Up in the Air
Jason Reitman's third film has gathered a lot of steam of late. It is a very good film with strong performances and a fantastic screenplay. It is a movie that arrived at just the perfect moment with its story of people at a crossroads in life and a main character who travels around to fire people. It is captivating and poetic. It is not a flashy film in the least, but it is one which you cannot take your eyes off. This is definitely a front runner (of course, I pick it for third, but still).
The Hurt Locker
When this was in very limited release, I hopped a train to New York City and saw this and Moon. Let me tell you, it was one great day for movies. I am so glad to have made that trip. This is a subtle and nuanced film that is also edge-of-your-seat exciting. It is quite the accomplishment for director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, not to mention star Jeremy Renner. It is the story of a bomb-defusing team in Iraq, the dangers they put themselves in, and the personal toll it takes. This one has been gaining a lot of steam of late, having picked up a handful of awards. I think this has a very strong shot at winning. In fact, it would not surprise me in the least. It is also the only one of the top three choices here to rank in my top of the year list, coming in at number eleven.
All right, conventional wisdom would say that a science fiction epic would not have a chance at winning. No science fiction feature has ever won. However, I feel that Return of the King's win a few years ago changed the rules. I feel the film has at least as good a shot at winning as Up in the Air and The Hurt Locker do. Avatar is a great film and one that deserves consideration. It is the top grossing film of all time, but more than that, it has entered the public's consciousness like no other film has done since, perhaps, Titanic (another James Cameron offering). While Titanic won, I do not feel it was the best film that year, it was, however, the best experience. The same could be said for Avatar. Cameron pushes boundaries and has created jaw droppingly fantastic technologies that will surely have an effect on film history. Will all that be enough to push it over the top? I think it may. It may, technically, not be the best film of the year, but it could prove to be more historically significant than any of the other nominees (including my favorite).