2011 Oscars

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THE LIVE BLOG THING
I’m watching using Oscar.com. Their servers are probably bombarded, explaining the choppy connection. This multi-camera novelty is vaguely intriguing, but perching on the red carpet in a camera and looking around like you’re on Google Maps is a lot less interesting than one would think. The experience of a broadcast is much more satisfying – even if every single red carpet announcer is just a little unbearable.

2011-2-27
7:05pm
Portman is incredibly nervous and humble – she’s convinced she’ll win and wants it. Well she’s probably right.

6:28pm
OK. Ha. Firth just admitted that most of what he/they do is “frivolous escapist entertainment.” Nice 🙂

6:24pm
I can’t keep this up. Just wanted to try “blogging.” We all know it isn’t actually interesting.

6:08pm
Ha. Amy Adams, a professional. Taking no shit, giving shit, self-important 🙂 Russell Brand trying too hard – will be presenting with Mirren.

5:54pm
There we go – Michelle Williams! How nice to see her “making it” so well. Williams is giving the interviewer the appropriate amount of attention – half or less. Oh, and her desire after this is to “disappear”… there’s hope!

5:53pm
I wish I had HVTV 😦 Urgh. Announcer is talking to every person we aren’t terribly interested in hearing from – for instance, the producers of How to Train Your Dragon. My five dollars, stretched to infinity.

5:48pm
Yikes. Debra Granik, knowingly confirming her position as an underdog, and being sickeningly saccharine. Confirming my suspicions.

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2011-2-27 4:35pm (Central)
Update. I’ve been poring over this and these are my final choices.

Oscar FINAL DECISIONS
Supporting Actor
Geoffrey Rush

Supporting Actress
Hailee Steinfeld

Adapted Screenplay
The Social Network

Original Screenplay
Inception

Original Score
The Social Network

Original Song
Toy Story 3

Animated Feature
Toy Story 3

Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland

Cinematography
True Grit

Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland

Makeup
Wolfman

Sound Editing
Inception

Sound Mixing
True Grit

Visual Effects
Inception

Documentary Feature
Restrepo

Documentary Short
The Warriors of Quigang

Film Editing
The Social Network

Foreign Language Film
Biutiful

Animated Short
Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage

Live Action Short
Wish 143

Directing
Darren Aronofsky

Best Actress
Natalie Portman

Best Actor
Colin Firth

Best Picture
The King’s Speech

I’m doing Mubi’s Oscar contest, and once you make your selections, they show you how everybody else voted. It’s very telling. For instance, Best Supporting Actress, which I’ve been agonizing over – Melissa Leo has the most votes by a big margin. I had not even considered her. I thought people loved King’s Speech so much that Rush was a sure thing – but Bale has THREE times as many votes (Bale, btw, should win). Now what I have to remember is that Mubi is a site for people who like to think they have aesthetic taste – as opposed to the Academy, which has none whatsoever. And my decisions are simply based on what I think will win… how well I think I know the biz.

One thing I did which was most useful… I went to Wikipedia and looked at the winners of the past 10 years for each category I was unsure of. Very useful, educational. I realized, for instance, how much of this entire ceremony is technical – so much of this BIZ is technical. Cannes, for all its alleged greed, is much more about art. There is no “best visual effects,” “best sound editing.” And its because Hollywood is all technicians, all people who love movies but work with them peripherally. That was an important lesson to learn. I mean half of the categories are of secondary importance to things like story, talent, craft, mise-en-scene, acting… in a word, genius. HALF of them! And this is what Hollywood is about… pomp and “glamour.” This is the first time I’ve ever put much time and energy into this ceremony, ever took a real interest. And I’m coming out the other side with a better understanding of the business of film.
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Original posting:
I don’t care about them and never have. When I grew up there could at least be some mild excitement, but now there is no debate that the entire endeavor is a desperate, decadent joke for hams, and that true talent is rarely if ever awarded. The scope of judgment is narrow to anybody with a mild amount of global sense and aesthetic cultivation. Anybody recall Hugh Jackman’s teeth-clenching “The Musical is back!” performance a few years ago? Or last year’s useless and sophomoric tributes to John Hughes and “the genre or horror”? It all ended for me when Crash won best picture in 2004 – no more hope for respect, no no, respect is dead, art is dead, all dead.

That said… I’ve seen virtually everything that’s up for consideration this year, and find myself in a fun gambler’s position. So I’ll spill out my thoughts here, get them in order, and make it public. And then we won’t speak of it again.

And: This is the first time I’ve “published” anything in which I make grandoise “this will happen” statements. I look forward to the future pain.

Best Motion Picture of the Year Nominees:

127 Hours (2010)
Black Swan (2010)

The Fighter (2010)
Inception (2010)

The Kids Are All Right (2010)
The King’s Speech (2010)

The Social Network (2010)

Toy Story 3 (2010)

True Grit (2010)
Winter’s Bone (2010)

Will win: The King’s Speech
Should win: The Social Network
Right off the bat we can eliminate everything but Black Swan, The King’s Speech, The Social Network and True Grit. Christ, ten choices… what lunacy. Ten “contenders.” True Grit, for its assured mediocrity, sure did receive a lot of noms… but up against three other crowd-pleasers would be quite a surprising win. The film also is regrettably untimely, an ultimate crippler. I can see Black Swan getting best director, but best picture? It’s awfully painful, manipulative and evil for such public vaunting. No, I think the phenomenological impetus, wit and sex appeal make Social Network a near-sure thing. Unless, that is, in this time of national crisis, people want to vicariously love their figurehead? Have their confidence renewed? And place their crowns on institutional bulwarks that still shine? Sorry, all, The King’s Speech will take it. Social Network could’ve stood a better chance if it would’ve amounted to more, but it steadily loses momentum until, remarkably, it anticlimaxes. Black Swan does nothing but gain momentum until it orgasms – but as I said, too evil. Too evil for those straights. Those suckers want to feel ennobled.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role Nominees:
Javier Bardem for Biutiful (2010)

Jeff Bridges for True Grit (2010)
Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network (2010)

Colin Firth for The King’s Speech (2010)

James Franco for 127 Hours (2010)

Will win: Colin Firth
Should win: Jeff Bridges
Biutiful was almost tolerable and Bardem was the best part – his nomination is a flattery: “Keep it up but pick a winner next time.” Bridges did, in fact, do the best acting out of the bunch, but America’s love affair with him has not endured this long. Eisenberg is fine but cold wit does not win hearts (and I should know). Firth will win because everybody likes him, wants to like him, liked his movie, wanted to see him play a patriarch (and most of all, to do it cutely). Franco did a fine job and maybe his charm, good looks and plain old exuberance are what won him the hosting job – a big silver medal and a chance to be pleasing on national television (Hathaway’s hosting gift, then, was to say “Why didn’t you give us the chance to celebrate you this year? You’re the next Julia Roberts! You should be the one we’re awarding now!”).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Nominees:

Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole (2010)
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone (2010)`
Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010)

Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (2010)

Will win: Natalie Portman
Should win: Michelle Williams
Only the latter two noms are not simple flatteries; it’s unquestionably about Portman and Williams, and I think its clear that Portman will take it. Williams is a better actress, but how could a deal as big as Nina’s self-absorbed breakdown be ignored?

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Nominees:

Christian Bale for The Fighter (2010)
John Hawkes for Winter’s Bone (2010)

Jeremy Renner for The Town (2010)
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech (2010)

Will win: Geoffrey Rush
Should win: Christian Bale
We like Renner and we’ll nom him, and he did some fine acting. Ruffalo is enjoyable and barely acted at all. Hawkes works hard and we acknowledge hard-workers. Christian Bale did the most acting and the best acting out of the bunch, and made us laugh, and for everything he’s done I would like to see him get some credit – but we may want to see him brought down to earth a bit first. So, the award will go to Rush for being charmingly British – always palatable to Academy-ics – and… well, he was pretty much just charmingly British. And I suppose a bit tender. Just listen to the way he lilts “Bertie..”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Nominees:

Amy Adams for The Fighter (2010)

Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech (2010)

Melissa Leo for The Fighter (2010)
Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit (2010)
Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (2010)

Will win: Hailee Steinfeld
Should win: Hailee Steinfeld
This one gave me a bit of trouble. Jacki Weaver… whomever that is… is being acknowledged for her long career and her hard work. If she wins I will vomit all over the place, and I can actually see that happening. Probably not, though… god-willing. Animal Kingdom was just freaking amateur hour. Melissa Leo would not win over Amy Adams. I like Adams, I find her to be talented and charming and energetic. This is her third nomination, so I could totally see things going her way. Helena Bonham Carter’s nom frankly leaves me baffled – people like that film just so much, and she is obviously talented and respected, and could stand a win – even though she did virtually nothing in that film that would warrant an award. But I could see that happening. And then there’s young Hailee, who did her award-worthy performance when she was merely 13. As I watched True Grit, I instantly thought “this is the award-winner.” Clearly she owned the film, and I think this is the highest likelihood. But that bizarre King’s-Speech-curve I can see overtaking things, and more importantly, young Hailee has a very limited career thus far, has no films currently in production – and incidentally was home-schooled for the past two years. By this I merely mean to say that when the Academy graces a tike with an oscar, they want to see that kid go on to a rich and varied career. Haley Joel Osmont, for instance, has been working consistently since 1999. This Hailee (be prepared for a presenter to riff on the Hailee/Haley noms) seems strangely private to me – and all the better for it. So in that case, will the award go the deserving Adams? Or, just because everybody liked that film so much, to Carter? I could see any happening. And if 2010 was a year for head-trauma, perhaps the academy will simply want to award the underdog and go for Weaver… unlikely. Leo, quite hard to see taking it among these ladies. Steinfeld… Adams… Carter… dammit!! It’ll probably be Steinfeld, though…

CHANGED MY MIND IT’LL TOTALLY BE AMY ADAMS!

Best Achievement in Directing 
Nominees:
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (2010)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen for True Grit (2010)
David Fincher for The Social Network (2010)

Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech (2010)

David O. Russell for The Fighter (2010)

Will win: Darren Aronofsky
Should win:
Again, that King’s-Speech-Curve… Hooper is least talented among his peers, but may get credit. Russell presented a very enjoyable film that didn’t leave the viewer with much of anything. Fincher delivered his usually solid, sexy and detached. And the Coens delivered their now entirely expected solidity, one might even say rigidity by now, but with humanity that Social Network lacked. And Aronofsky, well, within the Academy this was pure bravura. It’s hard to not see him taking it. If, however, nobody wants to credit his dark and evil film too much, they could safely fall back on the ubiquitous and infinite Coens.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen 
Nominees:
Another Year (2010): Mike Leigh
The Fighter (2010): Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson
Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan

The Kids Are All Right (2010): Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg

The King’s Speech (2010): David Seidler

Will win: The King’s Speech
Should win: Another Year?
The only one I have not seen is Another Year, and it’s the one I really wanted to see most.. I cannot forgive myself for that one, and I just know that that’s the one I would want to win… but given the other contenders, it’s all between Nolan and Seidler. Nolan’s cleverness is his life, and he even out-clevered himself with Inception – which, despite its occasional idiocy, has won some of my affection. I did not think King’s Speech was exactly a breath of fresh air, but, there it is again, that curve… relatively speaking, it was a solidly indy script, hitting all the beats as would a professor of Creative Writing. Yeah… I think that’s going to be the one. I really do wish I was in a position to confidently call Another Year, but I am not.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
 Nominees:
127 Hours (2010): Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy

The Social Network (2010): Aaron Sorkin

Toy Story 3 (2010): Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich

True Grit (2010): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Winter’s Bone (2010): Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini

Will win: The Social Network
Should win: The Social Network
It’s awfully sweet – or desperate – to see Toy Story 3 nominated, but no. 127 Hours is a somewhat similar case. True Grit is more of the Coens doing what they have always done and never done differently, and nobody is denying that it works – so why award them for it? 10 noms is enough of an acknowledgment. So it’s Winter’s Bone or Social Network. Social Network is Sorkin at his finest, and I’ve always enjoyed his writing. The film deserves credit (in this particular awards ceremony). So will they award the underdogs who wrote the solid indy noir? It’s rather a tough call. Winter’s Bone is exactly the kind of film that Academy-ics wish to celebrate for the sake of charity. But Social Network is timely and, more importantly, fun. Can it be denied? It’s misogyny may offend some of the CHICK Academy-ics, I fear. Well – not so much misogyny, but an adherence to an idea that men do not do anything that is not in pursuit of [censored]. Sorkin, I hope you get it.

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