Obligatory Oscar Nominations Post…with Gloating

It’s NOMINATIONS DAY!!!

My own personal advent has begun. The nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were announced this morning. As I’ve said before, Oscar Night has always been my High Holy Day and I’m more excited than I’ve been in years.

Ask me if I feel vindicated (go ahead, ask me) about John Powell’s nomination for Best Original Score for How to Train Your Dragon, not to mention the film’s nomination as Best Animated Feature. I’m not above blowing my own trumpet and saying, once again, that I called this back in April!!  I let out an audible YES! when HTTYD was the first of the three films announced in their category. (Good thing the boss wasn’t in yet.)

Okay, having gotten all of that out, without further ado, here is the complete list of nominations:

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

Geoffrey Rush would still be my ultimate pick if I were doing the choosing. Without Rush, (or at least an actor of his caliber) Colin Firth’s performance would not only have existed in a vacuum, but would NOT have had the impact that it did, but I know better than to bet against Bale this time around. That’s not to say he’s undeserving of the honor and I do believe the category is his to lose.  I am very happy Jeremy Renner made the cut, hell I’m happy Mark Ruffalo did, too. John Hawkes was a surprise but not an unwelcome one. While I still maintain that Winter’s Bone rests almost entirely on the shoulders of Jennifer Lawrence, the key word is ‘almost.’ Hawkes’ Teardrop was a menacing scene-stealer and it’s always exciting when journeymen actors (eg: Jacki Weaver) are recognized, especially in little seen films.

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

Hailee Steinfeld ( and regardless of one’s opinion on the film itself this little girl gave one hell of a performance,) should have been nominated in the Best Actress category. As I’ve already stated, she has more screen time than Jeff Bridges, but obviously the Academy didn’t see it that way and her spot belonged to Julianne Moore for The Kid’s Are Alright. (JMHO, but) I am beyond thrilled Jacki Weaver was recognized by the Academy for a film ( Animal Kingdom) probably seen less than Winter’s Bone. (Maybe they did watch those screeners after all!) Helena Bonham Carter has long been a favorite of mine and I think she’s simply stunning in The King’s Speech, but I do still think that the category belongs to Melissa Leo, and so far only BAFTA disagrees.

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

I’ve already talked about my perceptions of Jesse Eisenberg’s performance in The Social Network. JMHO, but if the Academy just couldn’t bring themselves to nominate Marky Mark (for a performance that was the flip side of Christian Bale’s) then what about Paul Giamatti? Kevin Spacey? Leonardo DiCaprio (for either Inception or Shutter Island, both of which were better, more powerful and more nuanced performances than Eisenberg’s.)  I suppose one could make the argument that it’s a moot point since this is Colin Firth’s year. While I wholeheartedly agree with the latter, the former precludes the notion that it’s the nomination that counts. Again, JMHO, but nominating Eisenberg is a product of the hive mind that anointed The Social Network as the film to beat at this year’s awards.

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

I’m happy that Michelle Williams was recognized for Blue Valentine. (I can even understand the omission of Ryan Gosling-her’s was the ‘showier’ role.) The rest of the list offers no real surprises, although it would have been nice if they hadn’t played it safe by giving Kidman the nod and instead made the bolder choice of Lesley Manville for Another Year,  but this night will belong to Natalie Portman.

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


A few words about the Producer’s Guild Award and its impact on the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture:
The Guild’s award is generally considered to be a pretty good indicator of strength in the Oscar race because so many of its members are also voting members of the Academy. Last year’s PGA winner, The Hurt Locker, went on to win the Oscar when until then Avatar had been considered a lock.

This year’s "Avatar" is The Social Network, which appeared to be on course for a Best Picture win, and generally considered to be the front-runner, after garnering more than 90 guild and critics association honors, including the Golden Globe.  The PGA win for The King’s Speech, however, has breathed new life into the race and solidified it as a real contender for the Oscar.

Also of note is the fact that the Academy membership skews a little older than the youth driven host picks and other nominated films would seem to indicate. It is in no way out of the realm of possibility that they would go for a ‘feel-good triumph over adversity’ with attractive leads and pretty costumes and sets, over the "Facebook movie."

For these reasons, and because it deserves it, I’m going with The King’s Speech for the win.
 

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

I am as upset as the rest of the bloggisphere about the omission of Christopher Nolan (for Inception) from this list. I will, however, ask the question that I’ve been asking everyone else I’ve talked to about it: Who would you have dropped and why?  The five names on this list are all directors of films with a Best Picture nomination, which is exactly why this category needs to be expanded to ten names, to better correspond with the list of Best Picture nominees.  As I’ve said before, those ten films didn’t direct themselves. If they are worthy of recognition, shouldn’t  those at the helm of those films be worthy of recognition as well? There is also a school of thought that says Inception will spoil as Best Picture to right this wrong. It could happen. Actors vote for actors, directors vote for directors etc, but the entire voting body votes for Best Picture. We’ll see how mad those with a vote really are.

In any case, although it’s rare that a director win without his film winning Best Picture and vice versa, I think David Fincher will win for Best Director.  My heart is obviously with Tom Hooper and The King’s Speech.

**In light of  his DGA win, I’m amending this and unequivocally going with Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech.  edited 1/31/11

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 
Mike Leigh – Another Year
Scott Silver & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson – The Fighter
Christopher Nolan – Inception
Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg – The Kids Are All Right
David Seidler – The King’s Speech

I’m pleased to see Mike Leigh’s Another Year recognized for something and I predicted that it would be in this category. I don’t think anyone can beat Christopher Nolan. Inception was as high-concept as they come and that concept was conceived by Nolan and driven by his multi-layered mind bender of a script and he managed to wrap it around compelling, well fleshed-out characters and made it understandable to the masses with witty dialogue that managed to explain it all without dumbing it down.
 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy – 127 Hours
Aaron Sorkin – The Social Network
Michael Arndt – Toy Story 3
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – True Grit
Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini – Winter’s Bone

I’m disappointed for Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard. Having read "The Prince of Thieves," I can appreciate their adapted screenplay for The Town that much more.  I think Winter’s Bone got their spot, but there were more than ten movies made last year and a lot of them had great scripts. I can’t take too much issue with this list, and I still believe, for the same reasons I believe he won the Golden Globe, that Aaron Sorkin has this one.

ANIMATED FEATURE:
How to Train Your Dragon**
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Again, I’m already on record with my feelings on this category.  While the fact that TS3 has been nominated in the Best Picture category as well as this one might give HTTYD a slight edge, I don’t, unfortunately, think it will be enough to overcome the category’s ‘300 LB Gorilla’. This is one occasion when I’m just happy that my favorite got an invitation to the big dance. (And unlike at the Golden Globes, I hope it has a big show of support walking the red carpet. He’ll probably be asked to present, but it is my hope that when a microphone is stuck in his face, Gerard Butler will be able to talk about his Academy Award nominated film and not just "who he’s wearing." Again, I repeat myself lol.)
 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (Algeria)

One of the toughest categories to call, especially after Denmark’s Golden Globe win. Politically speaking, I think Biutiful will win because Javier Bardem won’t. I’m probably wrong. Don’t worry, I’m used to it.

ART DIRECTION:
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Inception
The King’s Speech
True Grit

Tough category.  I’m gonna go with Alice in Wonderland. Harry Potter will probably get it next year for DH pt 2 since it will be the last of the series (much like LOTR:Return of the King cleaned up).

CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Black Swan
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Another tough one. The list of nominees matches that of the American Society of Cinematographers. They offer no clues,however, since they don’t give out their awards until February 13. Roger Deakins, nominated for True Grit, and who consulted on the visuals for How to Train Your Dragon, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Does that preclude him from winning an ASC award for True Grit?   I only mention it because a lot of the voting members of the cinematographers wing of the Academy are also ASC members, but Roger Deakins is a favorite. Wally Pfister has been nominated three other times for an Academy Award, all for films with Christopher Nolan in the director’s chair. I think I have to go with Inception, although I feel like I’m throwing darts.


DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Restrepo
Waste Land

I live in Boston where documentaries often have long theatrical runs and it’s sometimes hard for me to remember that the rest of the country doesn’t have the same opportunities to see them. I’ve seen Restrepo (as well as Inside Job, which is still playing here) and in the absence of The Tillman Story, a big disappointment, JMHO, I have to go with that one. No one’s going to see The Company Men (although I did and I liked it, it’s just too soon) and no one’s going to vote for Inside Job.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT:
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

ANIMATED SHORT:
Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let’s Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, carnet de voyage

LIVE-ACTION SHORT:
The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

All three of the shorts categories are impossible (for me) to call. I’ve never even heard of any of them. I hope to do something about that because they are being released to theaters. Hopefully you’ll have the opportunity to see all of the animated, live-action and documentary shorts when they come to your town in three programs with all of the films in their category for 90 minutes. Pretty good deal. I recommend it if you’re trying to win an office pool. Knowing or guessing the shorts is usually the difference between winning and losing. JMHO

VISUAL EFFECTS:
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2

For the most part, I am terrible when it comes to handicapping the technical awards. This category would seem to be a no-brainer for Inception, but the other four films wouldn’t be nominated if they weren’t equally as visually stunning. My mind keeps going back, however, to the image of Paris being folded like an Escher staircase and the fight in the collapsing hotel hallway. Inception it is.

COSTUME DESIGN:
Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King’s Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

Do we go with period realism like True Grit or The King’s Speech, or out and out fantasy like Alice in Wonderland or The Tempest? I’m going for The King’s Speech because I really went for Colin Firth in a kilt. (Hey, these are my picks!)

MAKEUP:
Barney’s Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

I’d love for The Way Back to win just because I want Peter Weir’s beautiful, if bleak, film to be recognized in some way. I wish it had been for cinematography or with a nod to Ed Harris in the Best Supporting Actor category, but I’d take Make-up Design. It’s hard to beat a film where the make-up is almost another character, so I grudgingly have to go with The Wolfman.

FILM EDITING:
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

SOUND MIXING:
Inception
The King’s Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit

SOUND EDITING:
Inception
Toy Story 3
Tron Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

ORIGINAL SCORE:
John Powell – How to Train Your Dragon
Hans Zimmer – Inception
Alexandre Desplat – The King’s Speech
A.R. Rahman – 127 Hours
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – The Social Network

I can’t call this one for Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (actually, I refuse) just because they won the Golden Globe (for so many reasons, but mostly) because the Oscar nomination ballots were due back before the Globes were announced. So just like with the other categories, the winners of the Globes had no bearing on what was nominated by the Academy.  And there is just no way in hell I can pick another score on this list.  I loved Desplat’s score for The King’s Speech. The Academy is already on record for appreciating A. R. Rahman, he won for his score for Slumdog Millionaire and Hans Zimmer always delivers, BUT, I’ve said all along that Powell’s score for HTTYD is the best I’ve heard all year and I stand by that.  If the Academy recognized it as worthy of a nomination, I am putting my faith in the voters to give it the award. JMHO

ORIGINAL SONG:
"Coming Home" from Country Strong
"I See the Light" from Tangled
"If I Rise" from 127 Hours
"We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3

I have no horse in this race and I don’t know if I should be surprised that (the by all accounts dreadful) Burlesque was completely overlooked. Since Jonsi didn’t make the cut, I’m going with perennial favorite Randy Newman.

** If my personal pick differs from what I think will actually win, I’ve highlighted that in pink.

So, we’ll all get the chance to see how much of a crackpot I am on February 27th. Thanks for reading. 

Here’s your treat:

Okay so it’s really my treat. At least I share.

*tip o’ the pin to my tireless editor, Connie, for keeping me on the good sides of Strunk and White

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