What do aliens, Nazi’s, and adrenaline pumped soldiers have in common?  They were all prominently featured as Best Picture nominees at last year’s 82nd annual Academy Awards.  Sure there were other types of films, some good, others great.  Yet the sci-fi/action films nominated truly broke the norm for the Academy to nominate mainly dramas – some with action thrown in here and there but dramas none the less.  Blue screen alien flicks and action war films, (note I say War/drama, Ala Saving Private Ryan) while great on their own merits, seem to be included for/because of sales and ratings.  James Cameron’s own Terminator 2, groundbreaking in the cinematography and special effects departments in its time whilst being successful at the box office and with critics, did not receive the best picture nomination.  Times are clearly changing.

This trend of more nominees must = more viewers/money continues this year with 10best picture nominees, up from last year’s nine.  The nominees this year include:  True Grit, Winter’s Bone, 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, The Social Network, InceptionThe The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3, Kids Are All Right.

Strangely missing from this hodgepodge of varying genre’s is Ben Afleck’s Directorial magnum opus The Town; a picture that might not have been nominated 10 years ago, The Town has a higher aggregate rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and special effects aside is believed by this writer to be the superior movie both from an acting and thematic perspectives.  The Social Network and The King’s speech are both excellent films and fit the typical academy winner archetypes.  At least Toy Story stands a chance at becoming the first animated feature to win best picture – and as the best reviewed film of the year it probably deserves to -although a cartoon being the best would likely be too much for the Academy to swallow. This year’s nominees are better than last year’s yet the idea if ratings/sales as the driving point behind the awards over-looms the awards show non the less.  There is a plethora of other categories at the awards yet the best picture Oscar essentially defines the direction the the Awards ceremony gears towards.

My prediction is that True Grit will most likely take the honors with The King’s Speech coming in as a close second.  The Coen brothers’ newest film features not only outstanding performances by Jeff Bridges and Mat Damon, but a very memorable breakthrough performance by Hailee Steinfeld; not to mention all the wonderful cinematography and writing.  The 83rd annual Academy awards should be a good even and worth tuning into – even if many of the nominees are there just for you to do exactly that.

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