Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oscar Nominations - Some Thoughts

Like no other year before I thought there would not be any surprises in this year's Oscar nominations. However, for the second time in as many years, Christopher Nolan was snubbed in the Best Director category. It was a crime that he wasn't nominated for 'Dark Knight Returns' but to leave him off the list when he put out 'Inception' this summer is a crime against cinema. Not only did that film make money but it was the most mind-blowing creative endeavour of the year. Is he that unpopular amongst the voters? I don't understand it. How can you give 'Inception' a nomination for Best Picture but leave out the guy who directed it?

I was so happy that Hailee Steinfeld got the nomination for her role in 'True Grit'. When I look at the other actresses in that category I can only see Helena Bonham Carter ('The King's Speech) as her only competition. I feel really good about her chances unless 'The King's Speech' runs away with the awards and I think it will. Hailee has no reason to be sad, however. She stood her ground and outshone two of the finest actors to ever work in films (Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges). She ruled 'True Grit' and her nomination is well earned and deserved. (How awesome are these pictures of her with her co-stars? I love them)

I would like to see Geoffry Rush win for best supporting actor though I fear the wave is going in Christian Bale's way. Sure he is super dedicated to his roles with the magical weight loss/gain trick he does but I feel that I have seen him do the same role in everything. He is always an actor to me and not the character. Rush however is a genius and a trickster chameleon who is fascinating to watch each and every time he makes a movie. No one plays mischievous scamp better than him. Colin Firth owes half of his great performance to the gifts that Rush gave him in that movie.

Jennifer Lawrence of 'Winter's Bone' was a nice nomination to see. This little seen indie drama about a poor girl looking for her deadbeat father so she can save the house that she and her younger siblings (who she cares for) live in, is tough to watch at times but really beautiful shot and acted. The film is up for best picture too. It won't win against juggernauts like 'The King's Speech' and 'True Grit' but it was good to see that the Academy appreciating something that didn't have the whole studio production machine behind it.

Michelle Williams of 'Blue Valentine' is one actress who always does spectacular work but will probably go many years before the weight of all her future nominations finally puts her in the winner's circle. She has a gift for picking out the right roles to highlight her talent but she will always be in the position where everyone EXPECTS her to be great each time so it's not such a revelation when she is terrific and it still doesn't get her the attention and awards she should receive. It's a sick fact that she is almost TOO good to win an Oscar.

I am pulling for Natalie Portman to win for 'Black Swan' but I got a bad feeling that being in a poorly reviewed film with box office dead weight Ashton Kucher at this time of year is going to tip the scales for Annette Benning, who has always been an Oscar darling. Also the fact that Portman is in one of next summer's blockbusters - 'Thor' - will work against her with the same people that seem to resent the kind of success that 'Inception' had with the movie going public. It sounds petty but that is how Oscar thinks. They have a history of awarding little seen prestige films against movies with mass public appeal. 'Titanic' is one of the few times in recent memory that they broke with that model.

Colin Firth is a lock as best actor for his role in 'The King's Speech'. Done deal. Sealed and delivered. I suspect it will be a trifecta for the three leads in that movie with Carter and Rush also winning. It's a good story for the days after the Oscar for the entertainment press to chew on. Oscar loves a good media story like that especially since 'The King's Speech' will win best picture. It's a great film like the lavish costume dramas of Oscar's past and Hollywood loves to remember and mythologize it's past. Add best director for Tom Hooper and you got a tsunami that will be hard for anyone else to overcome.

As far as Best Documentary goes, I am happy to see the very good 'Restrepo' about the 18 month tour of duty of a group of young American soldiers in Afghanistan get nominated but it's another crime that 'Waiting For Superman' - a great tale of the failures in the American education system - was left off the list. The conspiracy minded person in me believes that was a deliberately political decision. No one looks good for the light that documentary shined on a real desperate problem in American society that NO ONE seems to want to acknowledge or talk about.

I have said this before that 'The Social Network' is a good movie and will win for best screenplay but Oscar voters are older and most don't know their Google from their Facebook. Sorry kids.

'Toy Story 3' will win best animated feature but I sure would like to see 'How To Train Your Dragon' take the prize. It was one of the most enjoyable movies (animated or not) that I have seen in many a year. The mere fact that Toothless the Dragon DIDN'T talk is reason enough for me.

So there are my thoughts. As usual you are free to disagree with me at anytime but you should know that I have seen most all the nominated films and performances so I am prepared to defend my choices - to the death if necessary.


1. Best Picture: "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right," "The King's Speech," "127 Hours," "The Social Network," "Toy Story 3," "True Grit," "Winter's Bone."

2. Actor: Javier Bardem, "Biutiful"; Jeff Bridges, "True Grit"; Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"; Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"; James Franco, "127 Hours."

3. Actress: Annette Bening, "The Kids Are All Right"; Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole"; Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"; Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"; Michelle Williams, "Blue Valentine."

4. Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, "The Fighter"; John Hawkes, "Winter's Bone"; Jeremy Renner, "The Town"; Mark Ruffalo, "The Kids Are All Right"; Geoffrey Rush, "The King's Speech."

5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "The Fighter"; Helena Bonham Carter, "The King's Speech"; Melissa Leo, "The Fighter"; Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit"; Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom."

6. Directing: Darren Aronofsky, "Black Swan"; David O. Russell, "The Fighter"; Tom Hooper, "The King's Speech"; David Fincher, "The Social Network"; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "True Grit."

7. Foreign Language Film: "Biutiful," Mexico; "Dogtooth," Greece; "In a Better World," Denmark; "Incendies," Canada; "Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)," Algeria.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, "127 Hours"; Aaron Sorkin, "The Social Network"; Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, "Toy Story 3"; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, "True Grit"; Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, "Winter's Bone."

9. Original Screenplay: Mike Leigh, "Another Year"; Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington, "The Fighter"; Christopher Nolan, "Inception"; Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, "The Kids Are All Right"; David Seidler, "The King's Speech."

10. Animated Feature Film: "How to Train Your Dragon," "The Illusionist," "Toy Story 3."

11. Art Direction: "Alice in Wonderland," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1," "Inception," "The King's Speech," "True Grit."

12. Cinematography: "Black Swan," "Inception," "The King's Speech," "The Social Network," "True Grit."

13. Sound Mixing: "Inception," "The King's Speech," "Salt," "The Social Network," "True Grit."

14. Sound Editing: "Inception," "Toy Story 3," "Tron: Legacy," "True Grit," "Unstoppable."

15. Original Score: "How to Train Your Dragon," John Powell; "Inception," Hans Zimmer; "The King's Speech," Alexandre Desplat; "127 Hours," A.R. Rahman; "The Social Network," Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

16. Original Song: "Coming Home" from "Country Strong," Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey; "I See the Light" from "Tangled," Alan Menken and Glenn Slater; "If I Rise" from "127 Hours," A.R. Rahman, Dido and Rollo Armstrong; "We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3," Randy Newman.

17. Costume: "Alice in Wonderland," "I Am Love," "The King's Speech," "The Tempest," "True Grit."

18. Documentary Feature: "Exit through the Gift Shop," "Gasland," "Inside Job," "Restrepo," "Waste Land."

19. Documentary (short subject): "Killing in the Name," "Poster Girl," "Strangers No More," "Sun Come Up," "The Warriors of Qiugang."

20. Film Editing: "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "The King's Speech," "127 Hours," "The Social Network."

21. Makeup: "Barney's Version," "The Way Back," "The Wolfman."

22. Animated Short Film: "Day and Night," "The Gruffalo," "Let's Pollute," "The Lost Thing," "Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)."

23. Live Action Short Film: "The Confession," "The Crush," "God of Love," "Na Wewe," "Wish 143."

24. Visual Effects: "Alice in Wonderland," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1," "Hereafter," "Inception," "Iron Man 2."


Wings1295 said...

Toy Story 3, all the way.

Budd said...

I am pulling for Jennifer Lawrence. Natalie Portman needs to lose as punishment for being in a movie opposite Ashton. Apparently he made fun of her height the entire time. What a jerk. Natalie if you are reading this (and really, why wouldn't she be a cave of cool fan), you are the perfect height.

Kal said...

Kucher is such a loser. If he didn't have security around him he would have been bashed with a shovel a long time ago. If Natalie loses then he is the one to blame. He is the reason I keep a bag of frozen oranges in the freezer. Perfect to put into a wool sock for some heavy duty beat downs.

cerebus660 said...

As usual, when it comes to "Best Director", the Academy's elitism comes to the fore. Inception is too popular to be considered in their eyes and, unforgivably, a genre movie. Not enough "issues" or "relevance" involved.

D.I. Felipe González said...

Damn! From the nominnes to best picture, I've only seen Inception. The others haven't had their commercial run in the subtropical regions of México. Last year I had to watch Hurt Locker a few hours before the AA show! Not fair.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nolan got ripped and Hailee deserves the Oscar.
And I agree Kal - How To Train Your Dragon was the best animated feature last year. A fresh story and great animation!

Kal said...

D.I. - get on with your bad downloading self D.I. This was a exceptionally good year for movies.

Alex - It takes nothing away from 'Toy Story 3' (which was terrific) to say that 'Dragon' was better. To say that is to say how truly special and unique 'Dragon' is. I am sure that now Dreamworks will sequel the shit out of it and drain all the magic out of it like they did with Shrek and that will be a shame.

Unknown said...

The Academy doesn't always vote against genre and popularity. The Lord Of The Rings did win huge a few years ago despite the "sins" of being a massively popular, foreign-made fantasy film.

FilmMattic said...

I'm with you on Nolan. There is no justifiable way to spin his glaring omission from a Best Director Nomination. His technical genius and narrative skill are unrivaled.

Here's a simple solution Academy. Drop David O. Russell's name from the Best Director list, and replace him with Nolan. The guy pens the script for Inception, directs it, imagines this whole "original" world, and the Academy says—okay, we'll award you a Best Picture nomination, but definitely not one for Best Director. This is duplicitous and mind-boggling. And it's an utter shame for Nolan who continues to impress both critically and commercially.

Kal said...

I hope that Nolan takes soluce in the fact that there is near universal agreement on your position that he got shafted.

Unlike James Cameron who too makes money with his films and is an ego maniac who gets far more love (?!?!) from his 'peers' than Nolan ever does, Nolan is the 'real deal' and true movie lovers know that and we have his back.