Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Night Relaxer–It’s Oscar Time

On Monday our time, it’ll be time to get excited about what a bunch of mostly aging, mostly acting, and mostly conservative people think are the best films and performances of the last year.

Yep, it’s time for the Oscars, and yeah they don’t matter, they’re always wrong blah blah. Bull I says. They are important, if for no other reason than, as William Goldman says, when the winner of one dies, his or her obituary in the newspaper will begin: “Oscar winning director/screenwriter/actor Joe Blow died this morning…”

Are the awards good judges of quality? Well does the phrase “Oscar winner Sandra Bullock” answer that question? Of course they get it wrong – hell I’ve written a stack of posts on just how wrong, but the wrongness is part of the charm. The ceremony itself will be dire. I mean really, really dire. it’s hosted by Anne Hathaway and James Franco? They couldn't find one stand up comic to do the gig? Not one? (Obviously they couldn’t get Ricky Gervais)

Ah well, enough bitching.

At work for the past three years I have run an Oscar tipping comp, which means I can’t enter it (and thus am denied the chance to win prizes up to and including $25). So here are my picks. The last time I did this – back in 2009 – I got a whopping 12 out of 24, so don’t be plonking down too much hard earned on any of these tips:

Best Motion Picture of the Year

The King's Speech (2010): Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth UnwinKings_speech_ver3

The Social Network? Can I get a shout for “over-rated”? Apparently it was the Citizen Kane for our age, except Kane was about looking back over a man’s life; this film cuts out when the protagonist is all of what 24? I’m all for making films about current events, but this film is akin to making a film about the Beatles in 1963, and making the main story arc the removal of Pete Best from the group.

The King’s Speech was a great 2 hours. It appeals the the voter’s age and sentimentality. I’m locking it in (But I would have voted for Toy Story 3, if only as an award for the best trilogy in film history.)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Colin Firth for The King's Speech (2010)

If Firth doesn’t win this, there will be a people’s revolt comprised mostly of women who get all squiffy at the mere mention of Firth’s name. These women of course will own a very worn out DVD of Pride and Prejudice.

I thought Firth was excellent, and certainly deserves it. Jeff Bridges got the award last year, so won’t get it here for his excellent work in True Grit. Given this year he was also in Tron:Legacy I figure he’s lucky he wasn’t banned from the ceremony altogether. Black_Swan_poster

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010)

If you haven’t got Portman in your picks, you lose.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale for The Fighter (2010)

Would love Geoffrey Rush to get up, but Bale is the short priced favourite. If I was going to pick an upset, I’d pick Rush, but I figure given Bale as Batman has been in a franchise that has made a hell of a lot of money, the Academy will reward him for being actorly.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit (2010)

Melissa Leo is the favourite, but I think the Oscar voters will treat Steinfeld like another Anna Paquin. She was brilliant in True Grit – more than matching it with Jeff Bridges. And her scene where she barters about her father’s estate is the type of scene that grabs the votes. Social_network_film_poster

Unfortunately Jacki Weaver will have to make do with her AFI Award for her great role in Animal Kingdom. Earlier on in the award season I had hope Animal Kingdom might have snared one or two other nominations – especially screenplay. But this is still a great achievement for a little Aussie flick.

Best Achievement in Directing

David Fincher for The Social Network (2010)

Personally I’d give it to Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan. But it’s down to Fincher or  Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech. I have a feeling the King film gets the big one, and Fincher gets the consolation prize.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

The King's Speech (2010): David Seidler

Goes nicely with the Best Picture Award. If it doesn’t win this, I can’t see it getting up for the big gong.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

The Social Network (2010): Aaron Sorkin

Sorkin is a “name”, so he’ll get it. I don’t have any real qualms with it, other than in his Golden Globes speech he gave the biggest suck up to Mark Zuckerberg. Could you imagine Herrmann Mankiewicz giving a speech praising William Randolph Hearst?

220px-Toy_story3_poster3-1-Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Toy Story 3 (2010): Lee Unkrich

My daughter at the moment is loving How to Train a Dragon, but Toy Story 3 is one for the ages.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Outside the Law (2010): Rachid Bouchareb(Algeria)

Haven’t seen any of the nominated films but this one is set in WWII. The Academy usually likes those, so it’s my pick.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

True Grit (2010): Roger Deakins

He’s now been nominated eight times and he hasn’t won once. That kind of wait just begs some Oscar love.

Best Achievement in Editing

The Social Network (2010): Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall

Go the Aussie Kirk Baxter! Also the editing in this film made the film what it is. Fincher didn’t really do much: it was all Sorkin’s script and the editing that made it look brilliant and cutting edge.

Best Achievement in Art Direction

Alice in Wonderland (2010): Robert Stromberg, Karen O'Hara

Easily the most arty of the five nominees, so give it to Alice.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Alice in Wonderland (2010): Colleen Atwood

Alice was all costumes and art.

Best Achievement in Makeup

The Wolfman (2010): Rick Baker, Dave Elsey

The Wolfman because… err geez I don’t know, do I look like someone who knows what good make-up is??

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

The Social Network (2010): Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

The thing I liked best about The Social Network was the score, but I don’t think it was that great a year for music. Zimmer’s Inception score was pretty over the top Zimmer. The King’s Speech score is pleasant and fits the mood perfectly, so I’d be happy if that won as well.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Tangled (2010): Alan Menken, Glenn Slater("I See the Light")

Rahman and Newman have won recently, so I’ll go with the old Broadway pro, Alan Menken in Disney’s last fairy tale animated story.


Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Inception (2010): Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick

Inception and True Grit were the only two films to be nominated in both sound categories, so I’m splitting the awards between them. Is that logical? err well no. But I’m betting most of the actors who vote for these awards know about as much about how films actually get made as I do.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

True Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey

Cos, well who knows..

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Inception (2010): Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin

The dreams were cool, even if the story was a tad anaemic when you thought about it.


Best Documentary, Features

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010): Banksy, Jaimie D'Cruz

Yeah the Academy is conservative, but they gave a best Doco award to Mick Moore, so I figure they’ll like a bit of controversy that doesn't really shake up the industry too much – so I give it to Banksy.

Best Documentary, Short Subjects

Strangers No More (2010): Karen Goodman, Kirk Simon

Like I have any idea. I did an eeniee-meanie, and came up with this one. The subject seems to be nice an uplifting, so let’s go for it.

Best Short Film, Animated

Day & Night (2010): Teddy Newton

Pixar gets it.

Best Short Film, Live Action

God of Love (2010): Luke Matheny

A film about a “lovestruck, lounge-singing darts champion”? I don’t care if it is any good; I want this to win!

And let’s go out with my favourite Oscar acceptance speech of all time (because of course I would have one!). I can’t embed it (the Academy doesn’t like embedding of its videos). It is by Billy Widler, accepting the Irving G Thalberg Award. It is an excellent speech (it starts at the 2.30 min mark – you can go back and listen to Jack Lemmon introduce him if you want).


Have a good weekend.


Michael Cooper said...

Weekend is of to a good start. Out for Thai and both the girls behaved and ate well :-)

We don't see many movies these day, but we caught the King's Speech last weekend for our anniversary. Best we've seen in years! It's hard to believe Helena Bonham Carter is the same woman we saw screeching through the latest harry Potter a couple of weeks ago!

Siobhan Hannan said...

Some very fine films in this bunch and diverse in style and content. All could get up but the more I think about it I believe it really should be Toy Story 3. Not only is it extraordinary that the 3rd instalment in a triology is as imaginative and thrilling as the first but it truly is a film for all ages - years and times. It delivers an emotionally uplifting story about the power of love, trust and relationships as well as a deeply sad rumination on the ongoing existential dilemma of our powerlessness in the face of change, age and transition and of the struggle to find meaning in our very existence. Too much you think for a kid's animated picture? Perhaps, but having now sat through it about 6 times with my 4yo daughter I've had a lot of time to think about it... But you're right, The King's Speech will probably win. Firth should have won for A Single Man last year so will be a deserving winner for another excellent performance this time around.

paddy said...

Hi Greg, happy pre-Oscar Friday to you.
Deeply, madly, sadly, cheesed off that you didn't pick Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone for best actress. But then, I suspect you've picked the actual winner.:-(
For me, Natalie Portman has always been cursed by achieving greatness in her first big role, Leon The Professional.
Bloody hard to top that one.
While she was good in Black Swan, I thought Barbara Hershey blew her off the screen as the mother.
Never mind. Whoever wins, it surely can't be as bad as Sandra Bullock!!

Doug said...

Nice mellow Friday post. Such a relief from all the rough and tumble of paying for carbon use.
I agree The King's Speech is a standout, but maybe I am weak of mind because I watched Social Network (excellent bootleg copy bought in Bangkok) and found it very difficult to follow the dialogue - age-related hearing failure is such a bugger.
Just looking at the categories and wondering about the one for Best Foreign Language Film. Now I don't want to be all precious and super-PC about this but wouldn't it be more accurate to call it "Best Non-English Language Film". That said, I know where the Yanks are coming from. When I travelled there over several months last year I was told time and again "You talk funny". Which might have been OK except I was told this places as disparate as Austin Texas (where everybody talks funny) and Boston (where they don't).
Enjoy your weekend, and I hope Alan Jones has a miserable one.

Sonia said...

Kings Speech should win but this campaign about King George being a Nazi sympathizer could have some impact in Hollywood. I hope not. It is an excellent film. ANyway time will tell. Toy Story best trilogy ever. The start and the end of number 3 killed me . So easy to relate to. It was like farewelling old friends

Greg Jericho said...

Doug - that way of dialogue is pure Aaron Sorkin - if you watch The West Wing, you'll see he loves the overlapping fast paced style. And while, yeah it's good, I don't think fast dialogue automatically makes a great film. (Actually I enjoyed the dialogue in True Grit more)

Doug said...

I agree - I really liked True Grit. I also liked Blue Valentine and laughed my way through the thoroughly entertaining RED.

Off-topic - just watching Penny Wong and Greg Hunt on Lateline, having ploughed my way through the Fairfax blog/commentary on the carbon tax today. Interesting that those opposed to govt policy are almost to a person deniers, which is the message Abbott presents in opposing carbon tax, whereas in debating it with Wong, Hunt did not deny the need for a response but rather argued the merits of the carbon tax vis a vis the coalition's policy response (the one that Abbott will not allow to dare speak its name).
Sorry for lapsing into politics.

Anonymous said...

Future Oscar contender?

julian dunmurphy said...

Hey Grog,

I wrote a little online Oscar Pix game for my peers and took the liberty of entering your pix as well.
If you take the honours I'll be sure to send a gift your way. You can see who you're up against here: