I’ve been writing these Statuesque posts since mid-October, weighing the ups and downs in the tumultuously wavy sea that is the Oscar race. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve argued about movies involving little kid vampires… And it’s almost over! For at least a few months or so, anyway. On Sunday night, the Oscar will be dispensed out on ABC. All we can do is watch and eat queso and chips. Actually, forget the queso and chips. We’re trying to watch our weight. Yes, even on Oscar night. Now, I’ll run down my picks for what WILL win and what SHOULD win in all the major categories. I’ll be back next week with the really-for-real last Statuesque of the season – the Oscar post-mortem!
What Will Win: ‘The King’s Speech‘. As much as it pains me, this perfectly enjoyable, robustly-acted but dramatically inert (What exactly is the conflict? The major theme?) period picture will almost undoubtedly snap the Best Picture prize. If it does, it’ll be looked back on like ‘Crash‘ (which bested ‘Brokeback Mountain‘) or ‘How Green Was My Valley’ (which triumphed over ‘Citizen Kane’) as a truly mind-boggling Best Picture win. It’s cute and all, but what else is it, besides a royal buddy movie?
What Should Win: ‘The Social Network‘. Duh. No other movie encapsulated 2010 like this film. No other movie was as technically proficient and emotionally gripping, as admirable as it was identifiable. And no other movie moved like this – it’s the sonic whoosh to ‘The King’s Speech’ laid-back cough.
Best Animated Feature
What Will Win: ‘Toy Story 3‘. Honestly, this is completely deserved. It’s one of the best films of the year and a total achievement – both from a technical standpoint and from the fact that it made people bawl their eyes out. But Pixar has already had its moment in the sun. Although this would be the one and only ‘Toy Story’ entry to be awarded the Best Animated Feature Award, how about giving it to…
What Should Win: …either other nominee, ‘The Illusionist’ or ‘How to Train Your Dragon‘? ‘The Illusionist’, a nearly silent, heartbreaking tale of an aged magician and his relationship with a young girl, would be a lovely, off-the-beaten-path choice. (However, it should feel lucky to be nominated over ‘Tangled‘). ‘How to Train Your Dragon’, on the other hand, is a bold new direction for DreamWorks Animation. It veers away from the pithy, pop culture-laden terrain (I recently watched ‘Shrek Forever After‘ – ick!) and towards transcendent artistry. That kind of thing should be encouraged. Via Oscars.
Who Will Win: Colin Firth, ‘The King’s Speech’. He’s great in the movie, no doubt, but he was even better as the heartbroken homosexual in last year’s luminous ‘A Single Man‘. Maybe I’ll just close my eyes and pretend that he’s receiving it for ‘A Single Man’, and that’ll make things better. And no, his win won’t make ‘Mamma Mia!‘ any more acceptable.
Who Should Win: Javier Bardem, ‘Biutiful’. Just in terms of character, Bardem has to convey so much in this performance that it blows my mind. Think about it – he’s a street hustler who has terminal cancer and can speak to ghosts. There was no other performance like it this year. Despite the movie’s oppressive grimness, Bardem gave me a reason to smile.
Who Will Win: Natalie Portman, ‘Black Swan‘. As Nina, the psychologically fractured ballerina who has to fight demons both literal and metaphoric, Portman beautifully pulls off an incredibly demanding role, both emotionally and physically. And she does so while keeping the movie’s high camp tone intact. Not an easy feat.
Who Should Win: Natalie Portman, ‘Black Swan’. It’s the kind of bravado performance that wins Oscars… deservedly so. I loved this movie and I loved her in it. Without Portman’s stellar performance, the movie would have easily crumbled, turning into a mushy, semi-erotic fantasy. Portman keeps it grounded. And funny. She earned her Oscar. Big time.
Best Supporting Actor
Who Will Win: Geoffrey Rush, ‘The King’s Speech’. I’m feeling a little frisky tonight, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the Oscar voters, mostly older white folks who love movies that makes them feel warm and fuzzy, will award Rush the gold for his sensitive and funny portrayal of the king’s speech therapist… Even if he could have done the performance in his sleep while wearing his full ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ regalia.
Who Should Win: Christian Bale, ‘The Fighter‘. I’ve often described ‘The Fighter’ as like a ball of electricity. Bale’s performance single-handedly gives that ball most of its watts. As the drug-addled brother to Mark Wahlberg’s titular hero, he’s a conflicted character, full of self-loathing and self-aggrandizing. Bale totally transforms, per usual, without any of the “actorly” self consciousness that usually goes along with such a performance.
Best Supporting Actress
Who Will Win: Melissa Leo, ‘The Fighter’. Despite her ill-advised self promotion, critics and audiences ate up her turn as a roughhewn Boston mother who pushes both of her sons into uncomfortable situations. She’s admittedly great, although a little bit too show-offy at times. (And her homemade Oscar campaign was laughable.) I loved the movie but would instead suggest…
Who Should Win: Amy Adams, ‘The Fighter’. Like Wahlberg, Adams is frequently overlooked because her performance is so subtle. She’s just as on-point as the other actors, but lets her character come out naturally and in bursts of extreme behavior. When she attacks the sisters on her front porch, I die. She’s so good and she brings across something that you rarely see in Hollywood these days: slightly pudgy, working-class sexy.
Who Will Win: Tom Hooper, ‘The King’s Speech’. Ugh. This pains me. Hooper’s direction of ‘The King’s Speech’ was one of a filmmaker who doesn’t trust his script and feels the need to overcompensate with unnecessarily convoluted camera movements and angle choices. (What was that? A fish-eye lens?) He was probably going for “painterly,” but it comes across as “desperate.” How this clown won the DGA award is beyond me.
Who Should Win: David Fincher, ‘The Social Network’. Not only is Fincher one of the greatest living filmmakers, he was unfairly overlooked for ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button‘ and ‘Zodiac‘ (which wasn’t even nominated). There’s no one else who could have put ‘The Social Network’ together the way that Fincher did, no one who could have made the movie pop and resonate in the same wonderful and miraculous ways. Since he’s slipping into more escapist fare for his next few films (including doing ‘20,000 Leagues under the Sea’ for Disney), this might be his last chance in a while for Oscar gold. We shouldn’t let him leave empty handed.