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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The State of the Race

The days are narrowing. Soon, we, in the film community, will be flooded with endless talk of The King's Speech vs The Social Network, James Franco vs Colin Firth, and Natalie Portman vs... well, no one, really. That Oscar is hers. That's right - it's getting close to Oscar nomination day. Might as well be a holiday.

You're damn right.

Nearly 250 eligible films, and far more than that, have been released this season (2010, though we're in 2011), and while I've only seen about a middling 1/4 of the films released, what a season it was. An entry into my top20, Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island, sort of redefined how I saw filmmaking, Toy Story 3 shattered box office records, and Black Swan and True Grit showed us that the general movie going audience isn't really in the mood for, say... Tooth Fairy, anymore. Together, we're growing and film is growing. And that, I think, is the most impressive feat achieved last year. As a medium, film -- for over 130 years -- has bonded the world in a way that so few other art forms have. From the time when we first saw traffic crossing over the Leeds Bridge, to a Fenway Park shootout in The Town, we've come a long way. Advances in technology, many tragic deaths, and the births of some of the world's greatest minds. Film is, and will always be, terribly, terribly important.

But, it's 2010 we're rewarding. And out of the eligible films, let's consider what our nominees will most likely be in Picture, Actor, and Actress -

Best Picture of the Year

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

That's what makes the most sense to me at this point. Even though 127 Hours seems to have extremely fading buzz, it's inspirational story is sure to hit a nerve with AMPAS voters, likewise to The King's Speech - which is my pick to take home the big prize. True Grit and Black Swan have too big of a pop-culture following right now to miss out, and Toy Story 3 - being the critical and box office smash of the year - should rightly be recognized. The Kids Are All Right has the critical praise, as does Winter's Bone, as does The Fighter, which made quite a bit of money. The Social Network, almost toe to toe with Toy Story 3, is one of the best reviewed films of the year. Inception = an apology for The Dark Knight, while an excellent film that deserves the recognition.

Of course, there's always Blue Valentine, another sleeper critical darling that could swoop in and mess everything up. :D

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges - True Grit
Jesse Eisenbgerg - The Social Network
Colin Firth - The King's Speech
James Franco - 127 Hours
Mark Wahlberg - The Fighter

We can't count out Robert Duvall for his long-praised turn in Get Low, either. He's had that sort of "Tommy Lee Jones a la 2007" praise going since 2009, and it hasn't wavered. Wahlberg's spot is up for grabs, and it could very well be Duvall who snags it. Ryan Gosling, in Blue Valentine is also in contention.

The rest are locked, as far as I'm concerned, with Firth poised to gain his film another major trophy.

Best Actress

Annette Bening - The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman - Black Swan
Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine

Sincerely, I think four of these nominations are "thanks for trying" awards. I don't see anyone else taking it from Natalie Portman. IF, and that's an IF if you misread it as a WHEN, Annette Bening wins, it'll be marked as an upset. An understandable one, but an upset nonetheless. She's been worthy several times, and hasn't been awarded. Thankfully for her, Hilary Swank's film this year is meaningless to the awards.

I'd love to know your thoughts on these categories! Leave a comment below and tell me what you think could happen.

Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Director are coming soon.