We finally saw The Fighter (last night) so here are my Oscar predictions and some comments on my favorite movies of 2010:
The Social Network
The Kings Speech
The Kids are All right
Of these movies the ones I enjoyed most were The Kings Speech, The Social Network, The Fighter and The Town. Inception was good too but it just went on and on... Winter's Bone was beautifully done but a bit dark and depressing. I expect great things from director Debra Granik in future. The Kids are All right was superbly acted from top to bottom and I wouldn't be surprised to see at least a couple of best and supporting male and female actor nominations from it. The Kings Speech had almost no shortcomings and is just a stunning movie from open to close, with great cinematography, an excellent script, and of course brilliant acting by both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush. The Town was amongst the most entertaining movies of the year with Ben Affleck doing a bang-up job as director, creating some nice tension and capturing bank robbery and subsequent shoot-out scenes with as much impact and realism as I have ever seen. True Grit was enjoyable too but mostly because of Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges. Overall the movie was too wordy for a Western I thought. Nonetheless worth a trip to the theater! If there was one movie I probably could have done without seeing this year, it would be Black Swan. Just a bit too painful to watch Natalie Portman's character implode, in a sense. She is excellent though and so is Barbara Hershey as the over-bearing mother, as well as Natalie's real or imagined rival played by Mila Kunis. 'The Fighter' is a terrific movie which never feels formulaic even though its redemption theme has been done many times before. It shines with several amazing performances including Christian Bale as Dickie Eklund, Mickey Ward's some-time trainer, Mellisa Leo as his controlling mother/manager and Amy Adams as his girlfriend. The hard-edged blue collar neighborhood setting, drug abuse and sordid family squabbles feel all too real. Christian Bale is outstanding.
And the Oscar goes to: The Social Network. Such a good story, brilliant script, plenty of intrigue, great photography & direction, impeccable ensemble acting. There is nothing not to like about this movie. I would be surprised if it does not win.
I would think Colin Firth as King George VI in The Kings Speech. The man is simply brilliant as the Brits would say. Every bit as good as he was in last year's A Single Man, a stunningly shot and very under-rated movie, by the way. The way in which Firth owns his character's stammer and his palpable emotional and physical struggle to overcome it, is flat out amazing to watch. Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) will probably garner a bunch of votes too. Unfortunately for him I think the role of Mark Zuckerberg - who was portrayed in a rather negative light - does not lend itself to acting pyrotechnics, as he is a very low-key individual both on and off screen.
Annette Bening and Julianne Moore both shone in The Kids are all right. I have to give Ms. Bening the edge though: she was fantastic and displayed the most impressive range of 'genuine' emotion I have seen in years. My nod definitely goes to her. Two other very strong performances which I think merits recognition were Natalie Portman in Black Swan (total immersion), and Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone. In fact if there is a surprise choice, it might very well be Ms. Lawrence. She's definitely got some serious acting chops and we'll be looking out for her movies in the years to come.
Best Actor in a Supporting role:
In my estimation, Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech) has got this one. He was spot-on as the irreverent and unorthodox speech therapist. However Christian Bale (The Fighter) was scarily realistic as the crack-addled older brother; it would not surprise me if he got the nod. Two other strong contenders are Jeremy Renner (The Town) and Andrew Garfield (The Social Network). Garfield was a revelation as Zuckerberg's one-time Facebook founder-partner. Mark Ruffalo had a great role in The Kids are All Right and made absolutely the most of it.
Best Actress in a Supporting role:
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) should be the prodigious favorite. She was mesmerizing in the role of the 14-year old girl intent on finding and bringing her father's killer to justice. Melissa Leo was perfect as the controlling mother-manager in The Fighter. Helena Bonham Carter also did a bang-up job as the wife to King George VI (Colin Firth)
Best Director will likely go to either Christopher Nolan for Inception or David Fincher for The Social Network.