Monday, February 28, 2011

The 83rd Academy Awards: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

As expected, The King's Speech took home the gold at last night's Oscars (though not as many as expected, considering those 12 nominations). And, with only a few exceptions, most of the winners weren't surprises, although there was more genuine suspense in some categories than in recent years. I won't list the winners, since that's already been covered just about everywhere (though you can see them HERE). So, here's a look at the highs (and very low lows) of Hollywood's big night.

The Good:
  • The opening and closing montages (video to be posted if the Oscar youtube account uploads them), which did a brilliant job of highlighting the 10 Best Picture nominees...even if the one at the end did pretty much scream that The King's Speech was winning.
  • The constantly changing stage looked great, although I miss the slightly more intimate look it had two years ago (and sort of did last year).

  • Best Red Carpet Couple:

  • Best Dressed: Winter's Bone's Jennifer Lawrence. Extremely simple, but amazing.
  • Best Acceptance Speech: David Seidler, who wishes that the age record for winners in his category (Original Screenplay) will be "broken often."
  • They actually gave nice, full performances of the Best Original Score nominees, which was made even better when The Social Network won. How strange was it to see the front man for the Nine Inch Nails accepting an Oscar? And so gracefully, too.

  • Cate Blanchett goes "That's gross" after The Wolfman's clip for Best Make Up.
  • They brought back clips from the nominated performances! It's been too long; and they picked great scenes too.
  • Natalie Portman rambles, but she doesn't pretend to be surprised, and graciously thanks the cast and crew of Black Swan.

  • Anne Hathaway's 8 costume changes. At least she looked like she was having fun. Unlike someone...
  • Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law's banter before presenting Original and Adapted Screenplay.

  • This:

The In-Between:
  • Anne Hathway's tongue-in-cheek musical jab at Hugh Jackman for not duetting again with her (after the opening to the 81st Oscars).
  • Christian Bale forgets his wife's name during his speech. Although it was probably just because he was choking up, but still, that pause was a little too long.

  • None of the best Original Song nominees are even remotely memorable. Not terrible, but just...meh.

  • I have nothing against Wally Pfister's cinematography for Inception, even if he's not in my top five, but really AMPAS, we're going to keep Roger Deakins waiting for another year?? Enough already.
The Ugly:
  • I'm not sure why Sharon Stone is there, but the bigger question is what is she wearing?

  • Why did Hillary Swank have to be trotted out (and introduced by the hosts), only to introduce Kathryn Bigelow? Bigelow won here last year, so I don't think she needs a double introduction.
  • James Franco. Was he just so focused on whatever he was doing on Twitter, or was he just bored? Regardless, he was a black hole of charisma.

  • Tom Hooper wins best director. In a year of such daring directorial accomplishments, why on earth did they go so safe with this pick? The King's Speech is a charming, sweet, warm film, but its direction is not deserving of an Oscar, especially over the likes of David Fincher and Darren Aronofsky.

  • Oh, shut up Melissa Leo.

  • Closing the night with...a bunch of elementary school kids singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I don't understand.

  • And the absolute worst of the night: Kirk Douglas. Words can't even describe how painful that was.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

One Last Time: Final Oscar Predictions

Only a few (less than 6) hours remain until THE biggest night in Hollywood kicks off with Anne Hathaway and James Franco. The Oscar's producers have made any number of changes this year, including a semi-narrative to give back-to-back awards cohesion, and of course, shorter speeches (although don't they promise that every year?). But before the night kicks off (I'm currently undecided as to whether I'll try and post live updates of the show), here are my final awards season predictions for 2010:

Predictions for the 83rd Academy Awards:

Best Picture: The King's Speech
It peaked at just the right time, and its guild sweep all but sealed the deal. It's historical, it has a feel-good aspect to it, it's serious, funny, charming, and smart, with a mix of the old and new (though mostly old). It's our Best Picture for 2010.

Best Director: David Fincher - The Social Network
For only the 7th (or is it 6th?) time in history, look for AMPAS to split its Picture and Director votes. Fincher's film was the early favorite, and he's more established than Hooper (not to mention that he's more known as an auteur of sorts). However, there's a chance that The King's Speech could sweep OR someone comes out of left field a la Roman Polanski and wins for something else (Aronofsky, perhaps?).

Best Actor: Colin Firth - The King's Speech
Like Nicole Kidman for The Hours in 02, Firth has the momentum of back-to-back nominations, with many feeling that he should have won last year for A Single Man. Franco has a chance here (sorry, everyone else), but expect Firth to ride the wave all the way to the podium.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman - Black Swan
The Aronofsky losing streak could finally end tonight if Portman takes it (Mickey Rourke and Ellen Burstyn lost to Sean Penn and Julia Roberts, respectively), which is almost certain. Like Firth, she faces a threat from a fellow nominee, Annette Bening, but odds are that AMPAS will favor its new prima leading lady in her (pregnant) moment of triumph. Pregnant, engaged, and Oscar winner? Nina Sayers would be proud.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale - The Fighter
Like Portman and Firth, here's another award that's locked up pretty well. Geoffrey Rush is more of a threat than Bening or Franco, but odds are Bale will take home the trophy on his first nomination for his long and diverse (and weight-shifting) career.

Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit
They'll want to give the Coens' latest something (it landed 10 nominations, after all), and if it isn't going to be Roger Deakins' brilliant cinematography, it will be Ms. Steinfeld. Melissa Leo has taken most of the awards thus far, but - at least to me - has never felt as locked in as the rest. Steinfeld also has the Timothy Hutton factor in her favor, in that she's really a lead role placed in supporting, which makes her seem more "important" than the 4 other nominees, who really are in supporting roles.

Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler - The King's Speech

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin - The Social Network

Best Editing: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall - The Social Network

Best Cinematography: Wally Pfister - Inception

Best Art Direction: The King's Speech

Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland

Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3

Best Foreign Language Film: Biutiful [Mexico]

Best Documentary: Inside Job

Best Original Score: Hans Zimmer - Inception

Best Original Song: "I See The Light" - Tangled

Best Visual Effects: Inception

Best Make Up: The Wolf Man

Best Sound Mixing: Inception

Best Sound Editing: Inception

2010 Independent Spirit Award Winners

Despite giving out nominations fairly early in awards season, the ISA really loves to drag out the wait before letting us know the winners. Traditionally hosted on the night before the Oscars, they serve as one last reminder of the importance of independent films (although considering how many independently produced films are Oscar-nominated this year...). Contained within their own bubble, and without a big studio production to be found, here are this year's ISA winners:

For a refresher of the nominees, hop on over to IMDB.

Best Feature: Black Swan

Best Director: Darren Aronofsky - Black Swan

Best Actor: James Franco - 127 Hours
  • I'm starting to believe this equation: Best Actor - Colin Firth = James Franco. You never know though, maybe AMPAS will give one of its hosts a nice surprise tonight.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman - Black Swan
  • Now this is a surprise, isn't it?

Best Supporting Actor: John Hawkes - Winter's Bone
  • One of these days I'm going to finally figure out what was so special about this performance.

Best Supporting Actress: Dale Dickey - Winter's Bone

Best Screenplay: Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg - The Kids Are All Right

Best First Screenplay: Lisa Dunham - Tiny Furniture

Best Cinematography: Matthew Libatique - Black Swan

Best First Feature: Get Low

Best Foreign Film: The King's Speech
  • I did a double take when I saw this, before realizing that the word "Language" isn't part of the award's title. Although according to some, British English really is a foreign language...

Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop
  • This needs to happen tonight at the Oscars, because something strange/funny/prank-ish will go down if Banksy actually shows up (or sends someone who pretends to be him).

John Cassavetes Award: Go Get Some Rosemary

Truer Than Fiction Award: Marwencol

Someone to Watch Award: Mike Ott for Littlerock

Producer's Award: Anish Savjani for Meek's Cutoff

Robert Altman Award: Please Give

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Best of 2010 Part 3/3: The Winners

With tomorrow's Academy Awards (and tonight's Independent Spirit Awards), awards season madness is finally at its end. So before I accidentally drag it out any longer on my own digital terrain, I'm going to reveal my definitive choices for the best of 2010. Granted, there are a handful of films that I haven't been able to see (namely Carlos and The Illusionist).

When I look back on 2010, I not only see one of my favorite years for film in recent memory (putting together the last few slots of my top 10, er, 11, was tough), but one of the most diverse. In terms of characters, stories, styles, and locations, 2010 gave us quite the range. And after much careful consideration, here are my picks for the best of the bunch:

Best Tagline:
"You Don't Get to 500 Million Friends Without Making a Few Enemies" - The Social Network

Best Poster:

Best Trailer:

Best Cameo:
Imelda Staunton - Another Year

Most Unfairly Overlooked:
Lesley Manville - Another Year

Breakthrough - Male:
Miles Teller - Rabbit Hole

Breakthrough - Female:
Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit

Breakthrough Writer or Director:
David Michod - Animal Kingdom

Best Acting Duo:
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush - The King's Speech

Performer of the Year:
Rebecca Hall - Please Give, The Town, and Red Riding 1974

Best Sound Mixing:
Black Swan

Best Sound Editing:

Best Hair and Makeup:
Black Swan

Best Visual Effects:

Best Original Song:
"You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" - Burlesque

Best Original Score:
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Social Network

Best Animated Film:
Toy Story 3

Best Foreign Language Film:
Vincere [Italy]

Best Costume Design:
Amy Westcott and Rodarte - Black Swan

Best Art Direction:
Therese DePrez, David Stein, and Tora Peterson - Black Swan

Best Cinematography:
Roger Deakins - True Grit

Best Editing:
Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall - The Social Network

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Aaron Sorkin - The Social Network

Best Original Screenplay:
David Michod - Animal Kingdom

Best Ensemble Cast:
Please Give - Catherine Keener, Rebecca Hall, Oliver Platt, Amanda Peet, Sarah Steel, and Ann Guilbert

Best Supporting Actress:
Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom

Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale - The Fighter

Best Actress:
Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole

Best Actor:
Aaron Eckhart - Rabbit Hole

Best Director:
Darren Aronofsky - Black Swan

Best Picture:
The Social Network