2011 Oscar Thoughts

First, I must say that aside from the last four awards (Best Actor/Actress, Best Director, Best Picture), I didn’t actually see the show itself. Instead, I was watching most of the New York Knicks @ Miami Heat game before running some late evening errands. I went to Target, nosy people. So, no, I won’t be commenting on how entertaining the show was/was not or how bad/good Anne Hathaway and/or James Franco were.

Secondly, while I am interested in who wins/loses, in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t mean anything to me personally. I do understand rooting for/against movies you like/dislike, but it’s my opinion that movies will be remembered on their quality, not if they won any shiny awards or not. Citizen Kane is widely considered the great film ever: didn’t win the top honor. The Shawshank Redemption sits on top of the imdb list: didn’t win, either. And hello, Star Wars! That said, I think Steven Spielberg and Drew At Hitflix said it better than I ever could. If you haven’t read Drew’s thoughts, you can check them out here.

Since I’m just a fan giving opinions, I’ll be focusing on the “major” awards for the most part. I’d like to preface the following with this statement: I have absolutely no issue with the results of the main awards. At all. With that, here we go.

Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3

I have yet to see The Illusionist and I have stated on my occasions my preference to How to Train Your Dragon. I have since sat back and looked at Toy Story 3 winning this award not as a “give it to which ever one PIXAR made,” but rather as a reward for one of the best trilogies ever put out. Think of it as the Lord of the Rings effect. While, it’s not really the Academy’s job to do such things, we all know they do. Toy Story 3 is a fine conclusion to the series and the ending alone makes it hard to disagree with it winning.

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo (The Fighter)

Definitely not my first (or even my second choice), but Leo did a fine job in The Fighter as the overbearing, not-so-supportive (to Micky)/enabling (to Dicky) mother. I do feel at times she overdid things a tad, but that’s not exactly anything new when it comes to the Oscars. I think there were some complaints that she was overselling herself on the talk show circuit, but that obviously didn’t hurt her. My preference?: Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit. Granted, her performance was definitely a leading role, but I will not count that against her. She put in a strong turn along side some giants of the business, and quite frankly, stole the show from them. I also wouldn’t have minded if Amy Adams won, either. Note: I have yet to see Animal Kingdom.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (The Fighter)

Tough category all around as I really enjoyed all the performances nominated. I would have voted for Bale, also. His role as a boxer (who’s still living off his 15 minutes of fame he achieved a decade earlier) turned delusional crack addict who eventually who eventually redeems himself by the end of the story is simply outstanding. The moment he shares with Mark Whalberg at the end of the movie is just wonderful. My second choice would have been John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone. His Teardrop character, for the most part, is a cool customer who’s hiding an absolute storm underneath.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Was there really any doubt who was going to win this one? Even in another very strong category, Portman shined brighter than the rest. To watch her mind fracture in front of us, albeit in very subtle ways in the beginning, is just incredible. I’ll speak more about Black Swan later on, but I would have definitely given my vote to Portman in an absolute no-brainer. Again, very strong category as all the performances were very good (meaning there wasn’t an, “Huh?” nomination basically). If I had to pick a second choice, it would have been probably Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone. Probably.

Best Actor: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)

This was a two person race for me (I haven’t seen Biutiful yet, however) and for everyone complaining about Ryan Gosling getting snubbed for Blue Valentine, I feel Aaron Eckhart turn in Rabbit Hole was an even greater disservice. However, it still would have came down to Firth and Jesse Eisenberg. I would have been fine with either winning. I think that Firth was also getting a bit of a “Yeah, you were really good last year, too” bump. That said, I probably would have voted for Firth in the end as well. As a whole, I think the role is someone we can all relate to in that we all have had to overcome something in our lives. The ups and downs, the struggles with responsibility, Firth makes it all believable. The actual speech itself is greatness, a scene that needs to be seen rather than just heard. The one thing that gives me pause is the “attention” scene in The Social Network. That still gives me chills.

Best Director: Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)

Christopher Nolan! Okay, now that I got that out of the way: this is one I disagree with. It’s not that Hooper didn’t direct a very good movie (he clearly did, despite all the odd negative feelings that are being placed on it), it’s more along the lines that the performances carried The King’s Speech much more than anything else. If I were casting a ballot, it would have been between Darren Aronofsky and David Fincher. Ultimately, I would have gone with Fincher. The Social Network is a very cold movie that’s supposed to make us look at ourselves. As the world gets smaller, we need to remember that physical interaction is still preferable to computer-based. The fact that Zuckerberg, the fictional badass that he is, is left alone in the end without any true friends while hoping someone accepts his friend request on Facebook says it all. It’s a very bold statement in the digital age, one that’s obviously been overlooked by many. I give it to Fincher because…

Best Picture: The King’s Speech

As you all know, I would have voted for Black Swan in an heartbeat. This is the one movie that drew me in from the get-go and never let me go. Watching Nina fall into madness (in a parallel to the “Swan Lake” play she is performing in) is just remarkable for the reasons I have stated before. However, what makes this psychological thriller so memorable for me is simply that the visual narrator (Nina) suffers from psychosis (we don’t really know what’s the cause of it), so it puts into question what’s real and what’s not. It’s an haunting journey into insanity which is completely mind-blowing. My second pick would be Inception. I loved Nolan’s sci-fi heist (or whatever the opposite of heist is). It featured an very original and refreshing premise that was so awe inspiring on the big screen. Just fantastic in every sense of the word.

However, since movies like Black Swan and Inception hardly ever win the big award (if ever), let’s take a look at the raging debate The King’s Speech vs. The Social Network. If we take Black Swan and Inception out of the discussion, and are essentially left with these two movies, I would have voted for The Social Network for the reasons I stated during my Best Director paragraph. It was a movie with something more than the usual to say, something that should resonate with all of us. However, I’m not going to jump on the anti-The King Speech bandwagon, either. The King Speech is one of those cheer worthy films that we all know (and some of us love). It really is a great and wonderful movie, nowhere as bad as some people are making it out to be (especially when it became apparent that this would be taking home Best Picture over The Social Network). Again, I have no issue with this winning. Will it go down in history as the strongest film of 2010? No, I don’t think it will, but it’s not like history has never disagreed with the Academy (a group of people voting based on their own opinions, remember) before. Unlike others, though, I do think it’s worthy of being bestowed the big prize in the end.

Biggest snub of them all? No Daft Punk for TRON: Legacy. That’s an awesome score, I don’t care what anyone says. Okay, so it’s actually Nolan, but I had to get a mention in somehow.

And with that, I shall speak no more of the Oscars because, again, it’s really no big deal.

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