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Candace Havens | Let's Talk Academy Awards


It’s almost time for the Academy Awards, which is a big time of year for my day job as a film critic. While I could attend as press to the awards, I prefer to stay at home and watch in my pajamas on the couch just like everyone else. If you’re press, you are usually stuck in a big tent somewhere or next door at the hotel in a ballroom where you have to listen to foreign press ask inane questions that embarrass the room. Since most of my job is done before the awards, I choose to stay home.

I thought I’d go through the list and talk about some of the folks I’d like to see win. This is not necessarily who will win, though I’ll try to help you with that too. We’ll go through the Best Picture and Acting categories and I’d also love to hear about some of your choices.

Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, "Nine"; Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air"; Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Crazy Heart"; Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"; Mo'Nique, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire." I think the woman to beat here is Mo’Nique, even though I despise that film, I get why people are so into this performance. Mo’Nique has a way of making this truly evil woman, pathetic and sad at the same time. It’ a raw performance and the Oscar folks like that. My pick would be Anna Kendrick, she was an absolute revelation in "Up in the Air." A truly standout performance, but unfortunately she doesn’t have a chance.

Supporting Actor: Matt Damon, "Invictus"; Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"; Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station"; Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"; Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds." Waltz is the man to beat here. This is a category filled with amazing performances. Waltz picked up the Screen Actors Guild Award, and I believe he’ll be the winner here too.

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"; George Clooney, "Up in the Air"; Colin Firth, "A Single Man"; Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"; Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker." This is another tough category filled with incredible performances. Jeff Bridges won the SAG award, and I’m pretty sure he’ll pick up the Oscar. Hollywood considers him one of their under appreciated, and I think they think it’s time to honor him. It was an honest performance and I don’t have a problem with Bridges winning, but Firth would be my choice. He’s in almost every frame of "The Single Man" and he doesn’t disappoint. He can say so much with just a look. It was one of my favorite performances of the year.

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"; Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"; Carey Mulligan, "An Education"; Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by Sapphire"; Meryl Streep, "Julie & Julia." Don’t get me wrong, I love Sandra Bullock, and Blindside was one of my favorite films of the year. But was her performances better than her fellow nominees? The answer is, no. Still, I think she’s a safe bet to take home the big prize. This is the toughest category for me. I know you’ve never heard of her, but Carey Mulligan gives such an amazing performance in "An Education." For me, Meryl Streep became Julia Child. Sidibe is good in "Precious," but she basically has one expression through the entire film, and even though she’s is supposed to be shy, it would help if she hadn’t mumbled. Helen Mirren is a bit over the top in "The Last Station," but she’s absolutely believable. That said, I’m pretty sure Bullock is a shoe-in.

Best Picture: "Avatar," "The Blind Side," "District 9," "An Education," "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire," "A Serious Man," "Up," "Up in the Air." I don’t believe "Precious" or "A Serious Man" deserve to be in the category. I get that "Precious" deals with horrific subject matter and we are supposed to believe that it is an important film, but if you break it down, it’s not a very well made film. The editing is choppy, the acting is oven over the top or non-existent, especially many of the scenes at the school. I just don’t get the love for the film beyond Mo’Nique’s performance. "A Serious Man" is a movie that just didn’t do it for me. I’m a big fan of the Coen brothers and usually enjoy their dark humor, but this movie was a self-indulgent mess.

So let’s talk about some of the films I do like. No one can deny that James Cameron hasn’t done something quite wonderful with "Avatar," while it’s slow at times, it’s a visual gem. In "An Education" director Lone Scherfig had a deft hand with her actors performances and it’s a great coming of age film. "The Blind Side" and "UP" are both great stories, I’m not so sure they are Best Picture material, but I enjoyed both of the films. "Up in the Air" is movie that I had to think about for a while before I decided I liked it. In the end I decided I love it. My only real problem with that film was the pacing, but the performances by the actors made up for any shortfalls.

That said, for me this year’s two best pictures "The Hurt Locker" and "Inglourious Basterds" are my favorites. Director Kathryn Bigelow picked up the Directors Guild Award for "The Hurt Locker," and this makes me hopeful that perhaps Hollywood is coming around to understanding that this is one incredible film. Most people know Bigelow as James Cameron’s ex, but she’s obviously so much more. He even says so. "The Hurt Locker" is a tightly wound film, with intense performances. It’s one you shouldn’t miss. And even though he often gets the cold shoulder from Hollywood, no one is doing more for the film genre than Quentin Tarantino. The man has such respect for the art of film-making and though he’s turned out some winners and some stinkers, this is his best film yet. So for me a perfect world would have a Best Picture tie for "The Hurt Locker" and "Inglorious Basterds."

If you're in Dallas area, join Candy on Monday, March 1st at the Magnolia Theatre. Want to know her predictions for winners? Want to win cool prizes? Want to have a reason to drink wine in a movie theater...? These are all things going on Monday night at the Oscar Chat!!

Bring friends, the more people come the better chances you have to win cool prizes and guarantee a FUN time!




62 comments posted.

Re: Candace Havens | Let's Talk Academy Awards

So many nominees and award winners have made outrageous speeches that the Academy Awards have become political soap boxes, not what they were intended to become. I don't watch them.
(Gladys Paradowski 4:58am February 23, 2010)

Thanks Sara. :)
(Candy Havens 7:45pm February 23, 2010)

I haven't seen Blindside so I don't know about Bullock's performance, but I agree that Streep nailed Julia Child. The Hurt Locker was amazing. I'm really cheering for it for best picture and I thought Jeremy Renner's performance was exactly what the role called for.

See you at the Magnolia! I had a blast at the event last year.
(Summer Sharp 7:57pm February 23, 2010)

Great commentary, Candace. I'm
a fan of Quentin Tarantino as
well. Thanks for your insights
into the films, many that I
haven't had a chance to see
yet. You helped me decide in
which ones I would like to
invest my time.
(June Faver 7:59pm February 23, 2010)

Summer, I'm so happy you're coming out!

June, I love Quentin too!

Sara, I've never met her, but she made me cry a little watching the Baftas with her plea for peaceful resolutions. :)
(Candy Havens 8:10pm February 23, 2010)

I just realized I hadn't gotten around to seeing most of these movies yet, looks like I have the kind of homework I like. But I have always loved Bullock and Streep and hope one of them wins.
(Sara Edmonds 8:28pm February 23, 2010)

I have a feeling that Avatar will probably take home a lot. Yes, it's the retelling of Pocahontas or any other story where a foreign country invades and takes over, but hopefully it will get today's youth thinking about the future of the world. A movie with this great of a production, graphics, story and sound deserves to be a winner and not glossed over.
(Ethan Nahte' 8:30pm February 23, 2010)

Sara E., it's looking good for Bullock.

Ethan, Avatar is a wonderful film. It could take home a ton of prizes. Depends on the mood of the voters. A month ago I would have said it was a shoe-in for Best Pic, I can't say that now.
(Candy Havens 8:32pm February 23, 2010)

Great picks. What do you think of having 10 best picture nominees?
(Maria Munoz 8:46pm February 23, 2010)

I don't watch the awards but to tell you the truth I haven't even seen any of these movies.
(Diane Sadler 9:03pm February 23, 2010)

I love the OSCARS. I'd watch it for the gowns alone. I do like to see who & what gets the big awards.
(Mary Preston 9:22pm February 23, 2010)

Please enter me in your fantastic contest and I love to enter and win the contests on freshfiction daily.
God bless, Cecilia
(Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez 9:29pm February 23, 2010)

I've only seen one of the movies for best picture so I can't weigh in.I am with you in hopes that Colin Firth wins for best actor.Thanks for your blog it gives me an idea of what I should see.
(Catherine Myers 9:38pm February 23, 2010)

Great evaluation of the movies and
actors. I am not a big movie goer and
have not seen any of the ones nominated.
I will probably watch part of the Oscars
just out of curiosity.
(Patricia Barraclough 9:59pm February 23, 2010)

I hope Hurt Locker wins best picture.
(Deb Pelletier 10:26pm February 23, 2010)

Mary, you and me both on the gowns!

Catherine, you are welcome.

Patricia, there are always the clothes and hot guys. :)

Deb, IT's a very good possibility.
(Candy Havens 10:48pm February 23, 2010)

I am hoping Sandra Bullock wins because Blind Side was such an inspirational story and movie.
(Tamara Bennington 11:50pm February 23, 2010)

Well, of all the films you listed, I've only seen "Inglorious Basterds", and my only statement is if the war had really gone that way, a lot fewer people would have died, and it would have been a couple of years shorter! Great premise, and nowhere near as bloody as my girlfriend had thought it was going to be (even though she hid her eyes a couple of times!).

My choice for top in all the fields? "Whip It!" Roller derby rocks, even on a banked track!! And Barrymore did a good job both directing and doing her own actual skating. It shows a pretty accurate account of the Derby life, on the track, at least. Most of the rest of it is just Hollywood fluff, but the skating is pretty close to the real deal. Yeah, it's not up for any awards, but overall, it is a pretty good and authentic movie about Derby, and it's nice to be properly represented for once by Hollywood.


Lynn, aka Boxy, The Box Officer, Mad Rollin' Dolls, Madison, Wisconsin
(Lynn Rettig 1:35am February 24, 2010)

Me, I just read the next day's
news to see the results.
(Lisa Richards 5:12am February 24, 2010)

Lynn, I loved Whip It too. I wish that film had received the attention it deserved.
(Candy Havens 9:21am February 24, 2010)

love the oscars, haven't seen any of the films this year though --- $$ prevent actually going to see movies on the big screen anymore-- and dvd rentals are usually for the kids, but love to watch for the gowns
(Kelly Holt 2:01am February 25, 2010)

I don't usually see any grown up movies. No time and the kids aren't old enough yet. So the only movie on the list I saw was 'UP'. Great movie. Love Sandra Bullock in anything.
(Tracy Brown 6:46pm March 5, 2010)

I agree that Meryl Streep really nailed Julia. She's a great actress in my book.
(Christine Schultz 7:07pm March 5, 2010)

I love to watch the red carpet procession. I try not to jinx my favorites by giving any predictions. That would be the kiss of death.
(Rosemary Krejsa 7:55pm March 5, 2010)

I'm a sci-fi fan so I am hoping Avatar wins.
(Sherry Russell 8:18pm March 5, 2010)

I don't understand the Best Picture push for Avatar. Is is a visually stunning achievement and should win for something in that vein. But the story is unoriginal and insultingly anti-business and anti-military. I don't believe Avatar is more creative than what Cameron did in the Terminator series decades ago. True sci-fi fans should consider another viewing of Star Trek.
(G S Moch 9:24pm March 5, 2010)

Please enter me in your fantastic contest on freshfiction.com which I try to enter every day. I have even won some prizes on this great website. Thanks and God bless, Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez cecilia74@sbcglobal.net
(Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez 9:41pm March 5, 2010)

I'd like to see Sandra Bullock win for The Blind Side.
(Lisa Johnson 3:59am March 6, 2010)

I know the Oscars are supposed to be about peer recognition, but I wish they'd also include a sampling of everyday moviegoers to help round things out. I'd love to be asked my opinion on all these movies. :)
(Deborah Anderson 5:22am March 6, 2010)

although i dont watch the awards, i do hope that avatar wins.
(Paulette Dubois 6:55am March 6, 2010)

I haven't seen any of the nominated films, but will be watching the awards. I will finally catch the films through Netflix when they are released. Thanks for sharing your input on the films and the awards.
(Joanne Reynolds 7:33am March 6, 2010)

I haven't seen any of those movies. I have to wait until I see them on tv...
(Minna Puustinen 8:31am March 6, 2010)

I love watching the Academy
Awards even if I don't get to
see the movies beforehand and
this year, I'd love to see
Sandra Bullock and Jeff
Bridges win. Long overdue.
(Margay Roberge 9:21am March 6, 2010)

Saw the Hurt Locker, thought it was a excellent movie. Hope it wins.
(Pat Wilson 9:39am March 6, 2010)

I love to see all the gowns.And what they will say when they win
(Patricia Kasner 11:50am March 6, 2010)

Awards shows bore me...I never watch...
(Diane Pollock 11:51am March 6, 2010)

I haven't seen any of the nominated films, so I don't have any opinions. I don't watch award shows either. I don't have the time to spare!
(Cheryl Bradley 12:01pm March 6, 2010)

I never see any of the current movies, yet I love watching the Academy Awards! I tape the show every year so I can fast-forward through boring speeches (or rewind when the host says something in relation to the last comment). My favorite part would be what the host(s) bring to the show. I'm very much looking forward to watching Steve and Alec co-host.
(Elaine Seymour 12:06pm March 6, 2010)

Just watched Inglogious Bastards, and that one definitely gets my vote.
(Cathy MacDonald 1:14pm March 6, 2010)

I love Inglourious Bastards. It's funny that it is based a a true story. I wouldn't have thought it was on factual information.

UP is another of my favorite movie. A few of my friends just didn't understand the movie that life is the greatest journey and not the trips that we wanted to take.
(Kai Wong 1:32pm March 6, 2010)

i so want up to win...i loved that movie! actually, i have yet to not like a pixar movie....
(Kisah Jackson 2:23pm March 6, 2010)

I love UP too.
I hope Colin Firth wins best actor!!!!!!!!!1
(Catherine Myers 3:55pm March 6, 2010)

I'd love to win!
(Sue Ellen Williams 6:24pm March 6, 2010)

I hate to admit it but I am a hopeless awards show junkie. I love to watch all the hoopla & watch the stars as they walk up the red carpet. Of course I also dream about owning some of those gowns or a piece of jewelery - wouldn't it be wonderful!

Like you I like to snuggle up in a comfy pair of PJ's, grab some popcorn and waste my evening in front of the tube even though it's pretty predictable.

I think "Avatar" will take Best Picture - awesome job making this one!

I also loved Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side", one of the better movies I've enjoyed this past while.

Loved reading every one's choices.
(Kimberly Bartlett 7:15pm March 6, 2010)

The only movies I have watched have been 'The Hurt Locker' and 'Julie and Julia' both fabulous in there own way - Julia was NAILED by Streep
(Patricia Mangum 7:56pm March 6, 2010)

I love watching the Oscars. It is so much fun to see who wins, but the part I enjoy most is seeing what everyone is wearing!
(Cheryl Castings 8:18pm March 6, 2010)

I don't know who will win but I do enjoy watching what they ladies wear.
(Shirley Kulesza 8:56pm March 6, 2010)

I used to watch all the shows. Now I only watch bits and pieces of them,, but I do like watching the shows afterwards that show what all everyone wore.
(Amanda Nalley 12:57pm March 7, 2010)

I haven't seen that many of the nominees but I feel that Avatar will win the best picture because it was so different.
(Maureen Emmons 6:58am March 7, 2010)

I agree with pretty much all of your choices. Thanks for saying that "Precious" wasn't a very well made film because as much as I love the fact that it tackled the subject matter it did, I was disappointed in the film. It never quite came together for me. I loved "Up in the Air" and "An Education," but I really want to see "Hurt Locker" or "Inglorious Basterds" win. If I have to choose, I would pick "Hurt Locker." Not sure about the two host thing tonight, but hopefully it will make for a fun show.
(Michelle St. James 9:05am March 7, 2010)

I'm hopeful that Kathryn Bigelow wins
best director. I also hope that Avatar
wins best picture. I'm usually more of
historical romance fan (Go Young
Victoria for all categories it is
nominated in!), but Avatar moved me
like no other film had in a long time.
I'm not a big sci-fi fan and I hated the
Lord of the Rings series, but I
absolutely loved Avatar. Maybe it's the
"yoga" in me. :)
(MaryAnne Banks 12:28pm March 7, 2010)

I actually haven't been able to see most of the movies, so I don't have a preference. With two little ones, I usually see movies when they come out on DVD. Thanks for your thoughts and the opportunity to win though!
(Melissa Maringer 3:17pm March 7, 2010)

I really liked Sandra Bullock so she has
my vote.
(Deborah Lary 5:19pm March 7, 2010)

I love Sandra Bullock...besides that it would be great to see some less Hollywood movies take the awards.
(Darci Paice 5:50pm March 7, 2010)

Hi Candace, Great chat. I love watching the awards. I also make my picks then sit and watch how many I have right. Well will talk to you soon... I'm in your write chat group. thanks again,
(Heidi Shafer-Wilson 6:33pm March 7, 2010)

Congrats to all the Oscar winners!
I'm amazed that today's director winner is
the first woman to win it. We woman still
have so many barriers to break.
(Jung Ja Ahn 12:29pm March 8, 2010)

I've only seen 1 of the movies nominated :(
(Raelena Pavey 1:26pm March 12, 2010)

For the most part everyone behaved unusually well.
(Marjorie Carmony 5:24pm March 13, 2010)

Jeff Bridges in Crazy Hearts is the best. What a Great Movie.
(Rebecca Booth 11:20pm March 13, 2010)

I'm so glad that Sandra Bullock won this year.
(Ginger Hinson 1:08am March 14, 2010)

I just saw Inglourious Basterds last night on DVD. I loved the irony and the smart conversations that go into the movie.

I already seen UP in the theater. The animation gives a very good theme and plot in the storyline that is so very true to our reality that we always forget that living life is the greatest journey into itself. We often think that taking a trip is the adventure, we are looking for and forget about the people we meet and the simplicity of things.

I'm looking forward in seeing the Blide Side and Avator on DVD.
(Kai Wong 2:26pm March 14, 2010)

love tweeting with you can't wait for dancing with the stars
(Jean Sagarese 6:50pm March 14, 2010)

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