Tag Archives: Mark Ruffalo

[Trailer] – Now You See Me

17 Nov

Summer movies are usually huge tentpole films, most of which are sequels or prequels or reebots or remakes or based on huge books. Now You See Me, however, is original material, and you can watch the first trailer for it below.

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[Review] – The Avengers

27 Apr

Title: The Avengers
Year: 2012
Director: Joss Whedon
Writer: Joss Whedon, based on a story by himself and Zak Penn, based on the comic books by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference
Runtime: 142 min
IMDb Rating: 8.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Metacritic: 71

Since Marvel started to produce their own films, the ultimate goal had always been assembling all of their superheroes into one huge omnibus-style movie with The Avengers, to maximize fandom and thus maximize commercial potential. That idea, of course, entirely depended on the success of the superheroes’ stand-alone outings, and on how successful the studio would be at creating a universe in which all of these characters co-exist, which was dubbed the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Margaret

2 Nov

Title: Margaret
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Kenneth Lonergan
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Starring: 
Anna Paquin, J. Smith-Cameron, Matt Damon, Krysten Ritter, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, Allison Janney, Jean Reno, Olivia Thirlby, Kieran Culkin, Jeannie Berlin, John Gallagher Jr., Rosemarie DeWitt, Matt Bush
MPAA Rating: 
R, strong language, sexuality, some drug use and disturbing images
Runtime: 
150 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 
59%

 

Kenneth Lonergan is the guy responsible for You Can Count On Me, a movie released back in the year 2000 that was just stunning and that earned the man a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination, as well as one for his leading lady, Laura Linney. That film I ranked as the seventeeth best of that year for me, and every time I watch it I can’t help but fall all over in love again with the gripping performances by Ms. Linney and Mark Ruffalo. Since then he’s only written two films, the extremely ill-advised adaptation of The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, and then, in 2002, collaborating with Jay Cocks and Steve Zaillian on the screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, which was my fifth favorite film of that particular year and which got Mr. Lonergan another Oscar nomination for his screenplay. But we all wanted the man to go back to directing since his debut film was so amazing, and then Fox Searchlight announced that he would be making a new film, Margaret, that they would release in 2007.

What came after is a pretty infamous tale of creative freedom versus the power of the studio, as the movie kept getting delayed and delayed as Mr. Lonergan couldn’t create a final cut that would please both himself and the studio, as his proposed running time clocked in at over three hours. That resulted in a few lawsuits, the studio suing the financier for not putting the money to finish production, and the financier suing the studio and Mr. Lonergan for not actually finishing even close to on time. People kept trying to help out with the editing of the film because they thought Mr. Lonergan deserved his work to be shown, the late great Sydney Pollack had a crack at it, as did Scott Rudin, but it never went forward. Until finally Martin Scorsese and his longtime editor Thelma, both of whom worked with Mr. Lonergan on Gangs of New York, came over and produced a version that both the studio and the original filmmaker agreed upon. And that’s the one we got here.

And look, while it’s really great and everything that we finally get to see Margaret, because it honestly is and I still consider Mr. Lonergan a guy with a really authentic voice, it’s just nothing compared to his debut and, when you consider how much trouble went into releasing it, you can’t see what all that fuss was really all about. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of raw emotion and certainly some very powerful ideas bristling beneath Margaret, trying to come out, but they never really do, which makes the film just totally undeserving of that huge two-and-a-half-hours running time and, what’s worse, makes it feel as though it’s just this self-important piece of work from a man who obviously thought he had something great but that actually really wasn’t, even though the potential was certainly there. That, and the fact that watching such familiar faces like Matt Damon and Anna Paquin looking like they did in 2005 and not like we know them know can feel a bit creepy at times.

I still liked a lot about Margaret, though, I mean, its sheer ambition is admirable and the scope of the themes it tackles is pretty damn big, and the fact that it does so in that nuanced sort of way that Mr. Lonergan is so good at crafting is great. The main character here is Lisa, played by Ms. Paquin, a private-school educated teenager, a girl that’s played quite well by Ms. Paquin, who gives her this nice sort of entitled and precocious vibe. Lisa will have her lived turned around as she becomes witness to a bus accident that she may have caused by distracting the driver. And so the movie will follow Lisa as she makes sense of her guilt, as she tries to figure out how it will impact her own life and her own development as a person now that’s she’s really coming of age.

And there’s some really good stuff here, I thought Ms. Paquin was very good, and Jeannie Berlin who plays the best friend of the victim is truly excellent, as are a couple of really talented character actors who appear here. But for all the good performances, and the fact that the film is this really kind of poetic and smart visualization by a guy who certainly has the talent to create some pretty compelling ideas and characters, it just felt too uncertain and unsure of itself at times. And considering Mr. Lonergan was so sure that this was his American epic, it just falls way too short of that. Maybe we needed that much longer version Mr. Lonergan wanted to give us in the first place, I doubt it’ll happen because the critical and commercial reception to this have been quite crappy, but I would like a Director’s Cut blu-ray of this, to see the real scope come to life, and not just feel as though this was a one-hundred-and-fifty minute film about the moral upbringing of an Upper East Side teenager that the filmmaker cared about more than we did.

Grade: B

Sympathy for Delicious

19 May

Title: Sympathy for Delicious
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Mark Ruffalo
Writer: Christopher Thornton
Starring: 
Christopher Thornton, Mark Ruffalo, Juliette Lewis, Laura Linney, Orlando Bloom, John Carroll Lynch, Noah Emmerich
MPAA Rating: 
Not rated
Runtime: 
96 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 
30%

I was greatly looking forward to Sympathy for Delicious, the directing debut from Mark Ruffalo. And that’s because Mr. Ruffalo not only is one of the most consistent actors working today, as can be attested by his Oscar-nominated performance in last year’s sublime The Kids Are All Right (which I ranked as my 2nd favorite male supporting performance of 2010, behind just Christian Bale’s Oscar-winning turn in The Fighter), or by the ones he gave in You Can Count on Me, Shutter Island or Zodiac, to name a few. But I wasn’t just looking forward to see what he’d do as director only because of how amazing he’s as an actor himself, which considering the wide array emotions he’s so perfectly portrayed would have you think he’d be great at getting similar results from people under his direction.

No, that wasn’t the only reason why I was interested to see him take on directing duties, a lot also had to do with the fact that the guy has worked under such amazing directors that you just know a man as smart as Mr. Ruffalo has been learning a lot along the way. Just take a look at this man’s resumé and you’ll quickly realize this guy has been surrounding himself with the best directors: Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Michael Mann… the man has worked for the very best, and some of that was bound to pay off.

And so I saw Sympathy for Delicious with high hopes. The movie was written by Christopher Thornton, Mr. Ruffalo’s longtime friend, who also stars as “Delicious” Dean O’Dwyer, an up-and-coming DJ in the L.A. underground music scene who is left paralyzed after a bad motorcycle accident. A story that’s close to him, as he also had a promising career, but at 25 he had a climbing accident and was left paralyzed from the waist down himself, forced to live in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Mr. Thornton didn’t give up, obviously, as he went back into acting in theatre a small time after this accident, and now here he is, in front of the camera for Mark Ruffalo, and acting alongside him and people like Laura Linney and Juliette Lewis.

And giving up is something Sympathy for Delicious explores, as Dean quickly starts getting depressed about his situation, ready to give up on life. But then he meets this young priest, which would be the character Mr. Ruffalo plays, who’s an advocate for faith-based healing, and tries to convince Dean that this might be the way to get him to walk again. And so Dean starts experimenting with healing, and he actually somehow has this supernatural power that allows him to heal… everyone but himself. So that begins this new stage of the film in which Dean, against father Joe’s advice, starts using his ability to get famous and get money, and actually joins a rock band and gains notoriety. But that just doesn’t fix anything, so we have to go on this spiritual journey with him, and realize what’s to be done for Dean to come to terms with his tragedy.

But even though I think I appreciated certain bits of Sympathy for Delicious, this film as a whole just didn’t do it for me. Which sucks because I really wanted Mr. Ruffalo to proof he can be awesome at directing as well, but I honestly didn’t get this film, no matter how much I wanted to. It’s not because the story was sort of unusual, it’s just that I don’t think I ever really got what Mr. Ruffalo and Mr. Thornton were trying to say with it. There were times in which it seemed as though they were being a satire of religious views like the ones proposed here, then there were times in which it seemed as though they were focusing on criticizing what may happen due to an excess of fame and exposure, and I just lost track of its intentions.

So there you have it, that’s why I didn’t get Sympathy for Delicious, I felt it lacked a clear point of focus. This is a film that Mr. Ruffalo and Mr. Thornton have being trying to get made for the past decade, and it’s obviously one they both hold very near to their hearts, but I just felt it was lacking, especially during the middle when it just feels all over the place for too long. But this is not to say that Sympathy for Delicious doesn’t have its moments, because it does. When it regains some of its focus it gets to shine a light on the chemistry that Mr. Ruffalo and Mr. Thornton have which can translate beautifully on-screen at times, not to mention that there are a couple of truly brilliant scenes between Mr. Ruffalo and the impeccable Ms. Linney, who, if you’ve seen You Can Count on Me (and if you haven’t then get on it now), you know can be dynamite together.

The thing is that for those really good scenes, those that focussed just on the drama between Dean and father Joe, there are many scenes that don’t do anything for us at all. The faith-haeling stuff is very exaggerated, and more so is the stuff that goes on in the rock band, and I think that was done as an effort to satirize those things, but it just doesn’t do that very well. The part with the rock band especially, with Orlando Bloom’s and Juliette Lewis’ characters, those don’t work for a second, falling into unfortunate clichés that take away from the main drama of the story.

And that’s why I won’t give Sympathy for Delicious a very good grade, because I felt it missed its target, if it even had one to begin with. But that’s not to say this was a bad debut directorial effort from Mr. Ruffalo, not at all, I thought this had some very good moments thanks to him, especially with how he managed Mr. Thornton’s performance. I mean, the performance really is monotone, and only goes in one direction, but because Mr. Thornton under Mr. Ruffalo’s direction can connect so deeply to it on a personal level it also has this raw feel to it that feels very intense and adds to the character. In the end, Sympathy for Delicious may have been too unfocused to be great, but I’m ready to welcome the opportunity of seeing Mr. Ruffalo back in the director’s chair.

Grade: C+

Jane Eyre

20 Apr

Title: Jane Eyre
Year:
2011
Director:
Cary Fukunaga
Writer: Moira Buffini, based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë
Starring:
Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins, Imogen Poots
MPAA Rating:
PG-13, some thematic elements including a nude image and brief violent content
Runtime:
120 min
Major Awards:

IMDb Rating:
7.9
Rotten Tomatoes:
82%

I had the pleasure of watching Jane Eyre at the Gene Siskel Film Center when I was in Chicago in the beginning of March. There was a 7:30 Sunday showing which included a Q&A with director Cary Fukunaga and star Mia Wasikowska afterwards. As a fan of the novel on which the film is based, as well as the prior film of Mr. Fukunaga and pretty much everything Ms. Wasikowska has done up to this point in her career, it’s pretty safe to say I was quite psyched about seeing them live.

I waited over a month to write up this review for a reason, which was basically for it to simmer nicely. I mean, having a Q&A after a film is not what usually happens, and it can lead you into loving the film much more because you love what the filmmakers had to say about it, especially when the two people talking are as charming as Ms. Wasikowska and Mr. Fukunaga were. So yeah, I guess I wanted to watch the film again, without the Q&A, and give my review then.

Well, I finally got to watch it again (and then again a third time), and my opinion hasn’t changed, this is the best film of 2011 so far. I mean, for a film to tackle a material that has been adapted so many times (there have been nearly 30 feature and television adaptations of the masterpiece) and to make it feel so fresh and inspired is an extremely rare feat to accomplish, and yet here it happens with such apparent ease it’s hard not to watch this film and marvel at its many great qualities.

Mr. Fukunaga made his directorial debut a couple years ago with the Sundance hit that was Sin Nombre, that was a very daring film made in Spanish and that dealt with immigration and Mexican gangs, and it was a seriously outstanding film that showed that this was a insightful director who had a very unique vision and way of telling stories. The change of scenery, on paper at least, couldn’t be more drastic for Mr. Fukunaga. Going from telling stories about Mexican immigrants and their gangs, and doing it in Spanish, to telling the story of a character that was created a century and a half ago, and that takes place in huge English manors.

The director, however, is just as adept at handling this film, and considering the themes his debut film dealt with, and the nature of his sophomore effort, I wasn’t expecting him to be such a young guy. Mr. Fukunaga is 33, and you can tell just by the way he talks that the guy would definitely be pretty awesome to hang out with, just as you can tell that he has a huge love for his art. And the way in which he approaches, you just can’t help but think this is a guy wise beyond his years.

And wise beyond her years is also a term that wholeheartedly applies Ms. Wasikowska as well, looking gorgeous in her short chic blonde hair some ten feet away from me in the Q&A, her warm smile and face, as well as her charming Australian accent, do make her feel like she’s 21. But then you hear her talk, and you see how insightful her performances, are and you know she’s an old soul with a helluva lot of depth in her.

I’ve known about Ms. Wasikowska and how insanely talented she is since 2008, when she played Sophie on that first season of HBO’s In Treatment. Not only was Sophie my favorite patient of that season (Laura would be a kind-of-close second place if y’all are wondering), but it was so easy to see how amazing Ms. Wasikowska is, just how she went toe-to-toe with the great Gabriel Byrne in some incredibly intense scenes, it was a no-brainer that she was destined for success.

And we all know what happened next. In 2009 she started setting down her stepping stones in film, with a small role in Amelia (which wasn’t a great film) and a terrific supporting turn in That Evening Sun (which was) that got her for an Independent Spirit Award nomination. But 2010 would be the year that she became famous worldwide, and I’m so happy that was the case. And that’s because she scored both a hugely commercially successful film with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, in which she played the titular role, as well as a critical hit, with the indie darling The Kids Are All Right, which was my fifth favorite film of all last year and that saw her acting along such amazing actors as Annette Beining, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that the director and the star of this incarnation of Jane Eyre are two young people who are doing everything right, and who are ridiculously talented. And that’s all evident in the film, which is shot gorgeously by Adriano Goldman, and that shows a different take on Jane Eyre, one that plays off its gothic elements, and that results in a more elegant and immediate film, with Ms. Wasikowska giving the best portrayal of the famed character there has ever been.

I feel like I’ve gone on for way too long about the merits of this film and its makers have. Maybe it’s because I just genuinely loved the Q&A afterwards and I’m biased to shower them with praise, that certainly is a factor, but just go ahead and watch this film and compare it to the ones that you were shown when you read the classic novel in school, this one is the best there is. And it’s the best there is because of a director that was willing to let his film show a different tone of the story by choosing to play off the darker parts of it, and because Mr. Fukunaga just lets his actors do their thing naturally.

Because, trust me, as brilliant as Ms. Wasikowska is, she’s not the only actor who brought her A-game to this. Michael Fassbender is here playing Mr. Rochester, and I’ve already talked in past reviews about how great I think this guy is, he’s definitely an actor that we’ll keep on seeing in things for years to come. Not to mention that Jamie Bell, Judi Dench and Sally Hawkins all appear in smaller roles they make the most of, especially Dame Dench who I thought was magnificent in how much she conveyed just with the tone of her voice and demeanor. This as a whole is just superbly acted.

This is the Jane Eyre for the new generation, one that effectively manages to balance the elements of a period romance, to the point in which there are a couple of scenes that may just make you teary, with all its gothic sensibilities. And it is, for my money, the best Jane Eyre there has been to date, and I haven’t talked about the plot at all because Jane Eyre is always about the adventure of finding it out as you go, even when you re-read the novel, you always start finding new stuff to love, and I felt much like that when I watched. Just rest assured the the repressed emotions and sense of isolation are intact here, and that, because of how great Mr. Fukunaga is at storytelling and at creating striking images, you’ll fall in love with the film.

Grade: A

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

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.