Best Actor in a Leading Role
Otherwise known as "Best Actor." The main battle here is between Jesse Eisenberg for his role as Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network and Colin Firth as King George VI in The King's Speech. The other contenders are Jeff Bridges for True Grit, Javier Bardem for Biutiful, and James Franco for 127 Hours.
Now, granted, I've only seen two of these films: The Social Network and The King's Speech. And they seem to be the only ones that matter, although Jeff Bridges is a pretty well-known actor and could win, I guess. My pick though is Colin Firth. If you have not seen The King's Speech, SEE IT!! Ok, so I'm a big fan of historical films, so maybe I'm a little biased here, but this film, which tells the true story of England's King George VI (father of the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II) and how he overcame his problem with stammering, is amazing. Colin Firth is a great actor anyway, but he really hits it out of the park here, capturing George (or rather Albert, since he's a prince for most of the film)'s frustration with his stammering and his brother's controversial relationship with an American divorcée, as well as the softer side he shows to his children. They couldn't have picked a better person to play this role. It kind of reminded me of his role as Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest, which was also a well-played mix of seriousness and lightness.
As for Eisenberg...well, I didn't think much of The Social Network anyway. It was an ok film, but it didn't wow me. And Eisenberg's performance makes Mark Zuckerberg out to look like a real jerk. Now, granted, the movie is based on a book called The Accidential Billionaires, and the only person from Facebook who helped with that book was Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin (played in The Social Network by Andrew Garfield), who ended up suing Zuckerberg after Zuckerberg drastically cut his holdings in Facebook while not cutting any of the holdings of the other shareholders. So Saverin may not have painted a very rosy picture of Zuckerberg. But still, his performance just didn't wow me the way Colin Firth's did.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Also known as "Best Supporting Actor" (people just love to shorten these award names, don't they?). The nominees here are Christian Bale for The Fighter, John Hawkes for Winter's Bone, Jeremy Renner for The Town, Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right, and Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech.
Again, I haven't seen many of the films here - only one actually (The King's Speech). Bear with me; I don't make it to the movie theater as much as I'd like. I have school and a job. Anyway...
Interesting race here...I particularly noted the snub for The Social Network - after all, it's nominated for 8 Oscars, so wouldn't you expect a Best Supporting Actor nod for Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake (who plays Sean Parker, founder of Napster), or even Armie Hammer (who played the Winklevoss twins, the ones who originally recruited Zuckerberg to create the site that later became Facebook)? Guess they can't win everything. :) True Grit got snubbed too.
Christian Bale has shown he can win tons of awards before, but I'd really like Geoffrey Rush to win. He plays Lionel Logue in The King's Speech, the speech therapist/actor who helps Colin Firth's character overcome his stammer, and he does a really good job. I'm not familiar with his other films, but the fact that they cast an Australian actor for the real-life Logue, who was himself Australian, shows a great attention to detail. He does a great job. Hands down.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Or "Best Actress." Unlike Best Actor, The Social Network got snubbed here (as well as for Best Supporting Actress). But then girls aren't a big part of the cast in that movie.
Anyway, the Best Actress nominees are: Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right, Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole, Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone, Natalie Portman for Black Swan, and Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine. Essentially it's a battle between two older, experienced actresses (Bening and Kidman) and three younger, not-as-experienced actresses (Portman, Lawrence, and Williams), with Bening and Portman being the faves.
Sadly, I haven't seen any of these films, though I do like Natalie Portman as an actress. I guess Williams's nod is the unusual one, because Blue Valentine is an indie film. Both Williams and Lawrence are TV actresses-turned-movie-actresses (Williams was on Dawson's Creek and Lawrence on The Bill Engvall Show) that I don't know if anyone has ever heard of. I've never heard of Bening either, but I guess she's a pretty well-known actress (her filmography is pretty long). Nicole Kidman I do like, and she has won Oscars before. And I do like Natalie Portman, as I said, though my favorite role of hers is still her early role as Padmé in Star Wars; her more recent roles I haven't been as into.
As I said, the front-runners are Bening and Portman. I haven't seen either of the films they're being nominated for, but they both look good. Portman's nom is for that creepy ballet movie Black Swan, while Bening's is for the more light-hearted The Kids Are All Right. Knowing the Academy, they're probably going to go for Black Swan because it's a more artsy film, but you never know. Bening has a really long career and she's been nominated for Oscars many times (including for American Beauty, which swept the award season in 1999) but has never actually won one. It would be nice to see her win one. So, provisionally, I'm going to pick Annette Bening for this award.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Or "Best Supporting Actress."
The nominees (I'm just copying-and-pasting at this point):
- Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
- Helena Bonham Carter in “The King's Speech”
- Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
- Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
- Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”
I guess the two I'm interested in for this award are Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech (she plays the Duchess of York, the wife of Colin Firth's character) and Hailee Steinfeld, the young girl from True Grit. While I haven't seen True Grit, Steinfeld does seem like a strong actress from the trailers I've seen for the film. At only 14, she'd be among the youngest to ever win an Oscar if she does win. (The youngest person to win an acting award was 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal, and the youngest to win an Oscar was Shirley Temple, who was 6 when she received a Academy Juvenile Award). But Helena Bonham Carter does do a good job in her role, and I've seen her do well in other films, such as her role as Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter films. I call this one a tie between Steinfeld and Bonham Carter.
Best Animated Feature Film
As a category, Best Animated Feature Film is still very new; it was created in 2001 and basically created for Shrek, which was really the only notable animated feature film that year anyway. But the field of animated feature films has grown, so it'll be interesting to see how this category goes in its 10th year of existence. Surprises do happen, like Spirited Away's surprise win of this Oscar in 2002 (that's why everyone automatically thinks of that film if you mention Hayao Miyazaki to them, I think).
There are only three nominees for this category: How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story 3, and The Illusionist. The Illusionist is a French animated film which only had limited release here and which I haven't had a chance to see, unfortunately. It looks good, though. I have seen the other two, however. They both have the advantage of having been available in 3-D, which The Illusionist didn't have, which may increase their chances of appealing to the Academy.
I can't speak for The Illusionist, but both of the other two contenders are very good. It's once again a faceoff between Dreamworks (for How to Train Your Dragon) and Pixar (for Toy Story 3), which should be no surprise since they are the two main animation companies out there, besides Disney of course. If this were a fight about whose use of 3-D was better, I'd say How to Train Your Dragon wins. But it's not, of course.
Not sure who to pick here. I guess I did like How to Train Your Dragon better than Toy Story 3, though. So I guess I'll pick that.
Interesting note here: Considering Studio Ghibli's success in this category - a win for Spirited Away and a nomination in 2005 for Howl's Moving Castle (which lost to Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit) - I'm very surprised to not see a nomination for Ponyo in this category. (Just checked. I guess it came out in 2009. I could've sworn it came out last year though...I guess the DVD did).
Best Art Direction
Art direction is a very tricky thing, so it's always interesting to see who is in contention for this. Art direction, by the way, basically includes set dressing and all that good stuff. Anyway, the nominees are: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Inception, The King's Speech, and True Grit.
I'm actually surprised at the last two, since much of True Grit appears to take place outdoors and I never really noticed the set decoration in The King's Speech because I was focusing on the great story and the acting. But then again, the sets do look nice in at least the trailers of True Grit that I've seen, and the details in the backgrounds of The King's Speech are very nicely done and actually look correct for the time period. As for Inception, I haven't seen that yet, but as I understand it much of it takes place in the world of dreams. I don't know if that allows for good set dressing or not.
As much as I love The King's Speech, I think the real contenders here are Alice in Wonderland and Deathly Hallows (I'm abbreviating the title for convenience's sake). The set design in Alice in Wonderland is mind-boggling - particularly the palaces of the two Queens and the battlefield for Frabjous Day. Those three sets deserve awards just by themselves. Of course, Alice in Wonderland was also the first 3-D film I ever saw, so that may have impacted my view of it too.
As for Deathly Hallows, it's hard to speak of set design for that film since it takes place completely outside of Hogwarts. But there are some great sets there, like the interior of the camping tent, Malfoy Manor, and the Lovegoods' house. Stuart Craig, the production designer for all of the Harry Potter films, is excellent at his job.
Man, it's hard to choose my pick here. I think I'll go with Alice in Wonderland here though, and not just because I'm a huge fan of Carroll's novel and will go see any adaptation of that story that comes around.
I am surprised at there being no nomination for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader for this category though! That movie had awesome set design! Perhaps it didn't make the cut for this ceremony because it was released in December 2010?
Cinematography (basically all work involving the camera) is hard to judge because, like art direction, it's an art. But there are some really good cinematographers out there.
~Black Swan (Matthew Libatique)
~Inception (Wally Pfister)
~The King's Speech (Danny Cohen)
~The Social Network (Jeff Cronenweth)
~True Grit (Roger Deakins)
Again, I've only seen two of these films, The King's Speech and The Social Network, so it's hard for me to make a pick. Like the art direction, I didn't notice the cinematography much in The King's Speech because the story and the acting were so forefront. There were certain shots, like during Firth's first speech as King, that were really good, though. And as for The Social Network, I can't say it had as good of shots, to be honest. But then I am kinda prejudiced in that regard; I didn't like that movie and I don't want it to sweep the Oscars like it did the Golden Globes (where it won 4 - the most of the night for one film).
So, no clear pick here.
Best Costume Design
This is one of those categories that seems superfluous; does anyone care about costume design or makeup in movies? (I still remember the year The Passion of the Christ was only nominated for one Oscar, Best Makeup, and lost to Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events). Apparently the Academy does, though, because this category continues to exist.
- Alice in Wonderland (Colleen Atwood)
- I Am Love (Antonella Cannarozzi)
- The King's Speech (Jenny Beavan)
- The Tempest (Sandy Powell)
- True Grit (Mary Zophres)
I think Alice in Wonderland is the clear winner here though. Like the sets, the costumes are exquisite in this film - as if all the posters of the Mad Hatter weren't enough evidence of that. Alice's dress is very nice too, and I love her Frabjous Day armor. So that's my pick.
This is always a big category; it's one of the "Big Five" at the Academy Awards, i.e., the five awards every filmmaker or actor wants to get (the other four being Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Writing, a.k.a. Best Original Screenplay or Best Adapted Screenplay). Generally whoever directed the Best Picture winner also ends up winning Best Director. That's the trend, anyway. Not that this is always the case, of course. Anything can happen. But it's what usually happens.
Anyway the nominees are: Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan, David O. Russell for The Fighter, Tom Hooper for The King's Speech, David Fincher for The Social Network, and the Coen Brothers for True Grit. Fincher is the big favorite, of course, because for some absurd reason the public is in love with that darn Facebook movie. The Coen Brothers are contenders because they are almost always up for some award with every film they make. They've only won Best Director once before though, for No Country for Old Men (which, per the trend I just mentioned, also won Best Picture). Aronofsky could have a chance with the good press Black Swan has been getting thanks to all the awards Natalie Portman has won for it. And even Tom Hooper has a chance, since The King's Speech has done well all award season too.
I think I'm going to pick Tom Hooper for this one, just because I want The King's Speech to sweep this show so badly. If it wins all the awards it's up for (12), it will break the 11-Oscar record held jointly by Ben-Hur, Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. That would be AWESOME. *fingers crossed*
Best Documentary, Feature-Length
Also called "Best Documentary Feature." Best Documentary is a category I never know much about, since documentary films don't usually get wide distribution, with the exception of films like March of the Penguins, though they tend to run the film festival circuit. Thus, I haven't seen any of the nominees. And they are:
- Exit through the Gift Shop
- Inside Job
- Waste Land
So film #1 there is for a film about a street artist, despite the museum-sounding title. Gasland is about the dangers posed by natural gas drilling. Inside Job is a documentary on the current recession we're experiencing. Restrepo follows two journalists who covered the war in Afghanistan for Vanity Fair. (Not a topic one would expect to be covered in Vanity Fair, is it?) Waste Land documents a Brazilian artist who creates art out of items found in the garbage. (Fits the current "green" trend, I guess).
Not sure who should win here, though Inside Job is definitely relevant. It's hard to predict this.
Best Documentary, Short-Subject
This is the version of Best Documentary for shorter documentaries. I haven't seen any of these either. The nominees are:
- Killing in the Name
- Poster Girl
- Strangers No More
- Sun Come Up
- The Warriors of Qiugang
As with Best Documentary Feature, I really don't know who to nominate for this. It would be cool if Strangers No More or The Warriors of Qiugang won, though.
Best Film Editing
Also called "Best Editing" or something like that. Editing is as big of a deal as anything in the making of a film, so it's good that it's celebrated. Nominees:
- Black Swan (Andrew Weisblum)
- The Fighter (Pamela Martin)
- The King's Speech (Tariq Anwar)
- 127 Hours (Jon Harris)
- The Social Network (Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter)
Again, editing wasn't something I really noticed in The King's Speech, though it did have some good montage work in it. The Social Network also had some good use of footage with voice-overs, probably the only good thing I will say about it this entire post. I can't say anything about the others because I haven't seen them.
I think probably my pick for this will be The King's Speech, because...well, by now, you can probably tell how I feel about The Social Network.
Best Foreign Language Film
Since foreign-language films rarely get big distribution here, I generally have never heard of any of the films that get nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. The Mexican film Biutiful, one of the nominees, has probably got more notice than others due to the surprise Best Actor nom for Javier Bardem. The other nominees are the Greek film Dogtooth, the Danish film In a Better World, the Canadian film Incendies, and the Algerian film Outside the Law/Hors-la-loi.
Biutiful is about a guy with cancer who is trying to reconcile all the parts of his life before he dies. It sounds good. It was also nominated for a number of Goya Awards (Spain's Oscars) but only won one (Best Actor for Bardem). Actually, it's been nominated for a lot more awards than it's won. So we'll see how it does.
Dogtooth is about parents who keep their children captive on their property even into adulthood. It won the Prix Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival, an award given for innovative and daring films. I don't know whether that says anything about it. It sounds daring.
In a Better World, or Hævnen ("The Revenge"), as it's known in Danish, appears to be about a doctor who splits his time between small-town Denmark and an African refugee camp. Sounds interesting. It did win the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film so it will be interesting to see if it wins the Oscar in the same category.
Incendies is, as I said, Canadian. I didn't know Canadian films counted for this category. It's in French and Arabic, though, which may explain it. Basically the plot has a lot to do with family relations, love, and rape (based on the Wikipedia summary). Sounds like not exactly my kind of film.
Outside the Law, known as Hors-la-Loi in French, is a film about three brothers set in the time of the Algerian war for independence from France. I wonder whether the recent revolts in that same area (not in Algeria specifically but in Tunisia, Egypt, and Sudan) will influence anyone's feelings about this film?
I really don't know which one to pick here, but I guess I'll pick In a Better World just to see if it wins this award as both a Golden Globe and an Oscar.
As I said with costume design, does anyone really CARE about this award? Anyway, there are three nominees for this award: Barney's Version, The Way Back, and The Wolfman. I've never seen any of them.
Should I even pick something in this category? Probably not. Next!
Best Music (Original Score)
Also known as "Best Original Score." Any person who creates scores for movies wants this.
The nominees: How to Train Your Dragon, Inception, The King's Speech, The Social Network, and 127 Hours. There's that pattern again, except with two exceptions. Inception was nominated for other things, but How to Train Your Dragon is the real wildcard, being an animated film among four live-action films up for this.
I haven't seen Inception or 127 Hours, so I can't say anything about their scores. I didn't really notice the score in The King's Speech, same with all the other little things it's nominated for. And I don't think the score was that great in The Social Network. So I'm going to say How to Train Your Dragon for this one.
Best Music (Original Song)
Also known as "Best Original Song." There is some correlation between this and Best Original Score; sometimes if a film is nominated for both, it wins both. That depends on whether a film has a score and an eligible original song. So, the nominees: "Coming Home" (Country Strong), "I See the Light" (Tangled), "If I Rise" (127 Hours), and "We Belong Together" (Toy Story 3).
Animated feature films tend to do well in this category since they often have great vocal songs (especially if, like Tangled, they are Disney films). So the songs from Tangled and Toy Story 3 have a good chance. For 127 Hours, I haven't seen that film so I can't say anything about the song (other than that the title is very pertinent, considering the film is about a guy stuck between two boulders for five days). This is the only Oscar nod for Country Strong, a film that got some attention because it was the first time Gwyneth Paltrow had sung in a film. But I haven't seen that film either.
I think for this I'll pick Toy Story 3, because it's the only one of these films that I've seen.
Best Picture's next on the Oscar site list, but I'll save that one for last. So, next is...
Best Short Film (Animated)
Or "Best Animated Short Film." Unlike the Best Animated Feature Film category, this category has a long history with the Oscars, being offered since the 5th Oscar ceremony in 1932. The nominees are:
- Day & Night
- The Gruffalo
- Let's Pollute
- The Lost Thing
- Madagascar, un carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)
The Gruffalo is a BBC short about this mouse who scares the other animals with a tale about a "gruffalo," as told by two squirrel parents to their squirrel children. Sounds cute too.
Let's Pollute is a film by animator Geefwee Boedoe, who did animation for Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, and Beauty and the Beast. It's a satire of the problems with pollution and consumerism, done in the style of those old educational films from the '50's.
The Lost Thing is about a kid who finds a creature on the beach but can't get anyone to pay attention to it. And Madagascar, carnet de voyage is about the customs of Madagascar.
I better hurry with this, because it seems that Oscar results are already coming out on the internet. Pick for this: Day & Night.
Best Short Film (Live-Action)
Nominees: The Confession, The Crush, God of Love, Na Wewe, and Wish 143.
Haven't seen any of these. The Confession is about a guy worrying about not having any sins to confess to his priest. The Crush is about a young schoolboy who falls in love with his teacher, only to find out she is engaged. God of Love is about a guy who receives magical darts which he can use to make people fall in love with him, which he intends to use to make his beloved fall for him. Na Wewe is about the 1994 civil war in Burundi. Wish 143 is about a terminally ill boy granted a wish by a Make a Wish-like charity who wishes to lose his virginity before he dies.
Not sure which to nominate as I haven't seen any of them. Not going to try.
Best Sound Editing
Nominees: Inception, Toy Story 3, Tron: Legacy, True Grit, Unstoppable
This is a tough one - I've only seen Toy Story 3 out of these. But I'm sure the sound in Tron: Legacy is probably amazing, so I'm going to pick that one.
Best Sound Mixing
Is there a difference between this and the previous category?
Anyway, nominees: Inception, The King's Speech, Salt, The Social Network, and True Grit.
Not sure how The Social Network got this nom. I'm voting for The King's Speech though because it does do some great things with sound.
Best Visual Effects
One of the big awards the last couple years thanks to the 3-D revolution.
Nominees: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Hereafter, Inception, and Iron Man 2.
All of these films have great special effects from what I've seen or heard of them. But I think my pick will be Alice in Wonderland, because its visual effects are just as awesome as its art direction and costume design.
I'm very shocked that Tron: Legacy got snubbed in this category. If any film should've been nominated for this, it would be that film.
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Also known as "Best Adapted Screenplay," and one of the Big Five. Since many movies are adapted from books, there are always films to choose from for this category.
Nominees: 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter's Bone
I'm not sure how Toy Story 3 got in the "adapted" screenplay category...anyhoo, I'm going to pick it because as I keep saying, The Social Network stinks. So, Toy Story 3.
Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
Also known as "Best Original Screenplay," and one of the Big Five.
Nominees: Another Year, The Fighter, Inception, The King's Speech, The Kids Are All Right.
Finally, a category The King's Speech does not share with The Social Network. Anyway, The King's Speech is definitely my pick here, hands down. The story is AMAZING.
AND FINALLY, THE BIGGEST OF THEM ALL...
This is the Big Kahuna. Win this, and you've got it made as a filmmaker. It's also often the biggest category because sometimes the Academy just can't narrow the category down to just five.
Nominees: 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.
Yes, you counted right. That's TEN films in line for Best Picture. Dang.
Also, you'll notice it's the same films you've been seeing nominated for a bunch of other Oscars. That's not uncommon for the Oscars. It makes the Oscars look rather fixed, but oh well. Nothing we can do about that.
Anyway, the two faves are The Social Network and The King's Speech, which are nominated for 8 and 12 Oscars overall, respectively. Third would probably be Black Swan. Unusual to see an animated film like Toy Story 3 in there though.
Anyway, if you've put up with me this long, you can probably guess my pick for Best Picture. Yep, The King's Speech. Because it's (as the Vlogbrothers would say) MADE OF AWESOME.
So, in summary, my picks:
Best Actor: Colin Firth (The King's Speech)
Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech)
Best Actress: Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right)
Best Supporting Actress: *tie* Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) & Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech)
Best Animated Feature Film: How to Train Your Dragon
Best Art Direction: Robert Stromberg & Karen O'Hara (Alice in Wonderland)
Best Costume Design: Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland)
Best Director: Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)
Best Film Editing: Tariq Anwar (The King's Speech)
Best Foreign Language Film: In a Better World (Denmark)
Best Original Score: John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon)
Best Original Song: "We Belong Together" (Toy Story 3)
Best Short Film (Animated): Day & Night
Best Sound Editing: Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague (Tron: Legacy)
Best Sound Mixing: Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley (The King's Speech)
Best Visual Effects: Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips (Alice in Wonderland)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Michael Arndt (screenplay); John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich (story) (Toy Story 3)
Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler (The King's Speech)
Best Picture: The King's Speech
No clear picks:
Best Documentary, Feature-Length
Best Documentary, Short-Subject
Best Short Film, Live-Action
No pick at all:
The results tomorrow!