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....
BEST PICTURE
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
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.
BEST DIRECTOR
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.
BEST ACTOR
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.
BEST ACTRESS
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.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
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).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
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.).
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
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.
BEST 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 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.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
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.
BEST ART DIRECTION
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
Inception
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.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Black Swan
Inception
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.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
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.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Restrepo
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.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
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.
BEST FILM EDITING
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.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
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).
BEST MAKEUP
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.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
How to Train Your Dragon
Inception
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.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
"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.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
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.
BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT
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.
BEST SOUND EDITING
Inception
Toy Story 3
TRON: Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable
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.
BEST SOUND MIXING
Inception
The King's Speech
Salt
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.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
Hereafter
Inception
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!

2 comments:

Kalli said...

I'm really pissed that Christopher Nolan has been snubbed yet again by the Oscar nomination panel. How do they not see his talent? Or are they seeing it and just ignoring it for some reason?

Jason H. said...

Nolan reminds me a lot of Spielberg at this point. This is Nolan's first film to receive a Best Picture nod, but like Spielberg in '75 (his first BP nom: Jaws), he didn't reap a directing nomination for it. But in '77, Spielberg received his first nomination for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, so maybe that bodes well for Nolan and The Dark Knight Rises?

Then again, if that fails, he could just make a WWII/Holocaust movie and pick up as many Oscars as he wants. That always seems to work.