Saturday, November 27, 2010

State of the Race: Thanksgiving Edition

As the first of December approaches, the Oscar season kicks into high gear. Here is a look at how the race is shaking up before the critics awards change the name of the game.

Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
The Way Back
Other Potentials: The Town, How Do You Know, Winter's Bone, Another Year, Fair Game, Rabbit Hole, Made in Dagenham, Blue Valentine, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Commentary: The race, in my opinion has remained relatively stable. The summer's three biggest hits, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, and Toy Story 3 seem to remain stable in terms of buzz, as other contenders have fallen off. The Social Network and The King's Speech remain the top two contenders, although The King's Speech reviews seem to not match that of Fincher's modern masterpiece. We have finally seen The Fighter, and it looks like it is going to be a major player in this category and the acting ones as well. Black Swan and 127 Hours are still the "hard to watch" contenders, but both got stunning reviews, and are major contenders. While True Grit has yet to be seen, I think it deserves a spot, until proven otherwise. Finally, I am sticking with Peter Weir's epic over The Town (which seems to be gaining a lot of traction), because the Academy loves Weir, and they ignored Affleck's first time out.

Best Director
Tom Hooper "The King's Speech"
Danny Boyle "127 Hours"
David Fincher "The Social Network"
Ethan and Joel Coen "True Grit"
Peter Weir "The Way Back"
Other Contenders: Mike Leigh "Another Year", Christopher Nolan "Inception", Darren Aronofsky "Black Swan", Debra Granik "Winter's Bone", Lisa Cholodenko "The Kids Are All Right", David O. Russell "The Fighter", Ben Affleck "The Town"
Commentary: David Fincher and Tom Hooper directed the two top Picture contenders, so it makes plenty of sense that they are the top contenders in this prize as well. Boyle and the Coen Bros. are previous winners, making them popular choices. Finally I went with Weir. This is a shaky choice at best, as I think that Nolan, Aronofsky, and Leigh are popular and great choices as well, but I'm still banking on the widely underestimated The Way Back. I think that a well-done historical epic by Peter Weir is right up the Academy's alley.

Best Actor
Jeff Bridges "True Grit"
Robert Duvall "Get Low"
Jesse Eisenberg "The Social Network"
Colin Firth "The King's Speech"
James Franco "127 Hours"
Other Contenders: Javier Bardem "Biutiful", Ryan Gosling "Blue Valentine", Leonardo DiCaprio "Inception", Leonardo DiCaprio "Shutter Island", Mark Wahlberg "The Fighter", Paul Giamatti "Barney's Version", Aaron Eckhart "Rabbit Hole"
Commentary: It seems that Frano and Firth still retain their status as frontrunners, as both films got raving reviews from the general critical mass. I also feel that Bridges and Duvall are previous winners and Academy faves, although we have yet to see True Grit. Finally, I'm sticking with Eisenberg over other contenders simply because I think The Social Network will pick up surprise support come nomination time.

Best Actress
Annette Bening "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman "Rabbit Hole"
Leslie Manville "Another Year"
Julianne Moore "The Kids Are All Right"
Natalie Portman "Black Swan"
Other Contenders: Jennifer Lawrence "Winter's Bone", Naomi Watts "Fair Game", Sally Hawkins "Made in Dagenham", Halle Berry "Frankie & Alice", Michelle Williams "Blue Valentine", Anne Hathaway "Love and Other Drugs"
Commentary: This is still a stacked race, and my top five is shaky at best. Bening and Portman seem like the only safe bets, and are currently the frontrunners. Manville is still there despite shrinking buzz for Another Year, because her performance was so widely talked about. As is Kidman's who is a previous winner back in form. Finally I went with Moore over Lawrence, although I feel that this could switch at any moment. If Manville goes supporting (which she should), then there is room for both.

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale "The Fighter"
Ed Harris "The Way Back"
Andrew Garfield "The Social Network"
Mark Ruffalo "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush "The King's Speech"
Other Contenders: Matt Damon "True Grit", Sam Rockwell "Conviction", Colin Farrell "The Way Back", Jeremy Renner "The Town", Jack Nicholson "How Do You Know", Justin Timberlake "The Social Network".
Commentary: Geoffrey Rush still remains the frontrunner, although most of the talk has been about Firth. I think Ed Harris gets in, but so many people still discount the film, which I don't understand. Andrew Garfield was brilliant and will most likely be swept in with the film's popularity. Mark Ruffalo is still holding on to his buzz in a category with a lot of question marks, and is overdue for a nod. Finally, word out of AFI Fest is that The Fighter is a sure-fired contender, and apparently Bale is its shining star.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter "The King's Speech"
Melissa Leo "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfield "True Grit"
Dianne Wiest "Rabbit Hole"
Other Contenders: Miranda Richardson "Made in Dagenham", Jackie Weaver "Animal Kingdom", Saoirse Ronan "The Way Back", Barbara Hershey "Black Swan", Mila Kunis "Black Swan", Kimberly Elise "For Colored Girls"
Commentary: Helena Bonham Carter is currently the frontrunner, since the rest of the competition isn't really up to par. The two Fighter girls are getting lots of buzz, and in a weak year, I think both will get in. Rabbit Hole's buzz has flatlined, but I'm keeping former winner Wiest for now. Finally I went with Steinfield over Richardson because True Grit looks good, and Made in Dagenham got decent reviews, but not stellar, and the film seems like it will be completely forgotten.

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