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Steven: The list of top ten films this year was not really all that open to discussion. 2010 was a year of few great films, but the few were exceptionally great in most cases. There were no hidden beauties like District 9 anywhere to be found. Nor were there those popular films with decent reception and popularity factoring in (The Blind Side). In the spirit of a wide range, I did think that The Town might get a nomination, but the small but terrific Winter's Bone certainly deserved some recognition. I'm guessing it will get quite a few spins on DVD this month. However, I'm really starting to wonder if The King's Speech has begun inching past The Social Network. The Producer's Guild awarded it top honors (and they're usually very in sync with the Academy). The overwhelming 12 nominations is also a bit of an indicator. I will be curious to see who wins when the films go head-to-head in quite a few categories. Whoever walks away there should be the big winner.
Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
Steven: No surprises here, that is if you're not surprised that Hailee Steinfeld was relegated to Best Supporting Actress. I wasn't, but I'm not happy about her being left off this list. Michelle Williams takes her place here and I'm sure that nomination is deserved though I haven't seen Blue Valentine. This is still Natalie Portman's category to lose, but if she does, it will be only to Annette Bening and no one else. Seeing as this is one of the only places that Black Swan has a shot to win of its five nominations, I would be really bummed if Natalie didn't get it, simply out of reward to Aronofsky's phenomenal film which is arguably being overshadowed by nature of being a thriller/horror film.
Dinah: I like little miss Steinfeld, but she has a snowball’s chance in the devil’s armpit to win this year in either category. Natalie Portman will win Best Actress. However, I must be the only person on the planet that thinks her performance was upstaged both by Barbara Hershey who played her mother and Vincent Cassel who played her director. But this is Portman’s year, and not Hershey’s or Cassel’s. And the young and pregnant starlet will take home the golden statue.
Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Colin Firth (The King's Speech)
James Franco (127 Hours)
Dinah: The Best Actor category usually displays the richest talent from year to year and the 83rd Academy Awards are no exception. Colin Firth, James Franco, Jeff Bridges, and Jesse Eisenberg more than earned their spots in contention. Only Javier Bardem sticks out for an extremely limited foreign release, Biutiful. Jesse Eisenberg received the most buzz this year for his portrayal of the socially inept Facebook creator. However, a part of me still thinks Eisenberg benefitted from his socially awkward appearance and similarity to Mark Zuckerberg. He seems like he’d be annoying, and therefore he portrays annoying characters very well. Colin Firth and Jeff Bridges, however, were able to blend into their roles with the help of makeup and costuming.
Steven: There's no question that Jesse Eisenberg found the role of a lifetime in Mark Zuckerberg in terms of being the perfect fit, but I don't discredit his performance at all for it. I've read snippets of Aaron Sorkin's excellent screenplay and picturing what Jesse did with it in my head -- he deserves a ton of credit. Not sure where his career goes from here, which is a shame, because Best Actor is always a gentleman's club and quite likely this is Colin Firth's turn. Firth was snubbed by fellow nominee Jeff Bridges last year because it was "Bridges' turn." Now you can't help but say it's Colin's, even if Eisenberg never gets another chance. Sucks to be young. I'd be baffled but ecstatic if Eisenberg wins.
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)
Steven: The last few years we've had one unquestionable winner coming out of this group: Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men, Heath Ledger as The Joker and Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds -- all were locks. Christian Bale will not change that trend, but I suppose he will change the trend of the Academy rewarding villainous amoral characters (okay, maybe not amoral). Geoffrey Rush represents his only real competition as good as Jeremy Renner was. Andrew Garfield should have been among them, perhaps in place of Mark Ruffalo. I don't usually side with the HFPA, but they had it right in nominating the future Peter Parker.
Dinah: I agree on the Andrew Garfield snub. Jeremy Renner was a scene stealer in The Town, but the release date was too early for real contention. Christian Bale similarly stole the show in The Fighter, but has the benefit of a more popular name and a movie that is still playing widely in theaters. His portrayal of Dickie Ecklund was both tragic and disgusting. He warped his body, voice, and style for the role and despite some cheesy moments did appropriately play his role.
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)
Dinah: Two thumbs down for the snub of Marianne Collitard and her portrayal of Mal in Inception but kudos for giving a child actress a boost in her career. Hailee Steinfeld won’t win an Oscar this year, but the young starlet is on her way to a bright future if she keeps off drugs, alcohol, and Paris Hilton. Melissa Leo should take home the prize just as she did the Golden Globe.
Steven: I would hate to see Steinfeld become another Haley Joel Osment or something, but I'm guessing she's got smart parents and a good head on her shoulders. Rumor is she'll have a role in The Hunger Games, possibly the lead, even though she's a tad young at the moment. Still, that's a smart career move too if she can bag it. Oh yeah, Oscars -- I don't know if I agree with Marion Cotillard. I mean, sure I think she was terrific, but I suppose in knowing the Academy, a great performance in a blockbuster might as well be a walk-on part in a Best Picture winner. Unless your name is Heath Ledger, you can forget about it. And yes, I agree that it's definitely Melissa Leo. Hopefully we will continue to see her attached to bigger projects.
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)
David O. Russell (The Fighter)
Dinah: It is exciting to see True Grit receiving recognition from the Academy after a blackout from the Hollywood Foreign Press. It has exceptional performances, wonderful dialogue, and beautiful score to boot. But this is David Fincher and Darren Aronofsky’s territory and I’m not one to take a side. It is only disappointing to see Christopher Nolan overlooked for his blockbuster and crowd pleaser Inception.
Steven: We could weep over Nolan forever, but I'd rather him continue to do give us intelli-blockbusters for his whole life and never be nominated than ever pander to the Academy. Still, tough when your favorites get burned. That aside, I think all the nominees in this category are outstanding. If Fincher wins the Director's Guild Award, then he'll keep sweeping through past the big night. At the same time, many are calling Black Swan a "director's film" and if Fincher hadn't drummed up genius out of a dude typing 1/3 of the film, Aronofsky would run away with the award.
Best Original Screenplay
Mike Leigh (Another Year)
Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy (The Fighter)
Christopher Nolan (Inception)
Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right)
David Seidler (The King's Speech)
Steven: At least Christopher Nolan got the nod here. Anything less would've been five times the outrage his missing out on a Best Director nomination was. Seidler's script to have not been based on previous material was tremendous and The Kids Are All Right was one of the most unique and intriguing family dramas I've ever seen. The Academy absolutely loves Mike Leigh, so no surprise there. The choice to go with The Fighter over Black Swan was interesting. The story of the "Swan" was so much more original and interesting, but like "Speech," The Fighter was not based on previous material yet told an amazing story. Clearly, Academy members have denoted "Swan" as "style over substance."
Dinah: Black Swan was a layered and intensely haunting tale. Darren Arnofsky’s camerawork merely amplifies a deliberately fractured story about a beautifully fracturing ballerina. Academy members make bad choices, as decades of evidence have shown us. That being said, this is a category for Christopher Nolan to win. He came up with the most original concept of the year, and rendered it in a highly stylized narrative. But given his luck, he’ll go home empty handed.
Best Original Score
127 Hours (A.R. Rahman)
How to Train Your Dragon (John Powell)
Inception (Hans Zimmer)
The King's Speech (Alexandre Desplat)
The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
Dinah: If Hans Zimmer does not win this award for his work on Inception I am will never watch the Oscars again. Well, I probably will but I will be upset at least until the next commercial break. Music was a key player in setting the mood of inception; and who can forget the thunderous gong resounding throughout the movie. I would have liked to see a nod to Daft Punk for Tron: Legacy in this mix over The King’s Speech. The period film had forgettable sound, whereas the futuristic adventure was as downloadable as it was effective. 127 Hours also utilized music well, but the Golden Globe win for The Social Network was a jaw-dropping travesty.
Steven: Although I'm pretty convinced Reznor and Ross have this thing wrapped up given all the other awards their The Social Network score has received, I'll admit that if ever there was a time to award Hans Zimmer, it's now. He won back in 1995 for The Lion King. I don't know about you, but his was not the music I walked away humming after that film ... but you're right, his score was a huge piece of that movie, just huge. And Daft Punk should've seen a nomination. Desplat's score for "Speech" had some nice moments, but by and large that's Desplat for you: pleasant and strong, but unmemorable for the most part. Daft Punk's music was the glue for Tron: Legacy as the film was all about creating a tone.
Best Documentary Feature
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Steven: I'm only surprised that Waiting for Superman, a film by Oscar winner David Guggenheim that a year ago took home the Audience Award at Sundance, was not nominated. Many regional critics' associations nominated or awarded the film Best Documentary (it won best do from the National Board of Review), but here it was snubbed. I'm all for small-scale documentaries getting accolades, but I was shocked to see it not even make the final five. I have my work cut out for me, however, as I've not seen any of these films and have heard some phenomenal things.Exit Through the Gift Shop is supposed to be outstanding and I think I've got that slated to win it.
Dinah: Key words are “a year ago.” Academy voters are not partial to movies outside of a tight window. And Waiting for Superman, along with the actual nominees, never received much press. This is a category true documentary heads get into, and I’m hoping the vignettes on the big day prove their merit in contention as I have also not seen the list of films.
Best Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I
Iron Man 2
Steven: Hereafter for one tsunami scene and shots of "souls in fog" over Tron: Legacy? You've got to be kidding. The fact that "Tron" received not a single nomination completely baffles me. You can snub them here, but you have to give Oscar nominee Claudio Miranda a cinematography nomination at least. The production value of "Tron" was tremendous. I can only chalk this up to Academy members not going to see it because it was an okay-reviewed blockbuster. And Disney probably focused too much on pushing Toy Story 3. Then again, I digress, because Inception better steal this award in its sleep (and that would be fitting).
Dinah: Hereafter is one of the few nominees on the entire roster of nominees that had a "rotten" score on Rotten Tomatoes. This film was one of Matt Damon’s string of stinkers before a decent turn in True Grit. It has no business on this list for the visual effects used in the movie. The tsunami scene was an epic scale, but still looked phony in comparison to the Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End cyclone. Yogi Bear had better visual effects.