Oscars 2011 – Another year of outrage, disgust and surprise?

Every year, the Oscar nominations provoke outrage, disgust and outright surprise in the film loving population. Whether it’s the omission of The Dark Knight for ‘Best Picture’ in 2008, the […]

Who will The Oscars crown this year?

Every year, the Oscar nominations provoke outrage, disgust and outright surprise in the film loving population. Whether it’s the omission of The Dark Knight for ‘Best Picture’ in 2008, the nomination of The Reader for ‘Best Picture’ or the triumph of Crash at the 2005 awards, there’s always something for the general film fan to moan about. This year’s no different.

'Up' faced challenges last year simply due to the fact that it's an animation

When the Academy expanded the ‘Best Picture’ nominations from 5 to 10 last year, there was speculation that the move was only made so that the Academy would recognise films that would normally get snubbed – summer blockbusters, animations, and the like. To some extent this was true last year – films like District 9 would never have made the cut under the 5 nominations limit, however it was pretty easy to get mentioned with a wider field. Other films included in last year’s ‘Best Picture’ nominations that normally would have been overlooked included The Blind Side, a mediocre film saved only by Sandra Bullock’s towering performance, and Up, a wonderful film that ridiculously was handicapped merely because it was animated.

This year, however, there’s a surprising amount of quality in the ‘Best Picture’ nominations. I’ve seen 9 out of 10 of the nominees, (I have yet to see The Fighter, but I’m assured it’s good) and they all thoroughly deserve their nominations. However, whilst saying this, not all of them deserve to win – The Kids Are All Right is a great little movie with tremendous performances, but it felt a little too ‘by-the-book’ and proved to be fairly predictable throughout the film. In terms of what will win, it would seem to be a dead heat between The Social Network and The King’s Speech. The latter seems to have more momentum, cleaning up at both the ‘DGA’ and ‘PGA’ awards as well as at the ‘BAFTAs,’ but the former is perhaps more critically adored and is of course an American film – after all, the Oscars do like to pat themselves on the back, and I think this gives The Social Network the edge.

The final 'Toy Story' installment was surprisingly emotive

Between the two, I’d go for The Social Network, but truthfully, I don’t want either of them to win. I want Inception or Toy Story 3 to win. They were my top two films of last year, and I can’t decide between them. Inception was stunningly original and was far and away the most well made film of the year, whilst Toy Story 3,(Incidentally, the best-reviewed film of 2010) defied impossible odds and not only matched, but excelled, the two incredible films that preceded it. And it made me cry. Not many films do that.

Ultimately, though, I know that neither film will win – Inception was a summer blockbuster, whilst Toy Story 3 was animated, and it’ll be quite a long time before films like that triumph at the Oscars. I will be satisfied if either The King’s Speech or The Social Network takes ‘Best Picture,’ but I’m quietly rooting for the two genuinely best films of 2010.

Colin Firth should be set to claim yet another accolade for 'Best Actor'

In terms of the acting nominations, for once I agree with the general population – Colin Firth thoroughly deserves the ‘Best Actor’ Oscar for his incredible performance as King George VI, especially considering he lost out last year. However, he has strong competition – Javier Bardem’s heartbreaking performance in Biutiful will be sadly overlooked this year, while James Franco, who almost carried an entire film completely on his own in 127 Hours (As did the criminally overlooked Ryan Reynolds in Buried, but that’s another story) will just have to wait his turn.

For Best Actress, while I’d be perfectly happy to see Natalie Portman win for Black Swan, (As is looking increasingly likely) it would be even better to see Jennifer Lawrence win for her outstanding breakthrough in Winter’s Bone. Her wonderfully nuanced performance made the entire film and it’s a real shame that she’ll likely be overlooked in favour of Portman, although to be fair, her performance as a ballerina slowly going insane was also brilliant.

It's a travesty that Christopher Nowlan has been overlooked for his work on 'Inception'

Now, I promised you moans, and here they are: the ‘Best Director’ nominations have an absolute travesty of an omission. I think everyone will agree with me when I say that it’s an absolute disgrace that Christopher Nolan was snubbed for Best Director for his work on Inception. Not only did he create incredible sequences such as the revolving hotel door corridor fight, he also managed to juggle three different narrative planes at once and kept it completely intelligible, as well as drawing excellent performances from his entire cast. Nolan’s snub is especially painful when you consider that Tom Hooper made it through. Don’t get me wrong, The King’s Speech is a brilliant film, but it is by far the least cinematic film of all the nominees and could just as easily have been a play, and there is absolutely no way that it was a more difficult film to direct than Inception.

Should 'Iron Man 2' really be nominated for 'Best Visual Effects?'

Since I’m moaning, I might as well mention a couple of other snubs. Normally I wouldn’t talk about the technical categories since no one really cares about those, but the nominations for ‘Best Visual Effects’ are particularly bad. Iron Man 2? Really? Over Scott Pilgrim vs the World or Tron: Legacy? The latter was a pretty dire film but there’s no denying that it had spectacular visual effects. Meanwhile, Hailee Steinfeld’s nomination for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ for True Grit is ridiculous – she plays a lead role in the film, with more screentime than Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon put together. Perhaps the Academy put her in the ‘Supporting Actress’ category so that she had a chance of winning, (Which she thoroughly deserves; for me, she outshone even Jeff Bridges, a difficult thing to do) but it’s still grossly unfair that she hasn’t been properly recognised for her exceptional work.

In general, however, the Oscar nominations this year are pretty good. Certainly the best in years; normally the acting categories (Especially ‘Best Actress’) have someone in there just to pad out the list (Diane Keaton for Something’s Gotta Give, anyone?), but this year they’re universally strong. Christopher Nolan’s snub for Best Director stings, but at least he’s been nominated for ‘Best Original Screenplay,’ a category in which it’ll be between him and The King’s Speech’s David Seidler (‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ was sewn up by Aaron Sorkin long ago for The Social Network, and quite rightly).

The battle for the gold statues takes place on 27th February...

The Oscars take place on the 27th of February, one week from now. The acting nominations are locked, with Colin Firth and Natalie Portman almost certainly taking home the little gold statuettes. Best Picture, however, is anyone’s call. The King’s Speech vs. The Social Network. Place your bets…