifianakis' future. But, for now, he and the amazing Capaldi make the uber-ballot by bumping Plummer (didn't see his movie) and Damon.

Will win: Waltz
Should win: Waltz

Actual nominees: Penelope Cruz (Nine), Vera Farminga (Up In The Air), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), Anna Kendrick (Up In The Air), Mo'Nique (Precious)

Overlooked: Emily Blunt (Sunshine Cleaning), Marion Cotillard (Nine), Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds), Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), Julianne Moore (A Single Man), Samantha Morton (The Messenger)

Boy, deep year in the supporting actress category. I thought about bumping Laurent up to lead, but IB didn't really have a true main character, and if Waltz is in supporting then Laurent should be too. Anyway, she totally deserved to be nominated, so add her to the uber-ballot in Gyllenhaal's place and (if someone from Nine has to be nominated) add Marion Cotillard rather than Penelope Cruz since Cotillard was basically the only good thing in the movie. Mo'Nique is the pretty clear favourite here so I don't really have much to add. So I'll just mention how, during a recent screening of The Dark Knight, my friends and I recently debated Maggie Gyllenhaal's hotness in a scene reminiscent of the Dunder-Mifflin office voting if Hilary Swank is hot or not. My friend Matt argued that it wasn't believable that Bruce Wayne would've been so hung up over an average-looking woman, while I argued that Gyllenhaal is 'average' only by Hollywood standards. Then I think someone said she looked like a cartoon turtle and the discussion devolved into a shootout. Between the bullet wound and getting stabbed by that hobo, I've had a rough month.

Will win: Mo'Nique
Should win: Kendrick

Actual nominees: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), George Clooney (Up In The Air), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker)

Overlooked: Sharlto Copley (District 9), Matt Damon (The Informant!), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days Of Summer), Sam Rockwell (Moon), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man)

Damon got bumped from the supporting actor uber-ballot, but he takes out his pal Clooney to make the best actor uber-ballot. Again, this is a very tough category to knock someone out of this year, since Clooney was excellent himself. It seems agreed that Jeff Bridges is a lock to win, and while I certainly support the idea of Bridges getting an overdue Oscar victory....I dunno, I don't think he's the best of the nominees. I think Colin Firth did a bit more in a more difficult role. If I had a vote (which I somehow don't --- come on, Academy! How many more of these blogs do I have to write?!) I'd swallow hard and vote for Firth, thus dooming Bridges to a career 0-for-5 nominations. Well, my vote wouldn't exactly doom him since he'd still win easily. Maybe this is why I don't get an actual vote. My over-inflated self-importance would be totally out of place in Hollywood.

Will win: Bridges
Should win: Firth

Actual nominees: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), James Cameron (Avatar), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up In The Air), Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds)

Overlooked: Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox), Neill Blomkamp (District 9), The Coen Brothers (A Serious Man), Tom Ford (A Single Man), Lone Scherfig (An Education), Steven Soderbergh (The Informant!)

I'm actually going to leave the uber-ballot unchanged from the actual ballot, since as much as I thought 'Avatar' was boring, it's hard to argue that Cameron wrung every ounce of creativity he could muster into the visual side of the film. Not, like, the story or anything, but still, the aliens looked cool in 3-D. Actually wait a second, fuck that --- Neill Blomkamp's budget was about a tenth of Cameron's and his movie was just as visually impressive. Blomkamp gets the nod on the uber-ballot. Cameron's douchey "Oh, give the best director Oscar to Kathryn, she deserves it, but give us Best Picture' ploy also works against him in this case. It's too bad I couldn't find room for Tom Ford, the big-time fashion designer who turned to movie-making and had a great debut with 'A Single Man.' Ford's fashion background and eye for style is evident in his movie, since virtually every frame could stand on its own as a lovely photograph. Ford, or at least his cinematographer Eduard Grau, deserved a nomination.

Will win: Bigelow
Should win: Tarantino

Actual nominees: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up In The Air

Overlooked: Adventureland, Fantastic Mr. Fox, 500 Days Of Summer, I Love You Man, The Informant!, In The Loop, Paranormal Activity, A Single Man, Sugar

Thanks to the new preferential balloting rules and the ten-picture field, this year's race is hard to predict. In a normal year, one would think it would be a clear battle between Avatar and Hurt Locker (and, in all likelihood, it will be one of those winning anyway), but thanks to the balloting rules, it's quite possible that a movie could win the prize without necessarily being at the very top of the most ballots. It all comes down to who has the fewest detractors, really, since clever voters will put the film they feel is the biggest threat to their preferred choice at the bottom. For instance, if you want Hurt Locker to win, you'll put it at #1 and put Avatar at #10. It's like that old Archie story where Archie, Reggie, Moose and Chuck are voting on a beauty contest comprised of Betty, Veronica, Nancy, Midge and Big Ethel. The guys all vote their girlfriends as #1, but then all pick Ethel as #2 so as to not give another competitor an extra vote. As it played out, Ethel is then named the winner on overall points. Ah, Archie Comics --- so many life lessons. In this scenario, a win for 'Blind Side' would be the real Big Ethel ugly tree victor, but I think enough people are horrified by even its nomination to stick it at #10. You'll find pockets of voters who are anti-Avatar, anti-Hurt Locker or anti-Inglourious (the three favourites), but for a movie like 'Up In The Air' that has no real backlash, it would squeak through for enough votes if it cracks the top three on everyone's list.

But, as I said, it'll probably be Hurt Locker or Avatar who actually wins. I'll make Avatar my official pick since voters will probably be swayed by the box office and pretty colours, rather than the fact that the movie was pretty sucky. Avatar will be in tough competition with 'A Beautiful Mind' for the title of the decade's worst Best Picture, which is pretty shocking given ABM's lameness. That Jim Cameron, always breaking records!

Will win: Avatar?
Should win: Inglourious Basterds

Now, onto the official uber-ballot for Best Picture, or the main event of every year's Markademy Awards. I thought about limited my picks to the traditional five, since a 10-picture ballot is kind of stupid and a change that the Academy will probably backtrack from before 2015 at the latest. But, I decided to list ten films but put them in order, so you yourself can identify which were the 'top five' had I done a regular set of nominations. The winner, unsurprisingly, is the movie I wrote a massive analysis of back in August --- the one and only Inglourious Basterds.

The uber-ballot!

1. Inglourious Basterds
2. A Single Man
3. In The Loop
4. A Serious Man
5. I Love You, Man
6. The Hurt Locker
7. Fantastic Mr. Fox
8. 500 Days Of Summer
9. Up
10. Watchmen

And, as a bonus, here are my favourite scenes of the year in movies.

18. Any time Mr. Fox's family eats (Fantastic Mr. Fox)
17. George and Charley's dinner party (A Single Man)
16. Bruno screening his celeb interview show for the focus group, complete with talking penis (Bruno)
15. Ricky Gervais makes up the concept of religion (The Invention of Lying)
14. The photo montage over the end credits (The Hangover)
13. The end scene at the train station (Drag Me To Hell)
12. The hilarious spiral of lies that are revealed in the last 20 minutes of the movie (The Informant!)
11. Ryan and Alex try to comfort Natalie about her breakup (Up In The Air)
10. Micah follows the 'tracks' from next to the bed up into the attic, finds the torn picture (Paranormal Activity)
9. "Slappin' de bass" (I Love You, Man)
8. John Dillinger openly walks through the FBI office (Public Enemies)
7. The story about the dentist who finds 'help me' in Hebrew on his patient's teeth (A Serious Man)
6. Precious and her mother meet at the social worker's cubicle (Precious)
5. The Cameo (Zombieland)
4. The opening credits (Watchmen)
3. Pretty much any time Peter Capaldi is chewing out his staff, but particularly the 'kiss my sweaty ballsack, you fat fuck' scene (In The Loop)
2. Pretty much any of Christoph Waltz's interrogation scenes, but particularly the scene in the restaurant when Landa is talking to Shosanna and orders a glass of milk (Inglourious Basterds)
1. The opening sequence detailing Carl and Ellie's life (Up)

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