Thursday, February 17, 2011

83rd Academy Awards: Predictions (Screenplays, Animated, Documentary and Foreign Films)

Best Original Screenplay

Mike Leigh, Another Year
Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, The Fighter
Christopher Nolan, Inception
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, The Kids are All Right
David Seidler, The King's Speech

I really loved Another Year, but I just don't see Mike Leigh winning this. His screenplay drew some beautiful characters, which was also the result of months of rehearsal with his actors prior to filming. The result is a series of well-constructed episodes documenting the span of one year in the lives of its central married couple. The Fighter was driven more by David O. Russell's direction and the performances, than the screenplay, which quite cleverly weaved together the inspirational tale of Mickey Ward with the suffocating strain placed on him by those closest to him, providing surprising depth to the familial drama. Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg's often hilarious work in The Kids are All Right likely won't be recognized here, but is stellar. One of my favorite screenplays of the year. The complex emotional journeys these characters take throughout this film is beautifully drawn out in the performers, who feel like people you know by the conclusion of the film. Mr. Christopher Nolan, when will your time come? It should be here, but I doubt it. To turn such a complex, well-conceived idea into an engaging story that remains quite concise for the audience, is a feat in itself. He certainly deserves it. David Seidler will likely continue the sweep for The King's Speech. The tale of King George VI is an inspirational one very well told, with Seidler's lines delivered wonderfully by his cast.

MY PREDICTION: David Seidler (The King's Speech)

ALSO LIKELY: Christopher Nolan (Inception)

BEST SCREENPLAY THAT WON'T WIN: Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right)

Best Adapted Screenplay

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 award will go to Aaron Sorkin. He has it locked in. The other screenplays are all excellent, especially what Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy managed to create from Between a Rock and a Hard Place. It is puzzling to see Michael Arndt's screenplay in this category but it is considered an adaptation of the preceding films in the trilogy. If he had ended Toy Story 3 at the pit of fire, it would have been the gutsiest ending to a family film ever. But, the second ending drew just as many tears. I have been led to believe that the Coens' re-adaptation of the Charles Portis novel is closer than the John Wayne version, and superior in almost every way. I don't think it will be enough. The same with Debra Granik/Anne Rosellini with Winter's Bone. Very commendable writing, just not enough to take down Sorkin, who's screenplay for The Social Network is riddled with memorable dialogue, and flawlessly weaves together the dual lawsuits with flashback captures of the events unfolding. A work of genius.

MY PREDICTION: Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)


BEST SCREENPLAY THAT WON'T WIN: Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours)

Best Animated Feature 

How to Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3

Pixar will likely continue their dominance in this category by taking it out again with Toy Story 3, the end to one of the greatest trilogies in cinema history. The story remains just as strong as its predecessors, and it is visually stunning in 3D. How to Train Your Dragon is good enough to win this category any other year. It is the best film ever released by Dreamworks Animation, and it's action sequences rival everything else released this year. I haven't seen L'Illusionist, but I believe it is the last script conceived by Jaques Tati before he died. Sounds intriguing. Last year there were five films in this category, and it was a strong year (Fantastic Mr Fox should have joined Up in the Best Picture category), but apart from Tangled, I don't know what else would have made it this year. Not Despicable Me that's for sure. Toy Story 3 for the win, but a surprise victory for Dragon wouldn't disappoint.




Best Foreign Film           

In a Better World
Outside the Law

I am sad to say I am yet to see any of these foreign features. Buitiful has a release sometime in March I think, and is the only nominee with a second nomination (Javier Bardem for Best Actor). Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu hasn't made a bad film yet, nor one particularly uplifting. I have read that this is as bleak as they come, and the reviews have been mixed. I have heard lots of positive things about Dogtooth, but perhaps it is too confronting for the Academy to vote for it. Outside the Law looks quite good, as does In a Better World. The latter picked up the Golden Globe, which doesn't necessarily mean it will repeat here. I'm going to go with Incendies, from Canada.


Best Documentary Feature

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job

I loved Exit Through the Gift Shop. Not only one of the best documentaries of the year, but best films. Banksy has created a hilarious work of genius, at first delving into the secret world of Street Artists and capturing unique and unseen footage of the world's best at work. Banksy then turns the camera onto the obsessive cameraman himself, Thierry Guetta, which follows his overnight transformation into artist sensation, Mr Brainwash. A really eccentric study of consumerism and celebrity. But is it all a hoax, as many believe? Restrepo is the only other documentary I have seen in this category, and it is a harrowing account of dedicated journalism. Working for Vanity Fair, American journalist Sebastian Junger and British Photojournalist Tim Hetherington spend a year in Afghanistan shadowing a platoon stationed in the Korengal Valley, where they build an outpost that changes the tide of the war in one of the most dangerous war zones in the country. An incredible first hand account of warfare. I missed Gasland, which was disappointing, but Wasteland and Inside Job are yet to reach Australian cinemas. I kept hearing that Waiting for Superman was the sure winner here, but it's not amongst the nominees. The praise for Inside Job has been huge (97% on Rotten Tomatoes) but then they are all highly acclaimed. I'd like to see Exit Through the Gift Shop win this, but I think it will either be Restrepo or Inside Job. 




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