"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The 83rd Oscar Nominations announced!

Well, they are finally here.   What I was waiting for: the Oscar nominations.  I took my time in posting them because I needed time to adjust to them, some of the nominations were welcome surprises but on the other hand, it's the same old Academy overlooking some very obvious talent.  Let's take a look at the nominees.

Best Motion Picture

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

My Take: All the usual suspects are here, Winter's Bone making the cut was a surprise but a welcome one.  The Town, The Ghost Writer and Shutter Island all missing the cut.  The King's Speech leads the pack with 12 nominations here and True Grit too has claimed a heap of nominations.  Don't count these two out.  Meanwhile early favorites, The Social Network and Inception are wondering, whatever happened to our momentum?  It's a race, alright.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

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

My take: Julia Roberts pleaded for Javier Bardem to be recognized in the leading actor category and here he is.  Both he and Jeff Bridges are previous winners here and the rest have never won one before.  Colin Firth is the favorite now but Eisenberg has won a whole slew of critics awards while James Franco, also the Oscar host, is going to have an very good Oscar night.  There could be surprise winner in this category.  Big snubs? Leonardo Dicaprio was denied for two strong film roles in Shutter Island and Inception and Ryan Gosling failing to make it for Blue Valentine doesn't seem fair.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

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

My take: Unfortunately, the other Oscar host, Anne Hathaway wasn't so lucky and missed out on a nomination for Love & Other Drugs but all these nominees were in contention for the Oscar.  Except for Jennifer Lawrence, they have been nominated before but only Kidman is a previous winner.  Annette Bening must be breathing a sigh of relief not to see Hilary Swank's name on the ballot.  She has lost out to her both times.  Ouch! But this time, she could well lose out to Natalie Portman who looks real solid for Black Swan.  Glad to see Michelle Williams sneak in a nomination for Blue Valentine.  Big snubs? Julianne Moore, who I thought, gave an equally fine performance in The Kids Are All Right.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

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

My take: This is the only category that seems to be a solid lock.  It's Christian Bale all the way.  The rest of the guys, well, congratulations on the nomination and better luck next year.  Good to see John Hawkes and Jeremy Renner score nominations.  Mark Ruffalo, I think you're going to win one of these sometime down the line.  Just you wait.  Big Snubs? A lot of people are surprised that Andrew Garfield did make it on the list.  I think he has more good performances in his future so I'm really not that disappointed.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

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

My take: This category has always been a loose canon.  There are always surprises.  Every one's betting on Melissa Leo to win it but young Hailee Steinfeld and Jacki Weaver from the Australian drama Animal Kingdom, don't be shocked if they win.  It could totally happen.  This is the Academy, they sometimes do crazy things.   Big Snubs? Barbara Hershey and Mila Kunis from Black Swan.  Everyone was speculating who would make it on the list but instead neither did.  They both crossed each other off.

Best Achievement in Directing

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

My take: Speaking of crazy, the one huge glaring omission in the names for best director: Christopher Nolan!  How is this make sense? How did the director of the biggest blockbusters last year and the one that audiences loved not get nominated? The nominees are the same as the Director's Guild except the Coen brothers took Nolan's spot.  I'm trying to get too upset about this but it's going to take a long time to digest this.  I'm taking solace in fact that this is pretty standard procedure meted out to good directors.  Steven Spielberg finally won his for Schindler's List after a long time.  Martin Scorsese, a freaking American legend in film, won only his first for Departed a few years ago and the biggest insult of all, Alfred Hitchcock never actually won one.  So, Nolan's in pretty good company.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

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

My take:Another Year here, I thought it would definitely score some acting nominations.  I'm really pleased to see Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg here for The Kids Are All Right.

Best Writing, Screenplay based on Material Previously Produced or Published

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

My take: Another solid lock here for Aaron Sorkin for his deft screenplay of The Social Network.  The Academy spread the True Grit love onto this category as well.  It's nice to see the screenplays of animated films making the cut here in recent years.  A testament of how much they are beginning to dominate the box-office more than their live action counterparts.

Best Animated Feature Film

How To Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

My take: Well, The Illusionist made it.  Both Tangled and Despicable Me, with considerable box-office success, could have snuck in here.  But the race is only between Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon.  Can Pixar continue to dominate?  I think so, but I honestly think How to Train Your Dragon might have a slight chance here.

Best Foreign Language Film 

Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
Civilization (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (Algeria)

My Take: I only recognize two of the nominees here from Mexico and Canada's Incendies.  A lot of good movies were left off the list including France's Of Gods and Men and Thailand's Uncle Bonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives which won the big prize at Cannes.  Don't really know how they called this one.

Best Achievement in Cinematography

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

My take: All of these movies are the real deal and it's natural that these cinematographers would be nominated.  If the Best Picture category was limited to five, I believe these would be the films that would make it.  That being said, previous winner Anthony Dod Mantle (Slumdog Millionaire) is a surprising omission for 127 Hours.

Best Achievement in Editing

Jon Harris - 127 Hours
Andrew Weisblum - Black Swan
Pamela Martin - The Fighter
Tariq Anwar - The King's Speech
Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall - The Social Network

My Take: My second disappointment for the nominations came in the form of no nomination for Lee Smith for Inception.  It's virtually impossible for Inception to win best picture without a director or editing nod.  It's just to appease the public, it seems.  I loved the clever editing on The Social Network and now that Inception isn't there, it's got a good shot.  But you can't count out, The King's Speech who clearly has the momentum here.  Glad to see a female representation with Pamela Martin for The Fighter here.

Best Achievement in Art Direction

Robert Stromberg, Karen O'Hara - Alice in Wonderland
Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillian - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Douglas A. Mowat - Inception
Eve Stewart, Judy Farr - The King's Speech
Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh - True Grit

My take: I'd love for the gang over at the Harry Potter series to finally win an Oscar for all the hard work and attention to detail they've done over 8 films but this one is all Inception.  Or at least I hope.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

Colleen Atwood - Alice in Wonderland
Antonella Cannarozzi - I am Love
Jenny Beavan - The King's Speech
Sandy Powell - The Tempest
Mary Zophres - True Grit

My take: What? No love for all the spiffy suits the gang wore over in Inception? No? Ok, then.  This award usually goes to the one who designs the craziest and out there costumes.  Yes, we're all looking at you, Alice in Wonderland.

Best Achievement in Makeup

Adrien Morot - Barney's Version
Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, Yolanda Toussieng - The Way Back
Rick Baker, Dave Elsey - The Wolfman

My take: I feel bad for this category.  These films only exist for this category, one would have thought that Golden Globe winner Paul Giamatti for Barney's Version or director Paul Weir of The Way Back could have had more success.  But, no, the makeup category it is.  To make matters worse, Rick Baker totally owns this category.  Sorry guys!!!

Best Achievement in Music Written for Music Pictures, Original Score

A. R. Rahman - 127 Hours
John Powell - How to Train Your Dragon
Hans Zimmer - Inception
Alexandre Desplat - The King's Speech
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross - The Social Network

My take: Honestly speaking, this is the only category I'm truly happy about.  3 of the nominees (Inception, How to Train Your Dragon, The Social Network) are already on repeat on my iPod.  I'm so happy to see A. R. Rehman as a return nominee for 127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire was no fluke, my friends.  Will Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross breakthrough here for their very unusual approach to film soundtracks? We shall see.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

A. R. Rahman, Rollo Armstrong, Dido - "If I Rise" from 127 Hours
Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges - "Coming Home" from Country Strong
Alan Menken, Glenn Slater - "I See the Light" from Tangled
Randy Newman - "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3

My take: I'm so glad that Burlesque didn't get nominated here that I'm happy for anyone else who made it here.  Imagine saying, Burlesque, Oscar nominee.  Yeah, I didn't think so.  A big hurray for "I See the Light" from Tangled.  I need to check out these other songs now.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick - Inception
Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, John Midgley - The King's Speech
Jeffrey J. Haboush, William Sarokin, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell - Salt
Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Mark Weingarten - The Social Network
Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland - True Grit

My Take: Sound categories! I never pick them right.  So, good luck everyone and congrats on your nominations, you hard workers!

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Richard King - Inception
Tom Myers, Michael Silvers - Toy Story 3
Gwendolyn Yates Whitte, Addison Teague - TRON: Legacy 
Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey - True Grit
Mark P. Stoeckinger - Unstoppable

My take: See above

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas, Sean Phillips - Alice in Wonderland
Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, Nicolas Aithadi  - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky, Joe Farrell - Hereafter
Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin - Inception
Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright, Daniel Sudick - Iron Man 2

My take: Big snubs here, TRON: Legacy and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  Great going, Academy, you really pissed off the nerds!  You gotta give them a reason to believe.  I honestly don't get why Iron Man 2 (seriously!) and Hereafter got the nods over the previous movies.  That being said, this category is Inception's to lose and yes, I will be gutted if they don't win.

Best Documentary Feature

Banksy, Jaimie D'Cruz - Exit Through the Gift Shop
Josh Fox, Trish Adlesic - GasLand
Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs - Inside Job
Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger - Restrepo
Lucy Walker, Angus Aynsley - Waste Land

My take: I'm really surprised to see Waiting for Superman not to make the cut.  There was also a lot of buzz over the Joan Rivers documentary too.  The momentum's all to Inside Job now.

Best Documentary, Short Subject

Nominees TBD - Killing in the Name
Nominees TBD - Poster Girl
Karen Goodman, Kirk Simon - Strangers No More
Jennifer Redfearn, Tim Metzger - Sun Come Up
Ruby Yang, Thomas Lennon - The Warriors of Qiuqang

Best Short Film, Animated

Teddy Newton - Day & Night
Jakob Schuh, Max Lang - The Gruffalo
Geefwee Boedoe - Let's Pollute
Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruheman - The Lost Thing
Bastien Dubois - Madagascar, a Journey Diary

Best Short Film, Live Action

Tanel Toom - The Confession
Michael Creagh - The Crush
Luke Matheny - God of Love
Ivan Goldschmidt - Na Wewe
Ian Barnes, Samantha Waite - Wish 143

Well, there they are.  I'll be talking more (trust me, you can't shut me up about the Oscars) in the weeks to come before the big night.  There will be more guild winners announced and a whole lot of speculation and guessing too.

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