Tag Archives: Javier Bardem

[Oscars 2013] – Predicting The Nominations

9 Jan

An actual Oscar statuette to be presented during the 79th Annual Academy Awards sits in a display case in Hollywood

I still have a few 2013 releases to catch up with, and I though I wanted to make my Oscar nominations predictions post having seen all of them, the nods are due early tomorrow morning so I’ll have to post them now.

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[Review] – Skyfall

7 Dec

Skyfall

Title: Skyfall
Year: 2012
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan, based on the characters by Ian Fleming
Starring: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking
Runtime: 143 min
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Metacritic: 81

Yes, I know, I’m officially the last person on Earth to have seen Skyfall. I’ve listened to unanimous praise being bandied about in regards to this movie for over a month, people calling it the best Bond movie of all-time even, and read about it smashing box office records (it’s currently at over $870 million worldwide) but yeah, it’s taken me a while to sit down to watch the twenty-third entry in the spy franchise. It didn’t take me quite as long, however, to agree that, yes, this may just be the best one there’s ever been.

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[Trailer] – Skyfall

31 Jul

When Daniel Craig took over duties from Pierce Brosnan and became the new James Bond, we got Casino Royale, which one could argue is the best 007 film ever, or at least certainly in the top three. So the world was eagerly awaiting the follow-up to that one, and we got Quantum of Solace, a film that, while certainly not bad, was still definitely inferior, and was a big disappointment to me personally. Well, now we’re getting Mr. Craig’s third go-round as the most famous spy in film history in Skyfall, and you can watch the trailer for it after the cut.

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Midnight in Paris

6 Jun

Title: Midnight in Paris
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Starring: 
Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, Corey Stoll, Adrien Brody, Carla Bruni, Marion Cotillard, Michael Sheen, Tom Hiddleston, Alison Pill, Léa Seydoux
MPAA Rating: 
PG-13, some sexual references and smoking
Runtime: 
100 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 
92%

The first five months of 2011 have already passed as I write this review on June 5th, and I still haven’t watched a single perfect film with a 2011 release date, not one worthy of an A+. However, I’m an unapologetic fanboy of Woody Allen, I’ve watched every single one of his films and his is one of the most unique voices in modern cinema, and one that really resonates with me, so I had high hopes going into his latest, Midnight in Paris, which was the opening selection for this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

People haven’t been exactly kind towards the films Mr. Allen has made in the past decade, or at least certainly not as embracing as they have been with his past efforts.. And I can definitely see why, even though I have personally loved quite a few of those. I mean, the decade started off with 2000’s Small Time Crooks, which was actually pretty good. Then came 2001’s The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, which was okay at best. 2002 saw Hollywood Ending, which was just as mildly decent. In 2003 he did Anything Else, which I actually sort of loved and was listed by Quentin Tarantino as one of his 20 favorites films since 1992, but that most critics didn’t really embraced. 2004 was Melinda and Melinda which was totally forgettable. So, you see, his first five films of the decade were all just okay, nothing spectacular, and people started wondering if the master had lost his touch.

But then came 2005’s Match Point. This would be the first in his string of collaborations with Scarlett Johansson, and would be his best received film in years, both critically and commercially. I absolutely adored that film, it was actually my fourth favorite film of 2005 (behind Sin City, The Squid and the Whale and V for Vendetta) and it seemed to me as though that film reinvigorated Mr. Allen, and as though changing his beloved New York City for London was a great move for him. It also seemed as though he was of the same opinion, going on record to say that Match Point could arguably be the best film he’s ever made (which it isn’t, but it definitely is pretty perfect) and choosing to venture outside of New York for the most part of his career since.

He stayed in London and with Ms. Johansson for 2006’s Scoop. Now, that film is actually one of the few of his I just don’t seem to get, and I felt it was a huge step down from Match Point. 2007 saw him release Cassandra’s Dream, yet again staying in London and now employing actors mostly from the UK like his leading men, Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell, and even though most critics were lukewarm towards it I actually thought it was excellent, and since I saw it in 2008, when it was released in the U.S., I ranked it in that year-end best-of list and it came in at #47.

But on that very same 2008 list there was another effort by Mr. Allen, his terrific Vicky Cristina Barcelona which was my 12th favorite film of that year and saw Mr. Allen now choosing to go to Barcelona, reteam with Ms. Johansson and add Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz to the mix. The result was superb, I gave it one a perfect A+ and loved absolutely everything about it, as did most of the world, with the film grossing a very respectable $96 million on a $15 million budget, the film getting great reviews, and Ms. Cruz winning the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as the volatile María Elena. After that was 2009’s Whatever Works, which saw him going back to New York to team up with Larry David and which was unimpressive. And last year saw him release You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, which saw him going back to London and to which I gave a B to.

The above was an exhaustive review of the last decade of Woody Allen films, and if you’re still reading this then thank you for bearing with me on that, it’s just that I wanted to illustrate two things. One is that even if some people have been critical of his last decade, I still think that the guy has turned in two perfect films in that ten year span (Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and another seriously good one (Cassandra’s Dream). And two is that, more importantly, for the last ten years the guy has released a movie a year (and that streak actually goes all the way back to 1982), no matter what, and even if they haven’t been entirely consistent in quality there’s not one in there that’s an all-out disaster. All of this coming from a guy that started directing films in the mid-sixties and that turned 70 during the last decade, it’s just tremendous stuff.

I’ve spent pretty much the usual length of one of my reviews just talking about the past decade or so of Mr. Allen’s films and not saying one word about Midnight in Paris. I started out this reviews saying that I was still looking for my first perfect film of 2011, and saying that I had hopes for Midnight in Paris to become just that. Now, it wasn’t, but it came seriously close. Honestly, if you had been clamoring for another extremely good Woody Allen film, this is the one for you. Even if for some reason you weren’t as huge on Match Point or Vicky Cristina Barcelona as I was, you can count on this one to really win you back. Midnight in Paris is just Woody Allen being Woody Allen and working his usual magic in the best of ways, delivering a film that’s funny and charming and everything you’d want it to be.

And really, what else do you want? Woody Allen is not one of those writer-directors you want going and experimenting new ways, they guy doesn’t have to reinvent himself because he’s still the very best at what he does, and he’s being doing that for over four decades now and if Midnight in Paris shows one thing is that he’s not even close to slowing down. Yes, the font he always uses for his title cards is still there, jazz music is still there, and the main character is still ultimately some sort of version of Mr. Allen himself, but it feels fresher than it has in quite some time.

Owen Wilson plays the Woody Allen role of Gil here, a wealthy screenwriter who actually doesn’t like writing the superficial stuff he does and would much rather be a novelist. He visits Paris with his fiancée, played by the stunning Rachel McAdams, and while she’s totally just all about the shopping and superficial stuff, he falls in love with the city, like anyone would, and wonders about the artistic greats that once walked its streets. What Mr. Wilson does incredibly well is making Gil his own character to play, and not playing him like some sort of Woody Allen imitation like so many have unfortunately done before him, he instead makes Gil a very Owen Wilson character with the Woody sensibilities that were written for him, and it seriously works.

The title of the film comes from the most magical moments in it, when Gil discovers that at midnight he can somehow unexplainably go back to the 1920’s Paris he has loved so much for all of his life. Shot by Darius Khondji (an Oscar-nominee for his brilliant work on Evita) Midnight in Paris feels like a terrific homage to the city of lights, and when you see Mr. Allen go back all those decades you find him producing some of the exquisitely funny and pensive scenes that he’s produced in a while. And when you look at the cast he has lined up for Bop Decameron, his next, you can’t help but smile and think that the master’s back firing on all cylinders.

Grade: A

Oscar Predictions: Best Leading Actor and Actress

24 Feb

In my second to last Oscar Predictions post I will tackle both Lead acting races, both of which are pretty much considered locks by most, but one of which really isn’t.

BEST LEAD ACTOR

Nominees

  • 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)

In case you were wondering, this is that one that actually is a mortal lock. There’s absolutely no way in hell Colin Firth will not walk away from the Nokia Theater without the golden man firmly in his hands. He gives a masterclass in acting in The King’s Speech, not to mention he’s coming off his other Oscar-noinated stellar performance in A Single Man last year.

Should Win: Colin Firth
Will Win: Colin Firth

BEST LEAD ACTRESS

Nominees

  • 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)

These are actually my Top 5 performance by any actress in a leading role in all of 2010, so I was specifically happy about this bunch of nominees. But this is the category which I think isn’t as clear-cut as most are assuming.

Yes, Natalie Portman has swept through the precursors, and her performance, to me, is certainly the best in this group and should most certainly earn her her first Academy Award (she was previously nominated for her supporting turn in Closer).

But then there’s Annette Bening. This woman is heavily involved in the Academy, absolutely loved and revered by everyone in the business, as she should be because she’s one seriously awesome lady, and has already lost three times before (twice to Hilary Swank, one of those, to me, quite unjustly), so the Academy may feel like she’s due (and she honestly is) and give her the award, even if her performance, stunning as it may be, isn’t as great as Portman’s.

So yes, I’m saying Portman for now. Not because she has won all the other awards, just because I liked her performance better. But maybe Annette Bening will pull off the upset, I mean, just look at her face during the scene at dinner in Paul’s house and it’s tough to argue against giving her the golden man.

Should Win: Natalie Portman
Will Win: Natalie Portman

Biutiful

27 Jan

Title: Biutiful
Year:
2010
Director:
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Writers:
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone
Starring:
Javier Bardem, Blanca Portillo, Maricel Álvarez, Rubén Ochandiano
MPAA Rating:
R, disturbing images, language, some sexual content, nudity and drug use
Runtime:
147 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
7.6
Rotten Tomatoes:
64%

I’m writing this review a day after the Academy Award nominations were announced, but I saw the actual film several weeks before this, and have seen it two more times since. I’ve been raving about Javier Bardem’s performance here for quite a while now, and hearing his name as a nominee for Best Lead Actor, the first time a performance in a foreign language has been nominated for that award, was a great way to start the week.

Because, really, the stuff on display by Mr. Bardem here is a thing of absolute beauty, my fifth favorite performance given by a male lead actor in all 2010, one in a film that’s so damn bleak and dark that it really needed a performance like this to get us through the journey. Because many people have turned off Biutiful or left the theater after a while because they weren’t able to fully watch it, which is a pity, because as hard as it may get to watch at times, it’s incredibly rewarding at the end, and all the support Mr. Bardem is getting from fellow actors and friends like Julia Roberts and Sean Penn is extremely deserved.

Alejandro González Iñárritu is a pretty masterful craftsman, you look at all four of his films, Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel and now Biutiful, and you know this is a guy who can handle some pretty heavy topics and create something amazingly compelling with them, something never far from brilliant, and always getting some extraordinary performances from his actors.

Biutiful deals with a man, Uxbal, and looks at him as he knows the end of his life is near, and must do everything to provide a safe future for his children and leave everything he has worked for in order. And in the end there’s hope to be found in Biutiful, a film that has in Mr. Bardem a leading man that was willing to go deep down inside and fetch some really raw emotions that make this film feel like a wonderful poem about life. The shots here are just gorgeous, the details, everything, you just feel this was a work of love from all involved. Gloomy as hell, yes, but also beautifully intimate and, ultimately, absolutely riveting.

There’s something cool about having the actor here be Mr. Bardem and having the city be Barcelona. I say that because, as it’s been mentioned in a few interviews, this film shows the absolute opposite side of the city than the one that was shown in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the Woody Allen film that also starred the Spaniard thespian. In Vicky Cristina Barcelona we saw beautiful colors, beautiful women and beautiful places, in Biutiful the color palette is darker, full of blues and dark oranges, and so are the stories we found, with Uxbal being a very special sort of criminal in the Barcelona underworld. And while the film deals quite a lot with death, you just sense so much life coming out of it.

And how Mr. Bardem plays Uxbal is what ultimately makes this film hit so deep, what makes it stand out from being just a dark moody film. His Uxbal is a guy who could have been played straightforward by a lesser actor and the result wouldn’t have been as astounding, it’s in the complexities and layers that Mr. Bardem adds to the character in which we truly find the richness of Biutiful.

Uxbal, you see, is indeed a criminal, a guy who lives in a zone full of immigrants and has his hands all over many illegal businesses, but he can also communicate with the souls of the recently deceased, which he does, for a price, to alleviate mourning families. He’s a good guy, he really is, and he has the best intentions for the people that surround him. And, most importantly, he’s a dedicated father to their two children, of whom he has full custody of since their mother is really something.

In Mr. Iñárritu’s first three films, which were all written by Guillermo Arriaga with Mr. Iñárritu pitching in as a co-writer in Babel and that were dubbed the ‘Death Trilogy’, he used intertwining story lines and multiple narratives, and for those films, that worked insanely well. But here in Biutiful, his first film without Mr. Arriaga, he decides to focus on just one man, on Uxbal, who discovers he’s dying from cancer. And in focusing on just one man, and in having such a talented actor playing that man, he manages to create scenes of beautiful depth, filmed with handheld cameras and showcasing lovely colors that suit the film perfectly.

And while his first project without Mr. Arriaga has Mr. Iñárritu tackling only a single story, it doesn’t mean he’s going to start focusing on other themes that much. This is still a very sad story, focusing on a man who doesn’t have the best of outlooks. And what I thought was great was the fact that Mr. Iñárritu didn’t work that hard to explain Uxbal to us, most of that discovery is left to us, the audience, to try and understand why Uxbal is the way he is, to try and understand the people in his life.

I understand why some people are saying Biutiful was too grim for them to endure, because it honestly is, and as amazing as I personally thought this was, this is a hard film to recommend because I know deep inside more people than not won’t agree with me. But still, please try and get over the eerie atmosphere and moody outlook and allow yourself to follow Mr. Bardem in his very human exploration of a character, Uxbal is a hero trapped in a situation he knows he can’t get out of, and it’s an amazing journey to be a part of.

The music by Gustavo Santaolalla, the way it was shot by Rodrigo Prieto, every single element comes together here to make a thing of sheer beauty. And trust me, if you’re able to get through seeing Biutiful fully, then the first thing you’ll want to do once you’re done is to see it again, to fully appreciate the intricate subjects that Mr. Iñárritu touches upon here, and realize that even though this may be his simplest film yet narrative-wise, it’s probably the hardest one he’s done as far as studying emotions and situations.

Grade: A

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.