Having now finally weighed in on my opinion of what's the best of the year, I thought I'd volunteer my own predictions on how the Oscars will shake down in a couple of weeks. I have to admit that I'm not as excited about the Academy Awards this year. Mostly because the overall starriness of and focus on (or maybe I'm just paying more attention to it this year) the behind the scenes drama is overshadowing the fact that we, once again, with the exception of a few categories, already know who's going to win. The only thing that's left is to hand out the awards, as far as I'm concerned. I'm also not so much invested in the actual race because this is a rare year in that (with the exception of one or two dings here and there) both the nominees AND the presumptive frontrunners in a record number of categories are actually deserving. The Academy did a miraculous job of not embarrassing themselves this year and I say kudos.
I've already stated my feelings about The King's Speech, deeming it high-minded, but finally unremarkable (but still enjoyable--gah, what a contradiction). However, you may be shocked to hear that upon further inspection, it's True Grit, not The King's Speech which I feel least deserves its spot on the ballot. Neither film is ultimately lacking enough to make me feel passionately against it and that speaks highly of the 2010 Best Picture roster, which boasts no truly putrid submissions (usually, even in a year of five nominees, there's at least one or two stinkers). I prefer The Social Network by about a mile, but I don't subscribe to the argument that it's the more timeless choice that will be looked upon fondly. One can't predict how a movie will age. In ten years time, The Social Network may well read how something like American Beauty reads now--a time capsule snapshot of the American ethos that, while important as a historical marker, feels dated. So, despite loving Fincher's film, I don't begrudge The King's Speech its victory, which after the DGA, PGA and SAG sweep seems likely. I don't think it's over, though.
Will Win: The King's Speech
Alternate: The Social Network
Should Win: The Social Network
Should Have Been Nominated: Their top ten is not necessarily my top ten, but it's respectable. I'm not even going to suggest that the Academy should totally overhaul their membership and/or way of thinking by including some of my favorites such as Dogtooth, Blue Valentine or The Illusionist.
A hard race to call. My gut still says Fincher. And now that even the BAFTAs have gone with him, a split between picture and director seems all the more likely, in spite of Tom Hooper's DGA win.
Will Win: David Fincher for The Social Network
Alternate: Tom Hooper for The King's Speech
Should Win: I really respect David Fincher's work and I do think he should win. But a small part of me wants to see David O. Russell rewarded, who does the most heavy lifting of all five nominees to elevate his film.
Should Have Been Nominated: Christopher Nolan for Inception. He's nowhere near my personal ballot, so this seems like a strange citation, but I wish they would just reward the poor guy already and stop the fanboy whining. Especially since he landed yet another screenplay nomination and anyone who tells you that Nolan is a better writer than a director is insane.
Hmm...I suppose it could be...Oh, who am I kidding. There's no discussion at this point. Signed, sealed, delivered, it's h-h-h-his.
Will Win: Colin Firth for The King's Speech
Alternate: Hell freezing over.
Should Win: Given the absence of Ryan Gosling, I'm almost tempted to say "Who cares?" But that's sour grapes. This is actually a fine lineup, even if it's not mine. Of the five nominees, Jesse Eisenberg gets my vote.
Should Have Been Nominated: Have you not been paying attention? Ryan Gosling.
Again, a fine lineup. The fact that the neither of the two conceivable winners from this category are on my ballot, yet both give top form performances speaks to the quality of the work. I'm glad Best Actress is allowed to be good again, after two years in a row where it was kind of spotty. Natalie Portman has this locked up, I think. Not quite as locked as Firth in Best Actor, but anyone who's still trying to sell the narrative that it's a race between her and Bening is frankly grasping at straws.
Will Win: Natalie Portman for Black Swan.
Alternate: Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right
Should Win: Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine. No question. Though either Jennifer Lawrence or Nicole Kidman would make almost equally fetching alternatives. And as I've stated, it's a lineup where it'd be difficult to be upset, no matter the outcome. These are five actresses working at the top of their form.
Should Have Been Nominated: Lesley Manville for Another Year, though (for the record), I never once believed that she would be.
Best Supporting Actor
What's with the acting categories this year? I can't remember the last time they were all this good. I'm most surprised by Best Supporting Actor, which is usually the worst of the four acting races by a mile. But I'm honestly not mad about any of these nominations. Even Geoffrey Rush, who's acting I usually don't respond to is more enjoyable in The King's Speech than I've ever found him. I don't think he'll be Christian Bale, as some are predicting. Unless they really like The King's Speech...
Will Win/Should Win: Christian Bale for The Fighter.
Alternate: Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech
Should Have Been Nominated: Not to be down Jeremy Renner, who I think is fantastic in The Town, but I don't think this nomination really does anything for his career that wasn't already going on anyway (he's already taking over the world). So I'd swap him out for one of the lauded Andrew Garfield performances (The Social Network or Never Let Me Go), both of which I preferred to Renner's work. And while I do prefer Renner to Rush, I'm fully acknowledging that in no universe resembling this one was Geoffrey Rush NOT getting nominated.
Best Supporting Actress
Save Hailey Steinfeld, another great lineup. Not to diss Ms. Steinfeld. Her work in True Grit is quite accomplished, but the category fraud and the undeniable schism of quality between her work and the other nominees is insurmountable. Some think she'll win, but I personally don't think so. The Melissa Leo personal FYC ads debacle is (in my humble opinion) being really overstated. What I think this category really comes down to is how many voters watch Animal Kingdom. Because frankly, not to put too fine a point on it, but I don't see how Jacki Weaver doesn't pull of a Marcia Gay Harden-style upset if enough Academy members pop in their screeners.
Will Win: Melissa Leo for The Fighter, but it's by no means a sure thing.
Alternate: Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom
Should Win: Jackie Weaver for Animal Kingdom
Should Have Been Nominated: I'm mostly fine with this lineup. I would have liked to see Mia Wasikowska land a nod for her subtle, understated work in The Kids Are All Right. Especially in a year where she also made Alice in Wonderland. A nomination for the former may have been a subtle industry hint about the kind of movies she should continue making and the kind of movies she should steer clear of.
Predictions: Part 2 coming up...