Sadly, I don't see nearly so many movies as I used to, since Japanese theaters tend to be pricey and short on foreign movies that aren't blockbusters in the vein of Avatar and 2012. Of this year's Best Picture nominees, the only ones I've seen are The Hurt Locker, Up, Inglourious Basterds, and District 9. Though Inglourious Basterds wasn't far behind, I think The Hurt Locker was the best film among those four, what a great war film should be - tense, well-drawn, and richly characterized rather than brash or showy, and illuminative of the difficult moral dilemmas of war without moralizing. I don't mean that as a dig at Tarantino's film - he does about as well as anybody can at making cinematic art out of B-grade pastiche, and Inglourious Basterds is no exception - but merely by virtue of its stylized pulpiness his movie compromises its ability to make a really impactful artistic statement. These two films were also the only two of those nominated for Best Director which I saw, and it's a really a hard call to say who did a better job there - the movies are so different that it's tough to compare them. The Hurt Locker was certainly a smaller, less ambitious piece, but Kathryn Bigelow carried it off near perfectly. Inglourious Basterds, on the other hand, was more of a mixed bag, feeling a bit overstuffed despite some absolutely exquisitely staged set pieces and Tarantino's usual crackerjack pacing. I can't say it would have been an injustice had Tarantino won, but Bigelow was certainly deserving.
I've also yet to see most of the performances that were nominated for the various acting categories. I'm happy to see that Christoph Waltz won for his performance in Inglourious Basterds however. Nazis on screen are at this point so old hat as villains that it's hard to play the type memorably - who can top Ralph Fiennes as Amon Göth in Schindler's List? - but Waltz's ruthless, suave, relentlessly manipulative sophisticate is as memorable as any.
Hopefully I'll get a chance to catch up on the movies I missed at some point.
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