Saturday, 26 February 2011

Oscar Nominee #9: True Grit


It's nice that the Academy are continually considering the Coen Brothers nowadays; after winning big with No country for Old Men, they got a justified nomination for last year's A Serious Man and now for True Grit. Each film they make is as good as the last and it is reassuring that Oscar notices this. Their (own) shock inclusion with A Serious Man was wholeheartedly deserved and actually a better film eventual-winner The Hurt Locker (which was still a fantastic film), and after a complete snub from the Golden Globes, in which a lot of respect and credibility was lost, True Grit was always going to be nominated by the Academy. Not so much a remake of the original, which saw John Wayne win his only Oscar, but a re-adaptation of Charles Portis’ novel, this is a true Western. Starring last years Best Actor winner Jeff Bridges on Oscar-nominated form here, this is film-making at its most stylish. Long-time cinematographer Roger Deakins deserves his consideration here. If there is any justice though, the award True Grit will definitely scoop is Supporting Actress for 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld; she truly delivers one of the best performances out of all the acting nominations of this year. Mattie Ross is the film's heart, and somehow she managed to upstage Bridges and Matt Damon. If that is not Oscar worthy, I don't know what is. As for it winning though, if it wasn't such a strong year (what with The King's Speech and The Social Network battling it out), this would have had such a great chance.

Would it have been nominated before the 10-nomination rule?
Another difficult one – but I say when push came to shove, yes it would have been; and rightfully so. This is one of the most charming films on the list. Great performances, great direction, great script... it actually is one of the only nominated films that has it all. 

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Oscar Nominee #8: Toy Story 3


Make no mistake, Toy Story 3 made amazing trilogies possible and officially launched the animated phenomenon, kick-started in 1995, into ‘Greatest Trilogy Ever’ realms. The highest grossing and most-critically lauded film of 2010, Toy Story 3 was guaranteed an Oscar nomination after Up’s last year. Thanks to the extension of the nominations, Pixar gems are guaranteed to be included no matter what. Toy Story 3 winning the Best Animated Feature Oscar is probably the deadest cert of the night (yep, even ahead of Firth winning Best Actor), which will unfortunately detract from its likelihood of winning the Best Picture. It could happen! But it won’t…

Would it have been nominated before the 10-nomination rule?
Sadly not, the Academy would have settled for its Animated Feature nomination in the mindset that it will win - which is understandable really. At least animation films are being recognised! However, some could say that animation is being overlooked and should not have its separate category. A strong argument, but they would never win - even films as big as Toy Story 3 - if the category wasn't there. Just be thankful for its nomination and monumental completion. Random info: this is the first sequel to be nominated for Best Picture without any of its previous films...

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Thursday, 24 February 2011

Oscar Nominee #7: The Social Network


May I introduce to you the second horse in this years race. The Social Network took a lot of people by surprise and is being seen as a generational, relevant film. Directed by David Fincher and scripted by Aaron Sorkin, everybody expected this to be good, but not great. But a great film it is and will no doubt be rewarded in some way this season (most obviously bagging Best Director for Fincher and Best Screenplay for Sorkin). Personally, this was the second-best film of 2010 for me, behind Inception. Simultaneously a Director's film and a performance film, with heavy bouts of dialogue (the opening scene featuring Jesse Eisenberg and Fincher's future-Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was shot 99 times), The Social Network has tough competition from The King's Speech. Whatever happens though, I doubt anybody saw a film about Facebook becoming such a sensation. This will no doubt endure as a cult classic; and one in which Justin Timberlake was actually pretty impressive.

Would it have been nominated before the 10-nomination rule?
Without a shadow of a doubt. I predicted The Social Network would emerge victorious before the nominations were even announced, and I kind of hope it does.

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Oscar Nominee #6: 127 Hours


I’m going to stand my ground and express annoyance that this film is on the list. The film is not awful, it’s actually not bad and rather watchable. It’s not that I dislike Danny Boyle – I don’t, I think he’s a great talent – but to me, this is a case of simply nominating a film directed by a previous winner. A nomination for the sake of a nomination. If Slumdog Millionaire had not swept up in 2009, this film would not be here, but instead Ben Affleck’s far superior The Town would be. This isn’t to say that 127 Hours is completely undeserving; James Franco (Best Actor nominee and presenter of this year’s ceremony alongside the beautiful Anne Hathaway) displays terrific skills as the incredible story of Aron Ralston plays out on the screen. Danny Boyle didn't receive a Director nomination which lowers its chance and it isn't really a big dog in any of the other nominations. This is here for the sake of being here...

Would it have been nominated before the 10-nomination rule?
Definitely not – out of all the films on the list, this is the one that simply got it due to Franco’s nomination and Boyle’s previous Director win. A simple case of making up the numbers. Don't let this distract you from seeing 127 Hours if you want to - it's extremely watchable, but just the weakest in this category.

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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Oscar Nominee #5: The King's Speech


This film has been a hit in all sense of the word; at festivals, at award ceremonies, in the box office – The King’s Speech really took a small idea and moulded it into a fantastically captured story that caught the hearts of the world entire. I am 100 percent sure that Colin Firth will be this year’s Best Actor, but as for the film scooping Best Picture, it is likely - but does has worthy competition. Tom Hooper has been recognised in the Director category (for making something small so cinematic), which obviously enhances its chances. I have noticed the film receiving something of a backlash recently, especially off the back of its massive win at the BAFTAs, and this is completely unwarranted. Too little, too late? We’ll see. If you ask me though, this euphoric film and one other has the biggest chance. This year's race is a two-horse one, and this has its foot-firmly in the mixer. Not bad for a little film.

Would it have been nominated before the 10 nomination-rule?
No point wasting time here, yes it would have been. Out of all the nominees this year, this is the film with the greatest track record; and lets face it, this is now apparently the biggest favourite Oscar has ever seen. So yeah, a nomination was a dead cert.

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Monday, 21 February 2011

Oscar Nominee #4: The Kids Are All Right


This Sundance smash was always guaranteed Oscar recognition, what with its superb central performances from Julianne Moore, Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo. But more that this, its audacious depiction of a lesbian couple wasn't so much brave, but necessary to make the film what it was. Again, just like The Fighter, it could be claimed that this more an Actor's film than most (especially considering Lisa Cholodenko did not receive a nomination in the Best Director category), but this could have been one hell of a dark horse had Winter's Bone not been included. As it remains, if The Kids Are All Right's inclusion simply raises awareness of this enjoyable, character-driven film, then so be it.

Would it have been nominated before the 10 nomination-rule?
This is difficult – but I would say no. This does fit into the genre of comedy more than any of the other films, and very rarely does a comedy get nominated let alone win Best Picture. However, this does have its fair share of drama, which cancels some of the comic moments out. The only winning film that springs into mind when thinking about The Kid's Are All Right is Terms of Endearment, and on retrospect that wasn't that great a win. It is an incredibly strong race this year and this film is more likely to get noticed in the acting department

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Sunday, 20 February 2011

Best Picture Nominee #3: Inception

 

I shall warn that when it comes to Christopher Nolan, I am just a little bit biased. In my eyes, he is the most talented filmmaker around today; his work is always insanely original (yes, even the Batman films) and his attention to detail is second to none. With that out the way, it’ll come as no surprise that I thought Inception was the best film of 2010 (one film came very close to rivaling it). Easily one of his best, it proved that blockbusters with huge-scale budgets like this can be intellectual and ridiculously rewarding. The only film that wasn’t a remake or a sequel in the top 10 highest grossing films of the year, for that alone Nolan deserved recognition from the Academy. But yet, even though nominated here and in the Best Original Screenplay category, he did not receive a nomination for his direction. Seems like some people are still prejudiced against summer blockbusters…

Would it have been nominated before the 10 nomination-rule?
In a word, no. In fact, it is quite rare that a film as big as this that was not directed by someone who has previously been Oscar nominated for Best Director gets a nomination in the first place (James Cameron got ultra-noms for Avatar due to Titanic). Inception is probably the most original offering in this years line-up, but I think its recognition is unfortunately a case of the Academy attempting to appeal to a mainstream audience – still it is nice that it has been nominated. It is strongly rumoured that the 10-nomination rule was brought about due to The Dark Knight being overlooked in 2009, but if you ask me all of Christopher Nolan''s previous films have been robbed of a nomination. However, people who liked Inception loved it a lot, so if enough members of the Academy praised Nolan's modern classic, then there could be a big (welcome) surprise on 27th February. Then again, probably not

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