My 2011 OSCAR Picks

So, today is the biggest day in Hollywood, a day which will change the lives of a few forever while the rest of us watch on in awe or contempt. Luckily, I enjoy watching the Oscars every year and am generally happy for the winners. Earlier I posted who I would’ve nominated in some of the major Oscar categories and today I will reveal who I hope to win in each category. For those of you who love the Oscars I wish you all a fantastic Oscar night surrounded by good food, great friends and filled with a magic that only films can provide! Without further ado, here are my picks:

Best Cinematography

1. Harry Potter 7 Part 1

2. The King’s Speech

3. True Grit

4. Inception

My pick: Black Swan

Black Swan looks stunning. The lighting is intense, the darkness is captured perfectly and the images you see are iconic.

Best Score

1. Inception

2. The King’s Speech

3. Tron: Legacy

4. How to Train Your Dragon

My pick: The Social Network

This is a tough category. I thought the scores for How to Train Your Dragon and The King’s Speech were terrific and classic. I loved the intensity of the Inception score and I loved what Daft Punk did with Tron: Legacy but ultimately I chose Trent Reznor’s Social Network score for its uniqueness and its ability to evoke emotion from its blend of techno and classical.

Best Supporting Actor

1. Andrew Garfield, The Social Network

2. Armie Hammer, The Social Network

3. Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

4. Jeremy Renner, The Town

My pick: Christian Bale, The Fighter

For me, this performance ranks up there with Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose and Sean Penn in Milk as a model for how to play a real life person. Bale is tremendous here. He transforms completely into another person and his authenticity is magnetic.

Best Supporting Actress

1. Amy Adams, The Fighter

2. Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

3. Elle Fanning, Somewhere

4. Mila Kunis, Black Swan

My pick: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Some people think that good acting is when you are unaware of the acting. I agree with this statement in most cases but there are times when a performance is so great that it transcends this sentiment. Like with some of Meryl Streep’s performances, in The Fighter I can see Melissa Leo’s acting. This is a good thing. I believed her 100 percent, so what I saw was not fakery, it was art.

Best Actor

1. Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine

2. James Franco, 127 Hours

3. Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception

4. Jeff Bridges, True Grit

My pick: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

What a strong category this is! Ultimately my two favorite performances came from Firth and Gosling (who wasn’t even nominated!) Ryan Gosling bears everything he has in Blue Valentine. Every moment he has on screen is so raw and personal you almost don’t feel like you should be watching him. As terrific as he is in the film though, it is Colin Firth’s year. His performance in The King’s Speech is wonderful. He uses every color of the acting rainbow and paints a portrait that is alive.

Best Actress

1. Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone

2. Natalie Portman, Black Swan

3. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

4. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

My pick: Annette Bening, The Kids are all Right

This is such a strong category and hopefully a sign that roles for women are becoming better and more complex. Michelle Williams gives a performance as raw as her costar Ryan Gosling’s but on top of that she makes us feel her pain in such a painful way. I mean this in the best way possible, the acting in Blue Valentine is impossible to forget. Natalie Portman in Black Swan is simply stunning. Her performance required so much physical and psychological training I’m surprised she didn’t have a panic attack on set. As much as I loved Michelle and Natalie’s performances though I just think Annette Bening gave an incredibly subtle, realistic performance in The Kids Are All Right. While watching the film, I saw a real person, every little glance she makes, every tiny gesture she makes with her eyebrows or mouth is so effortless yet so calculated. Bening is a master at her craft, she really knows acting. Nevertheless, I’m quite sure Portman will win, which I am still very happy about because her performance was terrific as well.

Best Director

1. Christopher Nolan, Inception

2. Sofia Coppola, Somewhere

3. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

4. Derek Cianfrance, Blue Valentine

My pick: David Fincher, The Social Network

When I first told my friends that a movie about Facebook was being made they all told me they thought that sounded absolutely horrible. Fincher makes what could of been a terrible movie into a story that grips us, comments on our present and harkens back to the past. I was actually an extra in this film and watching Fincher work his magic on set was extremely interesting. He is infamous for filming up to 100 takes of a shot but there is a method to his madness. Each take is like a rehearsal, bringing his actors to a state where they feel they know their environment and their situation. He is a director that knows how to extract greatness.

BEST PICTURE (in descending order)

10. The Kids are All Right

9. 127 Hours

8. Toy Story 3

7. The Fighter

6. The King’s Speech

5. Black Swan

What a bizarre and fascinating film this is. My top 5 picks for this year all lingered in my mind for days and this certainly sowed seeds in my mind. It has a relatively simple plot and a story that we’ve all heard before but it  makes up for all of this with absolute madness. It is one of the strangest films to come out in years, with a fantastic cast and strong artistic elements all around.

4. Blue Valentine

The most depressing, heartbreaking movie of the year is also one of the best. Its a small movie with a really big heart despite how much pain is depicted on screen. Put simply its a movie about the deterioration of a loving relationship but it is much more than that, it is a reminder that a film can shock and move us with just 2 characters at its core and those little, intimate moments between them.

3. Somewhere

This movie has been very unjustly maligned. There is a reason it won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It is a very slow burn but one filled with small details and intimate moments that add up into something that fits somewhere. Some viewers may have been waiting for the movie to go somewhere and I tell them that it certainly does. Just think about the beginning of the film when Johnny Marco is driving in circles, in a state of stasis, going nowhere. At the end of the film he is driving in one direction, progressing, he has gone somewhere and leaving the theater I too felt like I had arrived somewhere new.

2. Inception

Inception manages to move us despite all of its visual effects and action. Yes, the visuals are breathtaking, yes the zero gravity fight scene is mesmerizing but the fantastic cast brings the unique story to life and moves us with their portrayals of love and redemption. This is ultimately a movie about confronting our deepest fears and learning to move on from our darkest days.

1. The Social Network

Only one film this year has been compared to both Rashomon and Citizen Kane, that movie is The Social Network. I once wrote that this film reminded me of Shakespeare and I stand by that feeling. Its a movie about power in today’s day and age. The script is fantastic, the direction is uncompromising, the cinematography is beautiful and the cast is great. Most importantly it moved me and profoundly commented on our ability and inability to make friends and connect. The Social Network shows us that having meaningful relationships has always been difficult and Facebook just gives us the illusion that they are easier to maintain. Here are 2 of my favorite scenes:

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