Nominees for the 83rd annual Academy Awards aka the Oscars
were announced this morning. No big surprises, but in case you haven't seen all 10 Best Picture
s, check out what our esteemed critics had to say about them. According to their findings, Black Swan
and The Social Network
rank highest, though competition is steep.
BLACK SWAN >>
[ A- ] Although it's set in the world of ballet, Darren Aronofsky's movie
hits a pitch that would normally be called operatic. Natalie Portman is provisionally cast in her first lead, but she needs to prove she can dance both white and black swan in Swan Lake
. Portman nails the glacial perfection of the first, but it takes bad girl Mila Kunis to get her in touch with her dark side. As Portman's transformation progresses, Aronofsky makes over her body, as well; she decomposes and renews in a manner worthy of a Cronenberg heroine. The trouble is, Portman's role too closely matches her own limitations as an actor. Sam Adams
THE FIGHTER >>
[ B+ ] David O. Russell may not seem the most obvious choice to helm another underdog boxing story
. But while the true story of "Irish" Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) has all the makings of a Rocky-style "triumph of the human spirit," Russell finds plenty of fodder for his more caustic imaginings in Ward's family. The most monumental obstacles Ward confronts come out of being born into a large Massachusetts clan seemingly intent on undercutting any chance of success in the name of a delusional family honor. Russell at times succumbs to a penchant for cheap caricature, indicative of the film's uneven tone, never deciding between black comedy or hardscrabble drama. Shaun Brady
[ B+ ] Christopher Nolan's Inception
plunges us down three layers (or more) deep, into the realm of dreams and waking delusions; knowing whose mind or minds we're in at a given moment is the tricky part. Dom Cobb (Leonard DiCaprio) infiltrates minds for a living
. He uses dreams as a gateway, conducting industrial espionage in the target's subconscious. ... Nolan handles the mechanics of his Russian-doll worlds expertly, and with far more clarity than the jumbled set-tos of The Dark Knight
. But it's not clear after a single viewing whether Nolan has taken his own advice and put a single, simple idea at the center of his elaborate labyrinth. A candidate surfaces late in the game, but it feels like an afterthought, and very nearly a cheat. S.A.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT >>
[ B+ ] If The Kids Are All Right
has a fatal flaw, it's that Nic and Jules' marriage is almost too ordinary. Dramatists have been wrestling for centuries with the difficulty of turning the stuff of everyday life into something people will pause their everyday lives to watch. Lisa Cholodenko is so concerned with communicating that Nic and Jules are a married couple like any other and that their offspring, per the title, will be no more nor less screwed up by their parents' shortcomings that she doesn't really explain why we've landed on their house
and not the next one over. There's truth in her depiction, but not much insight. S.A.
THE KING'S SPEECH >>
[ B+ ] As the soon-to-be George VI, Colin Firth is a reluctant royal
with a stutter that acts up around his domineering father. It grows bad enough for him to seek help from an offbeat Australian, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush); Speech boils down to a series of confrontations between patient and therapist. Rush's flamboyance is tempered by Firth's muted sorrow, and his character's gradual opening gives Firth a chance to push past the boundaries of his own interiority. S.A.
127 HOURS >>
[ B+ ] Devout outdoorsman/loner Aron Ralston (James Franco) finds the sticky end of solitude
when he's trapped at the bottom of a ravine, his right arm pinned by a boulder. Like a steroidal Into the Wild
, the movie follows Aron to the logical end of his lone-wolf lifestyle, leaving him with nothing but his wits and the contents of his backpack. It may take a while to recover from the movie's stomach-turning climax, but that's only because Danny Boyle succeeds so thoroughly in getting under your skin. S.A.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK >>
[ A- ] The Social Network watches the growth of Facebook
from the inside, but ends up being less about one specific phenomenon than the minor tremors that ripple outward into world-altering quakes. Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) envisions Facebook as replicating "the entire social experience of college" online, and The Social Network
posits that the Digital Age has become Revenge of the Nerds
, writ large. Zuckerberg's chief nemeses are the Winkelvoss twins (Armie Hammer), tall, athletic, blond "gentlemen of Harvard" with flagpole postures jocks caught short by the limits of their privilege. The reach of the allegedly egalitarian Internet has simply upended the social order, as easily as ignoring a friend request. S.B.
TOY STORY 3 >>
[ B+ ] Essentially extending the loss-of-childhood montage from its predecessor to feature length, Toy Story 3
finds Woody the cowboy (voiced by Tom Hanks), galactic superhero Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of the gang abandoned by their once-faithful Andy, who is counting down the few days left before he goes to college. Although Andy means to put them in the attic, preserving the possibility of a fleeting return to childhood, the toys
fear being left by the curb, so they dispatch themselves to the nearest day-care center. Here, it's the childish things that put themselves away. S.A.
TRUE GRIT >>
[ B+ ] The Coen brothers' True Grit
is uncharacteristically restrained, its images softened by the haze of frontier dust. Casting Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn gives the character a slovenly air; when Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) first makes contact with him, it's through the wall of a privy. "The jakes is occupied" is his only response to her offer of cash for the corpse of her father's killer. Vengeance in True Grit
is a dirty business not an eye for an eye, but something more visceral, and inevitably less just. The Coens wrestle with moral issues, but they've rarely done so as nakedly as in True Grit
, and it turns out that transparency doesn't suit them. There's beauty to True Grit
, but not enough depth. S.A.
WINTER'S BONE >>
[ B+ ] "We're all related, ain't we?"
asks 17-year-old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence), who, no matter where she goes in her small though far-flung Ozarks community, finds a relative by blood or by impulse. They cook meth, drink beer and grow old long before their time, while she dreams of enlisting in the military to support her family. When her dad is arrested and then goes missing, she's also in danger of losing their ramshackle house and 300 acres. Debra Granik's movie winner of the Sundance Grand Jury Prize makes for a complicated viewing experience, taut and rambling, bleak and hopeful. Even as she solves one mystery, Ree is left with a raft of unanswerable questions. Cindy Fuchs
Check out the full list of nominations, provided by oscars.org
, after the jump.
Actor in a Leading Role
- Javier Bardem in "Biutiful"
- Jeff Bridges in "True Grit"
- Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"
- Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"
- James Franco in "127 Hours"
Actor in a Supporting Role
- Christian Bale in "The Fighter"
- John Hawkes in "Winter's Bone"
- Jeremy Renner in "The Town"
- Mark Ruffalo in "The Kids Are All Right"
- Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech"
Actress in a Leading Role
- Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right"
- Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole"
- Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone"
- Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"
- Michelle Williams in "Blue Valentine"
Actress in a Supporting Role
- Amy Adams in "The Fighter"
- Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech"
- Melissa Leo in "The Fighter"
- Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit"
- Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom"
Animated Feature Film
- "How to Train Your Dragon" Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
- "The Illusionist" Sylvain Chomet
- "Toy Story 3" Lee Unkrich
- "Alice in Wonderland"
Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
- "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1"
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
- "The King's Speech"
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
- "True Grit"
Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
- "Black Swan" Matthew Libatique
- "Inception" Wally Pfister
- "The King's Speech" Danny Cohen
- "The Social Network" Jeff Cronenweth
- "True Grit" Roger Deakins
- "Alice in Wonderland" Colleen Atwood
- "I Am Love" Antonella Cannarozzi
- "The King's Speech" Jenny Beavan
- "The Tempest" Sandy Powell
- "True Grit" Mary Zophres
- "Black Swan" Darren Aronofsky
- "The Fighter" David O. Russell
- "The King's Speech" Tom Hooper
- "The Social Network" David Fincher
- "True Grit" Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
- "Exit through the Gift Shop" Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
- "Gasland" Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
- "Inside Job" Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
- "Restrepo" Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
- "Waste Land" Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley
Documentary (Short Subject)
- "Killing in the Name" Nominees to be determined
- "Poster Girl" Nominees to be determined
- "Strangers No More" Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
- "Sun Come Up" Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
- "The Warriors of Qiugang" Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon
- "Black Swan" Andrew Weisblum
- "The Fighter" Pamela Martin
- "The King's Speech" Tariq Anwar
- "127 Hours" Jon Harris
- "The Social Network" Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter
Foreign Language Film
- "Biutiful" Mexico
- "Dogtooth" Greece
- "In a Better World" Denmark
- "Incendies" Canada
- "Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)" Algeria
- "Barney's Version" Adrien Morot
- "The Way Back" Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
- "The Wolfman" Rick Baker and Dave Elsey
Music (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
Music (Original Song)
- "Coming Home" from "Country Strong" Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
- "I See the Light" from "Tangled" Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
- "If I Rise" from "127 Hours" Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
- "We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3" Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
- "Black Swan" Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
- "The Fighter" David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
- "Inception" Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
- "The Kids Are All Right" Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
- "The King's Speech" Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
- "127 Hours" Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
- "The Social Network" Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
- "Toy Story 3" Darla K. Anderson, Producer
- "True Grit" Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
- "Winter's Bone" Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers
Short Film (Animated)
- "Day & Night" Teddy Newton
- "The Gruffalo" Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
- "Let's Pollute" Geefwee Boedoe
- "The Lost Thing" Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
- "Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)" Bastien Dubois
Short Film (Live Action)
- "The Confession" Tanel Toom
- "The Crush" Michael Creagh
- "God of Love" Luke Matheny
- "Na Wewe" Ivan Goldschmidt
- "Wish 143" Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite
- "Inception" Richard King
- "Toy Story 3" Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
- "Tron: Legacy" Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
- "True Grit" Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
- "Unstoppable" Mark P. Stoeckinger
- "Inception" Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
- "The King's Speech" Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
- "Salt" Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
- "The Social Network" Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
- "True Grit" Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
- "Alice in Wonderland" Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
- "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
- "Hereafter" Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
- "Inception" Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
- "Iron Man 2" Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
- "127 Hours" Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
- "The Social Network" Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
- "Toy Story 3" Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
- "True Grit" Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
- "Winter's Bone" Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini
Writing (Original Screenplay)
- "Another Year" Written by Mike Leigh
- "The Fighter" Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
- "Inception" Written by Christopher Nolan
- "The Kids Are All Right" Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
- "The King's Speech" Screenplay by David Seidler