Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oscar Nominations: What Sucks and What Doesn't.

Well, a couple shockers right out of the gate here, a couple snubs that make me incredibly depressed, and a couple nominations that I love. Let's get into it, shall we?
I'll put asterisks next to the ones I predicted correctly.

Best Picture
127 Hours*
Black Swan*
The Fighter*
Inception*
The Kids Are All Right*
The King's Speech*
The Social Network*
Toy Story 3*
True Grit*
Winter's Bone*
Got all 10 of 'em. I'd like to say I'm really good at this, but, honestly, it just wasn't hard to do this year. I suppose I'm pleased enough with the results here. There's nothing egregiously bad like, say, The Blind Side. I'm thrilled that the Academy managed to not nominate another terrible movie.
Early winner prediction: The King's Speech

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky-Black Swan*
Joel and Ethan Coen-True Grit
David Fincher-The Social Network*
Tom Hooper-The King's Speech*
David O. Russell-The Fighter*
The huge surprise here, obviously, is that Christopher Nolan and Inception were left out here. I'm not his biggest fan, but even I gotta ask, what did he do to the Academy? They must really despise him. That being said, I wouldn't have nominated him either. Still, the Internet is probably going to throw an Internet-riot when they find out.
Early Winner Prediction: David Fincher

Best Actor
Javier Bardem-Biutiful
Jeff Bridges-True Grit*
Jesse Eisenberg-The Social Network*
Colin Firth-The King's Speech*
James Franco-127 Hours*
It's delightful to see Robert Duvall ignored this morning, though it does mean I probably won't be able to see all the nominees before Oscar morning. Also groovy to see Eisenberg here for a thoroughly atypical performance, and of course, Mr. James Franco, who deserves to win.
Early winner prediction: Colin Firth

Best 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 absolutely love that Michelle Williams made it in here. That being said, it kills me that Julianne Moore didn't. C'est la vie.
Early winner prediction: Natalie Portman

Best 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*
Why the hell isn't Andrew Garfield here?! This could be the worst part of the ballot. It just breaks my heart to see him left off for his fantastic Social Network performance. I hate this.
Early winner prediction: Christian Bale

Best 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*
This category made me yell 'DAMMIT', followed quickly by loud clapping and whooping, no doubt making the neighbors wonder how I spend my mornings. Sure, Hailee Steinfeld got in at the expense of Black Swan's Mila Kunis, which sucks, but I'm absolutely thrilled that Jacki Weaver got in. In a fair world, she'd win this Oscar in an instant.
Early winner prediction: Melissa Leo

Original Screenplay
Another Year
The Fighter*
Inception*
The Kids Are All Right*
The King's Speech*
No Black Swan? Strange. Did not expect that. Still, it's nice to see Mike Leigh get some recognition for Another Year.
Early winner prediction: The King's Speech

Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours
The Social Network*
Toy Story 3*
True Grit*
Winter's Bone*
I love that 127 Hours made it in here, as it's not really a dialogue-heavy piece. A little disappointed that The Ghost Writer missed, but that was a long-shot anyway.
Early winner prediction: The Social Network

Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland*
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Inception*
The King's Speech*
True Grit*
I'm really glad Harry Potter made it here, as this was one of the best-designed of the series. I hate, hate, hate that Alice in Wonderland shows up here for its ugly, joyless, stupid design. And no TRON.
Early winner prediction: The King's Speech

Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland*
I Am Love
The King's Speech*
The Tempest*
True Grit*
So, here I was, all set to unveil my 'best of 2010' costume category, full of movies too cool and contemporary for the Academy, and then they go and nominate I Am Love. I mean, I'm thrilled that it's here, but it steals a bit of my "I've got discerning taste and they don't" thunder. Sad that Burlesque didn't make it. Come on, there was a dress made entirely out of fake pearls!
Early winner prediction: Alice in Wonderland

Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland*
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1*
Hereafter
Inception*
Iron Man 2*
As I'm sure you can guess, I am absolutely slain by the fact that TRON isn't on here. Maybe the Academy and I saw different movies, because if they'd seen the version I saw, they'd know how incredible it looked. Also, I hate that Hereafter made it, because now I actually have to try and see it.
Early winner prediction: Inception

Makeup
Barney's Version*
The Way Back
The Wolfman*
No Alice in Wonderland!! Rejoice!! That being said, I also really don't want to have to see Barney's Version. Meh, all my favorite movies in this field were ineligible anyway, so I don't care about this category much one way or the other.
Early winner prediction: Barney's Version

Film Editing
127 Hours
Black Swan*
The Fighter*
The King's Speech*
The Social Network*
Kind of wild that Inception didn't make it here. Boy, the Academy sure didn't love that one like the rest of the world did, huh? Great to see 127 Hours and Black Swan, though.
Early winner prediction: The Social Network

Cinematography
Black Swan*
Inception*
The King's Speech*
The Social Network
True Grit*
Kind of annoying to see The King's Speech show up here. Still, they nominated Black Swan, and that's something.
Early winner prediction: True Grit

Original Score
127 Hours
How to Train Your Dragon*
Inception*
The King's Speech*
The Social Network*
I hate that TRON didn't make the cut, especially boring crap like The King's Speech did, but that was never going to happen anyway. At least How to Train Your Dragon and The Social Network made it, which are both completely amazing. Incidentally, Trent Reznor (of '9 Inch Nails' fame) is now an Oscar nominee. Trippy.
Early winner prediction: The King's Speech

Sound Mixing
Inception*
The King's Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit*
What the hell is The King's Speech doing here?! I mean, seriously. I get that the Academy loved this movie, but putting it over TRON, How to Train Your Dragon, 127 Hours, Black Swan, or any other of the hundreds of more interesting sound jobs this year is just heinous. This is probably my least favorite nomination of the morning. AAAAAAUUUGGGHHH. This pretty much raped my soul. Seriously? So. Many. Good. Mixes. THE KING'S SPEECH. WHAT. THE. HELL.
Early winner prediction: Inception

Sound Effects Editing
Inception*
Toy Story 3*
TRON Legacy*
True Grit
Unstoppable
Thank God The King's Speech didn't show up here. You know they thought about doing it. This is also TRON's only sad, lonely little nomination. Don't worry, big guy. We know you're better than the rest of them. Also, it's an utter travesty that How to Train Your Dragon didn't make it here. Note: it's really strange to see a year when the two sound categories don't really line up. This year, they only share two nominees. Normally, they share four.
Early winner prediction: Inception

Original Song
"If I Rise"-127 Hours*
"Coming Home"-Country Strong
"I See the Light"-Tangled*
"We Belong Together"-Toy Story 3*
It's hard for me to get worked up about this category, but it's a little sad that Cher's hilarious power ballad, "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me," from Burlesque, didn't make it. Turns out Burlesque didn't get any nominations. Sure, it's a bad movie, but it's fun! And they can't care if song nominees are from bad movies. After all, they nominated Country Strong.
Early winner prediction: I See the Light

Animated Film
How to Train Your Dragon*
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3*
I haven't seen The Illusionist (yet), so I can't comment on it beating out Tangled. At least Despicable Me didn't make it.

Foreign Language Film
Biutiful-Mexico*
Dogtooth-Greece*
In a Better World-Denmark*
Incendies-Canada*
Outside the Law-Algeria
Hurray Dogtooth! I haven't seen it yet, but it's allegedly a graphic movie about incest and animal-slaughter, which is absolutely not up the Academy's alley. Congrats to them for this, the most bizarre nomination this morning.
Early winner prediction: In a Better World

Documentary Feature
Exit Through the Gift Shop*
Gasland*
Inside Job*
Restrepo*
Waste Land
I'm just thrilled that both Exit Through the Gift Shop and Restrepo made it, as they're both great movies. Also, Waiting For Superman, which is supposedly awful, but, for some reason, was the favorite to win, missed out, which I guess is probably awesome.
Early winner prediction: Exit Through the Gift Shop


Note: of the main nominees (ie all categories but animated, foreign language, and documentary), I haven't seen Biutiful, Another Year, The Tempest, Hereafter, Barney's Version, or The Way Back. I'm sure that I can see Another Year and The Way Back before the Oscars. The others? ...We'll see.

Incidentally, I did pretty well with predicting. With the exception of the sound categories, I averaged 4/5 nominees guessed correctly.

Here's a list of the 10 most nominated films:
1. The King's Speech-12
2. True Grit-10
3. The Social Network-8
4. Inception-8
5. The Fighter-7
6. 127 Hours-6
7. Black Swan-5
8. Toy Story 3-5
9. The Kids Are All Right-4
10. Winter's Bone-4

And here are a few notable films that got nothing: Shutter Island, Burlesque, Despicable Me, Waiting For Superman, Secretariat, The Ghost Writer, Life Above All, Made in Dagenham, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Easy A. ...I'm sure there are others, but they aren't coming to mind right now.

There we have it. What are your reactions? Pleased? Angry? Surprised? Apathetic? Sound off!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oscar Predictions, Part 5: Summing it Up.

All right, last time before the big day. Nominations are revealed in roughly seventeen hours, which means that, in seventeen hours, all of this guesswork will be completely worthless. Still, it's fun, so we keep doing it. Anyway, I'm just going to post my final predictions, in order of likelihood, for each category, sans commentary. And I'm only allowing myself one alternate. Incidentally, I know it's silly of me to do all these Oscar prediction posts without actually weighing in on what deserves to be nominated, but, living in the Southwest, I just don't have access to all the films I need to see in time to put together a fair 'Best of 2010' list before Oscar nominations. That post will be coming soon-ish, however. Maybe mid-February. I will allow myself this however: If I could automatically guarantee one nomination, it would be TRON for best original score, and if I could automatically guarantee someone not getting a nomination, it would be Hailee Steinfeld missing for True Grit.

Note: I changed two predictions since I posted them. First, I the alternate for best original song is different, and the number one and number two spots in best documentary feature switched with each other.

Best Picture
The Social Network
The King's Speech
The Fighter
Toy Story 3
Black Swan
Inception
True Grit
The Kids Are All Right
Winter's Bone
127 Hours
Alternate: The Town

Best Director
David Fincher-The Social Network
Tom Hooper-The King's Speech
Darren Aronofksy-Black Swan
Christopher Nolan-Inception
David O. Russell-The Fighter
Alternate: Joel and Ethan Coen-True Grit

Best Actor
Colin Firth-The King's Speech
James Franco-127 Hours
Jesse Eisenberg-The Social Network
Jeff Bridges-True Grit
Robert Duvall-Get Low
Alternate: Javier Bardem-Biutiful

Best Actress
Natalie Portman-Black Swan
Annette Bening-The Kids Are All Right
Jennifer Lawrence-Winter's Bone
Nicole Kidman-Rabbit Hole
Julianne Moore-The Kids Are All Right
Alternate: Lesley Manville-Another Year

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale-The Fighter
Geoffrey Rush-The King's Speech
Jeremy Renner-The Town
Mark Ruffalo-The Kids Are All Right
Andrew Garfield-The Social Network
Alternate: John Hawkes-Winter's Bone

Best Supporting Actress
Melissa Leo-The Fighter
Amy Adams-The Fighter
Helena Bonham-Carter-The King's Speech
Jacki Weaver-Animal Kingdom
Mila Kunis-Black Swan
Alternate: Hailee Steinfeld-True Grit

Original Screenplay
The King's Speech
The Kids Are All Right
Inception
Black Swan
The Fighter
Alternate: Another Year

Adapted Screenplay
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone
The Ghost Writer
Alternate: 127 Hours

Art Direction
The King's Speech
Inception
True Grit
Alice in Wonderland
Shutter Island
Alternate: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland
The King's Speech
Burlesque
The Tempest
True Grit
Alternate: Black Swan

Visual Effects
Inception
TRON Legacy
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Iron Man 2
Alternate: Hereafter

Makeup
Alice in Wonderland
The Wolfman
Barney's Version
Alternate: Jonah Hex

Film Editing
The Social Network
Inception
The Fighter
Black Swan
The King's Speech
Alternate: 127 Hours

Cinematography
True Grit
Inception
Black Swan
Shutter Island
The King's Speech
Alternate: The Social Network

Original Score
Inception
The King's Speech
The Social Network
How to Train Your Dragon
The Ghost Writer
Alternate: 127 Hours

Sound Mixing
Inception
True Grit
Black Swan
TRON Legacy
How to Train Your Dragon
Alternate: Salt

Sound Effects Editing
Inception
TRON Legacy
How to Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3
127 Hours
Alternate: Salt

Original Song
"I See the Light"-Tangled
"You Haven't Seen the Last of Me"-Burlesque
"Shine"-Waiting For Superman
"We Belong Together"-Toy Story 3
"If I Rise"-127 Hours
Alternate: "Chanson Illusioniste"-The Illusionist

Animated Film
Toy Story 3
How to Train Your Dragon
Tangled
Alternate: The Illusionist

Foreign Language Film
In a Better World-Denmark
Incendies-Canada
Life, Above All-South Africa
Biutiful-Mexico
Dogtooth-Greece
Alternate: Simple Simon-Sweden

Documentary Feature
Waiting For Superman
Inside Job
Gasland
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Restrepo
Alternate: Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer


There we have it. I'll be back tomorrow morning with the official nominee list, as well as my reactions.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oscar Predictions, part 4: technical categories

Alright, slightly different format today. In the major categories, it's not too hard to whittle things down to a manageable number of possibilities. In the tech categories, everything is pretty much a crapshoot. So, instead of breaking down every possibility, I'm just going to give my predictions and alternates, and offer up a couple brief thoughts below them. We've got ten categories to get through, so I'll try to be brief.
Note: all predictions are listed in order of likelihood.

Art Direction
The King's Speech
Inception
True Grit
Alice in Wonderland
Shutter Island
Alternate: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Black Swan

The King's Speech and Inception are safe. True Grit probably is too. I'd like to predict Harry Potter, but I just can't make room for it. TRON or Robin Hood might show up unexpectedly. We'll see.

Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland
The King's Speech
The Tempest
Burlesque
True Grit
Alternate: Secretariat, Black Swan

I'm only confident about the first two; any of the others could slip away. I wouldn't be surprised if Made in Dagenham pulled a nomination here, or Robin Hood. For a real shocker, watch for The Fighter or Inception; both contemporary, atypical possibilities that have nonetheless garnered their share of attention in this category.

Visual Effects
Inception
TRON Legacy
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Iron Man 2
Alternate: Hereafter, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

This category has already been narrowed down by the Academy to a seven-film shortlist, which is to say that the only movies that can be nominated here are the ones I just listed. I feel pretty confident about this lineup, but Iron Man could drop out.

Makeup
Alice in Wonderland
The Wolfman
Barney's Version
Alternate: Jonah Hex, The Way Back, The Fighter, True Grit
Another seven-film finalist list here. The top two slots are probably locked, and any of the other five films could take the last spot. I tried both Jonah Hex and The Way Back in my predictions before settling for Barney's Version, if only because I assume the Academy is going to spite me and nominate a movie I've no chance of seeing before the show, thus killing my dreams of seeing all the nominated films. Curses!

Film Editing
The Social Network
Inception
The Fighter
Black Swan
The King's Speech
Alternate: 127 Hours, Shutter Island

This is one of the only tech categories I feel fairly confident about. Maybe True Grit or The Town could slip in, but I doubt it. I think we're looking at our five nominees up there.

Cinematography
True Grit
Inception
Black Swan
Shutter Island
The King's Speech
Alternate: The Social Network, 127 Hours

This one is tough. The top three slots are locked in. Shutter Island, The King's Speech, and The Social Network are neck-and-neck for the last open spots. 127 Hours could take advantage of how close the others are and slip in, as could The Way Back.

Original Score
Inception
The King's Speech
The Social Network
How to Train Your Dragon
The Ghost Writer
Alternate: 127 Hours, Alice in Wonderland

This category is maddeningly difficult. Inception and The King's Speech are probably in. I should be more confident about The Social Network and How to Train Your Dragon, which are two of the best scores of the year, but Dragon hasn't been nearly as strong in the precursors as I'd like it to be, and I'm struggling to imagine Trent Reznor become Academy-Award Nominee Trent Reznor, even if he just won a Golden Globe for The Social Network. We'll see. That last spot is just a wild guess. I would honestly sell my first-born to see TRON take that spot, but that's, at best, incredibly far-fetched. 127 Hours could make it, but they'll probably honor A.R. Rahman in original song instead, and Alice in Wonderland could feasible get in, even though the very thought of it gives me seizures. Also possible: Never Let Me Go, Harry Potter, Get Low, The Tempest, The Town, etc., etc.

Sound Mixing
Inception
True Grit
Black Swan
TRON Legacy
How to Train Your Dragon
Alternate: The Social Network, Salt

This is a total crapshoot. The only nominee I'm sure of is Inception. Every other prediction could easily miss, and the alternates could easily crack the top five. Other movies with just as good a shot at a nomination: 127 Hours, Unstoppable, Shutter Island, The Town, Toy Story 3. I can easily imagine getting most of these predictions wrong come Tuesday morning.

Sound Effects Editing
Inception
TRON Legacy
How to Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3
127 Hours
Alternate: Salt, True Grit

Funnily enough, I feel much more confident about this category. I'm probably wrong, but I feel good about 4 out of 5 of these nominees. The alternates could knock 127 Hours out, as could Black Swan, Unstoppable, or Iron Man 2.

Original Song
"I See the Light"-Tangled
"You Haven't Seen the Last of Me"-Burlesque
"Shine"-Waiting For Superman
"We Belong Together"-Toy Story 3
"If I Rise"-127 Hours
Alternate: "Bound to You"-Burlesque, "Chanson Illusionist"-The Illusionist

We honestly might as well just throw darts. This branch is nigh-impossible to figure out. There might not even be five nominees, and even if there are, there's no guarantee that the generally agreed-upon frontrunners will be nominated, and there's a strong possibility that one of the nominees will be from a movie I've never heard of (remember last year, when "Loin de Paname" from Paris 36 was nominated? I still don't know what that movie is). So, I'll just play it safe, prediction-wise, and go for the five most obvious choices, and expect to be wrong. Watch out for "Coming Home" from Country Strong. Sure, the movie was awful, but that hasn't stopped this branch before.


Well, that just about wraps it up. I'll compile everything tomorrow into one post sans commentary, just to set things in stone, and then I'll be back sometime on Tuesday to discuss the actual nominees. Anybody else have predictions they'd like to share? Hunches? Hopes? Don't be shy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Oscar Predictions, part 3: Acting

Here we are again. Four categories today; the acting categories.

Best Actor
Only one slot is up for grabs here. Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth, and James Franco are all locked. Any of them missing would be bizarre, though, if I had to bet one one missing, it would be Bridges. Don't count on it, though. The last spot is a little tricky, but I've a feeling the Old Hollywood Guard will pull their own through. In other words, Robert Duvall's nothing-special work on Get Low will probably get nominated because, let's face it, he's Robert Duvall. The man's pretty much a Hollywood legend. Plus, he just turned 80, and people might want to celebrate his becoming an octogenarian in style. I'd love to see Ryan Gosling show up here for Blue Valentine here, but it's probably not in the cards. Same goes for Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter (His performance is too bland) and Leonardo Dicaprio in Shutter Island (too many people hate the movie/the fact that this is the third movie in a row in which Leo has played a mentally unstable man grieving a dead wife. Show some range, man). One possible spoiler: Javier Bardem in Biutiful. Even though the movie's gotten mixed reviews, most everyone agrees that Bardem's performance is fantastic. I'd like to predict an upset here, but I just can't believe that Duvall won't pull through.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Colin Firth-The King's Speech
James Franco-127 Hours
Jesse Eisenberg-The Social Network
Jeff Bridges-True Grit
Robert Duvall-Get Low
Alternate: Javier Bardem-Biutiful, Ryan Gosling-Blue Valentine

Best Actress
I hate this category. It's a monster to predict this year. First things first: Annette Bening, Natalie Portman, and Jennifer Lawrence are all in, for The Kids Are All Right, Black Swan, and Winter's Bone, respectively. Past that, things get a little confusing. Nicole Kidman will probably become a default nominee for her prickly work in Rabbit Hole, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see her left out. And then, the last spot...Hell if I know. There are at least five women with a strong shot at it, with two more waiting in the wings. Here they are:
Lesley Manville-Another Year: Earlier in the year, she was considered a threat to win. Something terrible and unexplained happened to Another Year, though, and it all but vanished from the circuit. That being said, if it shows up in one category, it would probably be this one. Another problem, though: category confusion. People can't decide whether Manville is lead or supporting, and, as such, she could split her votes and not get nominated in either category.
Julianne Moore-The Kids Are All Right: this nomination would come out of nowhere, but not be unexpected. Costar Bening has black-holed all the acting praise for this movie, leaving poor Julianne out in the cold. Still, both performances are fantastic, and it's sort of hard to imagine people putting Bening on their ballots without her better half Moore.
Hailee Steinfeld-True Grit: People love this performance, though it's a mystery to me just why that is. Steinfeld has (mostly) been considered supporting throughout the precursor circuit, but, then again, so was Keisha Castle-Hughes in 2003, and she ended up in the lead category. I'm hoping Steinfeld's category confusion results in her missing entirely. Fingers crossed!
Hilary Swank-Conviction: I really, really hate that I have to consider this performance as a valid option for an Oscar. Seriously? Still, people love this chick, and she did get a Screen Actors Guild nomination. Another Oscar mystery. I just can't believe this would happen. It would hurt too much.
Michelle Williams-Blue Valentine: I'd love to see this happen, but they've ignored Williams before, which is a shame, as she's easily one of the best working actresses of her generation. Sigh. It's just too hard to look past Hilary Swank's dazzling Boston accent, isn't it? -___-
The two long shots, both from foreign films:
Noomi Rapace-The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: People love this movie and this performance, but it's probably too little to make it in.
Tilda Swinton-I Am Love: This movie's even smaller, but Tilda's got a legion of rabid fans who will do anything to secure her a spot. Not sure there are enough of them, though.
...Honestly, any of these women could show up on Tuesday in the fifth spot, or even the fourth spot, in place of Kidman. Expect the unexpected!
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Natalie Portman-Black Swan
Annette Bening-The Kids Are All Right
Jennifer Lawrence-Winter's Bone
Nicole Kidman-Rabbit Hole
Julianne Moore-The Kids Are All Right
Alternate: Lesley Manville-Another Year, Hilary Swank-Conviction
(note: right until I typed that last line, I fully intended to go with Manville. Sometimes I surprise even myself. I'm not promising that I won't change my predictions in this category on Monday, though.)

Best Supporting Actor
This category is strange this year, in that I'm not too comfortable with a couple of the men I'm predicting, but there just aren't any other really valid options to take their place. Let's start with the obvious: Christian Bale is in for his work on The Fighter. Ditto Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech. Jeremy Renner is probably safe for his role in The Town. That leaves my last two slots. I'd like to give them to Mark Ruffalo and Andrew Garfield, but niether of them feel like 'Oscar' performances, and both have stumbled some in the precursors. Still, who would replace them? John Hawkes in Winter's Bone? Possible, but the film is so little. It's hard to imagine it getting more than a couple nominations. Sam Rockwell in Conviction? I thought people hated that movie, but if Hilary Swank's a possibility, than he certainly is too. Matt Damon in True Grit? He hasn't gotten any attentions whatsoever on the precursor circuit. And then there are the Social Network guys: Justin Timberlake and Armie Hammer. But Garfield is struggling to get in, and he has the showy performance. If he's struggling, there's no way the smaller, less noticeable roles will make it. So I'll just stick with the five most obvious choices, even if they don't feel quite right.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Christian Bale-The Fighter
Geoffrey Rush-The King's Speech
Jeremy Renner-The Town
Mark Ruffalo-The Kids Are All Right
Andrew Garfield-The Social Network
Alternate: John Hawkes-Winter's Bone, Sam Rockwell-Conviction

Best Supporting Actress
This one's even tougher than Best Actress. There are two sure things: Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, both from The Fighter. Past that, six women have pretty much equal shots, and at least four more women could surprise. I have no idea where this category will go. The six most likely:
Helena Bonham-Carter-The King's Speech: This performance is fairly bland, but it's in what will likely be the most-nominated film. She'll probably be swept in. Still, she might miss in favor of showier work.
Barbara Hershey and Mila Kunis-Black Swan: Both women have a strong shot. Kunis has shown up more frequently on the awards circuit, but Hershey has the showier role. Maybe both of them will miss? Black Swan is very much a one-woman show.
Lesley Manville-Another Year: Yup. Her again. She's more likely to show up as a lead, but don't count her out here.
Hailee Steinfeld-True Grit: Most people are predicting Steinfeld will show up here (some even predict she'll win), but I'm hoping that enough people consider her a lead that the category confusion will keep her from getting nominated for anything. This could be one of my biggest hopes for nomination morning. Please, please, please let Hailee Steinfeld miss. There is NOTHING SPECIAL about this performance.
Jacki Weaver-Animal Kingdom: I'm conflicted here. If voters see this movie, they'll almost undoubtedly include one of the best villains of the year on their ballots. This is a great performance. That being said, this is a little Australian movie that came out during the summer and left theaters without a sound. This performance absolutely deserves to get in, but deserving usually doesn't have much to do with the nomination process.
And now, four women with less-but-still-possible odds:
Marion Cotillard-Inception: This performances is one of my favorite aspects of Inception, and it's sad that she hasn't taken off this season. Still, people love the movie, and I wouldn't be shocked to see her included.
Rebecca Hall-The Town: I don't think this will happen, but you never know. Call it a tiny hunch.
Miranda Richardson-Made in Dagenham: Here I thought this movie was dead, and then the British Academy resurrects it. That being said, I can't see this nomination happening.
Diane Wiest-Rabbit Hole: Same thing here. Rabbit Hole just hasn't gotten enough momentum. Hell, it's struggling to get its lead actress in. I can't imagine in getting any more love than that.
Once again: any of these twelve women could make it in. I've really no clue what will happen.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Melissa Leo-The Fighter
Amy Adams-The Fighter
Helena Bonham-Carter-The King's Speech
Jacki Weaver-Animal Kingdom
Mila Kunis-Black Swan
Alternate: Hailee Steinfeld-True Grit, Lesley Manville-Another Year


Well, that post was longer than I expected. Still, there was an awful lot to cover. The acting races are tough this year.
Here's a schedule of the next couple days:
Tomorrow: all my tech category predictions
Monday: my final predictions: no commentary, just solidifying things.
Tuesday: Oscar nominations, complete with my inevitably indignant reaction.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oscar Predictions, part 2: Director and Screenplays

Back again. Today we'll tackle the other non-acting major awards: Best Director, Original Screenplay, and Adapted Screenplay

Best Director
This category is somewhat problematic this year. To begin with: David Fincher will almost undoubtedly win for The Social Network. He's got this in the bag. So, obviously, he's golden for a nomination. Past him, however, I'm unwilling to commit to anyone as a sure thing. I feel six directors have all got a pretty solid shot at the other four slots:
-Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan: his movie is both well-loved and well-respected, and it's a surefire best picture nominee. Plus, he's considered well overdue for a nomination after making four fantastic movies. Still, they've resisted nominating him before for respected films like Requiem For a Dream and The Wrestler. Black Swan might be a little too hip and violent for Academy voters.
-Danny Boyle for 127 Hours: 127 Hours is nothing if not a director's film, and Boyle comes through in spades. Plus, he's a recent winner, and the Academy might still be radiating with that post-win afterglow. Still, his film hasn't done nearly as well on the precursor circuit as I thought it would, and that'll hurt his chances.
-Joel and Ethan Coen for True Grit: To be honest, I'm of the opinion that True Grit is definitely a lesser Coen film. Still, it has amazing box-office, considering the genre, and a ton of people seem to love it. True Grit is also the sort-of 'manly' choice for Academy voters looking to overcompensate. That being said, there are just too many other big players this year to consider the Coens a lock.
-Tom Hooper for The King's Speech: Why am I not considering Hooper a lock? After all, his film has a pretty strong chance of winning best picture, and a movie without a director nom hasn't won best picture since 1989 (God, I hate Driving Miss Daisy). The King's Speech, however, has always been considered an acting/writing showcase, and not without good reason. Simply put, there are showier directors in the competition, and Hooper's still a newbie (King's Speech is only his second film). Still, his movie is right at the top of the best picture list...
-Christopher Nolan for Inception-If Chris Nolan doesn't get in this year, I'm reasonably sure the Internet will think very seriously about getting off its collective ass and doing something. Nolan is considered massively due, thanks to his snub for The Dark Knight, and succeeded in creating one of the more impressive and original films this year, all within the confines of the major studio system. Still, Inception is 100% an action film, which is to say that it's the kind of film that rarely scores here.
-David O. Russell for The Fighter-Let's face it. Oscars are essentially a popularity contest. And word on the street is that pretty much everyone hates David O. Russell. Most everyone loves The Fighter, however, as well as the artistic touch Russell brought to it (I wasn't overly impressed by the direction, but hey, I liked Tron, so I've forsaken my credibility this year). It's hard to decide whether Russell's terrible rep will overcome the respect for his movie, or vice versa.
Apart from these six, I can't really see anyone else getting in. Maybe, if the Academy feels like proving that Kathryn Bigelow's win last year wasn't a fluke, Debra Granik or Lisa Cholodenko could get in for Winter's Bone or The Kids Are All Right, respectively. And I suppose we should never rule out Another Year and Mike Leigh, who has snagged more than one director nomination from the jaws of defeat.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
David Fincher-The Social Network
Tom Hooper-The King's Speech
Darren Aronofsky-Black Swan
Christopher Nolan-Inception
David O. Russell-The Fighter
Alternate: Joel and Ethan Coen-True Grit, Danny Boyle-127 Hours

Best Original Screenplay
Here's another tough category to read. The King's Speech and The Kids Are All Right are locked and loaded. Beyond that, nothing is safe. Mike Leigh is always, always successful in the writing category, so watch out for Another Year. That being said, this film has received almost no precursor attention. Black Swan seems like a common-sense pick, but it's not much of a writer's film; it's about the style, not the dialogue. Blue Valentine, if seen enough, could sneak in here. I'm not sure I'd bet on it, though. The Fighter is a best picture front-runner, but I'm skeptical about its screenplay chances. And Inception could score for its fantastic concept, but its rather clunky dialogue could slow it down. Outside of these movies? I'd love to see Animal Kingdom, the Australian crime thriller, make it in, and I suppose Please Give, recently nominated by the Writers Guild, has a sliver of a hope.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
The King's Speech
The Kids Are All Right
Inception
Black Swan
The Fighter
Alternate: Another Year, Blue Valentine

Best Adapted Screenplay
This is an easier category to take a stab at. I'd say four movies are pretty much locked: The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, and Winter's Bone. But what for the last spot? 127 Hours hasn't been loved like I hoped it would; besides, it's not much for snappy dialogue. Still, as a potential best picture nominee, it could crack the top 5. Though The Ghost Writer was released at the beginning of the year, the awards circuit has remembered it, and this category seems like a great place to throw Roman Polanski and underage bone (sorry for the sex joke...I couldn't resist). I suppose The Town also stands a chance here, but, for that to happen, the Academy would need to love Ben Affleck and his little crime movie a lot more than I'm willing to bet they do.
Not that any of this matters, because The Social Network is going to win, regardless of who's nominated.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone
The Ghost Writer
Alternate: 127 Hours, The Town

That's it for today. I'll be back tomorrow to discuss the acting categories!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oscar Predictions, part 1: Best Picture

Hey all. It's been awhile. I figure I can't resist doing Oscar predictions every year, and I might as well put them here, as opposed to on Facebook. So I'll just dive in: this will kick off my five-day prediction blitz. Today, I'll do picture. Tomorrow I'll do director and screenplay, Saturday will be acting categories, Sunday will be the tech awards, and I'll do a final predictions list on Monday to put everything in one place. So here we go! Bear in mind that Oscar season is a year-round prognosticating event, and jumping into the season this late will be disorienting, at best. Apologies if I don't explain things as well as I ought to.

Best Picture
The precursor award circuit, critical acclaim, box-office totals, and conventional wisdom all suggest that this race is narrowed down to exactly 11 titles. They are, in alphabetical order:
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network
The Town
Toy Story 3
Winter's Bone
Of these 11, I would say that The Social Network, The King's Speech, The Fighter, Toy Story 3, Black Swan, and Inception are completely safe. Any of these missing the nomination would be a huge surprise. True Grit and, to a slightly lesser extent, The Kids Are All Right are also on fairly solid ground. That leaves three films fighting for two slots. Which two will get in? 127 Hours is well-respected, and has performed fairly well with various guild and critic citations. Many Academy members, though, have allegedly refused to watch it because of it's graphic nature (the plot involves a long, intimate look at how one removes an arm with a blunt knife). The Town was a large box-office success, and could slip in if voters feel like rewarding the mainstream studio choice. The antithesis of mainstream is Winter's Bone, which is a tiny indie drama about meth-cooking in Missouri. Normally, I'd say it's too small a film to make it into the 10, but, for whatever reason, people love this movie, and it's looking fairly strong. Of this group, I'd say that Winter's Bone is far and away the least deserving of a nomination, but I recognize that I'm in a very small minority here.
What about other movies outside this 11? I don't really see it happening, but stranger things have occurred on nominations morning. Blue Valentine, the art-house relationship disaster movie, could conceivably sneak in. Another Year, Mike Leigh's latest attempt at middle-class ennui, was looking like a frontrunner out of Cannes, but, for whatever reason, it's completely fallen by the wayside. Other titles with a (very small) chance include Shutter Island, The Ghost Writer, and Animal Kingdom. Any of these making it would be completely gobsmacking.
My predictions, in order of likelihood:
The Social Network
The King's Speech
The Fighter
Toy Story 3
Black Swan
Inception
True Grit
The Kids Are All Right
Winter's Bone
127 Hours
Alternates: The Town, Blue Valentine

Now, to get a few other categories out of the way that most people don't care about...

Best Animated Film
I'd like to claim that this race is down to five movies, but last year's out-of-the-blue nomination for The Secret of Kells makes me doubt myself. Still, last year had five nominees, while this year will only have three (due to Academy rules limiting nominees based on the number of animated films released this year), so a giant surprise like last year's is unlikely. Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon will both almost definitely get in, and deservedly so. That leaves three horses for one slot. I would have originally thought that Despicable Me wouldn't have been a threat, but, lo and behold, it keeps showing up at the precursor awards. Plus, it made bank. Don't count it out. Sylvain Chomet has found success in the animated race before with his 2003 feature The Triplets of Belleville, and is now working from a script by the late Jacques Tati, which grants him huge amounts of nostalgia points. His entry, The Illusionist is a definite threat. Still, it's a very small film, and might not have been seen. Last but not least is Tangled, Disney's attempt at a return to the glory years. Tangled won critical respect and a big ol' pile of money, which is a nice ancillary benefit. And what about wierd left-field choices? I'm just not sure. Idiots and Angels? My Dog Tulip? The Dreams of Jinsha? It just sounds like I'm making titles up. I really don't know how to predict this one. Right now, I'm going to veer populist, but I can't guarantee that I won't have changed my mind come final predictions on Monday.
My predictions, in order of likelihood:
Toy Story 3
How to Train Your Dragon
Tangled
Alternate: The Illusionist, Despicable Me

Best Foreign Language Film
This category is insanely tough to predict, even though the Academy already narrowed the field down to a list of nine finalists. They are:
Biutiful-Mexico
Confessions-Japan
Dogtooth-Greece
Even the Rain-Spain
In a Better World-Denmark
Incendies-Canada
Life, Above All-South Africa
Outside the Law-Algeria
Simple Simon-Sweden
I must admit that I haven't seen any of these, and, as such, my predictions are essentially stolen from other,better-movied men. That being said, Susanne Bier is a regular player here, and her film, In a Better World, just won the Golden Globe in this category. She's probably in. Similarly, Incendies and Life, Above All are well-respected and loved efforts, and will probably show. But what next? Biutiful has gotten bitterly divide reviews, but is the only title of the nine that can claim any sort of stateside notoriety, which is a huge deal in this category. Outside the Law is a sort-of-sequel to Days of Glory, which was nominated here in 2005. Maybe voters will love this creative team again? Even the Rain is allegedly a well-made production, and Confessions is apparently to bizarre to resonate with the infamously boring nominating committee. Tragically, Simple Simon is right up their alley: sappy, sentimental, and altogether awful. I should go with that one, but I'm going out on a limb for Dogtooth; this Greek movie about incest and animal slaughter is not exactly the nominating committee's cup of tea, but it shocked the world by making it onto the shortlist, and is easily the most critically revered of the bunch. I think it made it this far--it'll make the final step (note: this time next week, I'll have seen Dogtooth, and will know how psychotic it actually is). I fully expect to mess these predictions up on nominations day, but for what it's worth...
My predictions, in order of likelihood:
In a Better World-Denmark
Incendies-Canada
Life, Above All-South Africa
Biutiful-Mexico
Dogtooth-Greece
Alternate: Simple Simon-Sweden, Outside the Law-Algeria

Best Documentary Feature
I'll be honest: I really don't know much of anything about this race, and, quite frankly, I don't care too much for it. Allegedly, this was a banner year for documentaries, but I wouldn't know. It was, however, a banner year for my documentary viewing, in that I saw two: Exit Through the Gift Shop and Restrepo. I'll be rooting for both of them, and will probably predict them both, just for funsies. Feel free to ignore this prediction list, as I'm pretty much just pulling things out of my butt here.
My Predictions, in order of likelihood:
Inside Job
Waiting For Superman
Gasland
Restrepo
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Alternate: Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, The Tillman Story

There we have it. First round done. Come back tomorrow for a look at best director and the writing categories.