And there you have it folks! Four days of analyzing the films and Oscar possibilities of 2010. I'm writing this introduction one hour and forty-five minutes before 2011! What a great way to end the year by sharing insights with three great lovers of film. Please feel free to comment on any of these posts to any one of us and I'll make sure your comment is seen by the intended recipient.
Sean Patrick Kernan's writing will be in maroon. Visit Sean's blog here.
Julian Stark's writing will be in green. Visit Julian's blog here.
Candice Frederick's writing will be in blue. Visit Candice's blog here.
My writing will be in orange.
Sean Patrick Kernan
What a great year this has been and to cap it off with this four day intensive look back at the best movies of the year with three of the most educated and unique bloggers on the net has been phenomenal. Candice, Brian and Julian thank you. Dear reader, please contribute as well, you can email me or on Candice, Brian and Julian's sites they have comment sections.
And, there is always Twitter
I actually have to agree with Candice that Mark Ruffalo was better in Shutter Island. I actually didn’t see too much in his Kids Are All Right performance, even though it’s easily ranks high on my list of this year’s best films. To be honest, I’d completely forgotten about his work in Shutter Island, but that’s probably because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it.
Anyway, as far as my Oscar wishlist (alphabetical order) is concerned…
Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Leonardo DiCaprio (Shutter Island)*
Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man 2)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass)
Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Anika Noni Rose (For Colored Girls)
Tilda Swinton (I Am Love)
Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Nicolas Cage (Kick-Ass)
Vincent Cassel (Black Swan)
Kieran Culkin (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)
Zach Galifianakis (It’s Kind of a Funny Story)
Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Barbara Hershey (Black Swan)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Juliette Lewis (Conviction)
Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass)
*I know that it’s a maximum of one nomination per category, but I can dream, can’t I?
However, here’s what I’m predicting (listed in order of most likely to win to least likely; essential locks for nominations are IN CAPS)
COLIN FIRTH (THE KING’S SPEECH)
JESSE EISENBERG (THE SOCIAL NETWORK)
JAMES FRANCO (127 HOURS)
Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine)
Robert Duvall (Get Low)
NATALIE PORTMAN (BLACK SWAN)
ANNETTE BENING (THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT)
JENNIFER LAWRENCE (WINTER’S BONE)
NICOLE KIDMAN (RABBIT HOLE) – close enough to being a lock to be considered one
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
CHRISTIAN BALE (THE FIGHTER)
MARK RUFFALO (THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT)
Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
GEOFFREY RUSH (THE KING’S SPEECH)
Jeremy Renner (The Town)
MILA KUNIS (BLACK SWAN)
AMY ADAMS (THE FIGHTER)
MELISSA LEO (THE FIGHTER)
HELENA BONHAM CARTER (THE KING’S SPEECH)
Barbara Hershey (Black Swan)
To respond to Sean's question about my impression of Greenberg in more depth, I'll say this: Quite frankly I just wished someone other than Stiller played the role. I know he was supposed to be a smug guy, but he didn't give Greenberg any justice. As an actor I think he should have drawn some empathy from the audience to make them see his point of view, and he just didn't. I was disappointed. To me, that showed that he never fully understood the character enough to play him.
I would love The Town to receive a best picture nomination. Though I think too man folks would see it as a The Departed redux for it to stand alone and get recognized. But I definitely agree that Renner should get a nod. To me, his performance in that movie was better than Wahlberg's in The Departed.
And I agree that Wahlberg is swallowed by his terrific cast performances in The Fighter to be a real contender, but it looks like he'll get a nod. Armie Hammer was great in The Social Network but I really think with Sorkin's wonderful script his performance might have been written for him already.
I'm not getting all the love for Kick-Ass. I didn't think it was kickass at all; I thought it was lame But I know I'm in the minority on this one.
I just want to also add that I hope Inception gets more appreciate from the academy than some special effects nods. The script was great, as was the acting. I'd love to also see The Social Network, Black Swan, The Kids are All Right, and Night Catches Us up on the board for best picture. With a 10-movie slot, it might be safe to assume there may be a few duds, throaways, and/or curve balls in the mix. What do you think they'll be? Shutter Island maybe? Blue Valentine? I guess is 127 Hours, Winter's Bone, The King's Speech, and The Fighter as well.
Sean Patrick Kernan
Julian I am so with you on the Kick Ass love. That movie kicked my ass all over the theater and I loved every minute of it. Kick Ass was one of my favorite experiences at the movies in 2010 which is what I want to talk about before I also chime in on the Oscar talk. Two horror movies provided two of my other favorite experiences of the year. Going in to The Crazies I was expecting another lame zombie movie. What I got instead was a taut, witty horror movie that kept me consistently breathless with it's brilliant B-movie-ness. Breck Eisner may just have a career yet and that provides of the bigger surprises of the year. The other favorite experience of the year was The Last Exorcism a smart, self aware horror movie that took a TV actor, Patrick Fabian, and made him look like a superstar. Fabian's charm ropes you in and then once you are hooked director Daniel Stamm rips the rug out from under you in surprising fashion. Just when I thought I couldn't be surprised by a horror movie, The Last Exorcism actually made me jump in my seat.
It was not an exceptionally good year for comedy but a couple stood out for me. Get Him to the Greek is a movie I know Candice is not a fan of but it worked for me. I'm a fan of Russell Brand's schtick and Get Him to the Greek actually makes me eager to see his take on Arthur. The more surprising successes for me were Easy A and Going the Distance. Emma Stone nails every moment of Easy A despite being hampered by omniscient narration and a predictable High School setting. Stone's chemistry with Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as her parents is phenomenal and may be the funniest thing about a very funny movie. Going the Distance worked for me because of how unabashedly foul it was. It's not that I love four letter words but the proper employment of expletives works for me and Going the Distance, and especially Drew Barrymore, deploy expletives in the most unique and unexpected ways.
So, digging into the Oscar talk I think we are underestimating True Grit. We have to keep in mind how much the Academy loves something familiar, hence all the love for The King's Speech. The only thing the Academy loves more than familiarity is zeitgeist, hence the ultimate zeitgeist movie The Social Network getting so much love. True Grit has last year's Oscar winning lead actor. It has Oscar winners the Coen Brothers, pedigree my friends gets you along with the Academy, how else did Meryl Streep get nominated for half a movie in Julie and Julia. Matt Damon is a former Oscar winner and young Hailee Steinfeld has a great narrative, she was selected after a nationwide search of more than 17,000 other actresses and the performance is stunning. If not for the fact that True Grit is a remake it might be lock to win it all.
The Social Network will win this year because Fincher is due, the film is current and by Academy standards it's a hip choice. That's not a knock on The Social Network which is a phenomenal movie but it's not hip, your mom has a Facebook page now. If the Academy were truly hip we'd be talking about Tiny Furniture or I Am Love or Mother, movies that are hot with the tastemakers who are not running with the pack but are setting the pace. I don't claim to be one of those people, I don't have the time to keep up with them but I am aware enough to know what they are talking about and they stopped talking about The Social Network the minute Academy member mommies and daddies started appreciating it. Again, not a knock on The Social Network, merely an observation about the way our culture moves, the moment the Academy starts talking about Lena Dunham is the moment she will stop being hip.
Here is my list of the 10 movies the Academy will find acceptable..
The Social Network
The King's Speech
Toy Story 3
Watch out for The Way Back, Get Low, The Kids Are All Right, Rabbit Hole, How to Train Your Dragon and unfortunately Alice in Wonderland.
Winter's Bone is a strange case of a movie that critics have delivered all the way to the Academy. It's rare that critics have such power these days but without the critics Winter's Bone would have died on the vine. Instead, Winter's Bone has been making the papers nationwide for the past two weeks, sitting at or near the top of critics lists everywhere. Shutter Island is going to top Inception because the studio muscle has been stronger behind Shutter Island than behind Inception, a rare example where box office may hurt a nominee with the perception that it has been rewarded enough by box office dollars. Keep in mind that Lord of the Rings was the culmination of three films and not an honor for that particular. The notion that box office matters all that much should have been blown up by The Hurt Locker last year. Being a hit helps but for the image conscious Academy creating a hit movie is more fun than bandwagoning on a hit.
Candice I am happy to see you champion Night Catches Us. I wasn't as big of a fan of that film as you are but critics taking on a cause out of passion for the movie is always appealing to me, it's why I still love going to the movies and being a film critic, the chance to find a movie and tell as many people about it as will listen. I had an opportunity this year to be a champion for a tiny independent film that was shot just up the road from me here in Iowa. It's called 16 to Life and it's a charming little Juno-esque story of a small town girl looking for her first kiss on her 16th birthday. 16 to Life is a charming, ultra-literate and witty little comedy that is filled with these tiny perfect moments. I met the director Becky Smith and interviewed her on the radio and was really impressed and moved by how she and the cast were barnstorming this little movie from town to town and film festival to film festival where audiences were delighted enough to give it a couple awards. If you can find 16 to Life I urge you to check it out, it will be one of my last experiences at the movies in 2010.
Please someone promise me that we'll do something like this again next year. I've had a blast, and I feel like I've really been able to cement my own thoughts on the year as a whole by doing this. Again, I still have so many movies to see, and after this back and forth, I can't wait to get back to watching some of the great 2010 movies you all have mentioned that I haven't yet seen.
I haven't yet made my own list of what I think will be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, so I think I'll start formulating one by looking at Sean's choices.
The Social Network is a given, and it's also my favorite non-documentary film of 2010. I think Julian said that it's not a technically impressive film. I couldn't disagree more. Fincher's direction is certainly more subtle than someone like Christopher Nolan's for Inception, but his handiwork is certainly there on screen. No one does CGI the way Fincher does it. It's almost invisible how he's able to implement the CGI without ever drawing attention to it. He's done it again and again with Zodiac and Benjamin Button as other examples. The regatta scene in particular in The Social Network is perhaps the most viscerally exciting scene of the year, and that's all Fincher right there. Plus don't forget what he did with Armie Hammer's characters. By the way, I do think Hammer's fantastic, and he has gotten the recognition he deserves. I can understand Candice's and Sean's points about The Social Network not being the hip film because the Academy loves it, but I do think it will stand the test of time. I wouldn't be surprised to see it high on people's best of the decade lists in 2019. I also wouldn't be surprised to see it on something like the American Film Institute's list of the Greatest American Films in like 30 or 40 years. I truly believe it has the potential to be the movie of this generation. It will win, and it should.
The King's Speech (a really nice movie) is a given. I do agree that True Grit will be nominated for Best Picture. I don't think it will win much at all. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it goes home empty on Oscar night. Again I haven't seen it, but I have read many critics' reviews. I get the sense that many see it as a very solid movie, but as a Coen brothers film, it's not among their best work. The acting is good all around, and I'd love to see Matt Damon, a great actor, get nominated especially since I didn't even think about him until he was mentioned by the three of you. However, I haven't heard anything like "Jeff Bridges' best work" or "Matt Damon's best performance" or "the Coen Brothers' best film." I really do think it will be nominated though. And that whole argument that Julian refuted about the Globes not liking the Coens is ridiculous and Julian explained why perfectly.
I do think Winter's Bone will be nominated as well, and Sean's right that it is the critics that deserve credit for the buzz for it. It's a wonderful film, and it's the sort of film that never would have a chance of being nominated if there were still five nominees. Winter's Bone is exactly the sort of film that gives the ten BP nominee system merit. I think Candice mentioned that she didn't think The Town will be nominated. I disagree completely. It's gotten really good critical buzz and it's done well at the box office. I think it's a pretty sure bet that it will be nominated. Someone mentioned earlier that Ben Affleck might be a surprise nominee for Best Actor. He's good in the film, but I don't see that happening.
That brings me to Shutter Island. I liked Shutter Island. I was entertained by it, but wow, that film is polarizing. Some people hate it. Match that with the fact that it came out early in the year and that it's not among Scorsese's best and I think it's one that might get in, but probably won't. If it had been released later in the year, that might have given it a better shot, but I think the haters are going to have the last word on that one.
Toy Story 3 is a given. It's as charming as any film released this year. Black Swan is also a pretty sure thing in my opinion as well, even if I'm not totally in love with it. I actually think The Fighter is a definite. I don't think the moderate box office is going to hurt it. It's an Oscar bait kind of a film. It'll be nominated--at least I think so.
127 Hours is one of my favorite films of the year. I do think it will be nominated, but it might be the one that might disappoint me by slipping through the cracks. It's such a unique kind of a film and some Academy voters might have avoided it because of the subject matter. That being said, I still think it will get in.
So the nominees so far of Sean's that I agree with are:
The Social Network
The King's Speech
Toy Story 3
That tenth spot will be an interesting one to say the least. Now I'll admit the sad fact that I only predicted seven of the 10 nominees last year, so that makes it difficult for me to even trust myself to predict the biggest wild card of the ten. I really really don't think Shutter Island will get in. So I think that tenth spot will in fact go to Inception. It's a great film. Everyone's seen it. It will be nominated for a number of technical awards. It's just been released on DVD. Christopher Nolan is unbelievably well respected. I think Inception's lack of early awards buzz won't matter that much. Critics groups don't vote for ten films. The Golden Globes' voting process is ridiculous because it's less than 100 people who like famous people and being bribed. The Academy is certainly a serious group of people so they won't nominate something like Iron Man 2, but I think the general moviegoing audience wants to see Inception nominated, and considering that it's also a great film, I think the Academy will award it.
The tenth movie that will be nominated will be:
If I'm wrong, it'll probably be among the following films: The Kids Are All Right, How to Train Your Dragon, Blue Valentine or Rabbit Hole. Again considering my track record from last year, I really do think The Kids Are All Right will be nominated in place of something. But I can't choose eleven films so I'll keep it off even though it's a wonderful movie.
Once again, thanks to Candice, Julian and Sean, and thanks to everyone who has read our exchange. 2011 is here, and I can't wait to start watching the movies we'll be discussing for next year's Blog-a-Thon.