Oscar Picks 2011

February 14, 2011

Not that you were sitting around waiting for my Oscars picks, but this is kind of a fun game we were playing on Friday night. Hit the comments with answers to these: Am I really BSing people with my love for The Fighter? On a scale of Vanessa Abrams to Blair Waldorf how much do you now hate Natalie Portman? How robbed is Chris Nolan? Will Anne Hathaway and James Franco be good? (I think they will.) Movies I saw are highlighted like this.

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

Should win: Disclaimer is I never got to see Black Swan, and I’ve heard Winter’s Bone is great from people who are into this sort of thing (high-brow indie films, not meth) and people who aren’t. The Social Network didn’t do much for me in terms of living up to the “commentary on the moment we are living in” hurdles it set up for itself (discussed: here); The King’s Speech was textbook “Good Story, Well Told.” Anybody who says Inception should REALLY be getting the Oscar needs to watch The Dark Knight again and rewind a few times, and remember which movie is really Nolan’s best.

No, I go for The Fighter – it just works on so many levels. It’s funny (the sisters, Christian Bale’s sick slide between pathetic and charming), it’s got boxing, it’s got crime, it’s got romance, it’s sad. You get to see this whole town for what it is, and it’s still funny without being “We’re laughing at these people.” It is like Gran Torino, in that respect.

As I said a few weeks ago, it’s also got that stand-off between Bale and Amy Adams, that starts funny with the cursing, and ends in sort of a reversal. Dickie Eklund, pathetic and charming at the same time, lowers the boom on Adams’ Charlene, but with sincerity and elusive self-awareness. It’s basically a clash between someone admitting they’re all a little worthless except Micky (Bale), and someone who’s beyond that, and trying to take a measure in pride in that growth (Adams repeating “I like my life”).

Will win: The King’s Speech. Fine with me, especially for the delightful, Norman Rockwell-esque speech montage. You?

Best Actor

Javier BardemBiutiful
Jeff Bridges — True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg — The Social Network
Colin Firth — The King’s Speech
James Franco — 127 Hours

Should win: Colin Firth really delivers on George VI’s buttoned-up anxiety and anger over his inability to do what’s required of him; he also manages infuse enough charm and warmth into the role that when Geoffrey Rush’s Lionel calls him a good man, you totally agree. Best part, weirdly? That story he tells the princesses about turning into a penguin.

Will win: Mr. Darcy.

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

Should/will win: I saw none of these movies, but I still have an opinion, which is: I really don’t want to listen to Natalie Portman. Again. Ever? I’m really hoping Annette Bening pulls off a good will ambassador upset tonight — and let’s be honest, even though the finale speech and most of the political premise of The American President makes me want to pour bleach into my ears, we all still watch the hell out of that movie on cable. Look, we pretty much gave Sandra Bullock an Academy Award last year for carrying many an enduring cable movie, let’s do it again for Annette. Failing that, I’ll take Jen Lindley. I think it will probably be Natalie Portman, though. Even Ashton Kutcher couldn’t bring her down. But what the hell: Annette Bening for the win.

If you’d like some actual analysis of this category: Low Res, A.V. Club on whether Portman can act, and Tomato Nation.

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

Should/will win: Only saw two of these, so I’ll collapse this one, too. Although I’ve heard great things about John Hawkes, it’s Christian Bale. I mean, it’s Christian Bale. See above: He’s funny, charming, pathetic, and so self-involved to be a monster, but always the central presence in the movie. And then, against, say, My Favorite Movie The Dark Knight? Christian Bale has range. He is Magic Johnson. I think everybody knows that this year.

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams — The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter — King’s Speech
Melissa Leo — The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld — True Grit
Jacki Weaver — Animal Kingdom

Should win: First off, as many have said, Steinfeld should not be in this category. She’s in every scene but one in True Grit, which she’s great in it, and she really has looked great on the awards circuit, but still. If Carter gets this, it will be more for Helena Bonham Carter appreciation, and sort of a “Bow down, motherfuckers” approach to award-giving; she’s very good in King’s Speech, and she plays it very straight, which is not her default setting in movies, and something that really ought to be rewarded. You could also award Amy Adams for that same thing, where she’s giving the character a whole level of realistic concerns (genuinely caring for Wahlberg’s Micky, but…also being dissatisfied with her own choices, and wanting to one-up his family, see: “I like my life”). Flip side, Leo’s absolutely insane and coming at you Bellatrix-style, except as a blue collar white trash Massachusetts matron rather than a pure blood witch with a fascist streak. Push comes to shove: I vote Amy Adams.

Will win: I keep reading two things: One is that people don’t seem to care about Melissa Leo’s tacky self-campaign. Two is that people wouldn’t be surprised if Steinfeld slips in with a win here after Adams, Leo, and Carter split votes. I think if there’s an upset it will be in Best Actress rather than this category, for whatever reason. I think Melissa Leo gets it.

Best Director

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

Should win: Christopher Nolan.

Will win: I think Aronofsky’s going to get it, personally. But there’s a chance Fincher and Aronofsky will split votes, and the Coens will get in there. I haven’t seen Black Swan, obviously, so I can’t really compare what was or wasn’t awesome about it, but True Grit was played like straight Western, and paced extremely well (as was, I will grudgingly admit, The Social Network). Russell balances all the weird, hilarious, pathetic elements and still makes The Fighter a true boxing movie, but he won’t get credit for that. Aronofsky.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jesse Jones February 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Seen: Black Swan, Inception, True Grit, The Social Network, Winter’s Bone
Not Seen: All the others, obvi

I thought 2010 was a really good year for movies overall. With the exception of Winter’s Bone. Good lord that movie sucked, and that’s coming from a guy who normally appreciates the bizarre indie aesthetic.

Natalie Portman and Jeff Bridges were flawless in their respective films, and Hailee Steinfeld put in an incredible debut. The Social Network may not have been a profound commentary on our 21st century existence, but it was a jazzy little treat (and I do mean that as a compliment). Inception was much over-hyped IMO but still hands-down the best action movie of the year. I still want to see The King’s Speech and probably will make the effort if it wins as predicted. Don’t know how I missed Toy Story 3. Oh well. 127 hours — meh, that guy’s already all over the Discovery Channel.

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