Natalie Portman

Top 10 Films of 2010

Photobucket

10 – Mother and Child (Rodrigo Garcia)

In a film that contains what has to be Naomi Watts’ 193856th underappreciated performance of the past 10 years, Rodrigo Garcia paints an emotionally-charged (and altogether disheartening) outlook on motherhood with Mother and Child. Garcia’s de-emphasis on feminine objectivity that usually plagues his films goes to show how much his style is changing for the better. Here he takes a step back, treats his subjects with emotional precision, and finally lets his audience envelop themselves in his intricate vision for once.

 

Photobucket
9 – Catfish (Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman)

If I’m going to be completely honest (and those of you who’ve seen this one undoubtedly will agree) I still haven’t been able to convince myself that Catfish is either a brilliant (and altogether shot with heapings of luck) documentation of reality or a scripted farse into societal criticism. One thing’s for sure, the film’s ambiguity completely adds to the depth and complexity of Joost and Schulman’s is-it-or-isn’t-it-real “documentary”, that is at once mesmerizing because of its careful narrative handling that plays into conventions of fictional genres yet retains without a doubt a “real” depiction of  a disturbing portrait of one of an extremely grim side of human nature. Because we’re told the film is “real”, just as in a fiction, our disbelief is suspended due to the sheer ludicrosity of the entire thing once we understand what’s actually going on; regardless, the film contains one of the most moving conclusions you’re likely to experience this side of pre-90’s Streep material.

Photobucket
8 – Animal Kingdom (David Michôd)

Foreign entries into the US market were surprisingly strong last year, an no film better exemplifies the increasingly brutal foreign worldview than Australia’s Animal Kingdom. Gorgeous cinematography contrasts beautifully with an intensely gritty (and altogether grim) narrative that puts even the darkest American crime dramas of the 80s to shame. At once hinting at such nostalgic genre conventions with its clever interplay of gangsters vs. good guys, the film never ostentatiously demonizes its subjects; smack dab in the middle of the action lies an extremely poignant coming-of-age  tale that plays the dysfunctional family note to dazzling dischord, creating a fabulous intentionally conflicted (and expertly so) atmosphere. Jacki Weaver takes a masterful turn as the matriarch of a closely-knit family of viscious criminals, playing saccharinely aloof for the film’s bulk yet employing a genius shift of character towards the film’s conclusion that truly drives the whole home.

Photobucket
7 – The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko)

If only AMPAS agendas could have been placed on hold for just another year, because if ever there was a year to commemorate female directors, 2010 was it. But since the Academy is notorious for having issues with keeping its agendized member zipped in its pants, most of the films helmed by female hands have gone largely unrecognized at least from a behind-the-scenes standpoint. Lisa Cholodenko’s largely progressive drama centers around a family that has issues with, well, being a family. Yes, the film is about two lesbians striving to keep their family together, but the beauty of Cholodenko’s (co-written by Stuart Blumberg) script lies within its de-emphasis on a would-be message of social acceptance, choosing to instead hone in on universal familial ideals versus romanticizing (and altogether exploiting) the fact that the protagonists happen to be lesbians. Their sexuality almost becomes an afterthought, seeing as we are heavily engrossed with what they’re doing versus who they, well, prefer to do. Yes, the film undoubtedly is as progressive as they come (at least for a mainstream audience), but that’s only at the hands of us consumers who choose to propel it forward and adopt it as a vehicle for change. But the fact that the picture has had success simply as a genuinely good film in the eyes of a mass public is where its success lies; its very non-boastful, plain existence in itself is its social triumph.

Photobucket
6 – Mother (Bong Joon-ho)

Having an intense affinity for Asian cinema might make me a sucker for anything quintessentially minimal, but Bong Joon-ho’s epic entry into the largely-underappreciated Korean film scene is anything but subdued. Mother stands apart from its Korean brethren thanks to risky cinematography and an emphasis on some of the most wondrously quirky imagery I’ve ever seen; opening the film is a shot of the title character ceremoniously dancing amidst a bleak backdrop of the Korean wilderness, arguing an almost anti-feminist point that a mother’s love for her son is all-consuming, almost elevating her from her bleak, mundane surroundings (that everyone else can clearly see) and giving way to such an outlandish public (yet ultimately secluded) display. The offbeat handling of the film’s narrative (which involves a woman desperately seeking to prove her mentally-challenged son’s innocence in the face of accusations of murder) switches between dark, brooding melodrama and elements of campy maternal excess, yet one portion of the narrative never once feels out of place or disjointed from another. The zaniness of the film works to mimic the, well, “different” (and by different, I mean slightly odd by societally-conditioned standards) lives its central characters choose to lead.  Kim Hye-ja is pitch-perfect in a role that demanded less than what she gives, but her excess and commitment to such an odd character elevates the film’s message about self-assurance in the face of adversity to an entirely new level.

Photobucket
5 – I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino)

As much as I’d prefer to never literally see Tilda Swinton’s face ever again (countless nightmares in which it’s chasing me have occurred), I can’t deny her true talent as an actress. But more important is her willingness to support the little guys of the industry. Here, Swinton lends her acting prowess to little-known Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, who crafts an intricate maternal portrait that utilizes Swinton’s alienesque persona to marvelous effect, crafting a role that’s at once swimming with emotional depth yet calls for an offsetting stony poise that only someone of Swinton’s caliber can pull off.

Photobucket
4 – Another Year (Mike Leigh)

British filmmaker Mike Leigh departs from his typical single-focus features and broadens his artistry to include a gaggle of aging commoners; A husband, wife,  and their 30-something son are presented as typical London suburbanites going through their daily motions. We’re not inclined to think there’s anything inherently boring about their lives (as suburban portraits usually lead us to believe), there’s just a hint of grounding complacency that gives the entire picture a somber, refined quality. The shocker here comes in the form of Mary, a family friend who’s living far beyond her means (and her years). Mary is obviously over 50 (it’s never specified how old she is), and forms a strong attraction to her long-time friends’ aforementioned son who’s assumingly nearly half her age. The film doesn’t demonize her attractions because of her age, it rather criticizes Mary for not being a woman as strong in her convictions as her narrative counterpart. The film depicts Mary as a victim of a cruel society who only sees her age, and as a result has ostracized her from not only it but herself as a result. Lesley Manville gives what is hands-down the performance of the year in Mary’s role, maintaining a childlike innocence throughout, balancing it perfectly with hints of the trodden life Mary leads.

Photobucket
3 – Somewhere (Sofia Coppola)

My most anticipated feature of the year comes from my absolute favorite director, Sofia Coppola. In similar fashion to her previous two features, Coppola focuses on nothingness within an extremely happening locale; the densely-populated celebrity hotbed of Los Angeles provides the same alienating entrapment as Tokyo did in Lost in Translation. Coppola paints one of the most populated spaces in the entire world like a vapid, empty graveyard of the human soul, honing in on an actor’s struggle to reconnect with his daughter and ultimately with himself, or at least some semblance of a normal life he can barely remember having. Despite going around in circles for the majority of his life, Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) is grounded by the presence of his daughter, who’s played pitch-perfectly by Elle Fanning, a girl who’s looks suggest a young woman much older than the character’s age would suggest and too good effect; having a younger actress who, say, actually looked like she was 12 years old would set Johnny and her on two completely separate planes, therefore romanticizing any attempt to connect with his daughter in a cutesy, clichéd fashion. The relationship she builds between the two is constructed out of empty happenings; none of which glamorize their relationship into being something it isn’t. Coppola, in true Coppola fashion, frames her subjects in a sarcophagus amidst a teeming metropolis, this time instead of the Palace of Versailles or a Tokyo highrise we’re placed within the walls of the Chateau Marmont, LA’s premiere celebrity home-away-from-home. But Coppola’s intent here seems to be essentially telling a story that emphasizes its own nothingness; not only a way to compliment the way her subjects are feeling, but also conveying Coppola’s deep-seated feelings towards an industry she’s known for the better part of her life. The film could register as a self-reflexive hate-love letter to her father, who undoubtedly led a far more productive life than Mr. Marco. But the film’s simple, almost stagnant quality takes the bite out of any criticisms Coppola might have towards the realm of stardom. Beautiful in its uniquely-Sofia way, Somewhere is an epic example of progressive filmmaking and that should undoubtedly become a gravitational entity for other filmmakers to draw inspiration from. This is how you do it different from the rest, kids.

Photobucket
2 – Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance)

What could have been a simple examination of the marital vitality preceding a bitter end essentially becomes a beautifully juxtaposed presentation of the deaths of Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) before their marriage ever had a chance to live.  Physical death of the two protagonists is not the focus here, seeing as both Dean and Cindy technically exist throughout the entire narrative, but even the opening sequence is heavily laced with death as its most prominent subject; the search for the family’s lost dog ends with a grim discovery, one that prompts Cindy’s realization that, at least internally, she died long ago. Cianfrance expertly chooses to drop us into a point in their lives that reeks of domestic  decay, a family (that now includes a young daughter) with a backstory we assume to be as rocky and troubling as the morose, stagnant existence we’re initially introduced to. But what really drives the film’s emotional impact is what we’re shown next, and how Cianfrance chooses to show it to us.
Scenes of the couple’s innocent courtship proceed what we’ve already come to know as a lifeless union, making the whole thing entirely more depressing; shots of innocent courtship, smitten glances, harmless flirtation (you know…the works of young love) all resonate with a beautiful simplicity and shocking poignancy that legitimizes this relationship as one that we would believe to be entirely perfect if we weren’t already shown what it would lead to, yet the burden of what we already know weighs such charming scenes down like a ton of bricks. Such reverse sequential positioning allows the disturbing emotional pain of this damaged relationshp to manifest itself not when we are observing scenes of marital dysfunction, but rather when we are presented with an uncorrupt, budding relationship as new, pure, and wholesomely innocent. Scenes of happiness are expertly recontextualized to represent something bitter, becoming harbingers of doom in themselves aside from what’s literally presented as melancholic, reminding us that the disturbing bit of what we’ve seen before stemmed from genuine purity and goodness;  of coupled bliss tarnished by what we can only assume as marital indifference and personal distraction. The most devastating scene of the film comes towards the middle, when we see Dean sweetly courting Cindy with his talents as a singer and ukulele player; the innocent quirkiness of it all could have registered as saccharine overload in a different film, but here we’re treated to a devastating look at a moment when awkward chemistry turns into a moment of genuine passion, bearing the bad news of what’s to come with its mere implication as a pure foundation for what we already understand to be a dark future.  Cianfrance, along with the help of the gloriously perfect performances by Gosling and Williams, has created a disturbingly beautiful and altogether poignant portrait of one of the messiest situations one can only hope they’ll never experience…outside of this cinematic masterpiece, that is.

Photobucket

1 – Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)

It’s hard to recall a film that’s as assaulting as Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. The film is a true testament to the medium itself, pushing boundaries of simply being a film a transcending into the deepest burrows of our minds. A full embodiment of a cinematic experience, Black Swan is a masterful barrage of filmic elements in a symphonic fashion; visually arresting, emotionally assaulting, challenging, and altogether disturbing in its depiction of one woman’s struggle to maintain sanity in a stifling world she has (or at least feels she has) little influence over. Black Swan undoubtedly contains Natalie Portman’s crowning performance in a role that demanded exuberant outward projection yet is delicately refined by Portman’s ability to switch between cold hard emotion and deep-seated character subtlety. Black Swan ultimately becomes a comment on the increasing lack of individual control that seems to be invading each of us as we become entangled in the excessive selfishness of the society around us; what we project or hope to become is in essence consuming us at the same time, and Aronofsky’s filmic representation is as brilliant as they come. Never attempting to draw on “realistic” elements, the film draws on its own excessive, exaggerated nature to create a fantastical externalization of its characters’ internalized states of being; at once adding to the authenticity of the emotional rollercoaster we’re riding, yet at the same time reminding us of what movies are supposed to do; take us to places we can only fathom in the deepest parts of our mind that perhaps we have not even explored yet. Black Swan prompts, probes, and reveals those places to dazzling effect, and altogether reminds us of why we love movies in the first place.

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

Photobucket
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.

Photobucket

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.

Photobucket

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

Photobucket

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

The Canada of Awards Season; Predicting the Winners

Photobucket

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)