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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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The Shape of Things and Those to Come

January 22, 2011 8 comments

We’re now down to just over a month left until cinema’s biggest night, the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, and only three days left till the nominations are released. It’s a very exciting time for movies and an equally exciting time for The Edge of the Frame. I’ve got a lot of great stuff planned for the coming weeks.

First off, now that all of the guild nominations are complete, I will try to be as prompt as possible at announcing the winners as they are awarded. First off will be the Producers Guild which is holding its ceremony tonight. Many believe that, with the DGA and WGA all but locked up, the Producers are the last big hurdle that “The Social Network” needs to vanquish before it can be considered a virtual lock for the Best Picture Oscar. Or, put another way, if “The King’s Speech,” “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception,” or even “Toy Story 3” wants to put up any kind of a fight, this should be their last stand. I mean these are producers we’re talking about, so massive box office success may be taken into account here. And all of the above-mentioned films have much more exciting box office turn-ins than the frontrunner (not that “TSN” fared badly, bringing in just shy of $100 million off of a $40 million dollar budget). As far as money goes, my own is still squarely behind David Fincher’s masterpiece. It doesn’t help having one of Hollywood’s most loved and successful producers behind the curtain, in the form of Scott Rudin.

On top of the guilds, I’m going to attempt to not wait until the last possible moment to announce my predictions for this year’s Academy Awards. I’m hoping that by tomorrow evening, I will be ready for my final guess. While, it’s true, there’s virtually nothing between today and Tuesday morning that could change what’s in the envelopes (especially since the AMPAS’ polls closed over a week ago). However, it’s all about the vibe, and for that, I have to take my time.

Along with continuing awards coverage, I am also drafting a few feature articles. I’m currently in progress on my next addition to The Lists series, focusing on the greatest addicts in movie history. Meanwhile, I’m also planning two articles in support of “The Social Network.” One, countering arguments that the film is overrated due to its historic inaccuracies and possibly another that defends Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as one of the year’s best, if not the best of the best.

You know, I take a lot of guff from people who say that I have a huge bias for the Facebook film; that this site is simply all “Social Network” all day long. Well, let’s face it folks. This awards season, let alone the year in cinema has been all “Social Network” all day. As the tagline states, “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” Well, you don’t get to win 30 out of 33 awards for Best Picture of the Year without being a pretty goddamn good movie, so I really don’t think I’m alone on this one.

Finally, as the 2010 film season comes to a close, it’s about time I conclude my critical coverage of the season. Soon, I will be rolling out my “Best of the Year” series. There are still four more films that I absolutely must see before I feel comfortable posting a valid list. David Michod’s “Animal Kingdom” is in my Blu ray player waiting for me when I get home from work, today. I’ve scheduled a screening of Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” tomorrow afternoon. I should have some time to check out Peter Weir’s “The Way Back later this week, and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Biutiful” opens in Chicago on the 28th. On that time table, I should be able to assemble my Top Ten List by February 1st. I may just have time to sneak “Repo Men,” “Mother and Child,” “The Virginity Hit” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” into consideration, pending on how fast I can work my way through my Netflix DVD queue.

Shortly after I post my Top Ten of the Year, I will begin preparing the nominations for the Conroy Film Awards, or “The Connies” for a certain few who have chosen to refer to them that way. These are my own personal Academy Awards. I believe I have a set of them for every year going back to 1940. They’re tailored with the same nominees as the AMPAS, along with a few other fun categories, including Best Ensemble Cast, Best Heros/Villains, and Best Ending (with no spoilers included, of course).

All in all, it should be a good time. So keep reading, folks, cause the fun is about to begin.

Updated Oscar Predictions

December 19, 2010 Leave a comment

What with everything that has happened in the last month in regards to the critics, the Globes and the SAGs, I figure that it’s time to do a full update on my Oscar predictions. Not a lot has shifted in the technical cateogories, except that “The Social Network” is looking more and more like a sure thing for a Best Original Score nomination. I’ve also taken “The King’s Speech” out of Best Editing. If it does miss that nomination, and somehow goes on to win Best Picture, it will be the first film in 30 years to win the big one without the support of the editors. Those two awards somehow go hand in hand.

As far as the acting categories go, Best Actor seems pretty much locked. Jesse Eisenberg has carved his name in stone and is just as solid as the top two contenders. There’s an outside chance that Ryan Gosling might break in and knock out one of the two veterans, but becoming less and less likely. A big question for Best Actress is who will take the place of Hilary Swank, after the odd as hell SAG nomination. I’m still betting on Lesley Manville, and not just because of the NBR stat, but because it’s a truly endearing character. However, much like Gosling, Williams is looming, and I can definitely see her getting a nomination, much like Laura Linney did for “The Savages” in 2007, and she didn’t even have the Golden Globe nod.

I think its safe to say that Justin Timberlake has fallen out of the running, especially since Andrew Garfield is no longer a lock. I refuse to predict Jeremy Renner until there’s no hope left. Never thought I’d find myself rooting against one of my favorite performers. My how the tables turn. I am however, hoping that the Academy will remain as bold as the SAG and nominate John Hawkes, but its a crap shoot. In Best Supporting Actress, it’s pretty solid that both of “The Fighter”‘s ladies will be making it in, though Leo definitely has the edge. Mila Kunis and Jacki Weaver will fight it out for the last slot.

One thing that I think is safe to say is that “The Fighter” is now as solid a contender as it has ever been. We shall see how it fares with the rest of the guilds, but from the SAGs and Globes, alone, it has gained even more ground than “Black Swan.”

Read all of my predictions after the jump:

BEST PICTURE

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

Alt 1: The Town
Alt 2: Another Year

Read more…