Tag Archives: Rabbit Hole

Beautiful Boy

9 Jul

Title: Beautiful Boy
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Shawn Ku
Writers: Michael Armbruster and Shawn Ku
Starring: 
Michael Sheen, Maria Bello, Alan Tudyk, Moon Bloodgood, Kyle Gallner, Meat Loaf
MPAA Rating: 
R, some language and a scene of sexuality
Runtime: 
100 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 
69%

 

The death of a child was a subject touched upon rather incredibly in last year’s Rabbit Hole, that film I gave an A- to, it ended up ranked as my 30th favorite film of 2010, and Nicole Kidman’s performance in it I had as my 5th favorite from a leading actress last year, and Aaron Eckhart’s I ranked as my 7th favorite from a leading actor. By which I mean, the subject of losing a child can make for some seriously powerful films, and deliver some truthfully gut-wrenching performances. Now, Beautiful Boy is about the death of a child, but one that happened after the son of a couple has gone on a murdering spree at his campus before taking his own life. That obviously adds a whole new sense of dimension to the trauma confronted thereafter by the parents of said child, so I was really looking forward about how this film, which counted with two very talented actors in the roles of the paralyzed parents, would portray this sensation of loss and of coping with what their son has done.

And even though this one ultimately is nowhere as gripping or great as Rabbit Hole was, it’s still a very good film, because it makes you think hard about that situation, imagine you yourself having a kid who commits this horrible act and then takes his own life, there really is no correct response to it all, what do you do to cope, how do you feel about both your son’s loss and the acts he committed right before it, what does it reflect upon you as a parent. Those are all questions Beautiful Boy poses, and it gives us a glimpse right at the start of a time when the boy was alive, so that we get a look at him, and it presents us with your very stereotypical insight at a kid most movies would suggest would go on to commit such acts of horror, he was super shy, he never seemed to cause any problems, lives in a house in which his parents weren’t really communicative with each other and were seemingly falling apart as a marriage. And on his last night he called them from his campus, and you see him pretty much at the border of tears, as if he were calling for help, but not his dad or his mom seems to take notice of this quiet plead.

But this film isn’t about the son, it’s about the parents. Imagine them, in the morning watching TV and hearing about a shooting at their son’s campus, then imagine them receiving a knock on the door from a very serious-faced man, upon that sight they know their son has died, but just imagine when the man tells them there’s more, that their son was the shooter. And Michael Sheen and Maria Bello are given the task of playing this set of parents, Bill and Kate, who don’t really have the chance to grief ordinarily, as they are promptly being harassed by reporters trying to get a statement out of them. At work people start looking at Bill, wondering about him, and his boss tells him he should take a break from work. Kate starts losing herself in her work as an editor. They move out of their place to live with Kate’s sister and her husband, but that doesn’t work out, and they end up relocating to a motel.

And it’s fascinating to see these two having only one another, these two people who not that long ago were on the verge of  divorce and they only have each other, and they are left alone in the world with the questions between them, wondering how much of this was their fault, what they did, how they should feel. And that’s really the one problem I had with Beautiful Boy, the fact that it asked too many of these questions instead of just letting us watch the two grief, and I guess that in that grief of theirs those questions will pop up, but these are questions that don’t really have an answer, and by not finding an answer there’s really no closure, and not getting much closure in a film like this really bugged me. And I guess that that’s really how this would go in real life, that this sort of story only can end with the two eventually getting on with their lives with probably little to no visible or tangible cathartic release, but in a film like this I wanted that sense of catharsis.

But even though I had that little problem, about there not being answers to the many questions, at least the people we had asking these questions were Maria Bello and Michael Sheen. Because Ms. Bello is a terrific actress who is just insanely good at playing these women with huge emotional traumas masking them behind a tough exterior, and Mr. Sheen is given the less flashier role, but in a way an even harder one to play, because Bill is a guy who’s just flatly ordinary and is thrown into this very dire circumstance and he has to shoulder most of the load, and he just does some very good things with the role. But yeah, as good as the performances may have been, consider me not totally sold on Beautiful Boy because it didn’t say much at all, and if you’re gonna go ahead and make a movie that feels so uncomfortably claustrophobic in its exploration of deep emotions then you have to go all out and make something like the masterpiece that was Blue Valentine, and this one, good as it may have been, just isn’t that great at all.

Grade: B

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The Other Woman

23 May

Title: The Other Woman
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Don Roos
Writer: Don Roos, based on the novel by Ayelet Waldman
Starring: 
Natalie Portman, Lisa Kudrow, Scott Cohen, Charlie Tahan, Lauren Ambrose
MPAA Rating: 
R, sexual content and language
Runtime: 
119 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
6.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 
38%

This is the fourth 2011 film starring Natalie Portman I have seen after No Strings Attached, Your Highness and Thor, and considering I have rated none of those in the C-range (I gave them a B+, B- and A-, respectively) I think it should be said that Ms. Portman’s having a very good follow-up year to her tremendous 2010 which saw her pick up the Best Actress Oscar for her sublime performance in Black Swan, which was my favorite film of the year. The Other Woman continues that trend, as it’s one solid little film that has Ms. Portman batting four-for-four in 2011 with Hesher being her fifth and final release in this year which I’ve still to watch.

None of those films get her to give a performance like the one she gave as Nina Sayers in Darren Aronofsky’s masterpiece, but that’s because the role and the film didn’t require such a powerhouse showing from Ms. Portman, and she’s given the performances perfect for the films. In No Strings Attached, a surprisingly good romantic comedy, she’s super funny and cute acting from a pretty cool script by Liz Meriwether, and she’s just what the film needed. In Your Highness it’s the same, that’s the least impressive film of hers this year, but it’s cool to see that Ms. Portman can play a lazy stoner comedy and be totally game for the ridiculous situations she’s put on. Because her 2011 will be remembered as the year in which she showed he definitely had some range, I mean, a racy rom-com alongside Ashton Kutcher, a stoner comedy set in medieval times from the guy that directed Pineapple Express, and playing the romantic interest to a norse god in a superhero blockbuster. She’s done it all this year.

And she continues that trend of picking different roles this year with The Other Woman, in which she plays Emilia, a woman who just lost her newborn daughter with husband Jack, and is now seen trying to connect with his son form his previous marriage, as well as cope with Carolyn, Jack’s jealous ex-wife. And if I liked the film as much as I did, it’s essentially because of Ms. Portman, who delivers a pretty fantastic performance as Emilia that just elevates this film to heights that wouldn’t have been possible had it been left to rely only on Don Roos, who as a director leaves much to be desired and who as a writer, adapting from Ayelet Waldman’s bestselling novel, gives us a script too choked up with melodramatic moments and that leaves it with little breathing space to be anything more than that.

This really is a showcase of Ms. Portman’s skills as an actress, I mean she gets a lot of beefy scenes here, and comes through every single time, really letting us feel Emilia’s pain. And that is especially true in one stand-out scene with Lauren Ambrose, and in the ones she shares with Lisa Kudrow, who plays the ex-wife Carolyn and who’s the next best thing about this film, they are the ones that keep this film going on, and I think that if they had gotten a better director to guide them through it all then the result would have been that much better.

Not to say that everything other than the direction in The Other Woman is just great, because there are obviously other things that don’t work, but in a more free environment I just think Ms. Portman’s performance would’ve been allowed to shine that much more. But, let’s keep on showering the woman with praise for a bit here, because she really is splendid. We get to see how her relationship with Jack started via flashbacks, and get to see how fragile a marriage can turn after such a painful event as losing as child (though, of course, if you want to see a better portrayal of that then go watch last year’s terrific Rabbit Hole), and we get to see Emilia having a huge amount of trouble trying to bond with Jack’s son, and Carolyn angry at having to see the woman that broke up her marriage. And Ms. Portman does a tremendous job to show all of this, it’s not often that a movie’s main character is “the other woman”, much less one with such complex circumstances as Emilia, but Mr. Portman tackles the challenge of playing her head-on, and she delivers in heaps and bounds.

The direction by Mr. Roos however, like I said, ends up limiting this film quite a lot. And that’s not because he took this film to a wrong place, but because it seemed as though he was unsure about which place he wanted to take it to in the first place. Ms. Portman shows here that she’s dynamite at portraying these really difficult sort of emotions, but Mr. Roos for some reason just opts to show them in a way that feels too simple to feel real, and he takes away from her performance by doing so, not to mention that he seemingly never decides on the overall tone he wants the film to have, and it all feels decidedly unbalanced because of that.

There are some terrific scenes in The Other Woman, which is no surprise considering the source material is a fine novel, and the actors here are truly good at playing these scenes, and they all seem like really accurate observations of society nowadays, but for some reason it seems as though these observations have just been meshed together in a way that’s not cohesive at all, which obviously takes away from the end result considerably. And that’s what hurt this movie in the end, that at times it seemed to make little to no sense at all, taking us through complex roads it had no intention of following up on. But, hey, at least it did so with great acting, and that’s really what the film is all about, and because of that I’ll give it a good grade, because I did like it just fine, just interpret my disses to the film here as frustration about how much better it could have potentially been.

Grade: B

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

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 Director

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 Director

I’ll give my Top 20 picks for best job at directing a film 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, I actually would stop calling it a race at all anymore. This award, no matter the outcome of the Best Picture one, will end up in David Fincher’s hands for sure.

Personal Top 20

  1. Darren Aronofsky (for Black Swan) – Yes, the award will go to David Fincher, but Darren Aronofsky is my personal pick for an inch. And that’s because Black Swan was my favorite film of the year by so much more than an inch. This is a masterpiece, a magnificent triumph in filmmaking, and Darren Aronofsky did a perfect job handling the reigns of it.
  2. David Fincher (for The Social Network) – David Fincher is the real deal, you look at his filmography and the titled you see are spellbinding: Fight Club, Se7en, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Zodiac. This is a guy who has made some of the definitive films of the last decade and a half, and this may just be his crowning achievement, just an amazing job by him.
  3. Christopher Nolan (for Inception) – The smartest film of all 2010, the kind of film that had you really working to keep up with it, and craving a repeat viewing to see what you may have missed. This was all executed to perfection by Christopher Nolan, who also wrote the film and was in charge of making “Did it stop spinning?” one of the most asked questions of all last year.
  4. Derek Cianfrance (for Blue Valentine) – I kind of fell in love with this film when I saw it, and it had a lot to do with the two lead performances. And those performances were directed to perfection by Derek Cianfrance, who also co-wrote the film and crafted a gorgeous look at a painful marriage.
  5. Edgar Wright (for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) – I’m a massive fanboy of Edgar Wright, and I’m also a massive fanboy of the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels. When I first heard he was the one to be put in charge of bringing them to life I thought that if anyone was to succeed at that task it was probably going to be him. And sure enough, he created one of the most original and fun films of 2010 with a marked imprint of his very unique vision.
  6. Lisa Cholodenko (for The Kids Are All Right) – This is a wonderful film and it the woman handling the reigns, and also the one who co-wrote it, is at ease here, exploring very complex human emotions and situations. An exemplary piece of work.
  7. Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (for True Grit) – I’m starting to think there should be a campaign to name the Coen brothers the definitive American filmmakers of our time. They always tackle very different topics, eras, and genres, and they always produce work of the highest of qualities. Here they go forth an make a western, the genre you’d never suspect would fit to their artistic sensibilities, and yet the wonderful language of the book they adapted, as well as the perfect group of actors they got made it look easy for them to craft a seriously great film.
  8. Tom Hooper (for The King’s Speech) – This is probably the most prestigious film of 2010. Everyone loves it, it marries to perfection the historical biopic film aspects with mass appealing themes, and it has Tom Hooper sitting firmly on the director’s chair, working with a bunch of very talented and recognized thespians. He did a truly amazing job here, and if Fincher wasn’t such a lock to win the Oscar I’d call Mr. Hooper his biggest threat.
  9. Sofia Coppola (for Somewhere) – I’ll forever be a lover of everything Sofia Coppola does. And Somewhere is no exception, coming back from the larger scaled Marie Antoinette to return to the quiet, patient and beautifully observant films she does so well. Marie Antoinette was actually pretty amazing, but this is a return to her comfort zone, to where her aesthetic lies and where she can excel at telling small but beautiful stories.
  10. Ben Affleck (for The Town) – Here was the film that confirmed to everyone that Ben Affleck as a director is most certainly the real deal and not a one-hit-wonder who got lucky with the sublime Gone Baby Gone. He directs an all-star cast to some spectacular performances (I gave five of the film’s performances mentions in previos OscarWatch posts, including the one Mr. Affleck gave himself), and creates a bank heist movie that feels really fresh and doesn’t abuse any of the many genre clichés that would have been so easily to fall into for any lesser talented filmmakers.
  11. Danny Boyle (for 127 Hours) Slumdog Millionaire, his Oscar-winning previous effort, was going to be a tough act to follow. And Danny Boyle traded the very busy and loud streets of Mumbai and its many characters for a canyon in Utah in which his single character would be trapped for most of the film. And it paid off tremendously, with Mr. Boyle adding a very different and yet equally deserving film to his outstanding resumé.
  12. Debra Granik (for Winter’s Bone) – This was one very very cool cinematic experience for me in 2010, and how Debra Granik portrayed this very tough and very real region of the U.S. was just impeccable. Anchored by some awesome performances from breakout star Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes this was just a sensation film.
  13. Mark Romanek (for Never Let Me Go) – The music video director went back to feature films for the first time since One Hour Photo, and the result is the film that I have been calling the most underappreciated movie of 2010 in pretty much every OscarWatch post yet. This really was a beautiful adaptation of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel, full of pitch-perfect performances and able to create a very unique and fitting mood.
  14. Lee Unkrich (for Toy Story 3) – Pixar keeps its perfect streak alive with Toy Story 3, as the film managed to tell a story about growing up, about the blows life may deal us with, about friendship and love. It had huge laughs, great adventures, tearful moments, and everything else one could have wished for.
  15. David O. Russell (for The Fighter) – I loved The Fighter, and a lot of it had to with how David O. Russell chose to tell this story. Not using the many familiar themes and motifs that were available to huge extents, but using them as a backbone to tell a story that we all knew how it would end and still making it exciting and getting amazing performances from every single member of his cast.
  16. Mike Leigh (for Another Year) – There’s probably not a single living director who’s better at exploring the human psychology during everyday tasks than Mike Leigh. And Another Year is another prime example of why that is, this is just one very very good film, with a trio of awesome performances and a great overall feel.
  17. Noah Baumbach (for Greenberg) – Noah Baumbach is a guy I think can do no wrong. Greenberg is an exquisite exploration of its main character, a guy who’s not that easy to love, but who’s actually very easy to relate to and really care for. The situations created and explored by Mr. Baumbach and his cast, all of whom are uniformly excellent (especially Ben Stiller and the lovely Greta Gerwig), are just terrific to watch.
  18. Clint Eastwood (for Hereafter) – I know some people didn’t love Hereafter, but I thought it was tremendous. And that was mostly because of Mr. Eastwood, who got some very fine performances from his cast and dealth with a very interesting topic in a very interesting way. Why some people weren’t so fully on board with this film is something I won’t ever really understand.
  19. John Cameron Mitchell (for Rabbit Hole) – This was a very difficult film to really manage. And yet the result was something spectacular, with John Cameron Mitchell dealing with the hard material wonderfully, directing Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart to some perfect performances in the process.
  20. Matthew Vaughn (for Kick-Ass) – Last spot in the rankings goes to Matthew Vaughn, who directed one of the funnest films in all 2010 and captured to perfection the graphic novel style of it all, crafting memorable characters and scenes, not to mention that this was what sparked Chloë Moretz’s career, so we have him to thank for that.

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

  • Darren Aronofsky (for Black Swan)
  • David Fincher (for The Social Network)
  • Tom Hooper (for The King’s Speech)
  • Christopher Nolan (for Inception)
  • David O. Russell (for The Fighter)

I think Aronofsky, Fincher, Hooper and Nolan are all 100% sewn up to get nominations. And the fifth slot is a battle between David O. Russell and the Coen brothers for True Grit, but with the latest precursors indicating that the former holds the advantage in that square-off.

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 Lead Actor

21 Jan

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

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

Best Lead Actor

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

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

Personal Top 20

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

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

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

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