It's that time of year again!
It almost goes without saying: I'm a big time movie buff. I love watching movies, I love going to movies, and I love talking about movies. Or, if I wanted to be pretentious: Films. I love films. If I could have done film study in college, I would have (among many other interests). So every so often, I take advantage of my blogspace and deviate from discussing social justice and issues in the church to discuss something frivolous and fancy free: movies.
As the Oscars are just over two weeks away, I thought it may be time to announce my picks for this year's Oscars, for what it's worth. While I haven't seen all ten best picture nominees, I've seen the big names, and feel pretty confident in my picks. I'll save Best Picture for last, to drum up anticipation (I'm sure you're just dying to hear my selections!).
Here we are, most of the major categories, excluding those I'm not particularly qualified to comment on.
Best Visual Effects: Inception will win this hands down. Though this is a great selection of choices, ranging from Tim Burton's insane Alice in Wonderland to the fun romp that was Iron Man 2, Christopher Nolan's blockbuster piece has enough pull and respect within the Academy to pull an easy win.
Best Cinematography: The Coen brothers' cinematographer Roger Deakins has been nominated for the cinematography category nine times, but something tells me he's still not going to get it. I think Black Swan will eke out a win here, as it is a truly beautiful film, though I wouldn't be surprised if this is Deakins' year. It's a toss up.
Best Editing: I think David Fincher's The Social Network is going to clean up in a lot of "smaller" categories here, and film editing will be one of them.
Best Documentary: Banksy could pull out a win for Exit Through the Gift Shop here, but I highly doubt the Academy will go with the "controversial" pick, especially if the winner can't show his face on TV. The Academy tends to be a bit, shall we say, "fuddy-duddy" when it comes to novelty things unless there's a large undeniable popular movement behind them (see Eminem winning an Oscar), and I don't think Banksy has quite enough pull to reach the more easily offended parts of the Academy. I'm going to go with Restrepo on this one - a doc about one year with a platoon in the deadliest valley in Afghanistan. As "liberal" as Hollywood can be, they like depictions of war (see Saving Private Ryan, The Hurt Locker, Band of Brothers, etc).
Best Original Score: Trent Reznor's score for The Social Network will pull out a well deserved win here - there is not a moviegoer on the planet who doesn't hear this and know IMMEDIATELY what it's from.
Best Original Song: This one's a toss up. I honestly didn't like Tangled all that much, but since it's Disney and people have been raving about it, it might have a chance to win. I doubt Gwenyth Paltrow's Crazy Heart-lite will be able to win in this category, and Toy Story already won a ton of song awards back when the first one came out. I'm going to go ahead and say Toy Story 3 on this one, just for nostalgia's sake.
Best Costume Design: The King's Speech has some brilliant and amazingly well done costumes. The same could easily be said for True Grit, but since the former seems to have more pull this year, I'm going to go with that.
Best Art Direction: Inception. Hands down.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Here we're getting into the larger categories that will take up most of the column inches in newspapers the Monday after. This one's a tough one considering there are a number of fantastic contenders for the little gold man. In my opinion, though, nothing beats Aaron Sorkin's adaptation that was The Social Network, though the Coens' True Grit comes close.
Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech, no question. David Siedler started it something like 40 years ago, and basically had to wait for the Queen Mother to die until he could finish it, and that's the type of story the Academy salivates over. Not that it doesn't deserve it, but in this case, the odds are clearly weighted in its favor simply because of the obstacles in bringing the film to the screen.
Best Foreign Film: I was amazed to see Tilda Swinton's I Am Love shafted in this category, and as that's the only foreign film I've seen this year, I don't really feel qualified to pick one in this category. I'm thinking, though, with Javier Bardem getting a best actor nod for Biutiful, that it may have more pull with the Academy.
Best Animated Feature: Come on, do I even have to say it? Toy Story 3 will win.
Best Supporting Actress: This is the one acting category I'm most unsure about. Young newcomer Haliee Steinfeld really deserves to be in the best actress category, but apparently the Academy wouldn't know what a leading female role would look like if it stood in front of them with a shotgun - which it did in True Grit. There's a lot of talk surrounding Amy Adams and Melissa Leo from The Fighter, but I, along with Roger Ebert, think this will result in a split in the vote, allowing Steinfeld to take home a statue, albeit one that reads the wrong category name.
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale has been shafted by the Academy a number of times, and this will finally be his year. The one that could beat him is Australian Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech. Jeremy Renner is really fantastic in The Town (and he is that movie's only nomination) but it would be a miracle for him to pull out a win. As much affection as I have for Jeremy Renner, I think Bale will win.
Best Actress: Natalie Portman. No. Question. This role had Oscar written all over it, and she lived up to the hype. And it's well-deserved. Despite having this scene on her acting resume, Portman has proved herself to be a brilliant young actress, and Black Swan is a masterpiece performance from her.
Best Actor: It's his year. And if you have to ask who "he" is, you must be living under a rock. I'm talking about the man who can really wear a sweater, the man who is finally breaking out of the typecast romantic comedy roles he's had for ages, the man who should have won last year for A Single Man, the man whose British accent makes women melt even when he's talking about the most banal of things. Yes, Colin Firth. As much as I love and adore Jesse Eisenberg's performance in The Social Network, as much as Jeff Bridge's was enjoyable as The Dude Redux in True Grit, as much as I like looking at James Franco, I believe Colin Firth rightfully deserves this Oscar. If you haven't seen The King's Speech yet, you must do so just to watch how he puts every little bit of his facial muscle together into accurately portraying a man struggling with a stutter. The gulps and the twitches and the terrified look in his eyes are so believable that when you hear him speak normally, you have to remind yourself that he doesn't actually have a stammer and is a very fluid speaker. I can't praise his performance enough, really.
Best Director: This award could easily go one of two ways. Tom Hooper won the Director's Guild Award for The King's Speech, and 90% of the time, the winner of the DGA goes on to win Best Director. But, Darren Afronosky or David Fincher could slide in for an upset, but the possibility of that is highly unlikely. I want Fincher to win for The Social Network, just as I want Afronosky to win for Black Swan. But realistically, Hooper will take it home for managing to churn out a film that fits everything the Academy adores.
And finally! Best Picture: This one's a hard one. I want Black Swan to win, but I don't think it'll happen. It is, truly, a masterpiece of film and one of those that you think about for weeks after you leave the theater. The same thing goes for The Social Network - as soon as I finished watching it, I wanted to go back to the beginning and watch it again - I've seen it multiple times since, and Sorkin's writing combined with Fincher's direction and the performances of everyone on the cast makes it like West Wing on steroids with college students. It's profoundly engaging, exciting and interesting, and does a great job of capturing the zeitgeist of this generation.
But, that's not what the Academy's always about doing. So while I think The Social Network has a chance to pull out an upset, and while I would love for Black Swan to take home the gold, I have to, begrudgingly, hand this one to The King's Speech. I say begrudgingly because while I loved the film, it was also very much Oscar bait, and very typical safe fare for the Academy. It's brilliant and moving and engaging, but at the end, I want to say it's just a film. It's a good film, but it's like Titanic 14 years ago: It's good, sure, but I don't feel like I learned anything from it that I couldn't have predicted learning just from seeing a trailer. It's missing that extra oomph that I believe both Black Swan and The Social Network have. That said, the climate is against me, and it'll be The King's Speech that takes home the win.
So there you have it: My official predictions and ideas about The 2011 Academy Awards. They air at 7:30PM (CST) on ABC, so be sure to tune it. And feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments.