Friday, January 28, 2011

Truthful Oscar Posters

I know I'm throwing a lot of posts up today, but I really wanted to share these delightful posters, courtesy of The Shiznet via The Wrap. I think these pretty much sum them all up, wouldn't you agree?

That last one and the Toy Story 3 ones are my personal favorites. What are yours?

5 Things You Might Not Have Known About This Year's Oscars

Get used to this, guys: for the next month I'm going to analyze and over-analyze the Oscar nominations until there's nothing else to be said about them. But think about how much you're going to learn! Anyway, here's some random little bits that might put them into new light.

1. Out of 120 nominees, 57.5% of them belong to the 10 Best Picture nominees. That's a truly staggering figure, indicating that, as we presumed during the predictions season, only a handful of films have dominated the awards season (this includes the 12 nominations received by The King's Speech). For a few other interesting statistics in relation to this, 15 of the 20 acting nominees come from a Best Picture nominee (compared to 9 of 20 last year), and all of the Best Picture nominees picked up screenplay nominations except one: Black Swan.

2. Alan Menken has more Oscars than any living person. The eight-time Oscar-winning composer is nominated this year for his contribution to "I See the Light" from Tangled, nominated for Best Original Song. Its his 19th nomination overall. He's a Disney mainstay, having worked on the music for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Enchanted, among others.

(from left) Greer Garson, Ingrid Bergman, Jennifer Jones

3. Jeff Bridges, Colin Firth, and Jeremy Renner have achieved Oscar history. These three men were all nominated in Best Actor last year (Bridges won), and all three of them are nominated for Oscars again this year. Only one other time in the 83-year history of the award have three nominees from one category received consecutive nominations in the same year. In 1943, Greer Garson (Madame Curie), Ingrid Bergman (For Whom the Bell Tolls), and Jennifer Jones (The Song of Bernadette) were nominated for Best Actress (Jones won). The following year, all three of them received nominations, with Garson (Mrs. Parkington) and Bergman (Gaslight) competing in Best Actress (Bergman won) and Jones (Since You Went Away) competing for Best Supporting Actress (losing to Ethel Barrymore). The parallels between these trios are certainly worth noting.

4. Julia Roberts still holds a lot of sway in the Academy, despite having no nominations herself since 2000. Just as she championed Denzel Washington's Training Day performance in 2001 - which lead to him winning the Best Actor Oscar and making him the first black actor to win multiple Oscars - she's swayed voters to include Javier Bardem in this year's Best Actor field for his performance in Biutiful. And while we're on Bardem: he just recently welcomed the birth of his son with wife Penelope Cruz. This is the fifth year in a row in which either Bardem or Cruz has been Oscar-nominated. I'm not sure any other Hollywood couple in history can claim that kind of streak.

5. France really doesn't like the way Foreign Language Film turned out. Its not just that France's submission, Of Gods and Men, missed the shortlist a week ago, preventing it from receiving a nomination. More importantly, the French are angry about the inclusion of Algeria's Outside the Law; supposedly, the French are not pleased with their negative depiction in the film, which is about the Algerian independence struggle as told from the points-of-view of four Algerian men. French-Algerian relations have never been great, and it seems like this film (and the Academy's decision to nominate it) hasn't been helpful. 

Rabbit Hole (2010)

Grief is a universal emotion, one that, whether we like it or not, we all have to experience at some point in life. And, apart from catharsis, it is perhaps the most powerful emotion known. Grief has the power to completely alter a person, or at least bring deeper characteristics to the forefront. It can destroy relationships, consume and define people, and forever change their lives. However, it can also be powerfully inspiring, as sometimes these changes can be for the better, enriching us to become new, improved versions of ourselves. Though this isn't always the case - everyone handles grief differently, after all - it is at least a possibility.

Rabbit Hole, based on David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer Prize winning play (he also wrote the screenplay), offers a glimpse into how one couple grapples with grief. Howie (Aaron Eckhart, his chiseled good-looks tinged in sadness) and Becca (a truly magnificent Nicole Kidman) are still dealing with the death of their four-year-old son, who was hit by a car outside their home. Neither one of them is really taking it well: Becca quits going to group counseling and takes out her anger on those around her, particularly her mother (Dianne Weist, always a welcome presence) and more-outgoing, newly pregnant sister (Tammy Blanchard, a Broadway veteran). Howie, on the other hand, continues going to group, but sits up every night watching a video of his son on his cell phone, desperately clinging to it as though its the only way he can remember him. As Becca becomes more and more removed, grief finally beginning to overcome her, the couple has to figure out how they can possibly move on from such a devastating tragedy, which includes Becca meeting with Jason (Miles Teller), the kid who was driving the car on that fateful day.

Though there's never much mention about what Becca and Howie were like before the accident (apart from a brief scene that implies that Becca used to work for a company in New York), but its a testament to Eckhart's and Kidman's performances that you can tell that they've changed dramatically. They were not always this way, removed from reality, only socializing for family and group counseling. Kidman certainly deserves her Oscar nomination for this role, as she gives life to Becca with subtle, naturalistic empathy; she only has a few really big "actor-y" moments. Which is actually what surprises me the most about Kidman's nomination: she gives a very subdued performance, while Eckhart gives the more actor-y, scenery-chewing Oscar-bait performance, shouting with conviction during their arguments as if he were making sure that they can hear him in the cheap seats. This isn't meant to be a knock against Eckhart; he's very good in the film, and I enjoyed his performance (case in point: just watch the scene in which Jason comes to visit during the couple's open house and marvel at Eckhart's rage), its just that I'm surprised that Kidman's drastically quieter work got all of the attention. That's just not the way Oscar usually works. 

The film is directed by John Cameron Mitchell, who's previous efforts are Hedwig and the Angry Itch (about a transexual East German rock star) and Shortbus (a mediation on sex in post-9/11 New York in which the actors have real sex). Given the sexually-charged subject matter of those two (excellent) films, it might come as a surprise that Mitchell would direct a more "mainstream" film such as Rabbit Hole. But Mitchell, though notably subdued, doesn't take the typical approach to the material. He emphasizes the focus on the characters, and avoids conventions by sticking to the realism of Lindsay-Abaire's screenplay. That includes adding a few moments of terrifically-earned humor, such as Kidman's inappropriate reaction to a couple in group who claims that God took their daughter because "He needed another angel." In the end, he proves to be an inspired choice for director, taking on the material from a new angle and allowing it to breathe and become something original.

One of the film's subplots includes Jason working on a comic book, in which a young boy's father dies, leading him to explore alternate universes to find him. In a way, the film shows us how each character has created his or her own "rabbit hole" that keeps their son, Danny, alive. Becca wants to donate all of Danny's clothes to her sister; even though she gets rid of the family dog and wants to sell the house, she still hasn't cleaned out his room, and the offering of her clothes to her sister shows that, deep down, she's still clinging to the hope that she can, in some way, revive Danny. Howie has this same drive, but his is much more explicit, as he loses control of himself when Becca takes Danny's pictures off the refrigerator and other efforts to remove Danny from the house. Howie wants to see Danny's stuff as it was when he was alive, since this is the only way he can keep him alive; this is why he's so attached to his video. Its here that grief threatens to tear them apart, and its unclear whether they'll ever be able to overcome their grief.

Rabbit Hole is a quietly powerful study of the effects that grief can have on people. It doesn't offer any impossibly convenient answers, instead showing how grief can never really be erased, only coped with. Its a terrific film, one of 2010's most overlooked efforts. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Two Rants

I don't usually take out entire blog posts to express my grievances, but today there's a pair of things that have really gotten to me. I've already gone off on one of these things on Twitter (in true Kevin Smith style), but I feel the need to expound on it. The other I think I've mentioned before, but thanks to CNN, I really want to go into it again.
First off: Harvey Weinstein is reportedly considering editing the language out of The King's Speech to secure a PG-13 (maybe even a PG) rating (its currently rated R) so that the film can experience greater financial success to go with its 12 Oscar nominations. This is the same Harvey Weinstein who very publicly fought the MPAA over Blue Valentine's NC-17 rating, saying that that rating was too extreme (apparently, unhappy sex is too much for America's audiences), and won his case, with the rating being repealed to an R. I don't think Weinstein realizes how damaging this would be to the film. The scene in question comes when Bertie (Colin Firth) is in a session with Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush). Logue is trying to force Bertie to stop stammering by raising his ire, which results in Bertie letting loose a string of F-bombs (I believe its around 18). Weinstein's plan is to cut this scene altogether, most likely. And in doing that he's going to gut the film of a crucial character moment, one that reveals a part of Bertie that was previously unknown. In this moment we as the audience get to see the pent-up rage inside of Bertie, held back by his stammer and by everyone in his (royal) family. He's angry because he doesn't have a voice of his own. If this scene were to be removed from the film, or changed in any way, the emotional impact of that realization would be dramatically reduced. It would not only be a massive blow to the film's power, but also to the strength of Firth's performance. If Weinstein wants The King's Speech to win Oscars, he shouldn't compromise the film for financial success. The film is already doing well, and with the fact that the film has more nominations than any other film and that there's backlash against The Social Network, he should just let it speak for itself. There's no need to butcher a truly great film.
Now, on to CNN: today as their "cover story" they examined this year's Oscar nominations and wondered where all the diversity went. Which I knew was going to happen after last year's nominations were unusually diverse, featuring a woman director winning (as well as a black director) and plenty of non-white acting nominees. Look, I know the Oscars aren't really a meritocracy, but come on: the merit/quality of a performance does play a major factor in the nomination (that's why you haven't seen any Twilight nominations). And the awful fact of the matter is that, especially when it comes to directors, there just aren't nearly as many minorities in Hollywood. Just because a woman won Best Director last year doesn't mean they're going to set aside one slot every year for a woman just to appease people. And this year, the acting performances that grabbed the most attention just happened to be white. In fact, in modern times, acting nominations this white are actually quite rare. But I cannot stand the fact that everyone now expects every year to be as diverse last year. Its ridiculous that we even have to discuss this. Its an awards show, people, not a cross-section of who lives in America. A woman didn't get nominated for Best Director this year? Guess what: there's 79 other Oscar ceremonies that lacked a woman nominee. Just because this year isn't diverse doesn't mean there's some sort of regression in Hollywood. There's actually more minorities in Hollywood now than ever before, and over time I believe we'll see plenty of talented people of all races, sexes, creeds, what-have-you earn Oscar nominations. Its not the end of the world.
Thanks for listening. You may now resume your daily lives.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2010 Oscar Nominations

So this is the moment we've been counting down to: the Oscar nominations have finally been announced. I'm proud to say that not only did I watch Mo'Nique, who won Best Supporting Actress last year, make the announcement but also that I correctly predicted 31 of the 35 nominees in my predictions. Not as good as last year's 32/35, but still something to be proud of, methinks. And I'm sorry this is coming in late, but with school and all I don't really have time to throw up a full blog post right after the nomination announcement. But hopefully you'll find this very thorough and interesting. This year's nominations have their surprises, to be sure, though mostly it went exactly how one would expect. The King's Speech leads with 12 nominations, while True Grit scored 10 and The Social Network and Inception share 8 apiece. And the nominees are....
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone
I knew when I made my predictions last week that Blue Valentine was a really risky choice, and it turns out that the risk didn't pay off this time. However, 127 Hours did manage to get a nomination here, so I'm very excited about that. The Town was snubbed when many people thought it would get in, but it never really had much traction other than being a successful film, both commercially and critically, that never commanded the awards season attention. What should be noted is that voters seem to be head-over-heels for The King's Speech, which reminds me of 1998: Saving Private Ryan was a big front-runner for the Best Picture win, but Shakespeare in Love, which garnered the most nominations, ended up claiming the prize. That doesn't necessarily mean that The King's Speech will triumph over The Social Network, but the parallels are interesting, and this comes after the former defeated the latter at the PGAs earlier this week. Ultimately, I think its a three-horse race between TKS, TSN, and the now-surging True Grit. Time will tell who emerges victorious.
David Fincher, The Social Network
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit
Obviously, the biggest snub here is Christopher Nolan, who seemed like a lock for his work on Inception, given how many nominations he's garnered so far this season. Instead, O. Russell and the Coens broke into the category, based on the strength of their work and traditional Oscar love. Despite my strong support of Nolan, I think this is still a terrific category, and I'm glad to see O. Russell and Aronofsky finally get some recognition from the Oscars. All of these men are great choices, having delivered strong films that truly represent some of their best work. I assume, of course, that Fincher's momentum hasn't been quelled, though I think now the Coens have to be considered serious contenders for the prize.
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
James Franco, 127 Hours
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
I really thought that Gosling would have what it takes, since voters obviously saw Blue Valentine and liked it (see below). But perhaps his character was too difficult to like? I don't know; I'll be seeing the film sometime next week. This category went almost exactly as expected; congrats to Franco and Eisenberg for their first nominations. Bardem isn't really that much of a surprise, since he's had buzz all along (I even predicted him in this category for a while), and despite his film's mixed reviews, he has constantly been singled out as great and has had many, many high-profile supporters (Julia Roberts among them). And he's the first nominee in this category to be recognized for a performance that's completely in Spanish, which is excellent. I'm looking forward to seeing his film soon. Firth still has the momentum, so he'll probably win a very deserving Oscar (though he's not my first choice; I'll publish my personal ballots in Picture, Directing, Writing, and Acting when I've seen all of the nominated films). Also snubbed: Robert Duvall. Most of his support came from "career recognition," but Get Low just wasn't memorable enough to get him in.
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
Five-for-five in the most volatile category of the year! I'm glad Kidman didn't get snubbed, and its great that Williams picked up her second career nomination (I'll be seeing both of their films soon). I'm a big fan of Williams, and I can't wait to see her work. Congrats to Lawrence for scoring her first nod, and it looks like the Bening vs. Portman showdown is now official. Wouldn't it be interesting, though, if one of the other ladies became a major contender over the next month? I doubt it will happen, but I can dream. Shame that they didn't nominate Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right; two actresses from the same film haven't been nominated in this category since Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon earned nominations for Thelma & Louise in 1991 (both lost to Jodie Foster for The Silence of the Lambs). However, her campaign wasn't as strong as the others, which is a shame as well. She's so good in that movie.
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
THE RUFF! I'm so glad to see Ruffalo nominated here; seriously, he's so good in that movie, I wish he would win this one, but I was worried that his performance was too natural and too subtle to grab the Academy's attention. But he has his well-deserved first nomination, as does Bale (can you believe he's never been nominated before?). They didn't jump for Andrew Garfield, leaving him out, but instead they chose SAG nominee/Winter's Bone scene-stealer Hawkes, who's certainly deserving of his nominations. He was one of my favorite parts of the film, and I'm glad to see him recognized. It seems that Renner is The Town's only nomination, which is unfortunate, but at least his terrific talent is being recognized (he's already a two-time nominee).
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Another five-for-five for me, and in another category that was highly competitive. It turns out that Oscar voters didn't go for Black Swan's Mila Kunis, instead giving a very-worthy Weaver her first nod. I'm glad that Steinfeld earned a nomination for her terrific performance, but I'm ashamed of AMPAS for falling for the category fraud. Like I've said before, Steinfeld gives a great LEAD performance as the LEAD character of True Grit, while Bridge's Rooster Cogburn turns in a great SUPPORTING role to Steinfeld's LEAD. She should be in Best Actress, though I understand that if that were the case she probably wouldn't have been nominated at all. The question is who has the momentum to win. We can assume its Leo, since she's coming off her Golden Globe win, but Adams, Carter, and Steinfeld are also very strong contenders, and Weaver, though not as prominent, is still very much a threat. Just as anyone could have been nominated, this category is probably a free-for-all for the win. Also, this is the third straight year that a film has scored two nominees in this category (2008: Amy Adams and Viola Davis for Doubt, 2009: Anna Kendrick and Vera Farmiga for Up in the Air. None of these women won the Oscar.).
127 Hours; Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Danny Boyle
The Social Network; Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3; Screenplay by Michael Arndt, Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich
True Grit; Written for the screen by Joel & Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone; Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini
I'm genuinely surprised that 127 Hours is nominated here, but its a good surprise, since Beaufoy and Boyle excellently made the film an interior journey even though the protagonist is stuck in one place for most of the film. This is the Coens' fifth screenplay nomination of their careers, which is notable because their screenplays really are treasures. And this may surprise you, but despite his four Emmys, Sorkin has never been nominated for an Oscar until now. He'll probably win this category easily.
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 Stuart Blumberg & Lisa Cholodenko
The King's Speech; Written by David Seidler
One noticable absentee: the Black Swan script. There were those who figured that it would be nominated, but I never thought it would, since the film has been mostly regarded as a director-and-his-actress film. Besides, when you think of the film, do you think about how well-written it was? You might, but its probably not the first thing that comes to mind. Otherwise there aren't really any surprises here; the voters continue to love Leigh, with this being his latest film's only nomination (I've alway thought it was interesting that his films are nominated here, since his process involves no conventional script but rather situations around which his actors improvise). I suspect that Siedler is a front-runner for this category, though I suppose Blumberg & Cholodenko and Nolan are also strong contenders.
Toy Story 3
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
No surprise with Toy Story 3 or How to Train Your Dragon, and the former should handily win. But that last spot was a three-way race between The Illusionist, Despicable Me, and Tangled, and it was a tight race at that. But it seems that AMPAS voters have decided to take the arty route and go with The Illusionist, which was directed by The Triplets of Belleville's Sylvain Chomet from an unproduced script by Jacques Tati. Its certainly the least-seen of the nominees, but I've heard terrific things about it, and I'm looking forward to seeing it soon.
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
The King's Speech
True Grit
I'm disappointed that the blight that is Alice in Wonderland was nominated here: that world is drearily created, but it doesn't look good; its not a good kind of dreary at all. However, I am content with the other four nominees, as each featured some terrific and memorable setpieces (the Japanese mansion in Inception, Lionel Logue's office in The King's Speech, the morgue in True Grit). Harry Potter is interesting though: most of it is outside, so how much of that film's locales were actually designed sets? Its a beautiful film, though, so I won't think about it too much.
Black Swan
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit
What a terrific set of cinematographers. There's no way anyone could forget Matthew Libaque's brilliant hand-held work in Black Swan, or Wally Pfister's inventive work in Inception, or Roger Deakin's consistently amazing shots in True Grit. All of these films featured great work, and normally I would want the always-the-bridesmaid, never-the-bride Deakins to finally win his first trophy, but I just can't ignore the great work that Libaque did.
Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King's Speech
The Tempest
True Grit
This is the only category where I am actually somewhat okay with Alice in Wonderland being nominated, since Colleen Atwood's costumes weren't as horrendous as the rest of the film. However, I'm really excited to see I Am Love on here, and the fact that the voters went with not one but two modern-ish pieces instead of Victorian regalia as they usually do (though there wasn't much of that to choose from this year, was there?) I thought The Tempest would be completely ignored, but Oscar loves costume designer Sandy Powell so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that she got another nomination.
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land
Quick: what strikes you the most about this category? If you guessed, "Wait, where's Waiting for "Superman," the most important and striking advertisement for charter schools ever made?," then you're on the right track. It turns out that, despite earning multiple "best of the year" awards, the documentary branch didn't take the bait, and left the buzzy film out completely this year. I suspect the Internet is currently exploding with outrage that the Oscars would deviate from the groupthink like this. Still, that opened up a spot for Exit Through the Gift Shop, meaning, yes, Banksy is now an Oscar nominee. Its an interesting line-up, to be sure, and I'm really hoping Gift Shop takes home the prize, if for nothing else to see how Banksy will react.
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang
I don't know much about this category, since I don't usually get to see short films of any kind during the year. But I have noticed that shorts on China are usually nominated, and that trend doesn't seem to have wained this year.
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
I'm surprised that Inception wasn't nominated here, given how its editing helped save the dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream structure from collapsing upon itself. But they did include 127 Hours from the notoriously cut-happy Danny Boyle, so that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendes (Canada)
Outside the Law (Hors-la-Loi) (Algeria)
I am so excited that Dogtooth was nominated. I want to see it, and judging by its premise, it sounded like the kind of film that, no matter how good it was, the Academy would find it too difficult and end of snubbing it. I'm also surprised that South Africa didn't get a nomination, but I have heard great things about Outside the Law and had it pegged as a possible darkhorse, so I'm not too surprised that that film got in. Is Biutiful still the front-runner though? Its always hard to tell in this category, since the usual perceived front-runners don't end up winning (see: 2009, 2008).
Barney's Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman
Interestingly, none of these three films were nominated for any other award. And this comes from a Golden Globe winner (Barney's Version's Paul Giamatti won Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical), a should-have-been-major-Oscar-contender (Peter Weir's WWII survival drama The Way Back), and a failed horror remake (The Wolfman). The latter's makeup effects come from makeup artist extraordinaire Rick Baker, who's most famous for An American Werewolf in London and the Men in Black movies. He's an Academy favorite (11 nominations, 6 wins), so it should come as no surprise that he picked up yet another nomination.
How to Train Your Dragon
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Academy favorites Hans Zimmer and Alexandre Desplat return, but surprisingly two of this year's nominees are first-timers, a rare occurrence in this category (veterans are usually favored here). John Powell's score for Dragon is appropriately sweeping and majestic, and A.R. Rahman (winner for Slumdog Millionaire) is recognized for his propulsive score that kept the energy alive through Ralston's stationary state. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, aka Nine Inch Nails, are now Oscar nominees as well, and damn good ones at that. Nine Inch Nails' music has always been richly cinematic, so it only makes sense that they would make this leap. With any justice, their score for The Social Network will win.
"Coming Home," Country Strong
"I See the Light," Tangled
"If I Rise," 127 Hours
"We Belong Together," Toy Story 3
I cannot for the life of me ever make sense of this category. Every year there seems to be a different number of nominees, and there's never a sense of continuity in what they nominate. This year's most notable snub is the numbers from Burlesque, though the film's bad reviews probably contributed to that (not to mention only a few songs are actually worth attention). As it stands, its an interesting, varied bunch, but I have no clue who really stands a chance at winning.
Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Last Thing
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)
I don't know much about these, other than Day & Night was one of Pixar's best (it played before Toy Story 3 in theaters). I'll have to see if I can find the rest somewhere.
The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143
Again, I don't know anything about these. Do any of you, readers, know? I'll keep an eye out for them.
Toy Story 3
TRON: Legacy
True Grit
Usually the sound categories line up pretty closely, but that's not the case this year, as only Inception and True Grit are in both categories. This is (rather surprisingly) TRON's only nomination, and yes, Unstoppable, Denzel Washington's runaway train movie (which I hear is delightfully entertaining) is Oscar nominated. Of course, since this is mostly based on sound effects, that's not too surprising. This category tends to like sci-fi blockbusters and animated films, and that certainly hasn't changed this year.
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit
This category is related to the overall way that sound is engineered and integrated into a film, and these five films are interesting choices for that. In particular, The King's Speech makes great use of sound, making it fit thematically with King George's stammer. Inception, too, has sound as an important element, and the distortion of the music throughout the film is superb. All in all, I think this is an interesting category, to say the least.
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
Iron Man 2
I'll actually be writing more on this category later, but now that the category has expanded from three to five nominations, the nominees are an interesting bunch. Alice in Wonderland is still an abomination, and I'm disappointed that they felt the need to recognize it here. Harry Potter's effects are usually state-of-the-art, but there's nothing in that film that really stands out, effects-wise (I was more impressed by the cinematography than I was by the usual "magic" effects). And Iron Man 2 was overrun with special effects, with the spectacle overtaking the story in an unnecessary fashion (and they weren't necessarily impressive effects to boot). Inception and Hereafter, despite being two very different films qualitatively, make the best use of their effects, and most deserve to be nominated here. But no Scott Pilgrim? That's the most disappointing snub of all.
(I'll be writing separate posts for Adapted Screenplay and Visual Effects for LAMB Devours the Oscars, which will be coming very, very soon. Individual write-ups of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and the acting awards will also come in by the time the ceremony airs.)
So what are your thoughts? Did the Academy make some good choices this year? Or are you like the woman in the pre-announcement segment who thinks that The Twilight Saga: Eclipse was the best movie of the year and can't believe it was completely snubbed? Discuss!