So: HERE ARE SOME THOUGHTS. Please note that this post will be crammed with half-assed observations and futile diatribes from yours truly, who for whatever reason has some VERY STRONG FEELINGS about these goddamn things, despite the fact that every year, as the 16-hour-long Oscar telecast finally winds down, I pull myself up from my fetal position on the floor and swear upon all that is holy and good that I won't ever give a shit about the Oscars anymore. Well, Oscars, you've sucked me in yet again to your pomp, circumstance, and marketing schemes! Nice work, I suppose. I hate you.
Oh, so we're doing 10 nominees again, are we? Even in a year as crappy as this one? Okay, sure, whatever. I'm stoked to see The Kids Are All Right nominated, here, and same with Toy Story 3, which has busted right on out of that stupid "Best Animated Feature Film" category established by the Academy a few years ago precisely to keep themselves from having to face the indignity of nominating a cartoon for Best Picture. Ha! (Still, Toy Story 3 is nominated in that category, too—meaning it'll win there and not here, meaning this is a token nomination.)
At least three of these films don't deserve this nomination: the goofy Black Swan, the striking but clumsy Inception, the melodramatic TV-movie-of-the-week The Fighter. Other than that, this is a pretty solid, pretty predictable lineup, and I'd be happy to see True Grit, Winter's Bone, The Social Network, or even Scott Pilgrim vs. the World win. Wait, Scott Pilgrim wasn't nominated? For anything? Huh. That's stupid. Well, okay, in that case, then, I'm gonna root for Winter's Bone; as good as True Grit and The Social Network are, everybody expected them to be that good, while the scrappy, tough Winter's Bone had to prove itself, and did a damn fine job doing so.
[ADDENDUM, FROM AVOWED TOY STORY HATER WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY, WHO ALSO CLAIMS TO LOATHE THE BEATLES AND BOB DYLAN: "It speaks volumes that the passing trifle that is Toy Story 3 garnered an Academy Award nomination. In that case, where's Beverly Hills Chihuahua II?"]
It'd be cool to see Jeff Bridges snag another Oscar, 'cause god knows his stoner-style acceptance speech would be just as charmingly Lebowski-esque as his one for Crazy Heart—not to mention the fact it'd mark the first time (I think?) that the Oscar would go to two different people for playing the same character, decades apart. But man, Jesse Eisenberg just kind of kicked everybody's ass this year.
(Also, as seems to happen every year, an actor has been nominated for the wrong film—though he's good in 127 Hours, James Franco really should've been nominated a while back for Pineapple Express.)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
John Hawkes for Winter's Bone or Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right. Actually, I'd like to see both of those dudes win it; I'd also like to see a buddy flick starring Hawkes' scary-ass Uncle Methy from Winter's Bone and Ruffalo's charming, doofy sperm donor from The Kids Are All Right. I would call this film Shenanigans!
(Bonus props to Joss Whedon, here, who I imagine is having a good morning, suddenly finding himself with two Oscar-nominated actors in his cast for The Avengers—Ruffalo's going to be playing the Hulk, and Jeremy Renner's gonna be Hawkeye.)
I haven't seen Blue Valentine yet, so I'm a bit gimped here, 'cause Michelle Williams is supposed to be great in that, right? Still, I think this will—and, I suspect, should—go to either Natalie Portman for Black Swan or Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone. Both of them were fantastic, but I'm actually pulling for Portman here (heh), just 'cause there's a chance we'll get to hear her dorky Golden Globes laugh again.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams should win this, because she should win everything—plus, in a crummy film full of good performances, hers was the best in The Fighter. That said, I would be delighted—delighted, I say!—if the little girl from True Grit got this. Though, uh, she should've been nominated for Best Actress, yeah? How is her turn in True Grit in any way "supporting"? UGLY AGEISM STRIKES AGAIN IN THE CORRUPT, BLACKENED SOUL OF HOLLYWOOD.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Like I said, Toy Story 3 will win here, though both How to Train Your Dragon and The Illusionist were fucking excellent. This is the strongest batch of nominees this dumb category has ever seen, and picking one of 'em just seems cruel.
BEST ART DIRECTION
Inception. Though Scott Pilgrim really shoulda been nominated here.
The Social Network. Hands fucking down. Though again, and to broken-record it: Scott Pilgrim shoulda been nominated here, too.
Usually I ask Marjorie who deserves to win here, but she's out of town, so I'm predictably clueless in her absence. "People wore some clothes in movies this year" is about as much as I'm qualified or inclined to say on the matter this year, so... ah... I'm going to say that I should win this, because, as luck would have it, today I'm wearing the one shirt I own that has buttons up the front! Kudos on the extra effort today, Erik!
Both Black Swan and The Fighter were disappointments from two of my favorite directors, and The King's Speech is shameless Oscar bait, so I'm gonna root for David Fincher here. The Coens did a totally kickass job with True Grit, but The Social Network was—barely—a better-directed film.
Goddammit, I slacked on this category this year. Sorry guys. The only ones I've seen were Exit Through the Gift Shop and Inside Job. Maybe my opinion will change after I see the other nominees, but as of now, I'd say Inside Job was pretty fucking excellent, and certainly better than the overhyped Gift Shop.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Ha, like anyone's seen any of these.
FUCKING A ARE YOU KIDDING ME NOT EVEN SCOTT PILGRIM HERE I GET WHY IT WOULD GET SNUBBED ANYWHERE ELSE BUT EVEN ON A PURELY TECHNICAL FILMMAKING LEVEL THE EDITING IN SCOTT PILGRIM WAS INSANE AND GREAT AND CLEVER AND UNLIKE ANYTHING THAT'S EVER BEEN DONE BEFORE AND... and....
Social Network I guess.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Kids Are All Right.
(Also, I might as well mention here the all-around snubbing that Sofia Coppola got smacked with this year with
Lost in Translation Redux Somewhere. I thought Somewhere would at least get nominated here—this is the category in which she took home an Oscar for Translation—but no dice. Hell, I figured Elle Fanning would get a Best Supporting Actress nod, too, but that didn't happen either. Huh.)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
I can't pick between these. Social Network is the obvious/flashiest contender, but all of these films took crazy challenges and made solid movies out of 'em: Toy Story 3 faced the uphill battle of being a second sequel and still making people care about some little chunks of plastic; 127 Hours is set in a tiny canyon with a guy pinned to a fucking wall for the entire time; True Grit had to stay true to the old-school book and work as a Coen brothers joint; Winter's Bone, by all rights, should've been soul-suckingly depressing but somehow managed to be just the opposite. So hey, your guess is as good as mine.
I'm actually kinda worn out from this, and I don't care too deeply about any of the remaining categories, so a few loose thoughts: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross should win for The Social Network's original score, though it's a bummer Daft Punk didn't get nominated for Tron: Legacy. That would have been cool. (Also... Nigel Goodrich and Beck should've gotten a Scott Pilgrim shout-out.) And hey, look at that, Country Strong got nominated for Best Original Song, that makes me want to fucking eat a gun. Inception for Best Visual Effects, I guess, just thanks to how inventively they were used. (Hallway fight! Hallway fight!) Also, I think the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be missing a major opportunity if they don't invite Danny Trejo to be one of the presenters at this year's ceremony, preferably dressed as Machete, and preferably hacking somebody's arm off. Scott Pilgrim might respond to all this snubbery by whimpering off into the darkness, but Machete? Machete doesn't stand for this sort of disrespect.