I Am DB

January 24, 2011

Oscars 2010: Nominations Eve

Filed under: Movies,Oscars — DB @ 1:34 pm
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Lots of people talking about the Oscars are looking to February and discussing what will win, but I’d like to roll things back a little and actually let the nominations get announced before I start predicting the winners. It must seem awfully old-fashioned of me in this day and age, when so many awards are handed out before the Oscar nominations are even announced that the winners already seem like foregone conclusions. If you listen to the professionals, the endgame for this season has already been inscribed. The Social Network. David Fincher. Colin Firth. Natalie Portman. Christian Bale. Melissa Leo. Toy Story 3.

Yeah, it’ll probably look something like that. But humor me anyway. Since it has apparently become so boring to predict the winners, let’s a least relish the opportunity to predict the nominees – the one part of the process that can still offer some surprises. The winners may already be engraved in gold, but two things can always be expected at this stage: each category has a few slots up for grabs, and some great work is bound to go un-nominated. I for one don’t want to miss the opportunity to cry foul, so let’s not close the book on the 2010 award season before we’ve had a chance to milk it for all we can.

So here we go. My predictions, my personal picks and a little bit of commentary along the way.

Okay, a large amount of commentary along the way.

I should point out that as always, despite a solid effort, not being a Los Angeles-based professional in this game means there are a handful of movies I haven’t seen which might have impacted my personal choices, mostly in the below-the-line categories. Among this year’s possibly-award-friendly crop that I haven’t yet taken in: Biutiful, Another Year, Casino Jack, Megamind, Made in Dagenham, Four Lions, Love and Other Drugs, TRON: Legacy, The Tempest, Burlesque and Country Strong.

BEST PICTURE
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
The Town
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Early on I thought Black Swan would be too polarizing to get a Picture nomination, but it has been a constant presence in the precursor awards and no longer seems like a risky bet at all. I wonder if it would have as good a chance with only five slots. I think a five-film race would likely have been The Fighter, Inception, The King’s Speech, The Social Network and True Grit. I feel somewhat guilty playing into a narrative that suggests two tiers of nominees, but it’s hard not to go there.

Of this list, I’d say The Town and Winter’s Bone are the most vulnerable. The Town has reportedly done quite well with Academy members and it’s managed to hold its ground throughout the awards season thus far, which bodes well for its inclusion. Winter’s Bone, which fills this year’s token slot for the Little Indie That Could, has also made a strong showing thanks to the film critics associations and ten best lists that kept it alive at year’s end, long after its debut at Sundance. Acting and screenwriting nominations are likely, but I’m not sure if it will have enough support from the Academy-at-large to crack the top ten. If it doesn’t, 127 Hours is waiting in the wings to take its place. And while we haven’t been looking at a ten-film race for very long, last year offered at least one big surprise in the nomination for The Blind Side. A few more years of this will tell if we should always expect something unexpected; if we should, keep an eye out for Shutter Island and The Ghost Writer.

Personal Picks: Black Swan, Blue Valentine, The Fighter, The Ghost Writer, Inception, The King’s Speech, Never Let Me Go, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit

BEST DIRECTOR
Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
Christopher Nolan – Inception
Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech
David Fincher – The Social Network
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – True Grit

Where I have the Coen Brothers, the Director’s Guild of America nominated David O. Russell for The Fighter. I wasn’t sure what to do there. I went this way out of a sense that The Fighter may come off as more of an actor’s movie than a director’s movie, however much O. Russell is (of course) responsible for the movie being as good as it is. The Coens have become Academy favorites, and their stamp can be felt more on True Grit than O. Russell’s can on The Fighter – not a criticism; just an observation. But this could go either way.

I could also see Tom Hooper being overlooked despite the popularity of The King’s Speech. Hooper isn’t a big name (not that other directors, as the ones doing the voting, would care about that), plus for all its strengths, The King’s Speech doesn’t necessarily come across as a work of bold directorial vision the way Black Swan or Inception do. Still, I think it’s highly unlikely Hooper would be overlooked (even if he still hasn’t quite re-entered my good graces after his obnoxiously excessive use of dutch angles in HBO’s John Adams miniseries). And then there’s Christopher Nolan, who seems a lock for Inception but was snubbed in 2008 for The Dark Knight. Such a slight is unlikely to happen again, but maybe Nolan just leaves Academy members cold (he earned DGA nominations for both Memento and Knight, but has yet to earn an Oscar nod for Directing). With David O. Russell and the Coens vying for that fifth spot, and Danny Boyle’s impressive work on 127 Hours still in the ether, an out-of-left-field surprise seems unlikely. But I can’t say I’d be shocked if Roman Polanski were to sneak in for The Ghost Writer, an admired movie by an admired filmmaker.

Personal: Boyle, Aronofsky, Nolan, Polanski, Fincher

BEST ACTOR
Jeff Bridges – True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network
Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
James Franco – 127 Hours
Ryan Gosling – Blue Valentine

We have two sure things here in Firth and Franco. Beyond that, I think the field is somewhat open. Or at least, I can see vulnerabilities in each of the other frontrunners.  Let’s start with Jesse Eisenberg. I’m a big fan of his, so I’ve been pleased to see his strong showing in the season so far. But it’s surprised me too. His unique, high-strung energy and natural fast-paced speech rhythms can make it seem like he’s doing the same thing from film to film, which of course he isn’t. Additionally, the character he plays is not all that likable or sympathetic, which could be a factor voters consider. I think back a few years to Emile Hirsch’s sensational performance in Into the Wild, which some thought may have missed out on an Oscar nomination because voters didn’t like the character, saw him as too selfish, etc. Who knows if that’s true, and obviously it shouldn’t make a difference anyway, but that’s the Oscars for you. If these sorts of things matter, it could be a strike against Eisenberg. On the other hand, he’s part of a film that has much broader support than Into the Wild did; he’s been nominated for the four major pre-Academy prizes: the Golden Globe, the Broadcast Film Critics Association award, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award and the Screen Actor’s Guild award (Hirsch scored two of those four); and he’s also been named by quite a few more critics organizations than Hirsch was, including two that are among the more high-profile: the National Board of Review and the National Society of Film Critics (both of which skip right to naming a winner rather than having nominations). So things do look good for Eisenberg, but I’d say a snub is not out of the question.

Next, Jeff Bridges. Last year’s winner of this award will probably be back in the race, especially given the popularity True Grit seems to be enjoying with viewers in and out of the Academy. But while Bridges is a hoot in the role, is it really seen as one of the best performances of the year? I could see him getting squeezed out. As for Ryan Gosling, I worry that I’m letting my personal feelings cloud my judgment by including him. Not that he’s a longshot; he’s firmly in the running for a nomination. But Blue Valentine‘s unflinching look at a troubled marriage may be more than voters want to put themselves through. Still, actors vote for actors, and given the buzz out of Sundance around the film’s central performances – not to mention the controversy over the rating – I have to think people would look to see what the fuss was about. And I have to think they’d be pretty floored. Although neither of the film’s stars were nominated for a SAG award, the movie was a late release and SAG voters may not have had the chance to see it in time. I’m hoping the extra month or so will have allowed them to rectify that.

If any one of these guys is overlooked, a likely replacement is Robert Duvall for Get Low. I struggled with whether or not to include him. He has BFCA and SAG nominations in his favor, plus he’s Robert friggin’ Duvall. People love him. But have they seen the film? Casting a slightly wider net, the popularity of The Fighter could sweep Mark Wahlberg into the race, but his performance is overshadowed by the more colorful ones around him. He does a fine job, but I don’t see him breaking through. Aaron Eckhart has earned praise for his role as a grieving father in Rabbit Hole, but the award attention so far has all been around Nicole Kidman.

The biggest question mark for Best Actor has to be Javier Bardem in Biutiful. Word is that he went to hell and back for this role and gives an incredibly powerful performance, yet it’s been ignored all season long. Unfortunately, Biutiful has yet to open in San Francisco, and my obsession with seeing as many Oscar-potential movies as possible before the nominations did not extend to taking an L.A. day-trip. You gotta draw the line somewhere, I guess. I hear the film is pretty bleak, so it may be another one that voters shy away from. Then again, fellow actors like Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin and Ben Affleck have sung Bardem’s praises, and Julia Roberts hosted a screening to drum up support. It wouldn’t be the first time Bardem has had some help. Back in 2000, when he was barely known to American audiences, several Hollywood stars (I want to say Jack Nicholson and Winona Ryder were among the champions, but I can’t recall for sure) tried to draw attention to his performance in Before Night Falls. It paid off; he earned his first nomination. Can lightning strike twice? One glimmer of hope for Bardem is that he was nominated last week for a BAFTA award. Oscar voting had already closed by then, so the news couldn’t spur any undecided Academy members into action. But there is some overlap between the BAFTA and Academy membership, so perhaps his nomination suggests a growing awareness of the film and his work.

Personal: Eisenberg, Firth, Franco, Paul Giamatti (Barney’s Version), Gosling


BEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine

Annette Bening and Julianne Moore have been pegged for nominations ever since The Kids Are All Right played at Sundance last year. But as awards season got underway, Moore found herself sitting on the sidelines while Bening not only got all the accolades, but was heralded the frontrunner. I’m not quite sure why Moore has been so unjustly overlooked, any more than I understand why Bening has been so celebrated. She’s great in the movie, but honestly her character is a variation on others we’ve seen her play before, and I actually felt her character was less interesting than Moore’s. Still, Bening’s nomination is a given; we’ll see if the Academy surprises us by honoring Moore as well. Either way, I think it’s safe to say that Bening’s frontrunner status has been eclipsed by Natalie Portman. But that’s a topic for a later post.

Jennifer Lawrence, the young breakthrough star of Winter’s Bone, has been nominated for just about every award possible, so she’s a safe bet, and Nicole Kidman is likely, though I wouldn’t say a lock. Michelle Williams is in the same boat as Ryan Gosling. In a just world she would be a sure thing, but it could go either way.

Who is poised to sneak in should any of these ladies fail to make the cut? Well, there’s Moore of course. Hilary Swank scored a surprise SAG nomination for Conviction, after being ignored by every other group. Swank did a fine job in the film, but I don’t think the performance merits award attention. Maybe SAG members couldn’t resist another Bening-Swank match-up. (Both of Swank’s Oscar wins for Best Actress came with Bening having been her strongest competition.) Swank’s SAG nomination was even stranger when considering that her co-star Sam Rockwell was not nominated. His performance had Oscar buzz for months in advance, and as usual the actor didn’t disappoint. He did get a few nominations along the way, but the positive word of mouth hasn’t amounted to much.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo‘s Swedish star Noomi Rapace has been mentioned, but I don’t think it will happen. A tougher call to make is Lesley Manville, the British actress who’s earned raves for her role in Mike Leigh’s Another Year. The Academy has been kind to Leigh’s films, but Manville doesn’t seem to have caught on. Though she has definite spoiler potential, I don’t feel confident in her chances. And there seems to be differing views on whether she should be in the Lead or Supporting category…a problem that also affects True Grit‘s Hailee Steinfeld, who I’ll talk about later since I believe she’ll be nominated in the Supporting category (though I definitely see her as a lead).

Personal: Lawrence, Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go), Portman, Steinfeld, Williams

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale – The Fighter
Matt Damon – True Grit
Jeremy Renner – The Town
Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech

Almost always one of the toughest categories in terms of just not having enough room for all the worthy performances. My  against-the-grain prediction here is Damon. Including him is foolhardy given that there’s zero precedent in the season thus far. Which I just can’t wrap my head around. Damon is so damn good in this movie, and brings more depth to the part than I was expecting, having heard ahead of seeing it that he was primarily comic relief and that his part was really small…neither of which is true. I find it hugely surprising that he has been virtually shut out of the race thus far, and while it may be my personal appreciation of the performance overwhelming my good sense, I believe he stands an excellent chance of surprising everyone. If people are loving True Grit, how can Damon not be a huge part of the reason for it? And if voters fill the movie out in lots of other categories – which it seems likely they will – I just can’t imagine them not citing Damon too. Hell, if he got nominated last year for Invictus, this deserves to be a slam dunk.

The other risky call here – though much less so than Damon – is Jeremy Renner, a Best Actor nominee last year for The Hurt Locker. I couldn’t decide whether to go with him or with John Hawkes’ terrific performance in Winter’s Bone. Both have done well in the precursor awards, but neither well enough to be considered sure things. They each earned SAG nominations, but Hawkes missed out on both the Golden Globes and BFCA awards, while Renner scored both. That’s why I’m going with him, but it took me a while to commit. And hey, maybe they’ll both make it if I’m wrong about Damon.

Also in the mix – indeed, a highly possible spoiler – is Andrew Garfield, excellent as the moral center of The Social Network. Many consider him to be a lock, but I worry that his chances have faded somewhat and that voters are more focused on Eisenberg. Garfield’s co-star Armie Hammer, who superbly embodied the Winklevoss twins (while actually only embodying one of them, if we want to get technical), also deserves to be in the running. Unfortunately the field is just too crowded. But Armie will be okay; he’s just been cast opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar Hoover biopic. Earlier I mentioned Sam Rockwell, who has been relegated to a distant longshot at this point, and I’d be remiss not to mention two others who were excellent in a film that has been unjustly overlooked due to an ill-advised release strategy: Ed Harris and Colin Farrell in The Way Back. Peter Weir’s first movie in seven years, it was quietly released late in December for a one-week qualifying run in Los Angeles, and just went into wider release last Friday. That’s no way to handle a movie from so illustrious a filmmaker.

Personal: Bale, Damon, Garfield, Hawkes, Ruffalo

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams – The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo – The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit
Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom

So let’s talk about The Steinfeld Problem. As pointed out above, I clearly see her as a lead and believe she deserves to be nominated as such. The studio is campaigning her in the Supporting category, and most of the awards and nominations she’s received so far (and she’s received many) have placed her there. But Oscar voters don’t always follow the campaigning, and from what I’ve read, many are putting her down for Best Actress. It could happen. In 2008, Kate Winslet was promoted for Best Actress in Revolutionary Road and Best Supporting Actress for The Reader, but Academy voters chose to nominate her as a lead for the latter. In 2003, young actress Keisha Castle-Hughes was campaigned as a Supporting Actress for Whale Rider, but earned a surprise nomination in the Best Actress race. Which way will Steinfeld go? While she’ll surely earn a lot of votes in both categories, I think the Best Actress field is stronger than Supporting Actress, so if for no other reason than that, I suspect more will stick with Supporting Actress. Plus, those who want her to go all the way know she’ll stand a better chance of winning if she’s in the Supporting race. Kristopher Tapley, who runs the great Oscar website In Contention, reported on a conversation he had with True Grit producer Scott Rudin, who explained his reasons for Steinfeld being in the Supporting category. Tapley disagrees, and both make interesting cases. We’ve already established which side I’m on, and I agree with the point that True Grit is ultimately Mattie’s story, not Rooster’s…just one of the reasons Best Actress is where she belongs.

Moving on, I’ve included Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom, but I’m not confident that enough voters have seen the film. She’s made an impressive showing in the season to date, including BFCA and Golden Globe nominations, but she has no name recognition in Hollywood, which could hurt her given the film’s low profile. Still, I couldn’t think of anyone who seemed any more logical. Mila Kunis stands a chance for Black Swan, bolstered by the Golden Globe/BFCA/SAG trifecta. But I just don’t see the Academy nominating Kunis. Maybe it’s my own opinion that there’s nothing award-worthy about the performance (not to say Kunis doesn’t do a great job). Or maybe it’s the sense that she hasn’t quite earned her stripes yet (which wouldn’t matter in the case of newcomers like Jennifer Lawrence or Steinfeld, who give such knockout performances. Kunis’ work just doesn’t compare). But maybe I’m wrong. Her co-star Barbara Hershey is also a longshot candidate, but I think her part is too small to get her in. Lesley Manville, as mentioned in the Best Actress section, could show up here instead, and it’s even possible that Julianne Moore could land here, though that would be pretty unexpected at this point. Other names are floating on the outskirts – Dianne Wiest for Rabbit Hole, Olivia Williams for The Ghost Writer – but they seem like distant shots. I’ll stick with Weaver.

Personal: Adams, Marion Cotillard (Inception), Greta Gerwig (Greenberg), Leo, Rosamund Pike (Barney’s Version)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Black Swan – Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John McLaughlin
The Fighter – Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson
Inception – Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech – David Seidler

It disappoints me to think that Black Swan will make the cut here since the screenplay is clearly the film’s weak link. It’s that much more a testament to Darren Aronofsky’s gifts as a filmmaker that the movie is so strong when its script is so “meh.” But with a lack of other strong contenders – or a lack of attention being paid to a broader range of contenders, I should say – I’m afraid it will likely score a spot. That same narrow scope will probably aid The Fighter as well, which is at least a good, solid script if not really one of the year’s very best.

Mike Leigh is always a possibility in this category, though I don’t get the sense that Another Year has extended its reach beyond being a critic’s darling. I could see Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine sneaking in, which would be a pleasant and much deserved surprise, but I’m not holding my breath. The Writer’s Guild of America nominated the indie dramedy Please Give, but the guild is not the best barometer for the Oscars since its rules render so many would-be contenders ineligible. (A film has to be produced according to certain WGA guidelines in order to be qualify.) In fact, the first two films mentioned in this paragraph – along with The King’s Speech – were left out of consideration for this reason. With all three back in the running, I don’t see Please Give making the cut.

Personal: Animal Kingdom, Blue Valentine, Cyrus, Inception, The King’s Speech

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
127 Hours – Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 – Michael Arndt
True Grit – Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Winter’s Bone – Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini

This list looks solid and safe. If anything is vulnerable I’d say it’s 127 Hours, which seems to have faded somewhat from the general conversation (James Franco’s performance notwithstanding). Other worthy contenders that could slide in include The Ghost Writer, Rabbit Hole and The Town (which, along with I Love You, Phillip Morris, earned WGA nominations…likely  attributable to Toy Story 3 and Winter’s Bone being cockblocked by the guild).

Personal: Same

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3

I only recently caught Despicable Me, and was less impressed than I expected to be given all the acclaim and box office success. It was cute, but not much more. People seemed to love it though, and with Toy Story 3 locked in and How to Train Your Dragon nearly as certain, I’m guessing Tangled and The Illusionist will miss out. But maybe there’ll be an obscure shocker. Last year, nobody saw The Secret of Kells coming. It’s too bad that once again there will only be three nominees. There were 15 eligible films, and the rules state that only when there are a minimum of 16 can there be five nominees (at least 8 are required for the category to exist at all).

Personal: How to Train Your Dragon, Tangled, Toy Story 3

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Matthew Libatique – Black Swan
Wally Pfister – Inception
Jeff Cronenweth – The Social Network
Robert Richardson – Shutter Island
Roger Deakins – True Grit

Black Swan, Inception and True Grit are the sure bets here. Jostling for the remaining two spots are a handful of great contenders. The King’s Speech and The Social Network rounded out the American Society of Cinematographer’s list, though as is always the case with the guilds, there is rarely a complete match-up. I’m going with Shutter Island, but 127 Hours stands a good chance too. And if there are a few categories where The Way Back may actually be on voters’ radar, this could be one.

Personal: Black Swan, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, Inception, Shutter Island, True Grit

BEST FILM EDITING
127 Hours
Black Swan
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Personal: Black Swan, Inception, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Social Network, The Town

BEST ART DIRECTION
Alice in Wonderland
Inception
The King’s Speech
Shutter Island
TRON: Legacy

Personal: Get Low, The Ghost Writer, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, Inception, Shutter Island

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Alice in Wonderland
Burlesque
The King’s Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

Personal: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, Shutter Island, The Tempest, The Wolfman (I haven’t actually seen The Tempest, but just based on some photos I can clearly see it deserves to be here.)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
I See the Light – Tangled
If I Rise – 127 Hours
Shine – Waiting for Superman
We Belong Together – Toy Story 3
You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me – Burlesque

Honestly, I haven’t seen a single movie this year with an original song that left an impression on me. The five songs above have been the most oft mentioned in the season so far, so I’ll go with them. There are a couple of other songs from Burlesque that could conceivably make the cut, although “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” is apparently Cher’s big number, so I’m sure that will carry some weight. Tunes from Country Strong and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader have been mentioned too, so perhaps one of them will make it in. Also, Eddie Vedder has a song from Eat Pray Love in the mix. I haven’t heard it, but considering that the Academy owes Vedder bigtime after snubbing his Into the Wild contributions back in ’07, maybe they can try to make it up to him now.

Personal: No opinion

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
A.R. Rahman – 127 Hours
Danny Elfman – Alice in Wonderland
Hans Zimmer – Inception
Alexandre Desplat – The King’s Speech
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – The Social Network

True Grit and Black Swan might have fared a chance here, but both were deemed ineligible due to the large percentage of pre-exisiting music used in the films. I can’t speak to that in the case of True Grit, but certainly Black Swan‘s score is largely built around Tchaikovsy’s Swan Lake. I hope Reznor and Ross make the cut. They’re considered frontrunners, and yet the music branch of the Academy is known for making some tone deaf decisions lately. I have a sneaking suspicion that Reznor and Ross’ outsider status could hurt their chances. Hopefully I’m imagining things.

Personal: The Ghost Writer (Alexandre Desplat), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I (Desplat), Inception, Never Let Me Go (Rachel Portman), The Social Network

BEST MAKEUP
Alice in Wonderland
Barney’s Version
The Wolfman

The Makeup branch works differently than most other branches when it comes to voting, in that the list of contenders has already been whittled down to seven. These are the three I suspect will make the cut (Barney’s Version features nicely done aging makeup, something which often finds a place in the final three.) The remaining possibilities are The Fighter, True Grit, The Way Back and Jonah Hex.

Personal: Alice in Wonderland, Barney’s Version, The Way Back

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Alice in Wonderland
Inception
Iron Man 2
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I
TRON: Legacy

The Visual Effects branch also has preliminary rounds, but for the first time this year, five nominees will be selected from the list of seven, rather than the usual three. Given how much movies today use and rely on visual effects work, it’s nice to see that more films will be recognized…though I can’t quite understand the logic of sticking with the process as it’s been, seeing as only two films from the “semi-finals” will be omitted. The other two contenders this time around are Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Hereafter. My memory of Scott Pilgrim is that the effects were perfectly fine, but not really award-caliber. Hereafter features a stunning tsunami sequence that is certainly worthy of recognition, but I’m not sure it’s enough to justify nominating the film. Alice in Wonderland‘s effects were inconsistent, but I think they’ll win out over Scott Pilgrim and Hereafter. I would like to have seen The Social Network in the running, for the incredibly impressive CGI of the Winklevii (which more than makes up for the overdone, digitally inserted cold breath), but Social didn’t even make the branch’s preliminary list of 15. Nor did Black Swan, which I’d say was also worthy of consideration. But Alice notwithstanding, and without having seen TRON yet, this looks like a good list.

Personal: Black Swan, Inception, Iron Man 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, The Social Network

BEST SOUND MIXING
Black Swan
Inception
Iron Man 2
Toy Story 3
True Grit

BEST SOUND EDITING
Black Swan
Inception
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit

This is always a shot in the dark for me, as I never have and likely never will – no matter how many cool DVD special features on sound I watch – understand these two categories. To me, what should be honored – which I don’t think these two categories do, exactly – is overall sound design. How is sound used in the film? What impact does it have? How does it contribute to the experience of the movie? Sound mixing and sound editing obviously contribute to that, but I think I understand enough to know that neither covers the overall sonic experience of the film. I’m making the picks above based on a) instinct, b) the nominations by the Cinema Audio Society and Motion Picture Sound Editors and c) by looking at the nominees in years past and trying to extract some sort of logic from them. We’ll see how I do. The King’s Speech could certainly find a place on one or both of these lists, as could action movies like TRON: LegacyUnstoppable, Salt or Red. Musicals and animated films also tend to do well here, so perhaps Burlesque, How to Train Your Dragon or Tangled – which combines both – could show up.

Personal: If the category worked the way I, in my infinite ignorance, think it should, I’d be citing Black Swan, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, Inception, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and…ummm…maybe…I don’t know, lemme get back to you.

That’s as far as I can go. Unfortunately my intake of documentaries and foreign language films is embarrassingly paltry, and I know nothing of the contenders for the short film awards. So I’ll end with this point, to bring it all full circle: the awards pundits had pretty much declared The Social Network the winner of Best Picture, but guess what movie didn’t win the prize on Saturday night from the Producer’s Guild of America? The PGA went with The King’s Speech. Does that mean Speech is now a lock for the Oscar? No. Sometimes the PGA’s pick goes on to win the Oscar, sometimes it doesn’t. All it means is that a lot can happen in a month. Just ask Eddie Murphy, or the producers of Brokeback Mountain.

This thing can’t be over yet; it hasn’t even started.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] to hear my thoughts. My apologies for the delay, but I figured it would take this long to read my predictions piece anyway, so I had a little time to play with. Ready to get back into […]

    Pingback by Oscars 2010: And the Nominees Are… « I Am DB — January 5, 2012 @ 9:27 pm | Reply


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