Tag Archives: Hailee Steinfeld

Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor and Actress

24 Feb

In my recent Oscar Predictions entry we will discuss two of the most interesting categories at this years Academy Awards, the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress awards.

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Nominees

  • 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)

Yeah, Christian Bale has this one all sewn up, in my mind. And rightfully so, the fact that the guy doesn’t have a single prior nomination to his name is a crime, but at least he’ll cash in the gold with his first one, his performance is truly riveting.

However, if The King’s Speech turns the night into a massive sweep then maybe an upset may occur here at the hands of Geoffrey Rush who’s participating with his fourth nomination (he won Lead Actor in 1996), and as amazing a performance as he gives, it’s not as great as Bale’s.

Should Win: Christian Bale
Will Win: Christian Bale

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees

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

Now this, ladies and gents, is my favorite category of this year’s Oscars. I could potentially see any of these ladies pick up the award. Jacki Weaver I guess is the long-shot among this group, but her performance was electric. Amy Adams, on her third nomination overall and in this category, is my personal pick and was absolutely unbelievable. Helena Bonham Carter may ride the gold wave if The King’s Speech turns the night into a sweep. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, in what was really a leading role, may actually provide the upset. And then there’s the frontrunner, Melissa Leo, who has won this award at most of the precursors. So yeah, five nominees and five worthy winners.

Should Win: Amy Adams
Will Win: Melissa Leo

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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 Picture

24 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. And in the very final pre-nominations OscarWatch post we’ll of course tackle…

Best Picture

I’ll give my Top 20 picks for the best films in all of 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, well, it’s a two-way race here. The precursors gave huge momentum to The Social Network, as did its win and mini-sweep at the Globes last week. However, yesterday The King’s Speech won the Producers Guild Award, and considering it will most certainly win the BAFTA, and will have a very decent shot at the Best Ensemble SAG award this really is a two-horse race, and a very very entertaining one at that.

Personal Top 20

  1. Black Swan – My favorite film of the year by heaps and bounds, a true masterpiece, directed by one of Hollywood’s most ambitious and perfectionists minds, featuring a handful of exceptional performances and just nailing every single frame.This is intense and passionate filmamaking at its very best, and were it up to me it would win absolutely everything.
  2. The Social Network – This is being heralded as the film of a generation. And as huge a statement as that may seem, it’s really kinda sorta on the money. A film about the phenomenon that’s consuming huge amounts of time of our lives, directed to perfection by a guy who can’t seem to do a bad thing and who started directing music videos, bolstering sensational performances by a cast full of up and coming actors, and with a script full of words and witty remarks. This really is the film of a generation.
  3. Inception This was the popcorn film that was actually stimulating, the smartest film of the year directed by the visionary we have all embraced like crazy into our lives. This was the one everyone talked about even months after its release, the one that when released on home video showed us just how awesome a blu-ray can really be, the one that had some seriously amazing performances and a very emotional story in the midst of all its visual spectacle. True innovative filmmaking.
  4. Blue Valentine The rawest, most emotional film experience I had in all last year. Bolstered by two pitch-perfect performances by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, this film showed how quick love can start, and how quick it can all end. It’s portrayal of a crumbling marriage is a very powerful thing to watch, the actors putting everything on the line, masterful stuff all around.
  5. The Kids Are All Right – This one has superb performances around the board, and tells a very contemporary story about family which we can all relate to in one way or another. Beautifully written, directed and acted, The Kids Are All Right was one of the best films of year just because of that, but it became even better when you realized just how much the writers knew their wine.
  6. Somewhere – Sofia Coppola’s back at it again, coming back to the stuff she’s comfortable with, and directing a quiet and gorgeous film. One which takes quite a bit from her own experiences as the daughter of a big star, and has her exploring celebrity like few directors can.
  7. Never Let Me Go – And I’ll say it one final time in these OscarWatch posts, this was, to me, the most underappreciated film of 2010 by a fair amount. Capturing the style and essence of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel it was based on was going to be a tough task for anyone to accomplish, and yet Mark Romanek did so splendidly, directing Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley to beautiful performances.
  8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – A truly original film, one that captures to perfection the style and flair of the graphic novels I love so much and that found in Edgar Wright the perfect director to convey the precious little life of Scott Pilgrim, and in Michael Cera the perfect guy to bring the character to life. This one goes by really fast, with its stunning visuals and cool one-liners, and every last second of it is pure bliss.
  9. Toy Story 3 There hasn’t been an official confirmation that this will be the last Toy Story film. But if it is, it’s probably the most graceful conclusion to any trilogy ever, coming full circle, full of memorable moments, of huge laughs, of meaningful tears. A beautiful film that ranks amongst Pixar’s best.
  10. 127 Hours A really powerful film, this one is. James Franco delivering the best performance of his career for director Danny Boyle, who entrusted him with portraying Aron Ralston, the real life man who was trapped when a boulder crashed his arm in a Utah canyon. The result is really breathtaking, with a stunning performance by Mr. Franco, sharp directing and writing by Mr. Boyle and some really gorgeous cinematography.
  11. True Grit – The Coen brothers are at it again with True Grit, continuing the ridiculous string of stunning films. They also have a wonderful cast full of amazing veterans in Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin and found in Hailee Steinfeld one of 2010’s coolest new stars, who clearly has a very bright future in front of her. If you liked Intolerable Cruelty, and manage to ignore that underwhelming The Ladykillers then you just might say the have a perfect body of work.
  12. Winter’s Bone – Debra Granik creates a very bleak and somber atmosphere for her film about the Ozarks, and found in Jennifer Lawrence the perfect actress to bring Ree to life, and carry and bring a speck of hope to the film. This is a real starmaking turn from her, and what lies in her future is just amazing to think about.
  13. The Town – The film that proved to us that Ben Affleck really is a fantastic director. A film that was extremely entertaining and full of spot-on performances by a cast that included Mr. Affleck himself, as well as Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Pete Postlethwaite, Blake Lively and Chris Cooper.
  14. The King’s Speech – If you exclude Black Swan this is the best-acted film of all 2010, the sort of thing you can write “Oscar bait” on, everyone delivering some truly masterful performances, directed by Tom Hooper from a fantastic script. If Black Swan was a very polarizing film, this is one I cannot see anyone not really falling in love with, if anything just because of how amazing Colin Firth is in it.
  15. The Fighter – Yes, this is another rather predictable boxing film, but the real-life story and people in it make it a very very compelling family tale. This is not a boxing film with a human story in it, but a human story with boxing in it. The performances here are just amazing, with Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg all doing wonders with their characters.
  16. Let Me In – The fact that this film ended up being nearly as perfect as the original Swedish one is the biggest compliment one could give it. This is the perfect definition of a good remake, one that never once tries to lose the essence of the original, but that adds enough spice of its own to separate itself from it in order to be judged on its own.
  17. Greenberg – Noah Baumbach yet again delivers a darkly comic script and amazing directing chops to a small little film that deals with the intricacies of an offbeat character. That character is played by Ben Stiller in what might be the performance of his career, a nuanced portrayal that was perfect in all the best ways. Not to mention that it was also the film that introduced us to Greta Gerwig, and she’s all sorts of lovely.
  18. Kick-Ass – A very fun film to watch, one that honors its graphic novel roots, isn’t afraid to show a cursing thirteen-year-old or hugely graphic and gnarly violence. This really is a treat for the eyes, one that has Nicolas Cage in full-on spectacle mode being awesome, and in Chloë Moretz one of the best finds of the year.
  19. Animal Kingdom – The stunning portrayal of the Australian criminal underground world. The performances here are just stunning to watch develop, the script is really clever and the film is just intensely plotted and structured to deliver a really thrilling ride.
  20. Biutiful – This is a very powerful film, one that’s many times hard to watch, but one that’s extremely rewarding to watch as well. Bursting to life by a beautifully raw performance by Javier Bardem and confident filmmaking by Alejandro González Iñárritu, it’s strong stuff, but compelling, too, and one that will have you leaving the theater and really thinking deep about what you just saw.

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

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

The Town and 127 Hours are the wildcards for me here. The other 8 I think are guaranteed to score an invite to the big race. I named both The Town and 127 Hours as hypothetical candidates, but I could actually see either one of them being bumped off the shortlist in favor of Winter’s Bone, we shall wait and see what happens Tuesday morning.

OscarWatch: Best Lead Actress

24 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 Actress

I’ll give my Top 20 performances given by actresses 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 itself, I’d very much like to call it a lock and say Natalie Portman will no doubt win this one. However, I don’t think we should count Annette Bening out just yet. I mean, I’d call it an 85% certainty that Ms. Portman will win this one, but Ms. Bening has already lost twice in this race (and I’m guessing that on both occasions she came in second in voting) so she’s due, and actors and audiences both love her, so an upset may occur.

Personal Top 20

  1. Natalie Portman (for Black Swan) – My favorite film of the year, my favorite performance of the year. I would love to see Annette Bening win because I thought she was robbed that first time she lost, but considering this performance by Ms. Portman then I’ll be sorry to tell her she should brace herself for a third loss.
  2. Michelle Williams (for Blue Valentine) – Michelle Williams I think I’ve never seen do a single bad thing. And she, alongside Ryan Gosling (who I ranked 3rd in my Best Lead Actor rankings), is just dynamite here. Providing a brutally honest and painful look at a very troubled marriage.
  3. Annette Bening (for The Kids Are All Right) – She’s undeniably great here, and she’s an awesome woman. The dinner scene at Paul’s house, from her singing that Joni Mitchell song, to finding out about her wife’s cheating and the expressions in her face, that’s all unbelievable acting from a woman who’s incredibly good at picking the right projects and is one of the best in the business.
  4. Jennifer Lawrence (for Winter’s Bone) – One of the breakout stars of 2010, she carries her little film to absolute greatness with a remarkably grounded performance which gives a speck of hope to a horribly bleak film.
  5. Nicole Kidman (for Rabbit Hole) – Nicole Kidman hasn’t been this good since The Hours. This was her passion project, she helped produce it and she stars in it, giving a gut-wrenching performance as a mourning mother.
  6. Julianne Moore (for The Kids Are All Right) – She goes head to head against Annette Bening in here, as her character goes through an emotional rollercoaster which she conveys to perfection.
  7. Carey Mulligan (for Never Let Me Go) – And I’ll say it one more time, Never Let Me Go, my official selection for the most underrated film of 2010. Carey Mulligan comes off her stellar star-making performance in last year’s An Education to star in this one, and she’s just amazing in it too.
  8. Lesley Manville (for Another Year) – Mike Leigh’s films are always an actor’s dream if the actor is willing to shed off any sort of vanity they may have and just lay it all on the line for the amazing director. Lesley Manville does just that, and the performance we end up seeing is a thing of beauty.
  9. Tilda Swinton (for Io Sono l’Amore) – I’m a big fan of Tilda Swinton, who already has an Oscar, and the work she did in this gorgeous Italian film is amazing, I seriously doubt a nomination will happen, but, much like Javier Bardem’s in the Best Lead Actor race, it would be kinda nice to see a foreign language performance get an acting nod.
  10. Noomi Rapace (for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) – She’s generating some very nice buzz for her role in this one, the first entry in the Swedish adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s novels, and it’s all well deserved. She has a toughness that’s just brilliant to watch develop.
  11. Anne Hathaway (for Love and Other Drugs) – This film is one I thought was severely underrated, and Anne Hathaway’s performance was truly amazing here. She won’t get nominated, but this only builds up her string of amazing acting in very solid films, and I can’t help but think she’ll get one of those golden men in the future.
  12. Kirsten Dunst (for All Good Things) – Consider this mention my official “welcome back” card for Ms. Dunst. We hadn’t seen her in anything for quite some time, so just the sight of her was something I cherished, the fact that she went on and delivered a very good performance was just additional icing on an already very sweet cake.
  13. Sally Hawkins (for Made in Dagenham) – Though this wasn’t as amazing as her performance in Happy-Go-Lucky (which the Academy failed to recognize) it was still buzzing with the charismatic energy Sally Hawkins has, and the film is a lighter than most Academy baits so it has that fresh appeal going for it.
  14. Annette Bening (for Mother and Child) – A double-honoree in my rankings here, this was a film I thought was seen by too few people and was also full of impeccable performances. Ms. Bening’s was the finest of the bunch, as is usually the case.
  15. Naomi Watts (for Fair Game) – To go toe to toe with Sean Penn, and actually manage to out-do him is something very few actors can accomplish. Naomi Watts does just that in Fair Game, a film in which she gets to play Valerie Plame and does some incredible things with the role.
  16. Diane Lane (for Secretariat) – This film was supposed to be much more an awards bait than it eventually turned out to be. But I still thought it was a very very good inspirational film, anchored by a very nice performance by Ms. Lane.
  17. Chloë Moretz (for Let Me In) – 2010 was also the year in which we discovered Chloë Moretz, first in Kick-Ass and then in Let Me In. The latter was the one in which she delivered her better performance, and, even though the film was well-received, very few people actually saw it. If you haven’t done so, please watch it, it’s nearly as perfect as the original Swedish film on which it’s based, and has Ms. Moretz bringing her A-game.
  18. Kristen Stewart (for Welcome to the Rileys) – You just have to watch Ms. Stewart’s non-Twilight roles to really see how great an actress she actually is. Yes, her style of acting may be the same in all her films, kind of fidgety and quiet, but that gives each of her characters something rather unique. In Welcome to the Rileys she plays a troubled girl to tremendous results, going head to head with James Gandolfini in some really tough scenes.
  19. Gwyneth Paltrow (for Country Strong) – The film eventually wasn’t as amazing as it first seemed it would be. But Gwyneth Paltrow was still amazing in it. I’ve heard a lot of people say she’s way overrated, but I disagree, I think she’s pretty damn awesome in everything she tackles.
  20. Amanda Seyfried (for Chloe) – As always, the final spot of my Top 20 goes to a sentimental favorite of mine. Here it’s Amanda Seyfried, who does wonders with the titular role in Chloe, having some electrifying scenes alongside Julianne Moore.

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

  • 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)

First time in my OscarWatch for the acting races that the five nominations I imagine the Academy will name matches five-for-five with my five favorite performances of the year. Natalie Portman and Annette Bening are the mortal locks, with the award itself being a fight between the two of them, a fight in which Ms. Portman currently has the edge. Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Lawrence also look like very strong bets. As for that fifth slot, there’s a few ways in which that one could go, Michelle Williams I think will make the cut, and if she doesn’t I’d say it won’t happen because the voters will have put Hailee Steinfeld of True Grit as Lead instead of Supporting and she ended up bumping Ms. Williams off the shortlist.

OscarWatch: Best Supporting Actress

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 SUPPORTING ACTRESS

I’ll give my Top 20 performances given by supporting actresses 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 race, I’ll actually go ahead and declare this one my favorite race this year, for the sheer number of women I think have a decent shot at the trophy. Melissa Leo seems like the favorite, but Amy Adams is my personal favorite and Helena Bonham Carter could also provide an upset. So yes, this one is the one I’m not sure how to predict just yet, and we’ll have to see how it evolves with the BAFTAs and SAGs.

Personal Top 20

  1. Amy Adams (for The Fighter) – My favorite supporting actress turn of the year is one from one of my favorite actresses around. The flashier role in the movie goes to her co-star (and awards season rival) Melissa Leo, who has been dominating the awards, but in a perfect world it would be Adams picking up that golden man come February.
  2. Mila Kunis (for Black Swan) – My favorite film of the year, and Mila Kunis has been getting some kudos for her role in it, hopefully the Oscars will grant her a nomination, too. If Natalie Portman’s role in the film was to be something, Mila Kunis’ role was to be the opposite of that something. And she did that wonderfully, feeling us with intrigue about her, with fascination about her confidence and demeanor, just a really well acted role.
  3. Melissa Leo (for The Fighter) – The ladies of The Fighter will end up sparring for this award. Melissa Leo is the odds-on favorite, being a fav amongst actors and having reaped through the precursors. And her performance is indeed pretty incendiary, as she gets to tear through some very beefy scenes.
  4. Jacki Weaver (for Animal Kingdom) – The fact that Jacki Weaver is getting this amazing movie noticed is reward enough in my opinion. But how she creates one of the most effective villains of the year in this film about the Australian underground crime is fascinating to watch.
  5. Barbara Hershey (for Black Swan) – Her performance in Black Swan is amazing, if I had to pick a lady out of this film to get a nod here it would be Mila Kunis, but in a perfect world they’d both make the cut. Her overbearing mother was just a spectacular creation from her.
  6. Helena Bonham Carter (for The King’s Speech) – The actors in The King’s Speech are all first-class, and Helena Bonham Carter is no exception, her performance is exquisite as everything she other does and will no doubt get her her second Oscar nomination.
  7. Elle Fanning (for Somewhere) – Every year there’s a child actress or actor trying to get in the supporting race, this year it seems that will be Hailee Steinfeld (though she may go Lead), but in my mind Elle Fanning is the one that should get all the kudos, she’s just adorable and strong and amazing here.
  8. Hailee Steinfeld (for True Grit) – As I said, the child performer of the year to me is Elle Fanning, but Hailee Steinfeld is literally right below her. She’s ferocious in True Grit, handling her own against Jeff Bridges throughout the entirety of the film. The thing with her is whether she’ll be deemed as Lead (like in the BAFTAs) or Supporting (like in the SAGs).
  9. Greta Gerwig (for Greenberg) – She was my favorite “find” of the year, an actress I saw for the first time in a great film and soon fell in love with her. And her performance is just as good as Ben Stiller’s in this one, and yet nobody seems to be noticing either of them.
  10. Keira Knightley (for Never Let Me Go) – Again, this is my pick for the most under-appreciated film of 2010, everyone here is amazing, and Keira Knightley is no exception, she’s just a very good actress and I can’t help but think an Oscar is firmly in her future.
  11. Marion Cotillard (for Inception) – The fantastic thing about Inception is just how much character development there is in the midst of all the mind-bending plot points we have to keep track of. Marion Cotillard plays an essential part in the film, and she’s marvelous as Mal.
  12. Rebecca Hall (for The Town) – As became apparent in the post I did for Best Supporting Actor, I think The Town is filled with spectacular performances across the board. And Rebecca Hall is one of the best in it, she dons a very convincing accent considering she’s British, and has a couple of heartbreaking moments in this one.
  13. Dianne Weist (for Rabbit Hole) – Nicole Kidman is the one that will get all the Rabbit Hole attention, as she should, but her scenes with Dianne Weist are the most dynamite, and it’s for a reason, here’s an actress who’s just terrific in anything she’s in, and knows how to totally own a part.
  14. Olivia Williams (for The Ghost Writer) – Olivia Williams is very very good in this one, and I’m guessing that if the film had been released later then she would have probably end up nominated. Some very good acting chops in display from her here.
  15. Kristin Scott Thomas (for Nowhere Boy) – Kristin Scott Thomas is one of those actresses that, when she’s at the top of her game, can go right ahead and steal a movie away from anyone. She does just that in Nowhere Boy, a remarkable little film that more people should have seen, she’s just splendid in it.
  16. Ruth Sheen (for Another Year) – Lesley Manville will get all the attention this film will get, acting-wise, but Ruth Sheen is just as amazing here, playing the woman who Manville’s character leans on all too much, and giving the film that ability to feel so relatable to us, much like all of Mike Leigh’s films.
  17. Michelle Williams (for Shutter Island) – This is just so that I can give a kudos to Michelle Williams, who I’ll always give as many kudos as I can to. No, but she’s seriously good here, another film that I feel as though it would have gotten much more awards love had it been released later on during the year.
  18. Sissy Spacek (for Get Low) – I’m a big fan of Get Low, and that is mostly because every actor in it is sincerely spectacular, and Sissy Spacek is a veteran of the screen, and she’s her usual impeccable self in this one, too.
  19. Miranda Richardson (for Made in Dagenham) – She just got the BAFTA nod, and while I think her performance in the film is delightful I wouldn’t count her as part of my Top 5, but still, this is a very good performance by a remarkably consistent actress, she just can’t do no wrong.
  20. Ellen Page (for Inception) – I was considering going for more conventional picks here, but I just love Ellen Page in anything she’s in, and I loved Inception, so I picked her. I know her performance wasn’t the most remarkable of the film, not by far, but I still think no one else could have played Ariadne this well, she’ll always be a favorite of mine.

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

  • Amy Adams (for The Fighter)
  • Helena Bonham Carter (for The King’s Speech)
  • Mila Kunis (for Black Swan)
  • Melissa Leo (for The Fighter)
  • Hailee Steinfeld (for True Grit)

Here’s the thing with this hypothetical nominations outlook. It all depends on whether Hailee Steinfeld is voted as Lead or Supporting Actress, if she’s deemed as a Supporting one then I think she’ll definitely make the cut, and the fifth slot would be between Mila Kunis, who I picked here, and Jacki Weaver. If she’s voted as Lead then my guess is that both Ms. Kunis and Ms. Weaver will make the cut.

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.

True Grit

6 Jan

Title: True Grit
Year:
2010
Directors:
Joel & Ethan Coen
Writers:
Joel & Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Charles Portis
Starring:
Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Hailee Steinfeld, Barry Pepper
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, some intense sequences of western violence including disturbing images
Runtime:
110 min
Major Awards:
1 BAFTA
IMDb Rating:
8.4
Rotten Tomatoes:
95%

True Grit is the sort of film I had seriously huge expectations for. It was the remake of a classic western that got John Wayne his Oscar. And it was being spear-headed by the Coen brothers, who have one of the best track records of any working directors today. And it had a cast that included Jeff Bridges, just off his Oscar-winning turn in Crazy Heart in the iconic role Mr. Wayne created, plus Matt Damon and Josh Brolin, and Hailee Steinfeld, a young actress who was only thirteen when she shot this, and who is being mentioned in the thick of the Best Supporting Actress race. Not to mention that the posters and the trailers looked all kinds of awesome. And now that I’ve actually seen True Grit, I can honestly tell you that it didn’t disappoint one bit, no matter how huge the expectations were.

Seriously, True Grit is just one seriously good film, one that has in Mr. Bridges a season professional tackling an iconic role and making it fully his own, giving a performance that may just get him another Oscar nomination. And in Ms. Steinfeld one of the best newcomers to come out all year, in a role that has her battling against Mr. Bridges to see who can steal the movie the most, and that could also grant her an Oscar nod. Not to mention that the Coen’s are as good as always, doing their best at crafting a beautiful script, and showing a very sure hand as they deliver a knockout film.

What’s so good about True Grit, I think, is that even though it still honors the original film, and is really loyal to the novel upon which they’re both based on, it still really does feel like a Coen Bros. film. Because in all the western aspects of it, there’s still quite a bit of that very particular darkish humor the two handle so damn well. I thought that was terrific about this one, that it still feels so much like their other work. Because if you look at this and compare it with their other films, you’ll easily see how unalike it is to their past projects as far as themes go, but then you go see it, and you realize how alike it is, quality-wise.

I read the novel about two years ago, after I first saw the original film, and I thought it was a beautiful read, and this is a just-as-amazing adaptation of the work. One in which we see Ms. Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, a fourteen year-old girl who hires a man to help her track down her father’s killer. The man she hires would be Rooster Cogburn, the role Mr. Bridges takes on, and a role that he’s just seriously amazing in. I won’t go ahead and ruin some of the stories Rooster tells as he first appears, or some of the lines he utters, because that’s for you to enjoy first-hand and, moreover, no matter how accurate and lively my descriptions could be, nothing would match how Mr. Bridges embodies the role.

And it really is astounding to watch Ms. Steinfeld play off Mr. Bridges, because here, in her film debut, she really does go toe-to-toe with a guy who has been doing this for the past four decades. And really, Mattie is a role that was probably the only weak part of the first film, in which she was played by a then-twenty-one-year-old Kim Darby, who was made to look younger. Not because Ms. Darby didn’t play her well, because she did, but because the role just wasn’t that great. And yet here is a role that is very rich in the book, and that was dulled up considerably in that first film, but that the Coen’s have made incredible once again, and that’s portrayed by Ms. Steinfeld in a fearless performance that makes it so obvious that this is a young actress meant for greatness.

Mattie we first see in the film having to travel to identify her own father’s body, who has been shot by a man named Tom Chaney, who’s played by Mr. Brolin. After she identifies the body she settles his father’s accounts, and soon after is getting Rooster’s help, because, so she has heard, he was the right man for the job she needed doing, which is taking vengeance into her own hands. And so they embark on their journey to hunt this man, a journey in which they encounter a few memorable characters, not the least of which is LaBoeuf, the character Mr. Damon plays, a Texas ranger who also wants to catch Chaney and bag the reward.

Every little line, detail and shot here is finely tuned by the Coen brothers, who never stray away too much from the novel, because the historical context and rich idiom of it really does serve their trademark dialogue well. And the result is something tremendous to behold, because even though Rooster Cogburn is the main character, this is still the story of Mattie Ross, and, unlike the first film, they never once forget about that. I seriously cannot recommend this one enough, every little thing on display here is pretty much perfect.

The thing I feared the most about True Grit was how Mr. Bridges was going to play such an amazing role. Because when John Wayne played Rooster Cogburn he was really playing John Wayne, that’s why he had such a presence and built and and heroic image. For his portrayal, Mr. Bridges instead goes back to the drawing board, which in this case would be the original novel, and churns out a performance that’s just as memorable as that original one.

In the end, True Grit to me was more than just another example for why Mr. Bridges is such an amazing actor, more than my introduction to a girl who we’ll definitely see a lot more of in the coming years. It was another demonstration of just how masterful Joel and Ethan Coen can be. Not only is True Grit their first foray into the western genre, but you could say it’s also their first foray into any straight genre as well. They always combine genres to fit into their mesmerizing idiosyncrasies, but now here they are, playing a film as a straight out genre exercise, and the result is a thing of beauty. From the way it’s shot by their regular collaborator Roger Deakins (who I can’t believe has never won an Oscar), to how it’s acted by these amazing actors, to they way it’s directed by the two brothers, you’d think they would have been doing this for ages.

I’ll stop now, because I think I’ve talked enough about just how amazing True Grit is. There are performances here that you’ll remember years from now, and you’ll be enjoying the work of two very capable men, showing us how they can seriously tackle any single thing that may be thrown at them. This is just one extraordinary film everyone should watch.

Grade: A+