Golden Globes, Baftas, Grammys – awards season limps onward to its apex (or nadir, depending on your perspective): the Oscars. If you have a film-lover in your life, you will know that we can’t stop talking about the Oscars – or the Academy Awards, as we call them when being pretentious – but we constantly bitch about them. “It’s all politics,” we say. “The Academy only likes ‘worthy’ films. The Academy hates genre pieces, women, and people of color. The Academy gave Best Picture to Shakespeare In Love. It’s all a nonsense.”
These complaints are entirely legitimate, but the Oscars is still the highest-profile award ceremony, and a nomination or win can really boost interest in independent and foreign movies; so, if you’re at all interested in the current shape of the film industry, you have to watch. (Plus – do I even have to say it? – mocking it is such fun.)
My favorite of the Best Picture nominees – I went to see it twice. Half the world loved it while half hated it, which is a clear sign of cinematic greatness (see also: Tarsem’s The Fall).
Three-word summary: ballet, lesbian, psychosis
It will win: Best Actress for Natalie Portman
I would give it: Best Picture, Best Sex Scene, Best Set of Influences (Lynch, Cronenberg, Argento)
I saw Inception in a little English-language theater in Munich. It was the ‘surprise film’ screening, and my companion was irrationally fearful that the surprise would be Sex & the City 2, even though I kept saying it would be Inception. Being proved right was even better than the movie.
Three-word summary: dreams within dreams
It will win: Best Visual Effects
I would give it: Best Director, Best Score, Best Film by a Former UCLU Film & TV Society Member
Toy Story 3
And I saw Toy Story 3 in Amsterdam, where I was not the only grown-up scrabbling frantically for Kleenex in the final reel.
Three-word summary: Toy Story 3
It will win: Best Animated Feature
I would give it: Most Kleenex Required
The Coens’ five best movies are Fargo, Miller’s Crossing, A Serious Man, The Big Lebowski, and No Country For Old Men. True Grit isn’t quite up there, but it is hell of entertaining.
Three-word summary: badass little girl
It will win: Best Supporting Actress for Hailee Steinfeld, Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins
I would give it: Best Female Character, Best Jeff Bridges
The Social Network
Does The Social Network hate women? I would argue no; it just doesn’t care about them enough to give them any portrayal outside the perspective of a character who does hate women. Which, you know, four of the ten Best Picture nominees this year have a female protagonist, so maybe that’s some kind of progress.
Three-word summary: jerk invents Facebook
It will win: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay
I would give it: Fastest Talking, Most Sympathetic Jerks
The King’s Speech
The King’s Speech was pretty good, for a film about the monarchy, but I stand with this NPR article, which argues that a movie focused on Lionel Logue would be more interesting (and not just because he treated my great-grandfather IRL).
Three-word summary: stuttering monarch speaks
It will win: Best Picture, Best Actor for Colin Firth, Best Original Screenplay
I would give it: Best Casting Of Derek Jacobi, Most Flagrant Oscar-Bait
Surprised me by being very gripping and getting me completely invested in a pretty basic story about a pretty douchey guy. But if my brother thought he was going to die and made a video mentioning me as little as the dude mentions his sister in this film, I would be Deeply Hurt.
Three-word summary: jerk severs arm
It will win: Best Editing
I would give it: Grossest Sound Design, Most James Franco
What a disappointment. I really wanted to like this film, and I still want to champion it because it is the most low-profile of the Best Picture nominees – and because Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is fantastic – but I just found it kind of dull. I feel bad.
Three-word summary: winter, poverty, meth
It will win: probably nothing
I would give it: Dirtiest Sounding Title, Best Performance In A Boring Film
The Kids Are All Right
Again, I went in hoping for the best, but I was mostly bored.
Three-word summary: nothing much happens
It will win: also probably nothing
I would give it: also probably nothing
Snoooooooooze. At least some of the punch noises were funny.
Three-word summary: Rocky or whatever
It will win: Best Supporting Actor for Christian Bale
I would give it: Most Boring Film That Isn’t Blue Valentine, Most Flagrant Bechdel Test Failure, Funniest Foley Artistry