The Academy Awards are almost here! Time to acknowledge the “best” of 2010 because that’s what the Academy does. This is the second time now that we have ten Best Picture nominees, and just to follow up with other critics’ predictions, I’m going to give my own as well in a game of “Will/Should”. I won’t cover all of the categories, but I will cover the majority of the major ones.
Will: The King’s Speech
Oscar-bait with a capital “O”, this movie has heart, the advantage of being a period piece, and not being modern. This win will still perplex me because this means that The Blind Side should have won the last award over The Hurt Locker. Oh, wait! That took place in modern times, and politics trump all in the Academy Awards. My bad. Anyway, Speech has the right amount of sentimentalism and historical input to make it a favorite for the Academy.
Should/May: The Social Network.
I said enough, and if I need to explain why it should, then read some of my other blogs that defend this movie fervently.
For the same reasons as to why The King’s Speech will win Best Picture, Colin Firth will win Best Actor. He gives us the traditional underdog but dressed up in royalty and bearing a stutter. However, the part of me that says he should is the believability in the character. Firth does make his portrayal of King George VI convincing and doesn’t make the stutter seem fake, and again he has the right amount of sentimentality. Having said that, there is a downside to winning this: winning the Best Actor, I read, is basically when your career has jumped the shark. A lot of big name actors have won the Best Actor Oscar only to not really release any good or successful films since. Robert DeNiro has done some off-beat roles since winning for Raging Bull but none as memorable. Al Pacino, what has he done lately? Tom Hanks is an exception because of Toy Story, Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan, but who else managed to pull through? So because of Colin Firth’s age, believability, and the possible peak of career, I say he’ll probably win it and why I didn’t put Jesse Eisenberg in the “should”.
Black Swan was one of those movies that just makes you sit back and go “what the hell is wrong with these people?” much like Fight Club. In fact, I consider this to be Darren Aronofsky’s Fight Club. Natalie Portman put in a lot of effort to make this movie just that because she truly grasped the dynamic character that was Nina Sayers and did it with much grace like…well, a ballerina. Sure, she did come across as melodramatic at times (such as crying a lot), but what good is a psychological thriller with deadpan acting? (next month, Keanu Reeves in Somebody’s Watching Me) Portman’s performance has picked up a lot of momentum with critics, the Globes and the Screen Actors Guild, so why anyone would snub her after this would be crazy.
Which is where Bening comes in. Her portrayal as the lesbian equivalent of the “man of the house” in The Kids are All Right has defense from Peter Travers and some other critics, and the Academy has a track record of giving acting Oscars for gay performances. Tom Hanks won for playing an AIDS victim in Philadelphia; Phillip Seymour Hoffman won for playing Truman Capote who was openly gay, and Sean Penn (unfortunately) took it away from Mickey Rourke for playing Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician (and he had no qualms in politicizing his acceptance speech either). Another factoid that I found is that she has been nominated many times before without success, so she’s considered “long overdue”. But, like the Best Actor Oscar, this win could also make her career jump the shark. Portman’s, however, has some steam left so she’ll be around for a while.
Best Supporting Actor
I haven’t seen The Fighter, so I can’t judge. However, I can’t deny the momentum Bale’s performance picked up early in the season. Bale is himself a pretty good actor and has Christopher Nolan to thank for really making him well known. Whether or not he deserves the Oscar I will never know.
I have seen The King’s Speech, so I can judge this. I may have my reasons not to like this film, but Rush made this movie incredibly entertaining. In the theater I was in, everybody laughed at just about everything Rush said to Logue, most of which was actually funny. Geoffrey Rush is a great actor, and his career is still somewhat healthy thanks to Pirates of the Caribbean and Finding Nemo. Hell, he did a great job in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. This movie is no exception, either. Firth may have the buzz of being best actor as George VI, but it was Rush, much like Lionel Logue to the future king, that made him better.
Best Supporting Actress
See Christian Bale and a bit of Annette Bening (the overdue bit). Melissa Leo has picked up the Screen Actor’s Guild Award, the Golden Globe, and a lot of accolade for her role. She may not have won the BAFTA, but that may not stop her from taking home the Oscar. She was nominated for Best Actress for Frozen River and lost, so this may put her in the “overdue” category. I’m not really sure. Leo, unlike Bale, isn’t really a big name in Hollywood, so I don’t really know much about her.
What may stop Leo is a possible controversy regarding funding for her own campaign to win the Oscar. Carter won the BAFTA for The King’s Speech and as a result combined with the lack of controversy may win the Oscar for playing Elizabeth. While I find it unlikely if this is the only reason why, it’s not necessarily far fetched. This wasn’t her best role, in my opinion. I still liked her in Sweeney Todd, Fight Club, and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit as opposed to Speech, but those roles weren’t what you would consider “Oscar-worthy”. A number of “experts” say that Steinfeld could win for her role as the girl in the Coen Brothers’ version of True Grit, but this is her first movie role, and she’s only fourteen. Tatum O’Neal may have won it at a young age (she is still the youngest recipient in Oscar history), but that eventually led to a rocky career. Maybe the Academy’s learned its lesson, or maybe they believe the grown ups should handle it.
Because of his win at the Director’s Guild of America Awards, some magazines and predictors say Tom Hooper will win it, but that’s an unfair statement in my honest opinion. Tom Hooper had Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Guy Pearce, and Timothy Spall in his ensemble for The King’s Speech. These are all medium-to-big named actors even over here in America. We all know they can act, so that would make Hooper’s job easier. Fincher, on the other hand, had Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Rooney Mara, Armie Hammer, and Brenda Song. These are medium-to-no named actors. The biggest name in the bunch is Timberlake, and it’s not for acting. Fincher took this rag-tag team of young actors and made them blend in with their characters to the point where we all recognize them now. Eisenberg as Zuckerberg? Amazing. Hammer as the Winklevoss Twins? Outstanding. Hell, even Timberlake did a decent job as the arrogant Sean Parker. Fincher is known for his meticulous directing, and it shows not just in The Social Network but his past films as well.
However, since most people believe the Director’s Guild of America Awards to be a more accurate predictor to the Academy Award for Best Director, they say the honor will go to him. But an interesting thing I read from Scott Feinberg is that the DGA is composed of mostly TV directors who may not have the final verdict come the Academy Awards.
Best Original Screenplay
Will: The King’s Speech
Heart power, and they want to make its win for Best Picture seem stronger.
Wake up, Academy! (pun actually intended) Inception may not be THAT original, but it’s the MOST original of those nominated added by the fact that it’s one of the highest-grossing films of the supposedly “worst year of cinema”. Just about everyone hates you for snubbing Christopher Nolan for Best Director (I don’t because I know your type), so give him the honor of Best Original Screenplay because let’s be honest, it’s still a very strong story, much stronger than the British Blind Side that probably will win it. The only reason I put the dream theater in the “may” column is that the Academy “may” be unpredictable and give it to Nolan for this, but I don’t think it’s likely even if I do want it to happen.
Will/Should/May:Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network.
Some audiences cry “overrated”, but even they can’t deny that Aaron Sorkin’s script is just top-notch with great lines from just about all of the big characters and many clever moments. The script gave us some pretty good lines, especially the last line in the film which was just the best I heard in a long time. There’s no contest: Sorkin will win hands down.
Best Animated Feature:
Do I even need to explain why?
Natalie Portman’s acting was one of the many things that made the movie work; the cinematography was the next thing. The camera played a lot with the mirror motif and gave the idea of the other side of the personality along with some of the other gimmicks that the movie threw at us. Having said that, the camerawork and the little effects behind it truly brought out the schizophrenic feel to the subject matter and more into Nina Sayers’ mind. The King’s Speech really shouldn’t have a chance because the characters were off center and out of focus when they didn’t need to be. That works when trying to get a bigger picture using scene, but the characters were in front of blank walls, so why do it?
Black Swan has the benefit of artistic value and Darren Aronofsky being one of the most respected directors out there (I can’t fight statistics), but Inception has the benefit of scope. It’s cinematography really did bring the dreams to life and made everything more interesting while the special effects just made them look cool. The cinematography made the movie with a complicated story make sense. I haven’t seen True Grit, but there has been some buzz around it and it did pick up the BAFTA for Best Cinematography. Who knows? But critics are predicting Grit to get this one.
Anything is possible, and I’m fine with either one winning. Swan was effective in turning ballet into a nightmare, and Inception was effective in literally making dreams come true. However, considering the Academy Awards, I’m keen on putting my money on the former because it’s not so “blockbusting” in its approach.
Best Film Editing
Will/Should: The Social Network
It won the American Cinema Editors Award for Best Picture, the BAFTA for Best Editing, and the Golden Globe for Best Editing; and I don’t blame it for winning those awards. The movie goes back and forth between the past and the present without you knowing it until after the first thirty minutes, and it does it without leaving the audience confused. The Social Network just leaps back and forth while still progressing the tale and bringing up to speed as to how the two situations came to be. You first take a glimpse as to who Mark Zuckerberg was and immediately find out who he is, so now all that matters is how he got there. The editors just made the movie move quickly and also separate the interesting scenarios between the introversion of Mark Zuckerberg and the growing need to be social and how he somehow managed to combine the two to create a “social introversion”.
Best Original Score
Inception has the problem of being too epic with its music, as if it’s trying so hard to make this movie even more awesome than it is. Hans Zimmer is a great composer. We’ve known this since day one. Hell, he won for composing The Lion King, but Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provided a score that wasn’t so brash and yet somehow brought out the technological world that we became and would become as well as the cool speed of the movie. The score was just one of the things that made this movie very hip and modern. Plus, they haven’t won an Oscar yet, so Zimmer may be out of luck on this one.
Should: The Social Network or Inception (TRON: Legacy)
Why is TRON: Legacy in parentheses? Because really it should be the one to get this award, but the Academy snubbed it. Everyone may be upset with Nolan getting the shaft for Best Director, but I’m more upset that Daft Punk didn’t get the nomination for their score. It was truly the first movie score that I actually wanted on CD. Anyway, I’m pulling for The Social Network as much as I can, but for the same reason I think Inception won’t get it, I think it may have a chance. Sure, it’s more ostentatious, but it’s grand and puts the world in a bigger scale. It really is awesome, but it doesn’t have to be that awesome because the movie does a good job of being that on its own.
It’s too awesome to not get the award, even though it is unnecessarily awesome.
Best Visual Effects/Sound Mixing/ Sound Editing
There’s no contest in any of the three categories. Predict a sweep in the technicals from Inception. The visuals were what made the movie seem plausible from the folding city to the floating in the hotel room. It was just cool to watch even if it is a bit overwhelming.
Best Documentary Short
also don’t care.
So here are some of my predictions. We’ll see this weekend to find out if I’m accurate.