There's an 80% overlap between my Best Picture and
Best Director nominees this year, so they get one big post, featuring summaries of my original reviews. You'll also notice that (unlike the PGA) I don't feel the need to copycat the Academy's ludicrous expansion of the Best Picture field to 10.
The Nazi nominates 5 films and only 5 films, which for Best Picture are:
Avatar, directed by JAMES CAMERON
Avatar is one of the most exciting cinematic experiences in years. A must-see. Cameron fills the screen with such compelling imagery and engaging performances, all you can do is sit back and get caught up in the adventure. The narrative moves with such economy and expert pacing that you'd never guess it was over 2.5 hours long. And despite his 12-year hiatus, it's clear that Cameron is still unsurpassed in staging action sequences.
The Cove, directed by LOUIE PSIHOYOS
Exhilarating, mesmerizing, horrifying, illuminating, devastating, inspiring... It is in his structuring of the story that Psihoyos makes The Cove such a success; Seamlessly interweaving his clandestine activities with the political background of Japan's whaling and fisheries. It's more thrilling than most of the fictional product emerging from Hollywood today. It's perfectly edited, energetically scored, and features some truly miraculous photography.
Nick Hornby's screenplay is witty, insightful, restrained, efficient, and just about everything you want a good screenplay to be. The actors chosen understand the thematic subtleties of the script, and with the help of Scherfig's keen direction, all of them give expert performances. Mulligan's arc from illusionment to disillusionment is terrifically rendered, and Alfred Molina is simply wonderful. The film is handsomely crafted in every aspect.
The Hurt Locker, directed by KATHRYN BIGELOW
Now Bigelow knows a thing or two about exacting tension. Her mastery is on full display in The Hurt Locker, an exceptional war thriller. It’s a big breakthrough for stars Jeremy Renner, excellent as a reckless cowboy who is virtually addicted to defusing bombs, and Anthony Mackie, superb as war-weary sergeant concerned with Renner’s dangerous antics. The film uses handheld camerawork to extremely dramatic effect, ditto the exhilarating film editing and sound design.
Up in the Air, directed by JASON REITMAN
Reitman has crafted this story with humour and sensitivity. There are so many themes at work here; youth and age, love and family, connectivity and distance, what we wish for and what’s practical, the disappointment of our expectations not being met, the joy of simply being with another person. All of these thoughts come to the fore at the same time during Up in the Air. Each and every shot is a sea of nuance, with hidden depths of emotion and significance.
And my lone Best Director noominee, in lieu of Lone Scherfig, is LEE DANIELS for Precious. He guides this movie with love and care; Intense, authentic, gut-wrenching, and genuinely moving.
(500) Days of Summer (Mark Webb)
District 9 (Neill Blomkamp)
A Prophet (Jacques Audiard)
Up (Pete Docter)