The film critics of the KPBS Club of the Air discuss the 2010 Oscar nominations.
Related Story: Entertainment News: 83rd Oscar Nominations Announced
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. The 83rd annual Oscar nominees were announced on Tuesday, and once again, there are a lot of them. Ten best picture nominees, this could be considered a lot in a year that many critics, including the KPBS film club thought was a bit lack luster. But many on that list were praised on this program, along with a number of performances nominated by the academy this year. We'll be talking about the Oscar contenders, and about several films opening here at San Diego. I'd like to welcome my guests, Beth Accomando is the KPBS film critic and author of the blog cinema junkie, good morning Beth.
BETH ACCOMANDO: Good morning, Maureen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Scott Marks, author of the film blog, Emulsioncompulsion.com, is on the phone from Los Angeles today. Good morning Scott.
SCOTT MARKS: I keep telling you, it's Burbank. The city of hope. Bob hope. Good morning everybody.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Good morning. Anders Wright is film critic for San Diego City beat. Anders, good morning.
ANDERS WRIGHT: Good to see you, Maureen.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We'd INVITE OUR listeners to join in. What do you think about the nominees? Who did the Oscars miss this year? Give us a call at 1-888-895-5727 well, as I said, you know, ten nominations -- again this is the second year in the best picture category for those extra nominations, I'm pretty sure not many people in this group were enthusiastic about that idea last year. Do you feel the same way, Beth, about the ten best picture nominations.
ACCOMANDO: Oh, especially this year. Because this year it felt like a weak year and to stretch it to ten, and if you look at the films, I mean they all tend to be this kind of mainstream Hollywood or they call some of these independent films but they're independent films that come from sister studios to the big mainstream studios of it's not a real exciting list. I mean, I think the most interesting film that I see on that list is winter's bone. Otherwise it's a lot of formula style -- and black swan. I would say those two are the best interesting ones.
WRIGHT: I don't personally -- I agree with you about the quality of the list. I don't want personally have an issue with the extended list. Extending it to ten because in theory, it should allow some smaller films to get a little more attention. But I sort of look at this list, and it's kind of ho-hum, there's no real surprise. Winter's bone, it's great to see it end up on this list.
MARKS: But it's almost like when you put ten films like this on there, you're rubbing our faces in the fact that it was really a lousy year for American films.
ACCOMANDO: It just feels so diluted. Of.
MARKS: And the fighter? And Beth is right, how is the fighter an independent production? How is black swan an independent production.
ACCOMANDO: They consider a lot of those, king's speech, you know? The definition of independent film has gotten so loose now. It's just anything that's not really big budgeted, mainstream, yeah.
WRIGHT: But be that as it may, whether or not these are independent or studio films, it's sort of in some ways besides the point. What the real issue is that you look at this is and there's no film that you sort of say, like, wow, that's tremendous. And there are no films where you're like, what is that? Oh, I'm curious. How did this get recognized without being under the radar?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Scott, I know sort of everybody liked toy story three. But nominated for both best picture and best animated film? That's rather overkill, don't you think?
MARKS: Yeah, it's kind of like filler. It's like they came up with nine titles, and they're, like, we can't come up with another one. And everyone seems to love Toy Story 3. I'm kind of surprised. Why don't they stick one of the better documentaries in there? Why can't a foreign film make the crossover? I think we were all surprised to learn that I am love is nowhere to be seen. I think I got a costume design award.
ACCOMANDO: Costume. How bad they overlook Tilda Swinton's performance? That's just so wrong.
MARKS: There's one that I think is even worse, and I'm drawing a blank on her name. Another year.
WRIGHT: Lesley Manville.
ACCOMANDO: Oh, yeah. Supporting actress.
MARKS: This is like the performance of the year for me.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Mike Lee's film, another year. Soap that was a major thing that the Oscars overlooked for you, Scott, then, huh judge?
MARKS: Huge, huge.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And any surprises about the acting awards for you, Anders?
WRIGHT: The -- I think I would have liked to have seen Andrew gar field get a nomination for the social network, and I was sort of surprised that Vincent Cassel and Mila Kunis were overlooked for the black swan.
MARKS: Really? Mila Kunis? Really?
ACCOMANDO: Also Vincent Casal was so great in Mesrine, the two French films.
WRIGHT: Well, the point being, you sort of look at these lists, and all of the list, and they're just sort of fairly underwhelming.
ACCOMANDO: It's a really ho-hum list. The thing about the ten nominations is, yeah, winter's bone made it, but it's really not that interesting and a list. And all the nominations have this kind of mainstream feel of it's all the films that have been topping the critics' list, and they're films that are getting fairly well played of there's no, like -- something fun and exciting one surprise for me is actually Javier bar den for beautiful, a Spanish language film, which we'll talk about later today. But that's a pretty big coo to get listed in there.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: But considering the year that this was for film, and you all agreed it wasn't stellar, and considering the academy, what they usually choose for best picture, is the fact that this is not en exciting list, is that a shocking thing, Scott?
MARKS: Not this year. No, it's not. I saw these movies. No, it doesn't shock me at all. We were talking before about ten films, and Beth is right. I was hoping that somehow this would have opened up the field for a few more independent pictures to come into play. For me, after Lesley Manville, the biggest shock that was dog tooth got a nomination.
ACCOMANDO: But a positive shock.
MARKS: I can't believe that the Academy went out on a limb to nominate this film, which to me is the most scathing assault on the nuclear family since Pink Flamingos.
ACCOMANDO: That they vote on it differently than the other categories. You have to see all the nominated film -- I mean, you have to see all the submitted films in order to vote for the films that get into the shorts list.
MARKS: Have you seen dog tooth yet?
MARKS: Are you not shocked that the academy watched that film with that subject matter and gave it a nomination?
ACCOMANDO: But, again, it's because of the way they vote on foreign films nominations and winners. And it can go either way. Because it's a much smaller pool of people voting, it can be just, like, the odd taste of that particular group.
WRIGHT: But then I think what often happens is you get sort of a crazy list of nominees, and then the winner tends to be fair mainstream because more people are seeing.
ACCOMANDO: And the other thick for foreign women is each country is only allowed to submit one film. So there's a lot of this politicking going on in some of these countries that have multiple films.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Just let me add, I believe dog tooth is from Greece. Has it played here in San Diego?
MARKS: Yeah, it played for a couple of weeks at the Gas Lamp. I was there a couple of times, and the four people in the audience there with me seemed to like it. It's just not a film that -- I hope somebody's gonna bring it back. I tell you, there's gonna be one, there's always one huge acting surprise. And I'll bet the farm this year it's gonna be Jacky Weaver as best supporting actress in the animal kingdom.
ACCOMANDO: You really think she can win?
MARKS: Yeah, yeah.
ACCOMANDO: Oh, God, I would hope so.
MARKS: They're gonna see this incredible performance, topped only by Lesley Manville who they ignored 67 unless they go with Melissa Leo, but Melissa Leo is doing a cartoon character.
WRIGHT: But people love that movie, and she was so good in that film a couple of years ago, where she got the nomination and didn't win.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Frozen river?
WRIGHT: Frozen river, yeah.
ACCOMANDO: And she was good in two other films this year too.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How closely do you think the academy follow the golden globes? Do you think in the directing category that the academy is gonna follow that and just go with David Fincher and go with the Social Network?
ACCOMANDO: Actually, it seems like the broad cast film critics have in some ways been a better predictor of what the Oscars are gonna go to. The golden globes is an odd little organization in itself. It's a small organization of the Hollywood Foreign Press, and they've always had kind of odd choices.
WRIGHT: Well, this year there's this whole payola thing going on.
ACCOMANDO: Well, they've had that all the time.
WRIGHT: Yeah, but people are suing over it.
ACCOMANDO: But I mean, the broadcast film critics, it's critics, they're very tightly tied into, I think, studios, and the studios have been looking more towards that as a predictor. Because they're pushing very hard for a broad cast film nominations now in a way that they weren't doing before. So in some ways, that might be as good a predictor as the golden globes.
MARKS: I think the academy looks down its nose at the golden globes and I don't think they like the fact that they're encroaching on their territory by having the awards now on network television, by having the awards so close to a, you know, the academy awards now. I don't think they like the golden globes at all.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, from what you have been saying, that the biggest snubs that I've been hearing is Tilda Swinton in I am love, and les me Manville. Any other snubs.
ACCOMANDO: Yeah, Venicio del Torro as the wolf man!
WRIGHT: I think the fact that I am love did not get a best foreign language film nomination film sort of jumps out too.
ACCOMANDO: Well, I mean, I don't think he necessarily deserved it. I think the fact that Christopher Nolan didn't get nominated for inception would be considered a snub. Ed academy tends to get in these sweep modes where, I'll vote for this film, and everything, every category I'll put somebody in. And king's speech, I think, is a very good film. I enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed it because of the script and the performances. I think it would badly directed. There's no way that Tom hooper deserves a directing nomination. So I think people will look at that and say, hey, here's Christopher Nolan who, whether you like the film or not, he's a good director, and he put a lot of work into it.
WRIGHT: I think when you look at this list, you basically -- it basically is just gonna be a showdown between the social network and the king's speech. And nothing is really gonna get in between the two of them.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's talk about the screen play categories for just a minute. Adapted and original. The kids are all right is in this category, as well as best picture. Of I don't remember, I think most of you liked that movie; is that right?
MARKS: Which one?
ACCOMANDO: Kids are all right. It was a well performed film. It wasn't a bad movie.
WRIGHT: But is it best picture material?
ACCOMANDO: It's not best picture material. One interesting thing about the writing nominations is that a film like Another Year was deemed ineligible by the Writer's Guild for their guild awards. And so sometimes that makes it tough for a film to get an Oscar nomination. But it's nice to see that.
MARKS: Maureen, I think your memory is failing. The kids are all right. I think it's a terrible firm.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: No, I couldn't remember whether you liked it or not.
MARKS: And I think the script is terrible. It takes the best character of the film, Mark Ruffalo, lose him three quarters of the way through the film to make this dumb lesbian power statement. That belongs on cable. No, I can't wait to see the look on Annette Benning's face when they cut to her after Natalie Portman wins. Not since Lauren Bacall with --
ACCOMANDO: Oh, come on. Do you really think she's expecting to win? I don't think so.
MARKS: Yeah, I do.
ACCOMANDO: I don't think she's expecting to win.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have a caller on the line. Gena is calling from Clairemont. Good morning, gena, welcome to These Days.
NEW SPEAKER: I have permission to ask this question.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: All right!
NEW SPEAKER: And it has to do with the fact that out of all the pictures, I did see one, because I don't see pictures in the theatres. I did see I am love.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Uh-huh.
NEW SPEAKER: And it was quite interesting. I adore Tilda Swinton anyway.
ACCOMANDO: She's wonderful.
NEW SPEAKER: Yes. Now, I think it has to do with the bottom line.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How much a movie makes?
NEW SPEAKER: Yes. How much they want to encourage the public to go to films and they think the public are gonna be interested in. But a lot of people don't like foreign films because they're -- they have a problem. Of.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, gena, thank you.
NEW SPEAKER: With language and with reading the what do you call its?
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The subtitles.
WRIGHT: You know, I think though that if you look at the other women who were nominated for best actress, they tend to be fairly small movies of they're not huge films by any stretch. So --
ACCOMANDO: Yeah, but I think the whole fact that they expanded the best picture nominations to ten is a reflection of fact -- it's two things. Of one, the ratings for the TV viewing were dropping and they felt by expanding it, they might get some bigger -- some more mainstream films on the list that people might be more interested in watching. But the other thing is, they are looking to the bottom line in the sense that I that want to help some of these films by getting them a nomination, get a little extended life in the theatre, and most of these are studio films. This is the industry patting itself on the back for awards. It's basically most of the members are from Hollywood or from the west coast. So having them vote for their own product in the best picture category and some of the main categories is not that surprising. I mean, they want to see the products that they work on make more money. And it does. If you get an Oscar nomination, your film might stay in the theatres all the way through the academy awards. Or it might get a little extra push when it's out on DVD.
WRIGHT: Yeah, it's something you can put in the DVD box.
ACCOMANDO: So there are financial benefits to be reaped. On the other hand, sometimes with the foreign films, sometimes a foreign film is waiting for a nomination just to get released. You know, a studio won't gamble on it, and it'll say, okay, if it gets a nomination, we'll give it a distribution, but if it doesn't, we don't feel like it has enough push behind it to make it worth marketing.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Any response on that, Scott?
MARKS: Everyone once in a while, they're gonna stick in a film -- it seems that every year they stick in at least one huge blockbuster. Didn't Star Wars get a nomination? I mean, films like that. Every once in a while, one will even win like Avatar or Titanic. But I think they almost feel compelled to make concessions at least once in a while to the big blockbusters as well.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So it's time for predictions. Scott, what are your predictions for the academy awards this year?
MARKS: Yeah, it's David Fincher's year.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay.
MARKS: Yeah, social network. He's gonna win, it's gonna win best screenplay. Jesse Eisenberg won't win because Colin Firth has a lock on it. Natally Portman's gonna win, and Shutter Island was nominated for nothing.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Not even best costume?
M1ARKS: The worst movie got a nomination, and Shutter Island didn't get a nomination. Oh, brother.
WRIGHT: I also think Christian Bale is pretty much a lock to win best supporting actor. I don't necessarily agree with that, but I'm fairly sure he'll take a walk too.
MARKS: You're probably right.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And anything that you want to disagree with, Beth?
ACCOMANDO: I think king's speech may pull away for best picture.
WRIGHT: I think there's a possibility there, yeah.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. So we'll check in with you and see whether or not you were right.
ACCOMANDO: I'm always wrong at predicting the winners. I always lose the Oscar pools.
MARKS: And if you're not saying Jacky Weaver for best supporting actress, who do you guys say?
WRIGHT: It's a tough call, honestly. You look thea -- I think they could give it to Melissa Leo, certainly. They also don't mind going younger. Haley Stein if he would.
ACCOMANDO: Younger people have been winning more of the award it's -- especially in the supporting actress. Juliette Binoche, I think, won over -- was that the year that she won over Lauren Bacall? And then --
ACCOMANDO: And Gloria Foster from Titanic, everybody was thinking she was the sentimental favorite to win, and I think it was a much younger person who won at that point.
WRIGHT: But if there is some sort of a King's Speech sweep, you could see Helena Bonham Carter getting it as well.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, we're gonna move on now, and we'll see whether your predictions come through. The 83rd annual academy awards will take place in Sunday, February 27th.