Wednesday, 2 February 2011

That Oscar Blog: Part Two

So, here is the second part of my blog and the final five categories I want to discuss. If you missed the first half then you can catch it here.

If you’ve already read all that and come back for more, well then you’re a braver man/woman than me...

Best Original Screenplay

Nominated: Mike Leigh (Another Year), Scott Silver (The Fighter), Christopher Nolan (Inception), Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right), David Seidler (The King's Speech)

Who should win?

While it’s absolutely wonderful to see Mike Leigh get a nomination for the charming “Another Year”, I would really love to see Inception take this one, and not just to appease my desire to see more genre films take home gold, but because I truly believe one of this films greatest strengths is its script. Which I realise isn’t a popular opinion to have online right now, but hear me out.

I admit the characters were a little thin, but the script finds an incredible balance of action and story, and weaves them together seamlessly. So many films these days fall into the trap of arbitrary action sequences that have little connection to anything other than to fill screen time with lots of mindless shots of people shooting at each other, and while this film isn’t completely free of that (The snowy mountain shootout springs to mind) it tries to ensure that most action scenes are either progressing the plot or the character arc. This sounds like a simple task, but as someone who tried to write a screenplay that achieved that balance last year and failed miserably, I can assure you that it’s no mean feat.

Besides that, the story is well paced and the script treats its audience with enough respect to avoid spelling everything out to them. And on top of that it leaves just enough room to ensure people will spend hours after watching the film having lots of discussion and debate over their theories on the aspects that weren’t entirely explained.

Who will actually win?

My prediction is that The Kings Speech will take this one, and while I am far from this film's biggest supporter, if I’m honest its one award I really don’t object to it getting. The script itself is quite well written, I can’t pretend I’m the films target audience, but its dialogue was strong and its focus on character is what drives the piece by forcing the audience to become invested in the characters and their problems.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominated: Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours), Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3), Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit), Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini (Winter's Bone)

This is another one of those pesky moments where I fear my format is rendered redundant because I actually think me and the academy are going to agree on this one. I think Aaron Sorkin will be umming and ahhing his way through an acceptance speech at this year’s ceremony for his frankly brilliant script for The Social Network; which was interesting, charming, funny and well told. It also had plenty of Sorkin’s usual brilliant dialogue.

I do want to mention something though... an issue I have long held with this category.
The rule that all sequels are automatically considered adapted screenplays on the basis that they are based on the original is pretty insulting to any writer who worked hard to craft his own unique story within the same world. If it is true that a sequels quality is connected to how it stands up as a film in its own right, then it is also true that any sequel good enough to be nominated for an academy award is unique enough to be considered for best ORIGINAL screenplay.

It’s an outdated rule, these days sequels can be so much more than a simple cash in on the original, some modern sequels have their own themes, characters and plots. Unless they are simply retelling that first story again, then they are far from what ANYONE could possibly consider an “adaptation”.
Toy Story 3 is its own story and should be nominated for best original screenplay and I really do feel it is a great injustice that it is not.

Best Actor

Nominated: Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Colin Firth (The King's Speech), James Franco (127 Hours), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Jeff Bridges (True Grit)

Who should get it?

Admittedly, this is one of the categories I’m personally more invested in and will absolutely devastated when it inevitably doesn’t go my way, but no one, and I mean no one, deserves this more than James Franco this year. A movie with a concept as character driven as 127 Hours falls apart at the seams if you don’t believe in the characters struggle; and Franco made his character so brilliantly flawed and human. He sold the despair and the hopelessness of the situation and even more impressively the courage, strength and regrets of the character. The character is given a strong voice and real depth by Franco and I would love nothing more than to see him win this.

And as with the best supporting actor category, there is someone else nominated who I would not complain if they won, no matter how unlikely it is. And that would be Jesse Eisenberg who became a better Mark Zuckerberg than the man himself. One I could actually stand to listen to for more than 30 seconds.

Who will actually win?

Unfortunately I believe Mr. Darcey himself, Colin Firth will be taking this one home for his entirely average portrayal of King George the sixth. I know this opinion will not be a popular one, but I had little love for this particular performance, I didn’t once believe the stutter nor could I muster any feelings of sympathy for his characters situation and I suspect a large part of it is a result of Firths heartless portrayal, because I felt the script was pretty strong.

In short, I just didn’t believe it, and I’m fairly certain, much to my dismay, that he will win this award.

Best Actress

Nominated: Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

I’m not even going to do a full discussion or subheadings for this one because not only is the competition thin in the category, the clear front runner was so damn good it’s not even worth debating or discussing.

Natalie Portman is taking home this statue. Fact.

Best Picture

Nominated: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are Alright, The King's Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter's Bone

This category is usually the most difficult for me to pick my personal winner, because Best Picture implies that the winner is essentially the best film of the year and how can you possibly decided which of these films is the best when so many of them come from such different places? Can you really compare Toy Story 3 to The Social Network objectively? I mean, I enjoyed both immensely, but on such different levels. So what I usually do is analyse it mathematically, taking into account all the relevant factors such as script, acting, directing, visual effects, editing, lighting and score to help me make an informed decision that considers all the variables.

Who should win?

This year I didn’t need to bother with any of that. Because I knew without giving it a second of contemplation that Black Swan was the best film I had seen this year. I literally cannot express how brilliant and gripping and intense this movie is. At heart, it is pure paranoia turned into film, and you simply cannot help but be swept up in its story.

It’s so strangely organic; it doesn’t once feel like a film because it's story flows so naturally. This is because the writer covers his tracks well leaving the screenwriting techniques executed well hidden. The story itself is small and subtle but well told, allowing room for the themes to be properly explored and all plots to be fully developed. And not only is the story compelling, but the film looks incredible, blurring the line between fantasy and reality in the most convincing fashion, leaving the audience unsure of what is and isn’t real, which forces them to empathise with the central character. The soundtrack is beautiful and unsettling all at once and the performances feel surprisingly layered.

All in all this incredible film is entirely deserving of this award.

The real shame is, it doesn’t have a chance of getting it.

Who will actually win?

Assuming the academy members examine the question as I usually do, mathematically, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out where the their votes are going in this category, considering they nominated Black Swan in five categories and The King’s Speech in twelve .
Since the 50th Academy Awards in 1977, only one film has won the Best Picture award with only five other nominations or less to its name, and that was The Departed in 2007. This mean’s it’s happened once in the last 34 years, personally, I can’t see it happening again anytime soon. The real shame is, even if The King’s Speech doesn’t win Best Picture, True Grit (10 Nominations) and The Social Network (8 Nominations) have a better chance of winning than Black Swan.

So... there you have it. My thoughts on this years Oscars summed up in a measly.... 3200 words? What the hell am I doing with my Sunday! I need to stop typing now...

Thanks for reading
-- Dan

PS: Look at me, regularly updating, it's a freakin miricle.

PPS: Dan's Blog will be back in "Five awsome films hardly anyone has seen".

PPPS: How many people actually remember the days they used to put stuff like that at the end of credits?

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