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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…

Screen Actors Guild Nominations: My Thoughts

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

While trying not to put the cart before the horse, it is important to realize that the SAG is the real deal. What we have here is the most accurate precursor in regards to matching up to what the Oscar nominations will look like.

First of all, the actors make up, 3 times over, the largest contingent of the Academy, with producers and executives in 2nd, sound personnel in 3rd and writers in 4th. And while Best Ensemble does not always line up with Best Picture, the singular achievement nominations have lined up with Oscars, per say, about 80 to 90 percent of the time. Last year, was perhaps the most similar, with only 1 nominee in Best Supporting Actress not making it to Oscar (Diane Kruger). Best Actor, Actress and Supporting Actress lined up perfectly.

That being said, I’m mostly happy with these nominations, despite a few hiccups. Without a doubt, the most shocking and disturbing omission is Andrew Garfield in “The Social Network.” I thought that, if anything, he would be locked and Jesse Eisenberg would still have an uphill battle, despite all of the critical love. However, Garfield was the heart and soul of the film and anyone who can blaze through Sorkin dialogue, while still maintaining that level of emotion and integrity, deserves recognition.

The trouble is, who is to blame for this slight. If it is John Hawkes, then I cannot mourn for too long, because he is the one man that I want to appear in the eventual Oscar lineup ahead of Garfield. John Hawkes gives, quite simply, one of the best performances of the year and a true underdog story to boot. However, if it is Jeremy Renner who passed Andrew Garfield by, then I am appalled. Renner was absolutely stellar in “The Hurt Locker,” realistic, unique and all heart. In “The Town,” he is good, maybe the best performance in the film, but really nothing special at all. I still cannot believe the amount of buzz he’s receiving.

Another weird turn this morning was Hilary Swank getting in for her only slightly above average performance in “Conviction,” knocking out critical favorites Lesley Manville in “Another Year” and Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine.” What’s really weird about this is her inclusion, but not Sam Rockwell or Juliette Lewis, the individuals in the film that people have actually been talking about. A true out-of-the-blue nomination, and really kind of a hilarious one seeing that she is once again up against Annette Bening, who lost the Best Actress race to Swank twice in the last 11 years.

A little known fact, if Lesley Manville is not nominated for an Oscar, she will be the first woman to win the National Board of Review award for Best Actress and not go on to an Oscar nod since the year 1990 when Mia Farrow failed to secure a nomination for Woody Allen’s “Alice.” In superstitious terms, that’s a long streak to be broken.

Mila Kunis made a surprise appearance here. Kind of boggled by that, because as funny and peppy as she is, it’s really not that solid of a performance. Barbara Hershey was a standout, if ever anyone could stand out around Natalie Portman’s brilliance.

Now, the good things. I’ve already addressed my absolute elation for John Hawkes come-from-behind nomination, even if he has a long shot, even if hell does freeze over, of actually winning. I must also congratulate Jesse Eisenberg, who has now all but engraved his nomination in cement. Truly brilliant work. and while I haven’t seen “True Grit,” it’s nice to see Jeff Bridges show up here, especially after his snub at the Golden Globes.

While I wasn’t really expecting any kind of showing for it, it’s kind of sad to see yet another Christopher Nolan film snubbed from the Ensemble Cast category, let alone any other category in the case of “Inception.” True, the first thing the mind goes to when it comes to this film is the visuals, the story and the direction. Yet, it is an ensemble piece, through and through, with so many actors (Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joesph Gordon Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cotillard, and, of course, Tom Hardy) all pulling their weight more than needed. And while “Black Swan” does have decent performances all around, it’s really Natalie Portman’s show. One deserved this nomination more than the other, and it’s going home empty-handed.

My longshot predictions for the win would probably go like this:

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
“The King’s Speech”
alt: “The Fighter”

BEST ACTOR
Colin Firth – “The King’s Speech”
alt: James Franco – “127 Hours”

BEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening “The Kids Are All Right”
alt: Natalie Portman – “Black Swan”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale – “The Fighter”
alt: Geoffrey Rush – “The King’s Speech

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Melissa Leo – “The Fighter”
alt: Helena Bonham Carter – “The King’s Speech

We shall see.

17th Screen Actors Guild Nominations

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

All I will post my full reactions in the next few hours. In the meantime I leave you with one thought: John Hawkes, John Hawkes, JOHN GODDAMN HAWKES!!!!!!! Thank you very much.

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network”

BEST ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE
Jeff Bridges – “True Grit”
Robert Duvall – “Get Low”
Jesse Eisenberg – “The Social Network”
Colin Firth – “The King’s Speech”
James Franco – “127 Hours”

BEST ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE
Annette Bening – “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman – “The Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman – “Black Swan”
Hilary Swank – “Conviction”

BEST ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE
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”

BEST ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE
Amy Adams – “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham-Carter – “The King’s Speech”
Mila Kunis – “Black Swan”
Melissa Leo – “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld – “True Grit”

Golden Globe Predictions 2010

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

So, as many of you know, I hate the Golden Globes. They’re a joke. The HFPA is a group of about 90 foreign film journalists who reside in Hollywood, almost none of them have anyone ever heard of. They make some of the most pedestrian choices that can be made for awards presentation. Once in a while, they have a good idea, but for the most part, they either go with the grain or go the blandest route. More than anything else, however, they are STARFUCKERS, excuse my language. But it’s true. These awards are meant to cater to movie stars and their own popularity with said persons. They’re a joke.

That being said, they are still one of the most influential and popular awards shows of the year, and therefore I will pay them credence.

Here are my predictions for the 68th Golden Globe Nominations, announced tomorrow morning. The full list after the jump.

BEST PICTURE, DRAMA
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network”
“The Fighter”
“Black Swan”
“The Ghost Writer”
“Inception”
Alt: “Another Year”

BEST PICTURE, MUSICAL or COMEDY
“The Kids Are All Right”
“Alice in Wonderland”
“Made in Dagenham”
“Burlesque”
“Love and Other Drugs”
Alt: “Nowhere Boy”

Read more…

Broadcast Film Critics Association Nominations

December 13, 2010 Leave a comment

The BFCA is a collection of around 250 film critics from the TV, radio and online outlets. Their awards and nominations are usually quite closely linked with the Academy, something they actually pride themselves on as though they’re predicting the Oscars rather than awarding their favorite choices. However, that being said, the nominations and wins usually create an accurate template for how the Academy Award nominations roughly might look like.

In that respect, it appears that “Black Swan” (which led the noms with 12!!!), “The King’s Speech” and “True Grit” (each with 11 noms) aren’t going away anytime soon. Some might think that “The Social Network” came up short of these with only 8 nominations, but it is still the frontrunner for the win. It only cannot compete in the technical categories like Art Direction and Costume Design, among others. Riding its current wave, it would be one of the biggest upsets in history to not see David Fincher’s work go home with the grand prize, here.

Otherwise, there are virtually no surprises here. Lesley Manville was unfortunately snubbed for a Best Actress nomination. In fact, “Another Year,” which hasn’t been seen in the states much, yet, was left completely out aside from an Original Screenplay nod. Also, “The Town” managed a Best Picture nomination. It has officially positioned itself as the possible pedestrian nomination for Best Picture, an unfortunate side effect of having ten nominees. Surprisingly, it took the slot of “The Kids Are All Right,” a big heavyweight going into January.

Another big surprise was….wait….no, I’m afraid there are no surprises here. Read up, and I’ll try to report something with a little more edge hopefully. The New York Film Critics Circle announces sometime in the next 6 hours.

Full List of Nominations:

BEST PICTURE
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“Inception”
“The King’s Speech”
“127 Hours”
“The Social Network”
“The Town”
“Toy Story 3″
“True Grit”
“Winter’s Bone”

Read more…

“TOY GRIT” Mash-up = Amazing!

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

I will be getting to some more reviews, shortly. But I found this today and it is absolutely hilarious. One never really can get sick of trailer mashups, and this one of the 3 “Toy Story” movies to “True Grit” is absolutely priceless. Watch this. You won’t regret it.