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Why 'Inglourious Basterds' will win best picture at the Oscars (Part 2)

December 30, 2009 |  2:10 pm

Inglorious basterds - news 3

Now that I've outted some Oscar pundits cited below for not taking "Inglourious Basterds" seriously early this derby season, a few are scrambling to insist that no, no, no -- they always thought it might be nominated. Really! They just didn't think it could win.

Oh, rubbish. A few weeks ago virtually all Oscarologists, forgetting the lessons of history, were preoccupied looking ahead on the calendar while predicting that "Invictus," "Precious," "Avatar," "Up in the Air," "The Lovely Bones" or another late 2009 release will win best picture. The ridicule they heaped upon me was for daring even to suggest that Quentin Tarantino's old August release was a serious contender.

Most rookie Oscarologists make that same mistake every year, focusing only upon late-year releases, forgetting how summer flicks like "Gladiator" or "Braveheart" or even spring releases like "Annie Hall" can make late-year dashes to win when December films trip up. That's what is happening this year. 

Inglourious basterds oscars news 3

Sure, some voters love "Avatar," but sci-fi/fantasy blockbusters are usually cursed at the Academy Awards. "The Hurt Locker" is respected, but it has several strikes against it, including a lack of stars, an off-putting title and the tragic fact that voters have recently shunned films about U.S. involvement in the Mideast.

"Precious" may be too gritty, too depressing, too scary in a real-life way to that pampered, lily-white Beverly Hills crowd.

"Up in the Air" is a fine film, but it's the tale of a cold-hearted corporate cat chasing babes and frequent flyer miles. It has the star power that's usually required to win best picture, but where's the gravitas?

That leaves us with "Inglourious Basterds" — almost by default. Film critics loved it ("There's no resisting it," Rolling Stone's Peter Travers warned). It was hugely successful ($300 million worldwide). It's got one of the highest cool factors in the biz because it's got Brad Pitt on screen and Quentin Tarantino behind the celluloid. Quentin hasn't been seriously in the derby since "Pulp Fiction" (1994). Now he's back with Oscar-mad Harvey Weinstein behind him pushing hard while blitzing Hollywood with cheap, nonwatermarked DVDs, and everywhere you look lots of nifty ads reminding you how much fun you had watching Quentin dare to rewrite World War II history.

This isn't one of those derby years where you have everybody obviously cheering on a film like "Slumdog Millionaire." Well, OK many people are rooting loudly for "Avatar," but, given Oscar history, odds are stacked against voters embracing blue monkeys.

Remember how shocked everybody (except me) was when "Inglourious Basterds" reaped the most Critics Choice Award nominations and landed in all of the top Golden Globe races? That's because there isn't a loud rah-rah section behind it to warn that the old August movie was about to make a big, splashy return. Its support emerges quietly when voters look over a ballot. Not thrilled by options among late-year releases, they spy that irresistibly cheeky title — "Inglourious Basterds" — on the list, they smile mischievously and can't resist checking it off.

Over and over I keep trying this same experiment with actual Oscar voters. I ask them what movie they may vote for as best picture. Only a few mention "Inglourious Basterds." Then I hand them a written list of movie titles to choose from and I ask them to tell me what they'd vote for, ranking top three choices first, second, third. "Inglorious Basterds" is the only film that gets mentioned by nearly everyone in one of the three positions. Some voters pick "Avatar," others "Precious," "Up in the Air" or "The Hurt Locker." Quite a few pick "Basterds" too, even though they didn't volunteer it until I showed it to them on a list. That's interesting. But it's ranked high up by almost every voter in my survey.

Breaking with recent tradition, a weighted ballot will be used to pick the winner this year. Thus, pundits must size up this race in new ways. I don't think "Basterds" would win under the old system, but I think it's the fave under this new one that offers 10 alternatives, thus widely splitting votes, giving the edge to the film with the most consensus support.

The movie with the most nominations usually wins best picture. "Inglourioius Basterds" could lead with 11: best picture, director, screenplay, supporting actor (Christoph Waltz), supporting actress (Diane Kruger or Melaine Laurent -- I don't think Laurent can be nominated in lead), film editing, cinematography, art direction, costumes, sound editing and sound mixing. By comparison, "Avatar" has the potential of reaping nine. "Up in the Air" could score eight.

Lastly, movies with the best titles usually win. As my Oscarologist pal Tariq Khan likes to say, if "Million Dollar Baby" retained its original title, "Rope Burns," it wouldn't have won. I'm sure he's correct. "Slumdog" struck the Oscar jackpot in part because it had "Millionaire" in its title. Aspiring toward beauty helped "American Beauty" and "A Beautiful Mind" to win. If a movie claims an award this year for best title, clearly it's the ingenious "Inglourious Basterds," which cleverly danced around censors by changing the spelling of a naughty word. How can voters resist tripping the light fantastic with Quentin?

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Photos: Weinstein Co.

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Comments

Nice movie!

I hope it wins because it was the best film of the year. Avatar has no chance (I don't think it'll even be nominated) since it's mediocre filmmaking with amazing visuals. Inglourious Basterds has an amazing screenplay, mature direction (something Tarantino doesn't get enough credit for) and it works as a film. I have yet to see Up in the Air. Tarantino the person is annoying, yes, but he is also incredibly talented.

ABG,
Personally attacking other posters reveals far more about you than what they've written. In addition, it's unclear why you found it necessary to spotlight your circumcision, but that little revelation does shed light on why you took such great offense and went over the top. Not everyone is going to agree with your "view" and insulting those who don't makes them even less sympathetic to your position.

Diane, I had no idea that I've got any control over the decision making of Hollywood producers and studios. But I guess my circumcision carries more weight than your integrity.

Thanks, LA Times, for allowing such deep thinkers as Diane and Yavor to pilfer their nonsense on your message boards.

Maybe QT is frontrunner for Or. Screenplay but for Director it clearly seems between Cameron and his ex-wife.

I'm really tired of the Jewish stuff, I know I know, what happened was awful, and we've had tons of movies on that. It's a shame that both Kill Bill's were SO MUCH BETTER and they got nothing, and we know they got nothing partially cuz they were films about women, but now, we've got a Jewish film AGAIN for the 1011th TIME and all the people in the land bow down and kiss its feet.

ALL ABOUT STEVE FOR WORST PICTURE AND SANDRA BULLOCK FOR WORST ACTRESS

"When I read comments from people complaining about "yet another Holocaust movie," I think, "Great. Yet another complaint about another Holocaust movie."

Then perhaps the obvious message is to stop hammering moviegoers over the head with them. It's clear that most people are weary of the one-sided bombardment.

Inglourious Basterds would be one of the worst and least deserving Best picture winners in history. It's just not a very good movie, with long stretches of tedious boring dialogue.

At some point the academy will slap itself in the face and wake up to this truth.

I would agree this is a weak year for movies, which opens the door for a piece of junk like this.

It's almost amusing perusing the responses to this. Granted, I don't entirely agree with Tom's arguments, which I think are extremely underdeveloped at this point, but here are the oh-so-compelling arguments against IB for best picture at this point:

1) My kid loved Avatar--because if there's anything the Academy craves, it's fodder for 5-year-olds
2) It's violent, brash, and self-indulgent. I guess only the self-righteous, sanctimonious, typical Oscar films that insist upon themselves year after year are the only ones deserving of praise
3)Homosexuals, minorities, and liberals are the only representing groups that win awards--WHAT? Where have you been the past, oh, several decades or so?

I doubt this film will take home the Big Prize, but if it doesn't, it won't be for this pathetic excuses for arguments I've been seeing here. This is an excellently-crafted film with some flaws that deserves to go far this awards season. And I will tell you that you need to watch it more than once to see that.

A Caucasian heterosexual male can't win any Oscar. As for the movie, it can't win because it doesn't portray a black man who became the leader of a foreign nation. We are the hollywood liberal elitists and we don't like American hero's anymore, especially if they are white, straight and conservative..

.....and of course it's another " Nazis " movie.......for Jiuish Hollywood.

Out of his mind!

Watched Tarantino's last night but fell asleep on the couch half way thru.

Watched Avatar 3D with all the family last week, including my 7 years old, he didn't ask to go to the bathtroom even once...

Need to say more???

You are clearly a genius. You should be on staff with all the studios since you possess such prognosticating know how, no?

This article just perpetuates the myth that this was a good movie. I am a fan of Tarantino's films. Yet, it was painfully obvious to me that this movie was done as a love letter to himself. It is a film makers film. If it wins anything, that will be why. Again and again I have heard the same thing from fans who went to see it: It was boring, too long, redundant, over-hyped, self-indulgent,childish, and just plain stupid. Most of you like it because you have been told it is good. With so many good movies that came out this year, it would be a crime for this movie to even be nominated. Now we have to start tracking this Tom O'neill guy to make sure he's not just another AGENT OF WEINSTEIN, advancing the cause under orders from his Fatness. Quick, someone go check and see if he was pushing for "Shakespeare In Love".

Yes, I can see an Oscar for IB if for no other reason that it's an absurd Jewish fantasy movie, with Jewish women as the tragic figure besides being frivolous.

As for Christof Waltz, a job well done, and what carried the movie.

you didn't mention in your blog why a movie like "Inglourious Basterds" would even make it to "best picture", other than the deserved role of best supporting actor for Christophe Waltz: killing Nazis (and despising Germans) still seems to be the favorite pastime of Hollywood moguls. There is not even a handful of German actors currently in the top A list of Hollywood. Diane Krueger and Sandra Bullock are exceptions.

I don't think IB deserves to win anything, much less an oscar, but it would be kind of ironic to see Tarrantino finally win an oscar ... five years after he "jumped the shark."

Could that happen? Yes, I believe so. If there is any one group more infatuated with Nazi fetishism than Neo Nazis or sexual deviants, it is the Academy. Play a Nazi or play a retard, you get your Oscar for sure. Even the grand Miss Kate Winslet, upon predicting such a thing in Ricky Gervais' Extras, had to play a retarded Nazi (!) to actually win the damn thing! The movie is essentially everything what is right and what is wrong about Tarantino's movies, only bigger. Or should I say, it isn't even much of a movie, more like the highlights of a bigger movie, Inglourious Basterds: The Opera, which I am sure exists in a different universe, and it is roughly 14 hours long. Here, we get five scenes from said opera, all of which are beautifully constructed but never quite make one coherent movie. It's like in Grindhouse, where Good Ole Quentin simply told us MISSING REEL! I'm just going to show you the GOOD STUFF! It's somewhat lazy, that type of writing is, and as a result – upon second viewing – you find yourself wanting to skip certain scenes. I thought that the opening, Once Upon A Time... In Nazi-Occupied France, holds up the best, because it features the most mundane evil that has graced the screen in a long, long time. (side-note: I watched the movie in both English and in a German dubbed version, and I'll be damned if the German dubbed version doesn't happen to have a voice over dubbed in at the end of that scene, making the joke that the escaped Shoshanna just might wind up running all the way to America, where she even might run for President one day. That is completely not there in the US version. Huh? What was that all about? Did Quentin know this? Shouldn't he be told, if he doesn't know?) Christoph Waltz is evil. No doubt about it. But it isn't because he has an ideology, or because he believes in something. as he explains, he is merely doing his job, and he is very good at doing his job, and his job is to kill Jews. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a good metaphor for what was going in in Nazi Germany. That is why it was evil. It was mundane. Just business. Unfortunately, the movie quickly deteriorates into Jewish Revenge Porn, almost humming along in the same way as the atrocious torture porn movies made by one Eli Roth, who here comes across as a Golem-like Marlon Brando wannabe, and when he hits the Nazi Feldwebel with his baseball bat, I couldn't help but feel repulsed, and you know you are in trouble when your audience chooses a Nazi over who is supposed to be your hero. The same with the portrayal of Hitler and Goebbels. None of them are human, and one may argue that they shouldn't be, because it makes the ending of the movie so much more poignant, but all I kept thinking while watching the movie theatre sequence a second time was that Chris Columbus did this in Gremlins, and it was a lot funnier. Even Waltz's performance deteriorates throughout the movie, until the end, it is a quick shot of "It's a BINGO!", the point where his character not only jumps the shark, he gets three other sharks and turns it into a Shark Orgy. Basterds has the same issues as many, if not all of Tarantino's movies. Whenever faced with the decision to go for old-fashioned story telling or with a quick razzle dazzle, he opts for the latter. Which makes for some damn fun cinema the first time around, but said razzle dazzle wears thin very quickly, and then you are left with the fact that you haven't seen a movie, you have seen five scenes from a bigger movie, the one that is out there, never to be seen. And could somebody please stop Quentin from watching 1970s exploitation movies? But anyway, I do think that the Jewish Revenge Porn part will be a big part if and when that movie wins big Oscar.

When I read comments from people complaining about "yet another Holocaust movie," I think, "Great. Yet another complaint about another Holocaust movie."

Good article by Tom McNeil. I think Inglourious Basterds deserves to win but would not be surprised if Precious pulls off a big surprise and instead gets the Oscar. One really good thing about Inglourious Basterds is that Quentin Tarentino directed a good performance from Brad Pitt who basically has done nothing much the past several years except for relatively boring $10-15 million-per-picture "pretty face" roles

I'm sorry, but the reason it may win is the ethnic nature of the industry. Every Holocaust picture on the right side of history has won big. If the Times could publish that portrait of the industry it did earlier this year it can surely find the courage not to fool itself and try to fool us. I don't mean to offend anyone except the author of this piece. And I liked the film well enough, but I didn't like the cruelty - as far as I'm concerned, it was za way of inspiring al-Qaeda to new depredations. It is a poor shadow of Avatar, The Road, Up In The Air and many more of the 300 films I saw this year. I'd like to see Blind Side win - that offers real inspiration to real people.

Tom,
you're actually speculating without actually considering the facts. Quentin Tarantino isn't the front-runner for the best directing or/and best original screenplay Oscars. Actually right now Kathryn Bigelow is the front-runner for the best directing Oscar. She has won nearly every possible award out there. And original screenplay is wide open, but The Hurt Locker is having a better shot than Inglourious Basterds.

The victor is usually the film with the most nominations. Actually, not true in the last few years. Since 2000 only four of the nine best picture winners were the year's most nominated films and ONE of these times (2007) there was a tie for the year's most nominated film. So this argument doesn't hold.

This goofy cartoon passing as a movie will not win squat. It is too juvenile and silly to be taken seriously as a movie like all Tarantino films with the exception of Reservoir Dogs which he got right. The rest is pseudo-hip nerd dreck.

IB was awesome. Im not a member of the oscar committee, but I would vote for it as best movie. It is one of the best movies of all time. The scene where stiglitz is imagining himself being whipped as the gestapo guy explains how to play the f*&% card game is priceless.

However, if they give it to AVATAR I would also be happy. So there goes my credibility HAHAHA

 

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