Best Picture - True Grit
Give me a moment, I'm not used to my favorite movie of the year getting a Best Picture Oscar nomination. This hasn't happened since 1998, with Saving Private Ryan (and my favorite film of the year hasn't won since Amadeus, way back in 1984). This is the strongest this category has been in a very long time. They actually got it right this year, picking what are more or less the ten most critically acclaimed movies of the year (other than Carlos, which I don't think was eligible). Of course, they've still got some overrated movies in the mix. The overwhelming acclaim for The King's Speech is utterly bizarre to me. The movie could not be more generic. It's The Madness of King George with stuttering instead of madness. I've read comparisons to The Karate Kid, but the only way that analogy would make sense is if Daniel-san's goal was not to win the tournament, but simply to show up and not make a complete fool of himself. It wouldn't be much of a movie, and neither is The King's Speech. Likewise, I'm not sure what everyone sees in Winter's Bone. It's kind of a nothing little movie. And Inception, though ridiculously entertaining, was just way too contrived and schematic. But 127 Hours and Toy Story 3 are both awesome, and Black Swan, The Fighter, The Social Network, and (to a lesser extent) The Kids Are All Right are all good, solid, expertly made films.
Best Actor - Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Bridges vs. Firth again, for the second year in a row? Incidentally, I gave my vote to Firth last year, but that was because I hadn't yet seen Crazy Heart. Having seen it since, I now think Bridges absolutely deserved to win. And he deserves to win again.
Best Actress - Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
I'm tempted to go with Natalie Portman, who would definitely win Most Improved (this was an odd year, acting-wise: it was the year that Spider-Man's best friend and Luke Skywalker's mom both revealed that, wonder of wonders, they actually can act!). But I gotta go with my girl Michelle. Annette Bening was fine, but I thought Julianne Moore was better. Nicole Kidman was excellent (though Dianne Wiest was better), but I just can't get past Winter Bone's essential emptiness enough to judge Jennifer Lawrence's performance objectively. I... guess she was fine.
Best Supporting Actor - Jeremy Renner, The Town
Christian Bale's going to win, but other than losing a lot of weight and adopting a Boston accent, what exactly does he do? If he were an unknown, there's no way he would have even been nominated. The Academy apparently loves Boston accents, though: 40% of the performances in this year's supporting categories have them (see also Mark Wahlberg in The Departed and Amy Ryan in Gone Baby Gone). It's not hard to see why, though. Jeremy Renner is amazing in his Boston-accented role, and even Ben Affleck was excellent in the same movie.
Best Supporting Actress - Amy Adams, The Fighter
Okay, maybe I'm a sucker for a Boston accent, too. But she's transformative in this movie, in a way that doesn't just rely on the accent. I also thought Jacki Weaver was excellent in Animal Kingdom, though I didn't much like the movie. I saw it before I saw The Fighter, which might be part of the reason why I was unimpressed with the usually impressive Melissa Leo, as the roles are basically the same. Weaver's character is just a more evil version of Leo's character, and she nailed it far more effectively than did Leo.
Time for a quick rant. Nominating Hailee Steinfeld in the supporting category is just absurd. Her character is in every scene. She's rarely off-camera. The movie is about her. The other actors are there to support her. Honestly, it's no exaggeration to say that nominating her for Best Supporting Actress is like nominating Daniel Radcliffe for Best Supporting Actor for the Harry Potter movies. It's part age discrimination and part sex discrimination, but mostly I think it's fame and billing discrimination. If Dakota Fanning had the role, is there any doubt she'd be considered for the lead category?
Okay, rant's over. Now I'd like to take a moment to remark on the remarkable similarities between Amys Adams and Ryan. They're both named Amy, and both have a man's name as a last name (okay, Adams has the extra "S"). They were both on The Office, playing the girlfriends of the two main male characters, respectively. And they're both amazingly versatile actresses who have both been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for playing working-class Bostonians. Has anyone seen them in the same room together? Not that they look anything alike, but I wouldn't discount Master of Disguise from their list of possible talents.
Best Director - Coen Brothers, True Grit
Tom Hooper - the new Stephen Daldry.
Best Original Screenplay - The Fighter
Even though it eventually degenerates into a standard underdog sports drama, it's terrific writing, with some of the year's best dialogue. Inception: Most Expository Screenplay.
I just realized that the screenplay nominees are identical to the Best Picture nominees, with one exception: Another Year instead of Black Swan. Does Mike Leigh have to get a screenplay nomination every single time he makes a movie (which is especially odd considering his screenplays always come about through improvisations with his actors, who therefore have just as much input into the screenplays as he does, if not more)? Why would they nominate his worst movie ever, rather than Darren Aronofsky's best movie ever?
Best Adapted Screenplay - True Grit
Best Animated Film - Toy Story 3
Sorry, Sylvain. As much as I Ioved The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist bored the hell out of me. And you just know he and the How to Train Your Dragon guys are sitting there thinking, "Should I even bother showing up?" Really, what's the point of even having this category when one of the nominees has a freakin' Best Picture nomination?! Now that there are 10 Best Picture nominees, and animated films thus have a better shot at the crown, can't we just get rid of this award?
Best Foreign Language Film - Dogtooth
I wasn't that crazy about it, but it's the only one I've seen. And frankly, I'm just so shocked it was nominated that I'd love for it to win. I'm bummed that Confessions didn't make it, though. Two ultra-black comedies competing for an Oscar would have been something to see. I'm actually kind of confused about why the notoriously conservative Academy would pick Dogtooth, but not Confessions. They're both violent and disturbing, but the latter is the more mature and insightful film. I loved individual scenes in Dogtooth, but as a whole I found it shapeless and a bit childish. Biutiful will probably win, though I'm on the fence over whether or not I even want to see it.
Best Cinematography - True Grit
Best Editing - The Fighter
Actually, they're all good choices (except The King's Speech). The Fighter struck me as the most singular.
Best Art Direction - True Grit
Best Costumes - True Grit
Yay! Okay, now I'm just being ridiculous.
Best Makeup - pass
Haven't seen any of them. I might see The Way Back. Haven't decided yet.
Best Score - How to Train Your Dragon
I guess. Once again I'm having trouble remembering them.
Best Song - "I See the Light," Tangled
I guess. It was actually my least favorite song in the movie (surely "Mother Knows Best" should have been nominated), but I'll be damned if I'd vote for Randy Newman, Dido, or Country Strong.
Great, now she's going to be "Academy Award Nominee Dido."
Best Sound Mixing - True Grit
Best Sound Editing - True Grit
Best Visual Effects - Iron Man 2
Best Documentary - Exit Through the Gift Shop
Naturally. "Academy Award Winner Banksy" just has to happen. Inside Job and Restrepo kind of bored me. Haven't seen the other two.
Best Animated Short - Night and Day
I saw it twice. The first time was in 2D, and it just seemed like an exercise to me. The second time was in 3D, and this time I appreciated it more. Of course, it's the only nominee I've seen.