Heliophage


Oscars 2011
February 26, 2011, 1:53 pm
Filed under: Artworks, film

Is this thing still on…

Apologies for a profound lack of blogging about the earth system and energy and climate and plants and the sun and geoengineering and stuff. I may try and catch up with some past product and do better in the future. I may not. In the meantime, here are my Oscar predictions, because that’s what I wanted to post today…

In what may be a personal best for the past decade or so I have seen eight out of the ten nominees for best picture, and the two I haven’t seen, 127 hours and Winter’s Bone, aren’t going to win. The rest are all pretty good films, I think, which I suppose is encouraging. Despite the inaccuracy and tendentious political revisionism I liked and admired Kings Speech a lot, and see no particular reason to doubt what seems the accepted wisdom in terms of it winning (the fact that it’s now taken more than $100m makes that even surer, I suspect). If I trusted Social Network’s sense of geek motivation more, and if it didn’t have that terribly pat last scene with the young female associate telling Mark Z what the moral was, I might hold more of a torch for it. But as is I don’t think it will be hard-done-by to lose.
In years to come Toy Story 3 may well be remembered in a way that neither of the other two are, and there’s precedent in Return of the King for giving the final part of a trilogy an oscar meant for the thing as a whole, but I don’t think that the prejudice against animation can be beaten by a second sequel. True Grit seems to me a very good film — indeed I have now seen it twice, and liked it as much or more the second time. But it is not, I think, going to be a winner. Inception seems ruled out judging by the inexplicable decision not to nominate Nolan as director, and very highly though I think of it I have to say the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service part of it does seem misconceived, or poorly handled, or both.
So it’s The Kings Speech, and while we’re at it, Colin Firth for best actor. Three reasons beyond the obvious qualities of the performance: 1) TKS isn’t the best movie unless that’s a great performance, so if is best movie Firth kinda has to get it. 2) Obviously a lot of people liked A Single Man and there’s always that second bite effect. 3) I don’t see any of the others except possibly Franco as serious contendors. Bridges is too soon and the performance not interesting enough, Eisenberg is good in a way that the fact of the nomination rewards in and of itself, same probably goes for  Franco and who if anyone has seen Biutiful.
Following on, I think and hope that Helena Bonham Carter has a good shot at best actress in a supporting role. It’s a lovely performance, funny and touching and, indeed, supporting, and it  comes across really well in the film thanks to sympathetic direction. Also, she’s been a round for a while, she’s good, she’s fun and she hasn’t got one. I think two actresses from The Fighter cancel each other out (though I thought Amy Adams was splendid) and that Animal Kingdom — which I look forward to with huge anticipation and may indeed see tonight — is just too obscure. Finally a weird atavistic faith in Academy voters makes me think that they surely can’t really commit the absurdity for voting for Hailee Steinfeld’s very fine leading performance in the utterly inappropriate category it has been nominated for. Maybe I am wrong about that. Roger Ebert thinks so. It would be a travesty, but there have been travesties before and there doubtless will be again. I am choosing to think that this will not be one.
David Seidler for best original screenplay seems certain, in the light of the above. I find it slightly perplexing as I feel sure I have read that there is/was also a stage version which would seem to me to make it adapted, but maybe I’m hallucinating. An even firmer lock is surely Aaron Sorkin‘s for best adapted screenplay.
Perhaps just because I’m getting bored I am going to say that that’s it for TKS — a good haul and a clear win but not a complete rout. Best actor in a supporting role will go not to Geoffrey Rush but to Christian Bale. It’s such a very good piece of acting, and at the same time one well pitched to appeal to/flatter the practitioners of that craft. I obviously wouldn’t be surprised if Rush won, as some seem to expect, but he has one already and good though he is, the part doesn’t actually go anywhere, which seems to me to undercut the performance. I was ready for the wartime fate of one of his sons to be a powerful reveal at the end of the movie, and the fact that that didn’t happen made me aware of the lack of any other real resolution for him; one of the sons may be in uniform in one of the all-the-nation-together cutaways during the speech, but I couldn’t swear to it.
The fact that I can’t makes me a little cagey about Tom Hooper as best director. It would seem natural in a film which seems very likely to get best film and best actor and an award for screenplay and a supporting role too. But I can’t say that the direction really blew me away. Fincher is a triffic director, hasn’t won an oscar though he should have done for Fight Club, and Social Network has won the Golden Globe and the BAFTA in this category. Not that the globes count for much, but the Bafta seems telling in that everything else went for TKS; if Hooper doesn’t get a BAFTA with home crowd advantage, will he really get an oscar. That said, Tom Hooper won the Directors Guild award, and that is a more reliable indicator than either of the others. But I still feel somehow that it will be David Fincher who wins.
Even if he doesn’t, Social Network’s editors Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter will surely take home their award. Without their editing Sorkin’s script would be a lot harder to parse. They might be joined by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the score. I must say that, lacking subtlety, I preferred Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception, and because I think it needs the love I will say that that’s my prediction, though either Reznor or the-bloke-who-did-TKS are probably as likely or more, and on a second viewing I liked the True Grit score even more than the first time. Yes, there are a bunch of fences here and I straddled all over them, but if I have to get down I am going to get down on Hans Zimmer‘s side. Inception should also take visual effects and sound, twice. It won’t, I suspect, win art direction, which along with costumes will go to Alice in Wonderland.
Inception deserves more, if only for being the only live action film in the box office top ten last year that wasn’t an adaptation, a sequel or both. (Here’s a truly scary thing: the next highest non-sequel non-adaptation live-action film on that list was Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups) But I can’t see how Inception gets more given the big Nolan diss on best director, which still seems insane to me even if my outrage makes me a figure of fun to Anthony Lane. Possible exception would be Wally Pfister’s cinematography, but I strongly suspect he will be beaten by Roger Deakins getting his much deserved cinematography oscar, at last, for True Grit. And he did indeed deliver a great looking film.
Documentaries. Have only seen one of these, though I might possibly get to Inside Job tomorrow. Among the features I would have tended to assume Restrepo, but others tell me it could be Inside Job or even Waste Land, which I am going to back simply because I recently met the director. Incomprehensibly, to me, serious people seem to think that Exit through the Gift Shop both will and should win; to me all the cleverness of the film, such as it was, simply underlined that I really didn’t care what parts of it were true and to what extent. I have no idea about the short docos. Maybe Killing in the name. Short live action, I hear, is all but certain to be Na Wewe. Staggered that Gods and Men isn’t on the best foreign language feature list (appears to have done festivals only so I guess not eligible), and in its absence a bit flummoxed.
Toy Story 3 obviously wins best animated feature and I would expect also takes best song (here there’s a definite Return of the King thing, since Randy Newman’s songs for both the first two were nominated). And not having seen the animated shorts I think Pixar may well do the double with Night and Day, which may well be the best use of 3D I have yet seen. But animation voters tend to deny Pixar their love when it comes to shorts, and UK cinemas no longer seem to screen the nominees, so who knows.
There seems a near universal agreement that Natalie Portman will win for Black Swan, a daft film that everyone including its director seems to misunderstand (clues to reversing this misunderstanding: concentrate on why the Cassel character cast her in the first place, and think how much clearer things would be if it were made obvious that he is incapable of an erection). It’s a strong performance, but fails quite badly in a few places. There’s a near insurmountable problem with the 60 seconds or so we see of her as the black swan on stage, which do almost nothing to convince us that her sexuality has indeed been unleashed. Not sure how it could, in context. For myself I would far prefer to see Annette Bening win for a truly terrific, nuanced and moving performance. So I am going to say that she will, and appeal to the fact that the academy audience is aging to back my otherwise poorly founded and sentimental choice.
Other stuff: Make up: Barney’s Version, because I don’t think a film as poorly received as The Wolfman can really be commended. Foreign language film: In a Better World.
What I’m most likely to be wrong on: Portman v Benning, Bale v Rush, Bonham Carter v Stanfield, Zimmer contra mundis, Waste Land, Tom Hooper. If I have called more than three of those right I will allow myself some chuffedness; if I have all six right I will consider myself an Awesome Seer. You have been warned.
UPDATE: So no noticeable awesomeness, or even chuffedness. Struck out on actresses: Portman I sort of expected, Leo I really didn’t. (And having just seen Animal Kingdom, I disagree with it too. Jacki Weaver is staggering in a vaguely similar controlling-mother-of-violent-men role.) Wise people were saying that Reznor would get one and he duly did, and again Inside Job, tipped by many, beat the field. That said, strong vibe that Fincher would  win turned out not to be right. I wish that the voting numbers were made public as they are in the Hugos and we could see what was close and what was not.
That said, by my count I beat Roger Ebert in predictive accuracy, because when submitting my predictions to the beat Ebert contest I changed short animation to “The Lost Thing”, the Shaun Tam animation, at my wife’s suggestion. Beating Ebert may not be much, but I guess it’s something.
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