Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oscar Nominations: The shoe-ins and the snubs

The nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards was announced yesterday afternoon by Academy President Tom Sherack and last year’s supporting actress winner Mo’Nique - and as expected The King’s Speech led the way.

The King’s Speech took 12 nods with the Coen Brothers True Grit shortly following with 10. Inception and The Social Network came away with 8 nominations, followed by The Fighter and Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours with 6 each. After that came Black Swan, Indie-hit Winter’s Bone and Pixar’s Toy Story 3 with 5 nominations apiece.

This year’s Best Picture nominees are Black Swan, The Social Network, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, Inception, True Grit, Toy Story 3, The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours and Winter’s Bone.

The King’s Speech is without question the front-runner for this year’s Oscars with Colin Firth an almost certainty to pick up his first Academy Award. Safe to say his reaction to yesterday’s news was something of pure elation, “Currently celebrating with my colleagues 3 feet above the ground. Not used to this much joy, or this much champagne at this hour.” His co-stars had a reason to celebrate as well with Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush getting supporting nods for their roles in the historical epic about a stammering King George VI.


The Coen Brothers are making a habit of attracting Oscar buzz to their recent work. You only have to look back a few years when they shone with No Country For Old Men picking up Best Picture and even 2009’s A Serious Man was in the mix for Oscar glory. Now with True Grit they have a solid chance to cause an upset in the major categories. Let’s not also forget The Social Network. Doing well in the Golden Globes picking up major honours, it still has momentum to finish strongly.

Tom Hooper was somewhat delighted of receiving word he picked up his first Oscar nomination for Direction, “This is sort of like a childhood dream come true, getting nominated for an Oscar. It's amazing.” He has fierce competition though with the likes of David Fincher, David O. Russell, Darren Aronofsky and the Coen Brothers also up for Best Director.

In the acting categories Natalie Portman is the favourite to pick up best actress for her stunning portrayal of a troubled ballerina in Black Swan. Her rivals include veteran Annette Benning for The Kids Are All Right, Jennifer Laurence for Winter’s Bone, Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole and Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine.

As mentioned above Colin Firth is a shoe-in to pick up his first Oscar. He was battle alongside last year’s winner and potential up setter Jeff Bridges (True Grit), a surprising nod for Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Javier Bardem (Biutiful) and Oscar co-presenter this year James Franco (127 Hours).

The supporting categories were as expected with Christian Bale the favourite to win for arguably his best performance in The Fighter. There were a few pleasant surprises with The Town’s Jeremy Renner (for his role as a loose cannon bank robber) and Winter’s Bone John Hawkes getting nods. On receiving the news Renner expressed, “I can't stop smiling, my face hurts! It still hasn't really even kicked in.” Also included is Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech and Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right.

The Fighter is also strongly represented in the supporting actress categories with Melissa Leo and Amy Adams both up for best supporting actress following their roles. Australian’s Jacki Weaver is also nominated for her turn in Animal Kingdom. But the surprise inclusion was for 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld for her strong turn in True Grit.

Now it’s time to focus on some of the people that unfortunately missed out on receiving nominations. In other words got robbed:

Mark Wahlberg - After a carefully balanced and stunning portrayal as “Irish” Mickey Ward in The Fighter, Wahlberg failed to receive a best actor nod join his co-stars in the nominations. Perhaps the Academy have yet to forgive him for The Happening.

Noomi Rapace - Transforming herself into goth hacker Lisbeth Salander, the Swedish actress was snubbed from a deserved best actress nod. After 3 riveting turns in the adaptation of the Millenium Trilogy what else did she need to do.

Andrew Garfield - One of the main focal points of David Fincher’s powerful film The Social Network was Garfield’s performance as one of the brain’s behind the creation of Facebook who ultimately gets screwed over. Now the Academy have done the same and screwed him over a deserved best supporting actor nod.

Christopher Nolan - The mind-boggling masterpiece that is Inception did pick up 9 nominations including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. So first of all well done to Nolan on those fronts and his co-producer and wife Emma Thomas. However the fact that he was robbed of a best director nod for Inception is disgraceful/ludicrous/shocking and so on. To take on a challenge of bringing such a complex and multi-layered narrative as he did in last year’s Inception fully and whole-heartedly deserved recognition and the fact that the Academy failed to do so is an utter shambles. Mind, I doubt Christopher Nolan will lose too much sleep over it!

My predictions for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards in the major categories are as follows:

Best Picture - The Social Network

Best Actor - Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)

Best Actress - Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Best Supporting Actor - Christian Bale (The Fighter)

Best Supporting Actress - Melissa Leo (The Fighter)

Best Director - David Fincher (The Social Network)

The Oscars will be held on Sunday 27th February

Written by Michael Cunneen