FILM: And the nominees are ...

 

FILM: And the nominees are ...

 

Date: February 23, 2011
by: Pam Nadon | Film Critic

 
 

Get ready for the glitz, glamour and always highly anticipated gaffs. It’s the 83rd annual Academy Awards ceremony, and this year looks like an unusually heated race. Exceptional screenplays are taking center stage, which indicates that intelligence and integrity drove voters to recognize the excellence in filmmaking in 2010. But let’s cut to the chase — the Oscars are all about watching our favorite movie stars strut their stuff and humbling themselves to loyal fans. So, bring it on Hollywood. The nominees are:

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

Although I preferred Jeff Bridges’ performance as the feisty Rooster Cogburn, Colin Firth’s portrayal of the stammering King George VI is absolutely flawless. I don’t think that the Academy would let him lose to Bridges two years in a row. It really is about time for Firth to nab that elusive Oscar.

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”

Hands down, Natalie Portman’s deft depiction of a ballerina sinking into insanity is the best performance of the year. Not only does she bowl over audiences with her incredible dancing skills, she simultaneously scares their socks off. If the Academy stoops to awarding an actress based on her body of work, dark horse Annette Bening could walk away with the coveted statue.

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”

Christian Bale delivers a knock-out performance as crack addict Dicky Eklund, brother and part-time trainer to boxer Micky Ward. I’m not certain as to what the criteria is for being relegated to supporting actor when Bale spends more time on screen than any of his co-stars. It’s his first Oscar nomination and a guaranteed win.

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”

Melissa Leo is pitch-perfect as the working-class matriarch/control freak who kicks butt almost better than her boxer boys. She and Amy Adams play off one another exquisitely. But Leo, along with Bale, owns this film. She was previously nominated in the same category in 2008 for “Frozen River.”

Best Director

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

My choice is a toss-up between the brothers Coen and Darren Aronofsky. “Black Swan” is truly the most disturbing psycho-thriller since, well, “Psycho.” It’s brilliantly shot, scripted and cast. But the scene in “True Grit” where Rooster Cogburn flies across the night sky on his trusty horse with Mattie in his arms is one of those rare film images that forever etches itself in your memory. I’m sensing the Academy may choose Fincher for his film that defined 2010.

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

It’s a tough call. Can sheer entertainment prevail over a social phenomenon? My choice is “Black Swan.” Most likely, “The King’s Speech” will dance off with the Oscar due to its recent momentum. But I would be downright pleased as punch if “True Grit” could pull it off.

All of the nominated films are stunning must-sees. So, put them in your queue or get crackin’ and catch them in a theater — where they’re meant to be seen. It’s been a good year at the movies.

 

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