Friday, February 25, 2011

If I Voted for the Oscars (But I Don't!)

(Even if the show's boring, it's sure gonna look pretty. And c'mon, how can Franco be boring?)

The Oscars are almost here! Awards season is almost done! HOORAY! I actually saw all the Best Picture nominees this year AND all the acting nominees, so I feel I can fairly rank all those categories - even if the Academy felt it unnecessary to solicit my opinion. So below you will find how I rank all the top contenders, a brief explanation of why I put them in that order, and then in gold is my prediction for who I think will actually win the award Sunday night. For the technical categories and some of the lesser known categories I just listed my choice for who I think will win on Oscar Night. (* - indicates a pick I'm totally guessing, having not seen enough of the nominees in that category to make an educated guess.)

Best Motion Picture of the Year:
1. “127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight)
2. "The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
3. “Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight)
4. “Inception” (Warner Bros.)
5. “Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney)
6. “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
7. "The Fighter” (Paramount)j
8. “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
9. “True Grit” (Paramount)
10. “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)

My absolute favorite movie of the year is "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" and though it was a critical success, it's total flop at the box office meant it had no chance in this category. I think it really should have landed in the technical categories though - for special effects, editing and music categories - and it's disappointing it was overlooked there as well. It's also too bad that "Blue Valentine" couldn't find a space at the top. I think that film's amazing. As for these 10, i actually enjoyed them all. Not a lot separates them in my mind in terms of quality, and I actually think any of them would make a respectable Best Film winner this year. So in ranking, it just came down to personal reaction and emotional resonance. While I believe "The King's Speech" will take home the trophy, the movie that really was the most rewarding experience for me was "127 Hours." I thought what they did technically with the source material to turn it into a cinematic story was phenomenal. James Franco's performance is outstanding. This film provoked the most emotional response from me. Black Swan and Inception both bent my brain backwards and twisted it up in glorious ways, Toy Story 3 made me cry and cry with its brilliant conclusion, and the others were all really great films too. I know Social Network is the other front runner here, but for me, I enjoyed it without really feeling one way or another about it, so it falls closer to the bottom for me on the list.

Achievement in Directing:
1. “Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight) Darren Aronofsky
2. “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) David Fincher
3. “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Tom Hooper
4. “The Fighter” (Paramount) David O. Russell
5. “True Grit” (Paramount) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

If Christopher Nolan was on this list for "Inception," or if Danny Boyle was here for 127 Hours, I'd have voted for either of those, because I thought both of them were stunning achievements. Since they are not, I'm still thinking about Black Swan months later in a way that I'm not for Social Network or King's Speech. So I'd put that first. But conventional wisdom says Fincher, and a King's Speech Sweep would indicate Hooper.

Original Screenplay:
1. “Inception” (Warner Bros.) Written by Christopher Nolan
2. “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features) Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
3. “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Screenplay by David Seidler
4. “Another Year” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Mike Leigh
5. “The Fighter” (Paramount) Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson, Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson

I think "The King's Speech" might steal this one, but Inception was CRAZY and the dialogue in TKAAR was note-perfect, so I'd go for either of those first.

Adapted Screenplay:
1. “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
2. “127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
3. “Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney) Screenplay by Michael Arndt Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
4. “True Grit” (Paramount) Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
5. “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions) Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

I think much of the good will granted to The Social Network can be attributed to the writing in that first scene between Eisenberg and Mara at the bar. It really set the stage for the exciting fast-paced movie about nerds at computers that was to come. Even people who aren't huge fans of the movie overall really admire that scene, and that's all Sorkin.

Achievement in Cinematography:
1. “True Grit” (Paramount) Roger Deakins
2. “Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight) Matthew Libatique
3. “Inception” (Warner Bros.) Wally Pfister
4. “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company) Danny Cohen
5. “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Jeff Cronenweth

True Grit didn't top my list in a lot of categories, but I like Deakins for the win here. Tough tough category though.

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:
1. Colin Firth in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
2. James Franco in "127 Hours" (Fox Searchlight)
3. Javier Bardem in “Biutiful” (Roadside Attractions)
4. Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
5. Jeff Bridges in “True Grit” (Paramount)

These are all great performances, and I really connected emotionally with those I ranked 1-3, but there's something special about Colin Firth in "The King's Speech." Plus, he was absolutely stellar in last year's "A Single Man." Personally, I would've traded Eisenberg and Bridges for Ryan Gosling in "Blue Valentine" and Aaron Eckhart in "Rabbit Hole." Nothing against Bridges or Eisenberg, I just Gosling and Eckhart really nailed each of their dramatically difficult roles in their respective movies. Plus their on-screen wives who were nominated for Oscars wouldn't have had those great performances without them.

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:
1. Christian Bale in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
2. Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
3. Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
4. John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)
5. Jeremy Renner in “The Town” (Warner Bros.)

Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush are both stellar in their roles. I really think Bale completely disappears into Dickie though, so I give him the edge. The other three actors are all really worthy nominees as well. I wasn't really taken with "The Town" so I might have liked to see that 5th slot go to Matt Damon for "True Grit."

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:
1. Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight)
2. Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine” (The Weinstein Company)
3. Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right” (Focus Features)
4. Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole” (Lionsgate)
5. Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone” (Roadside Attractions)

This was a very strong and diverse category this year. I give it to Portman because she was riveting as she went batshit crazy - and she had to dance! Williams, I think, gave the most brutally real performance. The other three were all fantastic and there deserves to be a 6th slot for Julianne Moore for her work in "The Kids Are All Right" alongside Bening. And a 7th for Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit. More on her in a minute.

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:
1. Amy Adams in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
2. Melissa Leo in “The Fighter” (Paramount)
3. Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech” (The Weinstein Company)
4. Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom” (Sony Pictures Classics)
5. Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit” (Paramount)

Hailee Steinfeld is the lead in True Grit. It is her character's story. It is her character's narration. I feel she should not be judged in a Supporting Category, which is why I placed her last. This is a little like when Zeta-Jones won for Chicago in this category when she was really a lead, but at least in that scenario you could argue that the movie version of Chicago's narrative really does follow Zellwegger's Roxie and not Zeta-Jones' Velma Kelly. With "True Grit," that argument just does not hold up. It's pure movie politics to get an award. Steinfeld is great, but this is not her category. I would've liked to see Barbara Hershey here for "Black Swan." Of all the performances nominated, I thought Amy Adams in "The Fighter" was the most deserving.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year:*
“Biutiful” (Roadside Attractions) A Menage Atroz, Mod Producciones and Ikiru Films Production - Mexico

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year:
“Toy Story 3” (Walt Disney) Lee Unkrich

Best Animated Short Film:
“Day & Night” (Walt Disney)

Best Live Action Short Film:*
“The Confession” (National Film and Television School)

Best Documentary Feature:*
“Exit through the Gift Shop” (Producers Distribution Agency) A Paranoid Pictures Production Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz

Best Documentary Short Subject:*
“Sun Come Up” A Sun Come Up Production Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger

Achievement in Film Editing:
“Black Swan” (Fox Searchlight) Andrew Weisblum

Achievement in Sound Editing:

“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Richard King

Achievement in Sound Mixing:
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick

Achievement in Visual Effects:
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and
Peter Bebb

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song):
“If I Rise” from “127 Hours” (Fox Searchlight) Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score):
“The Social Network” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Achievement in Makeup:
“The Wolfman” (Universal) Rick Baker and Dave Elsey
(Alice in Wonderland was somehow not nominated for this which seems crazy)

Achievement in Art Direction:
“Inception” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas, Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat

Achievement in Costume Design:
“Alice in Wonderland” (Walt Disney) Colleen Atwood

So that's hows I calls 'em. We'll see how good I did with my predictions in my Monday morning recap. Will anyone wear a take on Bjork's infamous swan dress in an attempt to show support for Black Swan? Will that person in fact be host James Franco? Will everybody be thanking union workers in order to be political and stuff? Will the show run less than 4 hours? Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night!!

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