Tag Archives: Barney’s Version

Oscar Predictions: Makeup, Costume Design, Art Direction, Visual Effects

23 Feb

Now, in my third Oscar Predictions post I will tackle the four more artistic categories the Academy Awards offer, those for Best Makeup, Costume Design, Art Direction and, in the technological artistry field, Visual Effects.

BEST MAKEUP

Nominees

  • Barney’s Version (Adrien Morot)
  • The Way Back (Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng)
  • The Wolfman (Rick Baker and Dave Elsey)

I’m still baffled by the fact that Alice in Wonderland, which I considered pretty much as the guaranteed winner of this category, didn’t even earn a nomination. So, with that film not even in the running, I would think this would be an easy win for The Wolfman, considering it’s the strongest of the bunch and it has Rick Baker as part of its two-man team, and that man is a legend in the field, already having 6 Oscars to his name.

Should Win: The Wolfman
Will Win: The Wolfman

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Nominees

  • Alice in Wonderland (Colleen Atwood)
  • Io Sono l’Amore (Antonella Cannarozzi)
  • The King’s Speech (Jenny Beavan)
  • The Tempest (Sandy Powell)
  • True Grit (Mary Zophres)

This is a really solid bunch of nominees we got here, but it will most likely become a two-film race between Alice in Wonderland and The King’s Speech. If Sunday becomes a sweep by the latter then Jenny Beavan will most likely get her second Oscar here (she got her first for A Room With a View).

But I would think Alice in Wonderland, which got shut-out of the Makeup category above, will eventually get this one, with Colleen Atwood, a past winner for Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago, getting her third Oscar. The work she did here was awesome, having to work with a lot of body ratios from Alice shrinking and growing and the Red Queen’s gigantic head. She’s the most deserving, and even though a big part of me thinks the Academy will want to go back to their love affair with prestige pics this year, I will still pick her as my winner.

Should Win: Alice in Wonderland
Will Win: Alice in Wonderland

BEST ART DIRECTION

Nominees

  • Alice in Wonderland (Robert Stromberg (Production Design); Karen O’Hara (Set Decoration))
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (Stuart Craig (Production Design); Stephenie McMillan (Set Decoration))
  • Inception (Guy Hendrix Dyas (Production Design); Larry Dias and Doug Mowat (Set Decoration))
  • The King’s Speech (Eve Stewart (Production Design); Judy Farr (Set Decoration))
  • True Grit (Jess  Gonchor (Production Design); Nancy Haigh (Set Decoration))

I love this category, and this year I think it’s a pretty tough one to call. Common sense would have one think The King’s Speech will sweep and will get one of their trophies for this category, for creating such a wonderful set and achieving amazing production values on such a tight schedule and even tighter budget.

But, if the night does not turn into a sweep by the monarch’s biopic, then I think Alice in Wonderland may prevail here. The marvelous sets decorated by Karen O’Hara were a big part of what gave the film it’s unique feel that resonated with audiences worldwide and got the film to gross over a billion dollars, and the production design headed by Robert Stromberg, who actually won this award last year for his work on another huge-grosser, Avatar, was seriously sublime.

However, my personal pick would actually be the three-man team behind the art direction of Inception, just the scale of the stuff they worked with, not to mention the very specific capacities they had to achieve for one of the world’s most inventive and detail-oriented directors was just mind-blowing.

Should Win: Inception
Will Win: The King’s Speech

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Nominees

  • Alice in Wonderland (Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi)
  • Hereafter (Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky and Joe Farrell)
  • Inception(Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb)
  • Iron Man 2 (Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick)

Do we expect any other film not named Inception to have the tiniest bit of a chance of winning this award? The effects in Inception were just top of their class, and this is one of the surest awards of the night.

The four-man team who were in charge of flipping a city on its sides, and which includes two of guys who were nominated for this award for their previous collaboration with Christopher Nolan on The Dark Knight, gave us a seriously stunning amount of detail and raised the bar of their craft.

Should Win: Inception
Will Win: Inception

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Barney’s Version

11 Feb

Title: Barney’s Version
Year:
2011
Director:
Richard J. Lewis
Writer:
Michael Konyves based on the novel by Mordecai Richler
Starring:
Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver, Rachelle Lefevre, Scott Speedsman, Dustin Hoffman
MPAA Rating:
R, language and some sexual content
Runtime:
134 min
Major Awards:
1 Golden Globe
IMDb Rating:
7.4
Rotten Tomatoes:
80%

Barney’s Version was eligible for the 2010 awards season, but got its actual limited release only this year, so I’m counting it towards the 2011 rankings. But, for that, I already know that this film got Paul Giamatti a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical Motion Picture, as well as it did receive a nomination for Best Makeup for the Oscars in a few weeks from now. So yeah, I guess I was sort of going into Barney’s Version with somewhat heightened expectations, at least for Mr. Giamatti’s performance. And he delivered, this is another amazing performance by a guy who always seems to be nothing short of remarkable. And the film itself, well it’s pretty damn good, too.

I’ve read the Mordecai Richler novel that serves as the source material for this movie, and I always imagined it would be a tough one to adapt, but you watch it unsprawl on-screen here, for over two hours, and everything just seems to fit perfectly. It’s not a perfect adaptation of the novel’s essence, but it’s very well done and quite thoughtful, and it really does work extremely well. But then again, with the level of talent involved in this film, I guess that shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise.

Joining Mr. Giamatti are three lovely ladies, one of them is Rosamund Pike, who we all probably remember best from her appearance as Miranda Frost in 007’s 2002 film, Die Another Day, but who has also been amazing in films such as An Education, Pride & Prejudice and last year’s Made in Dagenham. There’s also Minnie Driver, who’s awesome and was one of the main reasons for my love of The Riches. And Rachelle Lefevre also makes an appearance, this being the film that made her leave the Twilight franchise, something that was, I think, a good decision, because, sure, that franchise will definitely get her more attention because it’s insanely popular, but she’s already been in two of those films, and rode the wave of success it brought into a starring role on ABC’s Off the Map, and this film lets her show how good an actress she actually is.

There’s also two other male actors sharing the spotlight with Mr. Giamatti here. One of them is Scott Speedsman, a guy who I really like since his days on Felicity, and an actor that I can’t really get why he hasn’t exploded into much bigger stardom since those days, the guy is likable and has a very cool presence along with solid acting chops. And, last but certainly not least, we also have Dustin Hoffman here, who gives a stellar performance, full of energy and that dry humor that man can handle like few can, just amazing.

And I’ve done these two paragraphs listing the players we see in Barney’s Version so that you can see just how many amazing people were involved in this film, and when you see it you can fully appreciate just how much they all bring to the final product, it’s because of them that this one feels so damn amazing. But as amazing as all of these supporting performances may be, especially Mr. Hoffman’s, when you talk about Barney’s Version you’ll come back time and time again to Mr. Giamatti, who just owns the screen every frame he’s in.

For those of you who don’t know the story Barney Panofsky, the chain-smoking, bald-headed, heavy-drinking, hockey-fanatic, TV-producing slouch of a man, you’re missing one hell of a tale, and should buy the novel right about now. He’s just one seriously fun character to read and, thanks to Mr. Giamatti’s perfect impersonation, to watch. He plays him exceedingly well, he embodies all of these unlikable emotions to perfection, while also embedding in Barney that charm and sweetness that make the three lovely ladies I listed above find him desirable.

The story of Barney’s life is really amazing, we follow this character through many episodes throughout his life’s duration, and it’s all beautifully shot, masterfully acted and just impeccably told. The episodes in Barney’s life I won’t spoil, some are too delicious for me to take away the pleasure, but just see how his relationship with Miriam, Ms. Pike’s character, unfolds. It’s all wonderfully told, and just acted insanely well by Mr. Giamatti, who portrays this drunken mess of a man flawlessly, a sort of man he has made a career of playing, the kind of man who’s ordinary and yet fascinating. And it was also acted incredibly well by Ms. Pike herself, who’s beautiful and is just a perfect Miriam, a woman who was patient as can be with the man who fell in love with her the second he saw her and his own previous wedding’s reception.

Again, this isn’t better than the novel. But the novel was one I doubted could have been made into a successful film in the first place, the sheer fact that this was the result is something I’m still in awe of. Yes, there’s a lot of stuff in the novel that’s not here, not necessarily moments but complex emotions (the novel’s told by Barney), but with such an empowering lead performance by Mr. Giamatti, and stellar supporting ones from everyone else involved, the film achieves a very very solid adaptation, one that I’ll recommend to pretty much everyone.

Grade: B+

Oscar Nominations: My Reactions

25 Jan

The Oscar nominations were announced bright and early this morning. And while most of the nominees were predictable, there were still quite a bit of storylines to take out of the morning’s announcements.

Firstly, of course, the outrageous snub of Christopher Nolan in the Best Director category, Inception might have made the Best Picture ballot and Mr. Nolan himself got his second career Screenplay nod, but the Academy yet again failed to mention him for Best Director to make room for the Coen brothers. Another snub was The Town, which ended up with a sole Oscar nomination and got snubbed in the Best Picture as well as Director and Screenplay races, the films nominated instead were still quite deserving, but still, too little love bestowed on such a great film.

Then, on a far more positive note, this was also the year in which films that came out of Sundance came out strong at the Oscars, which is terrific news for the independent film business, The Kids Are All Right and Winter’s Bone both got 4 nominations in major races, Animal Kingdom got a Best Supporting Actress bid, and four out of the five Best Documentary nominees were shown in Park City a year ago.

As for what the nominations will mean come the big night on February 27th, well, The King’s Speech certainly got a huge boost today, scoring an even dozen nominations, the most out of any film this year. That has some people jumping from The Social Network‘s bandwagon into the one driven by Harvey Weinstein, since for the last several decades the movie with the most nominations has won the Best Picture race 75% of the time. Now, let’s play statistics for a while here, I actually still think The Social Network will still win this for now, but the stock on The King’s Speech has certainly risen in the last few weeks. First, of course, was Saturday’s PGA win, and considering that association has bestowed its award to the eventual Best Picture winner 13 out of the last 20 years it means it has the odds going for it.

But then again, lets not forget just how much The Social Network has going for itself, it pretty much swooped the Critic’s groups awards, including big wins at the Globes and the National Board of Review. Not to mention that David Fincher is the clear front-runner to win not only the Best Director Oscar, but the DGA honors that will be announced on Saturday. And really, the Best Director winner is always considered the likely victor of the big race and, in fact, the winner of the DGA award has actually went on to have their film win the Best Picture Oscar 33 times in the last 40 years.

So, who really has the advantage? I honestly don’t know, this really is one seriously tough race to call, and I won’t call it until all the remained precursors are done with. Yes, the DGA will most likely go to The Social Network, but then the BAFTAs will presumably be all over The King’s Speech considering it’s a home-grown film. The PGA win by Tom Hooper’s film was big, yes, but so were the many Critic’s Associations and Globes wins by David Fincher’s movie. So, if I may interject, I think that the one awards show that may be a big indicator as to what will happen on Oscar night will be the SAGs, taking place this coming Sunday.

Hear me out for a while, the SAG obviously doesn’t have a Best Picture award, but rather a Best Ensemble one, meaning it will honor the combined acting performances of the cast in a film. And while I still think that the front-runner for that one is The Fighter (which has four seriously spectacular performances), I can see an upset happening courtesy of The King’s Speech. The Social Network won’t win that one, it has some great performances but it can’t compete acting-wise with those two other films, so that race will be the one to prove just how much support The King’s Speech has. And if it wins that one, then I probably will update my predictions and consider it the front-runner for the Oscar, because, remember, the SAGs have many times served as indicators of Oscar upsets, I’m obviously referring to 1998, when the SAG went to Shakespeare in Love, the same film that went on to win the Best Picture Oscar over the clear favorite, Saving Private Ryan, and most recently in 2005, when Crash ended up with the SAG win and ended up upsetting Brokeback Mountain for the Academy’s top honor.

So yes, this will be a Best Picture race for the ages, one I’m really excited for and one that will come down to the very end. Will The King’s Speech end up with the win? Consolidating itself as the biggest Oscar bait there ever was in 2010, a biopic about British monarchy counting with excellent performances all around and a spectacular director working form a brilliant script. Or, will The Social Network prevail? The film with very young up-and-coming actors, directed by a director that started out working on music videos and then went on to create some of the most masterful and popular films of the last decade and a half, one about a modern phenomenon and full of quick-witted, very fast and talkative scenes. It will be a New School vs. Old School battle to the very end, the historical dramas have fared very well in the past, I’m thinking Gandhi or The English Patient, but as of late, with winners like The Hurt Locker and No Country for Old Men, it feels as though the Academy is skewing more towards films oriented to younger audiences with a more gritty sort of feel. We’re in for one very entertaining race to the finish line.

But enough about the big race, I’m sure we’ll talk much more about that in the near future, but for now let us revise all the nominations announced by the Academy today.

BEST PICTURE

  • 127 Hours
  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone

All the usual suspects here. I went 9 for 10 as far as my predictions go, considering Winter’s Bone felt the love from the Academy big time today and crept into the big party, throwing out my original prediction for the tenth slot: The Town. Again, as for who will actually win it, I have no idea, it’s a big split between The Social Network and The King’s Speech, and we’ll have a clearer idea of the state of the race once the remaining precursors are all said and done.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Darren Aronofsky (for Black Swan)
  • Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (for True Grit)
  • David Fincher (for The Social Network)
  • Tom Hooper (for The King’s Speech)
  • David O. Russell (for The Fighter)

I went 4 for 5 in this one, considering I predicted the horribly snubbed Christopher Nolan to be invited to the party instead of the Coen brothers. However, True Grit got a massive ten nominations and the love went to the genius brothers instead. Which was well deserved, but it’s ridiculous that Nolan doesn’t have a Best Director nomination to his name yet. However, massive kudos to Darren Aronofsky for finally getting his first career nomination for helming what to me was the best film of 2010.

BEST LEAD ACTOR

  • Javier Bardem (for Biutiful)
  • Jeff Bridges (for True Grit)
  • Jesse Eisenberg (for The Social Network)
  • Colin Firth (for The King’s Speech)
  • James Franco (for 127 Hours)

Went a perfect 5-for-5 in this race, correctly predicting Javier Bardem’s nomination over Get Low‘s Robert Duvall. Still, Bardem’s nomination was much deserved, and it was awesome to see a foreign language performance getting a nod here. However, this has never been a race, the golden man probably has Colin Firth’s name engraved from this very moment.

BEST LEAD ACTRESS

  • Annette Bening (for The Kids Are All Right)
  • Nicole Kidman (for Rabbit Hole)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (for Winter’s Bone)
  • Natalie Portman (for Black Swan)
  • Michelle Williams (for Blue Valentine)

Another category in which I went 5-for-5 in my predictions. And it really is a lovely bunch of ladies getting nominated here, Michelle Williams got her extremely deserved nomination for her beautiful work in Blue Valentine and Jennifer Lawrence capped off her breakthrough year with an invite to Hollywood’s biggest party. This is, though, still a Portman vs. Bening battle, and even though I think Portman has the edge because hers was the better performance in the better film, I’ll wait until the SAGs are done on Sunday to call her a lock.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Christian Bale (for The Fighter)
  • John Hawkes (for Winter’s Bone)
  • Jeremy Renner (for The Town)
  • Mark Ruffalo (for The Kids Are All Right)
  • Geoffrey Rush (for The King’s Speech)

I predicted four out of the five here, the one I got wrong was Andrew Garfield who I thought would firmly land a nod but was bumped off by John Hawkes who was riding on the huge love given to Winter’s Bone here. Still, this is no contest, it’s Bale’s to lose, and he just won’t.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Amy Adams (for The Fighter)
  • Helena Bonham Carter (for The King’s Speech)
  • Melissa Leo (for The Fighter)
  • Hailee Steinfeld (for True Grit)
  • Jacki Weaver (for Animal Kingdom)

I’ve always said this was my favorite race of the year, and even though my personal #2 pick, Mila Kunis, was left out, it really still is. I said that if Hailee Steinfeld remained here and wasn’t voted as Lead, then either Ms. Kunis or Jacki Weaver would get the boot, I picked Kunis in my predictions but apparently the Academy really loved the Australian crime saga and wanted to give it a nod, as they should have, really. Still, this is the best race there can be this year, considering I could see any of these ladies potentially winning. Amy Adams was my personal favorite of the year, and she gives her best performance yet, and considering it’s her third nomination they may (and hopefully will!) give it to her. Helena Bonham Carter may find herself winning if The King’s Speech sweeps. Melissa Leo is the current favorite, and if she wins the SAG on Sunday then this will be hers. Hailee Steinfeld carries True Grit and the voters may like to reward a young one. And Jacki Weaver created one seriously compelling character here, though considering she missed out at the SAG I think she’s the less likely to end up winning.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Another Year (written by Mike Leigh)
  • The Fighter (written by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson)
  • Inception (written by Christopher Nolan)
  • The Kids Are All Right (written by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg)
  • The King’s Speech (written by David Seidler)

I went 4 for 5 in this one, and the one I missed was the one that pains me the most not to see here which was the beautiful Black Swan screenplay, which I had in favor of Another Year, but I guess you can never count Mike Leigh out of this race, he’s just that good. As for who will win it, I would very much like to see The Kids Are All Right pick this one up, or if not then Christopher Nolan as a sort of apology from the Academy for not even nominating him for Best Director. But, most likely, this one will end up firmly in the hands of David Seidler.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • 127 Hours (written by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, based on the book by Aron Ralston)
  • The Social Network (written by Aaron Sorkin, based on the book by Ben Mezrich)
  • Toy Story 3 (written by Michael Arndt, based on the story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich)
  • True Grit (written by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, based on the novel by Charles Portis)
  • Winter’s Bone (written by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell)

As I said in my predictions, Winter’s Bone was going to put up a fight to be honored in this category. In my predictions I had The Town listed instead of Debra Granik’s film, but, as I’ve already said, the Academy shout-out the Ben Affleck film outside of Jeremy Renner’s nod, so no love here either. I like Debra Granik’s script better though (had it 6th in my Best Screenplays of 2010 list, while The Town was 15th), so I’m happy about it. Still, there’s no way Aaron Sorkin is losing this one, but then again I said the same thing about Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner’s script for Up in the Air last year.

BEST ART DIRECTION

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I
  • Inception
  • True Grit
  • The King’s Speech

Very very good bunch of nominees here, the only film I could have seen making the cut and still be happy about it would have been Shutter Island, but nevertheless, this will be a very cool race. I’m hoping Inception will prevail here, though Alice in Wonderland may have something to say about that and, if it turns out to be a sweep, so may The King’s Speech.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Black Swan
  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network
  • True Grit

If I would have to guess, I’d say True Grit will win this one. However, it was amazing to see Black Swan get listed here, though I would have liked to see The King’s Speech miss out on this race in favor of the wonderful job by the 127 Hours guys.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Io Sono l’Amore
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Tempest
  • True Grit

As I said in my review for The Tempest, you can never count any Julie Taymor film out of the Best Costume Design race (all four of her films have now been nominated), but still, this one will most likely go to Alice in Wonderland. Cool to see Io Sono l’Amore get a nod here, too.

BEST EDITING

  • 127 Hours
  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • The King’s Speech
  • The Social Network

Out of the technical categories, Best Editing is the one that foretells the Best Picture winner the most, so this one is one we should pay close attention to. Since the award was introduced nearly eight decades ago, only nine films have won Best Picture without being nominated here. Which I guess also goes to explain why Crash trumped over Brokeback Mountain. But still, the two Best Picture front-runners are here, so seeing who wins may be decisive as to who takes Best Picture. My vote goes to The Social Network here, and I still can’t fathom why Inception wasn’t named.

BEST MAKEUP

  • Barney’s Version
  • The Way Back
  • The Wolfman

They failed to recognize Alice in Wonderland in this one somehow, so I’m guessing this one’s definitely The Wolfman‘s.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • 127 Hours (composed by A.R. Rahman)
  • Inception (composed by Hans Zimmer)
  • The Social Network (composed by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
  • The King’s Speech (composed by Alexandre Desplat)
  • How to Train Your Dragon (composed by John Powell)

Usual suspects in this one. Awesome to see Reznor and Ross up for this one, and they’re definitely my favorites to end up picking the award. However, Alexandre Desplat gets his fourth nomination with this one and still hasn’t won, so if The King’s Speech ends up owning the show he could win. However, Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception, which is all sorts of mind-blowing, may end up getting the win if the Academy feels it didn’t bestow enough nominations love towards the film, he hasn’t won an Oscar since The Lion King in 1995, despite being nominated 6 additional times since.

BEST SONG

  • If I Rise (from 127 Hours)
  • Coming Home (from Country Strong)
  • I See the Light (from Tangled)
  • We Belong Together (from Toy Story 3)

I honestly don’t know who will end up with the win here. All I know is that I’m happy no songs from Burlesque were named here.

BEST SOUND

  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • Salt
  • The Social Network
  • True Grit

This is the one category that had most prediction experts baffled. Everyone predicted a maximum of 11 nominations for The King’s Speech, and this is the one nobody imagined, and the one that showed us just how much the Academy loved the film. As strange as it may sound, a Sound nomination is what really let us know that it was the front-runner.

BEST SOUND EDITING

  • Inception
  • Toy Story 3
  • TRON: Legacy
  • True Grit
  • Unstoppable

I really liked seeing TRON: Legacy here, and I was sure that The Social Network would get a nod here, but out of nowhere came Unstoppable and made the cut. Still, a cool and eclectic bunch.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I
  • Hereafter
  • Inception
  • Iron Man 2

I expected TRON: Legacy to make the cut here, but at least it got a Sound Editing nod so it didn’t go unmentioned. Still, if Inception loses this race the Oscars will have lost all credibility to me.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • Biutiful (from Mexico)
  • Dogtooth (from Greece)
  • In a Better World (from Denmark)
  • Incendies (from Canada)
  • Outside the Law (from Algeria)

This one’s always very tough to predict. But hopefully Biutiful will end up with the trophy.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • L’Illusionniste
  • Toy Story 3

This one isn’t a race at all, Toy Story 3 will win this one hands down.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
  • Inside Job
  • Gasland
  • Waste Land
  • Restrepo

No Waiting for Superman? Yeah, very very weird. Same with the lack of Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer. Still Inside Job would be a very cool winner, as would be Exit Through the Gift Shop, especially if we somehow get a Banksy appearance.

OscarWatch: Best Lead Actor

21 Jan

Since the Academy Award nominations will be announced bright and early Tuesday morning (!) I thought I’d do seven OscarWatch posts for the main races: Screenplay (encompassing both Original and Adapted), Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Lead Actor, Lead Actress, Director and Picture.

In them I’ll detail my thoughts on the given race and how I think things are starting to shape up considering we have now seen most of the precursor awards and count with BAFTA and SAG nominations. I’ll give my personal Top 20, with a brief paragraph on each, for any given race and detail which I think will be the nominees for the Oscars come Tuesday. In this post I’ll tackle…

Best Lead Actor

I’ll give my Top 20 performances given by actors in a leading role in 2010, my brief thoughts on each and then I’ll say how I think the Oscar nominations for the category will look once they’re announced on Tuesday.

As for the state of the race, it’s all said and done already. There’s really no way in hell Colin Firth isn’t leaving the Kodak Theater without that trophy firmly in his hand, his performance in The King’s Speech is unbeatable, and every other actor who did good stuff in a 2010 film will have to settle for a nomination on Tuesday.

Personal Top 20

  1. Colin Firth (for The King’s Speech) – There really is no other #1 pick in any capacity that isn’t Colin Firth. The stuff on display from him here is just astounding, and considering he’s coming off another Oscar-nominated brilliant performance from A Single Man last year his chances only get bigger, he’s just the best.
  2. James Franco (for 127 Hours) – The buzz surrounding this film seems to have been dying down as of late, but James Franco will still no doubt get a much-deserved nomination for his work as Aron Ralston. His 2010 was amongst the best any actor had, and how he carries the film by himself, delivering a tour de force performance is amazing.
  3. Ryan Gosling (for Blue Valentine) – The film was full of raw emotion and power and honesty, and it’s all because of its two leads. Ryan Gosling is superb here, doing the finest work of his career to date, and if the world was fair then he’d get a nomination.
  4. Jesse Eisenberg (for The Social Network) – Jesse Eisenberg is still the Jesse Eisenberg we all know and love in The Social Network, but reigned in by David Fincher he delivers a fantastic performance, transforming himself into the version of Mark Zuckerberg the movie needed, and helping the film earn its “the movie of a generation” title.
  5. Javier Bardem (for Biutiful) – Much like Ryan Gosling, Javier Bardem sheds every inch of actor vanity for his role in Biutiful, and gives a very open and honest performance in it that has people speaking raves of him. The sheer amount of power and emotional punch he gives here is just unbelievable.
  6. Jeff Bridges (for True Grit) – Last year’s winner will likely be a repeat nominee this year. He tackles a role that won John Wayne his Oscar, and complete does a 180 with it, pitching his own singularities into the character, and making him instantly memorable.
  7. Aaron Eckhart (for Rabbit Hole) – Put him alongside Mr. Gosling and Mr. Bardem, this is the third performance that’s just emotionally sincere, in a film that’s raw and powerful. This is a guy who has been doing stellar work for a number of years now, and he doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.
  8. Leonardo DiCaprio (for Inception) – Casting Leonardo DiCaprio was the smartest thing Christopher Nolan did for his film. He grounds the film with his emotional storyline, not letting us get lost in the mind-bending plot structure, while not taking anything away from it either.
  9. Andrew Garfield (for Never Let Me Go) – Andrew Garfield had an amazing 2010, I had him as my third favorite supporting actor performance for The Social Network, which will likely get him an Oscar nomination, and he’s in my Top 10 here, for his work on what I’ll forever call the most under-appreciated film of all last year, he’s just amazing in it.
  10. Mark Wahlberg (for The Fighter) – Christian Bale, when accepting his Golden Globe for this film, said that in order for a loud performance like his to be effective, one needed an incredibly solid and quiet anchor. And Mark Wahlberg is that anchor, taking the leading role in his passion project, and delivering like crazy.
  11. Ben Stiller (for Greenberg) – Probably the best thing Ben Stiller has done in his career, his turn here is unbelievable, as he makes us feel about Roger Greenberg, feel bad for him, feel angry at him, it’s all just incredibly solid stuff from him.
  12. Robert Duvall (for Get Low) – Robert Duvall can do no wrong. He’s always amazing in anything he’s in, and he’s delivered some of the best acting work probably ever in some of his films. In Get Low he’s at it again, giving one seriously fine work, that only an actor of his caliber and experience would have been able to provide.
  13. Stephen Dorff (for Somewhere) – If this film had gotten more attention and love then we would all be calling Stephen Dorff’s career completely revived and be throwing nominations at him. The movie, however, wasn’t universally embraced. I still loved it though, and thought Mr. Dorff was amazing in it, creating in Johnny Marco a subdued and patient performance which I loved.
  14. Ben Affleck (for The Town) – I gave The Town three shout-outs in my Top 20 for Best Supporting Actor, then gave Rebecca Hall a nod in the Best Supporting Actress rankings, so this here makes it five mentions for that film. Ben Affleck not only directed and co-wrote this amazing heist movie, but also delivered a triumphant performance as the lead character who battles morals and emotions.
  15. Michael Douglas (for Solitary Man) – When people talk Michael Douglas and this awards season they talk about his supporting turn in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and while he’s seriously good in that one, I’d rather have more people notice him in this one, a lesser-seen film in which he gives one of the strongest performances of his career, and definitely the best one since Wonder Boys.
  16. James Franco (for Howl) – Yes, a second mention for my #2 pick. And, even though 127 Hours is of course a much much different film, in this one he also carries the film by himself with a terrific performance. He plays Allen Ginsberg, and his line-readings of the titular poem are a thing of wonder.
  17. Paul Giamatti (for Barney’s Version) – I saw this one this year and will count towards my 2011 rankings, but it classifies for this awards season, so here it goes. Paul Giamatti has already won a Golden Globe for his performance here, and rightfully so, he’s amazing, and even though an Oscar nomination is pretty unlikely it would be awesome to see.
  18. Matt Damon (for Hereafter) – I also named him for Best Supporting Actor in True Grit, and here he is again. I’ve met a lot of people saying they were underwhelmed by Hereafter, but I thought it was a pretty masterful effort by Clint Eastwood, and Mr. Damon was just sensation in it.
  19. Leonardo DiCaprio (for Shutter Island) – Another double-honoree in this category. Leonardo DiCaprio always does wonders when working under the direction of Martin Scorsese, and in Shutter Island he really is amazing. A very different sort of role in a very different sort of movie for him, but he rocks it nevertheless, providing the perfect emotions to his character.
  20. Jake Gyllenhaal (for Love and Other Drugs) – I know there were other picks I could have made for the last spot, but I always give this one to a sentimental favorite. And I thought Love and Other Drugs was underrated, and I thought Jake Gyllenhaal was amazing in it, kudos kudos kudos to him.

How I Think the Oscar Nominations Will Look Like (in alphabetical order)

  • Javier Bardem (for Biutiful)
  • Jeff Bridges (for True Grit)
  • Jesse Eisenberg (for The Social Network)
  • Colin Firth (for The King’s Speech)
  • James Franco (for 127 Hours)

I think Bridges, Eisenberg, Firth and Franco are all locks by now, and I really can’t see any of them not being there picking up nominations. The fifth slot is more of a wildcard, and I think it’s a four-man race between Robert Duvall, Mark Wahlberg, Javier Bardem and Ryan Gosling. Odds-on favorite I would guess is Duvall, Wahlberg may get in because I think The Fighter will get some nice amount of love and Ryan Gosling gives a raw performance the Academy may want to reward. However, I think Javier Bardem has what he needs to pull this one off and be a foreign film competitor in a major race, he has peaked with the BAFTA nod and all the actors love his performance. So yes, I’m going with him for that final slot on Tuesday.

OscarWatch: Best Supporting Actor

21 Jan

Since the Academy Award nominations will be announced bright and early Tuesday morning (!) I thought I’d do seven OscarWatch posts for the main races: Screenplay (encompassing both Original and Adapted), Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Lead Actor, Lead Actress, Director and Picture.

In them I’ll detail my thoughts on the given race and how I think things are starting to shape up considering we have now seen most of the precursor awards and count with BAFTA and SAG nominations. I’ll give my personal Top 20, with a brief paragraph on each, for any given race and detail which I think will be the nominees for the Oscars come Tuesday. In this post we’ll tackle…

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

I’ll give my Top 20 performances given by supporting actors in 2010, my brief thoughts on each and then I’ll say how I think the Oscar nominations for the category will look once they’re announced on Tuesday.

As for the state of this specific race, I think it’s all but over now. Christian Bale will get his first Oscar here, there’s no other way of seeing this one playing out. There will be some competition from Geoffrey Rush, but it’ll all amount to nothing in the end.

Personal Top 20:

  1. Christian Bale (for The Fighter) – There’s no way this wasn’t anyone’s favorite supporting actor performance of the year. Bale is unstoppable as ever in this one, and he’s finally getting the much deserved recognition that had eluded him in the past.
  2. Mark Ruffalo (for The Kids Are All Right) – I’m a sucker for this film, and Mr. Ruffalo probably won’t end up anywhere near this high on the actual Oscar ballots, but I thought he was amazing in this one.
  3. Andrew Garfield (for The Social Network) – He goes head to head against Jesse Eisenberg in this one, and he’s amazing every damn second he’s on screen. 2010 was his breakout year, but we’ll keep seeing a lot of good things of him in the future.
  4. Geoffrey Rush (for The King’s Speech) – The likely #2 is my #4, but that doesn’t mean I think lowly of Mr. Rush’s performance, The King’s Speech is, after all, a masterclass in acting, and he gives an amazing performance in it.
  5. Vincent Cassel (for Black Swan) – Vincent Cassel won’t sneak into the actual Oscar race, but considering Black Swan was my favorite film of 2010 by a mile I thought I’d give him the final slot in my hypothetical nominations. A great performance by a great actor.
  6. Jeremy Renner (for The Town) – Everyone in The Town gave a fantastic performance in my opinion (even Blake Lively!), and the best of them came from Jeremy Renner who, riding high on last year’s nomination for The Hurt Locker, should have no trouble scoring another one this year.
  7. John Hawkes (for Winter’s Bone) – This is one of the most chilling performances I saw all of last year in an amazing film, if the film gets a lot of love on Tuesday he may find himself getting in there.
  8. Matt Damon (for True Grit) – Matt Damon is a guy the Academy loves, he even got a nod for the sub-par Invictus last year, and this film is actually amazing and he’s very good in it.
  9. Bill Murray (for Get Low) – In my book, Bill Murray can do no wrong, and he’s given some of my favorite performances ever. Robert Duvall will no doubt be getting all the attention for Get Low, and deservedly so, but Mr. Murray should steal some of it away from him, in my opinion.
  10. Justin Timberlake (for The Social Network) – Say whatever you want to say about Justin Timberlake. I think the guy’s great, and he’s actually a very very good actor. Or, at the very least, a guy who certainly knows how to pick his projects. In The Social Network he’s sensational, a true scene-stealer.
  11. Jim Broadbent (for Another Year) – I guess Mr. Broadbent would classify here and not in Lead Actor. And there’s no way he’ll get nominated because he hasn’t campaigned for a second, and that’s quite okay because he’s still wonderful in Mike Leigh’s latest, as he always is.
  12. Michael Douglas (for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps) – If he gets this nomination then, granted, it will have to do more with his personal problems of late and the Academy’s need to recognize him then with the quality of the work he did. But the work he did was still pretty amazing, reprising the role that got him an Oscar in the first place to amazing results.
  13. Pete Postlethwaite (for The Town) – As I said above on Jeremy Renner, The Town is full of exceptional performances. And yes, naming Postlethwaite here may be riding on the emotional wave because of his recent passing (a wave that just got him a BAFTA nomination) but still, every time he appears on screen in the film he just chews up the screen, stealing away the spotlight from whoever crosses his path.
  14. Sam Rockwell (for Conviction) – He’s being put up higher on prediction lists, and just as well because his performance is actually pretty damn effective in this one, I just have him lower because the film itself I didn’t love as much.
  15. Josh Brolin (for True Grit) – Josh Brolin is one of the more consistent actors around as far as picking good projects and delivering in them (and yes, by saying that I’m choosing to ignore the disaster that was Jonah Hex) and in the Coen’s latest he’s his usual great self.
  16. Sean Penn (for Fair Game) – When reviewing my 2010 rankings to see what films there were that had great performances in them I realized I had forgotten about Fair Game, which was a very good film and had Sean Penn being just terrific in it.
  17. Jon Hamm (for The Town) – Yes, yes, I know, third mention for The Town. But it’s not my fault this one had so many amazing performances. Plus, who here can tell it wouldn’t be awesome to see Don Draper one day pick up an Oscar, or at least a nomination?
  18. Dustin Hoffman (for Barney’s Version) – I saw this film a couple of days ago, and it will actually count towards my 2011 rankings, but it classifies for this awards season so I’m putting it here. Mr. Hoffman is always great, and the film is getting a bit of momentum thanks to Paul Giamatti’s win at the Globes.
  19. Chris Cooper (for The Company Men) – This really is so that I can avoid giving a fourth mention to The Town, in which Chris Cooper had just one scene (but one in which he totally owned the screen). And also, this mention is inter-changeable with any of his co-stars in The Company Men (Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones or Kevin Costner), all of whom were impeccable.
  20. Miles Teller (for Rabbit Hole) – Quite a lot of actors competing for this final slot in my hypothetical nominations, but I thought Miles Teller was polarizing in the best of ways in this tough-to-watch film.

How I Think the Oscar Nominations Will Look Like (in alphabetical order)

  • Christian Bale (for The Fighter)
  • Andrew Garfield (for The Social Network)
  • Jeremy Renner (for The Town)
  • Mark Ruffalo (for The Kids Are All Right)
  • Geoffrey Rush (for The King’s Speech)

I’m 90% sure this is how the nominations will look like, though I’m still considering John Hawkes may sneak in there, most likely at the expense of Mark Ruffalo. Let’s hope not, and we’ll see how it all goes down on Tuesday.

Golden Globe Results

18 Jan

The Golden Globes took place last night, and host Ricky Gervais was even more outrageously rude in his comments than most thought he would be, causing people to either love or hate his job as host (I, for one, thought he was brilliant). As for the results themselves, there were a few surprises in the TV categories, but the film side of it all was populated by the usual suspects. Here’s a round up of the winners and my brief thoughts on them.

BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
Winner: The Social Network
The Globes had a mini-sweep by The Social Network, the film winning 4 of its 6 nominations, including this one, the big race. This, along with the Critics Choice win on Saturday, cements it as the clear front-runner for the Oscar. Though it will be interesting to see what film the SAG goes for the Best Ensemble trophy.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
Winner: Natalie Portman for Black Swan
An easy and extremely deserved win for Portman, who looked beautifully pregnant and gave a funny shout-out to her fiancée during her speech: “Benjamin choreographed the film, and you may remember him as the guy who, when they ask, ‘Would you sleep with that girl?’ and he’s like ‘No.’ He’s the best actor, it’s not true, he totally wants to sleep with me”. However, I don’t think the Oscar isn’t that sewn up for her just yet, let’s wait for the SAGs to happen before we call her a lock.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
Winner: Colin Firth for The King’s Speech
Another easy win for Mr. Firth, who’s a lock to win the Oscar.

BEST MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Winner: The Kids Are All Right
Considering the company it was in, this was an easy win for the exquisite The Kids Are All Right. Very cool to see that awesome table go on stage to pick up the award.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Winner: Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right
Annette Bening is one extremely cool lady. And seeing her win, as obvious at it may have been, was one of the highpoints of the telecast for me. And it really pains me to think that come Oscar time I’ll have to vote against her to give my support to Ms. Portman.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Winner: Paul Giamatti for Barney’s Version
As I said in my predictions, I haven’t yet seen Barney’s Version, but I also noted that I was sure Mr. Giamatti would be a very deserving winner. So I was happy here, especially because the HFPA didn’t reward Johnny Depp for either of his two sub-par performances.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
Winner: Melissa Leo for The Fighter
The other three acting races seem to be more of a lock, especially in the male side of things, but this one I always thought was the wildcard. And even though Melissa Leo ended up winning this, as well as the Critics Choice on Saturday, I still think there could be another winner come Oscar time, and I’m hoping for that winner to be Amy Adams.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
Winner: Christian Bale for The Fighter
As it seems will be the case in every awards show left this season, The Fighter will dominate both supporting races. Here Christian Bale gets another easy win on the road to his sure-fire Oscar. He also gave one very long speech, which was the first of the night, and was bleeped off at the end when he was so in awe of looking at Robert De Niro that he called the Cecil B. DeMille award winner of the night (and also the man who gave one seriously long and strange speech) “the shit”.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Winner: Toy Story 3
This was the biggest sure thing of the night, and there would have been riots in Hollywood if it went to any other film. This was also the award presented by Justin Beiber and Hailee Steinfeld, and when director Lee Unkrich picked up the award he said “Were you two even born when the first Toy Story came out?” For the record, Beiber was 1, while Steinfeld wasn’t yet born.

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Winner: In a Better World, from Denmark
This was the only surprising win in the film side of things. with the Danish film, which I haven’t seen yet, triumphing over some more high-profile candidates such as Biutiful and Io Sono l’Amore.

BEST DIRECTOR – MOTION PICTURE
Winner: David Fincher for The Social Network
Very easy win for Fincher, who’ll win the Oscar without any problems.

BEST SCREENPLAY – MOTION PICTURE
Winner: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network
Another easy win for The Social Network. Aaron Sorkin was rad in his speech, giving a very cool shout-out to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – MOTION PICTURE
Winner: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network
I thought this was one of the toughest races to call. And even though I predicted Hans Zimmer to win this one, I said I would personally give it to Reznor and Ross, so at least that happened, and seeing Reznor win a Globe was another of the highlights of the night.

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Winner: Boardwalk Empire
In my predictions I gave the win to Mad Men, which would have been its fourth straight, but mentioned that an upset at the hands of Boardwalk Empire could happen. And even though I acknowledged the possibility of that upset, it still sucked quite a bit to see it happen, not because Boardwalk Empire was bad this season (because it was actually amazing), but because Mad Men’s fourth season was just too good.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Winner: Katey Sagal for Sons of Anarchy
To me, probably, this was the biggest surprise. Not because Sagal was undeserving, because she’s actually just as good as Julianna Marguiles or Elisabeth Moss. But because Sons of Anarchy, a show I’m in love with, is weirdly uncelebrated by awards organisations. So yes, as surprising as this win may have been, it was one that was extremely welcome, and that hopefully will only mean bigger and better things for the series in the future.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA
Winner: Steve Buscemi for Boardwalk Empire
This, much like the Best Series – Drama category, was another category I had predicted a Mad Men win, but acknowledged the possibility of a Boardwalk Empire upset. And it was another one in which exactly that happened. As good as Steve Buscemi may be, he’s got nothing on the sensational job Jon Hamm did this season, in my opinion.

BEST TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Winner: Glee
I predicted a fight between Glee and Modern Family for this one. But as was the case in the supporting TV races, Glee won. The supporting ones were understandable, but after giving it to Glee last year, I still think the HFPA should have switched it up a bit in this one.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Winner: Laura Linney for The Big C
As I predicted, and wished, this one went to Laura Linney, who wasn’t present to receive the award. I guess there are times during the series in which you could say that The Big C is more of a drama than a comedy at times, but still, a much deserved win.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Winner: Jim Parsons for The Big Bang Theory
Very very cool to see the HFPA reward Parsons here. And the fact that he got the award from his co-star Kaley Cuoco who was extremely excited for him made the victory that much sweeter to watch on TV.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Winner: Jane Lynch for Glee
As I said, it was common knowledge that Jane Lynch was the clear front-runner to win this one. In my predictions I stated a hunch I had that maybe Kelly MacDonald would be able to pull an upset for her tremendous work in Boardwalk Empire, which would have been a far better outcome in my opinion. But alas, even though Boardwalk Empire managed to beat Mad Men, and Steve Buscemi edged out Jon Hamm, the HFPA apparently preferred Lynch over MacDonald, which was hard to fathom.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION
Winner: Chris Colfer for Glee
I predicted Chris Colfer, and I said I’d actually like him winning. And I did, his was the most genuine shock from the winners, and his speech was actually kinda neat.

So there you have it. The results of the Golden Globes, the film side was predictable, but the TV categories had a few surprises, some of them nice, some of them not so much. As for my predictions, I went 13 for 21, not that great, but considering the surprises I didn’t bet against (namely Boardwalk overthrowing Mad Men) and the personal hunches I went with instead of being conventional (Amy Adams against Melissa Leo or Modern Family against Glee) then I guess it’s not all that bad. Will do these same sort of posts come the SAGs and Oscars.