Jan 26, 2011

The Oscar Nominations 2011: Let the facepalming commence

Colin Firth and wife on the red carpet for the 2010 Golden Globe Awards. Photo © Capital M
Is it too harsh to wonder aloud if the bright, shining individuals who comprise the Oscar community were all popping the same prescription meds this year?  Meds that give you tunnel vision and a robot-like sense of what conforms to the Oscar mould? Release the bionic arms!

Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem in Biutiful
Jeff Bridges in True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network
Colin Firth in The King's Speech
James Franco in 127 Hours 
Our bet is on veterans Colin Firth or Jeff Bridges. James Franco is the underdog for this nomination pool, given his consistent tendency to choose terrible movies, but it would be a coup.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale in The Fighter
John Hawkes in Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner in The Town
Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech 
It's extremely pleasing to see Mark Ruffalo nominated for one of his less serious roles, in which he was charming and realistically flawed. Oscar, have you developed a sense of humour or simply choked on your false teeth? No complaints here.

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman in Black Swan
Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine 
Natalie Portman, while divine, has been good in movies before. Jen Lindley, *ahem* Michelle Williams, has made such a transformation in her career over the past few years. She is convincing and vulnerable in Derek Cianfrance's tale of modern un-romance. 
Actress in a Supporting Role

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 
Have you seen Animal Kingdom? Jacki Weaver all the way. Hailee Steinfeld's got years to garner praise and we've no doubt she and Oscar will be reunited again.

Animated Feature Film  
How to Train Your Dragon Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois 
The Illusionist Sylvain Chomet
Toy Story 3 Lee Unkrich 
You can come over here and threaten to administer floggings, but we will not endorse anything that involves Tim the Toolman for the Big One. How to Train Your Dragon is by far superior. 
Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland
Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
The King's Speech
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr 
True Grit
Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh 
Stuart Craig and Stephenie McMillan for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. These two are very much a part of building the world of Harry Potter; a nod for their achievement on this film is as much a nod to the previous six films as anything. The studios are being made into a museum on completion of the franchise, so that should tell you something.

Black Swan Matthew Libatique
Inception Wally Pfister
The King's Speech Danny Cohen
The Social Network Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit Roger Deakins 
For a film that is unsurpassed in its visual beauty, there is little competition in 2010 for Inception.

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  
The one and only category in which Alice in Wonderland doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. We can all agree the costuming in this was nothing short of superb and surreal. 

Black Swan Darren Aronofsky
The Fighter David O. Russell
The King's Speech Tom Hooper
The Social Network David Fincher
True Grit Joel Coen and Ethan Coen 
The young actors under Fincher's tutelage responded admirably and dug into their roles to produce a convincing, dual-faced story that dealt with both human and technological coming-of-age threads. The Social Network is a film for our times.
Documentary (Feature)
Exit through the Gift Shop Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
Gasland Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
Inside Job Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs 
Restrepo Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
Waste Land Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley 
All hail lord Banksy. Between this and The Simpsons opening credits, it's been a good year.    
Documentary (Short Subject)
“Killing in the Name” Nominees to be determined
“Poster Girl” Nominees to be determined
“Strangers No More” Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
“Sun Come Up” Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
“The Warriors of Qiugang” Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon
We'll have to see some of these before commenting.

Film Editing  
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 
Cutting away from the shot at just the right moment can elicit a myriad of responses from the audience: gasping, laughter, lip-biting, absolute stillness. This category has to be between The Social Network and Black Swan. 
Foreign Language Film
Biutiful Mexico
Dogtooth Greece
In a Better World Denmark
Incendies Canada
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) Algeria  
We hope Fincher at least feels conflicted about the obvious omission of the second and third films in the Millennium trilogy.

Barney's Version Adrien Morot
The Way Back Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
The Wolfman Rick Baker and Dave Elsey 
We had all but forgotten about The Wolfman, but this is a pleasing reminder.
Music (Original Score)
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 
Call it n aiveté, but we thought the score for Inception sounded remakably similar to that of The Dark Knight. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed a very creative, appropriate score for The Social Network and continue the rise of musicians-as-composers that Carter Burwell began with Twilight.
Music (Original Song)
“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 
Noooooooooooooooooooooooo! It cannot be said enough that Dido is uneccessary to daily proceedings. 
Best Picture
Black Swan Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
The Fighter David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
Inception Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
The Kids Are All Right Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
The King's Speech Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
127 Hours Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
The Social Network Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
Toy Story 3 Darla K. Anderson, Producer
True Grit Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
Winter's Bone Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers 
Black Swan or Inception. Feel free to disagree, but Best Picture should be handed out for achievements on a grand scale.
Short Film (Animated)
“Day & Night” Teddy Newton
“The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
“Let's Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
“The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
“Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois
Congratulations to all of the nominees here, but our appendages are crossed for Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann.
Short Film (Live Action)
“The Confession” Tanel Toom
“The Crush” Michael Creagh
“God of Love” Luke Matheny
“Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt
“Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

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 
Inception has to win here and not just for the spinning top at the end, either. It's strange that Tron would be included in this category. Sure, the score by Daft Punk rocked the cinema and complemented the film, but we're not sure how much the sound editing influenced the overall impact of the film on audiences.

Sound Mixing
Inception Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
The King's Speech Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
Salt Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
The Social Network Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
True Grit Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland 
In a film that relies heavily on a carefully nuanced soundscape, the mix is crazy important. The King's Speech for el Presidente.
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
As much as it pains us to admit (and in the only category it has a clear shot at winning), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 may find a tough competitor in Inception this year.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
127 Hours Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
True Grit Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini 
The Social Newtork, for making so much more of the source material and writing Jesse Eisenberg some real zingers. 
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Another Year Written by Mike Leigh
The Fighter Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
Inception Written by Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech Screenplay by David Seidler  
Well, our votes are going to The Kids Are All Right for incisive, naturalistic comedy and Inception for pure imagination. Going to sleep inside Chistopher Nolan's head would be weird and fantastic. Seeing as though that's not possible, we all just watched Inception.

Phew! Thoughts? Comments? Would any of you care to throw a shoe and curse us to oblivion? The 2011 Oscar Awards will air live from the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles on the 27th of February, 2011. 

Good night and good luck.  

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