And The Oscar Goes To….
And so it goes that another year and another set of Oscar nominations arrive. There are no real shocks but we are here to go through the nominees and who we think will win and who we would like to win, rarely are the two the same thing. If nothing else this might help you place a few bets come the glittery night. Of course we fully expect these predictions to be the kiss of death on all the predicted winners….sorry.
Black Swan , The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3 , True Grit, Winter’s Bone
Tough call on this one as all of these would be worthy winners. Inception is no doubt a film that could change the way Hollywood perceives summer blockbusters so for that reason it would be a smart winner. Credit to The Academy for nominating not only a sequel but also an animated film in this category but Toy Story 3 is unlikely to win here given it is surely a shoe-in for Best Animated category.
Our Head Says: The King’s Speech. It has Oscar darling written all over it. It is a true-life story about real people and there is a lot of talking, in fact it is about talking, and overcoming adversity, and the English monarchy and…you get the idea.
Our Heart Says: Inception. It’s about time Christopher Nolan’s work was recognized on a broader scale than just the box-office. Furthermore, if it wins it would be a bold statement that we no longer need mindless summer CGI driven garbage.
Dark Horse: The Social Network. This one is dark as hell anyway but it is also a poignant film on the current global climate. What is more The Social Network is staggeringly layered and Oscar might want to acknowledge just how much this film achieves.
David O. Russell – The Fighter, Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech, David Fincher – The Social Network, Joel And Ethan Coen – True Grit , Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
Rarely does this category throw up as many truly great directors. The omission of Danny Boyle for 127 Hours is a shame but when there is only room for five there was bound to be some disappointments. The lack of Christopher Nolan’s inclusion is nothing short of criminal given his work on Inception. This is one of those categories where Oscar often rewards people based on their whole career rather than the ‘Best’ that year. Remember that Martin Scorsese won for The Departed, not Raging Bull, Taxi Driver or any other of his countless masterpieces. The Coens have a Best Director gong to their name already so they would seem like outsiders. What is more True Grit does not have an editing nomination and the two often go hand in hand.
Our Head Says: Darren Aronofsky. Black Swan is a hugely extravagant film with operatics literally pouring from the screen. As such Oscar is likely to be dazzled and also want to reward a man who likes to challenge the conventional.
Our Heart Says: David Fincher is always one of the most fascinating directors working in modern cinema. Due to the brilliance of his body of work we would love him to add an Oscar to his repertoire.
Dark Horse: Tom Hooper. We suspect The Academy will split the voting and plump for The King’s Speech as best film therefore awarding Best Director to someone else, BUT they may feel that Hooper’s orchestration of said film warrants a nod.
Javier Bardem – Biutiful , Jeff Bridges – True Grit , Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network , Colin Firth – The King’s Speech , James Franco – 127 Hours
Last year it was between Bridges for Crazy Heart and Firth for A Single Man, this round two looks set to be more of a Firth knock-out. However, you cannot write-off Franco who is presenting the Oscars this year and is clearly something of a Hollywood darling. It helps that he is annoyingly talented.
Our Head Says: Colin Firth. It is one of those performances that demands the actor remain flawed throughout and manage to overcome adversity. That and he lost out last year so it’s his turn.
Our Heart Says: James Franco. His performance in 127 Hours is a master class in how to retain audience interest and affection. You can see it now, Oscar in hand, Franco remains on stage to present the next award, with Anne Hathaway on his arm….some people have all the luck.
Dark Horse: Jeff Bridges. He is worshipped throughout the film industry and gives a great turn as Rooster Cogburn. That John Wayne won his only Oscar for the same role might just allow The Academy to pay homage to the Hollywood Legend.
Natalie Portman – Black Swan , Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right , Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone , Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine , Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole
This is one of the toughest to call and all merit their nominations. That Hailee Steinfeld, clearly the lead in True Grit, is nominated in Best Supporting Actress looks like The Academy are hedging their bets on this one. Bening has been nominated four times now and never won so there is every likelihood the powers that be will want to recognise her career. Having said that Portman is also a Hollywood darling so the jury is out on this one.
Our Head Says: Natalie Portman. Black Swan lives and dies by her performance and it was clearly a very demanding role that she more than knocks out of the park.
Our Heart Says: Jennifer Lawrence is a revelation in Winter’s Bone. It is through her quiet reserve that the film truly excels. Alas she is young and perhaps Oscar might think she will get another shot later down the line.
Dark Horse: Annette Bening. She has certainly proven over the years to be an actress of vast talent and maybe it is her turn.
Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale – The Fighter , John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone , Jeremy Renner – The Town , Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech , Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right
Again some great performances here and a delightful inclusion of Jeremy Renner for his blistering role in The Town. John Hawkes is compelling in Winter’s Bone and pulls off the psychotic vibe without ever raising his voice, quiet menace does not even begin to cover it.
Our Head Says: It’s tough to see past Christian Bale. He is undoubtedly one of the best of his generation and his performances over the years are always electric.
Our Heart Says: Christian Bale. Although he might cut a controversial figure he is an actor you cannot help but be mesmerized by.
Dark Horse: Geoffrey Rush. If anything he is just as good as Firth in The King’s Speech and is actually the true heart of that film. He could clinch it if Oscar sees past the shadow of Firth.
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
Great to see Jacki Weaver getting recognition for Animal Kingdom as the terrifying matriarch of a gangster family. The Fighter double whammy of Adams and Leo might split the vote on this one allowing others to sneak in there.
Our Head Says: Hailee Steinfeld. As previously mentioned this one is a bit of a cheat as Steinfeld is clearly the lead female role in True Grit. Having said that she more than holds her own against the likes of Bridges and Damon and so warrants a win and this nomination would therefore seem geared to that.
Our Heart Says: Helena Bonham Carter gives a hugely warm performance in The King’s Speech and she hass been producing great performances for long enough to deserve a little golden man.
Dark Horse: Amy Adams is so Apple Pie she might just melt the hearts of the voters. This is her third nomination and it could be she wins for being consistently brilliant. We are choosing to forget Leap Year.
Best Original Screenplay
Another Year – Mike Leigh , The Fighter – Scott Silver,Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington, Inception – Christopher Nolan , The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg , The King’s Speech – David Seidler
This year has been nothing short of a treat when it comes to original material and this list is just a taster of that. Another Year is probably too quintessentially English to win here but Mike Leigh fully warrants the accolades. Both The Kids Are Alright and The Fighter are scripts that fully break free of their genre expectations.
Our Head Says: Inception. It is such a brilliant piece of invention and one that speaks directly to the concept of filmmaking itself.
Our Heart Says: The King’s Speech. Rarely do scripts capture the heart as well as this film does but more than anything writer David Seidler is 73! A testament to what hard graft and experience can teach you, it would be fitting to see him lift the Oscar.
Dark Horse: The Fighter just has that Oscar baiting ability. With its underdog and broken characters, it might just pip this one.
Best Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours – Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy , The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin , Toy Story 3 – Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich , True Grit – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen , Winter’s Bone – Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini
A close one this. Toy Story 3 is a revelation in what it achieves in a ‘Kids’ movie and yet continues to touch your very soul without blinking. 127 Hours takes a limited concept and turns it into a life journey while never moving. Winter’s Bone perfectly captures the world it is set in and manages to suck you in so completely you never want to leave….we don’t envy The Academy on this one.
Our Head Says: The Social Network. Aaron Sorkin has long been one of the most hugely talented screenwriters and his ability to have us care for the characters in The Social Network while still working in his trademark dialogue makes him the sure winner. Furthermore his work on The Social Network will surely go down in history as one of the finest screenplays ever written, watch it again it has every thing all shrouded in a dark sense of irony. Brilliant.
Our Hearts Says: 127 Hours. Boyle and Beaufoy had no right to make 127 Hours as compelling a viewing experience as it is and as such they would be worthy winners…and they are English which we like.
Dark Horse: True Grit. It is crucial to remember just how brilliant the Coens are at constructing some of the most carefully realized characters and True Grit continues that tradition.
Black Swan - Andrew Weisblum, The Fighter - Pamela Martin, The King’s Speech – Tariq Anwar, 127 Hours - John Harris, The Social Network – Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
Rarely does the Best Picture Oscar go to a film that doesn’t also win Best Editing so this one is crucial. Harris should take serious plaudits for crafting Danny Boyle’s endless shots and creating a hugely visceral experience. Weisblum for Black Swan makes everything in that film flow seamlessly as the ballet it portrays.
Our Heads Says: Tough call this one between The King’s Speech and The Social Network. Both allow normally questionable subject matters to gel and become endlessly engaging. The King’s Speech to pip it, for being tight without any fat that could be trimmed.
Our Hearts Says: 127 Hours for the simple fact that it manages to take so many elements and blend them together brilliantly.
Dark Horse: Black Swan. The film is big in an intimate way and the editing allows us to truly get inside the head of the protagonist.
Black Swan – Matthew Libatique , Inception – Wally Pfister , The King’s Speech – Danny Cohen , The Social Network – Jeff Cronenweth , True Grit – Roger Deakins
If we had it our way all of these would win as all look stunning and frankly these guys do not get the credit they all deserve. The likes of Deakins and Pfister are legends in the field while Libatique has always done Aronofsky proud. Just to really mix things up Cohen is a Shane Meadows regular and seems to always perfectly render England in washed out nostalgia.
Our Head Says: Pfister for Inception. This one is due to the monumental task of making each level of the dream world Nolan created look unique and Pfister does it brilliantly.
Our Heart Says: Deakins for True Grit. The man is a legend in the world of cinematography and already has NINE nominations to his name. It is his time and he fully deserves it.
Dark Horse: Danny Cohen has etched out a hugely impressive career without ever drawing attention to himself. The mark of a great Director of Photographer is if no one notices the job you have done and for that reason he could sneak it and be a worthy winner.
Best Animated Film
Toy Story 3 , The Illusionist , How To Train Your Dragon
No brainer this one Toy Story 3 walks it without breaking a sweat.
Our Head Says: Toy Story 3. Pixar are the masters of their craft and in the Toy Story films they have created probably the best trilogy of all time.
Our Heart Says: Toy Story 3. We still get choked up when all the toys hold hands in the final show-down. (wipes away a tear and looks manly).
Dark Horse: The Illusionist could see The Academy chose to reward traditional animation over digimation.
Best Foreign Film
Biutiful (Mexico) , Dog Tooth (Greece) , In A Better World (Denmark) , Incendies (Canada) , Outside the Law (Algeria)
This is a category that always throws up a surprising winner, normally because most people haven’t seen all the nominations.
Our Head Says: Biutiful. The pedigree of those involved will surely see this one to the finishing post.
Our Heart Says: Dogtooth is so original and quirky that we would love it to win. It was easily one of the films of the year.
Dark Horse: Pick one. You never know with Best Foreign Film.
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 real treats here and you can never underestimate the importance of a good score, ask Spielberg concerning Jaws. Rahman did a great job on 127 Hours, but he already has and Oscar to his name for Slumdog. Reznor and Ross’s score for Network is a brilliantly subtle score that perfectly evokes the back-stabbing on offer. There is a glaring omission though as Daft Punk’s score for Tron; Legacy is surely one of the best of the year.
Our Head Says: The Social Network. Reznor is the man from Nine Inch Nails and Oscar will want to reward someone from a none filmic background.
Our Heart Says: Inception. Hans Zimmer’s score for Nolan’s opus is simply breathtaking. It is as much a part of the dream world as the visuals and as such needs to be recognized as more than just a score but an intrinsic part of the film.
Dark Horse: The King’s Speech for its ability to always reflect the lead character’s tone and mood.
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
It’s hard to see past 127 Hours here as when this song kicks in towards the end you literally sit forward to will Franco home.
Our Head Says: 127 Hours
Our Heart Says: Toy Story 3. We can’t get enough of those toys.
Dark Horse: Tangled. Oscar loves Disney songs, they always have.
Best Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland – Colleen Atwood , I Am Love – Antonella Cannarozzi, The King’s Speech – Jenny Beavan, The Tempest – Sandy Powell , True Grit – Mary Zophres
For sheer creation it has to be The Tempest but authenticity is always crucial and as such The King’s Speech and True Grit could take it.
Our Head Says: The King’s Speech for being accurate to the time while also conveying character traits.
Our Heart Says: True Grit for the sheer attention to detail.
Dark Horse: The Tempest was a little under the radar but the Costumes are a revelation.
Best Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland – Robert Stromberg, Karen O’Hara , Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan, Inception – Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias and Doug Mowat, The King’s Speech – Eve Stewart , Judy Farr , True Grit – Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh
Our Head Says: The King’s Speech.
Our Heart Says: True Grit, who doesn’t love the look of a great Western.
Dark Horse: Inception. It is all set in dreams you know. Or is it?
Best Visual Effects
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 Trojanski 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
Our Head Says: Only one film here never lets you see the seams and that is Inception. The use of practical effects combined with CGI is perfect. Remember the rotating corridor. Genius.
Heart Says: Inception.
Dark Horse: Iron Man 2 might clinch it for its endless crash bang whallop.
Best Sound Editing
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
Our Head Says: Unstoppable. Stoeckinger gives a voice to a train with the way he twists and turns the sound, it is staggering.
Our Heart Says: Toy Story 3. Never forget that an animated film has to create every sound from scratch and here it is perfection.
Dark Horse: Tron; Legacy. It is through the sound in this film that The Grid takes on more than just a visual flourish.
Best Sound Mixing
Inception, The King’s Speech, Salt, The Social Network, True Grit
Our Head Says: Inception
Our Heart Says: The King’s Speech
Dark Horse: True Grit
Best Documentary Feature
Exit through the Gift Shop , Gasland , Inside Job, Restrepo, Waste Land
Our Head Says: Restrepo
Our Heart Says: Exit Through The Gift Shop
Dark Horse: Gasland.