Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Well, today was the day, folks, when the nominations were announced for the 83rd Academy Awards. The verdict after reading the list of nominees? "Um...of course?"

The Best Picture category should give an overall view of how predictable all of the (major) categories were this year. There are no surprises, no District 9 or A Serious Man sneak-ins this year. Not even Winter's Bone can lay claim to a "didn't see that one coming" (although it certainly comes the closest), as it's been gaining traction with the Academy all awards season, landing on multiple "best of" lists and gathering indie trophies like a Wendigo collecting human flesh.

Looking over the categories, though, it's striking how solid almost every single one of them are. Coming off of a truly atrocious and much balked-at Golden Globe awards ceremony, the nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards are actually kind of refreshing - and that's despite knowing that almost all of the nominees were shoe-ins anyway. I think that's a testament to how strong a year cinema had in 2010 overall. I'm still not sure that the Best Picture category need to be expanded to fit ten films, but at least all ten this year (seven I'm 100% sure about, three I haven't seen, I'm only assuming based on critical acclaim) deserve to be nominated (I'm looking at you The Blind Side).

What's also great about this year is that there is no clear frontrunners in any of these categories (a la Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart or Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds). For awhile, The Social Network was the sure bet for Best Picture, but The King's Speech has suddenly blown up, practically dominating late season Oscar chatter. Christian Bale, similarly, won the Globe for Best Supporting Actor (The Fighter), but Geoffry Rush's performance is getting strong word-of-mouth.

Of course, a few of the categories held some surprises, the biggest being the Best Supporting Actor list. I have not seen Winter's Bone, but I have been a John Hawkes fan for years, ever since I saw this great character actor lit on fire and shot to hell in the opening scene of From Dusk 'til Dawn. And although I'm not quite sure Jeremy Renner deserved recognition for what's basically a one-note (but a really, really well-played and memorable note) character, it's certainly great to see him nominated in an acting category for the second year in a row. I predicted last year that Renner will take home an Oscar for acting in the next ten years. This won't be that year, but I still hold to that prediction.

Finally, it seems Christopher Nolan has once again been snubbed for Best Director by the Academy, and the internet is abuzz with closed-fisted fanboys pounding their keyboards in disgust at his exclusion. To some extent I understand their frustration. David O'Russell, while doing a fine job of commanding The Fighter, certainly doesn't belong in this list of Best Directors, and his name should most definitely be replaced by Nolan's, who made The Flying Karamazov brothers jealous with his juggling of summer blockbuster and heady themes in Inception. That being said, I think those who are disgruntled over Nolan's snub can take comfort in the fact that the award was never his to take home anyway.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be taking a look at eight major categories:  Best Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actor in a leading Role, Best Director, and Best Picture. I'll also be commenting on some of the other categories as well. There's a lot to write about this year. (And maybe I'll save a special blog to blab about how stoked I am that the Coen Brothers have another Best Director nomination under their belt, and True Grit has an awesome total of ten nominations).

Best Picture
"Black Swan," Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
"The Fighter" David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
"Inception," Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
"The Kids Are All Right," Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
"The King's Speech," Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
"127 Hours," Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
"The Social Network," Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán, Producers
"Toy Story 3" Darla K. Anderson, Producer
"True Grit" Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
"Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem in "Biutiful"
Jeff Bridges in "True Grit"
Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"
Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"
James Franco in "127 Hours"

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale in "The Fighter"
John Hawkes in "Winter's Bone"
Jeremy Renner in "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo in "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech"

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone"
Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams in "Blue Valentine"

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams in "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech"
Melissa Leo in "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit"
Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom"

Animated Feature Film
"How to Train Your Dragon" Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
"The Illusionist" Sylvain Chomet
"Toy Story 3" Lee Unkrich

Art Direction
"Alice in Wonderland"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1"
"The King's Speech"
"True Grit"

"Black Swan," Matthew Libatique
"Inception," Wally Pfister
"The King's Speech," Danny Cohen
"The Social Network," Jeff Cronenweth
"True Grit," Roger Deakins

Costume Design
"Alice in Wonderland," Colleen Atwood
"I Am Love," Antonella Cannarozzi
"The King's Speech," Jenny Beavan
"The Tempest," Sandy Powell
"True Grit" Mary Zophres

"Black Swan," Darren Aronofsky
"The Fighter," David O. Russell
"The King's Speech," Tom Hooper
"The Social Network," David Fincher
"True Grit," Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Documentary (Feature)
"Exit through the Gift Shop," Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
"Gasland," Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
"Inside Job," Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Restrepo," Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
"Waste Land," Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Documentary (Short Subject)
"Killing in the Name"
"Poster Girl"
"Strangers No More"
"Sun Come Up"
"The Warriors of Qiugang"

Film Editing
"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"The King's Speech"
"127 Hours"
"The Social Network"

Foreign Language Film
"Biutiful," Mexico
"Dogtooth," Greece
"In a Better World," Denmark
"Incendies," Canada
"Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)," Algeria

"Barney's Version," Adrien Morot
"The Way Back," Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
"The Wolfman," Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Music (Original Score)
"How to Train Your Dragon," John Powell
"Inception," Hans Zimmer
"The King's Speech," Alexandre Desplat
"127 Hours," A.R. Rahman
"The Social Network," Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)
"Coming Home" from "Country Strong," Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
"I See the Light" from "Tangled," Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
"If I Rise" from "127 Hours," Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
"We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3," Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Short Film (Animated)
"Day & Night," Teddy Newton
"The Gruffalo," Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
"Let's Pollute," Geefwee Boedoe
"The Lost Thing," Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
"Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)" Bastien Dubois

Short Film (Live Action)
"The Confession," Tanel Toom
"The Crush," Michael Creagh
"God of Love," Luke Matheny
"Na Wewe," Ivan Goldschmidt
"Wish 143," Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sound Editing
"Inception," Richard King
"Toy Story 3," Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
"Tron: Legacy," Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
"True Grit," Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
"Unstoppable," Mark P. Stoeckinger

Sound Mixing
"Inception," Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
"The King's Speech," Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
"Salt," Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
"The Social Network," Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
"True Grit," Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Visual Effects
"Alice in Wonderland," Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1," Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
"Hereafter," Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
"Inception," Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
"Iron Man 2," Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
"127 Hours," Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
"The Social Network," Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
"Toy Story 3," Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
"True Grit," Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
"Winter's Bone," Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Writing (Original Screenplay)
"Another Year," Written by Mike Leigh
"The Fighter," Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
"Inception," Written by Christopher Nolan
"The Kids Are All Right," Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
"The King's Speech," Screenplay by David Seidler

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