Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Final Go....

I'm not sure if it's the increase from 5 Best Picture nominees to 10, but this is the second year in a row where, the day of the Oscars, it almost feels like a toss up. In 2010, while I was pretty certain The Hurt Locker would prevail, I was far from 100% sure of it. This year, while it feels like The King's Speech will take the top prize, it sure doesn't feel like a lock. In fact, it seems the buzz when the final votes were submitted, The Social Network got the support it had the first half of the awards season. What's more shocking to me is how many categories are toss-ups. It's tough to say whether it's because so many excelled in different areas or no movie was particularly outstanding. (See nominees for Best Makeup) It's a tough year for guessing and I won't be surprised if I miss half the winners this year. Here's my final guesses.

Best Picture:

Who Will Win: The King's Speech
Who Should Win: The Social Network

Several pundits have compared a King's Speech victory over Social Network to How Green Was My Valley over Citizen Kane. What they mean is that the film that seems tailor made for winning awards prevailed over a truly brilliant and unique film. The difference with this year is that The King's Speech is a terrific, well made film on its own and more unique than the die hard Social Network fans would like you to believe. That said, it's still no Social Network. No, I would say a King's Speech victory is more akin to Rocky defeating...well...everything else it was up against. Rocky didn't challenge audience the way Taxi Driver or Network did, but it was still a respectable choice.

Best Director:
Who Will Win: David Fincher
Who Should Win: David Fincher

And this is how the Academy will rectify its choice of King's Speech.

Best Actor:
Who Will Win: Colin Firth
Who Should Win: James Franco

Colin Firth gives an amazing performance, with a speech impediment, which voters like. James Franco IS 127 Hours. Everything about the film could be perfect (and it almost is) and the movie would be a disaster if the actor playing Ralston failed. 127 Hours is not up for Best Picture if it weren't for Franco.

Best Actress:
Who Will Win: Natalie Portman
Who Should Win: Natalie Portman

This one is a gimme.

Best Supporting Actor:
Who Will Win: Christian Bale
Who Should Win: Christian Bale

Because Batman should have an Oscar in his utility belt.

Best Supporting Actress:
Who Will Win: No Idea
Who Should Win: Jacki Weaver

My paper ballot right now is empty. Melissa Leo seems like a good choice. But her Oscar campaign has been an embarrassment to the Academy. Hailee Steinfeld shouldn't even be in this category. She may lose because it's a lead role. On the flip side, the amount of screen time, the most fully formed character of the choices and that all of the non-adult actors who've won, won here gives her a good shot. Bonham Carter could win just for a strong quarter century of performances. Jacki Weaver doesn't stand a chance. But her performance in Animal Kingdom is akin to Joe Pesci's in Goodfellas. And the scene in the grocery store is worth an award by itself.

Best Original Screenplay:
Who Will Win: The King's Speech
Who Should Win: Inception

If for no other reason because The King's Speech should have been in violation of Academy rules for what is considered "original". While never produced as a play, the script was discovered at a play reading. But it's a technicality.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Who Will Win: The Social Network
Who Should Win: The Social Network

As big a lock as you'll ever see at the Oscars.

Best Animated Feature Film:
Who Will Win: Toy Story 3
Who Should Win: How to Train Your Dragon

Just part of my own personal bias against awarding sequels. Toy Story 3 is not as good as its predecessors and a little too self-referential. It's here because of the last 20 minutes, which, again, has as much to do with parts 1 & 2, as the third. And I'll say the same thing when HTTYD parts 2 & 3 are released.

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