Will Michael Jackson’s “This” be it?
I’m not a big proponent of 10 Best Picture nominations because I fear it waters down the field. We annually have – at most – two frontrunners in the months-long Oscar race. This season, instead of three also-rans with no real shot of taking home the top prize on Oscar eve, we’ll now have as many as eight films that are “just happy to be nominated.”
Yet the expansion has made for some interesting discussion about which films will compete for slots 7 through 10, assuming the prestige pictures like “Up In the Air,” “The Hurt Locker,” “Invictus,” “An Education,” “Precious” and “A Serious Man” connect with Academy members and score valuable nominations. Will “Avatar” get in? Did “Nine” find a large enough audience? Does Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds” have a shot, or will Paramount’s summer blockbuster “Star Trek” steal its position?
One out-of-left-field picture seems to be acquiring buzz – both positive and negative – at the right time, and I’m more than willing to throw my support behind it: Kenny Ortega’s surprisingly entertaining Michael Jackson documentary, “This Is It.”
Now, not everyone is on board. Kris Tapley at InContention.com says a “bunch of number 10 slots (on Academy ballots) aren’t going to cut it.” But Pete Hammond writes on his L.A. Times blog “Notes on a Season” that Oscar voters he spoke with are preparing to place the concert doc on their ballots, and a wave of support could carry “It” to a nomination. Hammond goes on to say that “after seeing the genuine continuing enthusiasm within the academy I’m beginning to feel it’s (shot is) legitimate.”
We’ll know soon enough who is right, as nominations are announced Tuesday, Feb. 2. But the inclusion of Ortega’s cobbled-together tribute to Jackson’s creativity would be a welcome surprise. I consider the film to be one of 2009’s most pleasant surprises, a dynamic party and a ferociously entertaining send-off to the King of Pop that celebrated the man’s artistry, ignored his oft-covered quirks, and permitted Jackson’s career to end on a high note. I don’t think it could win a Best Picture Oscar. But I do believe a nomination would be a worthy victory for Ortega and his crew.