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Tom Hooper in Talks to Direct “Les Miserables” Film Adaptation

March 25, 2011 2 comments

Well….shit. This is some of the best and worst news that I’ve heard in quite a long time. Perhaps more impactful things have happened to the world of cinema that have affected me in different ways. However, this news is rubbing me in a way I really can’t even describe.

I guess that it’s important to know the history. Most people have heard of or seen a production of “Les Miserables” at some point in their lives. It’s practically the most popular and adored musical of the last quarter century. I am definitely one of its fans. Little do some people know that before turning to a life of film, I did a lot of theater. I starred in a number of plays in high school, musical and dramatic, and dabbled in stage direction, as well. Without a doubt, my favorite performance that I’ve ever had the opportunity to give on stage was the role of Javert in “Les Miserables,” and ever since then, I have been eternally hooked on every aspect of said play.

Since I’m such a fan, I have been waiting and hoping for a film adaptation of the musical itself to come along for the better part of a decade. It is my absolute dream film. I would wait in line for weeks at opening night for a ticket. Now, it appears that it’s finally happening and all I can feel is disappointment.

Why, oh, why, oh, why in heaven’s name did they have to go with Tom Hooper. I can think of any number of names who I’d rather see attached to my dream project. Directors well-suited for the job would include Roman Polanski, Guillermo Del Toro, Joe Wright, Stephen Daldry, Baz Luhrman, Paul Thomas Anderson, Frank Darabont, hell, even J.J. Abrams might be a stellar choice.

You know, maybe Hooper’s not even a terrible decision. I mean, the man is not a bad director. He did, in fact, do a phenomenal job with the “John Adams” miniseries. Perhaps this film is actually right up his alley. Yet right now, I just can’t see it, because for the last few months, I cannot imagine him as anything more than an antagonist. Partnered with Harvey Weinstein, he is the arch nemesis to what what could have been one of the greatest Oscar outcomes in recent memory. Will I ever be able to shrug off this hatred and enjoy the man for what he can produce and how good his craft can be. Maybe.

Yet, for now, I mourn…..

Below is a clip, not from the musical production itself, but from the 25th Anniversary Concert. Whoever was conducting this should be shot for what he did to some of these cues, but this is still a powerful rendition of one of the show’s greatest numbers.

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Awards Tally: “The King’s Speech” vs. “The Social Network”

I have one more post to make before I call it a tentative wrap on 2010. There aren’t many questions left unanswered when it comes to the results of this year’s Oscars. “The Social Network” deserved the top honors. Tom Hooper shouldn’t have been allowed near the stage. I could preach my opinions about these two films all day long and still only be able to convince myself. Therefore, I find it worthwhile to offer some hard data to support my claims.

I’ve posted tallies cataloging “The Social Network”‘s record-breaking sweep through the awards. However, now that it has lost the big prize to another film, I figure that it’s only fair to put the two movies side by side and see how they stack up against each other. Then, we’ll just let the evidence speak for itself as to which is really the best film of the year.

This is a list of the awards that both “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” won leading up to Oscar night:

 

BEST PICTURE

 

“THE SOCIAL NETWORK”

African American Film Critics Association
Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Boston Society of Film Critics
Broadcast Film Critics Association
Central Ohio Film Critics Association (runner-up)
Chicago Film Critics Association
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Denver Film Critics Society
Detroit Film Critics Society
Florida Film Critics Circle
Golden Globes
Houston Film Critics Society
Indiana Film Journalists Association
International Press Academy
Iowa Film Critics
Kansas City Film Critics Circle
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
London Film Critics Society
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
National Board of Review
National Society of Film Critics
New York Film Critics Circle
New York Film Critics Online
Oklahoma City Film Critics Circle
Online Film Critics Society
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Southeastern Film Critics Association
St. Louis Film Critics Association
Toronto Film Critics Association
Utah Film Critics Association
Vancouver Film Critics Circle
Washington D.C. Film Critics Association

 

“THE KING’S SPEECH”

British Academy of Film and Television
British Independent Film Awards
Phoenix Film Critics Society
Producers Guild of America

 

While we’re at it, let’s take a closer look at the Best Director race:

 

BEST DIRECTOR

 

DAVID FINCHER

Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Boston Society of Film Critics
British Academy of Film and Television
Broadcast Film Critics Association
Chicago Film Critics Association
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Denver Film Critics Society
Florida Film Critics Circle
Golden Globes
Houston Film Critics Society
Indiana Film Journalists Association
International Press Academy
Iowa Film Critics
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
London Film Critics Society
Los Angeles Film Critics Association (TIE with Carlos Assayas)
National Board of Review
National Society of Film Critics
New York Film Critics Circle
New York Film Critics Online
Oklahoma City Film Critics Circle
Online Film Critics Society
San Francisco Film Critics Circle (TIE with Darren Aronofsky)
Southeastern Film Critics Association
St. Louis Film Critics Association
Toronto Film Critics Association
Utah Film Critics Association
Vancouver Film Critics Circle
Washington D.C. Film Critics Association

 

TOM HOOPER

Director’s Guild of America

 

So, what do we have, here? The score for Best Picture is 32 to 4 in favor of “The Social Network.” If that wasn’t enough for you, take a look at the scores for Best Director: David Fincher = 29 wins / Tom Hooper = 1 win. That kind of data doesn’t really even need my help to interpret it. It lays it out, clear and simple, that “The Social Network” is the best-reviewed film of the year, the most highly-acclaimed film of the year and the most-awarded film of the year. In other words: the best film of the year. Live with that, Academy.

The 83rd Academy Awards – Postgame Coverage

March 2, 2011 1 comment

Well, not that I’ve gotten all of that out of my system, I think it’s fitting to move on to the rest of the awards presented Sunday night. As usual, they included some good, some bad, and some just downright ugly.

As far as the the show, itself, was concerned, I’d rate it about a four out of ten. Even in the face of enormous support for them, I remember stating a long time ago that selecting Hathaway and Franco as a hosting pair was just a bad idea. Finally, my convictions have been exonerated. I’m not sure what exactly was going on here, but it didn’t work. I know that Franco is not an idiot, so he was either bored, stage-frought or stoned out of his mind. Whichever path he took, he just was not there in any form of personality. Meanwhile, Anne Hathaway went way over the top in an attempt to overcompensate for Franco’s absence. A few funny lines, but overall, it was a mess.

Yes. On to the awards. I’ve already made my thoughts clear on the results of Best Picture and they are quite strong. However, if there were a race that I would have to object to, equally, if not moreso, it would have to be Best Director. The idea of Tom Hooper winning the award amongst this crop of nominees is more than absurd, it’s hilarious. Hooper’s effort in “The King’s Speech” did not merit him an Oscar and his career is substantially insufficient for such an honor. The Oscar, hands-down, should have gone to David Fincher. The man knew exactly what he wanted and got it to an extent of perfection that you don’t often see in films.

It’s true that David Fincher does not need an Oscar to make it in this industry. He’s widely considered one of the finest directors working in Hollywood and will go on to make extraordinary films. However, there is the notion of awarding in the moment. It’s quite possible that Fincher may never reach the level of perfection that he achieved here. If there’s one thing that history should have taught the Academy, it’s that Martin Scorsese should never have had to wait until “The Departed” to win an Oscar. While being in the company of “Raging Bull” and “Goodfellas” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s sad to imagine that no matter what Fincher eventually wins for, it will be considered a “re-ward.” The Oscars should understand a man’s masterpiece when it’s put in front of their faces.

The only other moments of true disgust occurred in the design categories, which were monopolized by the showy monstrosity that was Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.” While I predicted Colleen Atwood to take home yet another Oscar for her work on the costumes, I was really kind of hoping that it wouldn’t happen. And seeing the ridiculously gaudy, and really quite ugly, production design conquer some beautiful works of art was a horrible sight. This is an award that I actually would have preferred go to “The King’s Speech,” at least over this. However, it was “Inception”‘s intricately inventive world that was snubbed. Tim Burton’s latest is a film that really shouldn’t be able to hold the title “Academy Award Winner,” especially when none of the design was even built. I mean it’s an entire movie filmed on a green screen.

Most of the great awards of the night, sadly, were the ones that were quite expected. “Toy Story 3” was a lock for the win since the day it opened in theaters. “The Social Network” won for Best Editing because there was really no competition anywhere near in the same ballpark. If a single person didn’t vote for Aaron Sorkin’s absolutely flawless script, I might consider them clinically insane. “Inception”‘s three tech wins were all well-deserved, but it was difficult not to see that sweep occurring, much in the same style as such special-effect wonders as “King Kong,” “The Matrix” and “Jurassic Park.”

It’s hard to argue with the acting wins, even if not a single one of them has differed once, going back from the SAG, to the Golden Globes and the BFCA. The only performer who’s Oscar went hand in hand with an Edgy was Natalie Portman. A truly astonishing performance, the one aspect of “Black Swan” in which recognition is absolutely essential. Firth is definitely not my first choice for Best Actor. However, it’s the type of role that’s difficult not to respect and an actor difficult not to adore. Leo and Bale were both phenomenal and also get props for having the most out-of-control acceptance speeches of the year.

I won’t lie that I have to fly in the face of popular opinion on one issue. I’m very happy that the Academy went back to showing clips for each of the acting nominees rather than just having a bunch of people on stage talking about them. While, it must be nice for the performer to hear their peers praise their work, it’s just another gratuitous way of celebrities patting each other on the back and toasting to their own successes. It’s really kind of grotesque, in a way. Besides, I always looked forward in suspense as to which clip the producers would choose to represent each actor. It’s also a way to present an example of each person’s work for those viewers who haven’t seen all of the performances and in a way that words just can’t substitute.

Perhaps the most bittersweet moment of the night was seeing Wally Pfister receive the award for Best Cinematography. If I was to pick a handful of cinematographers whose work has truly left a mark on the last decade of cinema, Pfister would be at the head of the pack. He is a true master of camera movement and has a perfect eye for lighting a shot. “Inception” is a great exhibition of both these magnificent talents and I couldn’t be happier for him. Yet, one has to wonder, at this point, if the Academy will ever be willing to finally bestow Roger Deakins with his first Oscar. He is one of the most respected directors of photography in the industry, living or dead, and his record with Oscar is now zero for nine. One year, they are really going to have to stop passing him over.

There was one moment of the night that will always live in my memory as a true favorite and that was Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross taking the stage. Even if the Academy isn’t ready to come out of their comfort zone in Best Picture, one really has to give them props for awarding one of the most unorthodox and creative soundtracks ever scored for a substantial film. Reznor and Ross engineered a combination of both traditional rhythms with radical themes of electronic rock tracks. Now that all is said and done, it’s hard to imagine any other type of music narrating “The Social Network.” In a field of fantastic nominees, this year, this is a score that truly stands out. Well done, Academy. One of your better decisions.

Well, that’s my take on the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. While it’s hard to let go of, I believe it’s about time to move on. I believe we have at least a few days time before the race for next year’s Oscars begins, and I’ve got a lot of good stuff in store. Stay tuned.

“The King’s Speech” Wins – Welcome to Reality

March 1, 2011 4 comments

All right, it took some time to process what has happened, but I’m ready to say my piece.

I’d like to preface this article by stating very clearly that I do not dislike “The King’s Speech.” I think that it is at least a solid film and a “good” film. The film at least deserved a few nominations, as even I gave it in the Edgy Awards last week. Try to keep that in mind, even if everything I am about to write flies in the face this statement.

Furthermore, I’d like to state a disclaimer. It is my dream to do this for a living. I want to be a professional film critic and awards pundit and I would very much hope this blog to be a launching point for that goal. However, it is important for all of my readers to remember that this IS a blog. If I was to write for a syndicated newspaper or established professional website, I would do my best to keep my opinions dutifully in check and maintain an even-keeled view on the world of cinema. Yet, on this blog, I reserve the right to tell it like it is, as they say, and let slip my own dogs of war upon the current situation.

I’ll just start things off by just coming out and stating it: “The King’s Speech” winning Best Motion Picture of the Year has got to be one of the worst decisions that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has ever made. I do not say this only because the film is grossly undeserving of such a distinction. I say it because of the audacity in picking what is obviously the safest route among a crop of much edgier and, ultimately, better films.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, and I know you all never get tired of hearing it. “The Social Network” is the best film of the year. In my opinion, this statement is indisputable. It deserved the Oscar perhaps more than any other film in at least the last decade. Last night was a proverbial snub, one of the very worst kind. However, it’s much more than that.

i don’t know about everyone else, but I think that it’s the goal of human civilization to move forward with the times. We should always be advancing as a people. The Academy it seems, does not see it that way. Filmmaking is always a changing medium, constantly progressing and reinventing itself. Many films this year, including “Black Swan,” “Inception,” “Toy Story 3,” “127 Hours,” and above all else, “The Social Network” are indicative of this notion. “The King’s Speech” represents a backwards-moving logic; filmmaking of the most basic, uninventive and insipid quality.

Last night’s events were not only a disappointment for cinema and those who believe that the Oscars should reflect the best that the industry has to offer. They were not just a slap in the face of some of the finest filmmakers at the top of their game producing some of the greatest work of their careers. What it is, however, is the setting of a dangerous precedent. The Academy has made it very clear that the award for Best Picture does not have to be based on what’s the best film, but rather what is the best film for them, so to speak.

“The Social Network” had practically a monopoly on all critics’ awards for Best Picture. This was not a fluke. These are individuals who know about film. They are paid for their opinions because their opinions are intelligent, educated and respected. They are also people who take great pride in their work. They are not influenced by outside parties and they are not in cahoots with each other. With one voice, these critics from dozens of different outlets and cities almost universally declared “The Social Network” as the best film of the year.

So what happened? David Fincher’s film was on a winning streak like has never been seen before up until the awards shifted from the critics to the industry itself. “The King’s Speech” captured awards from the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild and the Screen Actors Guild. So why is that the people who make movies have such a unified opinion against “The Social Network”? It’s because “The King’s Speech” is the epitome of Hollywood’s ideal movie. It’s low-budget. It was a huge box office success. It has an enchanting cast and a heartwarming story. It’s noncontroversial. It’s likeable. Bottom-line: it’s easy. This is the type of movie that Hollywood wants to make: ones that the audience will eat up hook, line and sinker. Not the best, just good enough. That’s the reality we live in.

Well, speaking as one of the hundreds of critics in the country who were just informed that we were flat-out wrong, I consider this a disgrace.

If that’s the present world, then I guess all that’s left is the future. And what will the future tell about the current situation? I personally can’t wait. I can’t wait for the day, maybe twenty years from now, when “The Social Network” is considered a classic; an artful and original masterpiece that is completely indicative of our time and culture. And what will “The King’s Speech” be? It will be forgotten. It will go down as a second-rate “Shakespeare in Love,” remembered only in passing simply as the film that, quite oddly, beat “The Social Network” for Best Picture. Like it or not, only one of these films will truly stand the test of time.

In the meantime, we have to accept reality and just hope that next year will bring better results. Only twelve months to go, and you can bet I’ll still be here writing about it. Hope you all are, too.

The ACE and BAFTAs…A Shift in the Winds?

February 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Last week, I reported that “The King’s Speech” cleaned up at the British Academy Awards. However, this was to be expected. Records for acting awards and the first film to win both of their Best Film and Best British Film. Go figure, considering it’s the most widely popularized British film since “Shakespeare in Love.” However, on the whole, I almost have to say that “The King’s Speech” underperformed at the BAFTAs, and if one film had an equal, or possibly better night overall, it would have to be “The Social Network.”

No, this is not favoritism. No, it is not just just wishful thinking. I think at this point of the race, it is now more neck and neck between the two big contenders than it ever has been. For the first two weeks after nominations were announced, it was all all about “The King’s Speech,” especially after picking up its trio of key guild awards. However, after the BAFTAs, the WGA, and now the ACE victory, “The Social Network” has shown that it could very easily take home the big prize. One simply has to look at the past and the science behind it all.

Yes, it’s true that the PGA, DGA and SAG are all very heavy hitters when it comes to inducing a Best Picture win. However, in the long run, it looks like “The King’s Speech” will be down several big awards on Sunday night. This takes us back to why the BAFTAs were such a key event. While taking them for a sweep, “The King’s Speech” managed to lose Director and Editing, perhaps the two key awards in the Best Picture race. After winning the American Cinema Editors top prize, “The Social Network” seems to have Best Editing in the bag, along with the obvious Best Adapted Screenplay. And one has to wonder that if the Brits won’t even bestow Tom Hooper with the big director’s prize, how willing will the Academy be to snub David Fincher for what is quite possibly his finest work to date and maybe ever again.

Now, let’s look at the stats. Best Director and Best Editor are more engrained in the blood of a Best Picture winner than any other awards. An example of how important the editing honor is, no film has won Best Picture in over thirty years (not since “Ordinary People” in 1980) without being nominated for Best Editing. Many people believe that aside from the homophobia, this was the bane of “Brokeback Mountain,” being that “Crash” had the fervent support of the editors with both Oscar and ACE awards under its belt. Now, granted, both “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” have been nominated for that award, so the race does not end on this stat.

However, here’s some other info to chew on. If “The Social Network” does win Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Editing, however loses Best Picture, it will be only the 3rd film in the history of the Oscars to do so. The other two were “Traffic” in ’00 and “A Place in the Sun” in ’51. Furthermore, in the situation that “The Social Network” wins Directing and Editing: Only 2 films in the last 20 years have won Best Picture without winning either of those two awards (“Gladiator” in ’00, “Shakespeare in Love” in “98). Going back even further, only 5 films in the last 50 YEARS have accomplished that task. In this regard, precedents for “The King’s Speech” winning peg it at only about 1 in 10.

If ancient history is too flimsy for some, let’s look at the last decade. Three of the last four films to win Best Picture (“The Hurt Locker,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” and “The Departed”) all took home Director, Screenplay and Editing. Also, in regard to the recent American Cinema Editors award, 7 out of the last 10 films to win Best Picture also won the ACE, and in the years that they didn’t, the winner of the ACE went on to take Best Editing at the Oscars, which speaks well for “Social Network,” as well.

There are a few big precedents to support a “King’s Speech” victory, most glaringly would be “Shakespeare in Love” over “Saving Private Ryan.” However, one event is strangely alike to the present year that stands behind a “Social Network” upset and that is 1995. Before Oscar night, “Apollo 13” had taken the PGA, the DGA and the SAG. “Braveheart” had taken the Golden Globe for Best Director, the BFCA for Best Director, the ACE and the WGA. Freakishly similar. “Braveheart” came out victorious. Perhaps the only thing that separates it would be that Ron Howard was not nominated for Oscar’s Best Director, while Tom Hooper is. However, “Braveheart” also did not have the added incentive of having won practically EVERY SINGLE BEST PICTURE AWARD THAT EXISTS up to the PGA.

A lot of jargon, right? What does it all mean? It means that I have made a decision to support “The Social Network” to the final moments in regards to my Best Picture prediction. Hope may be a dangerous thing in this game, but if ever there was a year that I had to hold on to it, it would be this one. Will I be wrong? Possibly. Probably. Yet, I imagine a scenario in which “The Social Network” won and I predicted against it. I’d never forgive myself.

And in all honesty, I really think it’s going to happen.

Well, I’m off to work on the Edgies. Stay tuned for the winners’ announcement on Thursday evening, while my final Oscar predictions will have to wait until Saturday night. I spare not a second.

The DGA and the SAG: Now It’s Time to Vent…

February 1, 2011 1 comment

Well folks, Tom Hooper has just won the DGA and the cast he directed took home Best Ensemble at the SAG. Coupled with the PGA win last week, “The King’s Speech” has now emerged as not only the frontrunner, but pretty much the inevitable winner of the Best Picture award at the Oscars. As this film has picked up speed in the last few weeks, I’ve tried to keep an open mind. I’ve tried to tell myself that this kind of healthy competition will make for a better Oscars and would make “The Social Network”‘s eventual victory all the more sweet. However, now that the race has shifted from a neck and neck dogfight to a potential sweep for “The King’s Speech,” it has become impossible to suppress my rage.

This situation is, more or less, a travesty for American cinema. For the last half of the previous decade, the AMPAS showed that they had the potential to change with the times. By awarding films like “The Departed,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Hurt Locker,” the Academy has proven that they have the ability to not only award phenomenal films, but ones that represent a shift in the balance of power. These are films that show a new Hollywood, emerging from the ashes, making art for a new generation and ultimately changing movies for the better. With “The Social Network,” the AMPAS were given an opportunity to crystalize this new reputation by awarding not only the best movie of the year, but one that is an absolute game-changer in the world of filmmaking. Instead, they are willing to flush it all down the drain.

“The King’s Speech” is not a bad film. It is simply a good film. It has good acting, good writing, good direction, good production quality and good music. In case you haven’t noticed, “good” is the key word, here. I don’t think there is a single aspect of this film that achieves a level of “greatness.” It is an iconic example of middle-of-the-road filmmaking, directed straight at a block of people yearning for that warm and fuzzy feeling in their stomachs. It’s “triumph of the human spirit” pornography. More than anything else, however, it is straight-up Oscar fodder, and they are eating it up, hook, line and sinker. They’re all too willing to vote their souls away for a chance to award this heart-warming work of mediocrity.

“The Social Network” is the best film of the year. Even if people’s opinions cannot agree with or grasp this concept, the title still pretty much remains the same. Never in history has a film garnered so much recognition and awards. Never has the population of this nation’s film critics solidified so strong and unanimous an opinion about a single film. However, it’s more than just a critical tally or mantlepiece full of statues. This is a film that resonates so strongly with this societal climate, much in the same way did “Network” in 1976, “Bonnie and Clyde” in 1967, and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” in 1939. When looking down the road, it is a film that will be remembered, not only for it’s cultural impact, but for the flawless nature of its filmmaking prowess. And since I am one such person who can actually make this statement from a position of age and experience (I started college only a year after “The Facebook” was created, back when it was just a college thing), this is, in fact, the movie that defines my generation.

The Academy Award is called that for one reason: it is awarded upon the voted decision of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It’s their award and they can technically do whatever they want with it. However, I really have to ask just what the hell is wrong with these people? Are they really that much an organization of pure saps? Are they really that cynical that they would deliberately snub the frontrunner for an inferior underdog just because their sick of the unanimous praise? Have they really not gotten tired of having Harvey Weinstein’s lips wrapped around their you-know-whats?Can they really not look beyond four weeks from now and consider what history will judge as the more educated and lasting decision? Most importantly, has the Academy really gone back to its old ways? God, let us hope not.

So is the race over? The answer is no. Even when things get to their bleakest point of flat-out certainty, the race is never over until the last envelope is opened. However, it’s really not looking good for David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s masterpiece. With the combined weight of the SAG, PGA, and DGA, anyone who has spent any time in the industry of awards prognostication would be a fool to not call it for “The King’s Speech.” After all, the actors and producers, put together, make up nearly half of the Academy’s voting block. Hope is not lost, completely, but I would now peg “The Social Network”‘s chances at around twenty to twenty-five percent.

At points like these, one can only find comfort by constantly reminding themselves of the most important lesson the awards season has ever taught us: as many fantastic films have won the Oscar for Best Picture, there are exponentially more amazing films that have lost it. “The Social Network” may soon join the ranks of films like “Fargo” and “Saving Private Ryan,” “Pulp Fiction” and “Goodfellas,” “Raging Bull” and “Apocalypse Now,” “Taxi Driver” and “All the President’s Men,” “Chinatown,” and “Jaws,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?” and “The Graduate,” “Vertigo” and “Rear Window,” “Double Indemnity,” and, yes, “Citizen Kane.” Coupled with the movies I mentioned previously in this article, this is not exactly bad company to be kept with. However, if you listen very closely, you can clearly hear Orson Welles rolling over in his grave, that after seventy years of history, lessons have yet to be learned.

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.