Monday, February 21, 2011

2011 Academy Awards

With the Academy Awards less than a week away, Dreaming Genius editors Steve Maclean and Tony Nunes nail down their personal picks for the top prizes, as well as who they think will actually take home the Oscar statues come Sunday.

BEST PICTURE

Steve's Pick: This has been a vintage year. Last year both The Fighter and True Grit would have had a good chance. When Inception, came out I was sure it would be the film of the year; then came stiff competition from The Social Network and finally the best of the lot: The King's Speech.

Tony's Pick: Among the ten nominated films, my favorite's of the year were Inception and The Social Network. While I love them both, Inception was the standout film of the year for me, and I'd love to see the Academy award its innovative and commercial genius. 127 Hours and Black Swan really blew me away as well, but Inception really killed.

Steve's Likely WinnerThe King's Speech, Inception and the Social Network would all be worthy winners but the Oscars loves royalty.

Tony's Likely Winner: As much as I want Inception to take the win, I have a funny feeling that The King's Speech will upset. The Academy does love a good British drama, but which of these movies will be most regarded ten years from now? Probably not the great, but perhaps overrated The Kings Speech.


ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Steve's Pick: This one is much easier. As much as I liked Jeff Bridges as cantankerous US Marshal Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn, and Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook's entrepreneurial misanthrope, if Colin Firth doesn't win it will be a tragedy. 

Tony's Pick: There really isn't much of a contest here.  Bridges was great fun as the obnoxious Cogburn, but Colin Firth's performance in The Kings Speech had a subtle elegance that was truly profound.

Steve's Likely Winner: I can't see this going to anyone else. Colin Firth.

Tony's Likely Winner: Agreed. Colin Firth.

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Steve's Pick: Hailee Steinfeld is a glaring omission here. I can only think they put her in the supporting actress category to give her a better chance of winning, which is a scandal, because her brilliant performance as Mattie Ross in True Grit was worthy in of a leading role Oscar. In her absence, Natalie Portman is my pick for her delicate performance in Black Swan.

Tony's Pick: Jennifer Lawrence's performance in Winter's Bone was downright bold and deeply conflicted, the kind of breakout role that strips down the Hollywood glamour with a brutally rough edge.  For me though, Natalie Portman's incredibly dark portrayal of a young ballerina obsessed with body image and purity in Black Swan was the best performance of her career, and best performance by a leading actress in years.

Steve's Likely Winner: Natalie Portman will win, having convinced as a psychologically fractured prima ballerina.

Tony's Likely Winner: With the Golden Globe win behind her, Portman is the favorite.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Steve's Pick: This is another tough one with both Christian Bale and Geoffrey Rush fantastic in The Fighter and The King's Speech respectively. Rush gave a composed and alluring performance as King George VI's speech therapist and Bale was hilarious as the flawed but loveable Dicky Eklund. I'm going for Christian Bale for pulling off such a complicated and idiosyncratic character without going over the top. 

Tony's Pick: As a New Englander, I found Christian Bale's performance as Dicky Eklund to be a spot on portrayal of the Massachusetts brother known for shaming his community with his flaunted drug abuse. A boxing movie at its core, Bale's performance sent The Fighter far beyond what I had expected from a story about two brawling brothers from Lowell. The real winner for me however is Armie Hammer, whose performance as both of the snarky Winklevoss twins in The Social Network somehow failed to even garner a nomination. 

Steve's Likely Winner: I expect Bale to nudge out Geoffrey Rush.

Tony's Likely Winner: I honestly think Geoffrey Rush will take the Oscar.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Steve's Pick: Having been left out of the leading actress category she deserves to win, Hailee Steinfeld might even fail to pick up the best supporting Oscar due to the strength of the competition. While Helena Bonham Carter was great as usual, it was Melissa Leo who really caught my eye as Alice Ward in The Fighter. But I'm compensating Hailee Steinfeld.

Tony's Pick: I loved Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit. For such a young actress to carry a Coen Brothers movie with her performance, she pulled off a feat any actress would kill for, but few could deliver.

Steve's Likely Winner: Melissa Leo should get this because Hailee Steinfeld shouldn't even be there, but I think Helena Bonham Carter might win what is an exceptionally strong category.

Tony's Likely Winner: I agree with Steve on this one.  Melissa Leo for the win.

DIRECTING

Steve's Pick: Another shocking omission is Christopher Nolan for the epic direction of Inception. Considering The King's Speech was a tiny film about two men in a room, the job Tom Hooper did in making it so captivating and mobile was incredible. David Fincher's The Social Network was fast and visually sleek, but I'm going for Hooper. 

Tony's Pick: David Fincher should win for making a movie about Facebook both exciting and culturally relevant. In a perfect world Christopher Nolan should win, but for some reason the Academy failed to even nominate the loved director for his awesome achievements with Inception.

Steve's Likely Winner: For me it should be between Nolan and Hooper but I think David Fincher will take it.

Tony's Likely Winner: Of the nominees, Fincher will and should win.

WRITING (Adapted Screenplay)

Steve's Pick: I liked 127 hours and was impressed with the Coen bros remake of True Grit, which was more true to the novel's original dialogue, but Aaron Sorkin deserves it for his witty, sharp and fast-paced writing for The Social Network.

Tony's Pick: Aaron Sorkin's script for The Social Network is constructed in an intricately interwoven narrative that turns what could have been another biopic into an exciting lawyer/techie battle of wills.

Steve's Likely Winner: Aaron Sorkin, dead cert.

Tony's Likely Winner: If Sorkin doesn't win, you'll hear the collective gasp of the screenwriting community echo around the world.

WRITING (Original Screenplay) 

Steve's Pick: I can see no further than the brilliant dialogue between Geoeffrey Rush and Colin Firth in The King's Speech. Hilarious, poetic, and poignant. David Seidler.

Tony's Pick: There was no better script than Christopher Nolan's Inception.  Amazingly deep storytelling with one of the most imaginitive and original high-concept structures in recent memory.  This was a master-class in writing, and Nolan deserves that little gold man.

Steve's Likely Winner: I think Seidler will take it but there could potentially be a surprise here. 

Tony's Likely Winner: As much as I want Inception to win, I have a pretty strong feeling that The Kings Speech will add Original Screenplay to its list of many probable wins come Oscar night.

Come this Sunday we'll see who the Academy chooses to take home Hollywood's most coveted prize.

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