Tuesday, January 25, 2011

83rd Oscar Nominations Pt. 1

The Academy Awards. The awards that honor the best in films. Where crazy hi-jinks occur and big acceptance speech happens. At the same time, we see people try to be funny and fail (like Ben Stiller in recent years). We also see the moments were there are surprises and as well as those that weren’t so pleasant (like the time Crash won instead of Brokeback Mountain). It’s the Oscars. A chance where movie-lovers and film-buffs collide to see where things can go right or where things can go wrong. It’s that time again to predict who will win.

Best Picture

Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

A ballerina goes way into deep into getting the big role for Swan Lake by exploring her dark side. The true story of “Irish” Micky Ward’s rise and his complex relationship with his brother Dicky Eklund. A man enters into minds to plant ideas with the help of a talented group of people. Two kids find their biological father as they’re raised by lesbians. The true tale of how King George VI overcame his stammer with the help of a commoner. Another true story of how a man survived his ordeal of being stuck in a rock inside a canyon for nearly 5 days.

The story of how Facebook was founded and how it destroyed friendship among its founders. The tale of toys dealing with mortality as they enter a daycare center that becomes a nightmare. A young girl seeks vengeance for her father’s death with the help of a grizzled marshal. Finally, there’s the tale of a young girl discovering a seedy underworld in the Ozarks. These are the nominees of Best Picture for the 83rd Academy Award.

What Will/Should Win: The Social Network

David Fincher’s story about the founding of Facebook that is told in part through depositions as it is definitely one of the most compelling films of 2010. Even as Facebook remains one of the most popular social-networking tools that millions of people use all over the world. It is also a classic tale of the rise of its founders and how jealousy and betrayal would destroy the relationship between co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. It should win not just for its study of characters but also in the way the story is told in partial flashbacks . It’s also in those depositions scenes where Zuckerberg is facing off against Saverin and people who claimed that Zuckerberg stole their idea.

Dark Horse: The Fighter

David O. Russell’s story about “Irish” Micky Ward and his brother Dicky Eklund is a typical boxing-drama story that audiences can enjoy. Yet, it’s also Russell’s weakest film of his career since it’s his most straightforward while it also carries some of the clichés seen in not just boxing films but also family dramas. It’s a film where audiences unfamiliar with Ward’s career will have a hard time wondering when some of the fights take places.

Best Director

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
David O. Russell, The Fighter

Who Will/Should Win: David Fincher, The Social Network

Fincher’s direction for The Social Network is definitely his most provocative and restrained work of his career. Notably for creating a film with a somber mood and taking it to dark places. Even in the deposition scenes where he creates this sense of tension and how Zuckerberg is more concerned with his company rather than the depositions. It’s definitely Fincher at his most observant and at his most atmospheric.

Dark Horse: David O. Russell, The Fighter

Known for mostly comedies with the exception of Three Kings, Russell plays it straight for The Fighter. Though he creates some great moments in the fight scenes, he is best when maintaining a low-key approach to the drama while letting Christian Bale to be showy and funny in his role as Dicky Eklund. Yet, Russell ends up delving into clichés for some of the film’s more over-the-top dramatic scenes where it goes overboard at times. Yet, his nomination is controversial as the one director that should be nominated is Christopher Nolan for Inception.

Best Actor

Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

Who Will Win: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

2009’s A Single Man gave Colin Firth an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. For his role as King George VI, Firth displays a man who is a duke that has to speak for his publicly but has a stammer. Firth’s performance of a man who was then known by his family as Bertie shows all of the vulnerability of a man who was content in being a duke, husband, and father. Yet, when he has to become king and play a bigger role for the world. He reaches out to a speech therapist to give him the confidence to speak for the United Kingdom. It’s a performance that is truly regal and one that is truly deserving of a nomination as Firth is the front-runner.

Who Should Win: James Franco, 127 Hours

In the role of Aron Ralston, James Franco plays a mountain climber who gets himself trapped by a boulder inside a canyon. Having to find a way to free himself for 127 hours, it is a role that could’ve been very boring. Yet, Franco’s sense of humor and lively performance makes the film an engaging yet captivating experience. Even as Franco brings a sense of realism and determination into his character that is very flawed and a bit unlikable at times. Still, it’s a performance that is truly one of the best.

Dark Horse: Javier Bardem, Biutiful

In his performance in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful, Javier Bardem plays an underworld figure in Spain who is trying to provide a great future for his own kids as he is facing death. The performance won Bardem the Best Actor prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival though it’s one that many people have seen which is why he’s the long-shot in this category.

Best Actress

Annette Benning, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Who Will Win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

In her role as a young innocent ballerina finally nabbing the lead role of Swan Lake. Natalie Portman brings a chilling yet mesmerizing performance as a young woman whose innocent persona becomes threatened when she tries to tackle into the dark persona of the Black Swan. It’s a role where Portman not only plays a girlish young woman surrounded by stuffed animals and be smothered by her mother. She also dabbles into a very dark, maniacal side once she begins to embrace the Black Swan as it’s Portman at her finest. Yet, her only real competition to win the Oscar is Annette Benning as a lesbian mother in The Kids Are All Right.

Who Should Win: Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Michelle Williams’ post-Brokeback Mountain film choices as shown the actress taking risks whether its doing experimental art-house films for Kelly Reichardt or being in a pivotal role for Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. For her role as a young woman falling in love with a young man only to have their marriage crumble years later. Williams displays the youthful innocence of a young woman meeting her dream man and then show herself feeling tired and ragged as a mother and wife unhappy with her life. It’s a very raw performance that should be seen more as it proves that Williams has come a long way since being in the TV show Dawson’s Creek.

Dark Horse: Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole

Since winning an Oscar for 2002’s The Hours, Nicole Kidman has been in a rut of sorts with being in big commercial flops like Invasion and The Golden Compass and art-house films like Dogville and Fur. For her role as a mother dealing with the death of her child in John Cameron Mitchell’s Rabbit Hole. Kidman goes for a more restrained yet eerie role as a woman dealing with death and longing. While it is seen as a comeback of sorts, it’s also an art-house film that not many has seen which will probably hurt her chances to win.

Best 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

Who Will Win: Christian Bale, The Fighter

In the role of Dicky Eklund, Christian Bale returns to drama after years of being in high-profile blockbuster films. Bale also decides to remind audiences of why he is a great actor by losing lots of weight to play a crack-addicted former boxer who once fought Sugar Ray Leonard. Bale’s showmanship and energetic performance is definitely marvelous to watch as it is deserving of the acclaim he’s receiving.

Who Should Win: Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Rush’s role as Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who would help King George VI overcome his stammer, is a remarkable performance for veteran. Even as Rush plays it straight while allowing the character to also be funny. It’s a supporting performance that truly works as he plays a commoner who helps the future king find his voice. In some ways, Colin Firth’s performance as King George VI wouldn’t be as great if it wasn’t for the support that Rush gives as Logue. It’s one that Rush should really get accolades for.

Dark Horse: Jeremy Renner, The Town

Jeremy Renner had a great year in 2009 when the 2008 film The Hurt Locker put him in the spotlight as it won the Oscar last year for Best Picture. For his role in Ben Affleck’s The Town, Renner plays a fellow bank robber who tries to convince Affleck’s character to stay in the side of crime while planning a big job. It’s a showy role for Renner that gives him a chance to shine though he’s in serious competition with the actors he’s competing against. Notably John Hawkes for Winter’s Bone which is a big surprise considering how much praise he’s getting.

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bohnam Carter, The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Who Will Win: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

2008’s Frozen River brought Melissa Leo a surprising Best Actress nomination as she gets a nomination playing the mother of Dicky Eklund and Micky Ward. While it’s a role that has Leo playing a trashy, street-tough manager who doesn’t really know what she’s doing half the time. It’s the kind of loud role that screams Oscar but for the wrong reasons. It’s not that her performance is bad but it plays like a caricature for a lot of the film though there’s time when Leo tries to bring a real person in that role.

Who Should Win: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

For her role as a young girl seeking revenge against the man who killed her father. Hailee Steinfeld’s role as Mattie Ross is definitely one of the best debut roles ever captured on film as she gets to act with the likes of Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. While placing her in the supporting category is controversial since she is really the lead role in the film. Her performance as no-nonsense young lady who is very businesslike while wanting to keep things simple is definitely marvelous for the young actress.

Dark Horse: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

In the role of a crime family matriarch, Jacki Weaver’s performance is one of the great discoveries of 2010. Even as she plays a woman trying to keep her grandson within the family while maintaining a creepy sense of love towards her family. It’s a role not many people will play as it’s also a chance for Jacki Weaver to be discovered as she is also facing some great competition against more well-known actresses.

Best Original Screenplay

Another Year (Written by Mike Leigh)
The Fighter (Screenplay by Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, and Paul Tamasy; Story by Keith Dorrington, Eric Johnson, and Paul Tamasay)
Inception (Written by Christopher Nolan)
The Kids Are All Right (Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg)
The King’s Speech (Written by David Seidler)

Who Will Win: David Seidler, The King’s Speech

Seidler’s screenplay for The King’s Speech is wonderful for not portraying history accurately but also exploring the relationship of the king and a common speech therapist. Seidler’s script also explores the Royal Family including the relationship between King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. It’s a script that truly works as it has some wonderful dialogue and a story that is definitely inspirational.

Who Should Win: Christopher Nolan, Inception

Christopher Nolan’s story of a man trying to bring ideas into the mind of another man with the help of a team is truly original. Especially for something that is a big blockbuster film with lots of ideas as it also a thriller. Nolan’s exploration of a man and his regrets as he comes to term with own troubles. It’s also a film that keeps people guessing as it is definitely one of Nolan’s best work as a writer which would make up the snubbing of him not being nominated for Best Director.

Dark Horse: Keith Dorrington, Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, & Paul Tamasy, The Fighter

The screenplay for The Fighter is definitely a story that audiences can root for but it’s also one that is filled with clichés. It’s probably the most flawed film of this category. The other nomination could’ve been filled for Blue Valentine or Black Swan.

Best Adapted Screenplay

127 Hours (Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy)
The Social Network (Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin)
Toy Story 3 (Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Lee Unkrich)
True Grit (Screenplay by Joel & Ethan Coen)
Winter’s Bone (Screenplay by Debra Ganik & Anne Rosellini)

Who Will/Should Win: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Aaron Sorkin’s approach to the telling about the founding of Facebook is definitely an example of great screenwriting. Even as the film moves back to forth to the depositions that Mark Zuckerberg is at and how Facebook was formed. While some of the plotting was definitely inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Sorkin refines into the exploration of who Mark Zuckerberg is.

Dark Horse: Debra Ganik & Anne Rosellini, Winter’s Bone

The screenplay for Winter’s Bone is definitely a surprising nomination and a deserving one. Especially for the tale of a young girl in the Ozark mountains hunts down her drug-dealing father to save her family’s home. It is a film that really explores a girl coming of age while dealing with the dark world that she is going into as the competition the script is facing will be a tough one.

Best Animated Film

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

What Will/Should Win: Toy Story 3

Pixar is one of the most consistent studios putting out great animated films. Even as their reputation to create great stories and using the technology to create these stories have always ended up with the studio making great films. For the third Toy Story film, Lee Unkrich and company give the franchise a fitting close. Even in giving Woody, Buzz, and the gang a chance to have one great adventure as they fight a real foe who has a way of what toys should be. It’s no surprise if the film will in as Pixar is always a guaranteed win for that category.

Dark Horse: How to Train Your Dragon

Dreamworks Animations’ How to Train Your Dragon wasn’t just a big hit in the box office. It also attained a lot of great critical acclaim as the studio made a film that some said can go up there with the films from Pixar. The tale of a boy who takes in a wounded dragon is one of the most surprising. It’s a dark horse because Dreamworks Animations hasn’t made a film that could top what Pixar has done so far while it’s other competition in The Illusionist by Sylvain Chomet. A French animated director who has a great reputation to making wonderful 2D animated films.

Best Foreign-Language Film

Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In A Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) (Algeria)

What Will/Should Win: Dogtooth

Though it originally premiered in 2009 at the Cannes Film Festival where it won the Un Certain Regard prize. It came into the U.S. in late 2010 to lots of acclaim. The film about a husband and wife keeping their children imprisoned at home as they have no idea about the world outside of them. It is a very dark filled with themes that not many filmmakers will want to explore. It’s also a film that has gotten the most attention as the Foreign-Language film category is always a guessing game. Even as director Yorgos Lanthimos is facing some high competition against Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful, Susanne Bier’s In a Better World, and Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies.

Dark Horse: Outside the Law

Rachid Bouchared’s follow-up to the Oscar-nominated film Days of Glory in 2006 has him exploring the relationship of three brothers in 1945 through 1962. While Bouchared is facing some great competition against his other nominees in Algeria. There is always a surprise in the dark horse as Bouchared could come out as a surprise winner.

Best Documentary Feature

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land

What Will/Should Win: Restrepo

Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger’s story about a year-long campaign in Afghanistan by a platoon is certainly one of the most haunting stories about war and how it affects soldiers. The film’s title comes from a medic who was killed in action as it would later lead to a horrendous battle that would have awful consequences for civilians and soldiers. Films about war doesn’t really gain much favor but it is one that is likely to win for political reasons. Yet, it’s real competition is Exit Through the Gift Shop about the mysterious artist known as Bansky.

Dark Horse: Gasland

Josh Fox’s documentary about communities in the U.S. impacted by natural gas drilling as homes are being sold for gas companies to drill. Even as it would affect drinking water as it’s a film that has an environmental message. It’s clear that this category is not hard to choose who is the long-shot as this film has serious competition against Restrepo, the political Inside Job, and Exit Through the Gift Shop. The other nominee in Waste Land is about an artist creating art through garbage is also other long-shot in the category.

(End of Part 1)

© thevoid99 2011


FilmMattic said...

Very informative breakdown of the nominations.

I'm with you on James Franco as the "should win Best Actor Oscar" candidate. His performance was sensational. And I agree with you that Colin Firth is likely going to win. The best actor awards have been trending in his favor. I enjoyed The King's Speech and his portrayal of King George VI was stellar, but it was a tad bit outdone by Franco's portrayal of Aron Ralston.

Really cool site! Both Godfather I & II are in my top ten favorite movies of All-Time list!

thevoid99 said...

Yeah, I wouldn't be mad if Firth win. He deserves it absolutely but I would be happy if James Franco won. Though I'm still miffed about Ryan Gosling not being nominated for Blue Valentine.

Laura said...

I loved Colin Firth and, at the moment, I'd like to see him win. However, I recently saw the trailer for Biutiful and Javier Bardem looks like he gave a stunning performance. Once I see it, I might change my mind ...

thevoid99 said...


I'm thinking of seeing Biutiful this coming Sun. along with Another Year.

Still, I'm not sure because while I like the films of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. He does however make long films with characters he has a tendency to punish at times. I'm not sure what I'll do that weekend. These will be the last theatrical films I'll do until March where the 2011 film season really begins for me.