Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Brief Break From 1970..To Look at 2011 Oscar Surprises

By now, anyone who follows Oscar is aware of the nominations, and to no one's surprise, the same titles appear that have been discussed at great length for months: "Black Swan", "King's Speech", "Social Network", "Toy Story 3", "The Kids are All Right", "The Fighter", "True Grit"....many of us are reciting this list in our sleep.

This space is devoted to personal observations: condolences to the forgotten, cheers to the happily remembered, the obscure mentions, and one very, very big surprise that so far (11am Central Time) has received almost no press....

I wish the following names had been called today:  Andrew Garfield (the best thing in "Social Network" and compelling in "Never Let Me Go"), Ryan Gosling ("Blue Valentine"), Julianne Moore ("Kids..."), Rachel Portman (score for "Never Let Me Go") and  Carey Mulligan (same film), Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin (writers of "Black Swan"),  Mila Kunis (same film), "I Am Love" for Foreign Language Film, "The Tillman Story" for Documentary.

I was happy these were remembered:  "Hereafter" for Visual Effects (discussed here in November), Mark Ruffalo (for "Kids..."),  "I Am Love" for Costume Design, "How To Train Your Dragon" for Animated Film and Score, and best of all, Javier Bardem in "Biutiful".

My Sentimental Choice So Far is: David Seidler for his Screenplay, "King's Speech". Classic screenwriting at its best. Seidler's personal story, leading up to how he eventually came to write the film, deserves a nice, tearful finish at the winner's podium. (I would also cheer for  a Lisa Cholodenko/Stuart Blumberg upset for "Kids...")

Because of the Oscar Nominations I Will Have to See: "The Fighter", "Winter's Bone", "Rabbit Hole".

In Spite of the Oscar Nominations I Am Still Not Interested: "True Grit", "127 Hours", "Alice in Wonderland".

Really? The heavily improvised "Another Year" gets a screenplay nod.

Biggest Surprise that I Don't Care Either Way:  The inclusion of the Coen Brothers instead of Christopher Nolan for Best Director.

Biggest Surprise--PERIOD!  "Waiting for Superman" did NOT receive a nomination for Best Feature Documentary.  The heavily favored and highly promoted indictment of American public education seemed like a
shoo-in to win, let alone be included in the list of nominees.  The press must be as dumbfounded as I am...I cannot find many
on-line analyses of this snub.  Loyal followers of this Journal may recall my own misgivings about the film; my criticism of it felt like a lone voice in the wilderness
(click here for my review).

I did find an article published in the New York Review of Books, by Diane Ravitch, a Research Professor of Education at New York University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Ravitch wrote an articulate review of the film, taking an insider's look at the problems she found with facts, and the film's propagandistic methodology ("The Myth of Charter Schools"). Some have credited this piece with helping knock "Superman" out of the running.  (That is, if you believe that Academy members read books, or book reviews.)

You are welcome to offer links to any articles that help explain why this Documentary snub occurred.

Now, back to 1970, an Oscar race that seems to have taken place on an entirely different planet....


  1. I still need to see Biutiful and Another Year! I would feel terrible about Andrew Garfield missing out on a nomination, but those nods for Michelle Williams and I Am Love just make me so happy!

  2. Oh gosh, please go see The Fighter - I had my reservations, but it definitely transcended typical sports movie tropes. It made my top 5 of the year. And great of you to point out the effects in Hereafter - that opening was chilling.