(Honoring the films of 2010)

Rant by Paul Preston

I think I can safely say that despite the quality of some of the year’s best movies, it was not a great year. The strangest trait all the major Hollywood releases share is that the worst movies of the year were some of the biggest blockbusters. This is not a good sign because it sends a signal to filmmakers that they can keep shooting low and underwhelming and we’ll keep going. Sadly, I don’t think it’s in the best interest of my personal health to hold my breath for the day the biggest money-makers are also the year’s best.

Some kudos to the ticket-buying public, however, because in the middle of the wreckage, “Inception” and “Toy Story 3” were blockbusters, and even “The Social Network” made a bundle.

Now that I’m talking good films, let’s begin there, shall we? My list of the Top 10 Films of 2010:

10. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD – If you’ve read my rants before, you know I always include the funniest movie of the year in my Top 10. The jokes, gags, and references flew fast and furious out of the screen creating a cacophony of freakitude unlike anything I’ve ever seen. In the capable hands of Edgar Wright, this was a wonderfully modern hipster-fest that never slowed down for you to catch up. You either stayed with it or fell behind and for those who stayed, it was quite a trip.
Click here for a full-length review.

9. INSIDE JOB – Charles Ferguson’s dynamic look at the cause of the current recession angered the shit out of me. But please don’t say, “I have no desire to go to a movie and leave angry”. The truth is, you leave smarter, because Ferguson, as he did in the also-great “No End in Sight”, delivers the facts without pretension in an easy-to-digest manner, singling out the culprits whose greed has run the country’s economy into the crapper. But I should say the facts will make you angry…

8. GET LOW – Forgotten by most year-end lists, this wonderful comic fable has an extraordinary heart and smooth direction by Aaron Schneider that keeps it floating above cheese. Always helping to keep any project from slipping into cheesedom is the presence of the great Bill Murray, who manages to walk the fine line of being authentically period and authentically hilarious. Robert Duvall only gets a lead role once in a while anymore (it’s been seven years since “Secondhand Lions” and “Open Range”), but it’s always worth taking notice, as he underplays his character of the town hermit to perfection, delivering a finale that is soaked in history and emotion.

7. WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN” – Davis Guggenheim looks at the failing American school system, and not only delivers the goods any doc should exposing the foibles of incompetence in the government, but he stumbles upon very effective subjects to follow. The young girl who wants to be a doctor, the boy in a poor, crime-ridden neighborhood, the student caught in the tracking system, they all can upgrade their educations to charter and private schools if the public lottery chooses them. This provides more drama than “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” ever could, which made a hundred bazillion more dollars than “Waiting for ‘Superman’”.

6. THE KING’S SPEECH – A solid effort from all involved, “The King’s Speech” is anchored by a fantastic script from David Seidler, that not only chronicles a large expanse of British history, but effectively personalizes it and litters it with whip-smart, crackling dialogue. Just like they told me in acting class, whether the country needs uniting or the monarchy is in chaos, it all comes down to relationships, and it doesn’t hurt to have a very-well seasoned and accomplished cast, led by Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter.

5. THE FIGHTER – This movie wins for straight-up most entertaining flick of the year. ‘Cause I thought, “What’s the guy who made ‘Spanking the Monkey’ going to do to make me care about the very well-trod realm of the boxing picture?” By the end, I was totally invested and really rooting for Mickey Ward, even though I disagreed with some of the dumb decisions he made on his path to success! I also know the people portrayed in Lowell. Even though I grew up five hours west of there, in Upstate NY, the power that a group of people like Mickey’s family can wield, the power to stunt growth, to pull you down, to keep you at their level of mediocrity was familiar. It’s refreshing to see it portrayed so authentically.

4. SHUTTER ISLAND – Lest you forget, MARTIN SCORSESE released a film in 2010, and lest you forget, HE’S COMPLETELY AWESOME. Marty doesn’t disappoint with this hyper-kinetic asylum story. More controlled than any commercial thriller he’s ever made (“Cape Fear” was a little much, no?), the final half hour packs a huge punch. Always up for exploring the dark side, Leonardo DiCaprio once again steps it up and exceeds what’s asked of him as the tone shifts from out and out thriller to heartbreaking mystery, with a final scene that kicked my ass.

3. TOY STORY 3 – Well, surprise, surprise, Pixar made my Top 10 again (he said sarcastically). It’s getting ri-goddamm-diculous how successfully Pixar is maintaining their winning streak, but they prove their greatness again by not coasting for a second with what seemed like a easy return to a popular franchise, after challenging audiences with the likes of “WALL-E” and “Up”. Instead, “Toy Story 3” feels as fresh as the original film, with a storytelling skill that allows the introduction of a whole bunch of new characters that never seems as crowded as a “Shrek” movie. I know more sequels are in the works (“Cars 2” isn’t surprising, since the first film has not made EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS worldwide in sales and merchandising), but I hope the high standards for the studio stay intact.
Click here for the full-length review.

2. THE SOCIAL NETWORK – The script for “The Social Network” by Aaron Sorkin is a thing of beauty. The film moves with lightning speed through moments of procedure, audacity and humor, driving the film to the point where if you can’t hang on, it’s best to just get out of the way. Up to the task of jumping through time and place at ludicrous speed is director David Fincher, who has crafted an of-the-moment masterpiece exceeding other films that will define the last ten years like “Crash” and “The Hurt Locker”. Every element of filmmaking here is of the highest quality. It’s full of drama, suspense, backstabbing and wit, just like Facebook.

1. INCEPTION – My choice for number one in a tough year to choose, but if cons against some of the other options included “Toy Story 3”’s revisiting of familiar themes or “The King’s Speech”’s material not being too edgy or challenging, “Inception” triumphs with a story that’s so insane to think up, that the only thing more insane is conjuring up the balls to pull it off. “Inception” is wildly original, challenging, bold, and emotionally galvanizing. You know a review is serious when it uses “galvanizing”, but seriously, many people dismissed “Inception” as impressive, but not involving. I disagree. The Cobb/Mal relationship is at the core of everything, and it runs the gamut of deep emotion – lovely one moment, painful the next, with an ending that calls out the complexities of Cobb’s character that any lesser film wouldn’t even have written. Plus, “Inception” is ground-breakingly cinematic, imagining and PULLING OFF scenes that will make your head spin with exceptional visual effects that serve the story and amaze at the same time. An action movie, a drama, a sci-fi mindbender, it’s everything for everybody in glorious 2D.

THE COMPANY MEN – A criminally underappreciated human drama from John Wells that expertly conveys the effects of the 2008 economic downturn.
BLUE VALENTINE – The fireworks in the end credits of this film are the last of two hours worth of acting pyrotechnics from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams
GREEN ZONE – Probably number eleven on my list, Paul Greengrass makes another crazy-exciting action movie that made me frustrated as hell over the misuse of our troops in the Middle East.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON – DreamWorks Animation’s best story and best movie yet!

THE LAST AIRBENDER – M. Night Shyamalan’s filmmaking skills have gotten so bad, it’s time to forget, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”-style, that he ever made “The Sixth Sense”
PREDATORS – Adrien Brody is a man-whore.
THE EXPENDABLES – Never has a man done so little with so little.
LITTLE FOCKERS – This movie is absolutely wretched. Poop, vomit, erections, it’s all here, except humor.
SOMEWHERE – Dull self-indulgence of the highest order.
JONAH HEX – The Megan Fox era is over. Rejoice.
CLASH OF THE TITANS – Sound and fury signifying nothing.

PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME – This movie is completely ridiculous, and I know you’re not expecting serious and sensible from a “Prince of Persia” movie, but this movie makes NO SENSE, in our world, in their world, in the world of filmmaking and storytelling, it’s baffling. This film, from the usually great Mike Newell, is bad in every facet of filmmaking.


Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”
James Franco in “127 Hours”

Glaring Omission: Ryan Gosling, for a brazenly authentic performance in “Blue Valentine”. Bridges, although creating an indelible character, doesn’t deal with a character arc as impressive and excitable as Gosling’s. Actually, Gosling’s complicated performance is better than everyone in this category.
Runners-up: Robert Duvall in ‘Get Low”. He brings his decades of experience as an actor to the pathos and mystery of this character to great effect. Leonardo DiCaprio was outstanding in both “Inception” and “Shutter Island”, mining tragic and sad corners of his personality and was grossly overlooked. Kevin Spacey was funny in “Casino Jack”, but the film lacked gravitas. If they had a comedy award, like the Globes, he could be considered.
Great Inclusion: Eisenberg. A lot of people are writing this off as “playing himself”. I doubt Eisenberg is anything like the way he played Mark Zuckerberg. And he’s built a memorable performance the way Hannibal Lecter and Anton Chigurh can be imitated. That counts for something in the world of character development.
Will Win: Colin Firth, front-running in most every pre-Oscar award.
Should Win: Firth, it’s a great leading-man performance that has all the class and style of the Oscar-winning greats.

Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone”
Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”

Glaring Omission: Ben Mendelsohn in “Animal Kingdom”. Our site’s review by Mary Gent summed up Mendelsohn’s performance well, saying that after the movie, you have to read an article, find a video, SOMETHING to prove to yourself that Mendelsohn’s stay-in-your-bones creepy performance was, in fact, just acting. If the Academy went so far as to recognize the little-seen “Animal Kingdom” for Jacki Weaver’s performance, than Mendelsohn deserved a nod, too. It’s more memorable than Ruffalo, who was solid, but Mendelsohn’s part was career-peaking.
Runners-up: Tommy Lee Jones in “The Company Men”. For an actor who built a career as a tough guy, he now embodies sadness better than any actor his age. I think Matt Damon is one of our finest actors, always delivering solid performances. But he does it without the Day-Lewisy transformations, so notice is not always given. But take notice of his great role in “True Grit”. He’s a true western original, even in a remake. And how do you not nominate Armie Hammer as the Winklevai? In “The Social Network”, Hammer nailed the pomposity of the privileged brothers and somehow found a way to make them empathetic, not to mention his skill at pulling off playing twins. Sam Rockwell will get an Oscar someday, if there’s any justice in the world, but “Conviction” was such a modest film, his GREAT performance in the middle of it somehow sidestepped awards contention. And I have to shout out to Richard Jenkins in “Eat Pray Love”, who broke my heart with one monologue. Perhaps not worthy of a nomination, but certainly worthy of a shout out.
Great Inclusion: Geoffrey Rush. He commands the screen just as much as Firth and lobs the tennis ball back with great skill. I’m just happy to see him come out from under the shadow of those horrible pirate sequels to appear in another prestige project.
Will Win: Christian Bale
Should Win: Bale. And the timing’s perfect. He’ll put that embarrassing on-set tirade behing him, he’ll get the Oscar now, while he’s young instead of waiting for some career-achievement award (‘cause he’s always good), and he DESERVES it. Every time he was on screen, he did something surprising, and so nailed the final scene, he brought a real humanism back to what was otherwise a standard boxing movie finale.

Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Glaring Omission: Hilary Swank in “Conviction”. I thought maybe there’d be a nod here ‘cause The Academy loves her (as they love Nicole Kidman) and she had some pre-Oscar nominations. Wisely, they went with Michelle Williams.
Runners-up: Swank, plus Julianne Moore, equally as good as Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”.
Great Inclusion: Kidman. If you can stop looking at her jacked-up botox face for two seconds, there’s a very impassioned, complicated performance there.
Will Win: Natalie Portman. Oscar wants to anoint here.
Should Win: Williams. Portman was certainly game for a complex series of whatever-that-was that happened in “Black Swan”, but Williams broke my heart with a painfully truthful performance as a wife and mother in a downward spiral of a relationship.

Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”
Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Glaring Omission: Mila Kunis, quite good in “Black Swan”, was a FRONTRUNNER! Now, she’ll be staying home on Sunday. I was a little shocked by that.
Runners-up: Marion Cotillard provides the emotional core of “Inception”, and her character’s gamut-running of feeling is superbly portrayed. I’d probably pull Adams out here (despite my crush) and give Cotillard the nod. Just ‘cause it’s action and special-effects-packed, don’t discount the high level of acting in “Inception”!
Great Inclusion: I thought I’d mention Jacki Weaver here, for being noticed for such a small film. But awards tracking shows that she’s been recognized quite a bit in pre-Oscar awards. So, I’m happy Hailee Steinfeld is nominated here. It’s an odd category for a story that was ABOUT HER, but even in the wrong category, she was a force to be reckoned with at the front of “True Grit”.
Will Win: Melissa Leo, who was brilliant.
Should Win: This is the year’s toughest category, with a ton of great performances. I think I have to give it Steinfeld.

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Glaring Omission: Two more nominees. Last year broke a trend and gave us five nominees in this category. I thought this year was exceptional in terms of animation: “Despicable Me”, although copying Pixar directly (and perhaps because of copying Pixar directly), was thoroughly enjoyable; “Tangled”’s animation was not as spectacular as some of the other nominees, but many of the great Disney animation elements were present and the overall project was a success; And even “Shrek Forever After” was a better “Shrek” film than the previous sequels. I could’ve easily found room for five nominees.
Runners-up: See above, plus the hilarious and imaginatively good-looking “Megamind”
Great Inclusion: “How to Train Your Dragon” is DreamWorks best film to date. It’s a shame it’s nominated in the same year as “Toy Story 3”.
Will Win: “Toy Story 3”
Should Win: “Toy Story 3”

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
The King’s Speech
True Grit

Glaring Omission: “Black Swan”. I think Harry Potter put a spell of stolen nomination on Production Designer Therese DePrez.
Runners-Up: Here’s another slew on nominees who’ve achieved greatness in the field of either fantasy or a period piece. Someone should be recognized for crafting modern-day locations in a film, and for that achievement, I’d nominate “Winter’s Bone” for capturing a Missouri locale that feeds to the desperation and depression surrounding the lead character. I also liked the creepy look of “Shutter Island”, too. The jails, the lighthouse, the barracks, all had a hopelessness to them that doesn’t help the inmates. But if we’re talking period pieces, “Get Low” had a genuine look to it.
Great Inclusion: “Inception”, ‘cause it should win.
Will Win: Did somebody say “Inception”?
Should Win: “Inception”. The look design of the film blended seamlessly with the visual effects in creating a very demanding list of places required by the complex script.

Black Swan
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Glaring Omission: “127 Hours”. Recent winner for “Slumdog Millionaire” Anthony Dod Mantle did a great job of helping director Danny Boyle keep “127 Hours” as dyamic as possible, serving up great visual treats with little in the way of multiple locations and large casts to help.
Runners-Up: “Rabbit Hole”. The preview for this film made it look like the artsy-est of art house art films, but the experience of watching the film was more the result of a cinematographer working creatively than a DP showing off. The film, for not having a garish story, had a gorgeous look. Combined with the art direction, I thought “Get Low” told a simple story simply to the story’s benefit. Also, when does Robert Richardson do bad work? He doesn’t. And “Shutter Island” is another example of that. I also liked the
Great Inclusion: “Black Swan”. First of all, I don’t know how you design the photography of a film where the majority of the scenes take place in a rehearsal hall full of mirrors?!! When Matthew Libatique’s camera spins around and around the dancers in “Black Swan”, the result is as dizzying as the day is for Nina Sayers.
Will Win: “True Grit”’s Roger Deakins desperately needs an Oscar. His body of work is among the finest cinematography ever shot. Even the American Society of Cinematographers gave him a career achievement award this year. But he was beat out for this year’s ASC award by Wally Pfister, and that will happen at the Oscars, too. Perhaps as gorgeous as it was, the world of “True Grit” was a landscape previously covered by “No Country for Old Men”.
Should Win: “Inception”. The world of “Inception” was all new to me, and Pfister’s capturing of it helped make it palatable for everyone. Creative work that was just what the script needed.

Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King’s Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

Glaring Omission: “Black Swan”! I’ve never seen “Swan Lake”, so I’m not sure if the costumes in “Black Swan” are just the costumes you’d normally get in any “Swan Lake” show, but I thought they were amazing. I guess there’s some controversy over some of the ballet outfits being designed by a label that’s not part of the Costume Designer’s Guild, and that may have contributed to the lack of a nomination. These type of particulars kill some of the best work year after year (more of this bullshit to come in the music categories), and it killed the best costume design of the year in 2010 from getting a nod as far as I’m concerned. Should I also mention “Sex and the City 2”?
Runners-Up: “The Company Men”. The blanditude, if I may coin a phrase, of the working stiff in this movie was well exemplified by their dress-code-inspired outfits.
Great Inclusion: “True Grit”. Mary Zophres is a Coen Brothers favorite, and if there’s one thing the Coens nail every time, it’s tone, and that tone is often set visually by Zophres’ great clothes.
Will Win: “The King’s Speech”, I think they’ll choose the pretty and pristine over…
Should Win: …”True Grit”, which revels in the dusty and worn.

Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
David O. Russell, “The Fighter”
Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, “True Grit”

Glaring Omission: CHRISTOPHER NOLAN!!! “Inception” is a towering achievement in direction, in that it:
– juggles a very challenging story exceptionally well
– makes a heady, formidable concept palatable for mainstream audiences (to the tune of $300 million domestically)
– with equal skill handles direction of actors, visual effects and continuity
Sure, maybe, just MAYBE he doesn’t win. But he doesn’t get NOMINATED? A travesty!!
Runners-Up: Lee Unkrich, for “Toy Story 3”. Not only is Unkrich’s helming of a Pixar feature a new thing (directing up till now had been left to only four major Pixar players, so a newer name built the studios biggest film), but it’d be nice to animated film direction get recognized. Martin Scorsese deftly handled the demands of a sprawling, emotional story, so if I had my way, I’d nominate Nolan, Unkrich, Scorsese, Fincher and Russell.
Great Inclusion: Fincher, because “The Social Network” is a true Fincher film, worthy of a nomination, as opposed to “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, which was a too-eager awards ploy.
Will Win: David Fincher. If he does win, however, it still won’t be known if “The Social Network” is making a run, or if he’s splitting the awards with “The King’s Speech”, which could go on to win Best Picture.
Should Win: With Nolan out of the race, Fincher takes it.

Exit through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land

Glaring Omission: “Waiting for ‘Superman’”. If you scour the internet, you’ll find some stories exploring some inauthentic moments from this movie, that director Davis Guggenheim re-created some scenes for dramatic effect. If that’s true, that really, really sucks and is a black mark on an otherwise great documentary. But I can only take the film at its word for now, and it’s excellent.
Runners-Up: I’m a little under-educated in the docs this year.
Great Inclusion: Most of the nominees, because they’re socially-minded. I like when a film sticks in your gut for a long time, and these films about the recession, the Afghan War, pollution and natural gas drilling do that.
Great Inclusion: “Inside Job”. Great movie.
Will Win: “Inside Job”
Should Win: “Inside Job”. Charles Ferguson SHOULD HAVE won for “No End in Sight”. He’ll win here for a film of equal quality.

Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Every year The Motion Picture Academy has a screening of the live action and animated short film nominees…they should do the same with the documentary shorts…

Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

Glaring Omission: “Inception”! “The Social Network” duly impresses for its time-and-place-jumping, but even that very good film doesn’t approach the time-and-innerspace-jumping of “Inception”, managing a crazy-complicated story.
Runner-Up: “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”. The fast pace of this comedy is pushed along by the editing.
Great Inclusion: “127 Hours”. The aggressive style of Danny Boyle is displayed by his editor’s work.
Will Win: This is a tough one with no clear front-runner. All the work in this category is exceptional, but I’ll go with “The Social Network” as the American Cinema Editor’s Guild did.
Should Win: “The Social Network”, just beating out “Black Swan”

“Biutiful”, Mexico
“Dogtooth”, Greece
“In a Better World”, Denmark
“Incendies”, Canada
“Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)”, Algeria

Despite my running around, watching movies like a madman, I only saw “Biutiful” in this category, so I’ll just say good luck nominees!

Barney’s Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

Glaring Omission: I thought I’d see “Alice in Wonderland” here, but maybe even the makeup was computer-generated. They plan to computer generate The Green Lantern’s outfit on top of Ryan Reynolds in the upcoming film, so, apparently, anything’s possible.
Runners-Up: “Black Swan”. Nutty ballerinas dressed up all nutty needed nutty makeup to boot, and I thought the “Black Swan” team delivered the goods.
Great Inclusion: Can this category even exist without Rick Baker?
Will Win: “The Wolfman”
Should Win: “The Wolfman”. Horrible, horrible movie, but, as ever, Baker cuts a mean monster.

How to Train Your Dragon
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

Glaring Omission: “True Grit”. One of my favorite parts of that film was the old-school western feel of the production design, coupled with the great music. Well, I guess there was another one of those dopey technicalities where composer Carter Burwell employed some themes from old hymns, so then they declared him ineligible for not creating EVERY piece of the score. Bullshit. That music was a first-responder for putting the audience in the correct place and time.
Runners-Up: This isn’t such a GLARING omission because NO ONE is talking about this score, but the “Tron: Legacy” score is one of the best of the last few years. How this gets passed over is beyond me. Daft Punk fashioned a real grinding, hi-tech score that seems like it would be something we not only hear as filmgoers, but I think the music just continually plays in the world of the film, providing ongoing soundtrack to the people living in “the grid”.
Great Inclusion: “The Social Network”. Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor find the perfect score that conveys sadness & loneliness when necessary, a Harvard party the next minute, and the driving beat of an impending corporate breakdown the next.
Will win: “The Social Network”
Should win: I gotta admit a “The Social Network” win here would be great, but I can’t get the “Inception” score out of my head, and it’s been parodied a thousand times online, a sign that something’s a classic, no? The pounding, Hans Zimmer musical droning punches the drama in Nolan’s masterpiece.

Coming Home, “Country Strong”
I See the Light, “Tangled”
If I Rise, “127 Hours”
We Belong Together, “Toy Story 3″

Glaring Omission: This category is very confounding this year. These are just not great nominees. For example, the memorable, anthemic song from “Country Strong” is the title track. That’s what I would have nominated. It says a lot about the story and characters in the film, whereas Coming Home in the film is a routine country track, and feels like one in this category, too.
Runners-Up: The Disney run on Best Original Songs is long over and is not threatening to get back on track this year, as the “Tangled” and “Toy Story 3” offerings aren’t nearly as strong as something like “You’ll Be in My Heart” and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”. So why not nominate Shine, the original John Legend tune from “Waiting for ‘Superman’”?
Great Inclusion: I really can’t think of one. And is it wrong to be happy that no songs from “Burlesque” were nominated even though I didn’t see it?
Will win: A.R. Rahman gets another Oscar for “If I Rise”
Should Win: “If I Rise”

Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Glaring Omission: With ten nominees now, they nominate everything, don’t they? I suppose the film that probably ended up on the most Top 10s that isn’t nominated is “The Town”, Ben Affleck’s superb crime drama. Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” was also critically hailed and might’ve found it’s way into a nomination, but seemed to have been squeezed out by “Winter’s Bone”.
Runners-Up: If you’ve seen my Top 10, you know what I’d love to see here – a little “Shutter Island”, a little “Get Low” and some “Scott Pilgrim”.
Great Inclusion: “Toy Story 3”. Another masterpiece from Pixar. If any company is going to break through and actually WIN the Best Picture Oscar for an animated film, it’s Pixar, so I always like to see them in the mix.
Will Win: “The Social Network”. I know “The King’s Speech” is making a run, but it may not be enough.
Should Win: “Inception”. Shooting higher, hitting higher.

Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let’s Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)

Glaring Omission: It may not be GLARING, but the new Wile E. Coyote short, “Coyote Falls” that played in front of “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”, captured well the mayhem of the original Road Runner shorts. I enjoyed it more than the travelogue short that showcased a lot of cool animation, but never told a story or had any moments of real importance.
Runners-Up: See above.
Great inclusion: Need I go on with the Pixar lovefest?
Will Win: I think “The Gruffalo” has a shot to upset Pixar.
Should Win: “Let’s Pollute”, for being FUNNY! Could FUNNY win, for the love of god?

The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

Glaring Omission: Can’t come up with one.
Runners-Up: Nope, nothing’s coming to me.
Great Inclusion: “God of Love”, again in support of the comedy
Will Win: I’m probably going against tradition which would make one think that The Academy will go with the politically-charged short, in this case “Na Wewe”, and pick “Wish 143”, which I also think…
Should Win: “Wish 143”

Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit

Glaring Omission: Maybe another animated film? In a year with many good animated films, I thought maybe “Megamind” or “Despicable Me” might get on the board here, but it would be tough to eliminate any of the current crop of nominees.
Runners-Up: Like David Fincher, Ridley Scott always delivers films that have the highest quality tech elements, and the sound of “Robin Hood”, with the air-cutting arrows and rumbling armies was impressive.
Great Inclusion: “Toy Story 3”. Again, there’s NOTHING at the beginning of the filmmaking process with a CGI film, then the sound effects bring the majority of it to life.
Will Win: “Inception”. A sprawling epic with numerous special effects that have to meld with real-world sound F/X.
Should Win: “Inception”

The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Glaring Omission: Another blockbuster? It seems like there’d be more room here for a project that has to smooth out and mix sound coming from a hundred different sources instead of, say, “The King’s Speech”. Maybe “Iron Man 2”?
Runners-Up: “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”, an off-the-rails visual fest needs audio mixing to keep up with it. “Tron: Legacy”, for all it lacked in story, certainly had all its tech fundamentals in place.
Great Inclusion: The Coen Bros. team from their best films are still gettin’ it done to great results, and “True Grit” is no exception.
Will Win: “Inception”
Should Win: “Inception”, in the ongoing tech awards sweep that makes up for being shortchanged on the big awards.

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Iron Man 2

Glaring Omission: “Tron: Legacy”. I thought it would get a nomination, but I’m glad it didn’t. I never bought the computer-generated young Jeff Bridges, despite their best efforts. And if I NEVER buy him, I’m OUT on half the film. And I was. But I figured if the shitty F/X from “The Golden Compass” and its rubbery animal characters can win, anything’s possible.
Runners-Up: “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”, the only film, if it was nominated, that would’ve had real FUN with special effects. Instead, we ONLY get the F/X that deliver serious action, disaster or darkness.
Great Inclusion: “Iron Man 2”, a better than the love it got from critics action film.
Will Win: “Inception”
Should Win: “Inception”. The effects here caused wonder-filled stares in the theater in even the most jaded moviegoers.

127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Glaring Omission: Nothing exactly glaring, but maybe “The Town” gets a nod here?
Runners-Up: “Rabbit Hole”. Although mired in sadness, the dialogue and arguments in this script were authentic and crackling. After I saw “Fair Game”, I was paraphrasing the Joe Wilson speeches in that film for weeks. It’s a smart story with a script that’s equally adept at developing relationships. I’m also a fan, obviously, of “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”. There’s something to be said for VOLUME of jokes. Also, the “Shutter Island” script left my head screwed up for a month.
Great inclusion: “True Grit”. One of the Coen Brothers’ best assets as writers is that they can hit a tone right on the head, but still find the space for their signature humor and dialogue, and never sacrifice time and place. “True Grit” had loads of humor, but it never winked at the audience, to the betterment of the production.
Will Win: “The Social Network”
Should Win: “The Social Network”. Aaron Sorkin’s script is a phenomenon, truly the main character of the film, with every other aspect dancing around it.

Another Year
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech

Glaring Omission: “Black Swan”. For a film so lauded with nominations in other categories, you’d think the script would get a nod. A brazenly original film.
Runners-Up: There was a LOT of good work that would fall in this category in 2010 – “The Company Men”, “Get Low”, “Blue Valentine”
Great Inclusion: “The King’s Speech”. Writer David Seidler whips up dialogue that’s as fun to watch as any crazy visuals a summer blockbuster could drum up.
Will Win: “Inception”. More often than not, what really is the year’s BEST film (in my opinion), if it’s due to get overlooked for Best Picture, will get an Oscar for writing – “Fargo”, clearly the best film of 1996. Lost to “The English Patient”, won Best Original Screenplay. “Pulp Fiction”, one of the best films of the last twenty years. Lost to “Forrest Gump”, won Best Original Screenplay. “Sideways”, “L.A. Confidential”, etc. “Inception” will lose Best Picture, and win here.
Should Win: “Inception”

So, let’s go to the board. Award numbers, by film.

127 HOURS – 1

127 HOURS – 1


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