-The Red Carpet this year should be interesting amidst reports that it might be snowing tomorrow night, and, if not, it is predicted to be unusually cool (40's) come game time. So don't expect extended interviews on the carpet in beautiful L.A.
-Hollywood is going with the 2-host version again, but steering away from the tried and true. With last year's duo of Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin you could expect a lot of humor. Will Anne Hathaway (at 28 she's the youngest host ever) and James Franco equally pull it off? Stay tuned. At least, from my perspective, these 2 (especially Anne) will be much easier on the eyes.
-I suppose The Academy deemed last year's decision to double the Best Picture nominations a success. We certainly have a well represented genre list this year from a small independent (the Sundance hit "Winter's Bone"), to an animation classic ("Toy Story 3"), to an expansive (albeit convoluted) sci-fi extravaganza ("Inception"), to a indy comedy ("The Kids are All Right") to a western ("True Grit"), to a psychological thriller ("Black Swan"), to a British historical drama ("The King's Speech") to . . . well-you get the picture. Personally, the 10 film list idea is more to give credence and respect to more than the usual five (hey-isn't it an honor just to be nominated?). What it comes down to, as in most years, are only two, possibly three having any chance of winning the top prize.
-Biggest surprise: Christopher Nolan NOT being nominated for Best Director. Nolan was absolutely robbed. His 10-year vision and creation of one of the most intelligent mind-blowing films in the last ten years should have been a no-brainer! Although four of the five on the list are well deserving of the nom, David O'Russell did, at best, a pedestrian directing job directing "The Fighter". Unbelievable.
-2nd biggest surprise: Putting 12-year-old Hailee Steinfield in the Best Supporting category-which might have robbed Melissa Leo of the Oscar. Hailee? A SUPPORTING actress??! She was practically in every scene, as well as the driving force in "True Grit". Someone will have to explain that one to me.
-Biggest Disappointment: Ryan Gosling not being nominated for "Blue Valentine". The Academy got it right nominating Michelle Williams, but Gosling equally deserved to be nominated. Although, frankly, all fire nominees were well deserving so someone had lose out and, unfortunately, it was Gosling. A terrific acting job by one of the best young actors in the business.
-2nd Biggest Disappointment: Snubbing Emma Stone ("Easy A") for best actress. She'll have her chances in the future, but her break-out acting in this comedy was mind-boggling. I would have put her miles ahead of Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone"). The argument that "Easy A" was a small teen comedy, certainly didn't keep Ellen Page ("Juno") from being nominated in 2008 and, IMHO, Stone gave a more superior effort in this wonderful film.
-So, here I go with my annual who will/should win list covering the major categories. One note of caution: several of my picks are toss-ups this year. Therefore, for some of these, I will be guessing along with you so, please, don't call your bookie to bet your mortgage on my selections.
The envelope, please. . .
What will win: "The King's Speech"
What should win: "The Social Network"
As most folks who have been following the movie scene over the past 6 months know, "The Social Network" was the hands-down leader up until December. However, the momentum gained by this small British historical drama has seemingly swept away any chance of TSN winning. I wouldn't be shocked if Fincher's film is announced, but surprised, considering the numerous awards "The King's Speech" has been raking in the past couple of months. That said, for me, "The Social Network" was the more satisfying and complete from production values, to score to acting to script-not to mention the topicality of the film. However, "The King's Speech" is a very close 2nd in my book .
Who will win: David Fincher
Who should win: David Fincher
I figure the voters will split the vote and throw Fincher this major bone. I rarely agree with splitting these two categories (and it wouldn't be split if I got my way-see above). But in this instance, his film should garner at least one of the top prizes and the director that should have received it 2 years ago for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", will finally get his well-deserved due.
BEST LEADING ACTOR:
Who will win: Colin Firth
Who should win: Colin Firth
You can mail him the Oscar! One of the three biggest locks of the night. A verrrrry close second, however, is James Franco. Like Ryan Gosling, this dude will win his share down the road. However, Colin's performance (he, arguably, could have won last year for "A Single Man" over Jeff Bridges) was as close to perfect as any I've ever seen on the screen. Riveting & poignant, his interpretation of the stuttering king is unforgettable.
BEST LEADING ACTRESS:
Who will win: Natalie Portman
Who should win: Natalie Portman
Oh boy! This is probably the toughest one to pick. OK. I'm flipping a coin. Here goes: Although Bening is wonderful in "The Kids are All Right", how can you keep Portman from winning? Her portrayal of Nina as she slowly descends into the pits of hell as the troubled ballerina is mesmerizing and totally believable. She trained for 10 month and it shows it. However, that being said, Bening is long overdue and the voters love to impart the golden statue to actors in those situations. Also, Portman is just beginning what will be a long distinguished career. However, she deserves the Oscar just the same. It'll be interesting.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Who will win: Christian Bale
Who should win: Geoffrey Rush
Another tough one! Here's my reasoning. I preferred Rush's performance over, for me, Christian's, slightly over the top acting. Rush is the glue that holds TKS together. And his interpretation of the therapist who tries to cure King George VI of his stuttering is a joy to behold and admire. However, Hollywood is gaga over first time nominee Bale and, no doubt, admires what physical pains he went through to portray the crackhead ex-fighter. And since they'll award the BP to "The King's Speech", this major award will go to Bale. Don't get me wrong, he's a truly accomplished actor who will get his reward down the road; however, the voters will get it wrong if he wins the statuette tomorrow.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Who will win: Melissa Leo
Who should win: Hailee Steinfeld
Melissa was clearly the odds-on favorite before they, unjustly, put Hailee in this category. And, Hollywood might be fuming over the self-congratulatory ad Melissa placed in the Hollywood trades. However, I'm going out on a limb and predict she'll still win the award. Leo is a great actress (who maybe should have won in 2009 for "Frozen River",) who puts everything in her role as the mother/manager of Mickey Ward in "The Fighter". However, for me, although she is clearly in the wrong category, Hailee's acting is more expansive and believable. The voters don't often give major awards to child actors but it has been done in the past and could well happen again-but I doubt it. Amy Adams is the dark horse in this category, and gets an honorable mention for her tough-as-nails portrayal as Mickey Ward's gal, but Amy doesn't figure to get the Oscar this time around.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:
Who will win: "Toy Story 3"
Who should win: "Toy Story 3"
The 2nd biggest lock of the night. One day, the unbelievably talented folks at Pixar might win Best Picture. (As one of the 10, I was close to saying it should win the BP award.) However, Hollywood would probably be crucified if they picked an animation film-even though this one took me through the full gamut of emotions that most films can't even come close to doing. This was my one of my favorite film of the year so, TS3, here's your bone.
BEST FOREIGN FILM:
Having not screened all the foreign nominees, I'm excluding my pick this year. (Although the buzz is on "In a Better World".) However, I smiled when I saw "Dogtooth" on the list. One of the most amazing films in this or any other year, this is a wonderful honor to bestow on this Greek masterpiece. The film stayed with me for months.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Who will win: "The King's Speech"
Who should win: "The King's Speech"
Another major award to the little film that could. A terrific screenplay that clearly defines the diverse personalities of the actors that voiced the words. A close second is "The Kid's are All Right". Christopher Nolan's script, although totally original, the problem is few people could understand it-at least without multiple viewings.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Who will win: "The Social Network"
Who should win: "The Social Network"
The 3rd mortal lock of the night. Aaron Sorkin's script is so powerful it becomes a character in the story. It will be a well-deserved win for one of the industry's most talented writers. Again, a verrrrry close 2nd to Joel & Ethan Coen's adaptation of Charles Portis' novel. I loved the language they used in the film-as much as the acting! However, Sorkin's script in "The Social Network" is in a class by itself.
Who will win: "Inside Job"
Who should win: "Restrepo"
The Matt Damon narrated film about the 2008 financial crises should take home the big prize. However, the amazing, you-are-there-in-the-middle-of-the-conflict-in-Afghanistan film, is my personal favorite this year.
There you have it. Now, here's hoping the extravaganza doesn't last much past the 3 1/2 hour schedule time. However, I wouldn't bet the house on that one either.
Stop back for my post-AA report next week.