With the exception of Tom Ford’s A Serious Man (nominated for Best Picture), today’s Oscar nominations have us focused almost entirely on gay director Lee Daniels’ moving picture Precious, which is up for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Gabourey Sidibe), Best Supporting Actress (Mo’Nique), Best Adapted Screenplay (Geoffrey Fletcher), and Best Film Editing (Joe Klotz). That’s six nominations. And come March 7, the film could very well win them all.
Best Picture. It’s up against The Hurt Locker and Up In The Air, sure, but we expect Academy voters to shun the blockbuster fare of Avatar in favor of 2009’s most buzzworthy film. A vote for Precious is a vote against domestic violence, or so its producers are hoping everyone believes. The film stars blockbuster names (Mariah Carey, Mo’Nique), but not blockbuster attitudes. It didn’t just move theatergoers to discuss the film, it created a dialogue. And because of its commercial success, a vote for Precious doesn’t just reward a picture that moved people, but rewards a picture that did so while propping up the industry.
Best Director. Besides an endorsement from Oprah, director Lee Daniels is not on an uphill battle. He’s the odds-on favorite. His competition is not Inglourious Basterds‘ Quentin Tarantino, but The Hurt Locker‘s Kathryn Bigelow. Daniels’ telling of a sexually abused and forgotten teenage girl, who achieves small triumphs along the way, is a story more human than other of the other contenders. That doesn’t make it Oscar bait, but Daniels’ so-far humble acceptance of the industry’s lauding will go a long way.
Best Actress. A twentysomething nobody in the industry, Gabourey Sidibe’s skyrocketed to muted fame, thanks to her daring portrayal of Precious‘s title character. She is not a Hollywood player — but she faces stiff competition from the very well-received efforts of Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep, a critic darling. A win for Sidibe would be the Academy’s way of solidifying Precious as 2009’s ultimate movie of the year. A snub, however, would mean only that voters were absolutely wowed with Bullock’s ability to go from Miss Congeniality to, well, awesome.
Best Supporting Actress. There’s been no formal Oscar campaign for Mo’Nique, a decision about as purposeful as campaigning for an Oscar. She has not vocalized any desire to win trophies, although she’s been handsomely rewarded at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. Utterly transformed in her role as an abusive, love-starved mother, Mo’Nique helped carry Precious as much as its star. And she “gives good speech,” a remarkably powerful criteria for choosing winners.
Best Adapted Screenplay. Whether or not Academy voters read the book — 1996’s Push — that inspired the film, awarding screenwriter Fletcher the Oscar for transforming Sapphire’s novel into a big screen production will have only one downside: snubbing In The Loop‘s amazingly talented writers. But if Precious is destined to win Best Picture and turn Daniels into a Best Director winner, we find it hard to believe the Academy would not also reward the man responsible for Precious’ inner dialogue.
Best Film Editing. If you enjoyed the mindfuck animated montages on Precious (we didn’t), then you’ll understand why the Oscar could go to editor Joe Klotz. But he faces a huge battle against Avatar‘s Team Cameron, and this is the one award Precious stands a good chance of losing.s