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Golden Globe Predictions

January 15, 2011 2 comments

Well, it’s that time of the year, and that time happens to be my least favorite. As much as I love and anticipate the Oscars, I absolutely loathe the Golden Globes. I feel that they are kind of a travesty to cinema and the entire awards tradition. If there was ever a group that completely sold out to bribery, star-fucking and just straight-up bad taste, it would be the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. That being said, they are still the second most publicized awards presentation of the year and I must give them some kind of credence.

If “The Social Network”‘s never-ending streak of victories was to falter at all during the season, I would hope it to be here. That way, I can chalk it up with the rest of the Globes’ terrible decisions over the years. If it wins, all the better for it. To be honest, I would almost feel more comfortable with it losing the HFPA’s Best Picture. In the last six years, the award for Best Picture has only criss-crossed between Oscar and Globe once, and that was for “Slumdog Millionaire.” Here’s a rough breakdown of the HFPA’s comparison to the Academy:

AMPAS
2009: “The Hurt Locker”
2008: “Slumdog Millionaire”
2007: “No Country for Old Men”
2006: “The Departed”
2005: “Crash”
2004: “Million Dollar Baby”

HFPA
2009: “Avatar”
2008: “Slumdog Millionaire”
2007: “Atonement”
2006: “Babel”
2005: “Brokeback Mountain”
2004: “The Aviator”

Outside of “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Aviator,” I think the Academy has picked the better film every year since then. Therefore, I almost take “The Social Network” losing Best Picture tomorrow night to be a compliment, as long as it goes on to win the Oscar.

If there was a film that could curry enough favor to take down “The Social Network,” it will probably be “The King’s Speech.” Aside from having not that great taste, the Globes also have a penchant for picking films with a little more international flair. At least, they seem to not go for films with thoroughly American themes, in the case of “The Departed,” “No Country for Old Men” and “The Hurt Locker.” I would definitely put “The Social Network” into this category.

However, I will not lose faith. Maybe, for once, the Globes will shock me with brilliance and “The Social Network” will edge out a victory. For sure, I cannot imagine any other film winning for Director or Screenplay, and if it can take down those two, why not the big one?

Here are my predictions:

BEST PICTURE, DRAMA
“The Social Network”
r/u: “The King’s Speech”

BEST PICTURE, MUSICAL/COMEDY
“The Kids Are All Right”
r/u: “Alice in Wonderland”

BEST DIRECTOR
David Fincher – “The Social Network”
r/u: Darren Aronofsky – “Black Swan”

BEST ACTOR, DRAMA
Colin Firth – “The King’s Speech”
r/u: James Franco – “127 Hours”

BEST ACTRESS, DRAMA
Natalie Portman – “Black Swan”
r/u: Nicole Kidman – “Rabbit Hole”

BEST ACTOR, MUSICAL/COMEDY (the most wide-open category; could really be anyone)
Johnny Depp – “Alice in Wonderland”
r/u: Paul Giamatti – “Barney’s Version”

BEST ACTRESS, MUSICAL/COMEDY
Annette Bening – “The Kids Are All Right”
r/u: Anne Hathaway – “Love and Other Drugs”

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

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

BEST SCREENPLAY
“The Social Network”
r/u: “The King’s Speech”

BEST ANIMATED FILM
“Toy Story 3”
r/u: “How to Train Your Dragon”

BEST FOREIGN FILM
“Biutiful”
r/u: “I Am Love”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
“The Social Network”
r/u: “Inception”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” – “Burlesque”
r/u: “I See the Light” – “Tangled”

Critics Choice Awards – Postgame

January 15, 2011 1 comment

Damn it, David Fincher, why weren’t you at the Critics Choice Awards last night? I really want to know. If you tell me that you’re shooting “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” fine. Yet, if you tell me that it’s because you’re annoyed with the awards season coverage, grow up. The kind of awards sweep that you are experiencing right now, you probably won’t experience again for a long time, if ever again. You should appreciate it while you have it.

All right, I’m done with my personalized whine to “The Social Network”‘s director. Let’s move on to the awards themselves. The three films that definitely had the biggest nights were “The Social Network,” “The Fighter” and “Inception.” It was kind of a mute point that after winning 28 out of 31 (90 percent) of all of this year’s critics awards, it would have been kind of unlikely for “The Social Network” to lose the Critics Choice Award for Best Picture. The film also racked up awards for Director, Adapted Screenplay and Original Score.

“The Fighter” had the biggest night in regards to acting honors, as well it should have. Both Christian Bale and Melissa Leo took home their respective supporting awards, while the entire cast was given the Best Ensemble Cast Award. Meanwhile, “Inception” quite literally swept the technical categories. The film picked up awards for Best Action Film, Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction, Sound and Visual Effects. Certainly a good night for Christopher Nolan and his collaborative team.

The lead acting awards went to Colin Firth and Natalie Portman, who can now probably be considered locks for Oscar. Natalie Portman, I am thrilled about, being that she may even win my own personal award for Best Lead Actress. Yet, Colin Firth, I’m a bit disappointed about. The performance was great, but really nothing that I would consider sweep-worthy. I’d much rather have seen him win last year for “A Single Man,” which, in my opinion, was the best male performance of the year and a career-best for the actor.

Overall, there were more things about the awards that I liked then disliked. The highlights were obviously all of “The Social Network”‘s accolades. Let the train keep on chugging. I also could not be more thrilled about both Melissa Leo and Christian Bale. Phenomenal work that deserves recognition. Please let this also be a good sign that “Inception” might possibly be able to beat out “Alice in Wonderland” for Art Direction at the Oscars. That would make me ever so delighted.

Of all the things that I didn’t like, one was definitely a whopper. I simply cannot account for “Waiting for Superman”‘s victory in Best Documentary. I’ve heard the term “Year of the Doc” thrown around over the years, but I truly believe it to be a reality for the current annual. There is a wealth of incredible documentaries to choose from this awards season, and this is what they go with. “Superman” is a good film, but it is not a phenomenal film. There are too many holes in its argument and it just doesn’t have enough of an edge. With competition like “Inside Job,” “Restrepo” and “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” I have no idea how this film won, but I’m fairly sure that we can thank Oprah for it.

Here’s a full list of the BFCA winners:

Best Picture: “The Social Network”
Best Director: David Fincher – “The Social Network”
Best Actor: Colin Firth – “The King’s Speech”
Best Actress: Natalie Portman – “Black Swan”
Best Young Actress: Hailee Steinfeld – “True Grit”
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale – “The Fighter”
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo – “The Fighter”
Best Ensemble: “The Fighter”
Best Adapted Screenplay: “The Social Network”
Best Original Screenplay: “The King’s Speech”
Best Foreign Language Film: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Best Documentary Feature: “Waiting for Superman”
Best Animation: “Toy Story 3”
Best Comedy: “Easy A”
Best Picture Made for TV: “The Pacific”
Best Action Movie: “Inception”
Best Cinematography: “Inception”
Best Editing: “Inception”
Best Art Direction: “Inception”
Best Visual Effects: “Inception”
Best Sound: “Inception”
Best Makeup: “Alice in Wonderland”
Best Costume Design: “Alice in Wonderland”
Best Song: If I Rise – “127 Hours”
Best Score: “The Social Network”

As far as my predictions go, I was correct on 18 out of 25 categories. That’s about a 72 percent ratio, which I’ll take. I don’t think anyone could have predicted how well “Inception” was going to fare with the technical awards.

That’s it for the Critics Choice Awards. You can expect my predictions for the Golden Globes to come very shortly.

Critics Choice Awards – My Predictions

January 13, 2011 Leave a comment

So this weekend is chock-full of awards shows, with the Critics Choice Awards (voted on by the BFCA) premiering Friday night and the Golden Globes on Sunday. I’ll be bringing my predictions for the HFPA (which are always quite a question mark, even in a race like this one) at some point this weekend, but I thought I’d give a little preview of the Critics Choice tonight.

Ultimately, this is a no-brainer. Nearly every critic in the country and their mothers…hell their whole damn extended families have unanimously praised “The Social Network” as the best film of the year. The Golden Globes may pull a rabbit out of their ass and award either “The King’s Speech” or “Black Swan,” but that won’t pull much weight with the Oscars. Since the HFPA and the Academy have only made the same decision once in the last six years, it’s almost bad luck for a film to win at Golden Globes.

Here are my predictions for the Critics Choice Awards:

Best Picture
R/U: “Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“Inception”
“The King’s Speech”
“127 Hours”
WINNER: “The Social Network”
“The Town”
“Toy Story 3″
“True Grit”
“Winter’s Bone”

Best Director
R/U: Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
Danny Boyle, “127 Hours”
WINNER: David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, “True Grit”

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”
Robert Duvall, “Get Low”
R/U: Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
WINNER: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
James Franco, “127 Hours”
Ryan Gosling, “Blue Valentine”

Best Actress
R/U: Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
WINNER: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Noomi Rapace, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”

Best Supporting Actor
WINNER: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Andrew Garfield, “The Social Network”
Jeremy Renner, “The Town”
Sam Rockwell, “Conviction”
Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right”
R/U: Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
Mila Kunis, “Black Swan”
WINNER: Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
R/U: Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”

Best Young Actor/Actress
Elle Fanning, “Somewhere”
WINNER: Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Chloe Grace Moretz, “Let Me In”
Chloe Grace Moretz, “Kick-Ass”
Kodi Smit-McPhee, “Let Me In”
R/U: Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”

Best Acting Ensemble
WINNER: “The Fighter”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“The King’s Speech”
R/U: “The Social Network”
“The Town”

Best Original Screenplay
“Another Year”
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“Inception”
R/U: “The Kids Are All Right”
WINNER: “The King’s Speech”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“127 Hours”
WINNER: “The Social Network”
“The Town”
R/U: “Toy Story 3″
“True Grit”
“Winter’s Bone”

Best Art Direction
R/U: “Alice in Wonderland”
“Black Swan”
WINNER: “Inception”
“The King’s Speech”
“True Grit”

Best Cinematography
R/U: “Black Swan”
“Inception”
“The King’s Speech”
“127 Hours”
WINNER: “True Grit”

Best Costume Design
WINNER: “Alice in Wonderland”
“Black Swan”
R/U: “The King’s Speech”
“True Grit”

Best Film Editing
“Black Swan”
R/U: “Inception”
“127 Hours”
WINNER: “The Social Network”

Best Makeup
R/U: “Alice in Wonderland”
WINNER: “Black Swan”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I”
“True Grit”

Best Score
“Black Swan”
R/U: “Inception”
“The King’s Speech”
WINNER: “The Social Network”
“True Grit”

Best Song
“You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” from “Burlesque”
“If I Rise” from “127 Hours”
R/U: “I See the Light” from “Tangled”
“We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3″
WINNER: “Shine” from “Waiting for Superman”

Best Sound
“Black Swan”
WINNER: “Inception”
“127 Hours”
R/U: “The Social Network”
“Toy Story 3″

Best Visual Effects
“Alice in Wonderland”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I”
WINNER: “Inception”
R/U: “TRON Legacy”

Best Animated Feature
“Despicable Me”
R/U: “How to Train Your Dragon”
“The Illusionist”
“Tangled”
WINNER: “Toy Story 3″

Best Action Movie
WINNER: “Inception”
“Kick-Ass”
“Red”
R/U: “The Town”
“Unstoppable”

Best Comedy
“Cyrus”
“Date Night”
WINNER: “Easy A”
“Get Him to the Greek”
R/U: “I Love You Phillip Morris”
“The Other Guys”

Best Foreign Language Film
R/U: “Biutiful”
“I Am Love”
WINNER: “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”

Best Documentary Feature
R/U: “Exit Through the Gift Shop”
WINNER: “Inside Job”
“Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work”
“Restrepo”
“The Tillman Story”
“Waiting for Superman”

Best Picture Made for Television
R/U: “The Pacific”
WINNER: “Temple Grandin”
“You Don’t Know Jack”

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.

 

If the Oscars Were Like the NFL….

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Kris Tapley at In Contention put me on to this and it is kind of fun. Movieline has put together a comparison between NFL teams headed towards the Super Bowl and movies competing for the Oscars. Even if the playoffs have already started and according to this, Adam Sandler’s “Grown Ups” is a shu-in for a Best Picture nomination, this is still a cool little game. I really think the tie-ins justified with “The Social Network” and “Black Swan” and their equivalent teams.

When going by this chart, I would predict “The Social Network” and “The Fighter” in the Super Bowl, which in perspective, may not be too far from the reality of the Oscars. My own home team of the Bears is being compared to “The King’s Speech.” I could only wish that I felt are chances were still that good. Either I’m underestimating the Bears or Movieline is grossly underestimating Tom Hooper’s movie.

Check out the full chart at Movieline.

 

Directors Guild Announces Nominees

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Finally, the big daddy of the guilds has announced its nominees. This is one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry. Some directors actually see it as a better form of recognition than the Oscar. It is also a very accurate predictor of who will win the eventual Best Director Oscar. The DGA and the Oscar have lined up in this category 54 of the last 62 years since the award’s beginning. It’s also worth noting that all of these films are pretty much guaranteed a Best Picture nomination. Back when there were five nominees, the DGA used to match Best Picture better than they matched the Best Director contenders.

Here is the list of nominees:

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film
Darren Aronofsky – “Black Swan”
David O. Russell – “The Fighter”
Christopher Nolan – “Inception”
Tom Hooper – “The King’s Speech”
David Fincher – “The Social Network”

It’s worth noting that even though I did not publish them, these were my exact predictions. Fincher, Aronofsky and Nolan were all pretty much locks for this nomination. Some expected Tom Hooper to miss here based on his lack of experience and the film being not so much a director’s piece, but rather a writing and acting showcase. But when a film chugs along as well as “The King’s Speech,” there was no reason to believe that he would be absent.

The individual most profiting from this nomination is definitely David O’Russell. Once considered a loose cannon, or even a lunatic in some circles, O’Russell is now DGA nominee and his film locked for a Best Picture nomination, perhaps even a contender for the win. Who did O’Russell oust? The answer is the Coen Brothers, who many were expected to come away with their third nomination (or at least Joel’s third and Ethan’s second, though anyone who’s anyone knows that these two have always been a team even both their names aren’t on the credit).

So will this be the Best Director line-up at the Oscars? It’s hard to say, but I would say: yes. The Coens may continue to gain traction. Their film was released near the end of the DGA balloting so it’s possible some voters did not see it. It’s also very possible that the Academy might try and continue last year’s legacy and nominate one of this year’s talented female directors like Lisa Cholodenko of “The Kids Are All Right” or Debra Granik of “Winter’s Bone” (Granik being the much more deserving).

Perhaps the most hurt by these nominations is Danny Boyle. Like the Coen Brothers, Boyle just won an Oscar within the last 3 years and isn’t considered as due as others. However, “127 Hours” is hanging onto its Best Picture nomination by a thread. and many are already starting to bump it for movies like “The Town,” “Winter’s Bone” or both. Boyle still has a long shot chance of a Best Director nomination, but his chances are becoming quite slim.

Oh, and David Fincher has this award IN THE BAG. He’s had it in the bag for a long time now and he really couldn’t be more deserving. A coronation is more accurate than an awarding.

The winners will be announced on January 29th. Stay tuned.

“The Fighter” Review

January 6, 2011 2 comments

Every year, there seems to be a film that I go into not expecting anything from and not really looking forward to, whatsoever. Then, I see it, and my opinion of the film couldn’t shift more radically. This year, that film is David O’Russell’s “The Fighter.”

There were many aspects that I had stacked up against this film before viewing it. One was, let’s face it, it’s a boxing movie, and not since “Raging Bull” has a film about that particular sport ever come close to blowing me away. Boxing films are also usually a bit too sentimental for my taste. Also, I wasn’t sure if maverick director David O’Russell would be able to hold on to his originality for this venture, or if he would effectively sell out in the face of potential box office success. All of these questions would be answered.

“The Fighter” tells the very true story of Mickey Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg, a street cleaner from Boston with dreams of being a boxer. However, his career has been managed, or rather mis-managed, his whole life by his over-bearing mother (Melissa Leo) and former boxer turned crack-addict brother, Dickey Ward (Christian Bale). One day, he meets his golden ticket in the form of a sexy bartender (Amy Adams) who convinces him to ditch his dysfunctional family in order to succeed at his dream. However, his loved ones refuse to go quietly and the odd group must find a way to work together to achieve any hope of victory.

This film is phenomenal. It had me from the opening shots of Dickey air-punching Mickey from a POV approach. It had me from Mickey calling his father a silverback gorilla after he chases down his stoned son through a backyard. It had me when it literally made fun of me, and other film snobs, when Mickey tries to show off by taking Adams to a snooty, French arthouse film. This film had me for nearly the entire film.

David O’Russell (“Three Kings,” “I Heart Huckabees”) has never quite made a movie like this before. Even when his former fare occasionally gets serious, it never loses its quirky, tongue-in-cheek essence. Here, the director is not necessarily fearless or even experimental, in a word, but not beholding to expectations of what this should be like if he made it. It’s somewhere between a crowd-pleasing, fist-pounding extravaganza and a subtle character study into the depths of family, addiction and self-worth.

One thing’s for sure about both the writing and direction of “The Fighter.” It’s all heart. Despite a few hitches in regard to how Mickey’s motley crew of an entourage comes together, the film almost never feels superficial or forced. The characters and their relationships all feel real and this family dynamic is one that will not soon be forgotten in the world of cinema. Another important note pertains to the setting. It seems that everywhere one turns now, there is a “Boston-themed” movie. “The Departed,” “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Town” and “Mystic River.” Many of these are phenomenal films. Yet of all of them, it’s “The Fighter” that truly uses the community atmosphere of Boston as not only a setting, but a character in itself. The streets and their people breathe the material and give it new life.

If the Oscars had ever got around to creating a “Best Ensemble Cast” award (they won’t, but there’s always wishful thinking), I don’t see how any film could possibly be more deserving of such an honor this year than the one in question. Every performance pulls its weight and is worthy of recognition. Even the bit parts, from Ward’s half dozen sisters, his rebellious father and a charismatic cop-turned-trainer whose character actually played himself in the film. Wahlberg is obviously the weakest link, and yet it is still one of his best turns.

Amy Adams, who has never had a more rebellious or fiery part, makes the audience fall head over heels for her. Meanwhile, the other female performance is one for the ages. I remember back when Melissa Leo had a much smaller and unrecognized role in Alejandro Gaonzalez Inarritu’s “21 Grams,” and I was the only one who was noting her performances as one of the highlights. Now, she’s two steps away from potentially winning an Academy Award. To go from obscurity to recognition this late in life cannot be the easiest feat, and yet Leo has more than proven that it can be done.

It’s no joke, however, that this film belongs to Christian Bale. Bale has had a long career with ups and downs and some very fine performances dating all the way back to his incredible childhood role in Steven Spielberg’s “Empire of the Sun.” Fans of his have long wondered when he would finally come across the role that would land him an Oscar nomination. I have a feeling that with this role, the buck won’t stop with just a nomination. This is the crowning jewel of Bale’s relatively young career. He walks a thin character tightrope between an overbearing, drug-addicted older brother whom the audience loathes and a sympathetic, washed-up father and former boxer who can’t seem to catch a break. Both elements of the role he has nailed down to a “t” and his work makes the audience await his every emotion with eager anticipation.

Probably the biggest question on my mind when entering into this film was whether it would be a “Rocky” or a “Raging Bull,” as it seems that nearly all boxing movies are in one way or another. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the answer: neither. “The Fighter” is an almost wholly original concept for a boxing film, or any film. It’s as gritty as it is lofty and as exciting as it is dramatic. It’s as much an in-depth character-study as it is a gloriously narrative-driven journey of hope and adventure. Throw in a few phenomenal performances, and you’ve got one of the best films of 2010.

GRADES:           A-            * * * * 1/2 / * * * * *           9.0 / 10.0

Art Directors Guild Announces Nominees

January 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Tis the season for the guilds. After two of the biggest guns announced their slates yesterday (we’re still waiting on the biggest gun of them all, the DGA), it’s now time for the tech guilds to start rolling out their picks. The first is the ADG, or Art Directors Guild. After years of not being able to settle on a short list, the ADG expanded to three categories a few years back, bringing their amount of nominees up to fifteen. I’m all for it, and why not. It’s the Art Directors’ union. They should have their day in the sun for bringing out a different array of talents.

Here are the nominees:

Period Film
“Get Low”
“The King’s Speech”
“Robin Hood”
“Shutter Island”
“True Grit”

Fantasy Film
“Alice in Wonderland”
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I”
“Inception”
“TRON Legacy”

Contemporary Film
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“127 Hours”
“The Social Network”
“The Town”

Unlike most years, there should actually be some pretty good competition in all of these ranks. Period Film is stocked full of potential Oscar nominees, as is Fantasy (the eventual nominees for the Best Art Direction Oscar is usually prone to choices from these two fields, and for an obvious reason: they’re much showier). I’d say that Period Film is going to be a battle between “The King’s Speech” and “True Grit,” with “Shutter Island” putting up some resistance. Personally, I would love for “Shutter Island” to take this down. The different sets, including the lavish rooms that doctors spend their leisure (featured above) and the dank and gritty halls housing the most horrid prisoners, are all a real treat.

I would call nearly every film in the Fantasy Category a fairly strong contender, except for “The Chronicles of Narnia.” The final duel will probably be between “Alice in Wonderland” and “Inception.” I pray that the guild will look beyond the indulgent free-for-all that is “Alice” and award the gorgeous, subtle and masterfully inventive sets of Christopher Nolan’s film, a prime contender for my own award for Best Art Direction.

“The Town” is a filler nominee in Contemporary. It’s possible some might vote for “127 Hours” if they’re able to look beyond the fact that it’s just one cramped set the whole time. I’d say that “Black Swan” definitely has an edge to win here, and it’s deserving enough. However, I hope that some voters give credence to the phenomenal work done in both “The Fighter” and “The Social Network.”

My big question? Where in the world is “Winter’s Bone” in contemporary? Some very meticulously crafted sets in that film that deserve a spot much more than “The Town.”

Next up on the guild line-up is the CAS (Cinema Audio Society) and the ACE (American Cinema Editors). The latter of the two pull some heavy weight in the industry, and therefore, the Oscars, so we shall wait with anticipation.

 

Writers Guild of America Announces Nominees

January 4, 2011 2 comments

And the hits just keep on coming. No more than three hours after the producers have their say in the awards season, the writers fire back. It is once again important to emphasize that the WGA had a list of ineligible, and yet highly contending, films that are very likely to oust some of these from the Oscar nominations. Yet, for now, all I want to do is bask in the glory of what will be, perhaps, “I Love You Phillip Morris”‘ only decent mention for the rest of the year…and it’s not even in recognition of Jim Carrey. I’ll take what I can get.

Here is the full list of nominees, with the ineligible titles for each category that might have put a fly in the ointment:

Adapted Screenplay
“127 Hours”
“I Love You Phillip Morris”
“The Social Network”
“The Town”
“True Grit”

INELIGIBLE: “Toy Story 3,” “Winter’s Bone,” “The Ghost Writer,” “Never Let Me Go,” “Love and Other Drugs,” “The Way Back”

Original Screenplay
“Black Swan”
“The Fighter”
“Inception”
“The Kids Are All Right”
“Please Give”

INELIGIBLE: “The King’s Speech,” “Another Year,” “Blue Valentine,” “Biutiful,” “Made in Dagenham”

Documentary Screenplay
“Enemies of the People”
“Freedom Riders”
“Gasland”
“Inside Job”
“The Two Escobars”
“Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)?

One almost wonders if the WGA deliberately leaves those films off of the market to help liven up the race a little bit, because, for sure these are some interesting choices. The winners, in my mind, are pretty obvious. “The Social Network” will absolutely sweep the vote for Best Adapted Screenplay and pretty much go on to sweep the Oscar, as well. Nothing else has even a hair of a chance.

Best Original Screenplay will most likely go to “The Kids Are All Right.” It’s the only truly writing-driven piece in the whole lot. Perhaps “Inception,” may give it a run for its money if they really want a chance to honor Christopher Nolan, but I doubt it. Once the Oscars come around, however, it will be a real shoot-out between the above mentioned winner and “The King’s Speech.” Oscar, on the other hand, seems to have a true penchant for quirk when it comes to their Original Screenplay award so it would seem difficult to ignore Lisa Cholodenko’s film.

Producers Guild Announces….Exactly as Expected

January 4, 2011 1 comment

The PGA have announced their nominees for 2010. As I said, over the weekend, these awards are basically the Producers’ union’s equivalent of the Best Picture Oscar. And while I’m very happy to see certain nominees up there, this is really showing how boring the rest of the season will be. I was really hoping that “Winter’s Bone” was going to be able to beat out “The Town,” but c’est la vie. At least the actual nominees for Best Picture are balloted by the entire Academy and not just the producers, so it should fare a better chance in a few weeks.

Here’s the full list of nominees:

Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures
“Black Swan” (Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver)
“The Fighter” (David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Mark Wahlberg)
“Inception” (Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas)
“The Kids Are All Right” (Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray)
“The King’s Speech” (Iain Cunning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin)
“127 Hours” (Danny Boyle, Christian Colson)
“The Social Network” (Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin)
“The Town” (Basil Iwanyk, Graham King)
“Toy Story 3″ (Darla K. Anderson)
“True Grit” (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin)

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures
“Despicable Me” (John Cohen, Janet Healy, Christopher Meledandri)
“How to Train Your Dragon” (Bonnie Arnold)
“Toy Story 3″ (Darla K. Anderson)

Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures
“Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer” (awaiting final credit determination)
“Earth Made of Glass” (Reid Carolin, Deborah Scranton)
“Inside Job” (Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs)
“Smash His Camera” (Linda Saffire, Adam Schlesinger)
“The Tillman Story” (John Battsek)
“Waiting for Superman” (Lesley Chilcott)

Milestone Award
James Cameron

David O. Selznick Award
Scott Rudin

Nice to see Scott Rudin getting the Lifetime award at the end, there. The guy has really done a lot for film in the last decade. And it looks like he might be getting a chance at a second Oscar under his belt should “The Social Network’s luck continue. Rudin won three years ago for “No Country for Old Men.”

Interesting also to see “Despicable Me” beating out both “The Illusionist” and “Tangled” for Best Animated, However, once again these are producers, so box office success is taken much more into account.

As far as my winner predictions go, I am both hoping and believing that “The Social Network” will take this down. Since it probably has both the DGA and the WGA in the bag, a win here would all but seal it for a Best Picture victory at the Oscars. If “The King’s Speech” doesn’t make a stand here, all the Golden Globes in the world aren’t going to be able to help it. I’d say that if anything were to upset “Network” it would be either “Black Swan” or “Inception.” Both films are riding huge waves, right now. They are also the two biggest box office successes in their respective areas, “Inception” being a towering Hollywood blockbuster and “Black Swan,” the independent film that just won’t stop breaking records.

Perhaps the biggest dark horse for the win is “Toy Story 3.” The film is a monster box office success, turning in mountains more than any other film this year. The PGA also has a penchant for honoring animated films. They were nominating Pixar before the Academy ever got around to it, and this was before there were ten nominees. They even gave the Zanuck award to “The Incredibles” in 2004. If “Toy Story 3” can pull off a win here, it will be a massive coup, and then every awards-related news story for the next month will be “Can an animated film win Best Picture?” and the dominos may begin to fall from there. We’ll see.

The film will for sure clean up in the Animated Feature Award. Sad, really. If it wasn’t for Pixar constantly bombarding us with amazing cinema, “How to Train Your Dragon” would have had a huge chance. Best Documentary should be a showdown between “Waiting for Superman” and “Inside Job,” but the latter definitely has the edge.

Stay tuned for the WGA nominations which should be out within the next few hours. I was reminded earlier that I completely forgot to consider “Animal Kingdom” in the Best Original Screenplay category, which has a lot of potential for showing up.