Top 10 Reasons the 2010 Oscars Will Fail

by Eric Melin on January 19, 2010

in Top 10s

First things first: I love watching the Oscars. It’s the one time of the year that I get all fired up about things that shouldn’t matter to me so much. I want this year to be good. I want it to be awesome. Right now, though, it looks as if it might just infuriate me. I hope the 2010 telecast can avoid these pitfalls, so I’ve gone ahead and listed them below—hopeful that they may not come true. This is a predictive Top 10. Keep in mind that the Oscar nominations are not announced until Feb 2. Ballsy? Sure. Why not? I criticize because I care.

The 2010 Oscar telecast should be quite different from years past. Former studio executive and producer Bill Mechanic and “Hairspray” director-choreographer Adam Shankman are co-producers of the 82nd Annual Academy Awards and they’ve made some pretty big changes. Additionally, this year’s awards season has produced a lot of clear-cut frontrunners in certain categories, yet the two biggest seem up for grabs. Either way, it looks like we are in for a pretty lame Oscar TV event, especially for serious fans of movies.

steve martin alec baldwin10. Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin are co-hosting

OK, this is at number 10 because it really could go either way. Martin hosted the show in 2001 and was alright I guess, but year after year of sub-par family remakes and their sequels (“Father of the Bride” 1 and 2, “The Pink Panther” 1 and 2) have probably dulled his edge a little. Baldwin’s dry humor may spice things up a little (his timing is impeccable), but sometimes he can come off as boorish. I’m hoping they have a good time making fun of each other—maybe that will be enough.

james cameron 2010 na'vi speech9. James Cameron will speak Na’vi again

Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects will all go to “Avatar.” Done deal. The mega-blockbuster might also pick up awards for Cinematography, Director, and Picture. Either way, chances are we’ll get a face full of Cameron speaking in that language that was made up specifically for his movie. Since proclaiming himself the “king of the world” after winning everything in sight for “Titanic” obviously wasn’t enough, Cameron actually had the chutzpah to speak Na’vi at his acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. Expect him to do the same at the Oscars. (Maybe Baldwin and Martin could learn some Klingon and they could have a nerdtastic conversation with funny subtitles. There, Oscar writers, you can have that—just be sure and give me credit.)

cage bad lieutenant 20098. They should’ve expanded the Best Actor category to 10 instead of Best Picture

OK, I’m not seriously suggesting this. What I would like to point out, however, is the abundance of talent in this category—coming up with 10 nominees is easy. Also, I’d like to point out how dangerous it can be to have all these televised “predictive” awards shows (like the upcoming SAGs, last weekend’s Critic’s Choice Awards, and the Golden Globes). Because of the nominees there, we can surely predict the nominees for the Oscar: Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”; George Clooney, “Up in the Air”; Colin Firth, “A Single Man”; Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”; and Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker.” Those are just five. And not even the best five. But what are the odds that Viggo Mortensen (“The Road”), Ben Foster (“The Messenger”), Peter Sarsgaard (“An Education”), Sam Rockwell (“Moon”), or my favorite performance of the year Nicolas Cage (who won the Toronto film critics poll for “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”) will get nominated? Zilch. It’s this narrowing down; this critical consensus that there are only five real competitors worthy that really ticks me off. Read further in the list for who’s going to win this category, hands down.

where the wild things are 20097. A Shut-out of “Where the Wild Things Are”

This one’s not too hard to call. The best movie of the year according to The New York Times’ A.O. Scott, a handful of other critics, and myself, will be completely glossed over for Oscar nominations on the morning of Feb. 2. Spike Jonze’s aching portrait of childhood disguised in big fuzzy monster suits was a polarizing film. And since the lead performance is that of a little kid (a naturalistic Max Records) while virtually everyone else is hidden under layers of fur, there’s very little to nominate in the acting categories. The Academy will overlook the film’s sumptuous cinematography, its creative art direction, Jonze’s masterful film direction, and—most criminally—its perfect adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s nine-sentence children’s book. If they got anything right, the Academy would nominate it for Costumes, but I’m not counting on anything.

corman bacall willis 20096. No Lifetime Achievement Awards

For casual watchers of movies, maybe this is the portion of the broadcast where they tune out. Perhaps they don’t like watching old people accept recognition for a life spent in film. Screw ‘em! Watching Robert Altman and Elia Kazan win the Lifetime Achievement Award in recent years was very satisfying. Not only do I love seing these film legends get their due, but I love the movie-clip montages. (The Scorsese one at the Globes almost made me weep, it was so good!) Well, this year, in order to speed up the show’s pace (and to allow them to give more awards without having to worry about  TV time constraints), the producers awarded producer John Calley, legendary lenser Gordon Willis (“The Godfather”), living legend Lauren Bacall, and B-movie king Roger Corman their statues at a small banquet in November. Lame.

avatar 2009 blue girl5. 10 Best Picture nominations didn’t help: “Avatar” would have been nominated even with five nominees

Part of that move to get better TV ratings was the bold choice this year to expand the Best Picture race to 10 movies rather than 5. It’s the first time since 1943 that the Oscars have had 10 noms here, and the idea was one of inclusion. Had there been 10 nominees last year, “The Dark Knight” would have been one of them and more people would care about watching the Oscars. In theory.  Well, guess what? “Avatar” (poised to break “The Dark Knight’”s box office) would have been nominated even if the category had stuck to five. And other big-grossing films like “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” and the new “Harry Potter” don’t stand a chance. The only beneficiary I can see is Pixar’s “Up,” which should stride right out of the Animation ghetto and into the Best Picture race. A downside? With the vote system the way it is, its possible that “Avatar” might actually become Best Picture even if no voter chooses it as their favorite movie. The new system assigns a point value to each movie based on its ranking on a list. First is worth more points, but a movie voted second place by tons of people could overtake it. (So a movie that no one liked the BEST could win BEST Picture.)

blind side bullock 20094. The Best Actress race is poised to be downright embarrasing

Sandra Bullock tied at the Critic’s Choice and won the dramatic lead actress award for “The Blind Side.” That is such a mind-boggling reality that I’ll repeat it: Sandra Bullock won two previous awards for “The Blind Side.” OK, Meryl Streep (who tied with Bullock on Friday) may still be the frontrunner for playing beloved chef Julia Child in “Julie & Julia,” but the fact that Bullock even has a chance to win an Oscar for playing the noble rich white woman who takes in a poor black kid and teaches him to play football is just insane. Nevermind Gabourey Sidibe’s searing performance in “Precious” or Carey Mulligan’s mature-beyond-her-years work in “An Education,” let’s give the award to the millionaire movie star who never takes chances on roles with actual substance. (And, no: “Crash” doesn’t count.)

anvil snubbed 20093. “Anvil” snubbed for Best Doc = huge missed opportunity

The best documentary of the year is the most human one out there. It doesn’t revolve around an important issue (and perhaps that’s why it wasn’t shortlisted by the Academy for a nomination this year) and it doesn’t have any movie stars doing voiceover narration. It’s a moving tale of determination, friendship, and courage—and it’s about a Canadian heavy metal band still plugging away at their career in their fifties. (Jpeg from The Film Experience.) Besides missing out on seeing band members Lips and Robb Reiner decked out in tuxes at the show, the producers are missing out on a huge opportunity by not being able to book the stars of “Anvil: The Story of Anvil” to actually perform. That would have been the most bizarre Oscar musical performance since Isaac Hayes disappeared in a cloud of smoke during his Oscar-winning “Theme from ‘Shaft.’” And it would have seriously brought the audience to its knees, because …

ryan bingham weary kind2. Anyway you slice it, the song category will suck

Another less-publicized change in the Oscars was made this year in the Music – Original Song category. If no song achieves a minimum average score of 8.25 in the nominations voting, there be no nominees and no Oscar presented for the category. We could only be so lucky. If only one song achieves the required minimum, it and the song with the next highest score will be deemed the nominees. This continues as laid out, but only up to five nominations. The Oscar will go to “The Weary Kind (Theme From ‘Crazy Heart’),” a safe, boring, mellow folk number that’s masquerading as “real country” and has already won the Critic’s Choice and Golden Globe. Let’s just hope it and only one other song gets nominated so we don’t have to sit through too much awful music on the show. The problem with this category is that most of these songs are afterthoughts; songs deemed too crappy to put on established artists’ albums so they get put in movies just to run through the credits. Kudos to the Academy for trying to limit the number of nominees with a quality scale. I just don’t trust it to work.

oscar 2010 statues1. All the Major Awards Races (minus the two biggest) Are Already Over

Nominees haven’t even been announced yet, but here are your winners in all big categories other than Picture and Director:
Actor: Jeff Bridges, Actress: Meryl Streep, Supporting Actor: Cristolph Waltz, Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, Screenplay: “Inglourious Basterds,” Adapted Screenplay: “Up in the Air,” Animated Film: “Up,” Foreign Film: “The White Ribbon,” Documentary: “The Cove,” Original Score: “Up,” Original Song: “Crazy Heart.” Knowing there won’t be any surprises until the very end could make for a long slog of a telecast. I am hoping that, against all odds, I am wrong, but this is how I see it. And as usual, (pity me), I’ll be glued to my TV to find out!

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Xavier January 19, 2010 at 7:11 am

I think you need to flip original and adapted screenplays in your predictions. Hopefully we will see the hurt locker take out best picture (as I think it will be the only one to have a chance against avatar and up in the air). James Cameron speaking Na’vi was cringe worthy. I agree that the Scorsese tribute at the Globes was fantastic. The best actress category infuriates me this year I mean Sandra Bullock is just laughable and Meryl Streep, obviously great but come on when you have two performances from young actors as good as the ones from Gabourey Sidibe and Carey Mulligan it just seems boring to go with someone who always gets nominated and has already won a few. We’ve had some truly great films and performances this year and it seems like the awards ceremonies are not going to reflect this at all, if all goes according to what seems to be the inevitable 2010 will go down as one of the worst oscars in history.

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2 Xavier January 19, 2010 at 7:34 am

Score and Song are all wrapped up as well in my mind with up taking score and crazy heart for song. Hopefully the Academy will award the amazing costumes for Where the Wild Things are and not go for the safe and boring period drama the young victoria.

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3 Reed January 19, 2010 at 8:07 am

Re #6: Totally agree. This is always one of my favorite moments of the night. Jerks!

Re #5: Don´t count out the new voting system yet. If they had used this sytem, I believe there´s no way Forrest Gump would have won Best Picture. With Quiz Show, Shawshank Redemption, and Pulp Fiction splitting the “non-sentimental” vote, Gump got the plurality. Now imagine if all of those people had Gump at #4. It still would have received many #1 votes, but if Shawshank had received everyone´s #2, it would have been enough to surpass Gump. I´m not trying to rip on Forrest Gump. It´s OK and all, but not on par with those others.

(A better example is when Melissa Etheridge won “Best Song” because there were three nominations from Dreamgirls. With this system, she wouldn´t have stood a chance. I realize the new system is only for Best Picture, but to me it is not so damning.)

If anything, this will hurt Avatar´s chances because I imagine many voters won´t give it any credit at all and it won´t be able to win by simple plurality.

Re #2: They have needed to get rid of the songs for decades! Seriously, Hollywood makes like two musicals a year nowadays, and there´s always some dumb song from a Disney movie. I consider this progress, actually. A step forward towards eliminating the category. Sure, there are occasional exceptions (Once comes to mind), but they gotta get rid of this category.

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4 gezagg January 19, 2010 at 9:14 am

Your oh so right about #3 Anvil! The Story of Anvil. I am close to the band and have seen how they’ve struggled over the years. Here was a chance for the Academy to embrace a truly heartwarming, real feel good film and they didn’t even recognize it. I’ve known Steve “Lips” Kudlow for a long time. His performance in the movie was magnificent, even though he isn’t an actor. How many actors can you name who can bring you to tears by just telling the truth? What an injustice. I challenge all readers of this article who’ve seen the movie to let your thoughts be know. I’ve always enjoyed watching the Academy Awards but will pass this year based on the above.

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5 Eric Melin January 19, 2010 at 10:08 am

Xavier- Thanks for correcting me; I got the categories mixed up–fixed now! I agree that “Up” will take Score and mentioned “Crazy Heart” will take song in #2. If “Wild Things” get one nomination, it will be for Costume, and it sure as hell oughta win!

Reed- I’m still curious about the system, but suspicious because it seems like it was set up to include sci-fi/fantasy/animation, but ironically this year, “Avatar” didn’t need the help and would have been nominated even if there were only 5 nominees. Also, some years there are exceptions in the Song category. “Once” had Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova’s tune which was not only a beautiful song but integral to the plot of the movie. This year is not one of those years.

Gezagg- I also have heard that Anvil has mounted a campaign to get a Best Picture nomination! I know it will never happen, but it’s definitely one of the 10 best of the year and it has my vote. Lips is so real the movie, and he is a big key to its success.

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6 Rafferty January 19, 2010 at 10:55 am

No Lifetime Achievement Award?

Oh god, that was how I found out about Akira Kurosawa and Andrzej Wajda! And I already knew about Stanley Donen, but his little song-and-dance when he accepted his is still one of my favorite Oscar moments.

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7 Xavier January 19, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Probably the hardest category to pick will be cinematography, it may become easier a little closer but at the moment no obvious winner, I just can’t see them giving it to avatar

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8 Zack B January 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm

I agree with you about pretty much all of these. I have not seen “Anvil” yet but you love it and A.O. Scott love it so it is on my to-do list. But it does suffer from being about “unimportant” issues. To me, the best documentary of 2007 was “The King of Kong” and it had no chance because it was about video games. Its ridiculous.

Sandra Bullock is also a joke. I personally really liked “Crash”, but it had nothing to do with her. She should not be nominated for “The Blind Side”. I think Zoe Saldana deserves the nominated before her.

Here is a link to my blog with my best of the year and decade lists, if anyone cares. Sorry for promoting myself. http://zackington.xanga.com/

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9 Kyle Lauren January 19, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Eric, I could not agree with you more. I wish your article weren’t so dead on, because it reinforces my disappointment with Awards Season this year. I’m very leery of the new voting system and hoping we’re both wrong!

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10 J. January 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm

“Fallin’ and Flyin’” was a better song, too. RIP Mr. Bruton.

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11 Charley January 22, 2010 at 10:39 am

The fact that Roger Corman, who has launched more careers in Hollywood than anyone else ever, doesn’t get his moment in the sun is an absolute travesty. A guy like this is THE REASON that award exists. Of course he’s never going to have won any of the other categories. But his importance is incalculable, and he deserves to be acknowledged at the ACTUAL CEREMONY!!

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12 Eric Melin January 22, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Charley- I agree 100 percent. How much fun would that highlight reel have been? And the award could have been given to him by Ron Howard, John Sayles, Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, the list goes on. As it is, they’ll probably give us a 30-sec. clip of him holding a trophy in the middle of a “awards at an earlier ceremony” montage…shame on you, Academy!

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13 Donald January 27, 2010 at 11:50 am

Best actress is most embarrassing. Bullock was terrible, Sidibe was overshadowed by Mo’Nique, Mulligan was insufferable and boring (and ps she was “wise beyond her years” because she’s 24 playing a 16 year old). Meryl is so taken for granted that people don’t recognize it’s one of the best performances of the year. Oh well. At least she’s getting some critic awards love.

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14 Eric Melin January 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Donald- Great comment. Sidibe should win. Thanks for pointing out my awkward phrasing, actually, I know Mulligan is older and in addition to that I thought she played a teenager wise beyond her years extremely well. Also, I agree that Streep is taken for granted. She was the best thing about “Julie and Julia.”

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15 wayne swab January 27, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Eric, you actually saw Julie & Julia?

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16 Eric Melin January 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm

I sure did. Half of it was quite good!

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17 Xavier February 20, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Good news for you eric, yes all the song nominations are rubbish but none of them are going to be performed on the night.

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