Saturday 26 February 2011

Slacker Cinema's Oscar Predictions

You know when people thrust their opinions on you because they think they know better than you, and you should really be sharing their viewpoint if you want to get anywhere in life? Well here's my list of Oscar predictions, every one of them a guaranteed winner... hopefully.

Let's be honest, this one's in the bag. As has been said time and time again, Colin Firth really should have won Best Actor for A Single Man last year, but it's not just retribution that means he should take it this year. The King's Speech was a great drama, largely due to the performance of Mr Firth, and although his closest competition is probably Jeff Bridges again, Big C should edge him out for the win this year. Is it his best performance ever? No, that would be A Single Man, but it's still an award worthy performance and it'd be foolish to bet against him winning the Oscar. Plus he's called Colin, which as we all know is the best name ever.

Not quite a dead cert, but it won't shock anyone if Natalie Portman takes to the stage to collect the Best Actress Oscar. She's the successful child actress who's managed to graduate to more mature roles seamlessly, and although she's got a couple of slightly crappy looking films coming out later this year (Your Highness, no thanks), that shouldn't affect her chances. Black Swan is all about her performance and is more compelling to watch than any of her co-nominees, and although there's some late in the race buzz for Annette Bening, if she wins it over Portman it'd be a travesty. Not that there's anything wrong with Ms. Bening's performance in The Kids Are All Right, but it's a supporting role at best.

Firstly, I was thrilled to see that John Hawkes earnt himself a nomination for his work in Winters Bone, as it's a terrifying performance that should be seen. But it's probably going to be Christian Bale's role of Dicky Eklund that finally bags him an Academy Award. I'll be honest that when I saw The Fighter, at first I thought that Bale's performance was a little over the top, but the coda at the end featuring the real Dicky Eklund proved how accurate Bale's bravado really was. Seeing as both Andrew Garfield and Ben Mendelsohn were snubbed for nominations, I think Bale's only real competition for the award is Geoffrey Rush, but I don't expect the ceremony to be quite the King's Speech whitewash everyone is fearing.

It's incredibly unfair that Hailee Steinfeld's performance has been relegated to a supporting role, as she's clearly the lead actress in True Grit. Not only should she have been given the opportunity to take on Portman and Bening in the Best Actress category, she had every chance of winning the award. Why should the Oscar ceremony be about rewarding established careers when it could be about praising new talent? The politics got in the way of her winning there, but things should be righted here. I don't expect Amy Adams or Melissa Leo to trouble her chances much, and although Jacki Weaver is excellent in Animal Kingdom, Steinfeld's only real opponent is Helena Bonham Carter. HBC gave a fantastic comic performance is The King's Speech, but for her memorable affecting performance it should be Hailee Steinfeld who takes home the award.

One of the most hotly contested categories this year, but the award should go to David Fincher. Taking what could have simply been 'the facebook movie' and turning it into a modern classic, this could well be Fincher's year. Again it's a category that has some glaring omissions (where's Christopher Nolan?), but I can't see Fincher's chances being threatened by David O. Russell or Tom Hooper. I do think that the Coen's and Darren Aronofsky could well be in with a chance of causing an upset, as there is some dispute over whether the success of The Social Network is down more to Aaron Sorkin's script than Fincher's direction. Personally, I think it's the combination of the two that have set this film apart, and both deserve recognition for their efforts.

Of course the continuing twist this year is that there are TEN Best Picture nominees instead of the regular five. It's almost too easy to discount the five films that don't also have a nomination for Best Director, but they don't always follow suit and could cause some surprises. However, I don't think there will be this year, and fully expect The Social Network to win Best Picture as well as Best Director. I reckon all the awards will be fairly spread out among the nominated films, and wouldn't expect there to be any runaway success sweeping the boards. There's a couple of films in this category that (although welcome) don't really stand a chance of gaining the attention of Oscar voters. Those would be Inception and Toy Story 3, both potential worthy winners but destined to miss out on the big prize. Once again it's down to politics, and The Social Network could feasibly lose out to Harvey Weinstein's The King's Speech, but if there's any justice, it'll be the story of Mark Zuckerberg and his 500 Million friends who'll win.

I'm not going to dwell too long on this category because (rather annoyingly) I'll admit that I've only seen one of the nominated films. Still, I rewatched Exit Through The Gift Shop again the other night and it's just as brilliant as it was the first time, so I'm going to take the leap and give it my vote. With its potentially staged scenario it plays with the documentary genre in an interesting way, and it's absolutely hilarious to boot. I'm not sure if the rebellious Banksy in his Monkey mask will appeal to Oscar voters, but it'd be pretty awesome if he took to the stage to collect an Oscar, wouldn't it? I'd imagine he'd rather send up Sacheen Littlefeather to collect the award like Marlon Brando did, but dressed like Osama Bin Laden or something.

Do you know what? I absolutely loved How To Train Your Dragon, but when you're up against a film that's also been nominated in the Best Picture category, they must just know they've got no chance of winning in this category. Not only is Toy Story 3 the end of the story and the culmination of Pixar's greatest work, it's a really funny film with great characters. I'm not saying Pixar deserve to win it every year (I don't reckon Cars 2 stands a chance next year), but if it wasn't for them and this particular toy based franchise, there probably wouldn't even be an Animated Feature Film category. Toy Story 3 is not only the best animated film of last year, it's one of the best films overall, so it's a safe bet to name this one the winner.

Working from Ben Mezrich's book The Accidental Billionaires, it's fair to say that Aaron Sorkin's stamp is all over The Social Network. Again the main competition is coming from True Grit but if Aaron Sorkin's tireless campaigning for The Social Network has proven anything, it's that this was a labour of love for him. Mezrich's book was an informative but unpolished document of very recent history, and Sorkin has been able to mould believable characters, gripping dialogue and heated exchanges out of it. He deserves the win.

This category could go many ways, but Inception was one of the best film of last year and deserves to win something for bringing sci-fi to the masses. There's some impressive dramas in the mix, but Mike Leigh's Another Year shouldn't win due to it being heavily improvised. The King's Speech is possibly the favourite and could quite easily walk away with it, but it'd be unfair if Christopher Nolan walked away with nothing for Inception. Complex it may be, but its success proved that audiences were willing to invest in a quality, well made science fiction film.

So there's my picks for who's going to take home the statuettes on Sunday night. I'll do a round up of the winners on Monday morning so come back then to see if I'm drastically wrong or uncharacteristically right. I don't believe I've made any foolish choices but if anyone's allowed to put me in my place it's the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Go on then Franco and Hathaway, teach me a lesson you smug bastards.

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