Month: January 2011

Someone’s Hot For Oscar; Predicting the Academy Award Nominations

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To begin this year’s Oscar predictions with continued harping over last year’s pitiful excuse for an Academy Awards ceremony would be to completely demean the conspicuously-outstanding American cinematic offerings 2010 served up. But to hell with that, I’m in the mood for bitching, and Kathryn Bigelow and Sandra Bullock still personally owe me for the distress they caused in my life around this time last year.  I’ll most likely be taking my tears and backhanded compliments elsewhere this year, particularly casting shade on what, if the Golden Globes are any indication, could potentially turn out to upset even last year’s Oscar telecast as one of the worst in the AMPAS’ longstanding (and long-respected) history.

The problem I’ve had with the Academy for quite some time now is their increasing insistence on insulting their many followers, not unlike myself, who somehow find it within themselves to hinge what is basically their entire lives on a single telecast that’s gradually making its way down from being the precipice of artistic recognition to a night full of industry favors upheld by a “we need to like you so people like us” nomination process. If last year taught us anything, it’s that giving into societal agendas and journalistic ideals of catchy headlines (First Woman Wins Best Director!) for free press has apparently turned into the Academy’s game.  I mean, absolutely no one but a casual moviegoing public who didn’t see much more than the commercially-friendly The Blind Side could possibly even begin to consider Sandy’s performance as 2009’s crowning achievement of female performances.  The fact remains that Sandra Bullock is a crowd-pleasing, widely-appealing ‘star’ and not a gifted actress. She’s an essential part of what makes Hollywood a business; she’s marketable, relatable, likeable, and just rubs America the right way in general, making it easy for the AMPAS to align themselves with her.

All bitching aside, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that this year’s race to watch out for is Supporting Actress, a category that’s generally one-sided and ultimately locked months before the nomination process even begins. No clear frontrunner has emerged amidst a group of women whose performances are as brilliant as they are ambiguously fitting for both the Lead and Supporting categories (I’m looking at you, Lesley Manfield and Hailee Steinfeld). Both could fall into either category depending on how the Academy chooses to dole out the nominations this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they give both potentials a spot in the Supporting category to make room for some powerhouse players in the Lead category (I’m thinking Moore, Kidman, Williams, and even Swank as an outside pick have a shot this year).  Amy Adams is the only definitive lock at this point, with Melissa Leo potentially creeping in as the category’s alternate. The case of Mila Kunis, on the other hand, is one that has me scratching my head a bit; Her work in the film clearly pales in comparison to what she’ll potentially be up against, seeing as she’s the obligatory “let’s fit the seeming frontrunner into as many categories as possible to up its tally” acting nomination this year. Her’s is neither a girthy or substantial role at all with literally not much for her to work with. A sufficient turn, but nothing Oscar-worthy. I do love me some sweet lips, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like her role is one which is enhanced by  the atmospherics and diegetic emphasis placed upon it, not necessarily by the output of Kunis herself. It’s a role anyone would have been nominated for if they were casted in it simply because of the containing film’s momentum going into the nominations, it just so happens Mila was lucky enough to get it. You can’t forget about Helena Bonham Carter either, although something’s telling me she could be the surprise snub (although rightfully so) of the Awards this year.

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Keeping up with the ladies of 2010, Lead Actress should prove no less exciting than Supporting Actress will be. Annette Bening and Natalie Portman have been locks for months now, and not a thing will change that by come tomorrow morning. I’m confident in placing Kidman as the third in line as of right now, with Moore trailing just behind her. The fifth spot, however, is a complete toss-up. It’s hard to say who exactly would “fit” in with the typical awards season momentum going into the nominations (seeing as not one other performance has consistently garnered accolades across the circuit), but at this point I’m most inclined to say Michelle Williams (interchangeable with Lesley Manville or Steinfeld, if one or both are not placed in Supporting, with Moore as the other alternate here as well) is the likely holder of the fifth spot. I’d be entirely unsurprised if Jennifer Lawrence or even Hilary Swank made their way past Williams despite their earlier-in-the-year releases losing the majority of the buzz they’d garnered. This fifth spot becomes entirely crucial to Portman’s road to a win on Oscar night as well, seeing as a win is most likely for her if both Leading Ladies from The Kids are All Right snag spots (Bening is a lock, Moore is up in the air) as the Academy could likely split if this is the scenario.

The men’s race has been pretty low-key this year, seeing as veteran mainstays (Jeff Bridges, Robert DuVall) each gave expert turns in crucially-timed-and-released pictures that pandered directly to Oscar voters. James Franco is likely to sneak into the fifth spot based on the director’s namesake on his performance’s containing film alone, trailing just behind Jesse Eisenberg and Colin Firth for their respective turns in Lead roles. Supporting male is, for the second year in a row, the least enticing of all the acting categories this year. Christian Bale obviously leads the pack in terms of buzz coming off of his crucial win at the Globes, and putting your money on Geoffrey Rush as a potential nominee wouldn’t be a bad idea either. The rest of the slots are a complete toss-up, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who could potentially fill the rest of the slots, ranging anywhere from Jeremy Renner in The Town to even Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right.

Best Director should also prove to be an interesting race albeit a tad predictable in terms of the nominations. I can’t see anyone other than Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper, David Fincher, and Christopher Nolan even coming close to snagging a nomination slot aside from the slight chance that The Coen’s might edge out Russell.

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The now-all-inclusive Best Picture race is proving to be a tad more exciting than last year’s as well, with about 11 or 12 of the year’s best films all realistically vying for the coveted 10 slots. Black Swan, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3, and True Grit are all definitive locks and that’s no surprise to anyone; it’s the remaining 3 slots that have me stumped. I can absolutely see the Academy pandering to the Indie crowd they sort of drastically alienated over the past two years and giving both Another Year and Blue Valentine (I can dream, can’t I?) some love, and placing Inception atop the package as a finishing touch to please the masses. A long outside guess has me thinking The Town or 127 Hours could sneak in there as well.

But if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that the AMPAS are growing increasingly more liberal with their classification choices in many major categories (ahem, going as far as to consider Kate Winslet’s performance in The Reader as Leading and placing The Blind Side alongside Precious and An Education in the Best Picture category) and that’s ultimately what I think this year’s major categories will come down to as well; how the Academy decided to classify certain performances over others. But I can’t say I’ll be surprised at any of what unfolds tomorrow morning, just elated that neither Kathryn Bigelow, Sandra Bullock, and Kate Winslet will be  without cause for celebration come 5:30 AM.

PREDICTIONS

Best Picture

Black Swan

The King’s Speech

The Fighter

Inception

The Kids Are All Right

The Social Network

True Grit

Inception

Blue Valentine

Toy Story 3

Outside Shots: Shutter Island, Another Year, Winter’s Bone

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right

Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole

Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right

Outside Shots: Hilary Swank Conviction, Jennifer Lawrence Winter’s Bone, Hailee Steinfeld True Grit

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Robert DuVall, Get Low

Jeff Bridges, True Grit

Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network

Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine

Outside Shots: James Franco 127 Hours

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Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams, The Figther

Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Mila Kunis, Black Swan

Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Outside Shots: Lesley Manville, Another Year

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale, The Fighter

Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

Andrew Garfield, The Social Network

Jeremy Renner, The Town

Best Director

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

Christopher Nolan, Inception

David O. Russell, The Fighter

Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

David Fincher, The Social Network

Outside Shots: Mike Leigh Another Year, Martin Scorcese Shutter Island, The Coen Brothers True Grit

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The Canada of Awards Season; Predicting the Winners

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Awards season typically unfolds in one of two fashions; predictably or, um, unpredictably.  And in a year when the pickings are as slim as Isabelle Caro’s arms and quality cinema sticks out just as much as her ribs (pa-POW, two too-soons in a row!), it remains the sole responsibility for the Hollywood Foreign Press-Whores Association to stir things up as best as they can.

In what can be viewed as perhaps the most hilariously out-of-touch years for the HFPA, 2010 ended up reaffirming what everyone already knew to be true; the Association is nothing more than a large group of aging (and annoyingly sentimental) gays whose only purpose is to be entirely unsurprising in their overly-gracious ‘recognition’ of an undeserving Hollywood elite, festering their own delirious attempts at ousting the Oscars as the King (who am I kidding…Queen) of all awards shows. I mean, did anyone aside from the cultured gay sub-community actually see Burlesque or The Tourist? Both films are nominated in the Comedic Picture categories more than once, baffling both mainstream critics, bloggers, and generally anyone with a pair of eyes, the ability to sit through Burlesque, and their impending (undoubtedly viscious) negative response to it. One theory suggests that producers and publicists for the film actually carted large portions of the HFPA away on vacation and sent each and every one of them a gift basket that included the film on pre-release DVD. Apparently one such member of the HFPA was insulted enough by receiving a copy of Cher’s Immobile Face from the film’s publicity department that he shot Ronni Chasen. But who could blame him? Self defense is entirely understandable, and receiving a copy of that film can certainly be considered an attack on one’s safety.

And I guess the point I’m trying to arrive at is that the Comedic categories of the Globes seem only to serve the purpose of promoting that one ‘good’ Comedy, the ‘offbeat’ critics’ darling that no one really saw. This year that film would undoubtedly be The Kids Are All Right, literally a drama yet holed into the comedic category in an attempt at inclusivity that ends up alienating more than encompassing due to the category’s lack of serious legitimacy audiences have learned to regard such a subdivision with.  I mean, it just looks comical to have one of the most progressive, impactful, socially-relevant, and emotionally-touching portraits of a contemporary family nominated next to a film that celebrates superficiality and cattiness. I’m looking at you again, Burlesque. Photobucket

But enough of my usual pre-telecast bitching, I’ll let the nominees speak for themselves. Peep my predictions for the impending snoozefest below:

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Nominees:

Black Swan (2010) – Predicted Winner 

The Fighter (2010)

Inception (2010)

The King’s Speech (2010)

The Social Network (2010)

The HFPA seems to have gravitated towards Arronofsky’s body of work more quickly than the AMPAS, and for that I genuinely give them credit. Their flair for unabashed theatrics and true melodrama (artful, skilled melodrama, not the cliché kind) incline me to believe Black Swan will undoubtedly take the cake here, seeing as the massive amounts of buzz surrounding the picture have literally quadrupled in intensity since the film’s release has gone wider and wider.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Burlesque (2010/I)

The Kids Are All Right (2010) – Predicted Winner

Red (2010/I)

The Tourist (2010)

Do I even need to explain?

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Nominees:

Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network (2010)

Colin Firth for The King’s Speech (2010) – Predicted Winner

James Franco for 127 Hours (2010)

Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine (2010)

Mark Wahlberg for The Fighter (2010)

My hope is that the AMPAS takes note of the HFPA’s insistence on nominating smaller pictures with little to no mainstream support this year, seeing as Blue Valentine contains a truly career-defining performance that will undoubtedly go down as Gosling’s best. I’m not sure if he or Franco can muster the votes to pull off a win in the category (Wahlberg’s in the same boat as well) seeing as the performances don’t have enough critical backing, and Eisenberg’s performance is nothing more than a tack-on to the far too long list of things The Social Network has been decorated with simply because it’s currently socially relevant (but will soon disappear like the fad its subject material is), so the only reasonable outcome I can see here is that the HFPA award Firth a win.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Nominees:

Halle Berry for Frankie and Alice (2010)

Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole (2010) – Predicted Winner

Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone (2010)

Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010)

Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (2010)

Jennifer Lawrence’s buzz got a little exciting there, didn’t it? I thought she was a shoe-in for Best Actress at the upcoming Oscars, but the sheer intensity of the categorical race this late in the game could shut her out entirely, seeing as Hollywood Elite actresses have all but erased her from critical leaderboards with their names alone. I have such a hard time believing Frankie and Alice was seen by the entire HFPA let alone Berry’s performance being good enough to warrant a nomination, but I guess we’ll never know considering the film has yet to see substantial (and backed) commercial release. I’m in love with Williams’ recognition, however, seeing as her performance is hands-down the most painful and moving of the year. It’ll come down to a battle of whose name is bigger, however, with Kidman likely to edge out Portman.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

Johnny Depp for The Tourist (2010)

Johnny Depp for Alice in Wonderland (2010) – Predicted Winner

Paul Giamatti for Barney’s Version (2010)

Jake Gyllenhaal for Love and Other Drugs (2010)

Kevin Spacey for Casino Jack (2010)

I swear to god the jokers in the HFPA look through the year’s resumes for Hollywood Elite and pick the one categorical film that actor did and nominated it simply because the industry produced nothing more substantial during the year. I have no idea where to even begin speculation surrounding these men, considering the awards season buzz for each and every single one of these performances has been literally nonexistent even after these nominees were announced. I’m assuming Depp’s votes will split, but then again the other performances nominated have little critical backing and would look ridiculous on the HFPA’s hands. I’m truly stumped on this one, so I’ll give it to “the name” because I have no idea who else to suspect.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (2010) – Predicted Winner

Anne Hathaway for Love and Other Drugs (2010)

Angelina Jolie for The Tourist (2010)

Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Emma Stone for Easy A (2010)

The words “Angelina Jolie” and “comedy” simply don’t go together, and even she (speaking at the premiere of the film she’s nominated for here) mocked her inclusion in the category earlier last year. I’m truly glad to see Emma Stone get some recognition for a performance that actually fits within the typical standards of what one might consider a truly skilled “Comedic” performance. If it were up to me, Stone would win based on legitimately being apart of the only real ‘comedy’ within this list of nominees, but Bening will win in order to cement the HFPA’s credibility when she wins her Oscar later this year.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Nominees:

Christian Bale for The Fighter (2010)

Michael Douglas for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

Andrew Garfield for The Social Network (2010)

Jeremy Renner for The Town (2010)

Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech (2010) – Predicted Winner

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Nominees:

Amy Adams for The Fighter (2010) – Predicted Winner

Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech (2010)

Mila Kunis for Black Swan (2010)

Melissa Leo for The Fighter (2010)

Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (2010)

Best Director – Motion Picture

Nominees:

Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (2010) – Predicted Winner

David Fincher for The Social Network (2010)

Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech (2010)

Christopher Nolan for Inception (2010)

David O. Russell for The Fighter (2010)

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Nominees:

127 Hours (2010): Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy

Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan

The Kids Are All Right (2010): Stuart Blumberg, Lisa CholodenkoPredicted Winner

The King’s Speech (2010): David Seidler

The Social Network (2010): Aaron Sorkin

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

Nominees:

Burlesque (2010/I): Samuel Dixon, Christina Aguilera, Sia Furler(“Bound to You”)

Burlesque (2010/I): Diane Warren(“You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me”) – Predicted Winner 

Country Strong (2010): Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges(“Coming Home”)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010): Carrie Underwood, David Hodges, Hillary Lindsey(“There’s A Place For Us”)

Tangled (2010): Alan Menken, Glenn Slater(“I See the Light”)

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Nominees:

127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman

Alice in Wonderland (2010): Danny Elfman

Inception (2010): Hans ZimmerPredicted Winner

The King’s Speech (2010): Alexandre Desplat

The Social Network (2010): Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Best Animated Film

Nominees:

Despicable Me (2010)

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

The Illusionist (2010)

Tangled (2010)

Toy Story 3 (2010) – Predicted Winner

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees:

Biutiful (2010)(Mexico/Spain) – Predicted Winner 

The Concert (2009)(France)

The Edge (2010)(Russia)

I Am Love (2009)(Italy)

In a Better World (2010)(Denmark)

Best Television Series – Drama

Nominees:

“Boardwalk Empire” (2009) – Predicted Winner

“Dexter” (2006)

“The Good Wife” (2009)

“Mad Men” (2007)

“The Walking Dead” (2010)

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

“The Big Bang Theory” (2007)

“The Big C” (2010)

“Glee” (2009)

“Modern Family” (2009) – Predicted Winner

“Nurse Jackie” (2009)

“30 Rock” (2006)

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Nominees:

“Carlos” (2010)

“The Pacific” (2010)

“The Pillars of the Earth” (2010)

Temple Grandin (2010) (TV) – Predicted Winner

You Don’t Know Jack (2010) (TV)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television

Nominees:

Hayley Atwell for “The Pillars of the Earth” (2010)

Claire Danes for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV) – Predicted Winner

Judi Dench for “Cranford” (2007)

Romola Garai for “Emma” (2009)

Jennifer Love Hewitt for The Client List (2010) (TV)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

Alec Baldwin for “30 Rock” (2006) – Predicted Winner

Steve Carell for “The Office” (2005)

Thomas Jane for “Hung” (2009)

Matthew Morrison for “Glee” (2009)

Jim Parsons for “The Big Bang Theory” (2007)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Nominees:

Toni Collette for “United States of Tara” (2009)

Edie Falco for “Nurse Jackie” (2009)

Tina Fey for “30 Rock” (2006) – Predicted Winner

Laura Linney for “The Big C” (2010)

Lea Michele for “Glee” (2009)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

Nominees:

Steve Buscemi for “Boardwalk Empire” (2009)

Bryan Cranston for “Breaking Bad” (2008) – Predicted Winner

Michael C. Hall for “Dexter” (2006)

Jon Hamm for “Mad Men” (2007)

Hugh Laurie for “House M.D.” (2004)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

Nominees:

Julianna Margulies for “The Good Wife” (2009) – Predicted Winner

Elisabeth Moss for “Mad Men” (2007)

Piper Perabo for “Covert Affairs” (2010)

Katey Sagal for “Sons of Anarchy” (2008)

Kyra Sedgwick for “The Closer” (2005)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Nominees:

Scott Caan for “Hawaii Five-0” (2010)

Chris Colfer for “Glee” (2009)

Chris Noth for “The Good Wife” (2009)

Eric Stonestreet for “Modern Family” (2009)

David Strathairn for Temple Grandin (2010) (TV) – Predicted Winner

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television

Nominees:

Hope Davis for The Special Relationship (2010) (TV)

Jane Lynch for “Glee” (2009) –  Predicted Winner

Kelly Macdonald for “Boardwalk Empire” (2009)

Julia Stiles for “Dexter” (2006)

Sofía Vergara for “Modern Family” (2009)  

 

Tyra(nt) Turns it Around; Cycle 15’s Ann Ward in Vogue Italia

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Saying that a singluar contestant, one of the many long-legged (or stub-equipped, as in the case of Cycle 13) beauties who have graced our television screens on Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model since 2003, is the crowning achievement of the 8 year old series would be similar to hailing a track on Christina Aguilera’s Bionic as the most listenable; in other words, it’s not much of a compliment. But Cycle 15’s Ann Ward is certainly looking to prove each and every one of the show’s detractors wrong by being the first of such alumni to win one of the most sought-after modeling opportunities in the actual fashion industry itself, a realm Tyra’s little wannabes have had trouble strutting into ever since the show’s inception.

Ward won’t be the first Top Model cast member to grace the pages of Italian Vogue (Cycle 3’s Toccara Jones fabbed-up the pages a few years ago as part of their “Black Models” tribute) but she will be the first to land a cover of any sort of publication within the Vogue family; while she won’t be headlining Vogue Italia, she’ll be splattered front and center with the words “America’s Next Top Model” no doubt gaudily plastered in conjunction with her face, emphasizing why she’s there as if someone in the  industry would dare think the illuminati the Vogue family would ever put a winner of a reality show on one of their covers by the grace of their own will. Francesca Sozzani apparently has a sense of humor and a void in her wallet; mama has bills to pay, and Tyra is apparently playing sugar daddy for this little Italian gold digger…and, well, I guess Ward would be Tyra’s gargantuan forcibly-entered penis penetrating the pages of Vogue as compensation.

Anyhow, the first set of pictures from Ward’s freshman (and probably only) stint in the Vogue family have been released, giving us a glimpse of the true supermodel Ward could have been if only she hadn’t appeared on America’s Next Top Model. Give me more weave pats, drunk shrubbery conversations, and just more Angeleas and Jades in general because seeing the scum of our generation’s reality is less depressing than showing us what genuine talent you’ve destroyed with the stigma of your show, Miss Tyra.
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