Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Random commentary/analysis on the Oscar nominations.

Is Chris Nolan the new Steven Spielberg? Inception received eight nominations, including Best Picture, but Nolan failed to receive a directing nod this morning. That is arguably the biggest surprise in the otherwise predictable batch of Oscar nominations today. Even as someone who doesn't think it was the greatest genre entry of all-time, it IS a director's picture through-and-through. Of course, since we now have ten Best Picture nominees and only five Best Director slots, there are arguably five other directors who might be a little annoyed this morning. I'm personally saddened (as much as one can be 'saddened' by stuff like this) by the omission of Debra Granik for her direction of Best Picture nominee Winter's Bone. I know we all like the Coen Brothers, but True Grit is a pretty normal western. If True Grit is Oscar-worthy, then so was 3:10 to Yuma and Open Range. There will be much handwringing over Lisa Cholodenko not getting a Best Director nomination for The Kids Are All Right. But since I kinda hate the film, I'm not too personally annoyed by the omission. At least Mark Ruffalo pulled out a Best Supporting Actor nod out of the deal, since he was the best thing about the film (of course, Ruffalo is usually the best thing about every film he's in).

The actual ten Best Picture nominees were pretty much as predicted a couple months ago (eight of the ten films made either my Best of 2010 or Overrated of 2010 lists). You have two mainstream blockbusters (Inception and Toy Story 3), two mid-summer arthouse favorites (The Kids Are All Right and Winter's Bone), the one Oscar-bait critical darling that didn't quite catch fire at the box office (127 Hours), the presumptive front-runner (The Social Network), and the four uber-popular, audience-pleasing bits of late-year Oscar bait (Black Swan, The Fighter, The King's Speech, and True Grit). It's a solid cross-section of nominees and proof that the ten-nominee gimmick is a pretty great idea. Not only did the best damn film of the year get in (Toy Story 3), but five of the ten films were released prior to the official Novemeber/December Oscar-bait season. I'm still pulling for a Pixar upset, but right now the four front runners (the films with Picture, Director, Acting, and Editing nods) are The Social Network, Black Swan, The King's Speech, and The Fighter.

I could spend a column whining about what shouldn't have been nominated (everything about True Grit save Halee Steinfield), and I won't mention that I see not a single minority in any of the major nominees lists. But I will only make mention of the fact that Helen Bonham Carter, having spent the last two decades playing all manner of weird and unique characters, gets an Oscar nom for playing the cliched 'supportive, nurturing, stand-by-your-man wife', a character with little to do and almost no dialogue. But let's move on to positive developments. Melissa Leo is now a two-time Oscar nominee and I can't wait to be able to type the sentence: "Melissa Leo is an Oscar-winning actress". Christian Bale received his first (!) Oscar nomination for The Fighter, and he's still the front-runner (only Geoffrey Rush can beat him). Natalie Portman of course was nominated for Best Actress for Black Swan, and at this point she still seems unbeatable (barring a 'career-award' upset from Annette Bening).

John Hawkes pulled off a somewhat surprising (and completely pleasing) Best Supporting Actor nomination for Winter's Bone. Best Actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence justifiably got most of the media buzz, but Hawkes's supporting turn truly dominates the third act of the terrific little drama. Jackie Weaver snagged a Best Supporting Actress nod for Animal Kingdom, which means the DVD I have from Blockbuster is will probably be watched this evening. Javier Bardem got a somewhat surprising Best Actor nod for Best Foreign film nominee Biutiful and Michelle Williams snuck in for Blue Valentine. Nicole Kidman got a deserved nod for Rabbit Hole, as it's nice to see people talking about her acting instead of her alleged botox treatments, and/or the shocking fact that films like Rabbit Hole don't play like Happy Feet or Batman Forever. Whatever my issues about The Social Network (its truthfulness, its alleged cultural impact), Jesse Eisenberg gives a genuinely brilliant performance, so I'm happy he was not lost amidst the press given to director David Fincher and writer Aaron Sorkin.

The Illusionist made the cut in the Best Animated Film Category joining Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon while beating out more mainstream releases like Despicable Me and Tangled. I sincerely hope that the voting block doesn't engage in Pixar-backlash and deny Toy Story 3 the Best Animated Film win that it so clearly deserves, but that's certainly possible. There were few surprises in the various technical categories, although I'm somewhat happily surprised that Tron: Legacy missed out in the Best Visual category. Good on the terrific action picture Unstoppable getting a deserved Best Sound Editing nomination, and yay for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part I getting notice for its often-invisible Visual Effects and its moody Art Direction.

That's all I have for the moment. I'll offer my predictions for who or what will win in what categories when time permits, but that's enough ranting for now. Who do you think got robbed and/or undeservedly nominated? Which nominations made you happiest? Feel free to check in. Oh, and full nomination list is below.

Scott Mendelson

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, 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

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"

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"

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"

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"

Animated Feature Film
"How to Train Your Dragon" Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
"The Illusionist" Sylvain Chomet
"Toy Story 3" Lee Unkrich

Art Direction
"Alice in Wonderland"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1"
"The King's Speech"
"True Grit"

"Black Swan," Matthew Libatique
"Inception," Wally Pfister
"The King's Speech," Danny Cohen
"The Social Network," Jeff Cronenweth
"True Grit," Roger Deakins

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

"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

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

Documentary (Short Subject)
"Killing in the Name"
"Poster Girl"
"Strangers No More"
"Sun Come Up"
"The Warriors of Qiugang"

Film Editing
"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"The King's Speech"
"127 Hours"
"The Social Network"

Foreign Language Film
"Biutiful," Mexico
"Dogtooth," Greece
"In a Better World," Denmark
"Incendies," Canada
"Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)," Algeria

"Barney's Version," Adrien Morot
"The Way Back," Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
"The Wolfman," Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Andrew D said...

Nolan really should have been nominated for best director even if he couldn't win. They should have at least given him some credit and really he deserves it, at least a hell of a lot more than Fincher.

Also Christian Bale has this one in the bag, he dominated every scene he was in, and made that movie!

Rick said...

I really don't see how Halee Steinfield gets bumped down to supporting actress, true grit is her movie, but whatever. Should be fun to see how this all plays out


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