You’ve seen the films. You’ve heard the nominations. Hell, you may even consider yourself knowledgeable enough to recognize the snubs. Gozamos’ resident film expert takes a look at this year’s most deserving films and gives you a glimpse at who’ll get the glory on Oscar Night. Agree? Disagree? We want to hear your movie-loving opinions! Without further adieu, the envelope, please:
Best Documentary Feature
Exit through the Gift Shop, Banksy, director (Paranoid Pictures), Gasland, Josh Fox, director (Gasland Productions, LLC), Inside Job, Charles Ferguson, director (Representational Pictures), Restrepo, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, directors (Outpost Films), Waste Land, Lucy Walker, director (Almega Projects)
Predicted Winner: Inside Job, the boldest of this year’s doc nominees, sheds light upon the double standards which make Wall Street greed and corruption a totally legal conundrum with no clear end in sight. Surprisingly sumptuous cinematography (for a doc), a winning, moody soundtrack, shrewd editing, incisive interviews with some incredibly pompous financial experts, and clever visual aids used to explain what would otherwise be difficult-to-grasp financial concepts make Inside Job one of the best films of the year, docs and otherwise. Ferguson’s comic, informative, and quite incensing investigation never veers into sensationalist, Michael Moore territory. Having the sober-voiced Matt Damon narrate was an inspired choice and makes this non-fiction feel dramatic; revelatory.
Deserving Winner: Inside Job.
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
Predicted Winner: Natalie Portman, typically a squeaky clean performer with a style reminiscent of your favorite soap opera, found the director she needed to raise her game this year. Working with the exacting Darren Aronofsky, Portman’s Nina Sayers makes Black Swan an always riveting roller coaster ride of emotion. Kudos to Portman are in order. She impressed even the worst cynics in the crowd with her entirely committed turn as a ballerina who takes the “method” approach to a horrifying level.
Deserving Winner: Portman.
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), James Franco (127 Hours), Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Predicted Winner: Colin Firth is the critical darling who lost to Jeff Bridges last year and will likely take the prize this time around. His stammering King George VI is riotous, convincing, and supremely sympathetic. The performance makes The King’s Speech, a sometimes formulaic underdog tale, consistently engaging nonetheless. Firth’s talents are second to none and he will likely earn the validation of the Academy.
Deserving Winner: While Firth is excellent to be sure, Jeff Bridges has delivered a perhaps more morally complex and unusual character with his Rooster Cogburn, the US Marshal played by John Wayne in the 1969 Grit. Never predictable, Bridges infuses the former confederate renegade turned lawman character with a modern edge, full of spontaneous tics we’d expect from the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis or Marlon Brando. Bridges’ final line of dialogue, “I’ve grown old,” is followed by a guttural moan worthy of Olivier.
Best Picture of the Year
Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids are All Right, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, 127 Hours, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone
Predicted Winner: The King’s Speech, the latest brainchild of independent movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, leads the Oscars tally with a whopping 12 nods, and seems to be the likely contender for a Best Picture win. While David Fincher’s very popular The Social Network won over most critics and monopolized the attention of the hip, under 25 demographic, due to its modern aesthetic and topicality, Academy voters tend to veer towards sentimental fare surrounding achievements of unlikely heroes, particularly when period costumes are involved. It’s hip to be square on Oscar night, and The King’s Speech does that in spades.
Deserving Winner: True Grit, Joel & Ethan Coen’s impeccable coming-of-age western produced by Scott Rudin (The Social Network) and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, most successfully struck a winning balance of critical reception and outstanding financial return this year. With its sparse, hilarious screenplay, memorable performances, and impeccable technical specs, the $38 million dollar pic has already garnered a staggering $138 million domestically. If the Oscars, as some believe, are meant to represent a consensus between the public and the critics, True Grit should, in all fairness, take the cake.