The list of nominations for the 83rd annual Oscars is finally here. This is the entire list, along with my personal picks from each category.
Best Motion Picture
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
My Pick: The Social Network. I haven’t seen every single film on this list, but out of the ones I have seen, David Fincher’s film is the most entertaining and flat-out well done. Even beyond the ones on this list, The Social Network was my favorite film of the year, period, without contest.
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
My Pick: Jesse Eisenberg. With The Social Network, Eisenberg moved out of his comfort zone of awkward, Cera-esque teenager and embraced the (somewhat fictionalized) character of Mark Zuckerberg. Subtle nuances in his character, little ticks, and rapid-fire inner and outer dialog were delivered flawlessly. Out of any other award on this list, I am really, really pulling for Mr. Eisenberg here.
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech
My Pick: Christian Bale. I didn’t think The Fighter was an amazing movie, and I don’t care for boxing movies in general, but I love Christian Bale and he always gives intense, deep performances no matter what he’s acting. The same applies to The Fighter, for which he lost a ton of weight for the role of Mark Wahlberg’s brother. Bale is one of my favorite actors in the business currently, and I can’t get enough of him.
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
My Pick: Natalie Portman. Given Portman’s acting history, there was a fairly significant amount of doubt over how well she would do in a film with as much weight as Black Swan. She pulled if off magnificently, however, and in her performance brought a great deal of darkness in her portrayal of an obsessed ballerina’s downward spiral into madness and despair. After seeing Black Swan, I’m pretty excited for whatever Portman does next.
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
My Pick: Hailee Steinfeld. Though I would personally put Steinfeld in the “Leading Actress” category, as she was a main character in True Grit, this also conveniently allows me to give both her and Portman nods for their acting. Steinfeld’s portrayal as the whip-smart your girl who recruits Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) on her journey of revenge was powerful indeed for a girl her age. It’s rare to see a child actress outshine most of her peers, and even more rare to witness such good chemistry as she had with Bridges in True Grit.
Achievement in Directing
Black Swan–Darren Aronofsky
The Fighter–David O. Russell
The King’s Speech–Tom Hooper
The Social Network–David Fincher
True Grit–Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
My Pick: Boy, was this a hard one. After almost an entire day of consideration, I finally went with David Fincher, despite my intense admiration for both Aronofsky and the Coen Brothers. The reason for this is that The Social Network is, as a whole, the most expertly constructed film of the year on every level. The pacing and the nonlinear story progression are just a couple of the great ideas that went into the creation of this film.
Best Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours–Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network–Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3–Michael Arndt
True Grit–Joel & Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone–Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini
My Pick: Aaron Sorkin. I’ll be honest–one of the reasons I was initially interested in The Social Network was because Aaron Sorkin was on board. The man is an absolute genius of smart, realistic dialog that pulls you in and keeps you engaged and paying attention. Previously, Sorkin write the script for the brilliantly entertaining Charlie Wilson’s War. That same style of clever writing carried over into this film.
Best Original Screenplay
Another Year–Mike Leigh
The Fighter–Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, and Eric Johnson
The Kids Are All Right–Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech–David Seidler
My Pick: Christopher Nolan. While some of the other movies on this list might have some better-written dialog, Inception’s script carefully and effectively constructs a detailed dreamscape with its own set of rules and explains everything so well that it’s easy to stay engaged and entertained.
Best Documentary Feature
Exit Through the Gift Shop
My Pick: Exit Through the Gift Shop. This documentary about Bansky, the renowned street artist, is simultaneously extremely engaging and very funny. Watching Bansky construct his works of art is a sight to behold, just like any other, more “traditional” artist. There’s something breathtaking about watching any sort of artist work, and this is a front-row seat to one of the most talented names out there. There are rumors that this documentary is not genuine, and is instead an intricately manufactured farce like the also-excellent Joaquin Phoenix prank I’m Still Here, but like that film, it doesn’t make the experience any less engaging–if anything, it further enriches the experience.
Best Animated Feature
How To Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3
My Pick: Toy Story 3. Not only is Toy Story 3 one of my favorite animated films, it’s a damn near perfect film altogether. Pixar has recently been making films with a great deal more emotional weight than in the past, moving beyond light entertainment with the classic Disney message and into children’s films with adult themes. The resulting emotional complexity is masterful and beautiful.
Best Foreign Language Film
In a Better World–Denmark
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)–Algeria
My Pick: Dogtooth. The dark psychological framework of Dogtooth is what holds the film together. The story–children in their late teens who have never been allowed out of their house, and as such only know the world that is their home–is disturbing to watch unfold, particularly as the deception of the parents (such as teaching the children incorrect definitions for words) shapes the psychological constructs of the children. Their entire way of thinking has been shaped by the world their parents have manufactured for them, and it is a disturbing and engaging story to watch.
Alice in Wonderland–Robert Stromberg (Production Design), Karen O’Hara (Set Decoration)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1–Stuart Craig (Production Design), Stephanie McMillan (Set Decoration)
Inception–Guy Hendrix Dyas (Production Design), Larry Dias and Doug Mowat (Set Decoration)
The King’s Speech–Eve Stewart (Production Design), Judy Farr (Set Decoration)
True Grit–Jess Gonchor (Production Design), Nancy Haigh (Set Decoration)
My Pick: Stuart Craig and Stephanie McMillan. The more recent Harry Potter films have sported a much darker and more mature style, and it is a massive benefit to the darker direction of the story. It’s always fun to see how the art direction in a film differs from my own visualization of the story when I read it on a page, and the decisions made here are visually exciting and very creative.
Achievement in Cinematography
Black Swan–Matthew Libatique
The King’s Speech–Danny Cohen
The Social Network–Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit–Roger Deakins
My Pick: Matthew Libatique. The way Black Swan illustrated its nightmarish imagery and the unfolding of madness was unparalleled by anything else this year. Black Swan wasn’t quite a psychological horror film, but some of the disturbing and downright terrifying cinematography brought it very close.
Achievement in Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland–Colleen Atwood
I Am Love–Antonella Connarozzi
The King’s Speech–Jenny Beavan
The Tempest–Sandy Powell
True Grit–Mary Zophres
My Pick: Sandy Powell. The costume design in The Tempest was colorful and exciting, as a Shakespearean production should be. While the film itself was flawed, the visual flair of the costumes stood out and made the film worth watching at least on a visual level.
Achievement in Film Editing
Black Swan–Andrew Weisblum
The Fighter–Pamela Martin
The King’s Speech–Tariq Anwar
127 Hours–Jon Harris
The Social Network–Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter
My Pick: Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter. The seamless transitions between scenes in the film, and between the film’s past and present, were extremely impressive and immersive. It is said that the best editing work is when you don’t notice the editing. Wall and Baxter have done just that.
Achievement in Makeup
Barney’s Version–Adrien Morot
The Way Back–Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
The Wolfman–Rick Baker and Dave Elsey
My Pick: Rick Baker and Dave Elsey. The Wolfman was a very stupid movie and I didn’t care for it, but admittedly the work done on the werewolves was pretty impressive.
Achievement in Music Written for Motion Picture (Original Score)
How to Train Your Dragon–John Powell
The King’s Speech–Alexandre Desplat
127 Hours–A.R. Rahman
The Social Network–Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
My Pick: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Every single one of the nominees this year was extremely good, though I lament the travesty that is the omission of Daft Punk’s incredible soundtrack for Tron: Legacy, which I keep on a fairly frequent rotation in my car stereo. My pick out of the list, however, is the one for The Social Network, in all of its tense, minimalist glory.
Achievement in Music Written For Motion Picture (Original Song)
“Coming Home” from Country Strong–Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light” from Tangled–Alan Menken and Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from 127 Hours–A. R. Rahman and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3–Randy Newman
My Pick: “We Belong Together”. Randy Newman bookended a beautifully emotional film with an equally emotional song that perfectly fit with the tone of Toy Story 3 and captured exactly what the theme was encompassing; love, loss, and letting childhood live on.
Best Animated Short Film
Day & Night
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)
My Pick: Day & Night. The preceding short to Toy Story 3 was a delightful and inventive little short that effectively combined the styles of Looney Tunes and the work of Pixar into one piece. The marriage proved successful and the end result was a joyful little production.
Achievement in Sound Editing
Toy Story 3–Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
Tron: Legacy–Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
True Grit–Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
Unstoppable–Mark P. Stoeckinger
My Pick: Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague. The soundscape of Tron: Legacy was quite masterfully put together, and the way the sounds of the Grid made the world feel so intricately similar to a computer, yet not unlike the real world, was a treat for the ears.
Achievement in Sound Mixing
Inception–Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
The King’s Speech–Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
Salt–Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
The Social Network–Ryan Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
True Grit–Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
My Pick: Ryan Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Wringarten. The way the different sounds of The Social Network (dialog and voice-over, music, and ambient sound) came together was as engaging as David Fincher’s direction. Different sounds were emphasized at just the right time for the right effect.
Achievement in Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland–Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1–Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
Hereafter–Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
Inception–Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
Iron Man 2–Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick
My Pick: Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick. Easily the best part of Iron Man 2 was the attention to Iron Man’s suit. Every single little component was lovingly detailed and worked into the suit’s animation. The rest of the special effects were just as impressive, effectively making the suits appear functional in a real world sense.