New Interstellar Trailer is Epic In Its Awesomeness

Interstellar, movie, poster, trailer, Matthew McConaughey, Christopher Nolan

“Why the hyperbole,” you ask? Because, it requires superlatives, but all of the others have already been used. At last weekend’s San Diego Comic Con, the star of Christopher Nolan’s first post-Batman film, Matthew McConaughey, told the audience that this is “by far” Nolan’s most “ambitious”. The Bat Cycle aside, Nolan likes to push, not only the envelope, but also his audiences to think, so I can only imagine, based on this newest trailer, that that statement is true.

What I think I can be virtually certain of, is that Interstellar has the warmth and the heart that Alfonso Cuarón‘s technically brilliant Gravity lacked. While I have no doubt that this, too, will be a technical marvel, it is ultimately about love and family. But that is also, obviously a distillation. McConaughey plays a former pilot who wants to fly again, and gets his chance as part of the greatest rescue mission in the history of mankind. There is a lot going on here.

“A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.”

Nolan has cited 2001: A Space Odyssey as the single greatest inspiration for the film. And considering that forty five years after its release, that film is not only still relevant, but the benchmark for movies about space exploration, I think that’s a good choice.

Along with McConaughey, Interstellar has a phenomenal cast, including Anne Hathaway (who appears to be playing a real adult person here, not a princess or a waif or a victim. We’ll see.) Jessica Chastain as Mackenzie Foy’s “Murphy”, all grown up, Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, Ellen Burstyn, William Devane, David Oyelowo, John Lithgow, and Nolan staple, Michael Caine.

The movie arrives to kick-start awards season on November 7 in the US and the UK. I’d start saving my pennies for IMAX if I were you.  Shot on an IMAX camera with an ambitious sound mix, Nolan claims to want to”give audiences an incredible immersive experience. The technical aspects are going to be more important than any film I’ve made before.”  I can’t wait.

More will surely follow.

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The First Trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar Has Landed!

Interstellar, poster, trailer, movie, Matthew McConaughey, Christopher Nolan

Not wanting to be outdone by all of the hullabaloo in the South of France, Warner Brothers and Paramount* have just dropped the eagerly awaited, first full-length trailer for Christopher Nolan‘s space opus, Interstellar which features Matthew McConaughey in his first post-Oscar flick.

This is also Nolan’s first since The Dark Knight Rises and details surrounding the film have been more closely guarded than the formula for Coke or the combination to the vault at Ft. Knox (seriously – look it up on imdb and it says “plot unknown”). Even after watching the trailer repeatedly, I’m still not exactly sure what it’s about. It seems that the human race has finally made such a mess of this planet – to the point that we’ve run out of food – that space travel is no longer a pipe-dream, but a necessity.

Jessica Chastain also stars, although I’d forgotten she was in it until I caught the brief glimpse of her standing in burning field, as does Anne Hathaway whom it took me a 2nd viewing to realize that was her underneath the space helmet.  I did catch a peek of Casey Affleck, along with David Oyelowo, who seems to be doing a take on his Rise of the Planet of the Apes stuffed shirt, and Nolan mainstay Michael Caine. Timothee Chalamet and Twighlight’s Mackenzie Foy play McConaughey’s kids. The film costars Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, David Gyasi, Bill Irwin, Elyes Gabel and William Devane, John Lithgow, and Ellen Burstyn, plus a cameo from Matt Damon.

Interstellar takes off on November 7, 2014 on most of the planet, including the US and the UK (positioned smartly for awards-season attention). More will surely follow before then, maybe even the plot.

 

*and they didn’t even have anything to do with Grace of Monaco.

A Few Thoughts on the Affleck Kerfuffle

Ben Affleck, Superman vs Batman, movie, casting news

courtesy imdb

Zack Snyder, director of Watchmen, Sucker Punch and of course, 300, is already hard at work on the sequel to this summer’s lucrative Superman movie, Man of Steel: Superman vs Batman.  This, by the way, is only a working title. By the time the flick hits theaters on July 17, 2015, I’m sure the producers will have come up with more memorable, something spectacular, that all the fans will love!

Again, my kingdom for a Sarcasm Font!

Regardless of what they call the next film, there will be scores of vocal fans who will hate the title.  In this matter only one thing is absolute: All of the fans will never be altogether happy about anything. Ever.

While the producers want the fans to be passionate about their projects based on much loved pop-culture icons; to look forward to the films and eagerly await the opportunity to plunk down their hard earned cash on tickets and movie tie-in memorabilia etc, they also know that they must be prepared to have every decision, every tidbit of news, met with skepticism by an army of magnifying glass-wielding nerds ready to separate the fly shit from the pepper.

This, of course, brings me to an observation about Snyder’s casting of Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne.

By now, anyone with access to a computer, and with any interest, knows that Affleck will be donning the cowl and the cape in Snyder’s movie and everyone, it seems, has an opinion on the matter.  That said, what follows, is mine.

I rather like it when a director or writer or god forbid a studio, instead of trying to be all things to all people, goes their own way and adheres to their own “vision”, whatever that may be.  Snyder, at his core, is a fan boy. He knows the world. He walks the walk and talks the talk. He knew that he wasn’t going to make every one of the legions of Superman fans happy with the movie he was making, so he made the movie he wanted to make. Whether you loved it or you hated it, you still had to buy a ticket to see it. Obviously enough people saw it and loved it, to have spawned the sequel.

The decision to go to the next level by tackling not one but two beloved super hero icons in the same movie, was itself met with a lot of hue and cry. Once the hubbub died down, thoughts naturally turned to casting. If Henry Cavill was guaranteed to repeat as Supe, who would be Batman?

It was known that Snyder (as well as DC Comics and Warner Brothers) wanted to go “40-ish”, a little older than Superman.  A lot of names floated around all summer. Some inspired, some downright preposterous.  One name that was never in the mix was that of Ben Affleck.

Snyder gave his reasons for what, at first blush would appear to be a head-scratcher of a decsion, thusly:

“Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.”

Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is.

One, the role of Batman will likely be, if not a cameo, at most a supporting role in Henry Cavill’s Superman movie. Affleck will not be carrying the movie by any stretch, not to mention they’ll both be surrounded by the A-list likes of a returning Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.

Second, I happen to like Ben Affleck. I’m on record with my opinion that he’s a better director than he is an actor (and his casting as Batman renews speculation that he will direct the Justice League movie), but I also think his thespian skills are wildly underrated.   Frankly, given the dark tone of Snyder’s first Superman movie and having seen Affleck in Hollywoodland, a movie for which I have long sung the praises, he could have pulled off The Big Blue Boy Scout (and watch him do pull-ups in The Town. He’s nearly as ripped as Cavill under that nice-guy exterior).  He’s not going to embarrass anyone, so lighten up.

Third, I don’t think any known actor would have satisfied the masses other than Christian Bale and that just wasn’t going to happen.  Bale’s Dark Knight was iconic, of that there is no doubt, but he said it over and over again. He was done. No one believed him. Maybe now they will.

I have to agree with film critic Scott Weinberg* who posited that

“The only reason Affleck seems weird is because you’ve seen him in 35 movies already. If he was younger (“newer”) it wouldn’t be an issue.  …If it’s a nobody, we’re all psyched, but if it’s someone we know, we’re all furious. Every time!”

He has a point. We lived in a web-less world  way back in 1988 (yes I know the movie came out in 1989), so news traveled slower and it was a bit more difficult to gauge public opinion, but do you think Michael Keaton was a popular choice for Batman?  More recently, do you think everyone was happy with the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker?   No and no.  Even without Twitter and Facebook, the internet was aflame with Heath-hate when Christopher Nolan gave him the job. Today, people genuflect at the memory of his performance.

Back to Affleck, my biggest concern, and I know I’m not alone in this, is that his next directorial effort, Live by Night, based on another book by Boston writer Dennis Lehane, will be pushed back. (He’s already dropped Tell No One.) Again I say, Ben is a good actor, but he’s a great director and I want to see that movie more than Superman vs Batman.  But that’s Just My Humble Opinion.

Besides, I’m more concerned with who Snyder is going to cast as Lex Luthor. *wink wink*

*via Twitter

My Daily Moment of Zen! Now with More Gloating!

Okay, I’m suffering from my annual post Oscar Night let down, BUT the fact that I "outguessed" a lot of the so-called professionals has eased the pain a bit.

I improved my average from the BAFTAS from 65% to 67%, which means I got 16 of 24 categories right. I didn’t even hazard a guess for the three "shorts" categories, so if I delete them, my average improves further to greater than 76% (16 of 21)  – Sorry my OCD is showing.  I realize this matters to no one else but me, but one takes one’s little victories where one may.

So, I’ve decided it would be easier to discuss where I went wrong (even though I’m very happy to say that I got Tom Hooper right!)

I was absolutely gutted, but not altogether surprised, that John Powell and How to Train Your Dragon did not win for Best Original Score. I was thrilled that it was nominated, and it was, of course, my favorite score, as I’ve loudly proclaimed from this blog and elsewhere for nearly a year now. I’ve also made clear that I could have lived with Alexandre Desplat’s score for The King’s Speech beating HTTYD. I cannot, however, understand the love for the music from The Social Network. I should have seen its Golden Globe win as a portent of things to come, but I naively believed that quality would win over the Academy’s newfound desire to be perceived as "hip".  Perhaps there is a contingent of completist Nine Inch Nails fans that will download Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ neo-emo soundtrack, but I don’t believe they’ll still be listening to it a month from now, let alone long enough for it to deserve to go into the annals of AMPAS.  It remains to be seen whether or not either Reznor or Ross continues to supply the world with beautiful movie music. I think it is a given that Powell, Desplat, Zimmer and even Rahman will do so.

I was a little surprised, although I can’t say I was disappointed, that David Seidler’s original screenplay for The King’s Speech won out over Christopher Nolan’s for Inception. Seidler had the momentum going into last night’s ceremony and there is no doubt that it was a great piece of writing, but I really did think that the Academy would give it to Nolan because 1. His script was original in every sense of the word and 2. to atone for his egregious snub in the Director’s category.  No one thought Inception, despite its merits, would win Best Picture.  Despite the fact that the film won other, richly deserved awards, The Best Original Screenplay category would have been a great way to recognize Nolan. 

For Best Costume Design, I went with The King’s Speech, but was not shocked nor particularly disappointed that the Academy went for all-out fantasy and Alice in Wonderland took the award. That film was all about the visuals, particularly the costumes, which were spectacular, even if the rest of the film was not. It made sense.

I flat out guessed on my pick for Best Foreign Language Film. I went with Biutiful because both the director, Alejandro Gonzales-Inarritu and its star, Javier Bardem, are known to the Academy and its voters. Bardem was even nominated for Best Actor for this film.  Again, I should have paid more attention to the bellwethers of the Hollywood Foreign Press and expected Denmark’s win for In a Better World.

I really thought it was "too soon" for Inside Job to win for Best Documentary Feature.  I was wrong. Its win will ensure that more people see it, which is not a bad thing, although I would have liked for Restrepo to have gotten that kick.

So, those are the five that I got wrong.  My other misses, as I said, were for the three "shorts" – Documentary,  Animated and Live Action- which I didn’t even guess at. (Although if I had, I would have gotten Animated wrong because I’d have gone with Day & Night, but I’d have gotten Live-Action right because I’d have picked God of Love -honest!)

So it’s all over for another 10 months when the madness begins anew. It was a good night for Harvey and The Weinstein Company, and I fully expect to see him back in his seat at the Kodak this time next year in support of another ‘little-film-that-could’…

As always, thanks for reading. Oh and I’ve got TREATS!!


And the bromance continues…


*clicky clicky*

 

edit: (and I stated this elsewhere but felt the need to amend this post) Adding to my surprise (and disappointment) that Gerard Butler wasn’t at the Academy Awards, was my disappointment in the lack of support for How to Train Your Dragon. Is it every day he’s involved with an Academy Award nominated film of any kind?? I realize it was just about a foregone conclusion that Toy Story 3 would win the category, but I don’t think that excuses the complete lack of a showing for HTTYD, (by anyone involved – they ARE doing a sequel- would it have been that difficult for say G and Craig Ferguson, possibly even Jay Baruchel, to show their faces?) especially when it swept the Annies and John Powell’s score had just been named Score of the Year. The appearance of hope would have been nice. The 9 other films nominated for Best Picture, who had to have been at least 75% sure that The King’s Speech would win, still had strong turnouts.

Rant over.

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ Swept the ‘Annies’!!

…and I do mean SWEPT!

Disney/Pixar chose to leave the sponsoring organization, the International Animated Film Association and not participate in this year’s awards so consequently Toy Story 3 was only nominated in three categories. The argument could, therefore, be made that HTTYD‘s performance at last night’s awards ceremony was almost a foregone conclusion, given the absence of the latest (last?) entry in D/P’s powerhouse franchise. Looking at a list of all of the nominees, DreamWorks Animation clearly dominates, in a way that Disney/Pixar had in recent years. (That story was covered in this- weetiger3.livejournal.com/20657.html -post.)

JMHO, but that argument would do a disservice to the other nominees. For example, The Illusionist is the third feature nominated for an Academy Award (along with TS3 and HTTYD.)  The films nominated in the other  ‘Annie’ categories had also been mentioned as serious contenders for that nomination (with the exception of Summer Wars from Japan, which I had never heard of and whose only US release was limited to short runs in NY and LA.)

The fact that TS3 did not beat out HTTYD in those three categories in which it appeared does probably come down to the rift between D/P and the IAFA, but that in no way connotes that HTTYD was not worthy of the awards. These two films have been spoken of in the same breath for the entire awards season. They were the only two animated films released last year that had a lock on Academy nominations. Of course, it is always assumed that TS3 is the BMOC and HTTYD is the 2nd string. 

I would love to think that last night’s results would have some influence on Academy voters. Many of the voting members of the IAFA are voting members of the animation wing of AMPAS as well. The AMPAS membership as a whole obviously thinks well enough of TS3 to nominate it for Best Picture, but it remains to be seen if the chasm between D/P and the IAFA is wide enough to cause a surge in support for HTTYD.  (A lot of perceptions have changed about a lot of films since the nominations were announced so anything is possible!)

Here is a rundown of the film related categories with their winners in bold:

Best Animated Feature
Despicable Me – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
How to Train Your Dragon – DreamWorks Animation
Tangled – Disney
The Illusionist – Django Films
Toy Story 3 – Disney/Pixar

Best Animated Short Subject
Coyote Falls – Warner Bros. Animation
Day & Night – Pixar
Enrique Wrecks the World – House of Chai
The Cow Who Wanted To Be A Hamburger – Plymptoons Studio
The Renter – Jason Carpenter

Animated Effects in an Animated Production
Andrew Young Kim “Shrek Forever After” – DreamWorks Animation
Jason Mayer “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Brett Miller “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Sebastian Quessy “Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” – Warner Bros. Pictures
Krzysztof Rost “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation

Character Animation in a Feature Production
Mark Donald “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation
Anthony Hodgson “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation
Gabe Hordos “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Jakob Hjort Jensen "How To Train Your Dragon" – DreamWorks Animation
David Torres "How To Train Your Dragon" – DreamWorks Animation

Character Animation in a Live Action Production
Quentin Miles – Clash of the Titans
Ryan Page – Alice in Wonderland

Character Design in a Feature Production
Sylvain Chomet “The Illusionist” – Django Films
Carter Goodrich “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Timothy Lamb “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation
Nico Marlet “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation

Directing in a Feature Production
Sylvain Chomet “The Illusionist” – Django Films
Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Mamoru Hosoda “Summer Wars” – Madhouse/Funimation
Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Lee Unkrich “Toy Story 3” – Disney/Pixar

Music in a Feature Production
Sylvain Chomet “The Illusionist” – Django Films
David Hirschfelder “Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” – Warner Bros. Pictures
John Powell “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation  !!!!
Harry Gregson Williams “Shrek Forever After” – DreamWorks Animation
Pharrell Williams, Heitor Pereira “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures

Production Design in a Feature Production
Yarrow Cheney “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Eric Guillon “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Dan Hee Ryu “Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” – Warner Bros. Pictures
Pierre Olivier Vincent “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Peter Zaslav “Shrek Forever After” – DreamWorks Animation

Storyboarding in a Feature Production
Alessandro Carloni “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Paul Fisher “Shrek Forever After” – DreamWorks Animation
Tom Owens “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Catherine Yuh Rader “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation

Voice Acting in a Feature Production
Jay Baruchel as Hiccup “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Gerard Butler as Stoick “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Steve Carrell as Gru “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Cameron Diaz as Fiona “Shrek Forever After” – DreamWorks Animation
Geoffrey Rush as Ezylryb “Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” – Warner Bros. Pictures

Writing in a Feature Production
Michael Arndt “Toy Story 3” – Disney/Pixar
Sylvain Chomet “The Illusionist” – Django Films
William Davies, Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders “How to Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Dan Fogelman “Tangled” – Disney
Alan J. Schoolcraft, Brent Simons “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation

The award I am most thrilled with is, of course, John Powell’s win for his score. I won’t gush or go into, yet again, how much I loved it or how deserving of awards and accolades I think it is. I will say that I hope this win, and the possibility of a win at next weekend’s BAFTAs, will translate into some Academy votes. The ballots are still out there. Vote early and often Academy members!

Again, I humbly offer my sincere congratulations to DreamWorks Animation and How to Train Your Dragon on their wins last night. My digits are still crossed for an upset on February 27th!

*******************
Unrelated note:  At yet another awards ceremony held last night,  Aaron Sorkin and The Social Network along with Christopher Nolan and Inception won WGA awards for Adapted and Original Screenplays respectively.  The odds are certainly in their favor that these wins will carry over to Oscar night. (This tells me that I’ve backed the right two horses, so to speak. lol)


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