Unfortunately, I won’t be able to catch the 82nd Annual Academy Awards tonight. My time difference and fear of being spotted in an Italian “viewing party” will force me to discover this year’s winners online via morning news reports (I won’t be alone thanks to WABC-TV being pulled from Cablevision back home).
While Hollywood’s biggest night is always exciting, the 2010 Oscars may be one of the more memorable celebrations in recent memory. James Cameron’s revolutionary Avatar will likely take home Best Picture, and stellar performances from Cristolph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds), Mo’Nique (Precious), and my “Dude” Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart), are also expected to be immortalized in the Kodak Theater tonight.
Still, there is one Oscar story that trumps them all. Many industry experts predict that the inexplicably popular and historically mediocre Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) will join the likes of legends Katharine Hepburn, Jane Fonda, and Meryl Streep (nominated for her 16th Academy Award tonight ) as a Best Actress winner.
Few film stars have annoyed me more throughout the years than Bullock. Her awful (but often commercially successful) body of work truly sucks, and the fact that she may win an Oscar quite literally “blind-sides” me. Had someone told me one year ago that “Ms. Congeniality” would soon be nominated for such an honor, I would have considered betting my life’s savings on this fool being wrong.
Sure, other stars have made similar progressions (Reese Witherspoon recently transitioned from Legally Blonde to an Oscar-winning role as June Carter in Walk the Line), but Bullock’s nomination reflects as improbable of a leap towards artistic credibility as I can remember. Hell, she just won a “Worst Actress Razzie” for her 2009 role in the widely-lamented All About Steve. To no surprise, Oscar triumph tonight would make Bullock the first screen performer to earn film’s most prestigious and embarrasing awards in one weekend!
While I have enjoyed a few of Bullock’s films, including Crash and 1994’s action classic Speed, she is undeniably my least favorite element in both works. In the latter, her irritatingly-flat performance somehow makes the stoic Keanu Reeves look Shakespearean.
In a cinematic year I’ll remember for being visionary (Avatar, District 9), uncompromising (The Hurt Locker), painfully introspective (Crazy Heart, Up in the Air), and playfully genius (“Basterds”), it would be a shame if Bullock’s performance in a B sports flick draws the most attention from tonight’s affair. Still, America (and especially Hollywood) loves to see unlikely heroes reaching unexpected heights, and a Bullock victory that once seemed impossible is now probable. What’s next? A one word acceptance speech of “whoa” from her Speed co-star for Best Actor in 2011?