Opinions about the Oscars are like arseholes. Everybody (OK, nearly everybody) has got one. So I’ll keep this nice and brief, and then you are free to carry on with your business.
Firstly, Best Picture. I haven’t seen Winter’s Bone or The Kids Are All Right yet, but that doesn’t matter because neither have a prayer of winning the big prize. It looks like being a straight fight between The King’s Speech and The Social Network. That’s fine with me, because of the rest of the field, only Toy Story 3 really deserves to be up there and sadly, being an animated feature doesn’t appear to carry much water when the big prizes are being handed out.
I’d give it (and I think they will give it) to The King’s Speech, which is sweeping, moving and lots of other adjectives ending in -ing. To simply brand it feelgood entertainment would be to do it a disservice. I thought the composition was thrilling (I loved the way that speech therapist Lionel Logue’s gaudily shambolic office/house was used to frame the relationship between the two men), and also found an unexpected touch of the surreal embodied in the use of a number of off-kilter low-angle shots and bizarrely intimate close-ups redolent of a true British classic: Terry Gilliam’s dystopian Brazil.
In terms of the acting categories, Natalie Portman is nailed on to win Best Actress for her turn in Darren Aronofsky’s manic farce Black Swan, although Michelle Williams is a nice outside bet for Blue Valentine. If Colin Firth doesn’t win the Best Actor award for his nuanced portrayal of the repressed Bertie in The King’s Speech, I will eat my hat (which would, admittedly, taste a bit nicer if James Franco were to get some love for his bravura one-man, three-limb show in 127 Hours).
I’m already preparing to eat one hat (an unloved beanie dating from about 1996 that has 100% SERIOUS emblazoned across it, FYI) in resignation due to the fact that the magnificent Geoffrey Rush (as the aforementioned Logue) will lose out to Christian Bale (The Fighter) in the Best Supporting Actor category. Bale’s a fine actor, but here he chomps his way through the scenery in a conspicuously mannered fashion, taking all of his cues from a superior performance by Samuel L Jackson as an addled crackhead in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever. It’s already bad enough that he’s stolen all the limelight from his co-star Mark Wahlberg who centres the film (solid, entertaining fare, by the way) with a steely, resourceful turn, and was summarily ignored by the panel.
As I have previously written about, one of the most ludicrous decisions from the panel was to shortlist True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld in the Best Supporting Actress category, despite the fact that she’s in almost every scene and the film is totally framed around her. So the least they can do is give her the award to make up for it, especially in the light of Melissa Leo’s (The Fighter) decision to pimp herself out in a barking mad self-promotional push. Helena Bonham-Carter does fine in The King’s Speech, but up against the titanic Firth and Rush, she isn’t really given that much to do.
I anticipate dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream-within-a-boring-movie Inception will take home a slew of technical awards, but I would tip The Social Network for Best Editing. It can’t be an easy task to harness Aaron Sorkin’s snappy 1940s-paced dialogue or the ruthlessly cross-cut momentum of the narrative, but editors Angus Walsh and Kirk Baxter have helped to produce a coherent film about THE ZEITGEST which doesn’t betray its thematic roots in the field of the terminally short-attention-spanned.
In other awards, I would love Banksy to get the Best Documentary nod for Exit Through The Gift Shop, and I would literally go crackers (although I don’t really know what that means) if Dogtooth triumphs in the Best Picture in a Foreign Language category.
Anyway, let’s see who will win!