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What's Up For Today?

New York Cool - Ask Miss Wendy

Film

 

 

Frank J. Avella’s
Film Column
Oscar Predictions
King vs. King


Opposite Photo:
Colin Firth in The King's Speech

 



2010 is a very strange Oscar year. As has been noted, ad nauseum via blogs, The Social Network won all of the important pre-Guild Oscar pre-cursers yet seemed to have hit a brick wall when it came to the actual Guild Awards losing the DGA, SAG Ensemble as well as the BAFTA.


Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network

Who knew the Hollywood Foreign Press would be more cutting edge than the bloody Directors Guild of America?

Now, for the sake of argument, the above-mentioned “precursors” are all given out by critics. In addition, it should be noted that The King’s Speech was heralded as the film to beat right out of Toronto back in September.


Colin Firth in The King's Speech

As soon as the DGA chose Tom Hooper, most prognosticators immediately insisted that The King’s Speech would not only beat The Social Network and sweep the Oscars but also win the Best Director Prize—never taking into account just how many television directors make up the DGA body.

Since David Fincher won the BAFTA, the ruminations of a split has been catching on. I felt this all along, not based on any mathematical or scientific arguments but from the quasi-empirical audacity of being someone who has consumedly followed the Oscars since I was a child in the 1970s.

I also had a strong feeling right after its Golden Globe win that The Social Network would not win the Oscar for Best Picture. Why? The answer lies in my personal relationship with the Academy more than studying charts or reading about polls of AMPAS member.

After the Globes a rush of excitement pulsated through me, like someone had pumped gallons of whiskey into my body (I happen to love whiskey). The thrill had everything to do with the idea that my actual favorite film could possibly win the big award. It’s only happened once in my lifetime (Godfather 2 in 1974 and I was way too young to know it then). But immediately following the high, I felt sucker-punched in the gut—as if I had tempted the cine-gods with this hope, this prayer. After all, I should be content with the fact that my fave was even nominated for Best Picture. Many times it is not: Revolutionary Road, Dogville, Requiem for a Dream, Being John Malkovich, Gods and Monsters, Breaking the Waves, Bullets Over Broadway, Short Cuts, The Player, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Sophie’s Choice, The Stunt Man--to go back three decades—are examples.

This year seven of my ten actual favorites are up for the Best Pic Award. That’s scary! Have my tastes become so mainstream or is the Academy becoming more brazen, more hip…? But I digress…

To attempt to successfully predict the Oscars, the trick is to step out of your personal feelings about what the best is—which is damn well near impossible to do--anyone who tells you differently is full of shit. What you can do is admit your biases and try and think like a current Academy member. Then, of course, you can take past data and use it. But, more often than not, you will find yourself using the data that proves what your lean is. We are human. And we love films. Films matter. And the Oscars matter because they renew our passion (good or bad).

So up front I will say I desperately WANT The Social Network to win the top award. It deserves it. It’s a seminal film the way Network and Nashville were in the 70s (neither won), the way Citizen Kane was in 1941 (ditto). It is the most significant film of the millennium so far and it’s brilliant filmmaking (the reason Fincher must win!)


Natalie Portman in Black Swan

Please note that The King’s Speech happens to be my fourth favorite film this year (after Black Swan and Inception), but it is a seriously distant fourth. The Social Network is my choice, period.

Will the Weinstein will will out? Or can one of the smartest films of recent times actually be rewarded? I will return to this later.


Anette Bening and Juliane Moore in The Kids Are All Right

My personal feelings on the acting races lean towards the front-runners. I want Colin Firth and Natalie Portman to win, although I will be sad to see Annette Bening lose again. Christian Bale deserves it and should pull it off unless Geoffrey Rush rides a King’s wave.


Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams in The Fighter

Supporting Actress feels very up in the air. Melissa Leo was the closest we had to a lock, but I think any of the five could upset. I’d give it to Amy Adams, but I have this Helena Bonham Carter feeling. I had it before the BAFTAs. I had a similar Tilda Swinton feeling three years ago. I hear with some tea and crumpets the feeling gets even stronger.

The screenplay categories seem easy to call. TSN and TKS. By the way, how was Darren Aranofsky’s extraordinary script for Black Swan overlooked in favor of nother Year? Is the Writers Branch of the Academy collectively on crack?

In the Directing category, I cannot imagine the entire Academy membership—made up of mostly actors—not awarding Fincher. It just harkens back to Steven Soderbergh winning in 2000 and Roman Polanski’s victory in 2003 where the more celebrated directorial achievement is recognized despite giving the main prize to a more mediocre film (and I loved Chicago!) My gut tells me that this year will split as well. And it’s not a praying Robert Altman finally wins his Oscar for Gosford Park kind of hope, it’s a genuine notion that the membership will want to acknowledge Fincher’s accomplishment.

Now, back to the battle of the two different Kings—and I won’t win any popularity contests for this but I feel the race does come down to choosing dazzling over substantive. The Social Network is clever and intelligent—it stimulates the mind first and later, the heart. The King’s Speech is a good film that hits all the right manipulation chords. The Social Network refuses to dumb-down or pander—it is Network to The King’s Speech’s Rocky with Brit accents—proof people can triumph over adversity and demolish demons. The Social Network is vastly more complex and chooses to explore some of the more unsavory things about human nature—which makes it so much more dense and fascinating. It isn’t safe and easy to synopsize. Mainstream Americans usually like their films simple and easy to follow. The Academy usually echo the tastes of mainstream America.

The Social Network may actually truly represent our culture right now but it may not be the way most of us want to be represented.

And AMPAS, historically, chooses safely. Yes, they chose The Hurt Locker over Avatar last year (although I maintain both films were worthy) but that may have been more a vote against arrogant, self-proclaimed “King of the World,” James Cameron than actually appreciating The Hurt Locker more. And, of course, they do surprise and take bold chances sometimes but almost always there was another bolder choice they overlooked: No Country for Old Men over There Will Be Blood, The Departed over Letters from Iwo Jima, Silence of the Lambs over JFK—all great and off-beat choices but each not as risky as choosing the other film mentioned IMHO.

As I grudgingly predict The King’s Speech for the win, I keep in mind my feeling that it will just be in keeping with my personal history with the Academy. They will probably select a very good film over a groundbreaking one. And it won’t be the end of the world, the way Crash’s victory over Brokeback Mountain felt five years ago. It will be something to continue arguing about over the next few decades. And that’s why I personally love the Oscars, because no matter how many times I disagree with the choices, I celebrate AMPAS giving us a giant mega-forum for filmic debate.

Oh, and look out for The Fighter!

My predictions (in bold):

Motion Picture of the Year

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

Lead Actor

Javier Bardem in Biutiful
Jeff Bridges in True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network
Colin Firth in The King’s Speech
James Franco in 127 Hours

Supporting Actor

Christian Bale in The Fighter
John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner in The Town
Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech

Lead Actress

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

Supporting Actress

Amy Adams in The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo in The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit
Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom

Directing

Black Swan Darren Aronofsky
The Fighter David O. Russell
The King’s Speech Tom Hooper
The Social Network David Fincher
True Grit Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Animated Feature Film

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Art Direction

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Inception
The King’s Speech
True Grit

Cinematography

Black Swan Matthew Libatique
Inception Wally Pfister
The King’s Speech Danny Cohen
The Social Network Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit Roger Deakins

Costume Design

Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King’s Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

Documentary Feature

Exit through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Restrepo
Waste Land

Documentary Short Subject

Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up", A Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Film Editing

Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

Foreign Language Film

Biutiful Mexico
Dogtooth Greece
In a Better World Denmark
Incendies Canada
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) Algeria

Makeup

Barney’s Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

Original Score

How to Train Your Dragon
Inception
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

Original Song

“Coming Home" from Country Strong
“I See the Light" from Tangled
"If I Rise" from 127 Hours
"We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3

Animated Short Film

Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let’s Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)


Live Action Short Film

The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

Sound Editing

Inception
Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

Sound Mixing

Inception
The King’s Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit

Visual Effects

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2

Adapted Screenplay

127 Hours by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network by Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 by Michael Arndt, Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
True Grit by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Original Screenplay

Another Year by Mike Leigh
The Fighter by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson, Story by Keith Dorrington, Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
Inception by Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech by David Seidler

 

 

 

 

 

 


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