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First Oscar Winner Predictions

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s time for phase 2, ladies and gentleman. Things aren’t going as well as I would have liked, but they almost never do. As Sasha Stone at Awardsdaily quotes “All the President’s Men,” in regards to the Oscar race, “The trick is not minding.” You’ve got to roll with the punches and accept that even if the deserving film doesn’t win, hopefully your predictions are still right. Therefore, at least your pride is still intact.

I have “The King’s Speech” down for the big win, sadly. Maybe later on, if there’s a potential change in vibe, I might make an alteration back. But for now, one has to put the money where the money’s gonna win. I have, meanwhile, kept David Fincher in the frontrunner position for Best Director. I simply cannot imagine a world in which Tom Hooper wins that trophy from him. It’s simply unnatural that the Academy could be that ridiculous.

You can pretty much take all of the acting wins to the bank. Melissa Leo is the only one who’s kind of flimsy, at this point, but I have a feeling her age and fantastic personality will help her beat out the unworthy newcomer.

Going over this, it still boggles me that Lee Smith missed an editing nomination for “Inception.” It really makes no sense. I have the “The Social Network” down, and my God, it deserves it. Yet, the nomination feels flimsy, and yet I can’t figure out what could possibly take it down.

With that, here are my first winner predictions for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, complete with all of the nominees ranked in order of their chances. I will keep them posted and, hopefully, updated in the “PREDICTIONS” tab at the top of the homepage.

Click “Read More” to see the full list and tally.

BEST PICTURE
1. “The King’s Speech”
2. “The Social Network”
3. “The Fighter”
4. “True Grit”
5. “Black Swan”
6. “Toy Story 3”
7. “Inception”
8. “127 Hours”
9. “Winter’s Bone”
10. “The Kids Are All Right”

Read more…

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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.

My FINAL Oscar Predictions – 1/22

January 23, 2011 6 comments

This is it. Last call before closing. Nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards will be announced this Tuesday, January 25th, at 7:30am CST (and you can bet I’ll be up hours before then, pumping myself up). For sure, there is a science behind the whole prediction game. A combination of elements, including what’s been happening with the critics groups awards, the different guild nominations and, in some cases, the film’s box office success. Along with that, there’s likability in each contender, how many times they’ve previously been nominated and won, a pseudo-mathematic question of their overall “due” status. Dozens of factors take shape in hugely methodic process, and this is all before anyone even takes into effect how good each contender is. Crazy, huh?

Well, a year-long process has now come to a close, and it’s time for me to nut up and offer my final predictions. The Best Picture line-up is basically down to 11 contenders, with two films vying for the final slot. It’s possible that either “Shutter Island” or “The Ghost Writer” could stage a massive coup and fight their way in their, but I doubt it. Some predictions that I’m sticking my neck out on? I’m still holding on to my convictions (and hopes) that the incredible John Hawkes can beat out Jeremy Renner in the Best Supporting Actor category. I’m also holding out hope that both of “Blue Valentine”‘s stars will outdo their older competition for leading notices. I’m also really hoping that “Exit Through the Gift Shop” can actually tickle the documentary branch’s funny bone (a feat not easily accomplished). Finally, here’s to “Winter’s Bone” edging out “The Town” for Best Picture. In fact, I’m predicting an across-the-board snub of the film. It’s only a slightly above action feature that has no business in the top ten. I have a strong feeling, though, that it will be this year’s “Blind Side.”

Without further adieu, here are the nominees (and once again, these are ranked in order of their chance of getting nominated, not winning):

BEST PICTURE
1. “The Social Network”
2. “The King’s Speech”
3. “The Fighter”
4. “Black Swan”
5. “Inception”
6. “Toy Story 3”
7. “True Grit”
8. “The Kids Are All Right”
9. “127 Hours”
10. “Winter’s Bone”

Alt 1: “The Town”
Alt 2: “Shutter Island”

Click READ MORE to see the rest.

Read more…

Chicago Film Critics Pick “The Social Network”

December 20, 2010 Leave a comment

So, some nice news from the home front. It’s just been announced that my town of Chicago has picked “The Social Network” as its number one film of the year. I can now rest easy.

Aside from that, however, I’m afraid that these awards are really kind of boring. Nice to see “Exit Through the Gift Shop” getting a consistent amount of love. Hopefully, it will gain enough traction to at least make it to a nomination for Best Documentary. Hailee Steinfeld is really starting to rack in the awards, as well, though I don’t think she has much of a chance. The Academy loves to nominate child actors, but only once in a blue moon do they actually hand over the gold to them.

Aside from the possible backlash that might be headed it’s way, I still see absolutely no boredom or regret over this unprecedented domination of the awards season. As I’ve said since the first time I saw it, this is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It is nearly flawless, down to the last detail. I also don’t think there has ever been a film that better defines my generation. I don’t think that we’re likely to see a film this good come along for some time.

Check out the continuing tally of “The Social Network”‘s critical wins and nominations here.

I have the full list of winners after the jump or you can read the official press release from the CFCA.

Best Picture
“Black Swan”
“Inception”
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network”
“Winter’s Bone”

Read more…

Toronto Film Critics Association Announces

December 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Toronto has just announced not only a “Social Network” win, but more or less a complete sweep of their awards. One of the most interesting of these awards, and I believe the first of its kind, is the Best Supporting Actor Award going to Armie Hammer in his duel performance as the Winklevi. While I believe Andrew Garfield is the soul of the supporting roles in this film, it’s very nice to see Hammer get some recognition for such an energized and inspired performance.

Another big surprise is “How to Train Your Dragon” upheaving “Toy Story 3” in Best Animated Feature. “HTTYD” is an enjoyable and thrilling film, but “Toy Story 3” is one of the greatest animated achievements of all time, in my opinion. It deserves a sweep of that category as much as “The Social Network deserves its.

Here’s the full list of winners:

BEST PICTURE
“The Social Network”
R/U: “Black Swan” AND “Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives”

BEST DIRECTOR
David Fincher – “The Social Network”
R/U: Darren Aronofsky – “The Social Network” AND Christopher Nolan – “Inception”

BEST ACTOR
Jesse Eisenberg – “The Social Network”
R/U: Colin Firth – “The King’s Speech” AND James Franco – “127 Hours”

BEST ACTRESS
Jennifer Lawrence – “Winter’s Bone”
R/U: Natalie Portman – “Black Swan” AND Michelle Williams – “Blue Valentine”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Armie Hammer – “The Social Network”
R/U: Geoffrey Rush – “The King’s Speech” AND Christian Bale – “The Fighter”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Hailee Steinfeld – “True Grit”
R/U: Amy Adams – “The Fighter” AND Melissa Leo – “The Fighter”

BEST SCREENPLAY
“The Social Network”
R/U: “The King’s Speech” AND “True Grit”

BEST FIRST FEATURE
“Exit Through the Gift Shop”
R/U: “Get Low” AND “Monsters”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“How to Train Your Dragon”
R/U: “Despicable Me” AND “Toy Story 3”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Exit Through the Gift Shop”
R/U: “Inside Job” AND “Marwencol”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”
R/U: “Mother” AND “Of Gods and Men”