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terça-feira, 2 de fevereiro de 2010

‘Avatar’ and ‘Hurt Locker’ Lead the Oscar Field


The New York Times
February 2, 2010, 8:54 am
‘Avatar’ and ‘Hurt Locker’ Lead the Oscar Field
By MICHAEL CIEPLY

WETA/20th Century Fox
Sam Worthington plays Jake in James Cameron’s “Avatar.”

Update | 9:41 a.m. “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker” narrowly led the Oscar nominees, with nine nominations each, including best picture and best director, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences scattered its honors among an unusually wide field of contenders on Tuesday.

View full list of nominees here.

The anti-Nazi romp “Inglourious Basterds” followed close behind with eight nominations, including best director for Quentin Tarantino and best supporting actor for Christoph Waltz.

The urban drama “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” had six nominations, including best picture, best director for Lee Daniels, best actress for Gabourey Sidibe, best supporting actress for Mo’Nique, and best adapted screenplay for Geoffrey Fletcher. Mr. Daniels made instant Oscar history as the first black director of a best picture nominee.

“Up in the Air” also had a strong showing with six nominations, including best picture, best director for Jason Reitman, best adapted script, best actor for George Clooney and two supporting actress nominations, for Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick.

One surprise was a best picture nomination for “The Blind Side,” a popular drama about a white woman who helps a homeless young black man become a football star. Sandra Bullock was nominated as best actress for her role in the film, which had not been widely seen as a best picture prospect as the awards season took shape.

Other best picture nominees in a field that was doubled to 10 from five this year were “District 9,” “An Education,” “A Serious Man,” and “Up.”

“District 9,” a guerrilla-style look inside a detention camp full of space aliens, stood out as the sort of crowd-pleaser the academy’s governors had hoped would surface in the wider field of nominees. It may have edged aside “Star Trek,” a more conventional sci-fi hit that had been singled out by many as an Oscar prospect earlier in the season.

“Invictus,” directed by Clint Eastwood, received two nominations, for its star, Morgan Freeman, and its supporting actor, Matt Damon, though the movie — about sports and healing in South Africa — had been widely cited for months as a candidate for more nominations.

Joining Mr. Daniels, Mr. Reitman and Mr. Tarantino in the best director category are the former spouses James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow — for “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker,” respectively.

The nominations were announced shortly after 5:30 a.m., Pacific time, at the Beverly Hills headquarters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars. The early-morning ceremony is calculated to grab viewers on morning news shows across the United States. The Oscar ceremony is set for broadcast on March 7 on ABC.

Besides Mr. Clooney and Mr. Freeman, nominees for best actor also included Jeff Bridges, for his performance as a broken-down country singer in “Crazy Heart”; Colin Firth, who played a gay college professor in “A Single Man”; and Jeremy Renner, who played a danger-addicted bomb disposal expert in the war drama “The Hurt Locker.”

Mr. Bridges — four times nominated in the past but never a winner — has been considered a favorite since winning both the Golden Globe for best dramatic performance and an award from the Screen Actors Guild.

The best actress nominees, in addition to Ms. Bullock and Ms. Sidibe, included Helen Mirren, who played Tolstoy’s wife in “The Last Station”; Carey Mulligan, who played a young girl seduced by an older man in “An Education”; and Meryl Streep, who picked up her 16th Oscar nomination — extending her own record for most acting nominations — for portraying the irrepressible cook Julia Child in “Julie & Julia.”

Supporting actress nominations also went to Maggie Gyllenhaal for her appearance in “Crazy Heart” and to Penélope Cruz for her performance in “Nine.”

Ms. Cruz’s was the only nomination in the major categories for “Nine,” a film that once appeared poised to put the financially troubled Weinstein Company back into the thick of the Oscar race. In fact, the company and its co-founders, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Oscar perennials, are in the thick of the awards with “Inglourious Basterds,” which was distributed in partnership with Universal Pictures.

The supporting actor nominees included Woody Harrelson, for “The Messenger”; Christopher Plummer, for “The Last Station”; and Stanley Tucci, for “The Lovely Bones.”

Mr. Tucci stretched about as far as an actor can go last year, playing both a loathsome serial killer in “The Lovely Bones” and Ms. Child’s adoring husband in “Julie & Julia.”

In expanding the best picture category — something that hasn’t been done since awards for the 1943 films — the academy’s governors were hoping to spark new audience interest in a ceremony that recently has leaned toward independent-style fare like “No Country for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Milk” and “The Reader.”

The nominations for “District 9” and “Up” certainly broadened the field. Previously, only one animated film had been nominated for best picture — Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” which was nominated as best picture in 1992 (and came before there was a separate category for best animated feature).

Still, no broad comedy made the cut, though “The Hangover” had won Golden Globes for best comedy and for original screenplay by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. And “Avatar,” with its vast popularity and critical success, would almost certainly have been included in a smaller field.

Notably, the nominations for “Avatar” were heavily concentrated in some of the more technical categories, like sound editing, visual effects and editing. It did not receive a screenplay nomination, though “The Hurt Locker,” which has scored well with critics and some Hollywood guilds in their pre-Oscar prize ceremonies, did.

Other nominations for best original screenplay went to Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman for “The Messenger”; Joel and Ethan Coen for “A Serious Man”; and Pete Docter, Bob Peterson and Thomas McCarthy for “Up.”

Nominees for best adapted screenplay included Nick Hornby for “An Education”; Mr. Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell for “District 9”; and Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche for “In the Loop.”

The animated category was deeper this year, with five nominees instead of the usual three, because enough animated films qualified to allow the expanded field. “Up” received a nomination for best animated film, raising the possibility that voters might split their ballots, some voting for it as an animated film, some as best picture — conceivably leaving it without a victory in either category — though it could receive votes for both under Oscar rules.

Other animated nominees were “Coraline,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Princess and the Frog” and “The Secret of the Kells.”

Best foreign-language film nominees were “Ajami,” from Israel; “A Prophet,” from France; “The Secret in Their Eyes,” from Argentina; “The White Ribbon,” from Germany; and “The Milk of Sorrow,” from Peru. None of those films have been seen widely by American audiences.

The 10 best picture nominations were spread among 10 different companies on Tuesday.

20th Century Fox had a triumph in “Avatar,” a vastly expensive epic that had promised to revolutionize the cinematic experience with its immersive 3-D techniques — and actually delivered, both with the fans and with the academy. Columbia Pictures, which has generally left the Oscar work to its corporate cousin — Sony Pictures Classics, which took a number of nominations, including that for “An Education” — finally scored this year with “District 9.”

Similarly, Pixar Animation, the Disney unit that changed animation with its long string of computer-generated hits, got the best picture nomination that had eluded past films as well-regarded as “Ratatouille” and “Wall-E.”

Last year’s Oscar ceremony, hosted by Hugh Jackman, had about 36.7 million viewers in the United States. That was a 13.6 percent jump from the year before but still far fewer than the 43.5 million who watched in 2004, when Billy Crystal was the host and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” swept 11 awards, including best picture.

This year’s Oscar ceremony that will have not one but two hosts — Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin — the challenge may now be how to fit everybody into the three hours considered an ideal length for the show.

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