Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 Academy Awards Predictions

Best Picture

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

Should Win:
Toy Story 3. Pixar’s finest achievement to date was a flawless combination of directing, visuals, music, and most of all, heartfelt storytelling. A perfect film. Far and away the best movie of the year.

Will Win:
The King’s Speech. Director Tom Hooper’s take on the Duke of York who became King of England after his brother abdicated the throne is an unavoidably impressive period piece that plays like a modern buddy film. It has been gathering momentum throughout the award season and has surpassed The Social Network as the Best Picture favorite.

Upset Special:
Toy Story 3. If the Academy were to ever hand Best Picture to an animated film, this should be the year to do it. The Social Network and The King’s Speech could cancel each other out and the Pixar masterpiece could sneak in and take it.

I think the Academy for the most part were pretty spot-on in this category, although I’d take Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island over the overrated The Kids Are All Right and the most underrated film of the year, Catfish, over the hypnotic Winter’s Bone.

Best Director

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

Should Win:
Darren Aronofsky. Black Swan proved to be the most visually jaw-dropping and visceral movie of the year, and Aronofsky is the genius behind the madness. With Black Swan and The Wrestler before it, Aronofsky has proved that he is one of the most talented directors in Hollywood today.

Will Win:
David Fincher. The Social Network and The King’s Speech and subsequently Fincher and Hooper are neck-and-neck for Best Picture and Best Director, so I think the awards will be split. Fincher sets a Shakespearian-esque tragedy against the backdrop of the modern world with dramatic and unforgettable results.

Upset Special:
The Cohen brothers. The Academy loves the Cohen brothers, and their work in the period piece True Grit just might be their finest direction to date.

Christopher Nolan for Inception is the snub of the Oscars this year. He not only deserves to be nominated, he deserved the award. Also, where’s the love for Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) and Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)?

Best Actor

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

Should Win:
Jesse Eisenberg. I don’t even recognize Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network. Where’s the timid teen known from Zombieland and Adventureland? But Eisenberg’s portrayal of the tragic hero, Mark Zuckerberg, is a transformation of extremely impressive dramatic sorts.

Will Win:
Firth. I believe it’s the only sure thing from the big 6 categories this year.

Upset Special:
Eisenberg. Most people think he’s second in line to Firth’s performance, but this is Firth’s to lose.

Leonardo Dicaprio deserves a nod for Inception or Shutter Island, and how has Joaquin Phoenix’s “performance” in I’m Still Here not been recognized? Hoax or not, Phoenix sacrificed his career and his social life for this movie. Phoenix in I’m Still Here is one of the most remarkable things I’ve ever seen in film.

Best Actress

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

Should Win:
Natalie Portman. Just like Mickey Rourke deserved to win for his portrayal of a bruised artist in Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, Portman deserves an Oscar for her performance in The Wrestler’s female counterpart.

Will Win:
Annette Bening. The academy loves giving out “lifetime achievement” Oscars to actors who have been deserving in the past, but have never won (see Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine). Bening has had three prior nominations, but no wins, and will sneak in and take this one.

Upset Special:
Bening taking down Portman would be the upset of the night.

Hailee Steinfeld deserves to be in the Best Actress bunch rather than supporting, and Chloe Moretz in Kick Ass is simply amazing.

Best Supporting Actor

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

Should Win:
Christian Bale. Bale, like he does in every role, totally delves into the mind and body of a has-been crack addict boxer who finds redemption in his brother’s success.

Will Win:
Bale. Bale is another actor who deserves an Oscar, and this is his best performance to date.

Upset Special:
Geoffrey Rush. Rush’s performance in The King’s Speech equals Colin Firth’s tour de force. These two performances go hand-in-hand at the film’s helm, so the Academy could award Rush to go along with Firth.

I’d take any of the three standout supporting performances from The Social Network (Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer)

Best Supporting Actress

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

Should Win:
Melissa Leo. The Fighter has the most impressive ensemble cast of the year, and Leo’s performance as the bookie mother of her two boxer sons stands out in the standout crowd.

Will Win:
Helena Bonham Carter. I think this category, out of the big 6, is the one most up for grabs. Carter’s subtlety in The King’s Speech is unlike the spitfire nature of most performances in the past, and in that sense, her performance stands out.

Upset Special:
Hailee Steinfeld. Steinfeld hasn’t gotten recognition from the other major awards shows, so it’s clear the Academy likes her. She deserves to be in the Best Actress category, so she does have a leg up on the competition.

Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right is every bit as good as Annette Bening, who garnered a Best Actress nod.

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