Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Best Films of 2010, Part II

It's that time! I've officially watched all the Best Movie nominations, so I feel totally qualified to give my worthless opinion on this nigh-meaningless award show! Seriously, though, there were some pretty good movies this year. If you didn't read my first entry, check it here. For the record, I saw The Social Network, The Fighter and Winter's Bone since I wrote that. The Fighter and Winter's Bone were both very enjoyable movies, though I think TSN edged them out overall (and it probably edged out The Town from my list).

This followup will just be a rundown of my picks for each category (other than a few in which I didn't see all the entries, like Documentary, etc.). It will be a lot more sparse and less melodramatic than previous post.

Note that my picks are what I think should win, not what I think will win -- though I may address that in certain categories. I'll highlight the things I didn't actually see in red. Maybe there's some amazing indie movie out there that blows everything away, so I'm hedging my bets. On with the show!

Best Original Screenplay
Another Year
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech


All right, so The Fighter and The King's Speech are going to be duking it out for a lot of these on who I think will win, but I think King's Speech is the better movie in most regards. You can certainly see it in the writing. Though it's hard to fully separate writing from directing from editing, The King's Speech has a better pacing and overall arc. The Fighter has some really great bits -- I particularly enjoyed the subplot about the documentary -- but we also see a few events happen over and over again (i.e., a fight between family and his life), and these aren't always presented in fresh ways. It gets to be a little redundant at times, and I think that's more of the fault of the script than anything else. The King's Speech, on the other hand, hits its mark well. The pacing is great, the characters are well written, and it never gets bogged down.

Best Adapted Screenplay

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

All right, all right, yes -- The Social Network is very clearly a Sorkin joint. The characters are very pithy and quick-witted. There aren't really any strong women to speak of. But it succeeds anyway. It succeeds at making us both like and dislike this irritating, annoying character. It succeeds at making us care about the trials and tribulations of people who, let's face it, at the end of the day, they're all multimillionaires. So I have to give Sorkin props for that. It also helps that some of the other scripts were messes, even for good movies. Winter's Bone was a pretty simple tale, but it really fell apart at the end. The whole thing revolved around people snitching and people finding out about meth labs, but the thing is, EVERY SINGLE PERSON in that town ran a meth lab, and every single person knew about it, so the issue seemed forced to generate conflict. True Grit was all right. Maddie was written well, but the rest was ho-hum. Toy Story 3 touched me to my core, but the central conflict wasn't all that impressive. So Facebook Movie it is!

Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2

The rotating room was brilliant, that's all I can say. I haven't been that blown away since The Matrix. It wasn't even all that original, really, but Inception executed it so well.

This was a category where I was actually really disappointed this year. Iron Man 2? Please. Aside from the fact that the movie sucked, I don't remember being impressed by anything visual. Alice in Wonderland has to be disqualified for the ridiculous Red Queen with elephantiasis. Harry Potter? It had Dobby, I suppose, and the multiple Harries, but cloning characters on screen isn't really that impressive anymore. We all saw The Parent Trap.

Sound Mixing
Inception 
The King's Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit

I almost didn't pick a winner for this category because of the lack of Black Swan. Seriously, the fact that Salt got nominated, but Black Swan didn't is kind of disgusting. Black Swan literally made me gasp at the awesome way it used sound. Inception is the only one who came close to using sound as creatively or masterfully. So I'll pick that, but don't be fooled, Black Swan should be the winner.

Sound Editing
Inception 
Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

Same story as above. I still remember the cracking of Nina's feet in Black Swan. I can't remember a single sound effect from True Grit.

Best Original Song
"Coming Home" - Country Strong
"I See the Light" - Tangled
"If I Rise" - 127 Hours
"We Belong Together" - Toy Story 3

Ye gods, kill me now, I listened to Gwyneth Paltrow's country song. You'll have to at the ceremony. Change the channel. It's awful.

You know, it's weird that songs have to be regular 3-minute long vocal songs to be considered in this category. Many songs from 127 Hours could have put up quite a fight, but "If I Rise" isn't the strongest piece on the soundtrack. So yes, Tangled wins. "I See the Light" is probably the best song from the movie, outside of the simple, short "Let Your Power Shine" motif. It's not the best Disney song ever, but it's sweet, catchy, and I hate Randy Newman.

Best Original Score
How to Train Your Dragon - John Powell
Inception - Hans Zimmer
The King's Speech - Alexandre Desplat
127 Hours - A.R. Rahman
The Social Network - Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

I feel bad because I didn't really notice the music in The Social Network. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. But it doesn't really matter. Because Black Swan isn't eligible for this category (it used too much of the music from Swan Lake to be considered "original"), 127 Hours takes it easily. Hell, it might have anyway. Listen to this, specifically the last half, and tell me that's not fantastic.


Best Film Editing
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

This, along with director, was one of the hardest categories to decide. I feel like all of these films are edited extremely well. The King's Speech was paced well, but I feel like that was mostly scripting, so I crossed off that one. 127 Hours did a great job making this confined subject interesting, but I can't shake off the weird, over-the-top camera angles in the first half-hour or so. It was likely a directorial choice, but it's an editing one as well. The main reason I gave it to The Social Network is how flawlessly it combined scenes taking place at different times to intensify certain themes. Once the movie shows you that this isn't going to be a step-by-step, day-by-day type of movie, you never really question it. It's clean and unambiguous, even though it's untraditional

Best Cinematography
Black Swan
Inception
The King's Speech
True Grit
The Social Network

Social Network and The King's Speech both had some great shots (the school board room, and the physical therapy respectively), but I thought Black Swan just outclassed them. A lot of the scenes in that movie truly impressed me. Powerful, but subtle. Also, it's kind of funny that 127 Hours didn't get nominated for their crazy angles. I figured it would have just because it was unusual. I guess the Academy disliked them as much as I did.

Best Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter
The King's Speech
True Grit
Inception

This award always mystified me, because it seems like more of an administrative thing. I guess it's an award for the overall Art Design, so in that sense, I think Inception should win (and Alice in Wonderland should lose horribly). But it's not a category I have a lot of insight into.

Best Animated Film
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

I refuse to pick a winner for this film out of protest, because Tangled wasn't nominated. I'm not saying it should have won, but it should have absolutely been on there.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

I still think Steinfeld deserves to be nominated for Best Actress, but since she wasn't, she certainly deserves to win the award here. Adams and Carter did exceptional work as well, but Steinfeld held the weight of the entire movie on her shoulders.

Best Actress
Annette Benning, The Kids are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Jennifer Lawrence nearly stole it. Seriously. I would not be surprised, or all that disappointed, if she won it. I was really blown away by her performance. But I was also blown away by Portman's performance, as I outlined in Part I, and I think she edged out Lawrence just barely. Both actresses were by far the most interesting parts of their respective movies, but Portman gave more nuance. It may be because Lawrence had less to work with (I wasn't really impressed with Winter's Bone, other than by her performance).

Best Supporting Actor
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

Christian Bale, no question. This might be the most obvious pick of the night. He simply became that character. It was spot-on perfection. Geoffrey Rush was good in a charming sort of way, but Bale was better. I'm pissed off Andrew Garfield (Eduardo from The Social Network) didn't get nominated, as I thought he did a fantastic job, much better than Ruffalo, even. He deserves recognition for that part.

Best Actor
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

Again, this is sort of an obvious one. Franco was decent. Bridges brought it, as usual. Eisenberg did a great job, and this role is certainly going to catapult him to mainstream stardom instead of being a poor man's Michael Cera. But Colin Firth was incredible. He showed frustration, sadness, vulnerability, without overdoing it. And of course, the voice was brilliant. Listen to recordings, and it's pretty eerie how close he sounds to King George.








Best Director
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David O. Russel, The Fighter
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
The Coens, True Grit
David Fincher, The Social Network


Aaaagh. Best Director is really hard, because, as I've said, it's really hard to separate it from editing and writing. I don't think True Grit or The King's Speech did enough for me to justify awarding those directors. The other three are tough. Really tough. I decided against Russell because of the aforementioned redundancy that pops up in a few places in The Fighter. Deciding between Fincher and Aronofsky is a toss-up, honestly. I gave it to Aronofsky because of one thing: a weird scene in The Social Network where we see the Winklevoss Twins come in second place in a race. It's a very wink-wink, nudge-nudge type of moment, and it pulled me out of the movie. So Black Swan gets the trophy.

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

I think I said all I need to say on this topic previously. Toy Story 3 is a masterpiece on multiple levels. It touched me, and was memorable on a level that none of the rest of the movies on the list will achieve (all right, I'll probably remember the amputation scene from 127 Hours). It won't win, of course. If I had to bet, I'd bet on The King's Speech. But I wish the Academy would not discount films just because they're animated. Pixar has been released what should have been Best Film contenders pretty much every year now. This time, they should win.




No comments: