You thought I was going to say Avatar, didn't you. I'll admit, considering how glowing my earlier review was, it seems like it would have been my logical choice. While it was good, I think I was still riding some kind of buzz caused by the 3D IMAX when I wrote that. If it were another year, Avatar probably would have emerged as the clear winner, but this year was such a good year for movies.
Even with the Academy boosting the nominees from five to ten, it still feels like some movies got left out, like The Brothers Bloom or (500) Days of Summer, which is apparently a fictionalized account of why I'm in love with Zooey Deschanel and why she would probably break my heart if I went out with her.
Anyway, I'm getting off track. So why Up and not a record breaking blockbuster like Avatar or a critically acclaimed sleeper hit like The Hurt Locker? Though the special effects of Avatar may have been breakthrough, the premise did feel like old territory. And I'm not saying The Hurt Locker wasn't a fantastic movie either, but the lack of a central storyline did leave my mind disengaged on occasion.
But with Up, that was definitely an original piece of cinema from start to finish. We're talking about a movie about an old man and a little boy dragging a house across South America. I can't even think of what movie you could compare that to.
The film has such a wide range of characters, all of whom are so well developed. Just look at Carl's wife. Her entire life story is told from childhood to death over a five minute montage, and yet she feels as integral a character to the story as everybody else onscreen.
As for the characters that are onscreen for the bulk of the film, you have to give credit to filmmakers that can throw an little boy, an old man, an older villain, a pack of talking dogs and a giant bird together in the same movie and not have it feel like it's geared only towards children.
I'll admit, it's not the greatest animated movie of all time, and some would argue that only a movie that's achieved that status should be the one to be the first cartoon to win best picture. That status probably goes to something like Ratatouille, The Iron Giant or Wall-E, just to name a few recent ones. But best of the year doesn't have to mean best of all time, and I just think it would be nice of the Academy didn't define "Best Picture" as the most intensely dramatic movie with lots of crying and shouting and shooting of guns, but rather as the movie people will still be watching in large numbers a decade down the road.
I should also admit that I haven't seen all of the nominees. I have yet to see The Blind Side, An Education, Precious or Up in the Air. Maybe if I get around to those, one of them will blow me away as being an unmistakably original piece of cinema that should be watched in large numbers ten years down the road.
But for now, my money is on Up.