“Dull, dull, dull”

Posted by · 10:42 am · December 29th, 2009

As is usually the case when British outlets offer Oscar analysis, there are few fresh insights to be found in Jeremy Kay’s assessment of the current race in today’s Guardian.

Well, there is his unusual offhand assertion that “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Star Trek” are locked-in Best Picture nominees, with “Julie & Julia” and “The Blind Side” jostling for slot #10. (Well, it can’t eventually be the same 10 titles everyone else is predicting, can it? Can it?)

He does, however, offer the kind of forthright, subjective opinions on the contenders that some Oscar prognosticators shy away from, as when he witheringly dismisses Gabourey Sidibe in favor of Abbie Cornish.

Turning to Best Actor, he describes Jeremy Renner and Colin Firth is being “head and shoulders above” their likely competitors. I particularly liked his brazen (and dead-on) diss of Morgan Freeman and “Invictus” — a film for which many critics have reached absurd levels of apologism:

If awards are truly about excellence, how can the Academy in all good faith bestow the Oscar upon Clooney, who is nothing more than a genial everyman? Or Freeman, a decent but too often unengaging actor who does nothing to bring Nelson Mandela to life in Eastwood’s dull, dull, dull Invictus? Not even as formidable a talent as Bridges deserves it this year because he offers nothing fresh in Crazy Heart.

Not the most eloquent assessment, but why use three adjectives when one will do? I’ve tried to summon up the will to say something about “Invictus” for a while now — only to be defeated by the film’s porridge consistency every time — but I’m happy to let Kay speak for me in this instance.

I wrote in a comment thread this morning that a Best Picture nomination for the widely unloved “Nine” would summarize every argument put forth against the idea of 10 nominees. Let me add “Invictus” to that statement.

Sorry, off on a tangent. More of Kay’s thoughts here.

→ 24 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

24 responses so far

  • 1 12-29-2009 at 11:03 am

    Andrew said...

    I agree that Invictus was dull. It’s just an attempt by Clint Easwood to get award recognition, knowing that the Academy loves a biopic about a hero.

  • 2 12-29-2009 at 11:24 am

    billbil said...

    Thanks for sharing this. I also agree with so much that he has to write – especially about Cornish over Sidibe. I hate that, for the 2nd year in a row, it seems America is ignoring a supurb performance by a British actress.

  • 3 12-29-2009 at 11:38 am

    aspect ratio said...

    Maybe a nomination for Cornish could persuade the ones in charge to release the film on Blu-ray (currently it’s only being released on DVD in the U.S. and the UK, for reasons no one understands).

    One can certainly hope it does well with BAFTA for the same reason, it makes no sense for this film not to be released on Blu-ray.

    As a Blu-ray owner there’s no way I will ever pay money to buy or rent a standard DVD from here on out so no Bright Star on Blu-ray means no money from me.

  • 4 12-29-2009 at 11:41 am

    T.S. said...

    “Invictus” IS a horrendously dull movie, and it’s also remarkably clumsy for Eastwood, considering I usually find him rather adroit behind the camera. (His direction depends on freshness because he has a penchant for leaving scripts untouched, no matter how unpolished they are.)

    However, I thought Freeman’s performance was good — not great, not award-worthy, but good. He brings to the role a sort of forceful serenity that embodies the time, place, and person (not to mention he’s easily the most engaging element of the entire production). I think what hinders his performance is that the screenplay doesn’t allow us to go deep enough inside Mandela’s world, and I think that speaks to the important role a screenplay plays in allowing an actor to create a great performance. Freeman could perform all the necessary details to create an uncanny channeling of Mandela (not saying he does, not saying he doesn’t), but the script for “Invictus” was always going to interfere with a full performance.

  • 5 12-29-2009 at 11:47 am

    JJ said...

    Slightly off-topic.

    Here’s what I found NOT to be dull, dul, dull …

    ‘Sherlock Holmes’.

    Just saw it. Had an absolute ball. Never liked a Guy Ritchie film before this, but that’s changed now. I just thought it was a great popcorn entertainment.; the best, for me, since ‘Star Trek’.

    RD Jr. was his usual awesome self. Loved his chemistry with Jude Law. Loved Kelly Reilly as Watson’s fiancee. Loved the dialogue. Loved the editing (great fight/action sequences). Loved the technical work – top notch everywhere. And I love Victorian era movies, anway. So, yeah. Other than some slight plot issues and the fact that while I enjoy Rachel McAdams, the script underwrote her, I just ate this up.

  • 6 12-29-2009 at 11:49 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    @billybil: I get your point … but Abbie Cornish is Australian.

  • 7 12-29-2009 at 11:53 am

    Andrew said...

    That’s correct. Cornish is Australian not British.

  • 8 12-29-2009 at 11:56 am

    Amanda said...

    I have never understood the Clooney love for Up in the Air. He does nothing in that movie except play George Clooney. His acting is fine, but he really doesnt do anything. I also agree about Freeman. In my opinion neither should be in the best actor race. Give it to people who actually did some acting. Damon in the Informant! Ben Foster in the Messenger.

  • 9 12-29-2009 at 12:14 pm

    Filmoholic said...

    Guy, where is your top of the decade list?

  • 10 12-29-2009 at 12:17 pm

    JJ said...

    Acting. That’s what a Best Actor is supposed to do, right? Act? Act.

    And I realize that big names are going to get in because they’re big names. BUT ….

    Ben Foster, Matt Damon, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Stuhlbarg, hell, Russell Crowe (State of Play), and counnttllessss others all ‘acted’ better – much better – than Clooney, Freeman, and even Renner (to a lesser extent).

    But the aformentioned above won’t likely get in because their work is in smaller films, or their names aren’t big enough. That’s why they’re on MY list/ballot, and not AMPAS. :-(

  • 11 12-29-2009 at 12:24 pm

    Liz said...

    “But the aformentioned above won’t likely get in because their work is in smaller films, or their names aren’t big enough. ”

    Yes, the Academy won’t be able to resist nominating superstar Jeremy Renner over newcomers Matt Damon and Viggo Mortensen.

    Seriously, though, I feel like you might have a point, but saying that those people aren’t “acting” just sounds insufferable. Like those people last year who said Mickey Rourke was just playing himself.

  • 12 12-29-2009 at 12:29 pm

    JJ said...

    Liz, I get what you’re saying. What I meant was, I feel that the other guys gave deeper, richer, and.or different types of performances. And while Renner (and the rest) obviously do very fine jobs … their constant, incessant accolades over the other names gets to me.

  • 13 12-29-2009 at 12:47 pm

    adam said...

    The post title made me think of Craig Revel Horwood from Strictly Come Dancing. I do watch that show.

  • 14 12-29-2009 at 2:13 pm

    McAllister said...

    My ballot would include Jeremy Renner, Matt Damon, Sam Rockwell, Hal Holbrook and either Jeff Bridges or Sharlto Copley. It’s a shame that probably only 2 of those will be included.

  • 15 12-29-2009 at 2:21 pm

    Andrew2 said...

    Kay makes some good observations about Cornish and Bright Star though.

    I just dont get how the top 10 are so consistent across lists. I think a top 10 makes it unpredictable and whilst there are 6 or 7 locks, there is still room for a few surprises

  • 16 12-29-2009 at 3:07 pm

    Joe said...

    Yet another mention for “Fantastic Mr. Fox”. What’s the real buzz on this one? It’s already ushered into the budget theaters here in Atlanta, so safe to say it wasn’t a huge success. But is this one well-liked by the industry?
    I’m usually a fan of the AFI lists – and I wonder if it wasn’t telling that “Coraline” made it. I think the “give it to Pixar” sentiment is more appropriate for years with weak animation, isn’t it? This year is not the case; “Up” might not even win Animated.

  • 17 12-29-2009 at 3:10 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Filmoholic: It’s coming. My online access is a bit hampered while I’m on vacation, so I’ll probably plunge into the list when I’m back home later this week.

  • 18 12-29-2009 at 3:25 pm

    SHAAAARK said...

    I don’t think the list is entirely locked in terms of Best Picture. Actor and Actress are done, barring surprises, though. :(
    Anyway, BP?
    The probable locks:
    An Education
    Up in the Air
    The Hurt Locker
    Inglourious Basterds

    and beyond that?
    It’s between:
    A Serious Man
    A Single Man
    District 9
    The Messenger
    Julie & Julia

  • 19 12-29-2009 at 3:36 pm

    JJ said...

    You know what’s funny about all these “Oh, the top 10 is already determined” — I don’t think so.

    An Education
    Up in the Air
    The Hurt Locker
    Inglourious Basterds
    Star Trek
    (500) Days of Summer
    A Serious Man
    A Single Man
    District 9
    The Lovely Bones
    The Messenger
    Julie & Julia
    Sherlock Holmes

    Nothing is set yet, nothin’.

  • 20 12-29-2009 at 3:37 pm

    JJ said...

    Oh, and add White Ribbon or a Bright Star, too.

  • 21 12-29-2009 at 4:14 pm

    Nigel Bridgeman said...

    I haven’t seen Invictus but I still think that people are just taking it for granted that Freeman is going to be nominated. If I could be bothered doing predictions I’d have him just holding on to the fifth spot at the moment.

    One thing about the ten nominees for Best Picture – we haven’t seen this in almost 70 years. We don’t know how it’s going to pan out. It could be ten Oscar-bait nominees with no crowd-pleasers, it could be three Oscar-bait nominees with seven crowd-pleasers. I think some traditionalists are going to be a bit cranky when the nominations are announced and something very, very popular is nominated which wouldn’t normally be (and I’m not talking about Avatar). I don’t know if that’s The Hangover or Star Trek or what (I think it will be neither of those), but I just know it’s going to happen, and the Academy will feel vindicated for going with the ten.

  • 22 12-29-2009 at 7:03 pm

    George said...

    I still think Where the Wild Things Are will be a surprise BP nominee. Especially now that Nine and The Lovely Bones have quickly lost steam.

  • 23 12-29-2009 at 7:30 pm

    Kevin said...

    I second George’s comment. Where The Wild Things Are, as well as District 9 and Crazy Heart, I just sense to have passionate support. Not having seen any of these films but going by audience reactions, these three films seem to generate strong emotional responses and I think it’s possible that (at least) one nabs a Best Picture nomination.

  • 24 12-30-2009 at 10:48 am

    McAllister said...

    I think (500) Days of Summer, Star Trek and Where the Wild Things Are all have an equally good shot at a nomination. But not all three will make it… probably only one.