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The past couple of years, I’ve posted ultra-early Oscar predictions (usually in March). I guess I was slacking a bit this year, but here is my first round of predictions.
If you’d like to see how my early stabs in the dark panned out in previous years, you can check them out here.
The Dark Knight Rises
Life of Pi
Other Possibilities: Moonrise Kingdom, The Great Gatsby, Inside Lllewyn Davis, Hyde Park on Hudson, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Zero Dark Thirty, Killing Them Softly, The Silver Lining Playbook, Gravity, Trouble With the Curve, The Place Beyond the Pines, Brave, Gangster Squad, Lawless, Six Sessions, Rust and Bone, Prometheus, Seven Psychopaths
Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
Michael Haneke, Amour
Peter Jackson, The Hobbit
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Stephen Spielberg, Lincoln
Other Possibilities: Tom Hooper (Les Miserables), Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), Joel and Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis), David O. Russell (The Silver Lining Playbook), Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom), Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly), Baz Luhrman (The Great Gatsby), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Rises), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Ben Affleck (Argo), Roger Michell (Hyde Park on Hudson), David Cronenberg (Cosmopolis), Ridley Scott (Prometheus)
Clint Eastwood, Trouble with the Curve
This movie sounds like a crowd-pleasing heartstring-tugger, and also a great acting showcase.
John Hawkes, Six Sessions
Hawkes received massive buzz at Sundance for Six Sessions (then known as The Surrogate). He’s an actor whose had a huge breakthrough recently and has been making very smart role choices. I strongly think he will get his second nomination this year.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
I’m not sure how the Lead/Supporting split will go with Hoffman and Phoenix (I’ve seen it predicted both ways), but I imagine they’ll both be nominated. It’s about time for another PSH nomination, right?
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
If there’s one nomination I am almost positive will happen this year, this is it. Unless this turns out to be J. Edgar or something, it’ll happen. Not sure if DDL will get a third Oscar so quickly, but he’ll almost certainly be nominated.
Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson
I personally don’t think this movie will have the awards season sweep that a lot of people seem to be predicting (it sounds more Iron Lady than King’s Speech, to me), but it seems pretty likely that Bill Murray will be nominated for Best Actor. He might even win his first one.
Other Possibilities: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Ryan Gosling (The Place Beyond the Pines), Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly), Ryan Gosling (Gangster Squad),
Amy Adams, Trouble With the Curve
Adams has three Supporting Actress nominations under her belt already, and this father/daughter drama could get her a Lead Actress nom. The Academy clearly loves her, so between this and The Master (which I am currently predicting her for, as well), it seems fairly likely she’ll get nominated again this year.
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Cotillard made big waves at Cannes this year for her apparently raw performance in this Jacques Audiard drama. It is a French-language performance, though, which could be a tough sell to the Academy.
Helen Hunt, Six Sessions
Since winning her Oscar for As Good as It Gets, Helen Hunt’s career hasn’t exactly been stellar. However, this Sundance hit could be the one to turn it around for her. John Hawkes might overshadow her, since it is his character’s story, but who knows?
Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina
On paper, this sounds like a good bet. It’s the adaptation of a beloved classic novel directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley. That formula worked very well for Knightley with Pride & Prejudice. We’ll have to wait and see if this one works quite as well, though.
Elizabeth Olsen, Liberal Arts
Olsen established herself as a truly talented young actress with Martha Marcy May Marlene last year. And while Liberal Arts looks considerably lighter, she received raves at Sundance, with some critics calling it a star-making turn. Not sure if this is a lead or supporting performance, though.
Other Possibilities: Kristen Wiig (Imogene), Laura Linney (Hyde Park on Hudson), Viola Davis (Won’t Back Down), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Smashed), Mia Wasikowska (Stoker), Maggie Smith (Qaurtet), Abbie Cornish (The Girl), Meryl Streep (Hope Springs)
Best Supporting Actor
Bradley Cooper, The Place Beyond the Pines
Maybe it’s wishful thinking or maybe it’s a hunch, but I have a feeling that Bradley Cooper will get serious Oscar consideration this year. I don’t know if the Academy would nominate him in the lead category yet (especially when it’s shaping up to be so competitive this year), but if this is a meaty role and he does it well, this could be the perfect “welcome to the club” nomination for him.
Bryan Cranston, Argo
Affleck has had luck getting his supporting players nominated in the past. There are plenty of possible acting nominations for this film, but Cranston seems to have the right combination of critical respect (for his excellent work on Breaking Bad) and relevance (his many recent supporting roles) to maybe get some Oscar recognition, if the role is good.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
DiCaprio hasn’t been on the best terms with the Academy recently, and while I don’t think this nomination is a lock by any means, it seems like a pretty good bet. Tarantino always writes fascinating characters, and it should be interesting to see how DiCaprio does with that style.
Woody Harrelson, Seven Psychopaths
Admittedly, I’m at a bit of a loss with this category. Apparently, Harrelson has a very good part in Seven Psychopaths, and he’s had a few good years, so it could happen.
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Joaquin is back, and I think he’ll pick up right where he left off. And while a three-minute clip is hardly enough to go from, he looks fantastic in this movie.
Other Possibilities: Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained), David Straitharn (Lincoln), Robert De Niro (The Silver Lining Playbook), Justin Timberlake (Inside Llewyn Davis), Guy Pearce (Lawless), Tom Hardy (Lawless), Josh Brolin (Gangster Squad), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Lincoln), Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths)
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Master
I have no idea what Adams’ or Dern’s parts are like (and maybe I’m just way too excited about The Master), but I could see both of them getting nominated. After all, if there’s a category where that could happen, it’s Supporting Actress (The Help! The Fighter! Up in the Air! Doubt! Two of which involved Amy Adams…)
Laura Dern, The Master
Dern has had a bit of a comeback with her work on the TV show Enlightened, and if her part is good, she could receive her first Oscar nomination is twenty years.
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Maybe I’m still sore about Hooper beating Fincher two years back, but for me, Les Miserables just has the faint scent of disaster. Now, if that turns out to be true, that doesn’t mean it’ll get shut out by the Oscars (hey, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and The Lovely Bones!). Hathaway seems like most likely candidate for a nomination.
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
I’m not sure if this movie will be Oscar’s thing, but Jennifer Lawrence is too big of a force to ignore right now. The Academy voters helped launch her by nominating her for Winter’s Bone, so they’ll probably want to follow that up with another nomination sometime soon.
Olivia Williams, Hyde Park on Hudson
Williams has been turning out fantastic, under-recognized work for many years. Maybe this glossy biopic will be what it takes to get her some attention. Playing Eleanor Roosevelt certainly can’t hurt.
Other Possibilities: Vanessa Redgrave (Song for Marion), Jessica Chastain (Lawless), Reece Witherspoon (Mud), Gemma Arterton (Song for Marion), Sally Field (Lincoln), Kerry Washington (Django Unchained), Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jacki Weaver (The Silver Lining Playbook)
Somehow, Rio is the first movie from 2011 that I’ve seen. So I figured that I’ll try to write up little reviews for every 2011 film I see. I don’t know how long that’ll last, but I’d like to at least get a few thoughts about each one.
There are always a lot of animated kids movies in theatres, but it seems like there’s been a new one out each week lately. But between Mars Needs Moms and Gnomeo and Juliet, a lot of them seemed a bit too juvenile for adult audiences. So of course my pretentious sensibilities gravitated to the one starring Jesse Eisenberg (who would probably be terrified of children, in actuality). A neurotic bird who can’t fly has to be comedy gold, right?
Well, kind of.
At its base, Rio is a movie for kids. This shows in some of the humour that relies on tame puns, and in the sometimes weak script. You don’t get the sharp humour of Tangled, the heartfelt dialogue of Toy Story 3, or the simple visual emotional heft of How to Train Your Dragon.
But Rio is still a very cute movie. To begin with, the animation is lovely. The film mostly takes place in Brazil, where the domesticated main character, Blu, is brought to breed with the last remaining female of his species. And with this tropical setting, the animators bring virtually every possible colour to life on screen. From the various birds to the sprawling rainforest, everything feels so vibrant. And while less of the film takes place in natural settings than I had expected, the film finds just as much energy in the city of Rio de Janeiro itself. The cityscape is unique, and the film actually does a great job of showing the scope of the area’s architecture and living conditions. They even integrate the towering presence of the city’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue (which always makes me think of Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet). Maybe this whole film is some kind of cleverly-constructed tourist advert for Brazil, because I spent a good portion of the film thinking about how I suddenly want to visit Rio.
But the exotic setting is not the only thing working in Rio‘s favour. Despite a lot of kid-oriented humour, there is still plenty for adult audiences, too. Tracy Morgan’s salivating bulldog is the source of a few solid laughs, and Will.i.am and Jamie Foxx are surprisingly funny as an odd-couple pair of bird sidekicks. One especially funny scene comes when the two of them try to serenade Blu and his female counterpart, Jewel (Anne Hathaway). (Even if, as my friend pointed out, it is kind of reminiscent of the “Kiss the Girl” scene in The Little Mermaid.)
Jesse Eisenberg also does a fantastic job of elevating the material with his dry wit. His mere presence automatically makes the film seem a bit more “mature”, and he gives a really spectacular vocal performance. He’s funny and sarcastic when necessary, and he also excels in the film’s more subtle, tender moments.
Anne Hathaway is also good, though she is given less to do. One of my main complaints with the film is that her character, Jewel, felt rather underdeveloped. She’s a strong female character, but we never learn much about her. I think the romance between the two leads would have been far more impactful if we knew more about her character, and understood better why the two of them would fall in love. Their romance feels slightly rushed, as does the ending of the film.
Overall, Rio is a fun time at the movies. The film, while nothing groundbreaking, is greatly helped by Eisenberg’s performance, the beautiful animation, and a couple of expertly placed musical numbers throughout. If you’re looking for a cute diversion, you could do a lot worse.
My predictions ended up with an iffy 14/24 accuracy. Not great, but adequate, I’d say. And am I disappointed that The Social Network lost to The King’s Speech? Yes, but it seems like my favourite movie of the year is always nominated, but never wins. But now to the telecast, which I thought, for the most part, was pretty enjoyable.
- Anne Hathaway. She did a much better job hosting than I’d expected (here I was thinking that James Franco would be the one to liven things up…) Her boundless exuberance was just the remedy for a lagging, overly long ceremony (as the Oscars often are). She cheered, she sang, she poked fun at herself, and she had an endless array of gorgeous outfits.
- The opening. Inception, The Social Network, True Grit, The King’s Speech, and Black Swan all received visits from Hathaway and Franco, and the cameos from Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman were nice touches.
- The unending love for Hugh Jackman. He’s kind of become the new Jack Nicholson. He’s not nominated, he just sits there and smiles and has a good time. The presenters and winners seem happy to see him, and he becomes something of a touchstone for them to play off of.
- James Franco’s grandma.
- Kirk Dougals’ epic presentation for Best Supporting Actress.
- Justin Timberlake’s riff on Kirk Douglas’ epic presentation.
- Zachary Levi performing “I See the Light” from Tangled. Mandy Moore sounded great, too, but for someone who is not primarily a singer (I didn’t even know he could sing before Tangled), Levi came off as a total pro.
- “That’s gross” – Cate Blanchett
- Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law’s presentation for Best Visual Effects. Can they just get married already?
- No clapping during the “In Memoriam” segment. Good call.
- Sandra Bullock’s presentation to the Best Actor nominees. It was the perfect balance of wit and respect.
- The auto-tuned “Year of the movie musical” segment that they created. The Twilight one was kind of amusing, but the others were lazy and tedious.
- The framing of certain categories with clips from classic movies. It felt a bit forced and random to me, and seemed to unnecessarily lengthen the telecast.
- Melissa Leo’s speech. Sorry, but I didn’t find it charming. It was kind of annoying and fake, in my opinion. She rambled, and the f-bomb wasn’t interesting.
- Kind of: James Franco. He had some pretty funny moments (the white unitard, the Marilyn Monroe getup), but he generally seemed out of step with the rest of the ceremony. I don’t think that he was as terrible as some people are saying, but perhaps not the ideal host.
- The finale. I feel like a heartless bitch, but dragging all those 5th graders up on stage just seemed like the most contrived, obvious finish the show could have gone for.
- This is kind of a random note, but I would have liked to see a broader scope in terms of the films that they celebrated. Not even in terms of the winners, but just which films got shown/mentioned throughout the broadcast. There were two lengthy montages for the Best Picture nominees, but scarcely a glimpse of any other 2010 films. I get that the show is about the nominees and winners, but the Oscars should also be about celebrating the film industry in general. What about non-winners like The Town, Tron: Legacy, Shutter Island, Easy A, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Kick-Ass, and Jack-Ass 3-D? They all found devoted fanbases and helped make 2010 the year that it was in film.
- Colin Firth (Best Actor, The King’s Speech). Always a class act. The wry humour was wonderful, and I love that he’s sang the praises of Tom Ford all season.
- Natalie Portman (Best Actress, Black Swan). I liked that she thanked the behind-the-scenes people on set, as well as the people that helped her get where she is.
- Lee Unkrich (Best Animated Picture, Toy Story 3). He gave a gracious, inspiring, economical, and eloquent speech.
- Luke Matheny (Best Live Action Short Film, God of Love). Matheny probably never thought that his NYU school project would win an Oscar, and his surprise and exuberance was refreshingly sincere. It’s nice to see a “regular” person outside of the big Hollywood machine get recognition.
Best Red Carpet Fashion:
Vanity Fair, March 2011
- LOL @ Robert Duvall
- I like everyone on here (I’ve yet to see any of Jennifer Lawrence’s or Noomi Rapace’s films, but they seem cool, I guess?). I would’ve rolled my eyes at Olivia Wilde (especially in that outfit), but I thought she was surprisingly good in TRON: Legacy.
- Rapace and Anthony Mackie (who is fabulous in The Hurt Locker and Half Nelson) are unexpected choices, but it’s nice to see a broader spectrum of actors here (in other words, I’m glad that they didn’t just pick a bunch of twiggy little starlets…though I wouldn’t have minded seeing Emma Stone on here. But I digress.)
- I like that they’re mixing more established actors (the four lovely folks on the first panel) with smart choices in newer actors. Garfield, Hedlund, and Lawrence were practically unknowns a year ago, but they’re three actors who seem to have a bright future ahead. And I like that Jesse Eisenberg, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Mila Kunis, who have been acting for years are finally getting their due.
- The men all look verrrrry dapper
Few actors are more charming than Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal, and it’s great to see them together again in this trailer for the upcoming film, Love and Other Drugs. It looks a lot more comedic than I was expecting, and a lot less of the focus was on the Viagara aspect than I would have thought, but despite a few jokes that fell a bit flat in the trailer, it looks really charming. And it must be said: Oh my God, Jake Gyllenhaal is gorgeous. You can watch the trailer over at Apple.
Here’s a wrap-up to my Favourite Performances of the Decade series. I may edit the five posts occasionally if I see a performance that’s deserving of a spot, but I want to keep my list to 25.
Colin Firth – A Single Man (2009)
In Tom Ford’s visually lush debut film, Firth plays George, a man reeling from the sudden death of his partner, Jim (Matthew Goode). Firth takes this difficult role on with all of the class and poise that you would expect from the charming Brit. Yet there’s also a profoundly moving undercurrent to his portrayal of a man who’s trying to desperately keep his facade intact while contemplating suicide. Firth’s performance may be subdued, but it’s the nuances in his body language and inflections that give away the deep sense of grief that George is experiencing. For me, it was the best performance of 2009.
Carey Mulligan – An Education (2009)
Audrey Hepburn comparisons ran rampant around the release of 2009′s An Education, but I think that it’s best to let Mulligan’s vivacious performance speak for itself. As a confident young woman who finds that she doesn’t know herself nearly as well as she thought, Mulligan is charming, witty, intelligent, and vulnerable all at once, and she hits the perfect emotion for every scene. Her Jenny is a joy to watch, and your eye is drawn to Mulligan during every moment that she is on screen. It’s rare to find this magnetic of a performance from such a relatively unknown young actor.
Keira Knightley – Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Keira Knightley has cemented her status as the queen of the period piece (think Atonement, Silk, The Duchess, King Arthur), but her most vibrant performance to date comes in Joe Wright’s adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. As heroine Elizabeth Bennett, Knightley brings a refreshing sense of modernity to the feisty role.
Peter Sarsgaard – Shattered Glass (2003)
Though usually relegated to supporting roles, Peter Sarsgaard (on the right side of the above photo) has proven himself to be one of the most diverse working actors. The character of Chuck Lane in Shattered Glass is a departure from some of the more troubled characters that Sarsgaard has taken on, but he thrives as the driven hard-ass of a newspaper editor, too. He takes what could have been a forgettable supporting role and turns it into a surprisingly gripping tour de force performance. From Chuck’s low-key moments in the newsroom to his inevitable explosions as the film unravels, Sarsgaard is perfect.
Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married (2008)
With a showy role in a modest film, Hathaway is both harrowing and hilarious as Kym, a recovering drug addict visiting home for her sister’s wedding. I’d had my doubts about Hathaway’s acting abilities, but this unforgettable performance instantly remedied that.
As the trailers and commercials show, Valentine’s Day features every bankable working actor, and tackles nearly twenty different storylines in two hours. The film shows us a day in the lives of all sorts of different couples. All of the characters are thinly linked to each other, mainly through Reid (Ashton Kutcher), a florist who proposes to his girlfriend (Jessica Alba) on Valentine’s Day morning. The film also features Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Julia Roberts, and Bradley Cooper in its gargantuan cast.
Like last year’s He’s Just Not That Into You, this film has too many expendable plotlines and goes on for about half an hour too long. But while He’s Just Not That Into You did have some interesting stories (most notably, the one involving Bradley Cooper, who had much more to work with in that film), Valentine’s Day really has nothing in the writing or filmmaking to back up its undeniably talented cast. It’s just a poorly made film from Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries), who should know better.
The packed audience that I saw the film with was ready to have a good time. They cheered for Taylor Lautner’s biceps, gasped at “shocking” twists, and gave a collective “awww” at all of the right moments. But some of the jokes fell so incredibly flat that the theatre was virtually silent. Several plot points are poorly explained (I spent half the movie thinking that Emma Roberts was discussing sex with her grandparents, only to later realise that they were the people who’d hired her as a nanny), and the rapid-fire snippets of each storyline make the film feel manic and choppy. And while the film tries to throw a few surprises at the audience, they’re either painfully obvious, or are revealed about characters that we know virtually nothing about (such as Eric Dane’s pro footballer), and thus feel totally random.
This fragmented format for a romantic comedy never allows for much character development, but Valentine’s Day is chocked full of characters that are totally defined by who they are or are not dating. The only remotely fleshed out characters are the two oldest characters (played by Shirley MacLaine and Hector Elizondo). We actually get to learn something about their past, and that’s probably why their storyline is one of the few aspects of the film that works.
Other highlights come few and far between, and mainly depend on which actors the viewer was already a fan of. Cooper and Julia Roberts have a fun chemistry that helps to propel their storyline along, despite the film’s relentlessly catatonic script. And Hathaway and Topher Grace also manage to inject some charm into an otherwise silly storyline.
Although Taylors Swift and Lautner were more heavily advertised, the film’s more interesting teenage pairing comes from Emma Roberts and Carter Jenkins. The latter, despite being one of the only unfamiliar faces on screen, manages to stand out in this massive cast. Ashton Kutcher also gives one his most likeable, least shrill movie performances yet, and he may be the only person who is taking a step up by appearing in this movie.
Valentine’s Day is more enjoyable than its awful first half hour would suggest, but a few fun performances aren’t enough to let this film go by unscathed. From the seemingly endless stream of rom-com clichés to its hopeless child actors (and Swift, who might as well be one), the film is a mess. There’s something to be said for cinematic escapism, but there’s certainly better things that you can escape with than this. It’s far too slim on laughs, and in the end, it’s just another unfortunate by-product of Valentine’s Day.