Wednesday, 26 January 2011

My Top 5 Oscar Winners (Best Actress)

5.    Elizabeth Taylor as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf  (1966)

4.    Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest  (1975)

3.    Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in Misery  (1990)

2.    Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in Le Vie En Rose  (2007)

1.    Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos in Monster  (2003)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

My top 10 Oscar Winning Performances (Best Actor)

As the nominees for this year's Academy Awards are released, with Colin Firth, Javier Bardem, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg and James Franco battling it out for the prize, here are my personal 10 favourite performances that were worthy of winning the gong.

10.  Denzel Washington as Alonzo Harris in Training Day  (2001)
In three words:  Powerful, horrible, brilliant

9.  Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham in American Beauty  (1999)
In three words:  Middle Aged Everyman

8.  F Murray Abraham as Antonio Salieri in Amadeus  (1984)
In three words:  Jealous little bitch

7.  Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall in As Good As It Gets  (1997)
In three words:  Painfully comic awkwardness

6.  Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man  (1988)
In three words:  Autism done brilliantly

5.  Daniel Day Lewis as Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood  (2007)
In three words:  Powerfully brilliant selfishness

4.  Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs  (1991)
In three words:  Psychotic murdering cannibal

3.  Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone in The Godfather  (1972)
In three words:  Scene stealer extraordinaire 

2.  Al Pacino as Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman  (1992)
In three words:  Brilliant blind monster

1.  Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump  (1994)
In three words:  Humbling simple man

Saturday, 15 January 2011

And the Academy Award goes to...

Although the nominations aren't in yet, I've seen pretty much all of the big ones now, bar 127 Hours and True Grit.

So, here are my predictions...

Best Picture    -    The Social Network

This is the most open that the main Oscar has been since I've been a film geek!  The Social Network will go in as hot favourite, and will clearly stand a big chance, with its flawless script, high-profile director and superb acting, but I think there are other films of extreme quality competing.  Black Swan is very original, its subject matter is one that has rarely been tackled and its easily Arononofsky's best film to date, which is a strong claim to make!  The Fighter is a real-life fairytale and, moreover, is an almost perfect film with phenomenal performances from its entire cast.  These three, in my opinion, will be the hot contenders.

Inception will be hotly tipped, however I'm not sure that the movie was meaningful enough to land the main Oscar.  The King's Speech is beautifully directed, brilliantly acted and tells a wonderful story, but the tale isn't gripping enough to get the top nod.  Toy Story 3 is sure to get a nomination now that there are 10 slots up for grabs, but Pixar's previous two films (Wall-E and Up) have actually been much more powerful, add this to the strength of the competition this year and its unlikely they'll land the gong this year.  Other contenders include The Town (which was probably too predictable) The Kids Are All Right (a strong film but lacked the element of edginess that the Academy likes), and Winter's Bone (which may be slightly too dark).

Therefore, I believe it will be a close-run thing between The Social Network, Black Swan, and The Fighter.  But having had so much buzz already, I will have to play it safe and place my bets on The Social Network.

Actor in a Lead Role    -    Colin Firth  (The King's Speech)

This award will be a battle between Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and Colin Firth (The King's Speech).  Both performances are extremely strong, I would actually say the Eisenberg's is stronger; he is so subtle in showing the audience the deep social awkwardness of his character.  However, having played a homosexual last year, and a stuttering king this year, the Academy will be wondering where else there is to go for the highly-rated Englishman, Colin Firth.  For me, Ben Stiller should get a nod for his wonderfully awkward performance as Roger Greenberg, but the film has not received so much buzz.

Actress in a Lead Role    -    Natalie Portman  (Black Swan)

Despite some strong performances this year, Natalie Portman's appearance as a leading ballet dancer will probably be a career best.  She portrays the nervous dancer so well that you can feel the butteflies fluttering around in her stomach.  Jennifer Lawrence introduced herself to the world of cinema with a powerful performance as a girl on a mission in Winter's Bone, but is still young and, although she's nailed-on to get nominated, will have plenty of time later in her career to actually land the award.  The Kids Are All Right drew two strong performances from a couple of experienced pro's; Julianne Moore and Annette Bening.  It's hard to know exactly where their nominations will land them as they both top the bill in the film.  In my opinion, Moore steals the show but Bening's performance is still strong, and, whichever category they're nominated in, they're sure to be close contenders.  Like Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig gives a solid performance in Greenberg but is unlikely to get a nod.

Best Supporting Actor    -    Christian Bale  (The Fighter)

Bale needs to get recognised for this film.  Throughout the years, he has put in some excellent, powerful performances, and this is no exception.  However, he faces stiff competition.  Andrew Garfield is very much the man of the moment and he was superb in The Social Network, which also featured a great turn from Justin Timberlake in a supporting role.  Geoffrey Rush was fantastic at getting the audience on side in The King's SpeechJeremy Renner continued to fulfil his potential in The Town, and Mark Ruffalo gave another grand performance in The Kid's Are All Right.

Best Supporting Actress    -    Julianne Moore  (The Kids Are All Right)

One of the hardest categories to call.  I think that if one of Julianne Moore or Annette Bening from The Kids Are All Right land in here then they may just steal it - but it will be close!  Other strong contenders include Jacki Weaver (for her delightfully evil performance in Animal Kingdom), Amy Adams and Melissa Leo (as the warring in-laws-to-be in The Fighter), Helena Bonham Carter (for her unbelievably accurate portrayal of the late Queen Mother in The King's Speech), and Mila Kunis, who I see as a far outsider, from Black Swan.

Best Director    -     David Fincher  (The Social Network)

Hard to call but David Fincher will probably get the nod.  His closest rivals will probably be Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), David O. Russell (The Fighter), and Tom Hooper (The King's Speech).  Can't see Christopher Nolan (Inception) having much chance.

Best Animated Film    -    Toy Story 3

How To Train Your Dragon is getting a lot of love but can't see past Pixar.  Depsicable Me is great fun but too childish to win.  Toy Story 3 has all the necessary bases covered in order to grab this prize for Pixar for the 4th year running.

Best Adapted Screenplay    -    The Social Network

Best script of the year by a country mile.

Best Original Screenplay    -    The Kids Are All Right

Not sure about this one.  Black Swan will be in there, along with InceptionThe Fighter and The King's Speech.  Hard to pick but I have a feeling that The Kids Are All Right will land this one.

Best Sound Editing/Sound Mixing/Art Direction/Visual Effects    -    Inception

If it doesn't land all of these then I'll eat my hat.  Black Swan is, in my opinion, the only serious contender.  Other "contenders" will be film such as Alice In Wonderland and Tron: Legacy.