The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
My pick: The Social Network
Will win: The King’s Speech
I know I shouldn’t care that much, but to illustrate how uneven the fight for my favor between The Social Network and The King’s Speech is, consider this: If I were to rank all the best picture nominees, TSN would be #1, whereas TKS would come in at #8. If the question was which movie is my all-time favorite, TSN would come in at #3. Needless to say, TKS wouldn’t even show. That’s how invested I am in this fight; one that the British royal spectacle seems to have won weeks ago. For the record, my order of prefence is 1) The Social Network 2) Toy Story 3 3) The Kids Are All Right 4) Inception 5) Winter’s Bone 6) True Grit 7) Black Swan 8) The King’s Speech 9) 127 Hours 10) The Fighter
Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
James Franco (127 Hours)
My pick: Jesse Eisenberg
Will win: Colin Firth
I’ve seen every performance in this category save Bardem’s, and once again I’m in the TSN camp. Eisenberg’s icy yet accessible Mark Zuckerberg moved more than any other performance last year – with the possible exception of his co-star Andrew Garfield, who was even nominated, in the Supporting Actor category. That said, I’ve conceded that Colin Firth will win, and I can certainly live with that. His George VII is a contained performance, and he plays well of his co-star Geoffrey Rush. Plus it’ll right a wrong for last year, when Firth was snubbed for A Single Man in favor of Jeff Bridges. Bridges is nominated again this year, for what is actually a supporting role, and he’s good, but he won’t win. James Franco, the host of the night, anchored 127 Hours heroically, but this won’t be his year.
Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
My pick: Annette Bening
Will win: Natalie Portman
I struggled to choose between Bening and Lawrence, and if I had seen Blue Valentine, I’m sure Williams would have been in the running, too. In the end, it was basically a tie, but the most important thing is that either of these two would be an anti-Portman. It’s not that I hated Portman in Black Swan, but this year I’m kind of annoyed that Oscar seems to return to form by reflexively rewarding as much acting as possible, as opposed to the best acting. Lawrence and Bening do just as much (or more) with much, much less acting than Portman. Though here stock has been falling slightly in recent weeks, I still Portman will win. Which reminds me that I’m still kind of annoyed that neither Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right) or Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go) were nominated.
Actor in a Supporting Role
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)
My pick: Geoffrey Rush
Will win: Christian Bale
This is another tough one. John Hawkes was as good as as Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, and that’s saying something. After much deliberatin, however, I’m with Geoffrey Rush, mostly because I’ve discovered over time that it’s actually his performance that has staying with me most from The King’s Speech. For some reason, the scenes showing Lionel Logue as an amateur actor really moved me. I didn’t like Christian Bale’s performance in The Fighter – another sign of how much acting is likely to beat great acting – but I’m sure as to how much of that should be blamed on Bale. The screenplay was terrible, so it’s understandable if he though he had to inject as much acting as possible into his character in order to save him. Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo are also-rans in this category. Andrew Garfield wuz robbed!
Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)
My pick: Hailee Steinfeld
Will win: Melissa Leo
The sad thing about this category is that if Melissa Leo doesn’t win, everyone will ascribe to some outside-the-box personal ads. I hope that won’t be topples her, although I think her performance suffered from many of the same flaws as co-star and fellow frontrunner Christian Bale. For my pick, I was torn between Amy Adams. Adams was a beacon of sanity and somber acting in The Fighter, and she managed to be a strong-willed and flawed character without resorting to the pyrotechnics of Bale and Leo. But my favorite is Hailee Steinfeld, who carries True Grit in what is the actual lead role. She steals every scene, and that’s not because of poor competition. (I haven’t seen Animal Kingdom.)
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
Joel & Ethan Coen (True Grit)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
David O. Russell (The Fighter)
My pick and likely winner: David Fincher
This looks to be TSN’s biggest win of the night, if Fincher is not upstaged by a King’s Speech sweep. If Geoffrey Rush overtakes Christian Bale for supporting actor (which he should), that could be a bad omen for Fincher.
127 Hours (Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle)
The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
Toy Story 3 (Michael Arndt, story by John Lasseter. Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich)
True Grit (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)
Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, Anne Rossellini)
My pick and likely winner: The Social Network
All the praise for Aaron Sorkin’s TSN screenplay is well-deserved (as is the criticism he has gotten for the female characters). It’s shap and funny, but less ink has been spilled over how he sets up the emotional climax, or more like a crescendo. Watch the final act, from the rowing competition to the friend request, and think about how Sorkin manages to win us over to Zuckerberg’s team, at least to some extent. That’s what I call great writing. I’m glad Sorkin is likely to win, but I’m also saddened that the closing of the Toy Story trilogy can’t take the gold. Oscar rules say that direct sequels should be considered adaptations of an original work, so Michael Arndt screenplay is pitted against Sorkin’s. It’s a stupid rule that prevents the perfect curtain call for the Pixar franchise.
Best Original Screenplay
Another Year (Mike Leigh)
The Fighter (Paul Attanasio, Lewis Colich, Eric Johnson, Scott Silverand, Paul Tamasy)
Inception (Christopher Nolan)
The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg)
The King’s Speech (David Seidler)
My pick: The Kids Are All Right
Will win: The King’s Speech
What the hell is The Fighter doing on this list? Anyways, The King’s Speech will run away with it, courtesy of David Seidler’s funny yet conventional screenplay. In contrast, I loved The Kids Are All Right, a movie that wasn’t afraid to ever-so-gently tweak the conventions of the family drama. It’s my pick because there are so few movies that succeed in what that movie tried to do, and because it is much harder than it seems. I would be fine with Inception getting the honor, too, if mostly to celebrate its ambition and scope. Mike Leigh’s Another Year won’t win, but it’s a fine and wise little film.
How To Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3
My pick and likely winner: Toy Story 3
Black Swan (Mathieu Libatique)
Inception (Wally Pfister)
The King’s Speech (Danny Cohen)
The Social Network (Jeff Cronenweth)
True Grit (Roger Deakins)
My pick: The Social Network
Will win: True Grit
127 Hours (A.R. Rahman)
The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat)
The Social Network (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross)
Inception (Hans Zimmer)
How To Train Your Dragon (John Powell)
My pick: The Social Network
Will win: Inception
Your choices are really close to the actual winners! But I do have to agree with you about what you mentioned in the Best Actress category regarding most acting vs. the best acting. There’s a difference and I’m not sure if the voters were fully aware of it. Bening’s performance, at least for me, was more powerful because she excelled in every scene she was given. Portman was very good also but she had a more obvious (literal) transformation and character arc.
What did you think of the Oscars this year? Ebert said it was the worst he’d seen. I actually quite enjoyed it because of the young hosts. Anne Hathaway was so giggly… which was sometimes cute but other times irritating. But when Billy Crystal appeared, it made me wish he was hosting it (lol). James Franco in drag, hmm, surprised me.
As for Christian Bale’s win, I just don’t think it was his best work. Out of them all, I think that win (and the hype prior) was the most overrated.
I was underwhelmed by the show itself, although I liked Hathaway and Franco as hosts. They were funny and quick on their feet, and liked like they were having some fun along the way, although I think Hathaway must have been very nervous. And they are both so beautiful!
Much as I was frustrated by Bale’s win over Rush and Hawkes, my pick for most overrated winner of the night has to be Tom Hooper. I’ll expand on that in another comment. I still can’t believe Andrew Garfield was not nominated, when the Academy did find a spot for Jeremy Renner (!). In my mind, it just proves how my easier it is get nominated if you’ve been nominated again. I’m not going to say anything about Bardem’s performance in ‘Biutiful’, which I’m sure is great, but if he was a previous winner, and the film was not directed by a previous nominee, I think the road would have far more rocky for Bardem this year.