Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oscar Picks 2011

Well it's that time of the year already and at first it was starting to look like the competition would be fast and fierce since there were quite a few great movies this past year. But Big Harv has seemingly spoiled the competition as it appears he has bought his way, again, into the hearts of the Oscar voters. As of this posting on Saturday, the King's Speech's Tom Hooper has now somehow won best Director at the DGA awards today. I haven't seen the film and I'm trying not to judge, I know the film has already made over 100 mil at the box office which is kind of unheard of for a square film like this. And everyone I know seems to think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. Apparently even my folks are drinking this kool-aid. But I am going to try and see it tomorrow so I can put all the hype to bed. But in the meantime we can go through the big awards and talk about who is going to win. Again, this isn't about whether the film is truly good or not it's about star fucking and no one star fucks like the Oscars. Shall we begin?

Best Picture:   There is a possibility that there could be a surprise here, there are after all a lot of great films here. So far I've seen six of the Oscar nominees for Best Picture: Inception, Toy Story 3, The Fighter, The Social Network, True Grit and just yesterday The Kids Are All Right. The remaining 4 I have yet to see are The King's Speech, 127 Hours, Winter's Bone and Black Swan. I really enjoyed the Fighter, and I wouldn't mind if it won but I didn't feel like it was the best of this bunch, as far as I've seen. It's a great character study and Christian Bale is certainly due his for his role but I don't know if it should get more than that. Toy Story 3, however, could take the prize and I would be pretty excited. It's certainly the best of the three previous films and that is no small feat. I've seen it three times and it still gets me choked up at the end. Personally, I'm rooting for Inception, it's the most original and entertaining film I've seen in a long time and it truly deserves the win. But for some reason the Academy seems to hate Nolan since they snubbed him for Director and now it looks like he's not even close to front runner status in this category. According to the recent reports it's a toss up between The Social Network and The King's Speech, with the latter as the front runner. If I were to put money on the event I would place my bet with King's Speech. People are slobbering all over the damn thing and when you have Harvey Weinstein shamelessly promoting your film there really isn't much of a chance for anyone else. So we'll see if my prediction is true about the obsession with British Royals/Monarchs and the Oscars.

OSCARS: The King's Speech
MY CHOICE: Inception

Best Actor: The nominees are; Javier Bardem for Biutiful, Jeff Bridges for True Grit, Jesse Eisenberg for the Social Network, Colin Firth for the King's Speech & James Franco for 127 Hours. Again this one seems to be a lock for the King's Speech, and Firth probably is deserving, I'm willing to concede that. The guy is talented and I'm sure he's due. Although I hate it when they vote that way. I loved Jeff Bridges in True Grit, and I would love for him to win again but he didn't steal that show that was Hailee Steinfeld. Also thought Eisenberg was good in Social Network but he was still playing the nebbish Geek he always plays. Not sure if he warranted a nod there. His buddy Andrew Garfield was the one who really got snubbed for the supporting role in that film. Life imitates art I guess.

OSCARS: Colin Firth
MY CHOICE: Colin Firth

Best Actress: The nominees are; Annette Bening for the Kids Are All Right, Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole, Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone, Natalie Portman for Black Swan and Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine. Now for this category I'm really behind because I've only see one of these films and frankly as much as I love Annette Bening I just don't understand how she was nominated and Julianne Moore was not. I mean, Julianne Moore killed it, I was totally engrossed in what she was doing on screen in that movie. Again I think that Hollywood has snubbed Annette a few times and they are now looking to make up for it even though her performance was just ok.  But it's pretty clear the front runners here are Natalie Portman and Annette is nipping at her heels. I already know how great Natalie Portman is and I'm quite positive she is great in this, so I feel pretty good about throwing the ball in her court. I really want to see this Winter's Bone because it's getting a lot of good press, but it probably won't happen before tomorrow, so sorry Jennifer Lawrence.

OSCARS: Natalie Portman
MY CHOICE: Natalie Portman

Best Supporting Actor: The nominees are; Christian Bale for the Fighter, John Hawkes for Winter's Bone, Jeremy Renner in the Town, Mark Ruffalo in the Kids are All Right and Geoffrey Rush for the King's Speech. This one seems pretty locked up for Christian Bale and is much deserved. He really is at the same level as Daniel Day Lewis, say what you want about his serious and somewhat pissy nature the guy can fucking act. I also really liked Mark Ruffalo in the Kids Are All Right, as a free wheeling hippie. He gets blown away by Bale but in an off year the guy would really be a contender in that role. Jeremy Renner is always great but his tough guy criminal in the Town doesn't quite make the cut in my mind. He was really great in the movie but I thought the character has been done to death; likeable, angry/crazy crook with a sense of dignity.  I'm sure Geoffrey Rush is exceptional in the King's Speech and he's certainly in the race, but I just don't see him beating Bale.

OSCARS: Christian Bale
MY CHOICE: Christian Bale

Best Supporting Actress: The nominees are; Amy Adams in the Fighter, Helena Bonham Carter in the King's Speech, Melissa Leo in the Fighter, Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit and Jackie Weaver in Animal Kingdom. Both Amy Adams and Melissa Leo were great in the Fighter but neither one really stood out for me in this category. I was really blown away by Hailee Steinfeld, she verbally manhandled great actors like Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon without even blinking. I don't think she's going to win but I am really rooting for her. Some reliable sources who have seen the King's Speech seem to be perplexed that Bonham Carter was even nominated for her role. It was apparently tiny and not particularly memorable, but I'm sure that's just Harvey's influence again. It'll probably boil down to Amy Adams and Melissa Leo, but I think Leo shot herself in the foot with her weird and self-indulgent ad campaign for herself. Can't fathom that got her any extra votes. So we'll have to see how this goes down.

OSCARS: Amy Adams
MY CHOICE: Hailee Steinfeld

Animated Feature Film: The nominees are; How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist and Toy Story 3. Unfortunately I've only seen one of these but it's odd to me that they didn't nominate Tangled or Despicable Me. I've heard great things about the Illusionist and I'm really kicking myself that I didn't try to make time to see it. I really think Toy Story 3 should only have been nominated in one of these categories instead of both because it's clear that it will probably win here and lose in Best Picture.

OSCARS: Toy Story 3
MY CHOICE: Toy Story 3

Cinematography: The nominees are; Matthew Libatique for Black Swan, Wally Pfister for Inception, Danny Cohen for The King's Speech, Jeff Cronenweth for The Social Network and Roger Deakins for True Grit. Now I have been a fan of Roger Deakins for a long time and it's awesome to see him here. He shot the shit out of True Grit with it's vast arid landscapes that were just beautiful. Some of his favorites of mine; Hudsucker Proxy, Shawshank Redemption, Thuderheart (yes I said Thunderheart, it's a good movie and it looks awesome thanks to Deakins), The Big Lebowski, House of Sand and Fog, A Beautiful Mind, No Country For Old Men and the Assassination of Jesse James. And this guy has never won one? The guy has been nominated 8 fucking times just give it to him, and you can feel good about it because his latest work is just as exceptional. As a runner-up I really did like the way Inception was shot, the guy did a phenomenal job. If he were to pick it up I'd be sad for Deakins but Pfister is no less worthy for his work.

OSCARS: Roger Deakins for True Grit
MY CHOICE: Roger Deakins for True Grit

Director: The Nominees are; Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan, David O. Russell for the Fighter, Tom Hooper for The King's Speech, David Fincher for The Social Network and Joel and Ethan Coen for True Grit. I liked David O. Russell for the Fighter, it could have turned into an annoying episode of Jerry Springer but he really got this best out of his cast and made the underdog story interesting with the help of the very colorful characters. I'm glad to see him on the list but this isn't his year. The Coens have been here before but they probably aren't going to walk off with a trophy either considering they've been here recently. I think they were at the top of their game with True Grit but Fincher really went against type and pulled off a great feat with the Social Network. Writer Sorkin sometimes has a habit of making his characters sound similar and I think through Fincher's direction was able to utilize that great dialogue to create some very unique and different characters. I honestly hope he gets it. It's between him and Hooper and Hooper walked off with the DGA award today so, it's looking more and more like a win for him.

OSCARS: Tom Hooper for King's Speech
MY CHOICE: David Fincher for the Social Network

Film Editing: The nominees are; Andrew Weisblum for Black Swan, Pamela Martin for the Fighter, Tariq Anwar for The King's Speech, Jon Harris for 127 Hours and Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter for the Social Network. Much like Directing I'm not sure why Lee Smith wasn't nominated for Inception. I mean that was a complicated film to shoot much less piece together, it's truly a crime that he got snubbed. I liked the pacing of Social Network it truly was put together well. Very fluid as we jump back and forth. Again the King's Speech is the one to beat again from what I hear. It's hard to say which way this will go.

OSCARS: The King's Speech - Jon Harris
MY CHOICE: The Social Network - Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Visual Effects: The nominees are; Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 1, Hereafter, Inception and Iron Man 2.  Having seen all but one of these again I would have to say quality of script with awesome effects equals Inception hands down. I loved Iron Man 2 and Harry Potter and the great things they pull off but they just don't match the complexities of Inception. Alice in Wonderland wasn't very good honestly, so I just can't bring myself to give it anything. I love Tim Burton but this was not his finest work, not even close. And my only other question in this category is how did Tron Legacy get bumped off this list. Say what you want about the film, personally I really liked it, but you can't deny the effects were pretty damn impressive and certainly deserved a nod.

OSCARS: Inception - Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
MY CHOICE: Inception- Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb

Writing Adapted Screenplay: The nominees are; Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy for 127 Hours, Aaron Sorkin for the Social Network, Michael Arndt for Toy Story 3, Joel and Ethan Coen for True Grit and Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini for Winter's Bone. The Pixar folk really did a great job with their script and it is truly worthy as is the great western script by the Coen brothers but I'm gonna go with Sorkin for this one. He elevated this movie's status 100% with his involvement and with that smart rapid fire dialogue of his that is always fun to watch.

OSCARS: Aaron Sorkin for Social Network
MY CHOICE: Aaron Sorkin for Social Network

Writing Original Screenplay: The nominees are; Mike Leigh for Another Year, Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson for the Fighter, Christopher Nolan for Inception, Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumburg for the Kids Are All Right and David Seidler for the King's Speech. I haven't seen Another Year unfortunately so I can't make many comments on that one, but The Fighter was pretty great as well as the Kids Are All Right, but again in any other year they would be prime contenders but I just don't think they stand up to Inception. Although I'm not sure if Inception has a clear path here. I've been hearing more and more rumors that King's Speech is going to walk away with this one too. Given how much Oscar has screwed Chris Nolan this year I'm thinking that they are going to give him the pity fuck here.

OSCARS: Chris Nolan Inception
MY CHOICE: Chris Nolan Inception

Music - Original Score: The nominees are; John Powell for How to Train Your Dragon, Hans Zimmer for Inception, Alexandre Desplat for The King's Speech, A.R. Rahman for 127 Hours, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network. The scores for Inception and Social Network were really fantastic. Personally I was more affected by the Inception score, it just worked with the film so effectively that many times you didn't even notice it's impact. I thought that the Social Network score had a hard edge to it like in a suspense film, it honestly shouldn't work with the film but it really does bring a new element to the story that makes it far more interesting.

OSCARS: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for Social Network
MY CHOICE: Hans Zimmer for Inception

Time is an issue so I just kind of breezed over the main categories if I missed one you love, sorry, I'll try to get them all next year. I wanted to put Foreign Films up there but I just hadn't had a chance to see any of the film in contention this year so it wouldn't have been a very interesting conversation. We're going to be putting up our thoughts about the Oscars tomorrow on the Bucket so you can check back either late Sunday night or Monday for our thoughts about the 2011 Oscars.

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