Friday, February 25, 2011

2011 Oscar Predictions From a Guy Who Doesn't Watch Movies: The Golden Globes Strike Back

Before I get started on my third annual attempt at predicting the Oscar winners, let's start with some background information. As I state every year, I don’t watch or rent movies anymore.

I pretty much stopped watching movies and DVD's when Hollywood studios began trying to out “special effect” each other in order to overcompensate for bad writing and a lack of original ideas, a/k/a "the George Lucas syndrome."

My formula for predicting the Academy Award winners despite not ever watching movies is simple. I use a combination of word of mouth, watching movie trailers, reading movie posters, and my own personal analysis of how Hollywood works. Am I ready to give this yet another shot? Yo soy!

The most unique trend at the Oscars this year is that, unlike in the past, most of the films that were nominated did relatively well at the box office. Does this mean that the American public is starting to embrace "art-house" films? Or are the Oscars continuing their transition towards becoming The Golden Globes? With the Academy going with younger, hipper co-hosts in Anne Hathaway and James Franco this year in a clear attempt to boost ratings, I think they have pretty much indirectly given us the answer.

Another Oscar anomaly worth mentioning? Not a single African-American was nominated by the Academy for an Oscar this year. I mean seriously, couldn't they have put Will Smith up for a Lifetime Achievement Award or something? I have a feeling that there's going to be some serious elitist guilt going around Sunday night to overcompensate for an entire race of qualified actors being snubbed at this year's "Albino Awards."

My only question is what topic will generate more references from self righteous actors and actresses as they present and accept their awards? The lack of African-American nominees, or the labor unrest involving public sector unions in Wisconsin? In fact, put this up for debate at your own Oscar party and then put some money on it to make the show interesting.

I'm going on a limb and saying that the labor unrest in Wisconsin will generate more mentions, simply because the Hollywood elitist types like to pretend that they have real jobs by joining cute little clubs like "The Fraternal Order of Actors Local #420" just so they can proclaim that they are part of a real "brotherhood" as they sip on their "Fair Trade" soy lattes at some trendy coffee house.

Allright, it's time to get started. Let's rank the top ten films nominated for Best Picture, as well as the five nominees for Best Actor and Best Actress:

Best Picture:

10. The Social Network: This just as easily could have been a made for TV movie on a cable network like USA starring Anthony Michael Hall. It instead became one of the highest grossing box office films of the year and featured a boy band singer trying his hand at acting. Either way, the medium and casting for this film's premise was not quite Oscar worthy.

9. Toy Story 3: Toy Story 3 is the third installment in a series of animated films. So was Stars Wars: Revenge of the Sith. If Revenge of the Sith couldn't win the Oscar for Best Picture, then neither will Toy Story 3.

8. Inception: A smart movie for stupid people probably is not going to garner too much support from the Academy.

7. 127 Hours: If the producers could have combined 127 Hours with Into the Wild and still called it a non-fiction film then they might have been on to something. I can see the trailer now, "Based on a true story...Tom Cruise is In the Wild for 127 Hours!"

6. True Grit: The Coen brothers definitely have their own niche in Hollywood with their interpretations of classic works. Unfortunately they're just a little too witty for the Golden Globes, and not quite original enough for the Oscars.

5. The Fighter: While the Academy loves themselves some boxing movies, The Fighter is a bio-pic about a white-male boxer. That's just a little too Rocky these days to garner any real Oscar consideration. Now, if you took some liberties with history and made "Irish Mickey" a gutsy Indian fighter, and turned this film a Bollywood musical, then we might be able to talk.

4. The Kids Are All Right: Hmmm...A film about two lesbians adopting a child and dealing with the biological father. Despite the fact that the description of this film screams of a sitcom starring Jason Lee, Katherine Heigl and Ellen DeGeneres, It just might have some promise.

3. Winter's Bone: This sounds like a depressing, low budget, low grossing film. This film would have won the Oscar a few years back before the Academy decided to dumb things down for the American public.

2. Black Swan: Not that the plot was in any way slammed by the critics, but this screenplay just seemed like it was written primarily to highlight its characters rather than really tell a story. And yes, I'm still bitter that Natalie Portman got knocked up by Benajmin Millepied, whom she met as a result of making this movie.

1. The King's Speech: As an indictment as to why The Social Network won't win the Oscar for Best Picture, if this was a contemporary film it would have to do with Prince William fighting his male pattern baldness and convincing his girlfriend that she should still marry him before he takes the Thrown. Instead, just like a fine wine or wheel of cheddar cheese, we have an appropriately aged period piece about a historical figure who overcame a disability...Jesus, just give The King's Speech the damn award!

Best Actor:

5. Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network: If you get overshadowed by a former boy band member in a film, you don't deserve to win an Oscar.

4. Javier Bardem - Biutiful: When you are the second best actor in your family and your wife is Penelope Cruz, you don't deserve to win an Oscar.

3. Jeff Bridges - True Grit: Winning back to back Best Actor Oscars is kind of like winning the Heisman Trophy as an underclassman...If you don't follow it up with an even better season the next year then you simply aren't winning it again. Trying to do so while reprising the role of a legend (John Wayne won his only Best Actor Oscar for his role in True Grit in 1969) is kind of like dunking from the free throw line at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest...If you can pull it off you get high marks, but that alone isn't going to be enough to win since Dr. J was the one who made it famous. (sorry, I just had to work some sports into this blog post somewhere).

2. James Franco - 127 Hours: Even the writers of Castaway realized that Tom Hanks needed to converse with an inanimate volleyball for some comic relief in order to make that movie tolerable. Assuming that James Franco made a movie about a guy with his arm stuck under a rock for 127 hours watchable, then he must have done something right. Kudos to him, but this just doesn't quite feel like the type of movie that would generate an Oscar for Best Actor.

1. Colin Firth - The King's Speech: Period pieces featuring royalty roles have always done well when it comes to the Best Actor Award, as have roles that deal with people overcoming disabilities. Short of Tom Hanks having played a character who was both mentally retarded and homosexual this year, Firth is a mortal lock for the Best Actor Award.

Best Actress:

5. and 4. Nicole Kidman - Rabbit Hole/Michelle Williams - Blue Valentine: So how pissed do you think Katie Holmes is? Not only is her husband's ex-wife up for a Best Actress nomination, but so is Michelle Williams, who clearly played second fiddle to her when they were both on Dawson's Creek. I think it's pretty safe to say that Katie resents her overbearing husband and the whole Scientology "religion" for keeping her out of the 2011 Best Actress mix when they were responsible for forcing her to turn down the lead role in Sex and the City 2.

3. Jennifer Lawrence - Winter's Bone: A relatively unknown actress in a dark film that didn't make much money...NOW we're talking about a serious Oscar contender!

2. Annette Benning - The Kids Are All Right: This is what happens to good looking actresses when they get old. While they can act better than ever, nobody really cares when they are up against a younger and prettier version who had a breakout performance in a tailor made role (and I'm not saying this just to be sexist, the winners of the Best Actress Oscar are traditionally much younger than their male counterparts, so bring it up with the Academy).

Whether it involves shaving her head, losing weight, getting pregnant while shooting, or putting up with George Lucas, nobody can say that Natalie Portman doesn't completely buy into whatever role she's playing.

1. Natalie Portman - Black Swan: Natalie Portman has been an actress in training for this award. Her entire career has been critically acclaimed (sans any mention of Queen Amidala or pairings with the likes of Ashton Kutcher). Not only did she purportedly push the envelope with a dark role in this film, but she "went DeNiro" and completely transformed her body (which was subsequently defiled by fiance Benajmin Millepied) for her role. Most importantly, Portman is a highly educated, well spoken and glowingly pregnant celebrity that the Academy would love to get all of the video and sound bites in which they otherwise dumbed things down a notch in order to get better ratings.

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