The big night for Hollywood is coming up on Sunday night: The Oscars, otherwise known as The 83rd Annual Academy Awards. For the nominees, it means the chance for a pay bump and the words “Academy Award Winner” to precede their name on every trailer, for Hollywood, it’s a glorious and always entertaining evening of industry aggrandizement, where we all feel the full force of the world’s greatest propaganda machine and kneel at the altar of cinema while they hope to remind the audience at home to take their money to the movie theater, and for the Oscar audience watching it on TV it’s a chance to judge the stars based on their fashion choices and marvel at how awkward they sound when they’re not reading off a script. In a nutshell–it’s the best night of the year.
As the SheridanRD.com movie man, I thought we’d skip the review this week and I’d give you my picks for the top categories—Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress; the big five. It doesn’t only depend on who did the best job. Like every contest worth winning, it’s part popularity contest, and the people who vote for the winners have a lot to consider.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams-The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter-The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo-The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld-True Grit
Jacki Weaver-Animal Kingdom
This category is strange. It’s the one category where the Academy sometimes seems to go out of their way to give it to someone unexpected. Some call it “The ‘Upset’ Category.”
A lot of the buzz is hanging around Melissa Leo to take it as the crazy mother in The Fighter, just as she took the category at the Golden Globes. If this were an ordinary category, I’d say she’s a lock, but it isn’t. Fourteen year old Hailee Steinfeld is in this category for what was effectively a great performance as a BEST ACTRESS in True Grit, and kids have snuck up and won this one before, so if their was an upset, she’d probably be the one. However, it’s Amy Adams’ third nomination with no prior wins, and people really love her. This is just a tough one. There hasn’t been an upset in this category for a few years, so I’m going to give it to…
Hailee Steinfeld. She doesn’t belong in the Supporting category, she didn’t appear on the Golden Globe ballot at all, so this is a new race, and her teenage face smiling in the winner’s circle will perpetuate Hollywood’s fading image as a dream factory. Plus, she was just awesome. The beating heart of an amazing movie.
Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale-The Fighter
John Hawkes-Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner-The Town
Mark Ruffalo-The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush-The King’s Speech
Best Supporting Actor is like all the rest of the categories, it comes down to the simple drama of two favorites facing off head to head, and everyone, even the other nominees, knows it. This time it’s Christian Bale versus Geoffrey Rush. The other three are great and they can pick up their awards on the indie festival circuit, but this is the big leagues.
Christian Bale is going to win. He lost substantial weight for the role and gives a fantastically different performance than we’ve ever seen from him. This is really flashy, award-winning acting in that it’s a consistent and believable character, with a DRUG ADDICTION, and it looks and sounds nothing like Batman. The only thing Bale has going against him is that he has a reputation as a totally narcissistic jerk, and it’s hard to give an award to that kind of guy, but Geoffrey Rush does a fantastic job playing the kind of character we EXPECT him to play. It’s hard to win an award for that.
Annette Bening-The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman-Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence-Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman-Black Swan
Michelle Williams-Blue Valentine
Natalie Portman. No contest. Black Swan is really racy and distrubing but the range of emotions and character shifts that she manages to perfectly blend together is astonishing. Not to mention the fact that she trained in ballet for six months prior to shooting to perform her own ballet dancing ON POINTE throughout the film. And she’s really good. That’s the kind of dedication paired with talent that makes the academy drool. Emotionally wrenching performances paired with hard physical transformations are really hard to beat. Plus, if she wins, she’ll be taking the stage pregnant. She’ll be the waddling encapsulation of strong independent womanhood embracing her maternal destiny. Try kicking THAT off a stage.
Jeff Bridges-True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg-The Social Network
Colin Firth-The King’s Speech
James Franco-127 Hours
Colin Firth. He’s winning every other Best Actor prize and he has such a legend as a gentleman that I wouldn’t be surprised if the other nominees gave him a standing ovation when he takes the stage. His performance was fantastic, taking that totally believable stutter and showing us it’s tragic effect on a proud and powerful man, but let’s make no mistake, he was passed over last year and he’s beloved in the industry…it’s time. If he doesn’t win, England will probably declare war on us.
Jesse Eisenberg has a few years before he really starts chasing Oscars, the Academy will probably do everything they can to keep Jeff Bridges from ever hippy-ing up their stage again, and no one knew Javier Bardem’s movie existed. James Franco did some amazing work with what was essentially a one man show and he could have had a real shot if he wasn’t up against what’s essentially an early lifetime achievement award for the British Tom Hanks. Firth will win because he’s Firth and we all love him.
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
The two heavyweights here are The Social Network and The King’s Speech. Black Swan might take the Independent Spirit award this weekend, Inception will deservingly take a bunch of technical awards but it’s only nominated for Picture because Christopher Nolan is Hollywood’s current golden boy, Toy Story 3 is a shoo-in for Animated Feature (and the best Pixar movie EVER in my opinion), and the others are mostly there as filler from other categories. The only dark horse contender I can think of would be True Grit, because the Coen Brothers know how to speak to the Academy when they do their quiet dramas and westerns are truly an American legacy, plus it’s just a great movie. But this year I’m going to give it to…
The Social Network. I can’t help it. I love this movie, and I think it’s the best one in the running. It was adapted by Hollywood screenwriting royalty, directed by one of the most brilliant and precise directors working today, and it perfectly encapsulates the period of time in which we’re living. It’s everything a movie should be and it’s executed perfectly. I’d be surprised if it didn’t take Best Director, Cinematography, Score, and Adapted Screenplay too. Plus the buzz it rode from the time the trailer first appeared made its inclusion on the ballot a foregone conclusion. Brilliant storytelling all around.
The only problem it might encounter is that it’s a VERY MODERN story and The King’s Speech might be a little more comfortable and familiar for some of the Academy’s older members, of which there are MANY. But the King’s very quiet tale of personal triumph and redemption, fantastic though it is, may not be able to be heard over the bravura coup of young Hollywood and The Social Network.
My personal opinion: The Social Network is just too good. It has to win.—Jake Jarvi