I am so behind on my movie reviews, and yet, I would feel remiss without composing an exclusive entry covering the most important film event of the year - at least for some of us. Back when Spout.com was a real site with a firm devotion to creating a film community, I was the administrator of a group there called "It's a Wonderful Night for Oscar," a la the song Billy Crystal sings when he hosts the big awards. Our purpose was to discuss and/or debate all facets of the Academy Awards, from merit of the award choices right down to the couture; superficially or in-depth, our discussions were wide ranging. Of course, in league with the ill-fated demise of that site, it became mostly an exercise in me "spouting" my two cents about the Oscars - an exercise I can engage in anywhere, clearly. So, I thought I would do it now on filmaster. Aren't y'all just so lucky? Har har.
My expertise in this area, you ask? I have none. Not really.
I just like to watch movies and am fairly experienced at watching the Oscars. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a fairly predictable body. Even when they try to be unpredictable, they become predictable in their unpredictability. Thus, I've learned some key lessons about the Oscars that make me feel qualified in my capacity to publish predictions:
1.) There are always snubs. Except for Best Picture, nowadays, there is always someone who is going to be left out. There is also definite favoritism (and whatever the opposite of favoritism is). The same people are going to get nominated, even if it's for a great sneeze in a two second spot. Hence: Dame Judi Dench's win for "Shakespeare in Love" and her seven-minute portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I. The same people will never win, like Leonardo DiCaprio, because for some reason, people don't believe he's actually a good actor.
2.) There are always surprises. They usually go hand-in-hand with the snubs. There is always someone left out in favor of someone completely not considered before, at least in terms of nominations. Those new considerations won't necessarily win, but Oscar's voting members like to pretend they've been paying attention. So, there's usually a surprise win in the mix too, at least outside of the biggies like Picture, Director, etc. It's just a matter of rooting out which category will be the likeliest candidate for an upset.
3.) There are four major predictors to help ascertain who will win the awards: the Critics' Choice, Golden Globes, SAG, Director's Guild of America. The Producer's Guild of America award will usually foretell whether there will be a split in Picture and Director. None of the other Guild awards, Critics' Circle, or BAFTAs really have much effect, because these other awards are typically televised, American (as opposed to British), and have overlapping populations with voting members of the Academy. For example, there are voting members of the Hollywood Foreign Press amongst the Critics eligible to vote for Critics' Choice; critics tend to influence producers; producers have weight with production teams and studios; and it goes on.
4.) There are special unwritten guidelines in terms of Academy quirks that also help make predictions possible. For example, Picture and Director usually go hand-in-hand, though not always. The winner for Best Editing typically foretells the winner for Best Picture. The winner for Best Cinematography is usually an overlapping candidate from the crop of Best Picture nominees (especially now since there are ten). Etc.
Thus, one can usually make some decent predictions without having seen all of the films, and even if you've seen all the films, you might not be inclined to agree with the winning choices because of your own biases. Thus, predicting the Oscars is really much more like betting on a horse race: there are variables and control factors that you know will yield a good bet, a likely winning horse, but there are unknown variables that may prevent your horse from actually winning the race and, therefore, winning you money.
Nevertheless, it's fun to talk about it, and since I don't pretend to be a professional critic, I can speak uncensored. And I will. Oh yes. I will.
Ergo, QED, without further adieu:
Kylie's 2011 Oscar Predictions for Films Released in the Year 2010!
(asterisks denote films I have actually seen)
And the Nominees Are....:
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”
They say Ryan Gosling was snubbed for "Blue Valentine." Hard to call that a shoo-in when the Actors' organization, the Screen Actors' Guild, didn't even nominate him. I haven't seen "Biutiful," but Javier Bardem has proven himself to be a fine actor capable of depth and nuance. It'll be interesting to see the two films in question. I think a more notable snub is Leo for Inception. It may not be his best work, but it's another in a long line of notable Academy face slaps in his general direction.
Yet we all know, based on the fact that he's won all of the previous awards, that my imaginary husband, Colin Firth, will be accepting Best Actor this year, and he deserved it. He's a brilliant actor, and Oscar bait though "The King's Speech" might have been, his performance, along with his co-star Geoffrey Rush, was the key to the fact that it was well-constructed, tasty bait that will have Oscar screaming "it's a big one!" on the big day.
Prediction: Colin Firth stutters his way to home base.
Who Should Win? I have heard, read, or seen nothing to indicate that Firth doesn't deserve it.
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” *
Andrew Garfield for The Social Network could have been a contender and a likelier one than his co-star, Justin Timberlake. I figure they canceled each other out this time in light of other nominees.
Still, the most consistent nominee was also the most consistent winner of all prior awards, and we know he has the chops. It's for his presence that I am entirely interested in "The Fighter," which is a boxing movie. Normally, I'm no big fan of boxing movies, as you may or may not be aware.
Prediction: Christian Bale will deliver the 1-2 knockout.
Who Should Win? If Bale doesn't, you mean? Rush all the way.
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”
Should Julianne Moore have been nominated alongside her co-star Annette Bening for "The Kids Are All Right?" Aside from the Globes, where the Hollywood Foreign Press nominates ten lead actresses in two categories, Julianne has not been given any other nominations, and why should she? Accomplished actress and charismatic screen presence though she is, by all accounts, Annette had the juicier part and more room to run with it.
This category is no contest. Anyone who saw "Black Swan" will realize that Natalie Portman is in every frame; it's shot entirely from her character's point of view, and without her mesmerizing performance, the film would have been more like "Fright Night" and less like art.
Prediction: Natalie Portman will be perfect with the final prize.
Who Should Win? I don't even need to see the other films to know that Natalie's got this one by the tails.
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”
People might be up in arms over a lack of love for Mila Kunis, and though she did well, I don't find the part that much of a stretch for her. Sure, there was that one fantasy sequence, and sure, she's not wound as tightly as her That 70s Show character, but her face will always invoke Jackie, wherever she goes.
It's not like Mila has won any to date, anyway. That honor, for all previous awards, including the Globes (where the Supporting actors don't get a Drama/Comedy divide) has fallen to Melissa Leo.
Prediction: Melissa Leo will go ten rounds for the win.
Who Should Win? I haven't seen any but the King's Speech; however, I wasn't particularly impressed with Helena Bonham Carter's young Queen Mum. I'd like to see Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit, but Leo probably should get this one.
Animated Feature Film
“How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
“The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
“Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich *
No Tangled! That's the public outcry, and with good reason. It was well reviewed, popular with audiences, and has sustained its cineplex presence.
Still, Pixar rules the roost and will continue to do so with the one of the most perfect third entries to a saga ever.
Prediction: Toy Story 3 is the cartoon for the ages.
Which Should Win? TS3. Pixar bias? Sue me.
“Alice in Wonderland” *
Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” *
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
“The King's Speech” *
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
Tough category to call, but given the lack of love in some of other categories, I think Inception will clean up what it can.
Prediction: Inception is visually artistic enough for Oscar.
Which Should Win? Inception!
“Black Swan” Matthew Libatique *
“Inception” Wally Pfister *
“The King's Speech” Danny Cohen *
“The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
“True Grit” Roger Deakins
They are all Best Picture nominees! Again, I think Inception is likeliest to see some of the tech love, though Black Swan has potential in this category given its dark, grainy wash.
Prediction: Inception is cinematography at is Oscar best.
Which Should WIn? Black Swan if not Inception.
“Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood *
“I Am Love” Antonella Cannarozzi
“The King's Speech” Jenny Beavan *
“The Tempest” Sandy Powell
“True Grit” Mary Zophres
This category is wide open, but when I watched Alice in Wonderland for the first time recently, that was one thing I thought was one of the best parts of the movie: the unique costume design. Most of the other pictures could take it too, but I would be surprised if Alice doesn't succeed in this category.
Prediction: Alice in Wonderland has got the best threads.
Which Should Win? I still say Alice.
“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
What a fine group of directors. Hugest snub of the awards, though, for failing to recognize Christopher Nolan. No one can deny that his originality fueled the wonder of Inception, and he's been nominated several times previously.
Still, it doesn't matter to me. Picture and Director will not be split this year. The winner for the Directors' Guild of America is the key indicator of who will win the big prize, and the Producers' Guild voted this way too.
Prediction: Tom Hooper is awarded royally for The King's Speech.
Who Should Win? Everything I've heard about The Social Network would lead me to believe that writing and direction are what made this film what it is. So, probably Fincher. Why not Aronofsky? Black Swan has some flaws for all of its naked ambition and originality.
“Exit through the Gift Shop” Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
“Gasland” Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
“Inside Job” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
“Restrepo” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
“Waste Land” Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley
Everyone expected "Waiting for Superman" to get a nod, but the controversy surrounding its production probably doomed the possibility for its recognition here. It also makes this category wide open, and I'm afraid I haven't seen any of the doc features to make an educated guess. So, I will probably be wrong.
There seems to be some consensus growing around "Exit Through the Gift Shop." I don't know, though. Consensus these days is a hard one to gauge.
Documentary (Short Subject)
“Killing in the Name” Jed Rothstein
“Poster Girl” Sara Nesson and Mitchell W. Block
“Strangers No More” Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
“Sun Come Up” Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
“The Warriors of Qiugang” Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon
I never watch the short subjects. I don't really know. Who ever watches these? Raise your hand!!
After some research, and the fact that I like the last name Lennon, I will predict The Warriors of Qiugang (and be wrong) will win. Short trip to no perfect score, am I right?
“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
Another sizable snub for Inception, a film which brought the scope of technical prowess in film-making to the forefront, and which also won the Critics' Choice Award in the category. Still, Oscar likes to marry the Picture and Editing awards, regardless of how deserving one, the other, or both categories may be, so an unlikely choice will probably win here.
Prediction: The King's Speech will talk all over this award, given that it's the likely Best Picture winner.
Which Should Win? Black Swan, because people were actually confused leaving the theater, trying to make sense of what was going on, and because point-of-view direction usually calls for some creative celluloid manipulations.
Foreign Language Film
“In a Better World” Denmark
“Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria
Having seen none of these, and since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which won the CCA's, did not even get a nod, I have to go with the film that broke the "foreign language" mold into one of the top categories.
Prediction: Biutiful is beautiful.
“Barney's Version” Adrien Morot
“The Way Back” Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
“The Wolfman” Rick Baker and Dave Elsey
No Alice in Wonderland. No Black Swan. I can't even begin to comprehend this category, which makes it all the more difficult to predict the category's success story. I'm not sure for the motivation behind nominating "Barney" or "Way Back;" at least "The Wolfman" is a kind of monster movie.
Prediction: The Wolfman will howl with delight.
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
Some are crying foul for the lack of Tron: Legacy's nod for its electronica buffet, which is edgy stuff for Oscar, but just as edgy is the nomination of the Nine Inch Nails frontman (or only man) and his bevy of wins in tow and to date for The Social Network. Of course, this is the category I'm seeing dark horse potential in, either in fellow nominees Zimmer or Desplat's work on Inception and The King's Speech, respectively. Gotta go with my gut, though.
Prediction: The Social Network will take us higher.
Which Should Win? Can't say. Want to see The Social Network first.
Music (Original Song)
“Coming Home” from “Country Strong” Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light” from “Tangled” Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from “127 Hours” Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3" Music and Lyric by Randy Newman *
Burlesque gets nothing, and for my money, I might be ok with that, even if Christina Aguilera can break the sound barrier. I think it's likelier that unless the Academy finally shows some (more) love to Randy Newman, the CCAs provide the skinny hear.
Prediction: 127 Hours will be singing like a canary.
Which Should WIn? No clue.
“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
I don't think anything was really left out, and I don't think there were really any surprises, with the possible exception of Winter's Bone. I also don't think the winner will be much of a surprise.
Prediction: No split this year. The King's Speech will receive the highest praise.
Which Should Win? Toy Story 3 was a far tighter movie and explored some good themes not typical of animated fare. Though, The King's Speech is better than the other films I've seen, including Black Swan (by a slim margin) and Inception (by a less slim margin).
Short Film (Animated)
“Day & Night” Teddy Newton *
“The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
“Let's Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
“The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
“Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois
Haven't we already talked about shorts? Pixar did Day & Night, though, and it was the cutest! And I saw that one! Like everyone else who saw TS3!
Prediction: Day & Night (those clouds were so cute!).
Short Film (Live Action)
“The Confession” Tanel Toom
“The Crush” Michael Creagh
“God of Love” Luke Matheny
“Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt
“Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite
Prediction: Early indications point to The Confession. Maybe that's just because it's listed first.
“Inception” Richard King *
“Toy Story 3” Tom Myers and Michael Silvers *
“Tron: Legacy” Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
“True Grit” Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
“Unstoppable” Mark P. Stoeckinger
I really can't imagine Inception not winning either sound award. The use of sound to create and to bolster the visual illusions was really creative. Yet, TS3 and Tron have possible points here.
Prediction: Inception sounds good.
“Inception” Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick *
“The King's Speech” Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley *
“Salt” Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
“The Social Network” Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
“True Grit” Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
Prediction: See above.
“Alice in Wonderland” Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips *
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi *
“Hereafter” Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky and Joe Farrell
“Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb *
“Iron Man 2” Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick
Should Tron: Legacy have been nominated for visual effects? I suppose, but there is an obvious winner in this category, and you don't have to be part of a virtual reality world to figure that out.
Prediction: Inception is a visual feast.
Which Should Win: Inception and only Inception. It was like Escher comes alive.
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
Aaron Sorkin attracts awards, and he made a two hour movie about facebook interesting. He tends to do that. So I hear.
Prediction: The Social Network logs in for the win.
Which Should Win: It's hard for me not to vote for Pixar, and I haven't seen TSN. It'll probably be years before I do, too.
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
My hands hurt.
Prediction: The King's Speech
Which Should Win? I'd say the king and the witty repartee between King George VI and his friend, coupled with the performances, are what make that movie, but Inception is awfully original, don't you think?
There you have it! Predictions from yours truly. I don't anticipate a perfect batting average, but I think some of these are pretty educated guesses. How about you?
The Oscars will be broadcast on February 27, 2011. This may be the first year in a long time that I can't sit and watch the awards. This may also be the first year I don't really care for the hosts: James Franco and Anne Hathaway? Really? They're both cute, but this is a four-hour marathon we're talking about here.
I digress. Tune in, though, because it's always a wonderful night for Oscar!