The Academy Award nominations were unveiled at 11:38pm last night (Brisbane time). I’d have usually posted this blog a lot earlier but I was caught up in an epic poker tournament at a friend’s place and didn’t get home until around 4am. I then backed up at 8:30am to go through the nominations with Spencer Howson on Brisbane’s number 1 breakfast radio show on 612ABC.
You can download a podcast of my spot on 612ABC by clicking here.
It seems appropriate that today is Australia Day. We have three Aussies nominated for acting awards at this year’s Academy Awards. It’s only the second time in history that this has happened (Geoffrey Rush, Cate Blanchett and Rachel Griffiths were nominated back in 1998).
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) and Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole) were expected to pick up a nomination but Jackie Weaver’s (Animal Kingdom) inclusion does come as a surprise. When you consider that the list of nominees is dominated by big name stars in big name films, it’s even more impressive when you consider that Jackie Weaver made the cut.
I couldn’t be happier the 63-year-old Weaver. She’s been in the industry a long time (winning her first AFI Award way back in 1972) and it’ll be great to see her at the pre-Oscars get-togethers and then during the ceremony itself. I love an underdog and Weaver is just that.
If you’d asked me a week ago which film would win best picture at the Oscars, I’d have said The Social Network with bold confidence. It had won every major award so far. That’s not the case anymore. Last weekend, The King’s Speech nabbed the all important best picture prize as issued by the Producers Guild Of America. This award has only been around since 1989 but it has a strong correlation with the Oscars – the winning film has claimed the Oscar for best picture 67% of the time.
Considering that The King’s Speech also leads the list of Academy Award nominations with 12 and The Social Network only managed to pick up 8, it seems the tide has turned. If I were a betting man (and I am), I’d say The King’s Speech is now the horse to beat. A lot more can happen between now and the Oscars but at this point, I’m just happy to see the race “spiced up”. It was somewhat boring with The Social Network taking home all the gongs. The critics associations looked like lemmings.
The Australian public is also getting behind The King’s Speech. I realise there’s an Aussie connection in the film but it’s made $15m in this country so far and is still going strong. The Social Network could only manage $12m during its theatrical run.
Let’s get to the nominees in each of the major categories…
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
You may remember that the Academy expanded its list of best picture nominees last year from 5 to 10. There were no major exclusions but films which hoped to sneak in included The Town and Blue Valentine.
As I mentioned above, I see this as a race between The Social Network and The King’s Speech with the later slightly ahead. There’s an outside chance that one of the other films could spoil (possibly True Grit or The Fighter) under the Academy’s preferential voting system (only used for best picture) so we’ll see.
Best Actor In A Leading Role
Javier Bardem for Biutiful
Jeff Bridges for True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network
Colin Firth for The King's Speech
James Franco for 127 Hours
Colin Firth should win this in a landslide. He gave a great performance in A Single Man last year (which also earned him a nomination) and his performance in The King’s Speech has won many awards already.
Javier Bardem is the surprise inclusion in the list. The Academy rarely honours performances in non-English speaking films but he edged out the likes of Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine) and Mark Whalberg (The Fighter) to do so.
Best Actress In A Leading Role
Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman for Black Swan
Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine
Natalie Portman will be a red hot favourite in this category. Annette Bening (who has three previous nominations without a win) is the only danger for her performance in The Kids Are All Right.
This list went fairly well as planned. Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right) is the only omission which might have caught some off guard. Well done to 20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence who has become the second youngest nominee of all time in this category. Winter’s Bone was a great film and it’s been recognised by the Academy with 4 nominations.
Best Actor In A Supporting Role
Christian Bale for The Fighter
John Hawkes for Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner for The Town
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech
This is an interesting list. Christian Bale is the favourite but the others in this category will give him a run for his money. The love for Winter’s Bone continued with a well-deserved nomination for John Hawkes. The Town was overlooked for a best picture nomination by the Academy still found time to include Jeremy Renner (he was also nominated last year for The Hurt Locker). I’m a fan of Mark Ruffalo and I enjoyed seeing him pick up his first nomination too.
Best Actress In A Supporting Role
Amy Adams for The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech
Melissa Leo for The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit
Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom
This category will be the most wide open of the night. All the awards to date have been spread around many of the actresses listed above. Hailee Steinfeld is just 14 years of age and I could make an argument that she’s favourite. She’s the best thing in True Grit and the film’s 10 nominations shows great support. Seeing a young actress nominated in this category isn’t unusual. In fact, there have been 8 actresses younger than Steinfeld who have been nominated (two went on to win – Tatum O’Neal and Anna Paquin).
Melissa Leo gives the “showier” performance in The Fighter but my preference was for Amy Adams. I worry that votes for these two actresses may be split as they appear in the same film. I think it opens up the door for Steinfeld and yes, also for Jacki Weaver. As Animal Kingdom is such a small film, it may hinge on whether Academy members take the time to see it. I sure hope they do.
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen for True Grit
David Fincher for The Social Network
Tom Hooper for The King's Speech
David O. Russell for The Fighter
This category produces the biggest surprise for many. Christopher Nolan was overlooked for his brilliant direction in Inception (my favourite film of 2010). This stunned me. I’m not knocking any of the other nominees but Inception was a bold, original project that required such precision from the director. The risks he took were rewarded by the public who took the film to an international box-office exceeding $800m. What’s even more surprising is that it was Nolan who was shockingly overlooked two years for The Dark Knight.
Congratulations to Darren Aronofsky who has earned his first nomination for best director. I wasn’t a huge fan of Black Swan but given he directed Requiem For A Dream and The Wrestler, I won’t begrudge him his honour. David O. Russell picked up his first nomination too. I’ll always remember him though for his rant on the set of I Heart Huckabees. You can cheer yourself up by watching it "> here.
Best Original Screenplay
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
It’s being released in Australia today and it’s nice to see Mike Leigh earn a screenwriting nomination for another year. Some might question whether he deserves it (given the unorthodox way in which he writes his movies) but give him credit – this is his 5th nomination in this category (and he’s yet to win). The other 4 films all earned a best picture nomination and I’d expect The King’s Speech to take this.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
The Social Network should have this one in the bag (the writing from Aaron Sorkin was fantastic) but we’ll see.
You can view the full list of nominations at the Oscars site - http://oscar.go.com/
The winners will be announced on Monday, February 28 at 11am (Brisbane time). I’ll be launching my Oscars competition a week before so make sure you study the form and put in an entry!
All Rights Reserved. Matthew Toomey. 2012.