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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

It's 'Avatar' v. 'Hurt Locker'

Jeremy Renner in "The Hurt Locker"

The Academy Award nominations came out Tuesday morning, and the big winners were the modern war drama "The Hurt Locker" and the futuristic, special effects-laden "Avatar," with nine nods apiece.

Talk about two different movies. Sure, both have their share of drama and violence, but "The Hurt Locker" is a relatively small, story- and character-driven movie that played at the Cedar Lee Theatre earlier this year, while "Avatar" is running rampant and most theaters -- in 3D and 2D at some -- and hangs its hat on visuals (certainly not storytelling and characters).

Thanks to their various strengths, they are both really good, arguably great movies, and I don't think I'd have a problem with either winning. That said, I still think I would give the nod to Quentin Tarantino's unusual and fascinating "Inglourious Basterds." It may not be the director's best work -- I fear Tarantino never will top "Pulp Fiction" -- but it boasts some great filmmaking. I think about the movie's extended, tension-drenched opening sequence constantly.

To be fair, I haven't seen two of the 10 films nominated for best picture: "The Blind Side" and "An Education." I have little interest in the former and simply missed the latter. I will have to catch both soon, though. (I'm no fan of 10 movies being nominated -- as I see it, it's just a way for five more films to put the honor on their DVD covers -- and the fact that I have more movies to cram into my schedule by March 7 isn't helping matters.

Truth is I have lots of catching up to do in the major categories. So take the following quick list of picks with a big ol' grain of salt. I'll have choices I feel better about on the day of the Oscars in The News-Herald.

Best actor: Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart."
Supporting actor: Christoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds."
Best actress: Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious."
Supporting actress: Mo'Nique, "Precious."
Best animated feature: "Up."
Director: James Cameron, "Avatar."

I'd write more, but I have movies to watch.

-- Mark Meszoros

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