Oscars in The Times

Posted by · 1:14 am · January 10th, 2010

Stephen Lang in AvatarFresh on the heels of a page one Mo’Nique story, The New York Times has unleashed its annual Oscar package, great stuff as always.

Manohla Dargis leads the girl-power charge with an appreciation of Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker.” It’s a solid piece of analysis that spends a few graphs discussing the art of the zoom and is accompanied by a novel “anatomy of a scene” interactive feature.

Next up, A.O. Scott stumps for Spike Jonze’s “Where the Wild Things Are” once again (also with interactive accompaniment), while Stephen Holden waves the flag for Oren Moverman’s “The Messenger” (following a Woody Harrelson appreciation in the pages of the LA Times yesterday).

Going broader, Michael Cieply addresses the 10 once again and gets one anonymous Academy governor to admit what we all know, that the expanded Best Picture field is likely an experiment that might not last more than one or two years.  And Douglas McGrath (rather out of the blue) calls for Doris Day to receive an honorary statuette.

There is more, including a George Clooney profile we pointed you to last week, a survey of the few directors to win multiple Oscars and a love letter to Honorary Oscar recipient Roger Corman, but most significant to note is a cross section of the paper’s three critics’ perspective on who the nominees SHOULD be in a few major categories.

Two of the three (Scott and Dargis) are “Avatar” devotees, while “The Hurt Locker” is the only film all three agree should be nominated.  Scott and Dargis gets props from me for noting Stephen Lang in the supporting actor field, but unfortunately, the lead actor and actress categories aren’t considered.  Kind of bizarre, but anyway, read the rest of their preferences here, and dig into the whole Times package here.

→ 42 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

42 responses so far

  • 1 1-10-2010 at 1:49 am

    Andrew2 said...

    Appreciate Scott’s Bright Star love, but he’s out on a limb, unfortunately

  • 2 1-10-2010 at 1:54 am

    BurmaShave said...

    Is Holden’s omission of Waltz anything more than trying to be a contrarian dick…

  • 3 1-10-2010 at 1:55 am

    BurmaShave said...

    Ah I see he went overboard for STILL WALKING, he may just be hopeless.

  • 4 1-10-2010 at 2:12 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    Sort of off-topic, but not entirely since there’s a linked article about him: Is anyone else as surprised as I am that George Clooney has been winning so many critics’ awards? I mean, he has more awards right now than percieved front-runners Colin Firth and Jeff Bridges combined!

    What was it about his work in Up in the Air that is getting so much recognition? Has his charm been insatiable to them lately? Was the field for lead actors that weak last year? Did Sam Rockwell personally kill family members of the voters?

    You know, in the midst of all this talk about how it was a “weak” year for Best Actress contenders (which you rightly refuted), I think it escaped a lot of pundits that this was actually a weak year for Best Actor contenders (the viable ones, that is, there’s slim to no chance that Matt Damon, Tom Hardy, Sam Rockwell, Ben Foster, Michal Stuhlbarg or Sharlto Copley will make it). With the exception of Renner and *maybe* Firth – though even that is debatable – all of the viable nominees have given better, more challenging performances in the past. Hell, Morgan Freeman in particular is such an obvious ballot-filler it’ll be embarrassing to see AMPAS try to act as if he had actually earned his nod.

    And to think, if either Milk or The Wrestler were released in 2009 this category would be as good as done.

  • 5 1-10-2010 at 2:36 am

    Paul Outlaw said...

    I don’t think Actor in a Leading Role is that weak this year. My top 5:

    Viggo Mortensen
    Jeremy Renner
    Colin Firth
    Ben Foster
    Hal Holbrook

    And I can come up with another five without mentioning Clooney or Bridges.

  • 6 1-10-2010 at 4:50 am

    aspect ratio said...

    I had no idea The New York Times critics “hated” Inglourious Basterds. None of the three picked it for Picture, no one picked it for Director, no one picked it for Screenplay in their little ballot thing. Not that it’s the sort of film that everyone would love, but I’m surprised none of them liked it more than that.

    Then again, who cares? Two of them picked Funny People (while underrated, and definitely not a bad movie, it’s so not a top ten of the year film either) and Dargis picking Public Enemies is kind of laughable.

  • 7 1-10-2010 at 5:49 am

    Rob said...

    Seriously, even half-serious buzz for Stephen Lang is fucking RIDICULOUS.

  • 8 1-10-2010 at 5:51 am

    Rob said...

    Am I the only one who wishes there was SOME kind of recognition this year (even an Indie Spirit nomination or something) for Robin Williams in “World’s Greatest Dad”? Nicolas Cage in “Bad Lieutenant” for that matter.

    These are two of the best performances of the year, but they’re being ignored because there’s so much pent-up ill will for these consistently paycheck-taking A-list (or formerly A-list) actors.

  • 9 1-10-2010 at 5:55 am

    Ella said...

    Where are the Times critics’ picks for Best Actor/Best Actress nominees? Are they in the print edition and not showing up online for some reason? Bizarre that they’d leave those categories off, no?

  • 10 1-10-2010 at 7:15 am

    Scott said...

    People have different tastes of course, but I really don’t understand the praise for Stephen Lang in Avatar. But hey, at least Scott and Dargis liked Mackie too.

  • 11 1-10-2010 at 8:18 am

    Craig said...

    Guy who didn’t pick Christoph Waltz for supporting actor shouldn’t be employed.

  • 12 1-10-2010 at 8:20 am

    Craig said...

    Julie and Julia and Funny People over Inglourious Basterds and An Education? Then again, A.O. Scott had like, the single worst top ten list of the decade that I’ve seen…

  • 13 1-10-2010 at 8:33 am

    Megan said...

    Public Enemies….[blows snot bubble from laughing so hard]

    And this is coming from the girl whose brain was poisoned with unrelenting thoughts about Johnny Depp back in ’03 when she was in high school.

    While it’s interesting to see the folks not want to acquiesce to the very seemingly cut-and-dry list of BPs for the year, some of this just makes me go, “BUH?”

  • 14 1-10-2010 at 8:51 am

    Craig said...

    Public Enemies was better than Funny People…

  • 15 1-10-2010 at 9:01 am

    Lucas said...

    Manohla Dargis has Meryl Streep in best supporting for Mr. Fox…. uhm, what??

  • 16 1-10-2010 at 9:11 am

    Hardy said...

    Stephen Lang for Best Supporting Actor?

    Excuse me for a second while I laugh.

  • 17 1-10-2010 at 9:12 am

    T.S. said...

    Yeah, I’d just like to add the echo of my laughter to the aforementioned idea that Stephen Lang should come anywhere close to the Best Supporting Actor category.

  • 18 1-10-2010 at 9:16 am

    Megan said...

    “If you believe in Hell, you may want to go there for a little R&R!”


  • 19 1-10-2010 at 9:25 am

    Silencio said...

    I like the Clooney article. Very insightful. A similar article could be written about Jack Nicholson. When it seems like these guys are just playing themselves in each role, in truth they aren’t. It’s a subtle kind of work,

  • 20 1-10-2010 at 9:27 am

    The Irishman said...

    I still think it’s a travesty that Anthony Mackie has gotten so little Best Supporting buzz. Half of the effectiveness of Renner’s performance is their interaction.
    And to be fair, pimping for Stephen Lang probably also has a lot to do with how prolific he’s been this year, and don’t tell me Sandra Bullock’s “Blind Side” buzz isn’t for the same reason. (And now I have this vision of Lang playing her character in “The Blind Side”, and it’s the only thing that could get me to see the movie.)

  • 21 1-10-2010 at 9:27 am

    Princess of Peace said...

    These choices show just how irrelevant the NY Times Critics (especially Scott and Dargis) have become. And Scott and Phillips on At the Movies is only a notch or two higher than the two Bens. Where or where have the good critics gone?

  • 22 1-10-2010 at 9:31 am

    Lev Lewis said...

    What exactly about “Public Enemies” deserves derision? You don’t have to love it, but it’s certainly not comical.

  • 23 1-10-2010 at 9:33 am

    The Irishman said...

    I loved “Public Enemies”, but it must be said that Christian Bale’s Foghorn Leghorn voice is hilarious.

  • 24 1-10-2010 at 9:40 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    What’s with all the snideness today, people? God forbid a critic should have an individual opinion.

    Just priming you for when my personal ballot appears — with several mentions for “Public Enemies.”

  • 25 1-10-2010 at 9:43 am

    The Irishman said...

    I still think Billy Crudup deserved a Best Supporting nomination. Yeah, I know, about ten minutes onscreen and all, but still, William Hurt says what?

  • 26 1-10-2010 at 9:58 am

    coffeefortwo said...

    The Times writers did cover Best Actor and Best Actress, at least inside the actual paper and print version of today’s edition with a lot of the expected contenders. Colin Firth’s turn in A Serious Man is the only one all three agree in Best Actor, although they all opt for George Clooney as well, with Dargis celebrating his work in “Mr. Fox.”

    Their Best Actress selections are scattered around just a little more with no one cited by all three and only a couple performers. Dargis notably includes Zoe Saldana for “Avatar.”

    Speaking of which, The Irishman is at least somewhat right about Stephen Lang’s work in more than one notable film this year may have helped him with at least one critic, as A.O. Scott, cheerfully ignoring how Oscar ballots actually work, things he should be nominated for his work in both “Avatar” and “Public Enemies.”

  • 27 1-10-2010 at 10:26 am

    Matt King said...

    Just a quick question to Princess of Peace, who in the past (and please don’t just cite Pauline Kael) would you consider a good critic? I’m a big fan of A.O. Scott, so I’m curious as to what qualifies as a good critic for you.

  • 28 1-10-2010 at 10:53 am

    Jack said...

    I agree with Matt King and go even further saying that Princess of Peace’s comment that At the Movies is only a notch better than the two Bens is utterly ridiculous. The two Bens were terrible. i think Scott and Michael Phillips are two great critics who are not snooty in their choices and weigh things very well.

    Also Craig, Scott’s top ten list was absolutely not one of the worst of all time. Did you see Ebert’s? Granted he had some greats like The Hurt Locker on there but he also had Knowing on it. Knowing was just bad, and most people think so.

  • 29 1-10-2010 at 10:54 am

    Andrew said...

    Funnily enough, people cannot accept that you have different taste. Why moaning because they didn’t like Inglorious Basterds or An Education? Users here and everywhere else have no tolerance whatsoever.

    I liked the inclusion of Julie & Julia and Fantastic Mr Fox. Who understands these people? If the lists are predictable, they moan: “boring top 10” or “uninspired”. So when someone includes, let’s say, a non Oscar baity movie, the top 10 becomes a tragedy. Get a life, losers.

  • 30 1-10-2010 at 11:36 am

    aaron said...

    “Funnily enough, people cannot accept that you have different taste. Why moaning because they didn’t like Inglorious Basterds or An Education? Users here and everywhere else have no tolerance whatsoever. ”

    you sure you’re not confusing those movies w/ avatar? never have i seen a more mob-like group of movie fans than the general avatar lot.

  • 31 1-10-2010 at 11:45 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Some people take this shit so seriously, to the point of ridicule, that it really makes me worry about their mental health.

  • 32 1-10-2010 at 12:18 pm

    Big Braveheart said...

    Tom Hardy has to be in the running for a best actor Oscar! Clooney looks to be trying a Cary Grant act and Colin Firth playing a stuck-up posh dramatic role. Surely neither of them gave more to their art than Tom Hardy, who was absolutely incredible and well worthy of the actual award – i think these critics must be blind!!
    Waltz should be a stick-on for best supporting actor based on playing the most slimy, creepy
    and unusual of nazis ever seen on screen.

    Basterds and Locker look like typical best picture films but Avatar ( which i haven’t seen )
    could end up in the mix too.


  • 33 1-10-2010 at 12:50 pm

    Jim said...

    I quite enjoyed that list.

    I don’t understand why they didn’t include the Lead acting though, they might have been quite interesting…

  • 34 1-10-2010 at 12:53 pm

    Megan said...

    Kris, I’ve been worried about my mental health for a long time.

  • 35 1-10-2010 at 1:51 pm

    Craig said...

    I think I’d take Public Enemies over Avatar for best picture, to be honest…

  • 36 1-10-2010 at 2:14 pm

    aspect ratio said...

    We’re all god-damned insane, really.

    Though I have stumbled onto far more insane internet subcultures, so we’ve got a way to go.

  • 37 1-10-2010 at 5:23 pm

    Andrew said...

    These critics cant win. If they trot out the same predictable nominees everyone shoutd boring, if do something different, they’re attacked.

  • 38 1-10-2010 at 8:13 pm

    Princess of Peace said...

    I suppose I am being a bit harsh on Phillips and Scott. They are more intellectual than the two Bens. But I sometimes feel that they need a little more pizzazz.

    When Scott first started writing for The Times I liked him. But lately I don’t like his writing that much. I never really liked Dargis.

    As for critics that I like or have liked when they were reviewing films (regardless of whether I agree with them or not some of them are: Stephen Holden, Roger Ebert, Elvis Mitchell, Elizabeth Weitzman, Jami Bernard, Scott Foundas, the critics at the Onion, Jack Mathews.

    I am really surprised that so many of the critics group went with The Hurt Locker – a film that I thought was good but not great. But, yes, we shouldn’t take all of this too seriously. We all like what we like and that is it.

  • 39 1-10-2010 at 8:31 pm

    Andrew said...

    THL is an interesting phenomenon. A box office failure by any measure. It has had an awards tag (and in this respect a bit of groupthink by critics and commentators, which other small films have not had

  • 40 1-10-2010 at 10:02 pm

    Danny King said...

    I’m still confused by all of the praise for “Funny People”. I had a dreadful time watching that.

  • 41 1-10-2010 at 10:22 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    “A box office failure by any measure.”

    Since when did making $16 million on an $11 million budget constitute a box office failure “by any measure?” And I know many of you like to tag absurd explanations to why its so universally beloved by critics (though not on a level beyond past critical darlings, so I’m not sure what the fuss is now), but maybe they, oh I don’t know, genuinely like it?

  • 42 1-11-2010 at 3:38 am

    aspect ratio said...

    The Hurt Locker wasn’t a box office failure. It certainly wasn’t a hit either, but considering it came out in the middle of the summer which is generally not the best time for indies, it did well. I think (500) Days of Summer was the only limited release that did better over the summer.

    To it’s advantage is the fact that it’ll be available to rent (or buy) on DVD and Blu-ray this week, so by the time the Oscar nominations come out and considering how few have seen it, it certainly has a lot of potential to do well on the smaller screens.