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Home » Culture and Criticism

Oscars 2011 Death Race

Submitted by on January 25, 2011 – 11:22 AM47 Comments

Welcome to The Tomato Nation Oscars 2011 Death Race! In case you missed last year's iteration, the ODR is exactly what it sounds like: I try to watch every single Oscar nominee before the ceremonies on 27 February.

It's a little different in 2011, though — this year, I've dragged Mr. Stupidhead and Gen into the fray. We welcome non-Bunting company in our cinematic endurance test; all y'all masochists playing along, post links in the comments and/or hit me on Twitter. Together, we'll get through this. Maybe.

The list of pertinent nominees appears inalphabetical order after the jump; please let me know if you see any mistakes or omissions.I've starred the Best Picturenominees. I'll need to get D.C. Cab out of the way to begin in earnest (don't ask) (…what did I just say: do not ask) (fine: Adam Baldwin) (yes I know he's a right-wingdoodle now don't judge me), but look for a quick Winter's Bone review this afternoon, Gen and Mr. S's lists in future, et cetera.

Wish us luck!

Current score: Death Race 48, Sarah 8; 0 of 24 categories completed

  • 127 Hours*
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Animal Kingdom
  • Another Year
  • Barney's Version
  • Biutiful
  • Black Swan*
  • Blue Valentine
  • The Confession
  • Country Strong
  • The Crush
  • Day & Night
  • Dogtooth
  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
  • The Fighter*
  • GasLand
  • God of Love
  • The Gruffalo
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I
  • Hereafter
  • How To Train Your Dragon
  • I Am Love
  • The Illusionist
  • In A Better World
  • Incendies
  • Inception*
  • Inside Job
  • Iron Man 2
  • The Kids Are All Right*
  • Killing In The Name
  • The King's Speech*
  • Let's Pollute
  • The Lost Thing
  • Madagascar, a Journey Diary
  • Na Wewe
  • Outside The Law
  • Poster Girl
  • Rabbit Hole
  • Restrepo
  • Salt
  • The Social Network*
  • Strangers No More
  • Sun Come Up
  • Tangled
  • The Tempest
  • The Town
  • Toy Story 3*
  • TRON Legacy
  • True Grit*
  • Unstoppable
  • The Warriors of Qiugang
  • Waste Land
  • The Way Back
  • Winter's Bone*
  • Wish 143
  • Wolfman
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  • nsfinch says:

    DC Cab is surprisingly enjoyable. Seriously. I mean, other than the weirdly out-of-place full-frontal on the streets of DC. Have fun!

  • WendyD says:

    I'm so in. I've been seeing all the Best Picture nominees for years, but it is time to up my game. I currently stand at 13 of 56 films watched with one category complete (Film Editing).

    I've got my ballot printed and my list of theater/dvd/streaming availability made.

    I'm a total Oscars junkie!

  • Kizz says:

    OK, I've seen 11. Haven't looked at the noms category list yet, though, and am having trouble imagining what Unstoppable was nommed for. Um…best use of formula? Ooo trains? "Well Denzel is in it, we have to nominate it!"?

  • Katie says:

    I don't know how you do it! That's a LOT to see! I'm only gunning for all the best picture nominees, but living in a small(ish) town, 127 Hours is long gone and not sure I'll be able to find it. But I'll be excited with 9 of the 10.

  • WendyD says:

    @Kizz: 'Unstoppable' was nominated for Sound Editing

  • Whitney says:

    @Kizz: my guess is sound editing. That seems to be the one category dominated by random action movies every year.

  • Jenn says:

    I'm already doing better than last year, when I'd only seen one movie nominated. This year I've seen two!

  • Drew says:

    I don't think I'm going to attempt to see everything, but I'm more than happy to weigh in on the ones that I have seen/plan to see as you go through them. Frankly, I think this is going to be a little bit easier than it was last year–the Academy didn't spread the love around too much. In fact, I just read that the most nominations that any film not nominated for Best Picture got was 3 (for Alice In Wonderland, which, whatever). I will say that I'm still surprised to see that 48 separate films were nominated. Then again, I hardly put any stock in the animated and live-action shorts.

  • Allison says:

    I also do this every year, and I am already armed with my list and my highlighter. I am only The King's Speech away from crossing off my first category (Art Direction). Good luck to us all.

    And Adam Baldwin is a treasure. A treasure.

  • Drew says:

    Also, just to point out your first error, you have Blue Valentine starred as a Best Picture nominee, which it's not (although it certainly deserved to be). The other Best Picture nominees are correct.

  • Amanda says:

    I've seen three — Toy Story 3, Day & Night (only because it played before Toy Story 3 at the theatre), and Alice in Wonderland. I think that's better than I did last year by this time, as I believe that number was zilch.

    Can't wait until we get to Toy Story 3, as I was the target demo when the first one came out and I still love it to this day. That's good filmmakin' right there for ya. "One minute you're defending the whole galaxy, and suddenly, you find yourself suckin' down Darjeeling with Marie Antoinette and her little sister." Amazing. I also liked the third one! Haha.

    Otherwise, the only ones I have much interest in seeing are Biutiful (Javier Bardem is the man, have loved him since I saw Mar adentro a few years ago, am pleasantly surprised he got nominated for Best Actor; plus I saw another of the director's films and liked it, and not just for the presence of Gael García Bernal) and The King's Speech. It'll probably annoy me, but I adore Geoffrey Rush, so. Alas, judging from the length of the holds list on it for my state library network, I will see it in 2012.

    My disinterest is more rooted in a nearly-full Instant Watch queue than anything, for the record. I should…fix that. Instead, I watched Goodfellas for the billionth time yesterday. Yep.

  • Sandman says:

    Do you ever give yourself a dispensation from watching on any of the nominees on any grounds? Because I can't quite convince myself that Unstoppable was nominated for anything. Ever. Talk about a Death Race.

  • Sandman says:

    @Kizz: "Ooo trains," hee.

  • Caitlin says:

    I'm so in! I'm actually doing pretty well this year. I'm going into the Death Race at 19/56, with 5 categories complete. And I'm heading to the movies this afternoon!

    If I catch a screening of the shorts (I hope there's one in Vancouver this year), I might have a chance at doing quite well…

  • Deanna says:

    Restrepo?! Seriously? At least that one's on Netflix Instant.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    It's actually 56; I have 48 left. It's nearly as bad as last year, which I think had 58 total, but I've seen a higher percentage (unfortunately, several films I assumed would be nominated weren't).

    Blue Valentine error is fixed.

  • Rachel says:

    Ooh, I've seen 6! And I haven't set foot in a movie theater but twice in the past 4.5 years (I have a wee kidlet). YAY! Um.

    I think I will go see The King's Speech if I get free time this weekend because I am obsessed with The Royals and it's a rare chance to see Helena Bonham Carter doing something SANE. I am very interested to see what She Who Bringeth The Crazy does with the Queen Mum in her earlier years.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Sandman: Nope. I had to watch Transformers II last year. It's actually not that bad; some of the ones that I'm really dreading end up surprising me, because my expectations are so low.

  • Sandman says:

    @Sarah: Right, right! I remember now. (Also: Wolfman this year? Ack.)

    @Rachel: being reminded of what la HBC can do with a part that's so warm and grounded and real was one of the delights of The King's Speech for me.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    I actually don't mind something like Unstoppable being nominated because hey, just because the sound editing wasn't for Big Prestige Picture With A Stick Up Its Ass doesn't mean the sound editors didn't do a good job. A nomination and/or a win can do a hell of a lot for a person's career on the tech side of things. Spread the love, I say!

    I've never been able to run a Death Race to its final lap because at least one or two of the nominees is so utterly fuck all depressing that I can't make myself sit through it, no matter how well made or raveworthy. The lack of sun here in the Pacific Northwest really starts to just sit on your head and laugh around January, and trying to sit through Blue Valentine or Winter's Bone or even Toy Story Three (Pixar's motto: If You Don't Cry We'll Come To Your House And MAKE You, Got It?") feels like an endurance test I'm just not up to enduring.

  • Jenn says:

    Sarah, just out of curiosity, how do you feel about having to see TRON?

  • Judy says:

    For those who want to see the Best Picture nominees that are gone out of local theaters, AMC Theaters does a Best Picture Showcase where they show all 10 nominees over two Saturdays. My friends and I have gone in years past- it's pretty fun.

  • Kat from Jersey says:

    Wow, I really need to get out to the movies more! My son is 6, so I tend to see the kids films first. I've seen How to Train your Dragon, Toy Story 3, and Tangled. But I did play hooky one afternoon to see Harry Potter by myself! So that makes four from this list. I think I need to make a stand with my husband to go see more adult-ish movies.

  • DuchessKitty says:

    I'm shocked to say that I've seen 21 out of 48. I would never have guessed that number would be so high.
    I'm tellin' ya now, there ain't no way I'm completing the race but it will be fun to try.

  • K. says:

    I've seen 8/10 of the Best Picture noms (haven't seen 127 Hours or Toy Story 3), and most of the acting ones too since there's a lot of overlap. I've been wanting to see Blue Valentine since I first read about it months ago so that's up next on my list, and Biutiful is on deck after that.

  • Alison says:

    Well, without trying, I've seen seven.

    And my view is: King's Speech and Inception, meh. Not worth the hype. Good acting in the former but it's a bit dull and a total mother-movie. Good concept in the latter, but it never really got me.

    You must see Animal Kingdom, Black Swan, and How to Train Your Dragon. Animal Kingdom and Black Swan are both amazing and terrifying. And anyone who owns a cat will find Dragon hilarious, since they clearly based the random dragon behaviour on our feline companions.

  • Natalie says:

    Huh, I'm doing better than I thought: 10 down, including 5 of the Best Picture noms (Black Swan, The Kids Are All Right, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter's Bone.)

    I know he's probably losing out to Christian Bale or Geoffrey Rush, but, God, I love John Hawkes.

  • Natalie says:

    I've seen 8.

    I reaaally loved Winter's Bone and Rabbit Hole (which I just saw a week ago), despite some hamtastic acting from whatshisface… Aaron Eckhart!

  • Todd K says:

    Small, tired sigh for the nomination for "We Belong Together." It's not terrible. For all I know, it's not even the worst nominee in that category. I loved the music from which it comes. But I hate that Randy Newman tosses off these bouncy-banal 'toon tunes with one hand every year, and sings them poorly, and there is this caricature of him as someone who can do nothing else. Only very occasionally ("When She Loved Me"; the entire score from Ragtime) does his film music hint at his musical literacy, his wit, his lyrical sophistication. The author of textured, short-story-like songs such as "Real Emotional Girl," "Same Girl," "Christmas In Capetown," "In Germany Before The War" (a creepy, elliptical piece about a child murderer), "Marie," "Losing You," etc., deserves better.

    But…I get what's in it for him. Hollywood has made him rich. He claims that the song from Parenthood (the original Steve Martin film), which was licensed for a toothpaste ad, made him more money than all of his pop albums to that point combined.

  • Todd K says:

    Above: "I loved the music from which it comes" should have been "movie" (that is, Toy Story 3).

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  • Monty says:

    I'm in. I've got 14 movies right now, which is more than I expected.

    Here's my starting-line entry:

  • Rachel says:

    I am in! Since I had a snow day today, I've categorized my list by In Theater/Netflix Rental/Netflix Instant/Not to be Released Until After the Oscars/Unknown.

    Since this is my first year, I was wondering…do the two that aren't going to be released until after the Oscars (In A Better World, Incendies) count? Also, does anyone know where to find the following, movies…Hereafter, Outside the Law, The Tempest, and Waste Land?!? They're not playing anywhere in NYC, but they're not on Netflix either. What's a competitive girl to do?

    I'm kind of excited to have something other than dresses to comment on this year. Although, dress comments are still my main priority, obvi.

  • Jenn says:

    @Rachel – "The Tempest" just came out a few weeks ago, but it might not be in wide release yet. It should be soon. "Hereafter" was out in October so it's probably in the stage between theaters and DVD. Not sure about the others.

  • Rachel says:

    Thanks, Jenn!

  • DuchessKitty says:

    I don't know how I'm going to be able to find all of the Live Action Shorts and Documentary Shorts.
    The Academy is hosting several viewings of all of the nominated "shorts" at the Kodak theater throughout February, but since I don't think I'll be going to LA before March, that doesn't help me.
    So far I've only been able to find a few on Netflix.

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  • Todd K says:

    "You show me a film that's had this kind of commercial success that uses music so sparingly, that uses silence so eloquently — a film that's had this kind of success that has 10-minute two-handers between actors. It's full of me actually challenging what you'd expect from this kind of film. All I can say is my obsession making it was to subvert, to be unconventional, to find a new way of telling this story. […] I'm incredibly pleased that I've made a piece of work that connects in this way to people and does make them feel better about themselves and does have them waking up in the morning and still thinking about it and does move them and make them laugh in this way. I definitely have faith that that's something that's going to be in people's minds when they vote." (The King's Speech director Tom Hooper, EW, 4-11 February)

    Jesus. I was thinking of letting my subscription run out; this is the kind of thing that makes it slightly more difficult. Karger et al were probably cackling and high-fiving over that gift basket. I know someone might have wound him up with questions designed to put him on the defensive about his having made more of an Oscar-bait prestige picture than some of the other nominees, and he's new to this kind of attention and young as directors go. And pride in your own work and its generally favorable reception — great. But M. Night Shyamalan and James Cameron would read that over lunch and say, "This King's Speech guy, he sounds kind of full of himself when he discusses his own work, doesn't he?"

  • barbara says:

    Did I miss it, looking for the Winter's Bone review?

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I haven't formally reviewed it, and may not have time, but it's my favorite of the Best Pic nominees I've seen so far. So atmospheric that it almost seemed like a documentary in spots.

  • c8h10n4o2 says:

    I live in Missouri and have traveled a lot for work back in the day, and Winter's Bone NAILED some sections of the Ozarks. I have friends from near the Bootheel and it freaks them out a bit. I know it doen't have a hope in hell, but wish it did. Melissa Leo was great in it as well.

    I also really like Dragon, even though it doesn't stand a chance against Toy Story 3, and it's not just because one of my best friends worked on it. She loved it while she was making it, and believe me, she is not shy when it comes to calling what she's working on a piece of crap (you have no idea how many rants I heard about getting put on a certain Dreamworks franchise piece).

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Melissa Leo is good in The Fighter — and extremely good in Frozen River, a movie that has certain similarities to Winter's Bone — but she's not in Winter's Bone. Just in case anyone was only going to see it for her. Heh. (Garret Dillahunt is probably the biggest name in it.)

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