Monday, March 1, 2010

Grading the 10 Best Picture Nominees

I am thrilled and amazed that I have actually been able to see all this year’s Best Picture nominees. I have to say other than two films, the nominees this year are a great crop. Here are my grades on all the films, only two films (The Blind Side and Avatar) didn’t deserve a spot in the nominees. I personally would have like to see those spots go to either Where the Wild Things Are, In the Loop or Moon.

Up in the Air

Grade: A+

An amazing performance from George Clooney anchors this soulful and reflective film. The story could have been an over the top melodrama, but thanks to a remarkable cast, solid script and Reitman’s restrained direction we have a remarkably honest film. Out of all the nominated films, this is the one that should take home the prize. But it won’t.

Inglourious Basterds

Grade: A

Tarentiono’s re-imagining of World War II has to be one of the most enjoyable, exciting and well-crafted films this year. Tarantino sheds his penchant for montaging various film styles and comes out with a fun action-caper flick that is clean and focused.

District 9

Grade: A

It’s everything that Avatar isn’t. Science Fiction that relies on a well-crafted plot, rather than flashy special effects and as a result is a wholly more enjoyable film. Time will tell, but I suspect that District 9 will also hold up better than Avatar.


Grade: A

On the page it sounds like it would be a completely depressing film. A 16 year-old girl sexually abused by her father, emotionally abused by her mother, pregnant with her second child (by her father) and it doesn’t get much better. Taking the idea that life isn’t what’s dealt you, but how you deal with it; Precious achieves the rarity of being uplifting, without being overbearing.

The Hurt Locker

Grade: A-

An honest and neutral look at the lives of American soldiers in war torn Iraq. No statements or declarations, just simple glorious storytelling. I really wish it resonated more for me. I admire everything about it, but it didn’t connect with me on an emotional level the way the top four did.

A Serious Man

Grade: B+

The Coen brothers’ retelling of Job, is hysterical and depressing at the same time. An amazing feat to be sure. Not quite up to their Fargo or No Country for Old Men gold standard, but a great and rewatchable film none-the-less.


Grade: B+

The first ten minutes of this film, certainly justify its place as a nominee. I love the fact that Pixar has not developed a formula for its films. The result has been some of the most original and exciting animated films to come out in a long time. I just wish they had a better developed villain for the film. A little more screen time would have been a plus.

An Education

Grade: B

Based on Lynn Barber’s memoirs, this is a lovely and yet devastating coming of age film. Truly an actor’s movie, as the film’s straight-forward story is elevated by the gorgeous performances of Carey Mulligan and the underappreciated Peter Sarsgaard. We pretty much see where the story is going to go, but Mulligan and Sarsgaard are so captivating we don’t care.

The Blind Side

Grade: D+

Plays more like a Lifetime movie-of-the-week than a Best Picture nominee, with its earnest feel good message and movie cliches. It probably would have earned a C grade if it did not feature the most obnoxious child actor to come round the bend. And I probably would have left it at a D, but the film’s trite dialogue makes it Margarita worthy and garners it a plus.


Grade: F+

Though the special effects on this film are off the hook, it can’t overcome its terrible story and stock characters. If this is the future of movie-making, I weep. I probably would have given the film a solid D, if were not for the legions of critics wetting themselves over the amazing special effects.

No comments:

Post a Comment