Oscars 2011 Death Race: Picks/Postmortem
I didn't do so well on these last year, which I think is because of the Death Race, not in spite of it — but perhaps I can improve my percentages in '11. From a grading standpoint, I outright failed last year with a 58%. (And got the exact same lousy score this year.)
(My percentages from the ODR itself: 96% of nominated movies seen, 92% of categories completed. So I pulled my grades from Bs up to an A and an A-minus.)
I'll update with a final percentage after the Oscars themselves, but in the meantime, I'd love to hear your predictions in the comments section — and don't forget that you can find me, Alli, and Joe R live-blogging the whole shebang at NPR's Monkey See tonight.
Best Picture: The King's Speech / correct
Should win: Winter's Bone. What do we mean when we say "best," in this context? The most fully realized world; the most consistent tone and pacing; the most evocative cinematography and performances; the most thoughtful and thought-provoking. Firing on all possible cylinders, right? Conversely, you could say it's the film with the fewest "but"s. Either way, for my money, it's Winter's Bone. It's not a perfect film, but it meets the most criteria.
Will win: Black Swan has a shot, but I also think that King's Speech, recent backlash notwithstanding, is the least divisive. Could a handful of films split and hand it to True Grit? Sure, but I doubt it.
Best Actor: Colin Firth / correct
Should win: Javier Bardem. Discussing the Best Actor performances recently, I found myself thinking about the conversations baseball fans have about the MVP. Do you vote for the most valuable player, period, in the league — the guy with the best stats? Or do you vote for the player who was the most valuable to his team, who was the most crucial part of the success of the club? The debate comes up every year; we had it again last year, Pujols vs. Votto. It's relevant here because Firth is fantastic in King's Speech, does wonderful work, has done wonderful work before, is owed from last year, blah blah blah — but he is not nearly as critical to the success or failure of the movie as a whole as Bardem is to Biutiful. Not to diminish Iñárritu's role; he's made huge strides, and it's a gorgeous work. But without Bardem, it's not possible.
Will win: Firth, and I'm fine with it.
Best Actress: Natalie Portman / correct
Should win: It comes down to how hard is the role versus how hard did it look, and the more I've had time to sit with the performances here, the more I think that Michelle Williams did the best combined job of making a fairly unsympathetic and depressing shitshow look easy.
Will win: Natalie Portman, and I'm fine with this as well.
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale / correct
Should win: Christian Bale. I understand the backlash against the showiness/ack-tore-liness of the performance, but…whatev. He's playing a crackhead, after all.
Will win: Christian Bale.
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo / correct
Should win: Jacki Weaver. The other performances strike me as more script- and styling-dependent than Weaver's; this isn't a knock on them, it's just that Weaver gives you something extra. It's also something creepy and awful, but what can you do. Heh.
Will win: Did Melissa Leo give it away by taking out that god-awful ad? Do voters take that kind of thing into account? I wouldn't, but then, I didn't think nearly as much of this performance as some. An upset by Steinfeld wouldn't shock me, but I still think it's Leo.
Best Director: Tom Hooper / wrong
Should win: Christopher Nolan. Heh. Okay, seriously: what do voters reward here — courage, or craftsmanship? If it's the former, it's Darren Aronofsky; if it's the latter, it's David Fincher — or, because Social Network isn't typical Fincher, Hooper. I'd vote for Darren Aronofsky myself.
Will win: Darren Aronofsky.
Original Screenplay: The King's Speech / wrong
Should win: From a structural standpoint, The King's Speech is the best built script.
Will win: This is where the Academy chooses to reward The Kids Are All Right.
Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network / wrong
Should win: Another one where I wonder about the bases for the award — which is more important, the relative success of the adaptation or the end-result screenplay itself? If it's a combination, step aside, live-action peeps: Toy Story 3 should win.
Will win: Social Network really went off the boil in the last month, and this is a category the Coens always seem to win in lieu of "real" recognition. I'm going with True Grit.
Animated Feature: Toy Story 3 / correct
Should win: I loved all three! Can't everybody win? No? Fine: How To Train Your Dragon.
Will win: Tough call. We can eliminate The Illusionist, but between the other two…I don't know. Toy Story 3.
Foreign Film: In A Better World / wrong
Should win: Biutiful.
Will win: Biutiful.
Cinematography: Inception / correct
Should win: Black Swan. I mean, really it's the art direction that I think is responsible for that claustrophobic, anxious onscreen presentation, but it's not nominated there.
Will win: Inception.
Editing: The Social Network / wrong
Should win: Black Swan.
Will win: 127 Hours may score its only win of the night here (although in my opinion the editing neglected to hack that indulgent ending down to size).
Art Direction: Alice In Wonderland / wrong
Should win: Well, Black Swan, but failing that, King's Speech. I kept looking at the décor.
Will win: No idea. Let's say Inception.
Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland / wrong
Should win: Strange mix of nominees here. In terms of looking authentic and catching my attention without showing off, King's Speech.
Will win: Hell if I know. I can't even explain what I Am Love is doing in this category when Swinton didn't get any love, and I didn't see The Tempest, but that probably wins, which is fine.
Makeup: The Wolfman / correct, ARGH
Should win: The Way Back.
Will win: It pains me, but…The Wolfman.
Original Score: The Social Network / wrong
Should win: The Illusionist, actually, but I liked Social Network's plaintive score as well. Anything but Inception, please.
Will win: King's Speech.
Original Song: Toy Story 3 / wrong, on all counts
Should win: e) none of the above. The one from 127 Hours didn't suck as utterly as the others, but why isn't the bar-scene song from Tangled nominated instead? That one ruled!
Will win: Celine Dion has one of these, which shows what I know. Let's go with Tangled just for funsies.
Sound Mixing: Inception / correct
Should win: No idea how this differs from Sound Editing. Salt's seemed pretty challenging, though.
Will win: Inception.
Sound Editing: Inception / correct
Should win: See above; Salt.
Will win: Inception.
Visual Effects: Inception / correct
Should win: Inception, but hat tip to the three-brothers sequence in Harry Potter.
Will win: Inception.
Documentary Feature: Inside Job / correct
Should win: Exit Through The Gift Shop is maybe the most unalloyed fun I had at the movies last year. It's funny, it's fast, and it toys with the idea of documentary objectivity itself (among other things). And Banksy is hilarious.
Will win: …Not that. It really depends on which newsily important topic voters decide is more worthwhile. Inside Job is the favorite, and I think it wins.
Documentary Short: Strangers No More / correct, mirabile dictu
Should win: Like I said, I didn't fall in love with any of these. Poster Girl is more flawed than some, but also the most compelling.
Will win: What better way to make it up to Oprah for dissing Waiting for Superman than to crown Strangers No More?
Animated Short: The Lost Thing / wrong, which is awesome
Should win: Oh, Lost Thing. I love you.
Will win: The Gruffalo.
Live-Action Short: God of Love / correct, yay!
Should win: God of Love.
Will win: It's tempting to pick Na Wewe, but the Oscar went to a reasonably funny short last year, so I will cross my fingers and predict God of Love.
Tags: 127 Hours Albert Pujols Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu Biutiful Black Swan Celine Dion Christian Bale Christopher Nolan Colin Firth Darren Aronofsky David Fincher Exit Through The Gift Shop God Of Love Hailee Steinfeld Harry Potter and the Blah-Blah Fishcakes How To Train Your Dragon I Am Love Inception Inside Job Jacki Weaver Javier Bardem Joe R Joey Votto Melissa Leo Michelle Williams Miss Alli Monkey See movies Na Wewe Natalie Portman Oscars 2011 Death Race Poster Girl Salt Strangers No More Tangled The Coen Brothers The Gruffalo The Illusionist The Kids Are All Right The King's Speech The Lost Thing The Social Network The Tempest The Way Back The Wolfman Tilda Swinton Tom Hooper Toy Story 3 True Grit Winter's Bone