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2011 Oscar Nominations: The Good, Bad, And Ugly

The King's Speech and True Grit lead the pack


The King's Speech leads the noms with 12.
Courtesy Photo

The Oscar nominations have come out. A lot of it was predictable, and as always, there were a few surprises.

The King’s Speech got 12 nominations. It’s a good movie, not great.

True Grit got the next highest amount of nominations with 10. I thought the movie was disappointing. I liked it, but not as much as the last few westerns (3:10 to Yuma, Appaloosa, and the king of contemporary westerns,Unforgiven).

I’m guessing the cinematographer for True Grit will get his long-deserved Oscar, but I have a big problem with Jeff Bridges being nominated for his role. He didn’t seem very intimidating (which the Rooster Cogburn character is supposed to be). His voice was often hard to understand and sounded silly.

The bigger disappointment was with 14-year-old actress Hailee Steinfeld’s nomination. Don’t get me wrong--she was amazing in the role. My problem is that she wasn’t “supporting” any other female lead in the movie; therefore, it should’ve been a best actress nomination. Just because the film studio felt she had a better shot at this, they nominated her in thatcategory? I think the Academy shouldn’t play games like that. This is the equivalent of Jethro Tull winning a best heavy metal Grammy.

The Fighter will try to knock out Academy voters with its seven nominations. It was a defeat for Mark Wahlberg, who worked hard both training and trying to get the film even made. He didn’t score a nomination, although Christian Bale, playing his crack-addicted brother, did.Even though some critics felt Melissa Leo was doing a caricature as the mom of the fighting Ward clan, I liked her performance and am glad she got a nomination.

Other supporting actress nominees are Amy Adams for The Fighter, Jacki Weaver of Animal Kingdom (by far the best performance of anyone in this category), and Helena Bonham Carter, who shouldn’t have been nominated for The King’s Speech. Any actress could’ve played that part. Now, as much as I hated Alice in Wonderland, I wouldn’t have had a problem with her getting the nomination for that. She was the only good thing about it.

Supporting actor nominations included a surprise: John Hawkes, who was great in Winter’s Bone (that indie movie surprised a lot of people by grabbing a handful of nominations). Geoffrey Rush was good in The King’s Speech, and I’m glad his character wasn’t an over-the-top eccentric.Even though I didn’t care for The Town (and was glad it didn’t get a nomination for Best Picture, even though others thought it should’ve), Jeremy Renner was amazing as a psycho in it, and it’ll be between him and Bale for the gold statue.I was glad to see Mark Ruffalo, who I’ve enjoyed since first seeing him in You Can Count on Me,got a nod for The Kids Are All Right. It did make me wonder how Julianne Moore could get the snub for the same film, when Annette Bening and Ruffalo each got nominated. Moore had the best performance of the three.

Best actor nominees included James Franco (one of the brightest young talents around) for 127 Hours (if he wins, I think he should accept the award with one arm hidden behind his back and the tuxedo sleeve just dangling down).Jesse Eisenberg was nominated for The Social Network (he was good, but he’s playing the neurotic character he plays in all his films, just a slightly more arrogant version).I haven’t seen Biutiful yet, but I’m guessing Javier Bardem didn’t do anything so extraordinary. He’s a decent actor, but doesn’t have a lot of range.There’s no doubt who will win this award, and it will be Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. The Academy likes when you play someone that is drunk or with a disability. But, stuttering isn’t all that hard (Roger Daltrey did it as a teenager).The Academy is just going to make up for the fact that he should’ve won it last year for A Single Man (when Jeff Bridges, who is against him again this year, took home the prize).

Best actress nominees were Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right. Well, I’m not all right with this. She was the supporting actress to Julianne Moore. You see Moore was in more scenes than Bening.Natalie Portman is probably considered the front runner for Black Swan. She’s an actress the Academy likes, and she had to train hard and pulled of a great performance.The surprise nomination in this category was Jennifer Lawrence, who was absolutely wonderful in Winter’s Bone. She may not have been as young as Steinfeld, but when a young actress can pull off such a powerful performance, it gets attention.The last two nominations I think are bittersweet. It’s Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole and Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine. Both of them are playing women in marriages that are going south. They both deserved the nominations, but in both films, the men gave better performances. And yet those men (Aaron Eckhart and Ryan Gosling) didn’t get nominations. That’s a travesty.

Best director nominations included Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech, David O. Russell for The Fighter, Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (a movie I’d put on the most overrated of the year list), the Coen brothers for True Grit (see last parenthetical comment), and David Fincher for The Social Network. I’d like to see Fincher win it.A lot of people wondered why Christopher Nolan didn’t get a nomination for Inception, but there were a handful of critics and Academy members that weren’t as impressed with the whole dream within a dream, within a dream confusion (Anyone see the clever South Park parody of that?).

Best picture nominations are interesting. This is the second straight year they’ve gone to nominating 10 movies. That stemmed from so many complaints after the Batman film Dark Knight didn’t get a nomination, when it was praised by both critics and filmgoers. The Academy figures if they nominate 10, that’s a way of acknowledging the action pictures that might’ve been good, but aren’t the stuffy English, period pieces that win the awards.The nominees are Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone.

The only two I have a problem with on the list are True Grit and 127 Hours; good films, but they didn’t even make my top 20 of the year.

In the Best Foreign Film category, I think it’s a given that Biutiful will win it for Mexico. The big surprise is that Greece got a nomination for Dogtooth, an extremely gross and violent picture (with a few brilliant scenes, I must say).

Best Animated is a weird category, now that you have 10 best picture nominations. Usually the animated film that makes that category is the shoo-in to win this. That means Up last year, and Toy Story 3 this year (sorry Dragon lovers).

I hope Exit Through the Gift Shop wins forBest Documentary. I was thrilled Waiting for Superman didn’t get a nomination. I thought it was boring and had a flawed premise. It is surprising that it was so critically acclaimed, and it won the Critics Choice Award, but didn’t get an Oscar nomination.

Alice in Wonderland will win of the two categories it’s nominated for: Best Costume Design or Art Design. I’m waiting for the day Tim Burton stops making movies that are visually stunning but have horrible scripts.

I was surprised to see Another Year got a nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Most boring screenplay is more like it. At least it didn’t get a best picture nomination like many predicted.

Aside from the snubs I’ve mentioned already, some people thought Mila Kunis should’ve gotten a nomination for Black Swan. I don’t. She was fine in the role, but it was hardly a stretch for her to play it. Wynona Ryder was better in a much smaller role, and Barbara Hershey was great in a comeback role as the stage mom.

A few local critics are griping about cast members from 44 Inch Chest not getting nominations. Now, I love Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt and Ray Winstone. The problem is that the script didn’t have enough meat on it; just having a bunch of gangsters sitting around torturing a guy isn’t interesting. Quinten Tarantino already covered that ground, and very well, in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.

On music related Oscar notes:The Social Networkgot Trent Reznor, the Nine Inch Nails musical genius, an Oscar nomination for best original score. He already picked up a Golden Globe, and I’d love to see him get the Oscar.Social Networkalso gave us pop star Justin Timberlake giving a decent performance.I think the Tilda Swinton movieI Am Loveshould be recognized--as the worst musical score in a film in over a decade.

In the song category, Carrie Underwood didn't make it onto the ballot for herNarniatune, and neither did John Legend for hisWaiting for Supermansong.

And on the subject of Legend, a few people are asking why no African-American actors got nominations. Well, should we ask why no Asian actors were nominated? Or other races? Come on, folks. Don’t try to look for controversy where there isn’t any (didn’t Mo’Nique win last year?)

I’ll tell you what. If you want to talk about African-Americans and the Oscars, let’s talk about having Will Smith host the show. The Academy has gone down this path of having actors do the job instead of comedians (Hugh Jackman last year, James Franco/Anne Hathaway this year).

Smith is a well-respected actor, and he has a great sense of humor.

I’m still waiting for the host that isn’t afraid to bring back the joke Letterman bombed with: Oprah, Uma. Uma, Oprah.

I’m guessing this year, if Franco uses an Oprah joke, it’ll be to say he’s her half-brother.