Oscar Moment: “Biutiful”

21 11 2010

There are two things going for “Biutiful” going into awards season – well, two names, really.  Javier Bardem and Alejandro González Iñárritu.

Bardem, winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “No Country for Old Men,” has the respect to get into a crowded Best Actor category.  I can’t say he’s a threat for anything due to this year’s “Eat Pray Love,” but he’s been in the Academy’s consciousness for a decade now (Bardem was nominated for Best Actor in 2000 for his work on “Before Night Falls”).  He could definitely be a strong contender to take a trophy in the Leading Actor category, the more prestigious of the two male acting awards.

Bardem already has one nice award in 2010 for this role, the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival back in May.  He tied for the award with an Italian actor, but that does not detract from this huge honor.  Last year’s winner was Christoph Waltz for “Inglourious Basterds,” and after receiving that prize, he steamrolled all the way to an Oscar.  However, you have to go back to 1987 to find the previous time when the opinions of the Cannes jury matched up with the Academy on actors.  So while this will undoubtedly help Bardem, it’s not the end of the race as we know it.

Alejandro González Iñárritu is also an Academy force.  In 2006, he was the first Mexican director ever to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Director for his work on “Babel.”  His other two movies, “Amores Perros” and “21 Grams,” both received Academy Award nominations.  His work is clearly respected by the voters, although given how 2010 is shaping up, he’s going to need a minor miracle to get into the 2010 field for Best Director.

“Biutiful” is Mexico’s selection for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, which is where the movie will have its best chance outside of Bardem.  It’s not often that the category gets work from well-known directors, and such movies usually manage at least a nomination.  This will make it tough for “Biutiful” to garner a Best Picture nomination since the Academy mindset has largely been dismissive of foreign films since they have their own category.  Only eight foreign language movies have ever been nominated for Best Picture, two of which came in the past decade.  However, with the nomination of “Up” last year, the voters don’t seem to let the Best Animated Feature category hold them back.  It may only be a matter of time before foreign films get their time in the sun.

Plus, on a closing note, this movie looks DEPRESSING.  The Academy has turned away from really bleak fare recently, and the plot of “Biutiful” centers around a dying man trying to make peace with some of the loose ends in his life.  Judging from this review by Variety‘s Justin Chang, this doesn’t feel like their cup of tea.

“… less invested in themes of fate and convergence than his previous work, this gritty, slow-burning melodrama nonetheless offers a very long descent into a private purgatory, and its scant emotional rewards can’t shake off the sense of a prodigiously gifted filmmaker stuck in a grim rut.”

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Actor, Best Foreign Language Film

OTHER POSSIBLE NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Director


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