The 82nd Oscars: Geeky Movies Have Had A Good Year

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2009 was a good year for geek movies.  Of course, there were a few notable exceptions, but we are a culture that can occasionally embrace such duds as secret cinema gold, and usually forget the rest.  Usually.

Yesterday’s announcement of the 82nd Academy Awards nominees shows that Hollywood has also noticed that Science Fiction, animation, and, um, Quentin Tarantino stepped up to the plate and slammed out quite a few home runs this year. This year’s awards ceremony includes the 2nd animated nominee for best picture in history, the first Wallace and Gromit movie since 2005, and…

Well, we’ll be honest with you.  Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was nominated for an award.  But its just Sound Mixing!  Nobody even knows the difference between that and Sound Editing.  The rest is much more exciting, we promise.  Follow the jump for the things we are most excited about in this year’s Academy Awards. 

An Animated Film Could Win Best Picture for the First Time in History

This year the Best Picture category was expanded to include ten nominees instead of the historical five, in order to accommodate “some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories.”  Read: some movies that the average person has actually seen.  Or: genre movies.

The fact that animation is a medium and not a genre is one that is mostly lost on the larger public.  The last animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture was 1991’s Beauty and the Beast.  Yeah, 1991.  19 years ago.  We needed a moment to get over the existential terror, too.  We worried, in 2001, when the Best Animated Feature category was introduced.  This might mean that an animated film would simply be shoved into the category by default, ensuring that no animated film would ever again be nominated for Best Picture.  When Persepolis lost Best Animated Feature to Ratatouille, it seemed obvious that the Academy considered best animated feature to mean something like “best animated kids movie.”  Persepolis is an animated feature, but Waltz with Bashir is a foreign language film?  Inconsistency, gentlemen, inconsistency!

Although we would be surprised if Up won, considering the competition and the Academy’s history of under-recognizing animated movies (see Wall-E), hopefully this new (or old, actually) tradition of ten best picture nominees will see an animated winner in the years to come. This segues us nicely into…

The Best Picture and Best Animated Feature Nominees

We are happy to point out that four of the ten best picture hopefuls are movies embraced by geek culture: Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, Up, and District 9.  In Animated feature, we have Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and Up.  We’re so sorry, Coraline.  We really are.

Sound and Writing

Geek movies dominate the two sound awards, with seven out of ten nominations.  Avatar, Inglourious Basterds, and Star Trek have all taken both Editing and Mixing nods. Basterds, Up, and District 9 are all nominated for their screenplays in the two writing awards.  We are hoping against hope that District 9 gets the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, because its the only category where its likely to win at all.  And we really, really want it to win something.

The Geekiest Category of Them All: Visual Effects

This years visual effects nominees are Avatar, District 9, and Star Trek.  The outcome of this one should be clear.  Whatever else you might think about Avatar, it has taken motion capture to unexpected heights.  This is a technique that began with, lest we forget, Jar Jar Binks, and that we thought had reached a peak with Gollum.  It is not likely to change the way all movies are made, as so many people have gushed at you, but it might mean we have to watch less things like The Creepy Express.

Obligatory Baseless Speculation

We noticed that despite 8 nominations (hah!  not enough to beat your old record in this arena, Cameron!), Avatar wasn’t nominated for any acting awards.  (In fact, there aren’t any acting awards for a geek movie this year.  I guess nobody died.)  Could this be because the Academy doesn’t want to have to try and decide where a motion capture performance really comes came from, just like it refrained from doing so with Andy Serkis‘ role as Gollum?

Or maybe it’s just because Avatar didn’t have that many great performances in it.  Although we’d like to give Zoe Saldana a pat on the back for some very impressive grief-filled moans.

But Anyway

Did you hear what we said earlier?  There is a new Wallace and Gromit movie.  Its called A Matter of Loaf and Death.  We don’t know what else we can say.

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Susana Polo
Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.