Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscars 2011 - Spreading the Love

Try as I might, I still haven't been able to see all of the contenders for this year's Oscars. Still, due to the rabbit's ticket-booking ability, I have been able to see the vast majority as they've been released here in Seoul - rather late in the game. That's a whole lotta good movie-watching packed into a month - except for The Kids Are All Right, which was somehow released here back in the summer. Truly, these films are a sight for sore eyes.

Sadly, the one I haven't seen is the one that many pick to sweep most categories tomorrow at the Academy Awards. I'm going to call their bluff though, and suggest that the Academy voters are going to spread the wealth around a bit among the favourites. Sadly, I see nothing on the horizon for 127 Hours, but that's not the only film that will be shut-out.

Before I get to my predictions, here (minus The King's Speech, as I haven't seen it) is my own personal ranking of the top 9 films as chosen by the Academy to fill-in the Best Picture category for 2011...

1) Inception
2) True Grit
3) 127 Hours
4) Toy Story 3
5) The Social Network
6) The Kids Are All Right
7) The Fighter
8) Black Swan
9) Winter's Bone

What I'm thinking will win...

Best Picture: True Grit

I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb here and say that True Grit is going to take the big prize. Here's why: the Academy favours films that make them feel. As excellent as The Social Network was, it seemed to work fairly hard to keep the audience at a distance - the only really effective place from which we could properly appreciate Sorkin's dialogue and Fincher's overall construction.

I know that it's an easy out to say that The King's Speech is a sure thing here, and it could very well be, but I don't think so. BAFTA was all over The King's Speech and so have the heavy majority of pre-Oscar awards been. However, come Oscar night, when it's time for the Academy to throw down, they usually place their chips with a nominee from this side of the Atlantic - Helen Mirren got the big prize, but The Queen did not. Academy members cheered for The King's Speech, but my guess is that True Grit has stayed in their heads and has been impossible to shake. That's the mark of a great film.

This could be a surprise on the scale of Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan. In this, the second year with ten nominees in this category, Vegas has True Grit's odds a very distant 4th behind The King's Speech, The Social Network, and Black Swan. I don't think the "been there, done-that" label sticks to True Grit as far as the Academy is concerned - in regards to the recycled story, the Coens, or Jeff Bridges. I think True Grit would be a happy surprise for most. I could very well be way off the mark here, and perhaps seeing The King's Speech myself would throw me off this trail, but I'm sticking with my pick. There you have it.

Best Director: David Fincher (The Social Network)

One of The Social Network's big prizes of the night. Picture/Director split as we've seen a few times in recent years.

Best Actor: Colin Firth (The King's Speech)

The only big award for the front-runner, I'm thinking. It seems impossible to not give it to him. Who doesn't love Colin Firth? From all accounts, its an amazing performance - among many other amazing ones this year, perhaps - and he is more than due.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

The most overwhelming performed role I've seen in a while, and she will win, which will be deserved, but Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right was subtle and brilliant. She'd be my choice. But, if they let Hillary Swank distract them from Bening's role in American Beauty, Academy voters aren't likely to pay attention to Mrs. Warren Beatty now either. Black Swan was Cataclysmic breakdown - something director Aronofsky has built a career on, but neither of his previous tour de force actor creations (Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler or Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream) were able to sway voters enough. Portman will be a first.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (The Fighter)

The Joker got his Oscar, now let Batman have his. Yeah, the role was showy as hell, but in my eyes it hit every target. That being said, if Rush wins, then The King's Speech will roll. This is traditionally one of the first awards given in the evening, so if The King's Speech gets this, look for it to get a lot more.

Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)

I've seen the film twice now, and any initial annoyance that might have existed in the character upon first viewing, completely disappeared upon a second once I had the knowledge given to me by the Coen's denouement. She's brilliant, though Natalie Mack would have been even sassier. For the record, I'll be happy for anyone in this category, though I' haven't seen Animal Kingdom.

Best Original Screenplay: Christopher Nolan (Inception)

Nolan not getting nominated for Director, and Inception not getting nominated for Film Editing seem like two of the biggest oversights in Oscar memory. Here, the Academy will repent and slight The King's Speech as well as early favourite The Kids Are All Right in the process.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)

Hard to believe that this is Sorkin's first Oscar nomination, and his film writing credits include A Few Good Men and The American President, the latter of which may have been a bit soft, but really popped in places. This is a screen-writing clinic - the likes of which we haven't seen since The West Wing went of the air. Go figure.

The Rest (Most of which I haven't seen, so these are largely shots in the dark)

Animated Feature: Toy Story 3 (Incinerator = grown man tears)
Art Direction: Inception ("We're sorry, Mr. Nolan - we really are!")
Cinematography: True Grit (That's one more)
Costume Design: The King's Speech (Alice pissed-off too many with it's shabby 3D)
Documentary Feature: Exit Through the Gift Shop (We know the financial crisis was an Inside Job, Matt Taibbi told us so in Rolling Stone. People want to see Banksy accept an award and give the great reveal)
Documentary Short Subject: Killing in the Name (Sounds like grief - exposed as the nerve in Aaron Rolston's left forearm.
Film Editing: The Social Network (I hope the recipient thanks the other nominees, as well as Inception)
Foreign Language Film: Incendies (Hooray for Canada!)
Make-up: The Wolfman (It's Rick Baker)
Original Score: The Social Network (It's Trent Reznor)
Original Song: "I See the Light", Rapunzel (This is a chance to again recognize Alan Menken - for again reviving the Disney musical)
Animated Short: The Lost Thing (Pixar can't win everything, and shouldn't)
Short Film Live Action: Na Wewe (I have little to go on here)
Sound Editing: Inception (Usually these are split)
Sound Mixing: Inception (Not this time)
Visual Effects: Inception (That's 5 for Nolan's film, and it wins the night)

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