Oscar Predictions and Selections of 2011 part 2
Greetings and salutations everyone. Welcome back to part 2 of 3 of my Oscar hub prediction series; where now you'll hear my predictions for "Best Animated Feature", "Best Director" and "Best Picture" nominations. As I stated earlier, these predictions are based historically on how the Academy has been known to run things throughout the years, and they're not a reflection of who I would like to see win. Because if that were the case, some of these films and actors/actresses never would have gotten nominated over much more deserving ones.
For those of you who might have missed my ground rules on how I have this set up, then I'll go over that briefly one more time before getting started again. What I have is a elaborate system where I tell the reader who my predictions are to win the Oscar for each perspective category. Then, I start to list my possible upsets. These are picks that I predict could have a possible chance to win as well if the heavy favorite isn't chosen. Finally, we get to the runner-ups. Those are essentially the nominees that I pick that have no chance to win the Oscars based on my research. During each of these picks, I provide reasons to support my claims as well.
Also be sure to stay tuned for part 3 set to be published after the Oscars. In part 3, I plan on not only showing the winners of each perspective category, but you'll also be treated to a list of the "Oscar Snubs" as well. During part 3, I plan on giving a special thanks to all the people that were generous enough to come up with suggestions for "Oscar Snubs" this year, by linking their profiles to the hub.
Before we get started, I would like to thank Rafini, Darrke Thoughts, and Mistyhorizon2003 for their suggestions on the new format for this year's Oscar hubs. Please be sure to click on their names on both part 1 and 2 to visit their profiles if you'd like. Anyways, without further delay, lets get down to business.
Best Animated Feature
Winner: "Toy Story 3" is obviously the favorite here. Hell, it's the only animated film here that was deemed worthy enough to even be nominated for both "Best Picture" and "Best Animated Feature." Therefore, I doubt the Academy is going to elect any other animated film for this category. Sure, there's always a chance it won't win, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Besides, ever since the Academy went to the ten "Best Picture" nomination format, all it's really done is giveaway which cartoon movie wins the award for "Best Animated Feature." After all, the Academy wouldn't want to risk media backlash like it did when they snubbed "The Dark Knight" for a "Best Picture" nomination. Something the Academy has never lived down since. Plus, it would be kind of silly for them elect another animated film to win over "Toy Story 3"; while having it nominated for "Best Picture." What kind of message would it send? This is why I hope eventually the Academy comes to their senses to reduce the number of nominations, or just don't nominate animated features anymore for "Best Picture." Seriously, all it does is give away who wins that category.
Possible Upsets: Out of the remaining two films in this nomination, "The Illusionist" might have the best shot to knock out "Toy Story 3." Although the animation is nowhere near as impressive as Pixar's film, in terms of story, "The Illusionist" carries a unique style all it's own. Displaying a powerful animated story about a relationship that inevitably changes two people's lives, as they embark on an adventure together. Truly a must see film for animation lovers out there, as the story is every bit as deep as any other cartoon movie out there.
Runner-Ups: "How to Train Your Dragon"....why is this even nominated? Seriously, I know there wasn't a lot of quality animated films to choose from, but they could have done a helluva a lot better than this. "How to Train Your Dragon" was not only one of the most over rated films of last year, it wasn't even Dreamworks best film of 2010 to boot. Hell, I would've nominated "Shrek Forever After" or Disney's "Tangled" over this film. Sure, those movies weren't great either, but they're a helluva of a lot better than "How to Train Your Dragon." That film was cliched ridden as hell, and the story is rather weak by comparison. How this film got nominated is something that I'll never know, but I doubt it'll pull off the upset. Besides, even if "Toy Story 3" wasn't a shoe in already to win this award, I'd still have to say "How to Train Your Dragon" has the least possible chance to win out of all the films nominated for this category.
Best Animated Feature
Which film should win for Best Animated Feature?
Winner: Only a damn fool would bet against Tom Hooper, as "The King's Speech" seems to be running away with a lot of award show nominations this year. Not only that but as I said before, it doesn't hurt that the film is gaining a lot of popularity around the right time. Not that Tom Hooper wouldn't deserve the award for this movie, as "The King's Speech" was a powerful thought provoking film about a man that never wanted to be king. Only to find out in the end, that sometimes life doesn't always pan out how we want it, and during such times we can either rise above adversity...or be doomed to failure.
Possible Upsets: This is a bit of a tricky one here, as I can't really see an upset in this category. However, I can think of a couple of directors here that could pull off it off theoretically. One of those upsets could come from David Fincher, who directed "The Social Network." "The Social Network" was one of the most highly acclaimed films of last year among film critics, and it's recently coming off a Golden Globe victory for "Best Drama." Therefore, if there's anyone who might have a legitimate shot at upsetting Tom Hooper, it's going to be David Fincher.
Another possibility could be David O. Russell, from "The Fighter." Although he's a bit of an underdog in this category, one could still argue that he has a great chance at pulling off the upset. Not only did he direct one of the most emotionally driven films of the year, the Academy has shown in the past that they can sometimes be suckers for inspirational films such as these. Take a look at the classic "Rocky" film, when it was nominated in 1977.
Sadly, I have yet to see "All the Presidents Men" and "Bound for Glory", but I did see the other films that were nominated for "Best Picture" that year; which insisted of "Rocky", "Taxi Driver", and "Network." No offense to "Rocky", but it didn't deserve "Best Picture." Don't get me wrong, it was a great film, as I never would claim otherwise. However, in comparison to "Network" and "Taxi Driver", "Rocky" was just the safe pick. It was a great movie that was so inspirational and inoffensive that the Academy just gave it the Oscar that year. What does this have to do with "The Fighter" you may ask? Well, I'm about to get into that right now.
With the exception of a few scenes involving Christian Bale's character, "The Fighter" was an inspirational story about Mickey Ward's journey to rise above adversity; while showing how he finally stepped out of his brother's shadow to become the fighter he's always aspired to be. No pun intended. Sure, there was a few iffy scenes here and there that one could deem controversial, but majority of the movie was essentially nothing more than an inspirational coming of age story. Something that even "Rocky" had going for it as well, as I seem to remember a few iffy scenes in that one too.
Runner-Ups: Sadly, as much as I loved the new remake of "True Grit", I have to be honest here about this. "True Grit" was a great movie, and arguably one of the best westerns ever made. Hell, it's one of the few remakes where I would boldly say it's better than the original. Unlike the original version, the remake featured a grittier and more realistic portrayal of the old western days; while offering a more thorough exploration of the characters themselves.
Joel and Ethan Coen do a fantastic job orchestrating this masterpiece; while keeping the film fairly true to the heart of original version in some respects. Unfortunately, as great as it was, the reality is the film's strength hinged so much on Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld's performances that if it wasn't for them, then it never would've been that successful. Sure, we can debate all day where one person could say the same thing about Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network", but there's a difference.
In "The Social Network", it wasn't just Jesse Eisenberg that was great in that movie, as it was more of a combination of many things. The way David Fincher orchestrated the entire film to have just the right amount of drama, comedy and character driven moments. The way he was able to tell the story, based on a real life public figure, while making it in such an unbiased and entertaining way. All these factors play a key role, as to why he's a possible contender here.
Although, the Coen Brothers did do a great job on "True Grit", as it's definitely worthy of the hype. However, the reality is that if you honestly broke down the entire film into it's simplest context, then you'd realize that the ending of it was a bit rushed. Not only that, but the betrayal of Tom Chaney, in the original, was much more significant and potent, as it actually showed how close Tom was to Mattie's family around the beginning. Whereas the remake, it skips over that part completely; making Tom Chaney come off as nothing more than petty thug. Don't get wrong, I still like the movie, and it's better than the original. However, if it wasn't for Jeff Bridges or Hailee, then we wouldn't even be talking about "True Grit" around Oscar time, as it was more about their grounded interpretation of the characters that made the film as successful as it was.
Of course, lets not forget about Darren Aronofsky, who directed "The Black Swan." If it were up to me, I'd give it to him for creating arguably one of the best films of last year. Not only did he managed create a film that left a deep imprint on it's audiences psyches, it's quite possibly one of the greatest psychological thrillers ever conceived. Unfortunately, that might be part of the problem. As much as I loved film, I can't see the Academy giving Darren the award for "Best Director." As I stated earlier, the Academy rarely elect controversial films to win. Sure, you might find a few films here and there that won in the past, but the reality is that the Academy Awards are notoriously known to try to be politically correct. Therefore, I doubt they'll elect Darren Aronofsky to win this award for "Black Swan"; considering the various controversial images the film displays.
Best Director Poll
Who should win for Best Director?
Winner: Now that we've covered the other categories, it's time to explore which lucky film will have the honor of taking home the Oscars this year. As I stated earlier, "The King's Speech" seems to be the heavy favorite this year coming off it's run at the SAC Awards, so it's highly unlikely that it won't have the same success with the Academy Awards. After all, for the past ten years, the SAC has been proven to be a strong Oscar predictor. Therefore, I wouldn't bet against it.
Possible Upsets: Having said that though, I wouldn't necessarily rule out the other candidates. One great possibility could be "The Social Network." Like "The King's Speech", "The Social Network" has also enjoyed tremendous amount of success among award ceremonies; including the Golden Globes. Therefore, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of "The Social Network" pulling off the upset for "Best Picture."
Another contender to look for is "The Fighter." As I stated earlier, the Oscars have been prone to be suckers for a good inspirational film, in the past. Take a look back when "Forrest Gump" was competing for "Best Picture" alongside "Pulp Fiction" and "The Shawshank Redemption." Don't get me wrong, I love "Forrest Gump" a lot, as it's a good drama about a guy trying to live out life the best he can, in spite of his handicaps. Truly a touching story if I ever saw one, but would you honestly say it's better than "Pulp Fiction" and "The Shawshank Redemption?" Seriously? I know I wouldn't, as both those films were much deeper than "Forrest Gump" ever was, in terms of story content and it's characters. This goes back to why I feel "The Fighter" may have have a strong chance to pull off the upset. Not only has it been getting a lot of buzz around just the right time, as "The King's Speech", it's also a very engaging and inspirational story. Something the Academy usually favors when electing films to win in this category.
Runner-Ups: Sadly, as much as I enjoyed all the films nominated in this category, the reality is that most of them legitimately have no shot to win this award. I'm sorry, but it's just not going to happen. Sure, I know many people can come up with some pretty good reasons to validate each film's chances, and you'd probably be correct in your analysis. However, as I said before in part 1, these predictions aren't based off my own personal opinions on who I think should win, as they're based more on observations of how the Academy typically runs their show.
Having said all that, the first film to mention is "127 Hours." I know many people, who have seen it, claim it's one of the best inspirational films ever made, and I don't disagree. However, the reality is that it wasn't even nominated for a SAC Award, which makes it highly unlikely it would have much of a chance at pulling off the upset. Sure, it was a great film about one man's will to survive the elements, after being trapped in a harsh situation. I'll give you that, but "127 Hours" isn't going to win Oscar for "Best Picture."
Then there's "Toy Story 3".......do I really need to explain this? As I said earlier, the Academy doesn't take cartoon films that seriously, so it's highly doubtful that "Toy Story 3" would pull off the upset here. In fact, all this nomination proves is that the Academy is already telling us loud and clear who the favorite is in the "Best Animated Feature" category. That's all. Sure, it would be interesting to see the Academy elect this film to win, as it probably would generate a lot of buzz. However, it's not going to happen. Animated films rarely ever get recognized by the Academy, or any award show for that matter. Therefore, I wouldn't hold your breath on "Toy Story 3" pulling off the upset.
As for "Winter's Bone", I thought the story had a lot of promise. Although I can't say that I particularly cared for the direction of the film, as it often came off rather dry for my tastes, and the movie suffered from various pacing issues. However, it's an interesting film for anyone that cares to see it. Unfortunately, the film's controversial subject matter might be a bit too much for the Academy to overlook and as I said before, the Academy rarely favors controversial themes in movies. Therefore, I wouldn't count on "Winter's Bone" having any kind of a shot here either. Sure, it's a nice nomination, but I wouldn't put any money on it though.
Speaking of controversial themes, this is another reason why I have doubts about "Black Swan's" chances to win "Best Picture" as well. In fact, I'll be damned near surprised if the Academy picks "Black Swan", as there's a lot of controversial scenes that I can see turning them off. Many of these scenes include graphic depictions of violence, sexual innuendos and a lesbian sex scene involving Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis. Yeah, I can see why the Oscars would be hesitant to elect this film for "Best Picture." After all, if films like "Taxi Driver" and "Pulp Fiction" were deemed too controversial to win, then you know that "Black Swan" certainly has a snow ball's chance in hell to pull off the upset. Sure, I would love to see this film win "Best Picture", as I feel it's one of the best films of last year. Unfortunately, it's not up to me. It's up to the Academy and if history dictates anything about how they do things, it's that they normally try to be politically correct in their voting. Therefore, I wouldn't count on "Black Swan" here either.
Anyways, lets get to the rest of the nominees here. Starting with "The Kid's Are Alright." Again, I thought the film was a touching comedic drama about family life. Sure, many might be turned off by the fact that it's about a married lesbian couple raising a family, but why should that matter? Besides, it's still a engagingly deep story full of wit and charm of it's own. Anyone that doesn't see it just because it's about a lesbian couple raising a family, then they're really going to be missing out on a great film. Unfortunately, I don't see how this film will pull off the upset here. No, this has nothing to do with the lesbian marriage concept, but rather because the film came out so early last year that the voters for the Academy may have forgotten how great it was.
Not only that, but "The Kids Are Alright" didn't even get a "Best Director" nomination. A clear indicator that it doesn't have a chance to pull off the upset. As anyone who knows a lot about the history of the Oscars can tell you, the only film that ever won "Best Picture" without a "Best Director" nomination was "Titanic." However, that was largely due to the fact that it became the highest grossing film of all time upon it's release. Therefore, unless some sort of miracle happens to where DVD sales catapult "The Kids Are Alright" into beating "Avatar's" record for being the highest grossing film of all time, then I wouldn't expect this film to even have much of a chance. Another reason why I think "127 Hours" doesn't have a chance either.
Another film that sadly doesn't have much of a chance to win would be "True Grit." As I stated earlier, it was a great film, and a helluva a lot better than the original in every fathomable way. The only problem is like I said earlier, the only reason that film was so engagingly deep had more to do with the performances of their actors. I guess one could say that "True Grit" is this year's "Blindside." Both engagingly deep films, but they're both carried by the strong performances of their actors. Trust me, I have nothing against "True Grit", as I loved both versions of it just equally. However, if I have to be honest here, then I have to say "True Grit" isn't that big of a threat to win this category. I'm sorry to say that, but it's the truth.
Then last, but certainly not least...there's "Inception." As I said earlier, no film outside of "Titanic" has ever won "Best Picture" when it wasn't nominated for "Best Director" as well. Granted, I know "Inception" made a lot of money last year, and people will argue saying that factor alone makes it a heavy contender. However, the reality is that none of that matters here when it comes to the Academy. Sure, many might be confused on why I'm dismissing "Inception", when I favored "Avatar" in last year's Oscar predictions. However, there is a distinct difference.
Although "Inception" did make more money than any other film last year, it didn't become the highest grossing film of all time. If it did, then I would definitely put this film as a heavy favorite. However, since it didn't, then I wouldn't hold your breath. The only reason why I claimed "Avatar" was such a heavy favorite last year was because it had arguably the same factors going for it, as "Titanic" did. Both films were snubbed for "Best Director" nominations, but they were both the highest grossing films of all time, during their perspective years. Hence the rationality behind my prediction for last year. For this year? "Inception" did make a lot of money, but money doesn't always equal Oscar success.
Take a look at "Annie Hall" when it won over "Star Wars", for "Best Picture." However, if you look purely at the box office numbers, "Star Wars" was clearly the better film, but "Annie Hall" was the victor of that year. This brings me up to my next point, science fiction and fantasy is rarely recognized by the Academy. Sure, there's a few notable exceptions like "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King", but those are extremely rare.
Don't get me wrong, if it were up to me, I'd give the Oscar to "Inception" simply because it was the best film of last year. However, it's not up to me and if history holds true, then I wouldn't expect this film to even win "Best Picture." Hell, even the SAC Awards snubbed "Inception" during it's show, so I doubt the Academy is going to vote any differently.