***We're looking for contributors***

Critics' Favorite Films: Kathryn Bigelow + U.S.-Mexican Drama Ineligible for Oscars

Kathryn Bigelow Best Director The Hurt Locker: Making Oscar history in 2 ways?Critics' favorite films: Kathryn Bigelow, seen here with cinematographer Barry Ackroyd while shooting The Hurt Locker, is this awards season top Best Director choice. The clear Academy Award front-runner, Bigelow will likely make Oscar history in (at least) two ways: a) first woman to win Best Director b) first person to beat a former spouse in the Best Director race. The former spouse in question is James Cameron, sure to be shortlisted for the environmentally conscious blockbuster Avatar.

Critics' favorite films: Kathryn Bigelow is top Best Director choice as Iraq War drama becomes the 'in' movie this awards season

Even though The Hurt Locker was eligible for last year's Spirit Awards, neither the Iraq War drama nor director Kathryn Bigelow were nominated. So, when it comes to U.S. critics' favorite films this awards season, it becomes crystal clear what a difference a year – and lots of good buzz – can make.

That's why Bigelow is now considered the front-runner for the Best Director Oscar even if Up in the Air or Inglourious Basterds or Avatar (directed by Bigelow's former husband, James Cameron) ends up winning Best Picture.

As the woman director a “men's picture” – i.e., a movie about war, violence, bloody mayhem, and other purportedly macho fare – Kathryn Bigelow has acquitted herself remarkably well. She has topped the lists of more than a dozen U.S.-based critics' groups and she's up for both a Critics' Choice Award and a Golden Globe.

Moreover, The Hurt Locker has been nominated for a Best Cast SAG Award, something that makes the film's director look good.

Bigelow's two distant runners-up at this stage are Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), with three wins, and Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds), with two.

Kathryn Bigelow's North American awards sweep

The list below – and those covering the other categories – include U.S.-based critics groups' favorite films in each category, in addition to, when applicable, Gotham, Satellite, and National Board of Review award winners; Golden Globe, SAG Award, Annie Award, and Spirit Award nominations; and a handful of film festival and international awards.

  • Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker.
    Austin, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, National Society of Film Critics, New York, New York Online, Oklahoma, San Francisco, Southeastern, St. Louis, Toronto, Washington; plus a Satellite Award win, and Critics Choice & Golden Globe nominations.
  • Jason Reitman, Up in the Air.
    Dallas-Ft. Worth, Florida, Utah; plus Critics Choice & Golden Globe nominations.
  • Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds.
    Phoenix, San Diego; plus Critics Choice & Golden Globe nominations.
  • Clint Eastwood, Invictus.
    National Board of Review; plus Critics Choice & Golden Globe nominations.
  • James Cameron, Avatar.
    Critics Choice & Golden Globe nominations.
  • Pete Docter, Up.
    Detroit.
  • Spike Jonze, Where the Wild Things Are.
    Indiana.
Critics' favorite films The Hurt Locker Jeremy Renner: Ignored yesteryear now everybody's faveCritics' favorite films: The Hurt Locker with Jeremy Renner. After being all but ignored at last year's Spirit Awards and at this year's Venice Film Festival, Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War-set drama The Hurt Locker, about a U.S. Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, is the surefire Best Picture favorite this awards season. Besides Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker features Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, Anthony Mackie, David Morse, Evangeline Lilly, Christian Camargo, and Sam Redford.

Critics' favorite films: 'The Hurt Locker'

Although not as near-absolute a choice as its director, thus far The Hurt Locker is American film critics' undeniable no. 1 Best Film pick. The Iraq War drama directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal has won about a dozen awards from U.S.-based critics' groups, including those from the country's three largest metropolitan areas: New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

The Hurt Locker surely will be getting a Best Picture Academy Award nomination come next February; yet its chances of actually being handed an Oscar statuette remain iffy in spite of a SAG nomination (and likely win) in the Best Cast category.

Either Jason Reitman's dramatic comedy Up in the Air, in which George Clooney plays a corporate-downsizing expert, or James Cameron's generally well-received box office phenomenon Avatar, starring Sam Worthington as an Earthling who goes native in the planet of Pandora, could end up taking home the Academy's top award.

'Avatar' & other Best Picture possibilities

One problem with Avatar is that its spectacle, in order to be truly effective, must be watched on the (very) big screen and in 3D. Academy members watching the movie at regular screenings will not get its full impact, while those watching screeners at home will end up way short on sensorial stimuli.

That may lead to a vote for something like Quentin Tarantino's World War II revenge fantasy Inglourious Basterds, which has had a surprising resurgence in the last few weeks, or Lee Daniels' psychological family drama Precious.

Rob Marshall's Nine and Lone Scherfig's An Education don't stand a chance of winning, though they may well get nominated; the same goes for Pete Docter's Up, which will quite possibly be given the Best Animated Feature Oscar.

'The Lovely Bones' missing in action

Missing from the list below is Peter Jackson's crime/fantasy drama The Lovely Bones, probably the greatest critical disappointment of the season – with Nine, the film version of the Broadway musical based on Federico Fellini's , a close second.

  • The Hurt Locker.
    Austin, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, National Society of Film Critics, New York, Oklahoma, San Francisco, Washington; in addition to Gotham & Satellite (drama) awards; plus SAG Award (Best Cast), Critics' Choice, and Golden Globe (drama) nominations.
  • Up in the Air.
    Dallas-Ft. Worth, Florida, Indiana, National Board of Review, Southeastern, St. Louis, Utah, Washington; plus Critics' Choice & Golden Globe (drama) nominations.
  • Inglourious Basterds.
    Phoenix, San Diego, Toronto (tie); plus SAG Award (Best Cast), Critics' Choice, and Golden Globe (drama) nominations.
  • Precious.
    Sundance Film Festival win (Grand Jury & Audience awards); plus SAG Award (Best Cast), Critics' Choice, Golden Globe (drama), and Spirit Award nominations.
  • Nine.
    Satellite Award (comedy / musical) win; plus SAG Award (Best Cast), Critics' Choice, and Golden Globe (comedy / musical) nominations.
  • Avatar.
    New York Online; plus Critics' Choice & Golden Globe (drama) nominations.
  • Up.
    Detroit; plus Critics' Choice nomination.
  • Hunger.
    Toronto (tie).
  • An Education.
    SAG Award (Best Cast) & Critics' Choice nominations.
  • (500) Days of Summer.
    Golden Globe (comedy / musical) & Spirit Award nominations.
  • It's Complicated.
    Golden Globe nomination (comedy / musical).
  • Julie & Julia.
    Golden Globe nomination (comedy / musical).
  • The Hangover.
    Golden Globe nomination (comedy / musical).
Sin Nombre Edgar Flores Paulina Gaitan: Critics' favorite foreign film Oscar ineligibleCritics' favorite films: Sin Nombre with Edgar Flores and Paulina Gaitan. Cary Fukunaga's U.S.-Mexican immigration drama Sin Nombre is – somewhat surprisingly – U.S. critics groups' top Best Foreign Language Film pick this year. Its mostly glowing reviews notwithstanding, part of the reason for Sin Nombre's no. 1 spot could be that international favorites such as Summer Hours, The White Ribbon, and A Prophet either were never screened or have yet to be screened outside of the U.S.'s major urban markets. Ironically, this awards season's top non-English-language production is ineligible for the 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Critics' favorite films: 'Sin Nombre' tops Best Foreign Language Film category

Sin Nombre, a Mexican-American co-production directed by Cary Fukunaga and featuring 2009 Stockholm Film Festival Best Actor winner Edgar Flores, has thus far been the U.S. critics' top Best Foreign Language Film of the year, with six wins. Additionally, Fukunaga's social drama about a Honduran family's dramatic trek north to the United States has landed Critics' Choice and Spirit Award nominations.

Michael Haneke's European Film Award winner The White Ribbon / Das weiße Band, about strange occurrences in a small German town shortly before the outbreak of World War I, has received top honors from only three critics' groups: New York Online, Toronto, and Chicago.

One would have thought this would have been the top non-English-language entry this year, as it has received glowing reviews since its Cannes Film Festival premiere (and Palme d'Or win) back in the spring. But U.S. critics – many of whom, admittedly, have been unable to check it out as yet – have for the most part set their sites elsewhere.

Olivier Assayas surprise: 'Summer Hours'

The two most influential local critics groups – the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association – have opted for Olivier Assayas' family drama Summer Hours / L'heure d'été, which pretty much came and went without causing much of a stir a while back despite the presence of Oscar winner Juliette Binoche (Best Supporting Actress for The English Patient, 1996).

Elsewhere, the vote has been spread among various films from various countries, e.g., Jacques Audiard's French prison drama A Prophet, which will open in key U.S. cities only in 2010; Pedro Almodóvar's film noir homage Broken Embraces, starring Penélope Cruz; and Paolo Sorrentino's Italian political satire Il Divo, winner of several David di Donatello awards (that's the Italian Oscar) last spring.

Best Foreign Language Film Oscar chances

How many of the “favorite films” below have a shot at the 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar? Not many.

The only ones in the running – those submitted by their respective countries' committees (and not disqualified by the Academy because of some technicality or other) are: The White Ribbon, A Prophet, and Giuseppe Tornatore's Baarìa.

As a partly U.S.-funded production directed and written by an American, Sin Nombre would have been ineligible in that particular category – as was the case with Joshua Marston's Maria Full of Grace and, although directed by Brazilian national Walter Salles, The Motorcycle Diaries back in 2004.

  • Sin Nombre.
    Austin, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Florida, Houston, Indiana, Washington; plus Critics' Choice & Spirit Award (Best Picture) nominations.
  • Summer Hours.
    Boston, Los Angeles, National Society of Film Critics, New York, Southeastern.
  • The White Ribbon.
    Chicago, New York Online, Toronto, in addition to the European Film Award & Cannes' Palme d'Or; plus Critics' Choice & Golden Globe nominations.
  • A Prophet.
    National Board of Review Award, in addition to Cannes' Grand Prix; plus Golden Globe & Spirit Award nominations.
  • Red Cliff.
    Las Vegas & St. Louis; plus a Critics' Choice nomination.
  • Broken Embraces.
    Phoenix; in addition to the Satellite Award (tie); plus Critics' Choice & Golden Globe nominations.
  • The Maid.
    Satellite Award (tie) & Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema Dramatic); plus Golden Globe & Spirit Award nominations.
  • Coco Before Chanel.
    Oklahoma; plus Critics' Choice nomination.
  • Il Divo.
    San Diego.
  • You, the Living.
    San Francisco.
  • Thirst.
    Utah.
  • Baarìa.
    Golden Globe nomination.
The Cove: Critics favorite films include monstrous dolphin slaughter in quaint Japanese villageCritics' favorite films: The Cove. Directed by Louie Psihoyos from a screenplay by Mark Monroe, the no. 1 Best Documentary choice this awards season focuses on dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry and a group of activists who expose the monstrously brutal mass slaughter of dolphins in a cove near the quaint Japanese village of Taiji.

Critics' favorite films: 'The Cove' is Best Documentary Feature

Louie Psihoyos' The Cove, about the annual monstrous slaughter of dolphins at a picturesque Japanese village, has thus far been the various U.S. critics groups' favorite documentary.

The runner-up is Sacha Gervasi's Anvil! The Story of Anvil, which has been referred to as This Is Spinal Tap for real. There have been, however, accusations that Anvil! isn't technically a “documentary” as its chronology is supposed to have been twisted around for dramatic effect.

Of the seven documentaries listed below, only four have a chance of getting shortlisted for the 2010 Academy Awards: The Cove, Robert Kenner's Food, Inc., James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo's Every Little Step, and Agnès Varda's The Beaches of Agnès. The others either were ineligible to begin with, or failed to be included in the Academy's list of semi-finalists.

  • The Cove.
    Boston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Florida, Houston, Indiana, Los Angeles (tie), National Board of Review, New York Online, San Diego, Toronto, Utah; in addition to a Critics' Choice nomination, plus audience awards at the Seattle, Silverdocs, Stockholm, Sundance, and Sydney film festivals.
  • Anvil! The Story of Anvil.
    Austin, Chicago, Las Vegas, Oklahoma, San Francisco; plus Critics' Choice & Spirit Award nominations.
  • Food, Inc.
    Gotham, Southeastern, Washington; plus Critics' Choice & Spirit Award nominations.
  • The Beaches of Agnès.
    Los Angeles (tie) & National Society of Film Critics.
  • Capitalism: A Love Story.
    Phoenix & St. Louis; plus a Critics' Choice nomination.
  • Every Little Step.
    Satellite Award.
  • Of Time and the City.
    New York.
Up Ed Asner Jordan Nagai: Critics favorite films include Pete Docter's animated blockbusterUp with Carl Fredricksen (Ed Asner) and Russell (Jordan Nagai). Among U.S. critics' favorite films of 2009, Pete Docter's blockbuster Up, despite some unexpected competition from Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox, is the indisputable no. 1 Best Animated Feature choice – one that could well end up shortlisted in the Academy Awards' recently expanded Best Picture category. Up was co-directed and co-written by Bob Peterson, who also provides the voice for the dogs Dug and Alpha.

Critics' favorite films: 'Up' & 'Fantastic Mr. Fox' are top animated features

Pete Docter's Up was expected to have the animation year-end awards field all to itself, but ultimately it has had to face tough competition from Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox, which features the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Jason Schwartzman, among others.

To date, Up has won awards from more than a dozen U.S.-based groups, while Fantastic Mr. Fox has won seven. Both are up for a Golden Globe and for a Best Animated Feature Annie Award.

Henry Selick's Coraline is the only other animated feature to have won an award this season, from the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. It's also up for a Golden Globe and an Annie Award.

Tomm Moore's Irish-Belgian-French The Secret of Kells hasn't received any honors from U.S. groups, but it did get an European Film Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Potential Oscar contenders

All six animated features listed below are potential contenders for the 2010 Academy Award. Both Up and Fantastic Mr. Fox may even land a spot in the Best Picture race.

  • Up.
    Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Florida, Houston, Indiana, National Board of Review, New York Online, Phoenix, San Diego, Southeastern, St. Louis, Washington; plus Critics' Choice, Golden Globe, and Annie nominations.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox.
    Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Oklahoma, Toronto, Utah; in addition to the Satellite Award; plus Critics' Choice, Golden Globe, and Annie nominations.
  • Coraline.
    San Francisco; plus Critics' Choice, Golden Globe, and Annie nominations.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
    Critics' Choice, Golden Globe, and Annie nominations.
  • The Princess and the Frog.
    Critics' Choice, Golden Globe, and Annie nominations.
  • The Secret of Kells.
    Annie nomination.

 

New York Film Critics Circle website.

Golden Globes website.

Kathryn Bigelow and Jeremy Renner The Hurt Locker images: Jonathan Olley / Summit Entertainment.

Jumping dolphins The Cove image: Participant Media.

Paulina Gaitan and Edgar Flores Sin Nombre image: Focus Features.

Up image: Pixar Animation / Walt Disney Studios.

Critics' Favorite Films: Kathryn Bigelow + U.S.-Mexican Drama Ineligible for Oscars © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Leave a comment about 'Critics' Favorite Films: Kathryn Bigelow + U.S.-Mexican Drama Ineligible for Oscars'

COMMENTING RULES:

Don't waste time and energy disagreeing with and/or being deeply offended by the presentation of factual information.

On the other hand, it's perfectly okay to disagree with and/or, if you're so inclined, to be deeply offended by the views & opinions (and/or likes & dislikes) found on this site. And to let us know about any omissions or, heaven forbid, errors.

Just bear in mind that *thoughtfulness* and *at least a modicum of sanity* are imperative.

In other words: Feel free to add something reasonable & coherent – AND fact-based – to the discussion.

Abusive/bigoted, trollish/inflammatory, baseless (spreading misinformation, whether intentionally or not), spammy, and/or just plain deranged comments will be zapped and offenders may be banned.

And finally, links found in comments will generally be deleted.

Most recent comments listed on top.