Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oscar Predictions

The biggest night on the movie calendar is almost upon us and I, for one cannot wait for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards to take centre stage. A whole host of personalities from the film industry under one roof is something of a tantalising prospect. With is a fresh partnership of Anne Hathaway and James Franco playing host it beckons to be a night of high anticipation. The usual mix of tearful acceptance speeches, song n’ dance numbers, reaction shots of honcho Harvey Weinstein and teleprompter cock-ups are certain to grow like Robert Downey’s Jr’s ego.

I briefly mentioned in a previous blog of my predictions in the major categories. Now I will go into more detail of who think, will walk away with a golden statuette in their grasp.

Best Picture - The Social Network

Collectively, the story about the founding of Facebook and the rise and fall of Mark Zuckerberg has all the elements to please Academy members. Great performances across the board including Jesse Eisenberg (thoroughly earning his Oscar nod), Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake. The powerfully sharp script from Aaron “The West Wing” Sorkin is undoubtedly the real highlight of the picture delivering dark offbeat humour and intense drama. Director David Fincher does what he does best and produces an unflinching look at the way the modern world communicates and what happens when power and greed leads to legal and personal battles.
If people asked me a month back who would claim the big prize, The Social Network would have been my immediate response. Winning critical praise worldwide it went on to receive accolades at almost every awards ceremony including the Golden Globes. But it stands in the way of a stammering Monarch in The King’s Speech who, recently has been cleaning up, particularly at the Bafta’s, Screen Actor’s Guild, Director’s Guild and Producer’s Guild and has now become favourite. But I stick to my guns and will continue to root for The Social Network.

Best Director - David Fincher (The Social Network)

It goes without saying, but I will anyway. David Fincher is easily one of the most talented directors working in America today. He has a proven track record that speaks volumes. From Se7en to Panic Room, Zodiac to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (which he received his first and only Oscar nomination). This is his second nod for The Social Network and his most Oscar-friendly movie to date. It is a truly remarkable ensemble piece and shows that Fincher is a director at work here. Reports on-set have been made apparent that Fincher can be at times a nightmare to work with. Yet he wouldn’t be what he is today without being slightly dogged in his work - and that is soon to be Oscar winner David Fincher.

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

Golden Globe and Bafta award winner Colin Firth now has the shortest odds in history attached to his nomination to win his first Academy Award for his portrayal of King George VI in The King’s Speech. It will be one of the biggest shocks in Oscar history if he doesn’t walk away with the Oscar yet slightly amusing to see the reaction if and it’s a big IF, that he doesn’t win. He effortlessly portrays a struggling King who the entire country is now depending on to lead the country into WWII. From his opening speech at the beginning of Tom Hooper’s period piece, you can just tell by Firth’s eyes he is pouring is heart and soul into this performance and he deserves every single bit of praise he is currently receiving. Everyone loves a real life character performance and so does the Academy.

Best Actress - Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Cue floods of tears from a heavily pregnant Natalie Portman should see and most probably earn her first Oscar for her flawless performance as a troubled ballerina psychological thriller Black Swan. Upon collecting the Bafta for Best Actress on her behalf, director Darren Aronofsky stated she was the most, “Committed, dedicated, focused actor,” he’s ever worked with. This was evident when a year before the shoot she trained every day for 8 hours, swam a mile a day and learned ballet to portray Nina who, to play the Swan Queen in the Swan Lake production must explore her dark side which ultimately takes her over the edge of sanity. It is a perfect and believable performance and fully deserves all the plaudits she is receiving.

Best Supporting Actor - Christian Bale (The Fighter)

Welsh-born Christian Bale is up there alongside Leo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Tom Hardy as one of my favourite character actors working today. He dropped 30lbs to play gaunt and pop-eyed Dickie Eklund in boxing biopic The Fighter. He puts everything into his performance and more as the ex-champ fighting for the spotlight as well as training his brother and current contender “Irish” Micky Ward become world champ. Playing a real life character always creates attention and for the most part awards attention (see Sean Penn’s Harvey Milk in Milk and Forest Whitaker’s Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland for further proof). Furthermore boxing movies usually perform well at the Oscars including of course Rocky and Raging Bull.

Best Supporting Actress - Melissa Leo (The Fighter)

One of the many characters overshadowing the heart and soul of Mark Wahlberg’s performance in The Fighter was Melissa Leo as Mickey’s mother and manager, Alice Ward. That was my one and only criticism of the otherwise superb boxing drama. Melissa Leo played the chain-smoking and overbearing mother of Micky Ward vowing to make his son Heavyweight World Champion. She has won everything for her performance thus far, why break the habit of an awards season? Plus after walking away empty handed two years ago for her nomination in Frozen River, I think the Academy certainly owes her one.

Do you concur with the above predictions? Or is your money backed elsewhere?

Written by Michael Cunneen