News

New rules for Oscar's best-picture race

Rafer Guzmán
Newsday (MCT)

With the release of "Amelia," a big-budget film starring Hilary Swank as Amelia Earhart and directed by Mira Nair, it seems like Academy Award season has officially begun.

So this might be a good time to ask: How is the best picture race shaping up?

This year's rules for the award have changed: Ten films, rather than five, will be considered for best picture, a move designed to stoke new interest in the Oscar telecast. Already there's hope that the wider field will mean more diversity (indie fare, comedies, overlooked gems), though pessimists counter that it will simply include more mainstream films even less deserving of a nod.

It's too early to place bets, but 2009 has had few obvious best picture candidates. Stephen Soderbergh's "The Informant!," starring Matt Damon as a real-life corporate whistle-blower, made only a small splash. Oscar winner Jamie Foxx played a mentally ill homeless man in "The Soloist" (also based on a true story), but the film didn't strike the same chords as "Ray." And we haven't yet seen a snowballing hit like "Juno," "Little Miss Sunshine" or last year's surprise winner, "Slumdog Millionaire."

Still to come: "The Road," a post-apocalypse drama based on Cormac McCarthy's book; "Up in the Air," a glossy comedy-drama with George Clooney and Vera Farmiga; "Nine," a musical from the director of the Oscar-winning "Chicago"; "The Lovely Bones," based on Alice Sebold's acclaimed novel; and "Precious," a gritty drama whose unknown star, Gabourey Sidibe, is generating some Oscar talk.

About the only thing that seems certain is a best actress nomination for Meryl Streep, who played Julia Child in Norah Ephron's "Julie & Julia" (a movie that could rack up other nods). No offense to Streep, but haven't we seen that Oscar ceremony before? After all, she holds the 15-nomination record.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Patrick Madden's 'Disparates' Makes Sense in These Crazy Times

There's no social distancing with Patrick Madden's hilarious Disparates. While reading these essays, you'll feel like he's in the room with you.

Music

Perfume Genius Purges Himself and It's Contagious

You need to care so much about your art to pack this much meaning into not only the words, but the tones that adorn and deliver them. Perfume Genius cares so much it hurts on Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation

Emma Donoghue's Room and E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.

Books

Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump Whitehouse -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

OK Go's Emotional New Ballad, "All Together Now", Inspired by Singer's Bout with COVID-19

Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band's latest pop delight, "All Together Now", as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.

Books

The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.

Music

Siren Songs' Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.

Music

Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.

Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.

Music

Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.

Music

Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.