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The Nominations – My Thoughts and Reactions

January 25, 2011 Leave a comment

The nail-biting is over, at least for a few weeks. The Oscar nominations are here, and I believe that for the first time in years, my joy outweighs my sorrow. I suppose its appropriate to get into the bad news, first.

One thing’s official. As much as the Academy seems to have the most outrageous hard-on for Stephen Daldry (3 films made, 3 Best Director nods), they seem to have an everlasting grudge against Christopher Nolan as a director (3 DGA noms, no Oscar nods for Director). I just don’t understand what the man has to do to get their recognition. You can’t feel completely bad for him, pulling down two nominations for producer and writer, but are those the types of roles that any great director wants to be remembered for? I’m sure it wasn’t good enough for Stanley Kubrick. Honestly, Christopher Nolan is one of the most talented directors in Hollywood. Who else can take a film with such originality, intelligence, grandeur and finesse and bring in 300 million dollars with it or more. And on top of that, do it twice in three years. Nobody since Steven Spielberg, I’ll tell you that much.

The second-most disturbing snub has got be the exclusion of Andrew Garfield in the Supporting Actor category. Ridiculous. Definitely one of the best performances of the year, Garfield’s portrayal of innocence-lost is the soul of “The Social Network.” Though, while I bemoan the lack of Eduardo Savrin, I simply could not be more thrilled about the inclusion of John Hawkes for his turn in “Winter’s Bone.” People who’ve visited this site often must be aware of my penchant for this particular acting job, and this morning’s news of his inclusion is the crowning jewel of almost a year’s worth of supporting him on my part.

Since I’m ever so thrilled about Hawkes, I can’t blame him for the Garfield snub. Therefore, I’m gonna have to just go ahead and blame Jeremy Renner. I never thought that in one year, I could turn so much on this performer. In “The Hurt Locker” he was phenomenal, truly deserving of a lead actor nomination. Here, he is an average performance in an average film. I don’t think I ever considered him a candidate for my supporting actor picks, not even back in October. I was genuinely shocked and confused when accolades and Oscar talk began surfacing a few months ago. It baffled me then and it truly baffles me now.

At least its consolation that Renner was “The Town”‘s only nomination, missing out on that Best Picture nod that everyone was predicting….well almost everyone ;). The fact that “Winter’s Bone” took its place could not be more gratifying, as well. What a glorious film that more than deserves all of its bestowed nominations.

Let’s look at how some films made out on the whole. “127 Hours” defied pundits with a huge 6 nomination comeback, including yet another double category nomination for A.R. Rahman (Best Original Song, Best Original Score). Meanwhile, maybe the biggest shocker of the day, was “Black Swan” achieving only 5 nominations. For a while now, many people have been projecting Aronofsky’s film to be the potential nomination frontrunner, amassing perhaps ten or twelve. Instead, the film missed out on Supporting Actress (for both of its contenders), Original Screenplay, Art Direction, Costume Design and both Sound categories. I didn’t have it predicted in all of those, but it certainly had potential. Perhaps the biggest crime here is its Sound Effects exclusion. The work done on the sound of pattering feet and flapping feathers was phenomenal.

The worst overall snub of a film had to be Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island.” Not an amazing film, by any standards, but certainly one in which at least its technical achievements deserved some recognition. It should have easily made the grade for both Cinematography and Art Direction. Some of the best work of the year. I’m also depressed that Ryan Gosling missed out on a more than deserving nomination for Best Actor in “Blue Valentine.” It’s very nice to see Michelle Williams nominated, but not enough of a consolation. I’m sure that when I see “Biutiful” this weekend, however, Javier Bardem will wow the living shit out of me and I will be able to praise his surprise inclusion.

Let’s move on to some of the brighter aspects of day. The big story in the news is “The King’s Speech” being the nomination leader, but “The Social Network” really did have a pretty damned good day. 8 nominations, tied for the third highest, including four technical nominations, not an easy feat for a contemporary comedy/drama. It’s true that we definitely have ourselves a race now. Yet in terms of the race, “The King’s Speech” may have gained ground, but “The Social Network” hasn’t lost any of its.

One thing that’s really got me happy is the semi-snub of “Alice in Wonderland.” True, it did receive three nominations, yet I call it a snub for the one award it had almost always been not only a lock, but a frontrunner: Best Makeup. It appears that this branch of the Academy really does know the difference between makeup and CGI. Some very interesting choices replaced it, including “Barney’s Version” and “The Way Back.”

Without a doubt, the biggest joy for me, this morning, was seeing the results that the Doc branch rolled out. This has been one of the best years I’ve ever seen for documentary films. Lately, it’s seemed as though the lackluster “Waiting for Superman” was lined up to sweep the Oscar after wins at the BFCA and PGA. However, that belief was certainly swayed when the movie did not even show up among the nominees. The Academy also chose to avoid “The Tillman Story,” a pretentious and jumbled look at the soldier’s tragic story. Instead, among the nominations, are my three favorite documentaries of the year: “Restrepo,” “Inside Job” and the glorious “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Well done, guys.

My predictions were some of the best of my time doing this gig. out of 109 nominations, I correctly predicted 82. Not bad at all. If you were to ask my girlfriend, I was inches away from predicting Bardem at about 2 o’clock this morning. Oh well. Got to stick to your guns.

This race has gone from being a one trick pony to a cutthroat race to the finish. It is going to be “The Social Network” vs. “The King’s Speech” right to the last note. While, for sure, I have a favorite, it’s refreshing to have a very close race. While last year was a nice David and Goliath battle, looking back, it was always “The Hurt Locker”‘s for the taking. And before that, it was two years of no competition. Now we have a race the likes of “The Departed” vs. “Little Miss Sunshine” or “Million Dollar Baby” vs. “The Aviator.” However, in reality, I don’t think we’ve ever had a race quite like this one before. Should be a good time. Stay tuned.

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Golden Globes – Postgame

January 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Okay. I will admit that the HFPA really did do all right by me, last night. Overall they made some pretty good decisions, especially in officially solidifying “The Social Network” as the frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar. If “The King’s Speech” can’t win here, I really can’t imagine it winning anywhere.

However, even if the Golden Globes released a list of their Top 100 favorite films, and their list happened to match mine movie per movie, I would still not take up with them. An organization that will accept bribery and star-fucking as good reasons to nominate “Burlesque” or “Alice in Wonderland” as Best Picture of the Year is no friend of mine.

Here is the full list of winners from last night:

BEST PICTURE, DRAMA
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“Inception”
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network”

Best Picture (Musical/Comedy)
“Alice in Wonderland”
“Burlesque”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“Red”
“The Tourist”

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
David O. Russell, “The Fighter”
Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
David Fincher, “The Social Network”

Best Actor (Drama)
Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
James Franco, “127 Hours”
Ryan Gosling, “Blue Valentine”
Mark Wahlberg, “The Fighter”

Best Actress (Drama)
Halle Berry, “Frankie and Alice”
Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”

Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)
Johnny Depp, “Alice in Wonderland”
Johnny Depp, “The Tourist”
Paul Giamatti, “Barney’s Version”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Love and Other Drugs”
Kevin Spacey, “Casino Jack”

Best Actress (Musical/Comedy)
Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Anne Hathaway, “Love and Other Drugs”
Angelina Jolie, “The Tourist”
Julianne Moore, “The Kids Are All Right”
Emma Stone, “Easy A”

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Michael Douglas, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”
Andrew Garfield, “The Social Network”
Jeremy Renner, “The Town”
Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
Mila Kunis, “Black Swan”
Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”

Best Screenplay
Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, “The Kids Are All Right”
David Seidler, “The King’s Speech”
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, “127 Hours”
Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”

Best Foreign Language Film
“Biutiful”
“The Concert”
“The Edge”
“I Am Love”
“In a Better World”

Best Animated Feature
“Despicable Me”
“How to Train Your Dragon”
“The Illusionist”
“Tangled”
“Toy Story 3”

Best Original Score
Danny Elfman, “Alice in Wonderland”
Hans Zimmer, “Inception”
Alexandre Desplat, “The King’s Speech”
A.R. Rahman, “127 Hours”
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “The Social Network”

Best Original Song
“Bound to You” from “Burlesque”
“You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” from “Burlesque”
“There’s a Place for Us” from “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”
“Coming Home” from “Country Strong”
“I See the Light” from “Tangled”

Cecil B. De Mille Award
Robert De Niro

As far as my predictions go, I had a very good night. Some of these weren’t the most difficult awards to predict, but I still amassed a record of 12 out of 14, or 85 percent. That might be the best record that I’ve ever had on this particular award show. If it hadn’t have been Johnny Depp getting screwed by two nomination vote-splitting or an absolute upset like no other in Best Foreign Language Film, I would have had a perfect score.

If you had been within one hundred feet of my apartment at one o’clock in the morning (I had to DVR the show since I was working on set during the airtime), you would have heard a chorus of whoops and hollers at every “Social Network” victory. I was particularly ecstatic upon hearing Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ names being called, for not only was that one of the film’s most difficult nominations to win, but that moment pretty much sealed its Best Picture victory.

The acting victories were literally identical to the BFCA wins, with Firth, Portman, Bale and Leo all going home with awards. In the Musical/Comedy section, Annette Bening made her last stand at putting up a fight against Natalie for the Oscar, but I really don’t think it will be enough (despite Bening getting a full ovation and Portman only a few random stands). Paul Giamatti pulled out a not-so-surprising but really cool win over Johnny Depp and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Obviously, the talk of the night was Ricky Gervais’ absolutely no-holds-barred hosting job which bordered on a Comedy Central Roast. I’ve heard things such as network executives swearing that it will be the end of the comic’s career, but for me, the best part of the show was waiting for what he was going to say next. I mean, come on. When you’re that rich and that famous, there is absolutely no reason not to verbally macerated on national television. I haven’t laughed as hard in a long time as when Ricky referred to Bruce Willis as Ashton Kutcher’s dad.

The best part of the night, and ironic for me, since I really don’t care much about the television portion of the awards, was Chris Colfer’s win for “Glee.” Sometimes you see a performer put on their phony “I never would have imagined” face. You could tell that this kid had expected hell to freeze over and then thaw again before he would win this award. The shock, awe and pure joy in his face was just a memorable sight. And while I really don’t enjoy “Glee” so much, both Colfer and Jane Lynch’s performances are far and away the only things that keep it afloat in my attention span. Congrats to both of them.

Well, the critics have officially had their say. All that’s left are those in the industry, and I can only hope that they greet “The Social Network” with as much warmth and gratitude as their judges have. And since it has now received nominations, at least, from every single Hollywood guild, the horizon is looking pretty damned bright.

Academy Narrows Make-Up Branch to 7

January 11, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been waiting for this announcement and really couldn’t be more disappointed. Like several other categories, the Make-Up branch of the Oscars creates a shortlist of contenders before the actual nominees are decided. That list is made up of seven films.

Here’s the selection of films:

“Alice in Wonderland”
“Barney’s Version”
“The Fighter”
“Jonah Hex”
“True Grit”
“The Way Back”
“The Wolfman”

In all honesty, these are a joke. “Alice and Wonderland” and “The Wolfman” were expected, “The Fighter” well deserving a spot for it’s wounds, hairstyles and tattoo cover-up. Yet, the sheer absence of “Black Swan” from the shortlist is a true tragedy. Whether you look at the realistic gore make-up or the exquisite work done for the actual ballet scenes, this is a straight-up snub. Even worse is the exclusion of “127 Hours.”

The Academy make-up branch is either biased against or completely blind to effective gore make-up. They go absolutely apeshit for prosthetics and aging. I mean films like “The Wolfman” and “Alice in Wonderland” obviously require an immense amount of work. However, creating a scenario in which a man cuts off his own arm and actually make that completely believable is fully worthy of equal recognition. Always, gore make-up is overlooked. “No Country for Old Men,” “Moon,” “District 9″ and “A History of Violence” all have incredible wound make-up and none of them even received nominations.

My girlfriend is a special effects make-up artist and every year she is infuriated by these nominations and I’m beginning to understand why.