Tag Archives: Scott Silver

Oscar Predictions: Best Original and Adapted Screenplays

24 Feb

In my seventh Oscar Predictions post I will examine the state of both writing races, the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay ones, who seem to both have pretty clear-cut winners already.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Nominees

  • 127 Hours (Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy)
  • The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
  • Toy Story 3 (Michael Arndt)
  • True Grit (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)
  • Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini)

Any other year and Toy Story 3 would have had a really solid chance, and it really would have been nice to see an animated film be the winner of a screenplay category, but the script Aaron Sorkin penned for The Social Network is shoulders above anything in contention this year, and there’s no way it’s losing this one.

Should Win: The Social Network
Will Win: The Social Network

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Nominees

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

This category is full of exemplary screenplays, even though it’s insane to me that the Black Swan screenplay wasn’t nominated. The King’s Speech is all but guaranteed to take this one, but boy would I really love an upset at the hands of Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg.

Should Win: The Kids Are All Right
Will Win: The King’s Speech

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Oscar Nominations: My Reactions

25 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BEST PICTURE

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

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

BEST DIRECTOR

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

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

BEST LEAD ACTOR

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

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

BEST LEAD ACTRESS

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

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

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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

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

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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

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

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

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

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

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

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

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

BEST ART DIRECTION

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

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

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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

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

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

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

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

BEST EDITING

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

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

BEST MAKEUP

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

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

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

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

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

BEST SONG

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

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

BEST SOUND

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

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

BEST SOUND EDITING

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

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

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

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

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

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

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

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

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

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

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

BEST DOCUMENTARY

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

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

OscarWatch: Best Screenplay

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. And we’re kicking things off with…

BEST SCREENPLAY

I’ll give my Top 20 screenplays of the year, though I won’t divide them between original or adapted screenplays, my brief thoughts on each and then how I think the two screenplay races may look this Tuesday, in no particular order.

As for the state of this race, I think the winner in the Best Adapted looks clear, and by this of course I mean The Social Network. Aaron Sorkin has been unstoppable thus far and he should continue his reign come the Academy Awards. And if someone can stop it then I’d say it probably would be Michael Arndt for Toy Story 3, but that won’t really happen.

As for the Best Original Screenplay race, things aren’t so clear-cut here to me. This one is a three-way race between Inception, The King’s Speech and The Kids Are All Right to me. If The King’s Speech ends up winning Best Picture then it’ll get this one, though it may still get it regardless. If the Academy wants to finally reward Christopher Nolan then they’ll do it in this category. And if neither of those scenarios happens then it’s The Kids Are All Right. Really really tough one to call, though, we’ll just have to wait and see who wins the WGA.

Personal Top 20:

  1. The Social Network (written by Aaron Sorkin, based on the book by Ben Mezrich) – My second favorite film of the year had by far my favorite screenplay of the year. Written by Aaron Sorkin in his typical witty and fast-paced talky style this one was amazing.
  2. The Kids Are All Right (written by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg) – This is a film with a lot of stand-out scenes, and while a lot of that is because of the amazing acting it has on display, it also has to do with just how impeccable the writing is.
  3. Toy Story 3 (written by Michael Arndt, based on the story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich) – When you talk to people about this film, male or female, eight or eighty, they’ll all tell you they loved it, and most will also tell you they cried. That’s a testament to fine script Michael Arndt crafted for Pixar’s latest.
  4. Black Swan (written by Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John J. McLaughlin, based on the story by Andres Heinz) – My favorite film of the year should definitely get nominated for an Academy Award for it’s intriguing and hypnotizing script which creates this mesmerizing tension that translated so beautifully to the screen.
  5. Inception (written by Christopher Nolan) – The year’s most mind-challenging film was written to perfection by its director. And it had to be for us to be able to follow the intricate plot and structure. For him to have been able to introduce so much character development considering how much was going on is a testament to his writing skills.
  6. Winter’s Bone (written by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell) – I thought Winter’s Bone was a remarkable film, and the job it did at capturing to perfection the mood of its source material was tremendous.
  7. Blue Valentine (written by Derek Cianfrance, Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis) – Much like the film itself, this is a tough script, and a very original one, too. Grounded on some very raw emotions, this is just a very powerful screenplay, which, unfortunately, I don’t think will get much awards recognition.
  8. Somewhere (written by Sofia Coppola) – I may be biased here because of my undying love for Sofia Coppola, but I still really do think Somewhere has a beautiful script. I know many will say that that’s not really the case, because the script is really short and quiet, but what’s there is magic, just see the film if you don’t believe me.
  9. The King’s Speech (written by David Seidler) – David Seidler gets the trifecta of biopic scripts here. He makes it both informing about its historical figure, while still very moving and appealing to the masses.
  10. Rabbit Hole (written by David Lindsay-Abaire, based on his own play) – Adapting such a beautiful play was going to be a difficult task. Unless you were the one who wrote the play to begin with. David Lindsay-Abaire transfers perfectly the feel and mood of his Pulitzer-winning play from stage to screen.
  11. The Fighter (written by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, based on the story by Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington) – This is one very effective script, the writers took elements we’re all extremely familiarized with, and made them feel new and fresh within this real-life story.
  12. Never Let Me Go (written by Alex Garland, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro) – My vote for the most under-appreciated film of all 2010. The screenplay by Alex Garland is moving and perfectly captures the dystopian atmosphere of the Kazuo Ishiguro novel.
  13. Another Year (written by Mike Leigh) – Mike Leigh’s at it again with this film, continuing his perfect observation of human psychology in a terrific film which explores the everyday lives of middle-class English people like only he can.
  14. 127 Hours (written by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy, based on the book by Aron Ralston) – This one very compelling script, of course aided by the fact that they had Aron Ralston, the movie’s subject, on hand to ask questions to. The power of the film, in which we remain with one person in one place for the majority of its duration comes not only from the great direction and acting, but also from this very good screenplay.
  15. The Town (written by Peter Craig, Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard, based on the novel by Chuck Hogan) – This was actually a pretty damn amazing film, and Ben Affleck, as we know, already has an Oscar for writing Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon. Here he’s joined by two other writers and creates a great film that never uses any cheap tricks or clichés and that always feels extremely entertaining.
  16. True Grit (written by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Charles Portis) – The Coen brothers are amazing at adapting this novel and making it their own. The vocabulary fits well with their trademark sense of humor, and they do wonders with that language in this one.
  17. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (written by Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright, based on the graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley) – I’m a huge fan of the Scott Pilgrim novels, and as such I didn’t knew what to expect of the film that tried to encompass those precious little volumes into a film. I had to nothing to worry about, though, because the result was a superbly fun film, written to perfection by Edgar Wright, the graphic novels’ fanboy and film’s director, and Michael Bacall.
  18. Greenberg (written by Noah Baumbach, based on the story by himself and Jennifer Jason Leigh) – I’m a huge fan of every single letter, comma and any other splash of ink Noah Baumbach writes, and Greenberg is no exception. This is an amazing story here, full of very good lines (“Youth is wasted on the young”, says Ivan. To which Greenberg replies: “I’d go further. I’d go: Life is wasted on people”).
  19. Get Him to the Greek (written by Nichollas Stoller, based on the characters created by Jason Segel) – The year’s funniest script, the amount of amazing one-liners this one has is ridiculous. Just go light up a Jeffrey, or drink up some naughty water, or something, because you’re about to get your mind fucked.
  20. Get Low (written by Chris Provenzano and C. Gaby Mitchell, based on a story by Chris Provenzano and Scott Seeke) – There were some four or five films competing for my final slot in this Top 20, but I thought Get Low was the worthiest entry, there is some very fine writing on display here as well as a very original premise. It also helps its case that the words were uttered by top-notch actors.

How I Think the Oscar Nominations Will Look Like (in alphabetical order) – Best Original Screenplay

  • Black Swan (written by Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John J. McLaughlin)
  • 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)

This would be, in my opinion, a very very solid field of nominees. I think four of these slots are all sewn up, with the fifth slot being a battle between The Fighter and Another Year. Who gets that final nod will be decided by how much love those films get, and as such, I’m guessing The Fighter will prevail.

How I Think the Oscar Nominations Will Look Like (in alphabetical order) – 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)
  • The Town (written by Peter Craig, Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard, based on the novel by Chuck Hogan)
  • Toy Story 3 (written by Michael Arndt, based on the story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich)
  • True Grit (written by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, based on the novel by Charles Portis)

I think The Social Network, Toy Story 3 and True Grit are all locks. 127 Hours I’d probably count in the same category, too. Which means there’s only one slot that, according to me, is up for grabs. I think  the Academy will give it to The Town, since they won’t recognize Ben Affleck in the director category (by an inch) and will have to give him something here, though I’m expecting some fight from the Winter’s Bone screenplay.

The Fighter

18 Dec

Title: The Fighter
Year:
2010
Director:
David O. Russell
Writers:
Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson based on the story by Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson and Keith Dorrington
Starring:
Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Jack McGee, Frank Renzulli, Mickey O’Keefe
MPAA Rating:
R, language throughout, drug content, some violence and sexuality
Runtime:
115 min
Major Awards:
2 Golden Globes, 2 SAG Awards, 1 NBR Award
IMDb Rating:
8.2
Rotten Tomatoes:
89%

The Fighter is one seriously good film. And everyone’s loving it, the reactions from early screenings were overwhelmingly positive, and the film scored six Golden Globe and four SAG nominations earlier this week to go with a bunch of other awards, plus it’s been performing crazy good in limited release as it makes its way to more screens this weekend.

And every good thing that has been coming its way is sincerely well deserved. This was the passion project of Mark Wahlberg for quite some time, joining the production early in 2005. The project started moving forward, Darren Aronofsky attaching himself to directing Mr. Wahlberg and Brad Pitt in the leading roles, that was in early 2007. Mr. Aronofsky was quite enthusiastic about the project as well, but delays on the production made him drop out of it, he would, of course, eventually go own to make his own movie about boxing, the masterful The Wrestler, and Brad Pitt would also leave the production.

Who knew that losing Mr. Aronofsky and Mr. Pitt could ever be considered a good thing for a movie? Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Aronofsky is one of my ten favorite living directors and I actually think The Wrestler is a better movie than this one, but David O. Russell, his eventual replacement, was just a great fit for the material. Same for Mr. Pitt, I’m certain he would have been terrific as Dicky Eklund, but when you see the performance Christian Bale ends up giving you’ll know how much of the right guy for the role this man was, and will comprehend why come Oscar time that Best Supporting Actor trophy will most likely end up in his hands.

Honestly though, The Fighter is tremendous, it has a foursome of stunning performances, those from Mr. Wahlberg, Mr. Bale as well as those by the lovely Amy Adams and the amazing Melissa Leo, the four of them will be likely Oscar nominees and the film the likely winner of both the Supporting races. When you think of great boxing movies you’ll always think of Rocky, Raging Bull, Cinderella Man, Million Dollar Baby, The Set-Up and Gentleman Jim, among others, and you can go ahead and put The Fighter right up there.

This is not just an inspirational film about boxing, it’s a great film about family and the ties that bind us to them, it’s a powerful cinematic experience, one that’s full of strong emotions and that finds the perfect people to express them, it just feels real. You know how these sports films will go, but the result is not really that important, it’s all about the journey to get there, and the journey shown in The Fighter is one of the good ones, and it has a huge amount of heart in it.

Yes, films about boxing are all full of necessary clichés, and The Fighter employs them, too, but you can feel the passion that went into making this, and that’s what makes this all work. The fights will go down as you might expect them too, as far as results go, not necessarily because you know the story of Micky Ward, but because you’ve seen other boxing movies, but in this one you can feel that Mr. Wahlberg was there for actual fighting bits, the technique shown in the fights, as well as how it’s all shot is amazing.

And that’s what makes The Fighter so damn good as far as boxing movies go, that it feels so exceptionally real. The real life people shown in the movie were there for the actors to talk to, it was shot in location there in Lowell and everything about the film transports us there. The lighting, the gritty performances, it all works to get us to understand the people of Lowell, who swear quite a bit and live in a city that, during the time our story is set, was full of poverty, unemployment and, of course, crack.

Crack is vital to our story after all, because Dicky is an addict. We know Mr. Bale can easily transform himself for roles, that’s one of the things he’s known for, and Dicky is another one of his wonderful creations. He looks like an addict, he acts like one. The performance given by Mr. Bale is truly something wonderful to behold, and if he gets the Oscar it will be very well deserved, he’s an actor who always manages to balance to perfection the physical and psychological challenges of his characters, and Dicky is no exception. He has all the bad aspects of an addict, and every single part of Mr. Bale’s body and expressions communicate that, but we see how he once was a great athlete himself, and how he is, underneath it all, a loyal and funny man, who just made a complete mess out of his life, and isn’t doing much good to anybody.

And Mr. Russell is the perfect man to show all the aspects of this story. Much like he has done in some of his past films he brings a really huge spurt of energy to his work here, it moves really fast and deftly balances the fighting parts with the more human drama, which is where this films excels. More than a boxing film with family drama in it, it’s a family drama with boxing in it, and Micky, Dicky, their over-bearing mother and seven sisters are one loud and dysfunctional bunch.

And Melissa Leo will surely deserve attention for her work here as well. She, along with Dicky, seem to be loyally bound to their mission of making Micky succeed in any way they can, and it’s obvious that they are convinced of that themselves, but their own inner demons make them much more of an obstacle than an aid to Micky, and his own loyalty makes him unable to move on from them. Which is where Ms. Adams’ character comes in, she plays Charlene, Micky’s girlfriend who sees how much they are getting in the way of Micky’s life and career, and who lets them know exactly what she thinks. And unless Helena Bonham Carter manages to win it, these two ladies will fight it off come Oscar time, too.

The Fighter is, quite simply, a stunning film, one that manages to entertain thoroughly while still moving you. A film that boasts a quartet of seriously amazing performances, and that because of them, plus the very good directing hand of Mr. Russell, is separated from the pack as far as boxing movies go, and also becomes a movie about family and one that feels real from its beginning until its predictable, though no less satisfying, conclusion.

Grade: A