Time for Hollywood to slap itself on the back and pretend that its self-importance isn’t laughable. Time for the elite of the acting world to sit in black-tie judgment (and mock humility) of their peers. It’s the most over-the-top night in entertainment.
And we couldn’t be more excited.
This year’s Oscars are relatively straight-forward. The general absence of megalomaniacal directors and politically charged films leave room for an array of interesting subplots.
There are few certainties going into this year’s telecast. (Christian Bale is as close to a lock as you can get in the Supporting Actor category and The King’s Speech will undoubtedly win a number of undeserving technical Oscars because of, well, the Academy just being too predictable sometimes.) But, a couple of things are for certain. Natalie Portman will cry. And Helena Bonham Carter will look like hot death.
My only regret about this year’s Oscars is that we have to wait until next year to pick Big Mommas for anything.
But, I’ve rambled on enough. To the picks:
Best Picture: The Social Network – As much as I think the 10-picture race is ridiculous…this year’s field is actually pretty strong. As I type this, Harvey and Bob Weinstein are more than likely frantically lobbying the Academy with last minute pleadings for their (very, very good) The King’s Speech and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the royal pic grabs the top prize. But, I think that The Social Network has that certain vibe that edges it ahead for me. And in the grand scheme of things, that’s all that matters…to anyone, really.
Actor: Colin Firth; The King’s Speech – That said, Firth’s stammering monarch is mesmerizing. This is a two horse race, but Firth’s bold performance should top James Franco’s excellent turn in 127 Hours.
Actress: Natalie Portman; Black Swan - The only way Annette Benning snags this award is if the Academy plays the “we owe her” card. Her performance in The Kids Are All Right was good. Borderline great, even. But compare it to Portman’s obsessed and splintered swan queen. Oscar loves it when actors go through dynamic physical change to nail a role. And Oscar loves psychosis. Win-win.
Supporting Actor: Christian Bale; The Fighter - Christian Bale. Christian Bale. Christian Bale……Christian Bale. I mean, holy crap…Christian Bale.
Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld; True Grit – This is the last pick I made. I just couldn’t decide. To me it’s a toss-up between Steinfeld and Melissa Leo. Both performances were outstanding. Leo has the momentum of a Golden Globe win. But, something tells me that Steinfeld, the driving force behind True Grit (outshining both Matt Damon AND Jeff Bridges, IMO,) might just be making the trip up to the mic. Plus, the Coen Brothers, who will likely have a very disappointing evening, deserve to have some accolades on the night…even if it’s only celebrating the fact that they discovered this girl and brought her to all of us. That said, I would be COMPLETELY fine with Leo winning if it came to that.
Director: David Fincher; The Social Network – Fincher blended multiple perspectives and witty banter into a nearly flawless telling of arguably the biggest technical/social revolution of our time. And he managed to preserve the excess and trappings that came with it, all the while getting us to somehow care about characters with no real redeeming qualities whatsoever. And that, as my Grandpa used to say, takes some doin’.
Animated Picture: Toy Story 3 – I really, really liked How to Train Your Dragon. I really, really didn’t see the French one. But, this category is Woody and Company’s to lose.
Art Direction: Robert Stromberg and Karen O’Hara; Alice in Wonderland – Most spectacular doesn’t always get the statue in this category. But this year, it certainly deserves it.
Cinematography: Roger Deakins, True Grit – Like director Martin Scorsese, Deakins has slogged through the Oscar wilderness that is that old cliche “it’s an honor just to be nominated.” Some argued that Scorsese was being rewarded for a career of excellence when he won on his 6th nomination for 2006′s The Departed. A long time collaborator with the Coen brothers, Deakins has been nominated 8 previous times (list of his ridiculously beautiful films here.) Is this the year that the Academy finally gives Deakins his due? Probably not, as alluded to earlier, The King’s Speech will win. But a blogger can hope.
Costume Design: Jenny Beavan; The King’s Speech – I’m going to buck my personal trend of picking Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland) to win every year. Normally, it’s a somewhat safe bet. But this year, something tells me Oscar is going to be all about the regal and surprisingly subtle period work in Speech.
Documentary Feature: Exit Through The Gift Shop – Banksy is SOOO hot right now! Besides, this is probably the first time in Oscar history that a campaign has included graffiti-bombing a prominent Hollywood billboard. Something like that should be rewarded, right?
Documentary Short: Poster Girl - PTSD, FTW!
Film Editing: The Social Network – Go back and watch the scene where a drunken Zuckerberg hacks the various Harvard databases and builds the FaceMash website all the while blogging his process. Yeah. I know, right? Everything about this movie, from the dialogue to the music, and certainly, the editing, is an absolute cohesive product. And highly enjoyable.
Foreign Language Film: In A Better World - There are many reasons that this is the hardest category to predict. Not the least of which is that it’s so difficult to actually see the nominees. Popular thought says to go with Iñárritu’s Biutiful which stars America’s favorite Spaniard (sorry, Rafa) Javier Bardem But I’ve never considered myself popular. Look for Denmark’s In A Better World to grab the statue….maybe.
Makeup: Rick Baker and Dave Elsey; The Wolfman – When in doubt, go with monsters. Besides, it just wouldn’t be right for such an amazing movie* to get shut-out of the most prestigious awards ceremony in the business.
Animated Short: The Lost Thing – This has become my favorite minor category over the past few years. With a little internet savvy and some patience, you can find and watch most of the nominees online. And I have loved all but just a few of the the nominees I’ve seen the last 5 years or so. The varying styles and stories are a delight. This year was no exception. My favorite of the bunch was Madagascar: Carnet de Voyage. But, the others were all interesting, entertaining and well made. However, if history has taught me anything, it’s to go with the one that I HAVEN’T seen. So, congratulations The Lost Thing, here’s your Oscar.
Live Action Short: Wish 143 – Why not?
Original Score: The Social Network – If only to see Trent Reznor’s acceptance speech (which will probably, sadly, not be all that exciting.) But his electronica-meets-fuzzy-rock score not only punctuated the film, but managed to capture the tone and era of the story perfectly.
Original Song: “If I Rise”; 127 Hours - Rahman fever has subdued some since the red-hot spring of Slumdog Millionaire. But, there is still enough in the air to garner a win for this haunting ode to resilience. Don’t be mad at me, Gwyneth. It’s just business.
Sound Editing: Inception – BRRRRRRRRAAAAAWWWWWMMMMMMMM!!!!
Sound Mixing: Inception – “Dreams feel real while we’re in…BRRRR RRRRAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWMMMMMMMMMM!!!!”
Visual Effects: Inception – Do I seriously need to explain the logic behind this one?
Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin; The Social Network – See also: Editing. I feel I’ve gushed enough about the things I liked about this movie. Besides, it’s Aaron Sorkin for crying out loud.
Original Screenplay: David Seidler; The King’s Speech – It’s funny. It’s touching. It’s inspirational. It’s not entirely true to history…..wait, what? Ah, who cares? It’s a great script.
Tune in Sunday night at 8pm EDT for EJSIC’s live coverage of the 2011 Academy Awards. We’ll be here laughing at the broadcast (and probably most of my picks.) Feel free to join us.
*- I actually don’t know if it was any good. I’m not sure anyone even saw it. It looked terrible.