Friday, January 28, 2011

Academy Awards

The Academy Awards are a specious at best ceremony but generally the film picked for Best Picture is at least halfway decent. The best film is only occasionally picked but usually nominated for BP but generally the two awards I find to be the most reliable judges of good films are Cinematography and Best Actor. True Grit was completely shut out of the Golden Globes yet has been nominated for 10 (!) Academy Awards, and while Hailee Steinfeld deserves to be nominated for Best Actress I guess we'll have to make do with Best Supporting. Somehow or other The Town evaded getting nominated for more than just Best Supporting Actor while a few random unheard of films replaced it on several of the other nomination locations (what the hell is Winter's Bone).

Since I last wrote a post about it The Social Network has become a juggernaut favorite to win Best Picture, unfortunately Inception, True Grit, and The Fighter are all superior films. For the sole purpose of spiting my comment about all billionaires being douchebags Zuckerberg donated several hundred million dollars to charity and was named Time's Man of the Year. There is no way he'd even be thought of as possible for the award without the film being in the national consciousness. I think the Social Network is gradually starting to fade into relative obscurity even now right before it almost certainly wins Best Picture. If the voting occurred right now the King's Speech would probably win the award but since it occurred a month ago there's not much chance. If I had to put the odds on it at the moment I'd say it's about 60% Social Network, 10% True Grit (for being the lone saving grace of the holiday season), 10% The Fighter, 15% The King's Speech, and 5% Inception for chances to win Best Picture.

In other news I bought Inception on Blu Ray and watched it again and found myself completely enraptured once more. Unfortunately the film was released way back in July and recent films almost always win Best Picture. However, despite Inception being one of the greatest technical achievements in the history of cinema Christopher Nolan wasn't even nominated for Best Director. David Fincher should and will win for turning the Social Network into a good movie despite being based on the worst topic imaginable, but Nolan should have been nominated, certainly the biggest snub of the Oscars. If only Inception were about Millionaires suing Billionaires and how much better Harvard students are than everyone else in the country and how capitalism is pretty much infallible and every other pretentious issue you could think of, perhaps then it would have won Best Picture. Alas, Christopher Nolan actually prefers to make good (not to mention commercially successful) films instead of tripe.

Most of the time the Oscars have at least one difficult to choose category but this year Picture (Social Network), Actor (Colin Firth), Actress (Natalie Portman), Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Director (David Fincher), Cinematography (True Grit), Original Screenplay (The King's Speech), and Adapted Screenplay (Social Network) are all relative locks to win. This leaves supporting Actress as the only remaining interesting category, which I think is a tossup between Melissa Leo for The Fighter and Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit.

As to the justice of all the other awards I think most of them are spot on, Supporting Actor should be more of a debate between Jeremy Renner and Christian Bale than just Bale, but again the Fighter is a more recent, more successful film so Christian Bale will undoubtedly win. Both roles were outstanding so I have no real complaint on that front. Amongst those nominated the least deserving are Jesse Eisenberg for Best Actor, (while there were several Best Supporting Actors in The Social Network that were worthy and shut out) Jeff Bridges, and Javier Bardem; but Colin Firth winning seems to be valid enough so /shrug. The distinction between "Actor" and "Supporting Actor" is pretty vague (Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor with about 18 minutes of screentime in The Silence of the Lambs) so I think Andrew Garfield could have been nominated in Eisenberg's place and Dicaprio could have gotten a nod for Inception even with little or no chance of winning.

I think everyone should see Inception, True Grit, and The Fighter, but overall this year's film selection was excellent. I saw around 12 movies in theaters this year, about as many as the past 4 years combined, and I don't think I was disappointed more than a few times (The Expendables comes to mind). While Inception will continue to be a rewatchable masterpiece True Grit is mostly cinematography (and the plot is joyous instead of conflicting) and The Fighter is a standard boxing movie. I may write another post after the Oscars, particularly if there are any notable surprises, but I'll likely just move on to future films and more reviews from movies I already own or have recently seen.

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