It’s Oscar time again, and while for many the 83rd Annual Academy Awards equates to little more than a showcase for designer clothing and lists for the best and worst dressed, for me its a celebration of the movies. Does that sound corny? I’ve already chimed in about my best (and worst) films of 2010, and still hold to the belief that the Oscars mean something. Besides, many of the Academy’s selections have given me reason to keep the faith; 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, True Grit, Toy Story 3, Rabbit Hole, Blue Valentine, The King’s Speech, and The Social Network were all great movies, and fortunately, they’ve all been recognized. What I would like to do here is offer a quick rundown of the major categories and, as best I can, offer my predictions who will win – and why.
So how will it turn out? I guess you’ll just have to join me and the rest of America as we tune our TVs and browsers to watch the Oscars this Sunday, February 27th and, along with hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway, find out for yourselves. But until then, here’s my personal predictions and thoughts on who will take home the gold.
First, the Best Picture category. Despite a total of ten nominated films, it’s quite obvious at this point it will come down to just two: The Social Network and The King’s Speech. There was a time when I was convinced the former would have absolutely no competition, given its timely subject matter, its engaging characters, its clever editing, and its smart and witty screenplay (and let me just say, if Aaron Sorkin doesn’t win the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, I will be personally affronted). It also has already won four Golden Globes (including Best Motion Picture – Drama), two BAFTA Awards (including Best Director), four Critics Choice Awards, and three Satellite Awards. If this movie wins, it’s very likely there will also be an award in there somewhere for director David Fincher.
BuBut with all the attention The King’s Speech has been getting, it’s not as clear cut for me as it once was. It has certainly done well in the acting department; as King George VI, Colin Firth has already won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award, and the entire cast took home a SAG Award. It also outweighs The Social Network in the number of nominations – twelve, as opposed to eight. How do I make a prediction? Both are wonderful films, and they each landed a spot on my ten best of 2010 list. In terms of relevancy, audacity, and sheer entertainment, it seems to me that The Social Network is more deserving. In terms of performance and earned emotional impact, then I would favor The King’s Speech, as well as director Tom Hooper. This is going to depend entirely on what mood the Academy is in.
Now, on to the acting categories – which, for the last two years, has been very easy to predict. On the basis of award wins, critical assessment, and general media buzz, here’s how I’m certain it will go down: Best Actor, Colin Firth for The King’s Speech; Best Actress, Natalie Portman for Black Swan; Best Supporting Actor, Christian Bale for The Fighter; Best Supporting Actress, Melissa Leo for The Fighter. It’s difficult to speculate on potential upsets, in part because I missed Jacki Weaver’s performance in Animal Kingdom, but mostly because I feel every other nominee is deserving (including Bale and Leo, and I didn’t even like The Fighter). But it’s highly unlikely there will be any upsets, so why get into it?
Let me now take a moment to discuss a couple of the other nominees, not for their potential at the Oscars, but strictly on a personal level. Although I’m certain it will not win, I was pleased that Winter’s Bone was recognized both as a Best Picture contender and for Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. It was one of the best hidden gems of the summer, and now that it’s on DVD, I’m happy to know it will reach a wider audience. The same goes for The Kids Are All Right, one of the most honest and compelling examinations of family and the institution of marriage; apart from Best Picture and Best Actress (Annette Benning), it has also been recognized for its funny and heartfelt original screenplay. What do I think will actually win this award? Although Inception was a masterful work of science fiction, and although Another Year was strong in character, there’s no doubt in my mind it will be The King’s Speech – or, more accurately, its writer, David Seidler.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m can’t wait for Sunday night. I hope you’ll be tuning in with me – provided, of course, that you’re actually interested in the nominees and not so much in the Red Carpet fashion. Unless I see a glaring disaster along the lines of Bjork or Trey Parker and Matt Stone, then I can honestly say that I don’t much care who will be wearing what. The fact that we put so much effort into noticing that is actually a little disconcerting to me. It’s about the movies, not the dress such and such an actress is wearing. If you want to gawk at designer clothing and scrutinize every little detail, might I suggest an episode of Project Runway?
– AFTER-SHOW UPDATE –
Well, the show's over and it seems my predictions in the acting categories were all correct. Congratulations to Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, and Melissa Leo. As for Best Picture, I was wise to not pin myself down with a definite prediction, although I was right in that it would be a toss-up between The Social Network and The King's Speech. It ultimately went to the latter, and it also earned director Tom Hooper a Best Director Oscar. Congratulations to him and his cast and crew.
As for the show itself, the staging and set designs were superb, and Anne Hathaway did a decent job – and proved she has an incredible singing voice. Her co-host, Best Actor nominee James Franco, was a little too detached from the whole thing. Was he nervous? Was he under the influence? Or was he not taking the show seriously? Whatever the case, it can't possibly be a good sign when the most memorable thing he could do was briefly appear in drag – as Marilyn Monroe, no less.