May 19, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Thursday, 24 February 2011 13:46
Next Sunday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will award the Oscars. This week, the Reel Dad offers his predictions (and choices) for the awards.
Until a few weeks ago, The Social Network looked like a sure victor. But surprising awards for The King’s Speech from the Producers and Directors Guilds make the race a toss-up. While The Social Network is a near-perfect visualization of the startup of Facebook it does not have the emotional pull of The King’s Speech and its powerful portrayal of a leader’s efforts to clearly speak the words his nation so desperately needs to hear. The King’s Speech will likely win the Oscar (unless, of course, the fabulous True Grit sneaks in for an upset) while, years from now, The Social Network will be regarded as the best film of 2010.
Colin Firth is certain to win for his magical portrayal of King George VI in The King’s Speech. And he should. He masters the technical challenges of the role — making us feel each moment of hesitation as he speaks — and captures the emotional roadblocks that prevent the King’s clarity. The only challenge could come from James Franco who triumphs as a young adventurer forced to make life or death decisions in 127 Hours. In a different year, Franco would walk off with an Oscar. This year it’s all about Firth.
Each time Annette Bening is in line to win an Oscar someone takes it away. Whoopi Goldberg was the victor when Bening should have won Best Supporting Actress for The Grifters and Hilary Swank won Best Actress for Boys Don’t Cry when Bening should have triumphed for American Beauty. Even though Bening delivers this year’s most layered performance in a most challenging role — as a mother trying to keep her family together in The Kids Are All Right — the Oscar will go to Natalie Portman’s turbulent ballerina in Black Swan. No one can doubt Portman’s commitment to the role or the power of her work. But it’s more a technically fascinating performance than an authentically emotional portrayal. And, given the brilliance of Darren Aronofsky’s film, many actresses could have excelled. But Portman is winning every award in sight and, once again, Bening will be left on the sidelines.
Christian Bale’s superlative work in The Fighter is the kind of performance that Oscar loves to honor. He follows a tradition of leading actors who dig into meaty character roles and walk off with supporting awards, including George Clooney in Syriana, Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting and Sean Connery in The Untouchables. Bale reaches beyond the surface to completely transform into a complex character. In any other year, Geoffrey Rush might lead the pack for his perfectly timed speech coach in The King’s Speech. But this Oscar has Bale written all over it.
If any acting category is posed for an upset, this is it. Melissa Leo, a nominee a couple of years ago for Best Actress for Frozen River, has won every award in sight for her monstrous mother in The Fighter. I prefer, instead, the stunning, subtle work of Amy Adams in the same film. She reinvents herself in the character without any of the mannerisms we usually see. But Leo will win unless these two nominees from The Fighter split the vote which opens the door for Hailee Steinfeld to upset for her delightful Mattie Ross in True Grit.
This one, like Best Picture, seemed to be headed to David Fincher for his brilliant visual treatment of The Social Network. But Tom Hooper of The King’s Speech won the Directors Guild Award which usually predicts the Oscar victor. This year, I am not so sure. Fincher’s work is so striking, and pushes The Social Network into such a special place, that this could be a year where Best Director is won by one film and Best Picture by another. My vote goes to Fincher.
The King’s Speech is the likely winner of the Oscar for original screenplay — over strong nominees Inception, Another Year, The Kids Are All Right and The Fighter — while Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network will likely triumph over 127 Hours, True Grit, Toy Story 3 and Winter’s Bone as the best adapted screenplay. A look at the nominees in these categories reminds us what a great year 2010 was for film.
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