Saturday, February 26, 2011

Big Stupid Tommy's Oscar Picks

An actual post? Bullshit.

I've been on vacation this past week. Just took it easy. Did my writing in the mornings, and wandered out during the days. We got some tremendous weather for the last week of February, and I took the opportunity to go wandering up in the mountains a couple days, and out to a couple movies.

Just thinking about tomorrow's Academy Awards. Despite the busy schedule, I was lucky enough to see quite a few movies this year, and have my own frame of reference for a goodly number of the flicks in questions....

Just a few thoughts on the Oscars....who I think will win, followed by who I think should win...

Best Picture

The Nominees: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids are All Right, The King's Speech, 127 Hours, Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter's Bone

I have seen 9 of the 10 nominees, believe it or not. I haven't gotten around to seeing 127 Hours, yet, though I want to.

Shoulda Been Nominated: The Town. Let Me In (Best horror movie in a long time, more effective in that regard than its basis, Let the Right One In). Let Me in is my second favorite movie of the year.

Who Will Win: If it's a race between King's Speech and Social Network, as everyone seems to say it is, then King's Speech will win. I don't consider it the superior of the fact, outside of Colin Firth's performance (which oddly reminded me of Jeff Bridges in Star Man, believe it or not), it just didn't do a whole lot for me--and that's with everybody rushing to have Geoffrey's Rush's babies. I think it'll win though, especially over Social Network (which I enjoyed, though it's not one I'll be watching over and over again, even with the Touch of Sorkin). It just seems more the type of flick that gets votes when it comes to Oscar Night.

Who Should Win: It's a good list of nominees. Inception is strong, and was better on a second viewing. I could go on and on about True Grit, which is making a habit for the Coens for introducing me to authors I really like (first McCarthy, and now Portis). But I'm evangelical when it comes to Winter's Bone: It's just a tremendous flick, from top to bottom. Grotesque without it being the whole intent to shock. Southern without The Setting in The South being the primary focus. And an improvement on the book, which was very good, but lacked a lot of the atmosphere that the movie had. Great performances from Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes, who's slithered his way onto my list of favorite actors...

Best Actor

The Nominees: Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network), Colin Firth (The King's Speech), James Franco (127 Hours)

I haven't seen Biutiful or 127 Hours.

Shoulda Been Nominated: Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In). I liked him better than I did Eisenberg in anything I've ever seen Eisenberg in, ever. And you know, Buried snuck in under my radar, and I actually dug Ryan Reynolds in it. That deserves some props, for making me actually say that statement out for the public to see.

Who Will Win: Colin Firth. He is tremendous in the movie, I cannot deny that. At the end of the day, it's his ballgame, and he runs with it.

Who Should Win: Probably Firth. As much as I enjoyed Jeff Bridges grunting his way through True Grit (and I did enjoy it--if anybody could better personify the line "Men will live like Billy Goats..." I'd like to see them try), Firth probably gives the stronger performance between the two.

Best Actress

The Nominees: Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

I haven't seen Rabbit Hole or Blue Valentine.

Shoulda Been Nominated: Haylee Steinfeld should be in this category. I get the whole bit where she'll be more competitive in the Supporting Actress category...but it's her flick. She'd rule this one. Also: Chloe Moretz, in Let Me In.

Who Will Win: Natalie Portman.

Who Should Win: I'd have no qualms if Natalie Portman wins. I'd probably even celebrate--horror's like comedy. It gets no respect (hence the absence of Let Me In among the Best Picture nominees--it falls in right behind Winter's Bone among my favorite movies of last year, though I digress...). And like it or not, Black Swan is a highly-styled, pretty effective effort in psychological horror. And Natalie Portman carries it, in that respect.

That said, I'll be rooting for Jennifer Lawrence, who carries her own effort, in a movie pretty horrific in its own right.

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees: Christian Bale (The Fighter), John Hawkes (Winter's Bone), Jeremy Renner (The Town), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids are All Right), Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech)

Wow. I've actually seen all those movies. And, it's as good a place as any to say that The Town is a Hell of a Flick, and as much as any movie that came out this year, it has the quality where, in 2017, if I'm flipping through my television channels (or whatever equivalent comes thundering down the road), and I run across The Town, I'll be as apt to stop to watch it, as anything that's come out this year. And Jeremy Renner, who manages to eat scene as effectively (and quietly) as Christian Bale does in The Fighter, by wallowing around.

Shoulda Been Nominated: You know, I'm gonna come out of left field. The Last Exorcism was an adequately creepy movie that holds the distinction for Coming off the Rails in More Spectacular Fashion than any movie I've ever seen. That ending is so different in tone to the rest of the flick, that it just screams "Studio Re-Write." But anyway, I think some love needs to go out to Caleb Landry Jones, who plays, well, a guy named Caleb, who's the brother of the girl being investigated for possession. He proves that creepy can come effectively in the form of an isolated, insular redneck teen as easily as it can The Devil.

Who Will Win: Geoffrey Rush. Which is a pity. He's a talented man, who's done great things. I just don't feel that his performance in the King's Speech is one of them.

Who Should Win: You know, I'm gonna go Christian Bale, though I hold his performance, John Hawkes's and Jeremy Renner's performance in equal regard. When they're on the screen, they each determine the flow of that scene. However, Christian as Dicky Eklund is just so much friggin' fun to watch. Plus...the scene when they're letting Dicky show his documentary in jail. The flood of emotions that run through him (not just on his face--there is emotional energy running through every part of Dicky Eklund, from his eyes to his feet to his finger tips) is awesome to watch.

I'd like to say this here...I liked The Fighter, very much. Christian Bale is tremendous, as is Melissa Leo, and Amy Adams gives the best performance of her career since Junebug. But damn. Mark Wahlberg is as bad as I've seen him. He put up the worst performance of his career in M. Night's The Happening, and he stomped his way through The Other Guys, essentially parodying himself (I think). He mumbles his way through, with brief bursts of shrill screaming. To be fair, my impression of Micky Ward was always a mumbling goof. So, maybe he hit the nail on the head. Still, I kept watching the movie, and wishing that instead of Wahlberg, there was somebody like a Matt Damon, or even a Jeremy Renner in that role.

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees: Amy Adams (The Fighter), Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Haylee Steinfeld (True Grit), Jackie Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

I have not seen Animal Kingdom.

Shoulda Been Nominated: Julianne Moore, in The Kids are All Right. If Ruffalo's nominated, so should she. Also: Dale Dickey, who's as menacing as they come in Winter's, it took me 3/4 of that movie to realize that I'd previously seen her as the hooker in My Name is Earl and in Breaking Bad. Also: Mila Kunis, from Black Swan.

Actually....I understand the craziness of the nominating process, but Steinfeld belongs in the Lead Actress category. I'd have picked her performance in Grit over Portman....

Who Will Win: I'm gonna shy off of my King's Speech Defeatism, and say that Haylee Steinfeld, who held her own against three great actors, and one who might be good, but who might have simply hit the role of a lifetime with No Country for Old Men. (Somewhere, Barry Pepper is reading my blogamathing, and wiping his brow, and saying "Thank you" to the sky...). Actually, she doesn't just hold her own. She determines the direction of every scene, which is something a product of how the story itself is told, but never once during that movie did I say "eh..."

Who Should Win: Steinfeld. Period. Adams and Leo were both great. I haven't seen Animal Kingdom. I liked Helena Bonham Carter's performance, but I don't even consider it one of the 10 best of 2010, let alone the top 5. (If Steinfeld doesn't win, she will....)

Best Director

The Nominees: Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), The Coens (True Grit), David Fincher (Social Network), Tom Hooper (The King's Speech), David O. Russell (The Fighter)

I have seen all of these!!!1!!!

Shoulda Been Nominated: Debra Granik, for Winter's Bone, and by all means, Christopher Nolan for Inception.

Who Will Win: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech

Who Should Win: Among these? It's a coin flip between Aronofsky and The Coens. I'd vote Granik over each of those, and would put Chris Nolan on par with them.


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