Oscar 2011 Picks and Reviews - Part II

To go back to to Oscar Part I

Actress in a Supporting Role

• Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
• Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech”
• Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
• Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
• Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

This is subject to revision once I see Ms. Steinfield in True Grit. Helena Bonham Carter was very impressive and stands a good chance and may benefit from vote-splitting for The Fighter. Melissa Leo was most impressive as the mother of 10 kids. She wears heels, tight-fitting clothes, smokes, swears and so believably plays the blue-collar, lower-class mother that it's hard to imagine anyone outdoing that. Then, quite oddly in the very same movie, Amy Adams as Mark Wahlberg's girlfriend plays the a younger, tougher version of Melissa Leo and one is amazed. She is Leo's alter ego slightly updated and comically referred to in the movie as the 'MTV girl' (someone who is loose and wild). The votes will be split to negate either's chances.

Update: I had to considerably revise the above after watching Hailee Steinfield in True Grit a little while ago. What a great performance! I had initially picked Helena Bonham Carter, but that role that pales in comparison to what I just saw. I do have a soft spot for Melissa Leo, but Hailee was superb as the precocious, headstrong, and gutsy Mattie Ross. Anyone who can across as an equal to the talent of a Jeff Bridges/Rooster Cockburn and a Matt Damon/Texas Ranger deserves it.
Who should win: Hailee Steinfield
Who will win: Hailee Steinfield


Actor in a Supporting Role

• Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
• John Hawkes in “Winter's Bone”
• Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
• Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
• Geoffrey Rush in “The King's Speech”

I have not seen the other movies, but I would hazard that it's going to between Batman and Capt. Barbossa. Christian Bale so totally embodies the washed-up, crackhead former 'Pride of Lowell' that I thought that it would really be hard to top that performance this year. The Fighter is a wonderful movie and when you think that all the possible boxing movies have been made, what could possibly be done differently? An interesting exercise to list all the great boxing movies (Recently: Ali, Raging Bull, Cinderella Man, Million Dollar Baby come to mind, what else?) Then I saw Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech and he doesn't knock you out as much as astounds you like a magician - the precision, the control, it's a master at work. Nothing was overdone, not a single superflous action or gesture, not a single wrong note. The only thing that might count against Rush is that he has possibly won every accolade there is to win. But to deny this because of that would be a travesty. Sadly, The Fighter does down in this one.
Who should win: Geoffrey Rush
Who will win: Geoffrey Rush

Animated Feature Film

• “How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
• “The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
• “Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

Not much to say here.
Who should win:Toy Story 3
Who will win:Toy Story 3

Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects
Pass

Set Decoration
• “Inception” 
Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
• “The King's Speech” 
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
• “True Grit” 
Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

Inception captured everyones imagination over the summer and has made some lasting contribution in the 'weird thought-experiment movie' category and will be a perennial cult favorite. Though it truly deserves an Oscar only in this category, which it will and should win barring King's Speech mania that may have taken over the hearts and minds of the Academy members.
Who should win:Inception
Who will win:Inception

Film Editing

• “Black Swan” Andrew Weisblum
• “The Fighter” Pamela Martin
• “The King's Speech” Tariq Anwar
• “127 Hours” Jon Harris
• “The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Black Swan was very tight, and I don't really see a reason for the The King's Speech winning. If there was a close second, then I would put The Social Network
Who should win:Black Swan
Who will win:Black Swan

Foreign Language Film

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

Innaritu's Biutiful with Bardem was interesting and this movie got more eyeballs than the others. So, just based on the campaigning, I think it may win. This is always the most interesting category. On my list of things to do: I have to see every single Foreign Language Oscar winner since 1980. I have three more to go. So, if Biutiful wins my list will stay the same. So I am rooting for it.
Who should win: Biutiful
Who will win: No clue.

Music (Original Score)

• “How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell
• “Inception” Hans Zimmer
• “The King's Speech” Alexandre Desplat
• “127 Hours” A.R. Rahman
• “The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

To be frank, I seriously think the King's Speech has been over-nominated. I don't think it's going to win that many Oscars. I could well be wrong. We will find out tomorrow.
The soundtrack for The Social Network captures the frantic energy, the scheming, adrenaline rush of money and power and makes the entire movie more effective. Alexandre Desplat has been excellent as usual, but this will be on his rack as something that he did. His other work has been so much more memorable.
Who should win: The Social Network
Who will win: The Social Network

Music (Original Song)

These things don't really register while watching and have to be considered kinda separately. So I am going to pass on this.

Cinematography

• “Black Swan” Matthew Libatique
• “Inception” Wally Pfister
• “The King's Speech” Danny Cohen
• “The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
• “True Grit” Roger Deakins

A bit of tough choice between The Black Swan and The King's Speech. would go with the former for the excellent filming of the dance sequences. For the first time we have so many nominees in this category for movies that don't really have panoramic locales.
Who should win:Black Swan
Who will win:Black Swan

Costume Design
Taking a pass on this one.

Writing (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” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Winter's Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Coen brothers did a wonderful job with the script and made a really gritty, realistic True Grit.
But, I would hand it to Aaron Sorkin. Beautiful work!
Who should win:The Social Network
Who will win:The Social Network

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

I am bit surprised that neither the Black Swan nor Blue Valentine made it here. They would not have won. The King's Speech truly deserves this one. The other nominations barring Firth and Rush are just hype.
Who should win:The King's Speech
Who will win:The King's Speech

Actor in a Leading Role
• Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
• Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
• Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
• Colin Firth in “The King's Speech”
• James Franco in “127 Hours”

Franco gave a great performance but should be happy to be nominated and is the weakest prospect.
I wasn't particularly impressed by Bardem. Pretty decent job, but not enough to win. Jeff Bridges won last year, so that kind of goes against him slightly. The way John Wayne played it is almost syrupy in comparison. But, Bridges is not really a contender. The two strongest candidates are Jesse Eisenberg and Colin Firth. I should check the 'likes' on Facebook for his portrayal of the nerdy, egotistical, socially awkward Mark Zuckerberg. Colin Firth though deserves to win not just for this role, but turning in great performances throughout his career. This one's long overdue. This will be his first. The next time he wins would be when he plays an explosive (as opposed to implosive) angry man, a mad man. Do a Robert DeNiro sometime. But, he is the current champion 'Milquetoast of the Movies'.
Who should win:Colin Firth
Who will win:Colin Firth

Actress in a Leading Role

• Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
• Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
• Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter's Bone”
• Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
• Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Again, I have only seen the last two and I will wing it saying that there are the only ones that matter. I thought overall Blue Valentine was an excellent movie and both Ryan Gosling (where is he?) and Michelle Williams did an excellent job first playing the goofy, cute lovers and then a married couple that grows apart. This may not quite be the winner for Michelle Williams. Natalie Portman was indeed perfect as both the White and Black Swan. That movie has really creeped out many people and it's entirely to Portman's credit. In this movie, she really doesn't say much, or even do much apart from dancing. What would you credit an actor who can suck you into their dark, crazy, neurotic world by just using the veins on their neck?
Who should win:Natalie Portman
Who will win: Natalie Portman

Directing

• “Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
• “The Fighter” David O. Russell
• “The King's Speech” Tom Hooper
• “The Social Network” David Fincher
• “True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

The Coens are in a class of their own. This is not their best work (or rather re-work). Aronofsky did an excellent job of marshaling the talent of Natalie Portman and adapting Tchaikovsky's wonderful ballet. I personally think that David Fincher deserves this award for presenting the whole story of Facebook (with some artistic license). He didn't really have a star cast of any sort and it's a tricky story to bring on screen. It's not a feel-good movie like The King's Speech and people have strong and differing opinions on their judgement is. Though what's going to happen is that The King's Speech is going to win the double. Invariably, this happens and I don't really understand it. Ang Lee won for Brokeback Mountain, but the movie lost the Best Picture to Crash. Despite Annie Proulx hissy fit I think it was the correct choice. So this year, I feel it should be similarly so.
Who should win: The Social Network
Who will win: The King's Speech

Best Picture

• “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
• “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
• “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
• “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
• “The King's Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
• “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
• “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
• “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
• “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
• “Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

While the above certainly lists the best movies of 2011, with the notable miscarriage of justice by not listing Blue Valentine.
'Academy? Are you listening? We are really looking for the Top Five, alright?'

So, if one takes the trash out this is the correct list:

• “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
• “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
• “The King's Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
• “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
• “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers

Also, did I already mention that Blue Valentine should've been up there? May be I am biased, but it was great stuff. Advice: DO NOT watch with significant other.

True Grit is the weakest of the lot, despite the great work by the trio - Bridges, Damon and Steinfield. Black Swan was little better, but it's Portman's movie and owes to much to the libretto and the score. I was very impressed with The Fighter. We've had enough of boxing movies and many have won already. The big message, if there was one was sort of lost. But, that being said there was a lot of freshness in the acting, in the approach and in the story-telling of the bouts. It comes a strong third.

I personally believe that The Social Network should win the double and is clearly a better movie from a lot of aspects than the The King's Speech.
Who should win:The Social Network
Who will win:The King's Speech

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Social Network a better film than The Kings Speech? Nonsense, and fortunately the Academy took that view as well

Hirak said...

Different strokes for different folks.

I think that TSN had a much harder story to tell then the 'feel-good' Oscar-friendly King's Speech. Besides, when you have a star cast of Rush-Firth-Bonham Carter you are assured of a better movie. TSN did better with a less than stellar cast. Fincher deserved the award for Best Director at least. Though, the Academy does play it safe. I am glad that Leo/Bale got the deserved Oscars, so I shouldn't complain.

Since, selective quotation does really bolster my argument :) Though he didn't think much of Leo. Though I am going to disregard that.

David Denby though TSN was also better than the 'safe' choice of King's Speech.
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/ask/2011/02/david-denby-oscars.html