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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…

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”

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.

Pete Postlethwaite Dies at 64 (1946 – 2011)

January 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Some of the most tragic news I’ve read in a while when I got on my computer this morning, one of my favorite actors who never really got enough credit for his extraordinary career. He is always referred to in passing, “that bald guy with a British accent.” And yet, through the years, he has remained one of the most recognizable actors in cinema. That’s not just because he’s always there, but because he’s always good.

He got his first real commercial success in David Fincher’s “Alien 3” opposite Sigourney Weaver and, ironically, a bunch of other bald guys with British accents. After that, he had a small supporting role in “The Last of the Mohicans,” before receiving his first and only Academy Award nomination for “In the Name of the Father.” In both films he starred alongside Daniel Day Lewis.

Since then, the man has had memorable performances in “The Usual Suspects,” “Dragonheart,” “James and the Giant Peach,” “Amistad,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” “Among Giants,” “The Shipping News,” “The Constant Gardener” and “The Omen.”

A story I always enjoyed hearing was of how after working on two projects in one year with Pete, director Steven Spielberg called him the best actor working in the world. In response, Postlethwaite laughed the compliment off, saying, “Steven probably said that ‘Pete thinks he’s the best actor in the world.'”

In 2010, Pete had roles in three American films: “Clash of the Titans,” “Inception,” and “The Town.” Perhaps, as a fitting end to his career, its joyous to think that two of those three films are very likely contenders to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. No other actor or actress will have pulled off this feat during 2006.

I leave you with a video that actually does not promo Postlethwaite’s silver screen work, but one that displays his acting chops nonetheless.

Goodbye, Pete. We thank you for your many amazing roles and you will be missed.

Quentin Tarantino’s Top Ten List

January 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Yes, it’s true that Quentin Tarantino is not a true film critic from any type of publication. However, it’s no mystery that he has a vast and intensive knowledge of cinema and sees quite a few movies. I mean the man used to work in a video store, and it’s old wives tale that he saw every single film within the building’s walls. Therefore, I don’t have much of a problem with posting his Top Ten favorite films.

They are:

1. “Toy Story 3”

2. “The Social Network”

3. “Animal Kingdom”

4. “I Am Love”

5. “Tangled”

6. “True Grit”

7. “The Town”

8. “Greenberg”

9. “Cyrus”

10. “Enter the Void”

Not at bad list, at least not the top two slots. That’s about all that I have to say on the subject. Stay tuned for the National Society of Film Critics Awards which should be out within the next day or two.