By Jennifer Weitzman
The 83rd annual Academy Awards isn’t until February 27, but the buzz leading up to the show has been bubbling over since David Fincher’s critically acclaimed The Social Network was released in October, and has only grown steadier, recently grabbing the Golden Globe award for Best Picture for Drama. Will The Social Network be able to be “liked” by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science? Will Colint Firth be this year’s Helen Mirren? Can Christian Bale knock out Geoffrey Rush? Can the golden statue be lassoed away by Hailee Steinfeld? For the second time since 1943, 10 Hollywood films will compete for best picture, a slick move by the Academy to help broaden the appeal of the show for a wider audience. In addition, this year’s show will hand over the reins to Anne Hathaway and James Franco for hosting duties, a move that is sure to attract a younger crowd.
So without much further adieu, here the 2011 Oscar nominations and the Resident’s picks.
The race for the Academy Award for Best Picture is as hot as a subway platform in August with a handful of clear frontrunners. Two films are getting the most air time and praise. Fincher’s new media darling The Social Network has received much critical acclaim and has been widely popular with audiences. But poised to take over is the little British historical film The King’s Speech directed by Tom Hooper and starring an all-star cast of such royal actors as Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter. The story of the King’s struggle to overcome his stammer is a clear favorite for the Oscar voters. Christopher Nolan’s summer blockbuster Inception starring Leonardo DiCaprio also received a nod, and this psycho sci-fi thriller should most certainly win for its technical endeavors. There are also two little gems - 127 Hours and Winter’s Bone - that can be the surprise winner of the night and take home the coveted top prize. Danny Boyle, who was the big winner in 2009 with Slumdog Millionaire, has returned to the silver screen with 127 Hours and received much critical acclaim and buzz from audiences for its compelling survival story. And Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone, a gripping story about a young family living below the poverty line was the top winner for Best Picture and Screenplay at Sundance. Toy Story 3, directed by Lee Unkrich also has a shot, but will likely take home Best Animated feature. The Coen Brothers are favorites with the Oscar crowd and their incredible remake of the classic Western True Grit also received honorable mention for Best Picture, as will Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right and Darron Aronofsky’s Black Swan. Finally, one of my favorite films was also nominated, David O. Russell’s The Fighter with the knockout performance by Christian Bale.
My Vote: The best picture will go to The King’s Speech. The old monarchy will topple the new media as a king quivering before a microphone and saving the kingdom was much more fascinating to watch and a much more inspiring story then the real-time drama about greed and power.
The nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role are in a close race between Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges for his gritty performance as the drunken US Marshall in True Grit; James Franco for his portrayal of angst and hope in 127 Hours; Jessie Eisenberg, for his brilliant performance becoming Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network; Colin Firth for his impressive adaptation of the stammering King George VI; and Javier Bardem for his stellar performance in Biutiful.
My Vote: Hands down Colin Firth will win the recognition he so deserves for his performance as the serious and downcast king, struggling with the pressures of his sudden rise to the throne and his coming to terms with his terrible speech impediment in The King’s Speech. Nobody can dethrone him this year. He’s an actor’s actor and narrowly missed out last year for his performance in A Single Man. The conservative Academy also likes to vote period pieces and for roles depicting a personal struggle. Firth’s performance is tremendous and most deserving for the Best Oscar.
For the ladies, the nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role include Annette Bening for her role in The Kids Are All Right, Jennifer Lawrence is a shining star in Winter’s Bone, Natalie Portman for her role as a ambitious ballerina in Black Swan, Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine, and it should go without saying that Nicole Kidman will be considered for her work in Rabbit Hole.
My Vote: Although I think Annette Bening will be the safe bet for the Academy, I think Black Swan will make a winner out of Natalie Portman. Portman’s role as a ballerina with an all-consuming passion for performing that left her with a mental breakdown is well out of her comfort zone and she pulls it off stupendously. Portman will pirouette away with the Oscar this year.
Up for Best Supporting Actor nominations include a real match up between Geoffrey Rush for his role as the therapist in The King’s Speech and Christian Bale for his role as a drug addicted former boxer in The Fighter. Other contenders include Jeremy Renner in The Town, Mark Ruffalo in The Kids are Alright and John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone.
My Vote: Without a doubt, Christian Bale. While Rush is a clear favorite, Bale steals the show and has the better Boston accent. Plus he lost a massive amount of weight for this edgy role.
There is such a tight race in the Best Supporting Actress category. There is so much amazing acting in The Fighter, with such compelling performances coming from both Amy Adams and Melissa Leo. Also nominated is Helena Bonham Carter for her beautifully performed role as Queen Elizabeth in The King’s Speech, the young Hailee Steinfeld’s remarkable debut performance in True Grit, and Jacki Weaver for her performance as a wicked mom in the Australian crime drama, Animal Kingdom.
My Vote: Melissa Leo’s knockout performance as the gruff, bleach-blonde mo-manager turned what could have been an obnoxious character into someone I really enjoyed and dare I say liked.
Tune in to the live telecast from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, February 27 at 8PM on ABC and see how we did.