2009 was probably the most interesting Oscar year I’ve ever blogged about. It was David and Goliath, ex-husband vs. ex-wife, mentor vs. protege, biggest blockbuster of all time vs. one of the lowest grossing Best Picture contenders ever.  It was old fashioned, hand held filmmaking vs. performance capture and green screen. Both were war films. Both were kick-ass action films.  It was also the year that the Oscar race for Best Picture made the leap from five on a weighted ballot to ten on a preferential ballot.  Ten slots for best film of the year was designed to include genre films along with art films along with independent films.  It was meant to open things up to accommodate what felt like then a rebirth. This was before international box office ruled Hollywood, before the sequel and the remake had really begun to dominate. The Academy would only use this process of ten nominees for voters to choose before switching back their nomination ballot to five (The Academy would then choose more than five, so far 9 in 2011, 2012 and 2013).

But most will remember 2009 as the year Kathryn Bigelow made DGA and Academy history by becoming the first woman to ever win Best Picture and Best Director.  It was a major milestone, not without its share of controversy. “She ONLY won because she was a woman” was a continual lament. “She didn’t really direct that movie, Mark Boal did. And the film only won because it looked like a man directed it.”

The Hurt Locker only gets better as the years wear on. It is genius filmmaking of the highest order, denigrated ONLY because she’s a woman.  Believe me, any hipster 20-something male who directed it would be a god by now.  Bigelow’s painter’s eye is visible throughout. The focus on three soldiers as the war effects them in different ways, the absence of responsibility of the war in Iraq, the futility of the war, the senseless unpredictability of the many lives lost there — it’s in every frame of this perfect film.  It was by far the most deserving film to win Best Picture.

Giving it some heat was Inglourious Basterds, the Tarantino revenge fantasy about killing Nazis. Full of style and wit, Basterds was the favored film of “the internet,” well, those who didn’t love Avatar.  The male-dominated film fans could not abide The Hurt Locker beating those two films and still can’t.

Somehow Bigelow’s film hasn’t yet cracked Sight & Sound’s top 250 but mark my words, it will.

We’ll be chit chatting about this as we prepare to close out the 2000s and head into the 2010s.  We’ll then likely rubber-band back to the beginning days of Oscar and start from the beginning.

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  • Brian S.

    First woman to win, first African-American screenwriter to win too (Geoffrey Fletcher for Precious). Also impressed with UP and the introduction to Christoph Waltz and his 2 Oscars.

  • I remember thinking that Avatar was the most deserving film for Best Picture at the 2010 Oscars. Now I’m not as sure I feel that way. The Hurt Locker is really great too, and it’s a toss up now for me. But Avatar and The Hurt Locker are the only two movies from 2009 that I have watched more than twice, and with any continued real interest. I still think there are plenty of other good movies though. My list includes:

    District 9
    The Hurt Locker
    Inglourious Basterds
    The Lovely Bones
    Public Enemies
    A Serious Man
    Star Trek
    Up in the Air
    Whip It

  • BTW, I don’t normally bag on movies, but I HATED HATED HATED Precious. Ugh, what a piece of shit. It has no redeeming qualities. At least, not for me. I see it as just an hour and 45 minutes of just depressing drama. It was just mean as hell. I don’t even like the way it ended. I know that’s what it’s like for a lot of people like Precious, but still, ugh….

    I will say this though, Mo’Nique was worthy of her Oscar.

  • KT

    Can you please talk about Kathryn Bigelow’s career? I don’t think any of her earlier films were mentioned in the podcasts, if I’m remembering correctly.

    Cameron and Bigelow are probably the best working action directors. Kubrick was a huge fan of both of them. Terminator is an incredible product of guerrilla filmmaking. So is Near Dark, which lifted the Aliens brigade of Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, and Bill Paxton. I’m curious what Cameron thought of Zero Dark Thirty. He always said Kathryn’s wanted to out-gun the guys, and she certainly did that.

    Also, this woman has a god-given gift for casting. She put Willem Dafoe, Bill Paxton, Keanu Reeves, Jeremy Renner, Jason Clarke, Jamie Lee Curtis, Anthony Mackie, and others on the map. She gave Angela Bassett a kick-ass role in Strange Days when no one, I repeat no one, would give her a part for over a year after her great Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It.

    Near Dark–fantastic vampire film, brilliant Tangerine Dream music, flawed but so much fun and well filmed
    Point Break–exhilarating, one of the best chase scenes ever filmed (the foot chase), wonderful skydiving sequences, Lori Petty = so unique, perfect casting
    Strange Days–fantastic case study of Cameron vs. Bigelow dynamics, the differences in their styles even though this was by far their biggest collaboration (Cameron wrote it), it was very difficult to market (“You know you want it”–what the hell does that mean?), there is tension throughout between the ideas and execution of the two filmmakers, the open sequence is incredible filmmaking
    K-19–another interesting film, with Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, interesting for what Bigelow brings to the project/where it fails
    Zero Dark Thirty–well, we all know this is where everything is leading to: probably Bigelow’s best, the peak of her career so far

    Question: Did the Academy actually love Hurt Locker? Or did it on a whole just want to deny James Cameron another Oscar win by rallying around Bigelow and her narrative? Hurt Locker is so not their type of film and did so very little business. Everyone loves a winner until you’re a winner. I think Cameron’s Globes speeches sealed the deal, quoting his imaginary language…even DiCaprio was caught on camera looking sick of him. I think Hurt Locker was the right choice, but there was a lot more at work here behind the scenes than just the films.

  • KT

    P.S. I read for years and years Bigelow was trying to get a William Gibson project off the ground. Once she does her True American or Bowe Berghdahl projects (both announced, but is she doing both?), she should totally go back to sci-fi. Would love to see what she would do…Neuromancer’s been waiting for years and years…

  • Bryce Forestieri

    Compared to 2008, a decidedly more robust output from our national cinema, and when I consider the quality aggregate, I believe this is the strongest year for animation in “the west” in many, many years, so it isn’t strange that here we too find the best American film of that kind released during the decade of the 2000’s — as if by preordained symmetry, exactly ten years after the release of the previous decade’s preeminent “cartoon”, THE IRON GIANT.

    That year, were the two most significant works in world cinema really the Cannes winner *and* the Best Picture winner, in that order? Yes. Don’t throw rocks at me. They got it right. Katherine Bigelow single-handedly elevated the material to extraordinary domains and produced, so far, the most defining (not definitive, of course!) film about America’s experience in Iraq and its post-9/11 outward attitude while not losing command of the most harrowing character attention. This is what a director, and only the director does. Her Magnum opus. Now she stands in that top echelon of the “genre” alongside Coppola, Stone, Cimino, Spielberg, Klimov, Mileston, Kubrick, and Peterson.

    The Essentials

    1. THE WHITE RIBBON, Michael Haneke
    2. THE HURT LOCKER, Kathryn Bigelow
    3. A PROPHET, Jacques Audiard
    4. INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, Quentin Tarantino
    6. WATCHMEN, Zack Snyder
    7. TWO LOVERS, James Gray
    8. ANTICHRIST, Lars von Trier
    10. FANTASTIC MR. FOX, Wes Anderson
    11. FISH TANK, Andrea Arnold
    12. MOON, Duncan Jones
    13. WHITE MATERIAL, Claire Denis
    14. A SERIOUS MAN, Joel & Ethan Coen
    15. MOTHER, Bong Joon-ho
    16. AN EDUCATION, Lone Scherfig
    17. ABOUT ELLY, Asghar Farhadi
    18. (500) DAYS OF SUMMER, Marc Webb
    19. BROKEN EMBRACES, Pedro Almodovar
    20. STAR TREK, J.J. Abrams
    21. LIFE DURING WARTIME, Todd Solondz
    22. POLYTECHNIQUE, Denis Villeneuve
    23. VENGEANCE, Johnnie To
    24. EVANGELION 2.0 YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE, Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki
    25. BRIGHT STAR, Jane Campion
    26. SIN NOMBRE, Cary Fukunaga
    27. REDLINE, Takeshi Koike
    28. PUBLIC ENEMIES, Michael Mann
    29. LEBANON, Samuel Maoz
    30. DRAG ME TO HELL, Sam Raimi
    31. POLICE, ADJECTIVE, Corneliu Porenboiu
    32. THE MESSENGER, Oren Moverman
    33. ADVENTURELAND, Greg Mottola
    34. THAT EVENING SUN, Scott Teems
    35. UP, Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
    36. HARRY BROWN, Daniel Barber
    38. CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
    39. I KILLED MY MOTHER, Xavier Dolan
    40. CORALINE, Henry Selick
    41. THE MAID, Sebastian Silva
    42. VALHALLA RISING, Nicolas Winding Refn
    43. THIRST, Park Chan-wook
    44. MARY AND MAX, Adam Elliot
    45. MY DOG TULIP, Paul Fielinger
    46. AVATAR, James Cameron
    47. DOGTOOTH, Giorgos Lanthimos
    48. I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS, Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
    49. VINCERE, Marco Bellucchio
    50. THE INFORMANT!, Steven Soderbergh
    51. A SINGLE MAN, Tom Ford
    52. SHERLOCK HOLMES, Guy Ritchie
    53. THE SECRET OF THE KELLS, Tomm Moore
    54. ZOMBIELAND, Ruben Fleischer
    55. THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES, Juan Jose Campanella
    56. DISTRICT 9, Neill Blomkamp

  • KT, yeah I agree. I think 2009 was the year of Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron. BTW, I’m really excited for Bigelow’s next movie, True American.

  • Oh, and Avatar 2, 3, and 4 or course. 🙂

  • “She ONLY won because she was a woman was a continual lament. She didn’t really direct that movie, Mark Boal did. And the film only won because it looked like a man directed it.”

    I have no comment about the man v woman director, but, this comment does remind me that many many people make a film together, so the director, no matter how much credit, still, only does part of the work. Just like Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Everyone knows that Victor Fleming was not the only director on the film. And then there’s the entire career of the Coen Brothers. Ethan didn’t start taking co-director’s credit until The Ladykillers in 2004.

    Gone with the Wind:
    Directed by
    Victor Fleming
    George Cukor … (uncredited)
    Sam Wood … (uncredited)

    The Wizard of Oz:
    Directed by
    Victor Fleming
    George Cukor … (uncredited)
    Mervyn LeRoy … (uncredited)
    Norman Taurog … (uncredited)
    King Vidor … (director: Kansas scenes) (uncredited)

  • KT

    Something rubs me the wrong way with Boal. I remember that Hollywood Reporter article from last year on their unorthodox relationship ( When I rewatch clips of Hurt Locker winning Best Picture, I can’t help but notice Boal grabbing Bigelow, holding onto her, and then dragging her toward the microphone.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    I think he’s a perfectly fine researcher/screenwriter. But his work is wildly overpraised, and gets too big a share of the credit. Critics and “awards bodies” couldn’t conceive that a woman by herself would be capable of THE HURT LOCKER. But yeah, something rubs me the wrong way about him too; seems majorly dickish in interviews/round tables I’ve seen him on — and that’s in public. Definitely not the second coming of Paddy Chayefsky or even [gulps] Goldman, and for money the main reason ZD30 was not as compelling as HURT LOCKER. I figure he had more “power”, due to that same hype so many inflated his figure with in ’09. All the credit to Bigelow and Chastain, they did monumental work, but I figure the script/”journalism piece” was sacrosanct during that production. My bet is, as thematically similar Bigelow’s next feature is to her collaborations with Boal, this time she’s keeping away from that bad influence. But you know, opinions.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    …and my preferences for recognition (ranked in order of preference)

    Best Director

    1. Michael Haneke – WHITE RIBBON (w)
    2. Kathryn Bigelow – THE HURT LOCKER
    3. Quentin Tarantino – INGLORIOUS BASTERDS
    4. Jacques Audiard – A PROPHET

    Best Actor

    1. Tahar Rahim – A PROPHET (w)
    2. Sam Rockwell – MOON
    3. Jeremy Renner – THE HURT LOCKER
    5. Joaquin Phoenix – TWO LOVERS
    6. Willem Dafoe – ANTICHRIST
    7. Michael Stuhlberg – A SERIOUS MAN
    8. Hal Holbrook – THAT EVENING SUN
    9. Max Records – WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
    10. Joseph Gordon Levitt – (500) DAYS OF SUMMER

    Best Actress

    1. Charlotte Gainsbourg – ANTICHRIST (w)
    2. Isabelle Huppert – WHITE MATERIAL
    3. Katie Jarvies – FISH TANK
    4. Hye-ja Kim – MOTHER
    5. Carey Mulligan – AN EDUCATION
    6. Catalina Saavedra – THE MAID
    7. Gwyneth Paltrow – TWO LOVERS
    8. Penelope Cruz – BROKEN EMBRACES
    9. Zoey Deschannel – (500) DAYS OF SUMMER
    10. Abbie Cornish – BRIGHT STAR

    Best Supporting Actor

    1. Christoph Waltz – INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (w)
    2. Jackie Earle Haley – WATCHMEN
    3. Maxim Gaudet – POLYTECHNIQUE
    4. Anthony Mackie – THE HURT LOCKER
    5. Niels Arestrup – A PROPHET
    6. Michael Fassbender – FISH TANK
    7. Burghart Klaubner – THE WHITE RIBBON
    8. Alfred Molina – AN EDUCATION
    10. Zachary Quinto – STAR TREK

    Best Supporting Actress

    1. Golshifteh Farahani – ABOUT ELLY (w)
    2. Lorna Raver – DRAG ME TO HELL
    3. Samantha Morton – THE MESSENGER
    4. Karine Vanasse – POLYTECHNIQUE
    5. Melanie Laurent – INGLORIOUS BASTERDS
    6. Rosamund Pike – AN EDUCATION
    7. Blanca Portillo – BROKEN EMBRACES
    8. Anne Dorval – I KILLED MY MOTHER
    9. Allison Janney – LIFE DURING WARTIME
    10. Marion Cotillard – PUBLIC ENEMIES

    Best Film Editing

    1. Chris Innis, Bob Murawski – THE HURT LOCKER (w)
    2. Sally Menke – INGLORIOUS BASTERDS
    3. Juliette Welfling – A PROPHET
    4. Monika Willi – THE WHITE RIBBON
    5. William Hay – WATCHMEN

    Best Original Screenplay

    1. Michael Haneke – THE WHITE RIBBON (w)
    2. Quentin Tarantino – INGLORIOUS BASTERDS
    3. Audiard, Bidegain, Dafri, Peufaillit – A PROPHET
    4. James Gray, Richard Menello – TWO LOVERS
    5. Mark Boal – THE HURT LOCKER

    Best Adapted Screenplay

    1. William Finkelstein – THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL – NEW ORLEANS (w)
    2. Spike Jonze, Dave Eggers – WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
    3. Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach – FANTASTIC MR. FOX
    4. Nick Hornby – AN EDUCATION
    5. David Hayter, Alex Tse – WATCHMEN

    Best Cinematography

    1. Robert Richardson – INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (w)
    2. Larry Fong – WATCHMEN
    3. Christian Berger – THE WHITE RIBBON
    4. Lance Acord – WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
    5. Agnes Godard – WHITE MATERIAL
    ——————Cannot Ignore—————–
    6. Robbie Ryan – FISH TANK
    7. Barry Ackroyd – THE HURT LOCKER
    8. Anthony Dod Mantle – ANTICHRIST
    9. Pierre Gill – POLYTECHNIQUE
    10. Rodrigo Prieto – BROKEN EMBRACES

    Best Original Score

    1. Alexandre Desplat – FANTASTIC MR. FOX (w)
    2. Clint Mansell – MOON
    3. Alberto Iglesias – BROKEN EMBRACES
    4. Marvin Hamslisch – THE INFORMANT
    5. Marcelo Zarvos – SIN NOMBRE

    Best Animated Feature

    1. Wes Anderson – FANTASTIC MR. FOX (w)
    2. Masayuki, Kazuya Tsurumaki – EVANGELION 2.0 YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE
    3. Takeshi Koike – REDLINE
    4. Pete Docter, Bob Peterson – UP
    5. Phil Lord, Christopher Miller – CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS

    Best Production Design

    1. FANTASTIC MR. FOX (w)

    Best Visual Effects

    1. WATCHMEN (w)
    3. STAR TREK
    5. MOON

    Best Costume Design

    1. BRIGHT STAR (w)
    3. (500) DAYS OF SUMMER

    Best Sound Mixing: INGLORIOUS BASTERDS
    Best Sound Editing: THE HURT LOCKER
    Best Makeup: DRAG ME TO HELL

    Best Foreign Language Film

    1. Claire Denis – France – WHITE MATERIAL (w)
    2. Bong Joon-ho – North Korea – MOTHER
    3. Asghar Farhadi – Iran – EBOUT ELLY
    4. Pedro Almodovar – Spain – BROKEN EMBRACES
    5. Denis Villeneuve – Canada – POLYTECHNIQUE

    Best Documentary

    1. Chris Smith – COLLAPSE (w)
    2. Frederick Wiseman – LA DANSE: THE PARIS OPERA BALLET
    3. Terrence Davies – OF TIME AND THE CITY
    4. Michael Stephenson – BEST WORST MOVIE
    5. Louie Psihoyos – THE COVE
    6. Don Argott – THE ART OF STEAL

  • John

    Looking forward to 2009. Interesting year, indeed.

    But, can I just say, SO psyched for 1930s-60s podcasts!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  • “This was before international box office ruled Hollywood, before the sequel and the remake had really begun to dominate.”

    With respect, not so sure about this claim. As far back as 2001 (and sporadically even earlier), the Top 10 at the box-office has almost always included 5 or 6 franchise or sequel films. Same as this year.

    And international box-office has been making an essential contribution to worldwide grosses for decades — in the very same 65/35 ratio we see today. (65% international vs 35% domestic). This holds true for usually half the Top 10 every year going back as far as the late ’80s. (although the ratio used to be more like 55/45 in favor in international earnings throughout the early 80s… still, movies like Back to the Future II began tipping the scales at the current 65/35 ratio in 1989.

    That’s 25 years ago. Anyone who hasn’t noticed studios making movies that would appeal to an international audience for the past 25 years has not been paying close attention. As soon as international distribution networks established tentacles, Hollywood was all about manufacturing dozens of movies that could be easily absorbed overseas by only barely glancing at subtitles.


    It’s always always been that way. Hollywood films have always been one of America’s most pervasive exports. Some would say insidious. That’s why so many countries have enforced screen quotas to protect their countries’ film industry from American saturation. How long has this been happening? Since the 1920s. Why was the UK film industry once so much more of powerhouse than it is today? Because of these quotas that tried to stem the flood of American movies. Margaret Thatcher (hiss hiss) suspended those quota in the UK in 1983 — right around the time British films stopped swooping in to take Oscars from Hollywood movies.

    That’s 30 years ago. True, for years China has a sort of cultural blockade against any sort of Western influence, but those walls came down long long ago.

    France is one of the few countries that still holds a moderately effective firewall against Hollywoood — and they tightened those restrictions in the late 1970s, as soon as they saw what Jaws and Star Wars were about to spawn.

    This is just how it is. No point trying to protest or campaign for it to stop. Billions of dollars are at stake.


    But has this hurt American movies? No. I don’t see that it has. If American movies were hurting so bad, if cinema is being artistically damaged by these trends, then how come we have had such consistently incredibly amazing years for movies in the English language for the past decade?

    The reason it has not hurt American movies made for intelligent people is because those movies ARE STILL BEING MADE — 20 or 30 of them every year. Same as always.

    Try to find more than 20 great American movies in the 1960s or the 1950s. Good luck. There are the same number of great movies being made today as were made in the 1950s and 1960s.

    Also, Hollywood has been producing the same annual amount of nonsense for 70 or 80 years.

    The 1960s were just as “bad” about sequels. What do we think James Bond is? What difference does it make if 15 Hollywood awful bloated musicals had different plots than The Sound of Music when they were all made with the same tiresome formula trying to duplicate the success of The Sound of Music?

    Two of the Top 10 movies of 1965 were The Great Race (#6) and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (#4). Try to tell those 2 movies apart. They’re virtually identical except one of them has some flying things.

    Those two movies were far shittier than Captain America and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

    I just get so weary of hearing how American audiences were so much more sophisticated in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s simply not true.

    Say hello to our Top 10 movies at the box-office in 1972

    01 $93 million The Poseidon Adventure
    02 $85 million The Godfather
    03 $66 million What’s Up, Doc?
    04 $50 million Behind the Green Door
    05 $48 million Jeremiah Johnson
    06 $46 million Deliverance
    07 $45 million Deep Throat
    08 $43 million Cabaret *(this includes re-release earnings from 1992 and 2002 — when tickets were much costlier)
    09 $37 million The Getaway
    10 $25 million Fritz the Cat

    3 XXX titles. There’s our high-class American taste of the 1970s. Blowjobs. America spent more money watching blowjobs on the big screen in 1972 than it spent watching the Corleone family.

    By the way, Fritz the Cat earned $25 million in America and $165 million overseas, so if we want to find examples of Hollywood figuring out what international audiences will pay to see, there’s an interesting milestone.

    In contrast. Cabaret opened in February, 1972 and by May it had earned over $11 million. That’s fantastic considering it only cost $2.2 million.

    But from February 1972 to August 1972, Americans only bought 6 million tickets to see Cabaret. That’s the same number of people who bought tickets to see Precious in 2009.

  • S

    Still amazes me that Hurt Locker & Avatar were so loved when the first is just a modern Iraq-themed twist on “The French Connection” (and not an enthralling one at that), while the second is a high-tech remake of Disney’s “Pocahontas.” At least “Hurt Locker” ripped off a decent movie. It was, however, a year of true originals, great works of art, but not the 2 that went head-to-head in the best picture race.

    BEST PICTURE (My Picks):
    1. Inglourious Basterds
    2. Up
    3. District 9
    4. Up in the Air
    5. A Serious Man
    6. The Informant
    7. An Education
    8. (500) Days of Summer
    9. Where the Wild Things Are
    10. Invictus

    1. Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
    2. Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
    3. Stephen Soderbergh, The Informant
    4. Peter Blomkamp, District 9
    5. Spike Jonez, Where the Wild Things Are

    1. Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
    2. Gabourie Sibide, Precious
    3. Carrie Mulligan, An Education
    4. Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
    5. Saiorse Ronan, The Lovely Bones

    1. Morgan Freeman, Invictus
    2. Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
    3. Michael Stuhlberg, A Serious Man
    4. George Clooney, Up in the Air
    5. Matt Damon, The Informant

    1. Brad Pitt, Inglourious Basterds
    2. Alfred Molina, An Education
    3. Peter Sarsgaard, An Education
    4. Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
    5. Fred Melamed, A Serious Man

    1. Melanie Laurant, Inglourious Basterds
    2. Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
    3. Marion Cotillard, Nine
    4. Diane Kruger, Iglourious Basterds
    5. Penelope Cruz, Nine

    1. Up in the Air
    2. District 9
    3. The Informant
    4. An Education
    5. Invictus

    1. Inglourious Basterds
    2. A Serious Man
    3. Up
    4. (500) Days of Summer
    5. The Hangover

    1. “God Bless Us Everyone” A Christmas Story
    2. “Down in New Orleans” The Princess and the Frog
    3. “Cinema Italiano” Nine
    4. “The Weary Kind” Crazy Heart
    5. “Winter” Brothers

    1. The Informant
    2. A Christmas Carol
    3. Up
    4. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    5. Coraline

    1. Inglourious Basterds
    2. The Informant
    3. District 9
    4. Where the Wild Things Are
    5. Up in the Air

    1. Nine
    2. Inglourious Basterds
    3. District 9
    4. Avatar
    5. Invictus

    1. Avatar
    2. Up
    3. Inglourious Basterds
    4. District 9
    5. A Christmas Carol

    1. The Hurt Locker
    2. A Christmas Carol
    3. Nine
    4. District 9
    5. Inglourious Basterds

    1. Avatar
    2. District 9
    3. Star Wars

    1. Inglourious Basterds
    2. The Informant
    3. Nine
    4. The Young Victoria
    5. The Last Station

    1. Julie & Julia
    2. Nine
    3. Crazy Heart

    1. Up
    2. A Christmas Carol
    3. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    4. The Secret of Kells
    5. Coraline

    BEST ENSEMBLE CAST (Hopefully this will become an Oscar category someday):
    1. Inglourious Basterds
    2. A Serious Man
    3. Precious
    4. Up in the Air
    5. An Education

  • JPNS Viewer

    I’m more than uber sure that Sasha and Ryan are going to discuss it (see below) because it is sooo obvious but basically I just want to write something down here. : )

    [facepalming while typing with the other hand]

    “The Blind Side”: nominated for Best Picture [gasp].
    [compared, for instance, to:]
    “Blue Jasmine”: Not in this universe (talking about Best Picture category in another year).
    Same fate, unfortunately, goes for “Inside Llewyn Davis”.

  • rafael

    “it has no redeeming qualities” vs “Mo’Nique was worthy of her Oscar.”

    so it has a redeeming quality? #confused

  • jtagleire

    The Gibson project was New Rose Hotel, so I don’t think she’s going to do it, but I agree with you that I want her to return to sci-fi. I would love to see a Boal/Bigelow sci-fi collaboration (his “you are there journalism meets screenwriting” and her painter’s eye) but Boal has stated that the genre does not interest him as a writer.

  • steve50

    What?! Overpraised? Don’t think so. The key to both ZD30 and Hurt Locker are the scripts, in Bigelow’s masterful hands, of course.

    Chayesky was a didactic ranter and Goldman a clever hack – I loved and respected them both for it. To dismiss Boal as “dickish” doesn’t make sense because that tone comes across in his scripts, esp. The Hurt Locker. It’s necessary and adds layers to what the director and actor can do with it.

  • steve50

    So Bigelow is doing the Bowe Berghdahl story? Fantastic, she’ll do the story justice. If she does it right (and you know she will) it will probably land her another witch trial, but we got yer back. Go, girl!

  • Here, if anyone is interested, are my brief notes on 2009:

    Actually as I am writing this BRIDE WARS is on TV. And that is as far as I am willing to go discussing that movie.

    AVATAR was great the first time you see it on the big screen in 3-D. But the experience never comes close after that. In hindsight, it would not even make the 10 Best Picture list for me.

    Neither would THE BLIND SIDE or A SERIOUS MAN. In fact the latter is one of my least favourite Coen brothers films by far. I thought Sandra Bullock was great but felt this was perhaps a reward for her work a la Julia Roberts more than the best performance of the year. Who should have won then? Meryl Streep probably {meaning Hope Davis would have later won for The Help – yeah!}

    Some performances that were worthy but left in the cold were:

    Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski in AWAY WE GO
    Joseph Gordon-Levitt in (500) DAYS OF SUMMER
    Anthony Mackie in THE HURT LOCKER
    Peter Capaldi in IN THE LOOP
    Melanie Laurent in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS
    Amy Adams in JULIE & JULIA

    This was certainly not one of the stronger years for movies in general to be honest, let alone Oscar contenders. My own personal 10 could well have included the aforementioned AWAY WE GO, as well as FANTASTIC MR. FOX and (500) DAYS OF SUMMER – and maybe even A SINGLE MAN – equally if not more worthy of a Best Actor Oscar for Firth than the movie that landed him that prize the very next year, which was a far stronger year for quality movies.

    Alex Baldwin and Steve Martin were quite funny as hosts too.

    Also, I saw THE HANGOVER in one of the outdoor summer cinemas in Athens with the future wife. Just thought I would mention that. I know I find a way to mention her, but she arrived in the UK from Greece, to live with me, on the day of these very Oscars.

  • KT

    Well, in regards to the Oscar night, I read it as a quite obnoxious display of “Bitch, I’m in charge” in front of the world. It was a real turn off and ironic, during what was Bigelow’s night/the year of the woman, to see him grabbing her and holding on to her like she was on a leash. He wouldn’t have been anywhere near that stage had she not directed the film. In fact, part of that THR article was right: without her advocating for him/their relationship, he’d never had gotten a producer credit on his first film and wouldn’t have even been on set. I wonder if Chastain really did get close to quitting ZDT.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    I think we’ve discussed this before you and I, and I don’t think we’ll ever agree on what I see as a disparity of quality in those two films. It’s ok, I realize I’m not in any sort of majority regarding ZD30. My point about Goldman and Chayefsky was that regardless of what one might think of their world views (Chayefsky) or influences (Goldman), their blueprints and guidance are much more palpable in the final films than Boal’s in the case of THE HURT LOCKER, I do think you’re probably right about ZD30’s case, I actually say that much in the second part of my comment. And by “dickish” I didn’t mean his work, just his temperament as a dude, that’s why I said “in interviews”. For me, like with all those great War Films I consider THE HURT LOCKER’s legacy comparable to, the script was of course a integral part in their genesis, I was just saying that in THE HURT LOCKER’s case that importance was overblown. I mean I have nothing against the guy. I really love Paul Haggis’ IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH and I’m perfectly aware that Haggis’ role in the success of that “final product” was being merely serviceable to what was pretty good material in the first place, then add a magisterial performance by Tommy Lee Jones, plus Deakins who can’t make anything look bad even if he tried, and you have a very fine film. 🙂

  • Bryce Forestieri

    “without her advocating for him/their relationship, he’d never had gotten a producer credit on his first film and wouldn’t have even been on set.”

    Exactly what I mean by bad influence. But the film does have a Metascore of 95, so don’t let me go on for too long rambling how it was probably a daily dilemma predicament for Bigelow to have to so faithfully adhere to an overlong Wikipedia entry and try to find the riveting human drama in that “document”.

  • Ruth

    2009 was a really good year, and had great diversity as well.

    Out of the 78 Best Picture Oscar winners I have seen, I have The Hurt Locker at #47. Out of the films that were nominated that year, I am happy with its win (Avatar hasn’t stood the test of time all too well, it is Cameron’s least outstanding film, and I never was a big fan of Inglorious Basterds).

    My personal rankings;

    1. BRIGHT STAR, Jane Campion
    2. A SINGLE MAN, Tom Ford
    3. ANTICHRIST, Lars Von Trier
    4. A SERIOUS MAN, Joel & Ethan Coen
    5. TANK GIRL, Andrea Arnold
    6. CRAZY HEART, Scott Cooper
    7. THE WHITE RIBBON, Michael Haneke
    8. THE ROAD, John Hillcoat
    10. WATCHMEN, Zack Snyder
    11. DISTRICT 9, Niell Blomkamp
    12. BALIBO, Robert Connelly
    13. MOON, Duncan Jones
    14. THE HURT LOCKER, Kathryn Bigelow
    15. UP, Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
    16. A PROPHET, Jacques Audiard
    17. AN EDUCATION, Lone Scherfig
    18. SAMSON & DELILAH, Warwick Thornton
    19. UP IN THE AIR, Jason Reitman

    HM: Blessed, Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince, Mary & Max, Avatar

    Locally, it was also a great year for Australian film.

  • Okay, yes, that is a bit confusing. To me, the whole movie sucked. I didn’t enjoy it at all. But I can’t deny that Mo’Nique’s performance was Oscar worthy. To me, no redeeming qualities is in reference that I would never have a reason to watch it again, even for Mo’Nique’s performance.

  • steve50

    And we’ll probably discuss it in the future. (Isn’t that why we’re here?)

    We agree on Hurt Locker’s magnitude (whomever was responsible – I still say the team) and will always disagree on ZD30. What I meant was that I believe Boal’s personality is reflected in his abrupt, cocky, no bullshit scripts. I don’t know him or what passes for “dickish” nowadays, but a writer’s work reflects their personalities.

    oooh- you like In the Valley of Elah? I liked the idea, Jones and Deakins, but on the whole….not so much.

  • KT

    I bet behind closed doors Bigelow wrote a lot of that screenplay, shaped it especially, and probably deserved a screen credit for it. She’s always eating the humble pie, unlike her ex husband.

  • Kane

    Bryce, I loved ZD30 and The Hurt Locker equally but maybe the former isn’t as compelling as the latter because the lead character wasn’t a loose cannon? Chastain was great but she was very newbie-ish in the beginning and she was sort of an investigator. Renner, well, he couldn’t give a shit. He didn’t care about whether the war was being own or lost. He cared about his next fix of excitement. This isn’t all how I feel. I’m just wondering if that’s why you found one less compelling over the other.

  • m1

    The Hurt Locker has to be a modern masterpiece. It’s incredibly intense, gritty, and unforgettable. What more can you say?
    My top 20 of the year goes like this:

    1. The Hurt Locker
    2. A Prophet
    3. Up in the Air (holds up remarkably on repeat viewings)
    4. An Education (lovely coming-of-age flick with a brilliant central performance from Carey Mulligan)
    5. Up
    6. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    7. A Serious Man (one of the Coens’ most overlooked efforts)
    8. Precious
    9. Crazy Heart (sweet little romance with great work from Bridges and Gyllenhaal)
    10. The Damned United (immensely entertaining sports movie from Tom Hooper, who went on to direct Sasha’s favorite movie, The King’s Speech)
    11. District 9
    12. Star Trek
    13. Coraline
    14. (500) Days of Summer
    15. The Princess and the Frog
    16. The Messenger
    17. Moon
    18. A Single Man (beautiful production design and brilliant performances from Colin Firth and Julianne Moore)
    19. The Secret in Their Eyes
    20. State of Play (underrated political thriller)

    My ranking of the Best Picture nominees:

    1. The Hurt Locker
    2. Up in the Air
    3. An Education
    4. Up
    5. District 9
    6. A Serious Man
    7. Precious
    8. Avatar (very solid sci-fi blockbuster, despite the clichés)
    9. Inglourious Basterds (Waltz’s performance is sensational but the movie itself is a tad too messy and overlong for me)
    10. The Blind Side (I don’t think this is a terrible movie for what it is but it should never have factored into the Oscar race. Bullock’s Oscar-winning work is certainly its most valuable asset but I don’t think even she should have won that year)

  • m1

    @Al Robinson: Precious is a “depressing piece of shit” but The Lovely Bones is one of your favorite movies of that year? To each their own.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    Kane, not so much. I think Chastain’s character is in itself an achievement. Perhaps I’ve overemphasized how much I think HURT LOCKER is the superior film between the two. ZD30 is in fact in my top 30 films of 2012 so rest assured I did find it worthwhile and essential, but think for a moment about ZODIAC, which perhaps is more committed to genre territory than a semi-journalistic account like ZD30, but they are not that dissimilar. They are both about the lengthy search/hunt for a nefarious being. In both cases we know what happens in the end, but the stakes in ZODIAC always feel much higher when it should be the other way around because the events portrayed in ZD30 are of much greater magnitude and importance, still, the drama in Fincher’s film is way more palpable, and even though there are prolonged periods (in both movies) in which the “investigators” do not make progress *at all*, ZODIAC never loosens its grip or impetus even when the latter only consists of an ongoing compulsion (i.e., inside the characters’ minds). We’ll probably get to talk more about this when they do the 2012 podcast, that is if they decide to revisit a race that still feels like yesterday. But to your question, no, I don’t need my protagonists to be volatile or deeply damaged to find them compelling. In fact ,to me, the most fascinating character in ZODIAC is Gylleehaal’s, who even though is not a completely well-adjusted person, he’s far from colorful. He’s kind of an obsessed newbie too, willing to go the distance.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    “And we’ll probably discuss it in the future.”

    Rest assured.

  • “@Al Robinson: Precious is a “depressing piece of shit” but The Lovely Bones is one of your favorite movies of that year? To each their own.”

    M1, you have made a really good point. I do see a bit hypocritical by including The Lovely Bones on my favorites list. But I guess I don’t think of The Lovely Bones as depressing. It has it’s moments of sadness, but I think because it’s all done as fantasy like, I don’t feel the emotions from it.

  • casey

    What a damn good year. So many great films. Here would be my tops and awards:

    Top 25 for Best Picture
    1 – Antichrist
    2 – The White Ribbon
    3 – Dogtooth
    4 – Capitalism: A Love Story
    5 – Inglorious Basterds
    6 – Precious
    7 – Julia
    8 – The Messenger
    9 – A Single Man
    10 – Where the Wild Things Are
    11 – Coraline
    12 – Zombieland
    13 – Up
    14 – Crazy Heart
    15 – Drag Me to Hell
    16 – Moon
    17 – The Hurt Locker
    18 – Up in the Air
    19 – District 9
    20 – The Girlfriend Experience
    21 – Away We Go
    22 – A Serious Man
    23 – An Education
    24 – Bronson
    25 – 500 Days of Summer

    Best Director
    1 – Lars Von Trier – Antichrist
    2 – Michael Haneke – The White Ribbon
    3 – Quentin Tarantino – Inglorious Basterds
    4 – Giogos Lanthimos – Dogtooth
    5 – Spike Jonez – Where the Wild Things Are

    Best Actor
    1 – Colin Firth – A Single Man
    2 – Willem Dafoe – Antichrist
    3 – Jeff Bridges – Crazy Heart
    4 – Sam Rockwell – Moon
    5 – Tom Hardy – Bronson

    Best Actress
    1 – Tilda Swinton – Julia
    2 – Charlotte Gainsbourg – Antichrist
    3 – Gabourey Sidibe – Precious
    4 – Carey Mulligan – An Education
    5 – Sasha Gray – The Girlfriend Experience

    Best Supporting Actor
    1 – Christoph Waltz – Inglorious Basterds
    2 – Woody Harrelson – The Messenger
    3 – Richard Kind – A Serious Man
    4 – Christopher Plummer – The Last Station
    5 – Nicholas Hoult – A Single Man

    Best Supporting Actress
    1 – Mo’Nique – Precious
    2 – Julianne Moore – A Single Man
    3 – Allison Janey – Away We Go
    4 – Maggie Gylenhaal – Crazy Heart
    5 – Vera Farmiga – Up in the Air

    ** I hope you talk about everything Mo’Nique. How she refused to campaign and proved an award can be won based solely on performance and not sucking up

  • I count MOTHER and I LOVE YOU PHILIP MORRIS as 2010 films, and they both made my top 20 of that year.

    My 2009 list:

    2. A PROPHET
    4. UP IN THE AIR
    6. UP
    9. IN THE LOOP
    14. SUGAR
    17. PONYO
    18. DISTRICT 9
    19. A SINGLE MAN
    23. TWO LOVERS
    25. STAR TREK
    27. MOON
    28. TRUCKER
    31. BIG FAN
    32. THIRST
    38. CORALINE
    40. AVATAR
    42. INVICTUS
    44. THE ROAD
    48. BRUNO
    49. ONG BAK 2

  • My awards:

    Best Film – FANTASTIC MR. FOX

    Best Director – Jacques Audiard, A PROPHET

    Best Actor – Tahar Rahim, A PROPHET

    Best Actress – Carey Mulligan, AN EDUCATION

    Best Supporting Actor – Christoph Waltz, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

    Best Supporting Actress – Rachel Weisz, THE BROTHERS BLOOM

    Best Original Screenplay – IN THE LOOP by Jesse Armstong, Armando Iannucci, Simon Blackwell & Tony Roche

    Best Adapted Screenplay – UP IN THE AIR by Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner

    Best Cinematography – Roger Deakins, A SERIOUS MAN

    Best Editing – Chris Innis & Bob Murawski, THE HURT LOCKER

    Best Art Direction/Set Decoration – Sebastian Krawinkel, David & Sandy Wasco, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

    Best Costume Design – Anna Sheppard, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

    Best Original Score – Adrian Younge, BLACK DYNAMITE

    Best Original Song – Fallin & Flyin from CRAZY HEART

    Best Foreign Language Film – A PROPHET

    Best Animated Film – FANTASTIC MR. FOX

    Best Documentary – ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL

    Best Makeup – DRAG ME TO HELL

    Best Visual Effects – DISTRICT 9

  • m1

    “I don’t feel the emotions from it.”

    Which is precisely my problem with that film :). I loved the visuals but Jackson got the tone all wrong. Ronan’s performance was fantastic though and I’m happy Tucci got nominated in spite of how lackluster I found the movie to be as a whole.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    I just saw BOYHOOD.

    My God.

    My God.

    So rarely have I been so moved, violated, and uplifted as I have been this afternoon by Linklater’s grand gesture.

    I laughed and I cried.

    I am fucking reeling. Wow.

  • Philipp

    Welcome to the side of Boyhood-enthusiasts.

    I don’t know if you already recorded the podcast, just want to point out, that since 2009 the movie that won VFX also took home the award for Best Cinematography. Especially the win for Avatar bothers me the most. What kind of cinematography is there?

    And yes, Sandra Bullock is maybe the worst Best Actress winner in recent memory. She is a fine actress, but the movie and the performance are nothing.

  • keifer

    There were only four films that year which stood out for me:

    THE WHITE RIBBON (one of the most beautifully photographed films I’ve ever seen).

    INGLORIOUS BASTERDS (and I’m not even a Tarantino fan, but this was Tarantino’s masterpiece . . . a flawless work of art)

    A SINGLE MAN (the ending bugged me a lot . . . but my oh my, what came before it was so exquisitely moving).

    I LOVE YOU PHIPLIP MORRIS! (both Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor should have received acting nods – both sensational).

  • murtaza

    definitely the best of the year, totally in love with Bigelow, but also Hurt Locker was exceptionally written by Mark Boal. Felt so happy he won also.
    Sandra Bullock travesty also happened that year… my god.

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