Traditionally this is one of those periods in the year when I get obnoxiously, nerdily excited about something many discerning film buffs dismiss as irrelevant: the Academy Awards, where overpaid buffoons receive the acceptance of their similarly overpaid buffoonish peers in the form of a gilded trinket. My enjoyment of this ceremony and all of the nonsense surrounding it flies in the face of serious film criticism, but then so does my love of garish and noisy explodofilms, and I guess that means I’ll never get that job at Sight & Sound, WOEZ.
This year is a bit different. Aside from a blip caused by this excellent and informative Tom Shone piece about the Academy voters, RL problems have taken some of the steam out of my usual preparation for the ceremony, and we won’t even be having our traditional Oscar party this year, where a bunch of lovely folks come around to eat Pringles, set off party poppers at 4 in the morning (::panics::), and shout insults at the thoroughly dreadful Sky Movies Oscar show presenters Claudia “I haven’t seen it yet” Winkleman and Mark “I haven’t seen it either but I bet it’s crap” Dolan. Sorry guys, it would have been fun, even with those endless Moet-sponsored inserts from England. Besides, would there be anything quite as thrilling as this in this year’s ceremony? I think not.)
Maybe it’s a lucky escape for all of us. Watching the ceremony is seriously damaged by enduring these ninnies wonk on about things they do not understand. Watching the Golden Globes earlier this year was a truly disheartening experience, the only entertaining aspect of it being Jessica Stevenson-Hynes cashing a paycheck for turning up at the studio and then crocheting for four hours (seriously, she just got her crocheting equipment out and got on with it) while Sky’s fashion correspondent and that stand-up comedian who looks like he’s taking a break from getting rejected by hot girls at fresher’s week blithered on about how The King’s Speech has to win everything just because it’s British and if it fails we’ll all die because our self-worth has somehow become inextricably linked with its baffling worldwide success.
Maybe that’s another reason why I’m not looking forward to the ceremony as much as usual. For the illumination of readers who live outside the UK, it’s fair to point out that all you hear about right now is King’s Speech King’s Speech King’s Speech 24/fucking/7, and it’s ruining my enjoyment of everything. It’s not a terrible movie, per se. It’s just unsurprising and overdirected. British movies revel in these “loser overcomes adversity” plots, applying them to every subject imaginable, though at least we can be glad Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush didn’t have to end up naked like the cast of The Full Monty or Calendar Girls. King’s Speech is no exception to this reliance on the rote and cliched plot template, though much of my irkety feelings about the damnable box office colossus is aimed at the final scene.
Audiences across the country might be weeping openly at King Thingy’s triumphant pronunciation of “thet scahhndrel Mestah Hetlah”, but the scene is so badly edited it really does seem like Tom “Off-Kilter Composition” Hooper is saying the final speech was delivered with such adversity-conquering power that Britain went insane with joy at their monarch getting it finished in a reasonable amount of time, instead of thinking “Oh shit, we’re going to war and we’re going to be bombed to blood-drenched ribbons and our sons are either going to die or be traumatised for the rest of their lives, oh God, oh God, oh God.” No no, our lips were too stiff for all that: huzzah for our imperial leader’s newfound confidence! That’ll make digging an Anderson shelter in the back yard and living on birdseed and gravel for ten years all the more fun.
Which is not to say I hated it entirely. It’s pretty difficult not to enjoy the seemingly now-legendary performance from Colin Firth, who is commendably spiky and unlovable as the spiky and unlovable monarch. The cast is generally very good, though Guy Pierce’s accent is hilariously distracting and Timothy Spall’s genial take on Churchill is a poor choice. It would have been much better had it been directed by someone who wasn’t so eager to draw attention to his work. Mr. Hooper, please stop with the maddening camera-frippery please please please. Your first movie – the far superior Damned United – was similarly marred by showy compositions, and it just makes you look a bit silly. You’re never going to have to go back to directing episodes of EastEnders now, so you don’t have to prove you’re the next Orson Welles. And look! Mark Lawson thinks that your time in the TV trenches makes you and your partner-in-overcompensating-visual-splurge Danny Boyle more capable than David Fincher and Darren Aronofsky! So congrats, one temporarily senile media pundit says that you’ve made it. Now please use the centre of the frame like a grown-up, okay?
So yeah, the worrying possibility of a King’s Sweep has soured me on the awards this year. I’m not crazy enough to assume that my favourites of the year – Black Swan and Inception – would win much, but I’d be perfectly happy with The Social Network winning a bunch of stuff. The topicality of it has made many see it as a movie that will date badly, but I think it says enough about our approach to relationships and interactions that it will fare better than previous tech-movies (who can watch, say, War Games and not laugh at the LP-sized floppy discs). I’m also hoping for some love to be thrown at The Kids Are All Right: it can be dismissed as light indie fare but I think it’s a better crafted movie than that, and earns all of its emotional payoffs with enough invisibly deployed effort that many US indie movies of the past few years couldn’t even begin to imagine. I’d also be very happy to see a surprise deluge of naked gold men all over the Coen Brothers’ triumphant True Grit, a film that ranks up there with their very best.
My sourer impulses hope for a shut-out of ADHD Boyle’s predictably empty 127 Hours, which is little more than a grisly advert for Humanity that relies almost exclusively on Sigur Ros’ Festival to generate any emotion amid the frenetic and mostly random frame-shuffle: classic Boyle, then. Despite my adoration of James Franco (so, so good here, and very amusing in his Green Hornet cameo), there’s little else to praise in 127 Hours. Oh, the photography is very nice. But still, Boyle has even less to say here than usual: the message of the movie seems to be “don’t die if you can help it, and be a little nicer to your mom”. Okay, thanks for the advice, go away now. It would also be nice to see Alice in Wonderland receive none of the technical awards it was nominated for just because I hate it so much (and yes, I’m using hate in the non-hyperbolic sense that I actually do hate it: properly hate it and get red-mist-angry whenever I think about it), but the technical categories were the only ones where I thought it was worthy of praise. That’s a tough one that won’t matter at all as I doubt it will win anything even though the Academy likes to pat successful movies on the head for being profitable, no matter how inexplicable or undeserving that success is.
So anyway, who do I think will win, and who do I think should win, and who do I think was unfairly shut out? See below for further details.
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Who Will Win: Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
Fairly obvious. His ascendance to Oscar glory wasn’t even damaged by the weird attempt by some unscrupulous scoundrel to stymie him by pointing out that King Whats-His-Name was a huge fan of Hitler (he had all of his albums, even his ill-advised dubstep experiment Das Reichbeat). The only thing that could stop Mr. Firth from winning this year would be for him to reveal he used a stunt double in THAT SCENE in Pride and Prejudice as he didn’t want to get his britches wet.
Who Should Win: Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
I used to be a Colin Firth agnostic, but this performance – and his adorable humility in the face of overwhelming praise – has made a believer of me. I’ll be just as pleased at his inevitable win as all of the journalists who will be able to print “GOD SAVE THE KING!” on the front page on Monday morning.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Ben Stiller – Greenberg
I don’t think anyone nominated this year should be excluded. Even the fact that Biutiful is an appalling movie can take anything away from Javier Bardem’s impressive work. Nevertheless, I think Stiller’s bold and detailed performance deserves more praise than it got. Ah well.
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Who Will Win: Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech
I think the initial rush of enthusiasm for Christian Bale’s bold work in David O. Russell’s annoyingly conventional The Fighter has passed, though not because of anything Bale did or didn’t do (though not taking out ads of himself with his current Jesus ‘do with the word “Consider…” above it was a good move, ahem ahem). The Weinsteins are going all out with the promotion for The King’s Speech, as they always do, and I think it will swing it for Rush. Which is no crime. He’s very entertaining in that movie, though he sadly does not top his most towering and haunting performance as Casanova Frankenstein in Mystery Men.
Who Should Win: Christian Bale – The Fighter
But seriously, Bale’s performance is more than worthy of the nod. After a couple of years of harassing cinematographers and being overshadowed by his co-stars, this amazing transformation into a haunted and hyperactive loser on a redemptive path is initially showy enough to attract attention but allows for the development of quiet notes later in the movie that knocked my socks off. It reminded me of why I was thrilled when I heard he was going to be Christopher Nolan’s Batman many years ago: because he’s a really, really talented actor and has incredible screen presence when given some room to breathe. That is the main reason I’m not shouting from the rooftops about John Hawkes, who will surely now get the work he deserves after wowing us as the amoral scumbag Teardrop Dolly in Winter’s Bone.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Zach Galafianakis – It’s Kind of a Funny Story
As feeble as this movie is, Galafianakis’ unshowy stillness in the centre is the only thing that stays in the memory after the credits roll. I would have been miffed to see Fleck and Boden’s twee failure be recognised, but it would have been worth it to see Galafianakis receive his due (and not Due Date, which is what the poor bastard ended up with).
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Who Will Win: Natalie Portman – Black Swan
This is possibly the strongest category this year, and yet there is still a frontrunner. While everyone else is preparing bunting for King Colin, I’m expending all of my energy rooting for Natalie. Let’s hope No Strings Attached isn’t her Norbit.
Who Should Win: Natalie Portman – Black Swan
I was impressed by all of the performances in this category (and was especially glad to see Nicole Kidman remind us of why she is such a fascinating actress with some very strong work in the heartbreaking Rabbit Hole), but even so, there is only one that can win. I think the only people who would be more upset if she lost would be all of the Marvel marketing folks who will have prepared countless Thor posters bragging that it stars two Academy-Award-winning actors (and Kat Dennings) in its line-up.
Who Should Have Been Nominated:
Let’s see: Catherine Keener for Please Give, Kristin Scott Thomas for Partir, Rachel Weisz for Agora, Greta Gerwig for Greenberg, Carey Mulligan for Never Let Me Go, Emma Stone for Easy A (I’m 100% serious), Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right (it would split the vote against Annette Bening, but it would have been nice anyway), Marion Cotillard for Inception, Angelika Papoulia in Dogtooth… The list goes on and on. What a year for incredible performances from actresses.
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Who Will Win: Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech
You’ll note a trend developing here. I’m really convinced there’s going to be a landslide for The King’s Speech, certainly in the top tiers, and this – or a win for Geoffrey Rush – would be the first sign that Hollywood has gone Monarchy-Mad. Melissa Leo screwed the pooch with her ill-considered campaign (though if she felt the Paramount marketing department were letting her down she’s perfectly entitled to do something about it, I guess), and it’s going to cost her. Plus her performance was really cartoony: even more so than Bonham Carter’s silly Queen Mom with her clipped tones and humourlessness and no mention of all that Nazi sympathising, of course.
Who Should Win: Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit
I guess? I don’t know, this is a tough category. I don’t think I loved any of the performances here (whereas the best actress category is overloaded with greatness), though I haven’t seen Jacki Weaver’s work in Animal Kingdom (released in the UK two days ago FFS). I did enjoy Steinfeld’s funny turn in True Grit, and if Bridges isn’t going to win (and Matt Damon isn’t even going to be nominated, which is bullshit), then this is where the acting praise should fall. Amy Adams was okay in The Fighter, but I’m never very keen on seeing her play working class folks (don’t get me started on Junebug). So yeah, Steinfeld gets my vote and a shrug.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Olivia Williams – The Ghost (Writer)
Ms. Williams was almost obscenely entertaining as the sour and unpredictable wife of Fierce Pierce’s puppet PM, but perhaps appearing in a thriller was enough to make the voters ignore her. Or maybe there was no effort to lobby for her nomination. Whatever the reason was, it’s a crime. See also a lack of nominations for Dale Dickey in Winter’s Bone (so terrifying) and Rebecca Hall in Please Give.
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
What Will Win: Toy Story 3
Is there any question? I haven’t seen The Illusionist, even though I liked Chomet’s Belleville Rendezvous quite a bit when I first saw it, and so can’t attest to its quality, but even so, Toy Story 3 is one of the richest, smartest, and cleverest films of the year, as well as being the cruellest. In a good way, obviously. Cheerleaders for The Illusionist still hope for a surprise, but it’s not going to happen. This is Pixar’s year. Again.
What Should Win: Toy Story 3
See above. I’m still getting over it. Lee Unkrich and Michael Arndt owe me some new tear ducts.
What Should Have Been Nominated: Tangled / Megamind / Summer Wars
It’s a shame they didn’t expand the list to five nominees this year, because while 2010 might not have been as impressive as the previous year for animation, it was still pretty great, even if only for Walt Disney Animation’s phenomenal Tangled. It was deemed worthy of a Best Original Song nod but nothing else? Even with only three nominations I’d place this above How To Train Your Dragon which, I should stress, I liked a great deal. That said, I preferred Dreamworks Animation’s other big release of the year, the irreverent but surprisingly affecting superhero comedy Megamind. It would also have been nice to see Mamoru Hosodo’s paean to family life and the power of technology get on the list, but I realise that I’m now asking for the moon on a stick.
Achievement in Art Direction
Who Will Win: Eve Stewart and Judy Farr – The King’s Speech
In years past I’ve grown frustrated with the habit of awarding this Oscar to the movie with the stateliest stately home, mostly because I prefer the flash of a fully designed set to the stultifying idea of sitting in an antiques shop trying to find the right vase for a specific period. I suspect I’m not alone in this: everyone who loves film remembers the name Ken Adams, but does anyone remember the names of the (very talented, I’m sure) production designers and set decorators on any randomly chosen period drama from the Great British Period Drama Machine? Still, King’s Speech is bound to win this, with the grungy basement studio of Lionel Logue providing the only interesting set in the whole worthy film. Only Jess Gonchor’s designs for True Grit stand a chance of beating it, which would be nice, as I’ve enjoyed her work before now.
Who Should Win: Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias and Doug Mowat – Inception
I suspect I’m only saying this because I love the idea of a rotating set so much, but I did think Inception had some lovely sets, including the team’s ramshackle workspace, the grimy first level of the dream and the demolished hotel room in Cobb’s subconscious. Or maybe I think True Grit should win it. I’ll have to ponder that one. (No I won’t. This is bloody exhausting. There are, like, a million categories!)
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Dante Ferretti – Shutter Island
Martin Scorsese’s energetic movie may have been muddled and unfortunately stuck with the most glaringly obvious “twist” ending imaginable, but it as a technical exercise in ramping up suspense it was well worth the effort. On top of that it looked the BUSINESS. Part of that was Dante Ferretti’s brilliant production design, a highlight being the asylum on the eponymous island with its intricate nightmarish dungeons, plucked straight from the recesses of Hitchcock’s subconscious. Shutter Island may not have been a total success, partly because the movie serves the twist and not the other way around (for an hour nothing makes sense in order to hide the ending from the audience: a lethal narrative choice), but hell, it got no nominations, even in the technical categories? I guess the Academy figured that after Scorsese won for The Departed they could just forget about him.
Achievement in Cinematography
Who Will Win: Roger Deakins – True Grit
King Deakins amazes again! They should just have an award ready for him every year, and then another one for best runner-up. Truly lovely and textured work, a joy to behold. LOVE!
Who Should Win: Roger Deakins – True Grit
It’s a strong category, but even though I liked almost all of the work here (with the exception of The King’s Speech, though I blame Tom Hooper for that, not Danny Cohen), it has to go to Deakins.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Shelly Johnson – The Wolfman
As weak as that film was, it was so beautiful it was almost possible to completely ignore the phoned-in performances and creaky shock-jumps. Johnson took the black-and-white photography of the original Universal monster movies as a starting point and created a beautiful modern update with flickering shadows, delicate bounced light and an almost monochrome palette that allowed the blood to stand out in all its grisly glory. It reminded me of Emmanuel Lubezki’s terrific work on Sleepy Hollow (a film released in one of the strongest ever years for cinematography, with Conrad Hall and Dante Spinotti excelling on American Beauty and The Insider respectively).
Achievement in Costume Design
Who Will Win: Jenny Beaven – The King’s Speech
I’m actually just saying King’s Speech now as a form of temper tantrum. I’m actually not sure it will win (True Grit is a likely winner too), but I dread its dominance so much everywhere I look I see some obnoxious fish-eye close up of King Colin swallowing noisily. Ugh, I’m beginning to hate the fucking thing.
Who Should Win: Sandy Powell – The Tempest
I haven’t seen it, but I’d imagine Julie Taymor would ask her collaborator to come up with something a little more interesting than something based on a design hanging in a museum somewhere. [/bitter]
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Penny Rose – Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
This misfiring Bruckheimer game adaptation managed too look great despite Mike Newell’s seeming indifference (I expected more from him: maybe the focus groups ruined it, or perhaps the scale of it was too overwhelming to allow space to breathe). Part of that was Ms. Rose’s lovely designs. As I know nothing about clothes I won’t embarrass myself by trying to explain why I liked them so much. I just thought everyone looked really cool. Maybe I should rename this blog I Can’t Believe It’s Not Film Criticism.
Achievement in Directing
Who Will Win: David Fincher – The Social Network
At last I suspect the grim claws of the Weinsteins will loosen a little, and sanity will prevail, though part of me (the miserable pessimistic part) fears Hooper will win and then deliver his speech just to the side of the podium, facing the wrong side of the stage. But no, surely Fincher will finally get his trophy. Surely! The alternative is too depressing to comprehend: a Hooper win and Fincher following up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo with a Driving Miss Daisy remake starring Brad Pitt as Miss Daisy and Jodie Foster taking on the role of kindly chauffeur/slave Hoke in order to appeal to the addle-brained sentimental twits who are ruining movies for everyone. Because come on, what the hell does one of the most impressive and intelligent directors to come out of America in the last twenty years have to do to get a goddamn Oscar? ::looks at Best Director snubs in the past:: Never mind.
Who Should Win: Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
After all that I may seem like I’m being contrary, but while I thought Fincher did astounding work wrestling with Aaron Sorkin’s verbal splurge, my heart belongs to Aronofsky this year. Regular readers will be praying for me not to lose my head over Black Swan again, after writing an absurdly hyperbolic review last year, so I’ll leave it there.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Christopher Nolan – Inception
A no-brainer, surely. His ambitious screenplay has been attacked for being exposition-heavy, though there are those of us who think the exposition was actually pretty elegant considering he had to front-load the movie with about a million pages-worth of universe-explaining rules in order to make that amazing final half flow so smoothly. Whatever side of that divide you come down on, I would’ve thought only the movie’s most vocal detractors would think Nolan doesn’t deserve something for creating something so singular and odd and appealing despite being a total left-brain project without all of that lovely heart that apparently all movies require nowadays.
Hence the inclusion of Tom Hooper and David O. Russell on the list. Yes, though I love Russell’s previous work his direction of The Fighter was disappointingly straight-forward here. It would be crazy to expect his usual quirkiness considering the formulaic nature of the sports movie, but Aronofsky found a way to make The Wrestler seem uniquely his. Conspiracy theories about Russell attempting to store some mainstream capital after the Nailed debacle seem more and more justified. (For the record, I liked The Fighter well enough — I’m a sucker for boxing movies, it seems — and it was well-performed. It was just kinda flat, is all.)
Best Documentary Feature
What Will Win: Waste Land
Apparently it”s emotional and universally well-liked, so why not? As with many of the categories to come, this is a bit outside my wheel-house, so I’m guessing here. I’ve only seen Restrepo, which is a solidly made and very depressing movie, but I don’t think it will win: war is so last decade. Same with Inside Job, which I think may alienate a lot of the voters. But what do I know? I don’t even know what Gasland is about, and haven’t bothered with Banksy’s movie even though everyone loves it.
What Should Win:
Okay, I promise I’ll make more of an effort next year, because this is always a bit embarrassing. Why don’t I watch more documentaries? I really like them, so there’s not even an excuse.
What Should Have Been Nominated:
Best Documentary Short Subject
What Will Win: The Warriors of Qiugang
Is it bad that I’m only picking this because it sounds like it could be an action movie starring Donnie Yen? (Answer: yes, you twat.)
Who Should Win:
As I haven’t seen any of the nominees in this category, it’s best I just walk away before I embarrass myself further.
Achievement in Film Editing
Who Will Win: Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter – The Social Network
Some great work here, taking the excellently paced performances and making them shine, keeping the pace up. The barrage of information should be overwhelming, but Wall and Baxter control it perfectly. Not since Oliver Stone’s JFK have I been so impressed by the way the audience is guided through choppy waters by an editing team.
Who Should Win: Andrew Weisblum – Black Swan
However I think this just pips it just because Black Swan is so immersive and exhausting. It’s a technically perfect movie, and I would love to see everyone involved on the tech side of the movie get their reward.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Inception
I would have thought this was a certainty, as well-liked action movies often get a cursory editing nomination as a sop to the filmmakers who won’t see any other award love during the night, but apparently this doesn’t warrant a mention, even considering there is so much information to impart that if it hadn’t been edited as clearly and cleverly as it did the whole thing would have fallen apart. This might be the most inexplicable snub of the night, other than the sound awards, which I will get to in good time. (Note: I don’t just think editing a movie well is a matter of getting all of the footage in the right order, but it’s worth noting that two of this year’s best films were very info-heavy and relied on steady hands and smart decisions in the editing room to keep the audience onboard.)
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
What Will Win: In a Better World
I know nothing about this as it hasn’t even been released in the UK yet, but I’ve heard chatter about it from better critics than I who have caught it at festivals. Choosing this feels right: how often does the foreign language award go to the best known movie nominated? It’s always something I’ve never heard of. It’s science.
What Should Win: Dogtooth
Yes, I’m picking this as I’ve seen it, but also because it is amazing. Will it win? Will it bollocks. Too upsetting and daring to gather votes, but it’s okay, I won’t cry. Just as long as the execrable Biutiful loses, I’ll be happy.
What Should Have Been Nominated: A Serbian Film
Kidding! Except not, because it is good. Unwatchably horrific, but good. Even more depressing than Biutiful, in fact. Isn’t that why people like that artfully-presented chunk of sentimental crap? (Okay okay, I’ll drop it now.)
Achievement in Makeup
Who Will Win: Rick Baker and Dave Elsey – The Wolfman
It’s Rick Baker, bitches! I have no idea how good the work is on the other movies nominated, but I do know the effects here are just fab. Almost as good as Baker’s ground-breaking work on American Werewolf in London.
Who Should Win: Rick Baker and Dave Elsey – The Wolfman
See above. Yes, I would like Peter Weir’s first movie since the mighty Master and Commander to win something, but come on! A werewolf movie! It’s the make-up genre. Surely werewolf movies should win every year. They have to put a ton of hair and teeth on people’s faces! That shit is hard, you know.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Black Swan
It’s the only film I can think of that had any notable make-up in it, so I plump for that one. Red contact lenses and shoulder feathers are this year’s hottest new look.
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)
Who Will Win: Alexandre Desplat – The King’s Speech
One of the few things I really liked about King’s Speech was the traditional terrific soundtrack from Mr. Desplat, who is surely the most talented man in the world whose name almost decribes the sound made when a tomato falls on the floor. It might not be as good as his wonderful work on Fantastic Mr. Fox or Birth (surely his masterpiece), but it’s still worthy of admiration. (Caveat, there’s a good chance Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross will win if Speech is starting to rack up the wins and Social Network is suddenly found wanting. I’m tempted to suggest that this award will be crucial in determining who will win the most big awards on the night, but I suspect I’m overthinking it.)
Who Should Win: Hans Zimmer – Inception
Though my choice will anger at least one Facebook friend who maintains the music doesn’t work as a movie score at all (back off, Johnny May), I still maintain Zimmer’s conceptually bold and pulse-quickening score is one of the all-time greats. The fact that it references the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service score by the much-missed John Barry cements it for me. There could well be an upset on the night.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Clint Mansell – Black Swan
Dear Academy voters, yes, Britain is sorry about the whole Pop Will Eat Itself thing, they were not great, but Clint Mansell has apparently turned out to be a massive music genius and we’d really appreciate it if you throw him some love. Fourteen thousand trailers using his music can’t be wrong. Cheers, Admiral Neck. (Yes, I know, it wasn’t eligible because it referenced Tchaikovsky’s ballet so directly, but even so, it looms over almost everything else recorded this year like a bulging ballet-dancer’s groin filled with violins and such.
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)
What Will Win: We Belong Together (Randy Newman) – Toy Story 3
Surely the only way the Academy can honour the majesty of Toy Story 3 is to hand another award out for this terrific, heart-flensing ditty from the maestro. All three films have featured a wonderful song: the benefit of this one is that it’s actually possible to listen to it, unlike When She Loved Me, which is still the most lethal piece of music ever recorded.
What Should Win: I See the Light (Alan Menken and Glenn Slater) – Tangled
The highlight of Walt Disney Animation’s lovely fairy tale Tangled is this soaring love song fit to rival Aladdin‘s A Whole New World for combining emotion, theme and imagery with such satifying skill. It’s the centerpiece of the movie, and seriously folks, if you hear people dismissing 3D or IMAX, this is the scene to quell the doubts. The combination of visuals and thematically resonant storytelling is one of Shades of Caruso’s favourite cinema moments in years. Sorry Randy, I want that moment GILDED by the Academy.
What Should Have Been Nominated: I’ve Got A Dream (Alan Menken and Glenn Slater) – Tangled
As the rules for this category state that a movie can have up to two songs nominated, I would have loved to see a nomination for the other showstopper from the truly magical Tangled (seriously I LOVED IT). It’s silly and broad, but it’s a proper crowdpleaser, sending audiences full of kids into all sorts of gurgling paroxysms: the sort of behaviour that usually annoys a grouchy bastard like myself but merely added to the fun in this case, because Tangled is such a joyous movie. I’m going to keep banging on about this one, so get used to it!
Best Motion Picture of the Year
What Will Win: The King’s Speech
What Should Win: Black Swan
In no world would this get the requisite amount of votes, unless there is a Fringe-style alternated universe where Paul Verhoeven, Dario Argento and David Cronenberg are treated with the fawning respect they deserve. As I’ve said before, I won’t go on about it as I’ve already exhausted reader goodwill, and I will add the caveat that a win for Social Network would please me almost as much, but I just don’t think we’re going to get either. It’s especially frustrating as The Social Network has been “in the lead” for so long, but something tells me the bubble has burst thanks to Harvey “Wilson Fisk” Weinstein’s usual obnoxious efforts. Or maybe it was that Screen Actors Guild win. It’s Crash all over again!!!
What Should Have Been Nominated: Please Give
Yes, only a few people watched it, but my other suggestion for this spot – Agora – was watched by even fewer. I seem to recall a burble of positive notices when this came out but by the end of the year no one remembered. I blame The King’s Speech. [/irrational]
Best Animated Short Film
What Will Win: Day and Night – Teddy Newton for Pixar
Yes, it’s the only one I’ve seen, but I’d be surprised if anything else won. It’s a memorable and imaginative piece of genius.
What Should Win:
It’s not fair to speculate, having not seen anything else (I really want to see The Lost Thing, having loved Shaun Tan’s work in the past), and I can’t think of any other short that should have been animated, so let’s move on.
Best Live Action Short Film
What Will Win: Wish 143
I have no idea if any of these are any good, and am only selecting this one as I’ve heard a lot about it this week (from the predictably patriotic papers that are thrilled to bitsies every time a Brit gets nominated for anything that isn’t a technical award, which is a bugbear of mine), plus the making of it has a story that will appeal to voters. I’m sure it’s very good on top of all this strategic thinking.
What Should Win:
Again I haven’t seen any of the other movies, so I won’t predict. Usually I rely on friend-of-the-blog Mim for help on these matters as she is connected, but I haven’t had a chance to talk to her about it lately. She has better things to do than give me tips about short movies.
Achievement in sound editing
Who Will Win: Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey – True Grit
Part of the reason I’m adding this is the old standby of “Well, they have to honour it somewhere”, but also because the Coens always go the extra mile to make their movies completely distinct from everything else out there, and hiring Lievsay and Berkey to provide a new Western soundscape to distinguish this from every other Western in recent years was a shrewd choice.
Who Should Win: Richard King – Inception
Inception’s freshness was partly down to the imaginative choices made by King: the distorted music cues, the swish of the dream machine, the crisp gun battles and explosions. This is probably just as likely to win as True Grit, but I suspect the voters will want to hand the award to someone shoring up a genre seen to be in decline as it is to praise the new. Not to disparage anyone’s work here: it’s another strong category, though with one egregious omission…
What Should Have Been Nominated: Black Swan
Seriously, what the FUCK happened here? How could Craig Henigan’s amazing sound design and mix get missed off the roster? There were a lot of misses this year that caused some headscratching, but this is possibly the most baffling. The sound work on Black Swan was absolutely exemplary, and there is just no excuse for this snub. Okay, yes, the other nominees deserved their nods, but surely something could have been moved for this. I guess it’s a good job I’ll never be asked to join the Academy, because omissions like this make me wonder if I would fit in.
Achievement in sound mixing
Who Will Win: Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten – The Social Network
It’s easy to miss a lovely piece of sound mixing, but one of my favourite moments in 2010 came as the fictional construct referred to as “Mark Zuckerberg” walked across campus after being dumped by his girlfriend. The melange of chatter from the students around him reflects the imminent chatter on the internet as he unleashes The Facebook – one of many clever touches by the always brilliant Klyce and his ace team.
Who Should Win: Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten – The Social Network
Either that or the work on Inception, which goes from introspective silences in the first half to increasingly chaotic clatter in the hour-long setpiece. Perversely I would also like Salt‘s sound team to win as well, just so that Salt could win an Oscar. That would entertain me almost as much as that crazy movie did.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Black Swan / Shutter Island
Again, all of the sound work on Black Swan should have been given some praise, but Shutter Island‘s snub is similarly peculiar. The experience of watching both movies was immeasurably enhanced by the feeling that the room was alive with noise, sharp clicks and cracks peeping out from the expertly mixed ambient noises not for shock value, but merely as stabs at the amygdala. Your nerves jangled more and more as the movies progressed: a wonderfully unpleasant thing to endure.
Achievement in Visual Effects
Who Will Win: Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb – Inception
The incredibly clever and imaginative in-camera effects of Inception would probably be a sure thing most years, but as it will likely win bugger all other than a sound award, it’s guaranteed to win here. I’m tempted to think the last Harry Potter movie will win big in technical stuff next year: kind of like a Return-of-the-King sop to the incredibly profitable series, which is why it won’t win here.
Who Should Win: Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb – Inception
From the moment we saw Paris fold over on itself, it was obvious we were going to see something special in Nolan’s action masterpiece. It doesn’t matter that the Limbo effects were a bit murky and smudged: these are the visuals that caught our imagination this year. They deserve all the plaudits they’re getting.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Tron: Legacy / Black Swan
The first is a crazy FX blowout, the second has many effects that are almost invisible. As usual, I’m surprised and more than a little disgusted with the FX voters (industry folk who tend to judge on standards that we don’t necessarily understand). I figured both movies were destined to be nominated (I especially loved the FX in Tron: Legacy), but as usual we get this weird curveball, the same kind of thing that saw Speed Racer and the Matrix sequels snubbed (did John Gaeta spill red wine on some voter’s white carpet?), and E.T. winning in the same year Blade Runner was released. Always a weird category, this.
Who Will Win: Aaron Sorkin – The Social Network
The surest sure thing imaginable, no offence to all of the other fine screenplays nominated here (not counting 127 Hours, which manages to stretch nothing out – an achievement I’ll grant it though it doesn’t really fill the understandably threadbare story out with anything interesting). This is a tougher victory for Sorkin than you’d expect, as I’m sure there are many who think the Coens should win again. This is why I think True Grit won’t win much, even though it’s terrific. The competition this year (not counting King’s Speech and 127 Hours) is just too strong.
Who Should Win: Aaron Sorkin – The Social Network
I have many, many problems with Sorkin’s work, but I also think he’s amazing. I go back and forth on this all the time. When he’s good he’s really really good, and when he’s bad he’s fucking dreadful. The Social Network is him at his best, even with all of the tics, recycling and showing-off. Sorry Coens! I thought you did a great job too.
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughan – Kick-Ass
Stop laughing at the back! I genuinely loved what Vaughan and Goldman did here, keeping enough of Millar’s voice to make it pleasantly anarchic while tightening up his most pointless excesses and adding powerful emotional cores. The motivations of all characters were grounded amid all of the other madness, enough that I’ve been moved to the brink of tears each time I’ve watched it. Their work hasn’t yet received enough praise. Or any praise, really. Except from me and a couple of other people. I’m sure this will make up for all the difficulties I’m sure they’re experiencing while trying to make X-Men: First Class their own while Fox attempt to fuck it all up like they always do.
Who Will Win: David Seidler – The King’s Speech
Cliched, inaccurate, sentimental, really really inaccurate, and ultimately kind of lazy, but it’s a sure thing. Fuckety piss. At least it will shut out Mike “Sourdoughballs” Leigh. That’s something.
Who Should Win: Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg - The Kids Are All Right
Cholodenko and Blumberg’s light-yet-deeply structured screenplay is an almost pure joy, some last act clumsiness aside. This is the film’s only chance to be given some Oscar love this year, but it’s not about to happen. No triumph over adversity: just truth. Who wants that? ::kicks picture of Buckingham Palace into a furnace::
Who Should Have Been Nominated: Nicole Holofcener – Please Give
Holofcener’s delightful screenplay is one of the many wonders of her underrated rumination on white middle-class guilt and the ways in which we try to profit off each other to get ahead. It looks like a fluffy indie comedy but it’s filled with insight about modern life, all while being thrillingly well-observed and funny. Come on planet Earth! You complain about all the crappy movies being released and we’ve got an incredible artist and reliable entertainer standing RIGHT OVER THERE! ::points in what one assumes is the direction that leads to Ms. Holofcener:: What the hell is wrong with everyone? ::kicks picture of Windsor Castle into furnace::
Well what do you know. I start this post all agnostic and shit about The King’s Speech and end up thinking it is the deformed bastard spawned by the unholy union of Crash and Slumdog Millionaire. ::sigh:: It’s going to be a long night.