In the days leading up to the Oscars, Sentimental Movie Marathon will take a look at each of the Best Picture Nominees. This is OSCAR BONANZA: TOO MUCH FILM IN YO’ FACE. If I was a planning man, District 9 would be addressed as the ninth preview. However, I am not so it is eighth. Life!
1. WHAT IS DISTRICT 9?
District 9, the directorial debut of Neill Blomkamp, is a story about aliens who get stuck on Earth. More precisely, their ship stops above the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. The government of South Africa tries to make contact and eventually resorts to cutting open the side of the ship. They find that the occupants of the ship are malnourished, so the aliens are brought down to earth and set apart in an area of the city called District 9. The movie starts in a documentary style following the proposed relocation of the aliens from the shanty-townish District 9 to a new camp-like District 10 (I smell sequel!). However, some other things happen that COMPLICATE the relocation . . .
2. WHAT DOES DISTRICT 9 HAVE GOING FOR IT?
Well, it is a FRESH movie. It’s Director Blomkamp’s first! So there are chances taken, moves made, and ideas hatched with a wonderful enthusiasm. With this film and Moon, 2009 was a year that science fiction was refreshed and made relevant again. District 9 is probably recognized more than Moon for such accomplishments because of its more obvious premise and action-oriented delivery. Not that there is anything wrong with these things!
The themes of District 9 touch on apartheid, general racism, corporate greed, and governmental crisis response. All of these themes are relevant to our lives today! District 9 must read the paper every day during breakfast because it knows the deal.
Even with all its relevance, District 9 could falter if not handled delicately. Blomkamp does handle it delicately so good for the film. Humans and aliens are shown in a well-rounded fashion. Trips into misunderstanding do not fall into a simple “Good Side/ Bad Side” exploration. There are many good sides and many bad sides. More often, there are lots of in-between sids.
3. WHAT WILL MAKE DISTRICT 9 PHONE HOME WITHOUT ANY OSCARS?
Like Up and The Blind Side, District 9 is seen as a token nominee. The nomination of District 9 could just be a move showing that the Academy feels science fiction is a valuable and respected genre. Unlike Up and The Blind Side, Neill Blomkamp’s film has to compete with a science fiction (I guess?) film that has more chances and less of a stigma due to its advancements in film technique and technology (techniqueology) in Avatar. So, while District 9 may be the super fan’s sci-fi choice, Avatar is the people’s champ.
Technological differences may mean District 9 also loses a bunch of technical awards to Avatar. The subject matter of the film may have helped it get nominated, but it could also hinder it from taking the highest honor. Americans, man, we don’t want any trouble.
4. WILL I TOTALLY LOSE MY SHIT IF DISTRICT 9 WINS?
No. District 9 is an inventive and fresh take on both history and genre. While it may be seen as the OTHER alien movie in the race, hopefully some part of it can be recognized and hon0red for its accomplishments. Maybe Film Editing?