Sr. Rose Pacatte looks at Oscar nominated films for 2010 using the theme of "human connections" as lens through which to view them.
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Out of the ten films nominated, I think this may come down to "The Hurt Locker" or "Avatar." In the interest of full disclosure I admit that I have been a fan of "The Hurt Locker" since September 2008 when I was president of the Catholic Jury at the Venice Film Festival and we gave it the SIGNIS Award. It was the best film in competition at Venice that year. My vote goes to "The Hurt Locker," but anything can happen.
"Avatar" is a brilliant technological over-achievement that tells a story about humanity and morality; an imaginary landscape on which Cameron has painted an epic. "The Hurt Locker" gazes intently into the reality of a few good men who do what they do to save others; it is a newsreel about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, grittier than anything the evening news can deliver. It is up close and personal and we realize, we know what is going on in our name. The irony here would be if one of the other eight films in this category wins. Regardless, each of these ten films is a picture of the human story worthy of critical analysis as well as contemplation.
"Up in the Air" resonates with so many people who have lost their jobs and as the George Clooney character learns empathy for the people he fires, so do we. He doesn't change a lot, but he learns something about his own humanity.
"A Serious Man" is the story of the Old Testament Job, and about just as enjoyable. It is an interesting nomination but I doubt it will win, despite being made by two of the best filmmakers out there, Joel and Ethan Coen.
"Inglorious Basterds" is a clever, if not brilliant, example of expressionist filmmaking from Quentin Tarantino. He takes what is old and makes something new. He is the master of violence as an art form because he distorts to great effect.
"Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire" is a contender in this category, and I would be content if it wins. But what makes it such a memorable film may be what keeps it from winning: the darkness of the humanity portrayed may overcome the light that wins in the end.
"Up" has so many dimensions. I recommend it as a winning film because it is filled with universal human themes. I think you can find almost every Beatitude expressed in this animated picture. The art direction and the understanding of the power of image (the silent sequence is amazing) exhibit a profound grasp of cinema as art.
"District 9" surprised me. This science fiction drama that achieved so much with so little deserves the "shoe string" award. Science fiction always asks us to reflect on what it means to be truly human, and "District 9," recalling the history of South Africa and other global situations where racism divides, does just that.
"The Blind Side" -- If the Oscars had an audience award, this film would win.
The Oscars 2010: Movies that Connect Us
[Check Sr. Rose's blog at www.sisterrose.wordpress.com for more Oscar commentary.]