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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Basic Biittner : My Oscar picks

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Academy Awards (aka The Oscars) presentation will be on Sunday February 27, and I know you all have been just dying to hear what I think were the Best films of 2010.

What? You weren't?

Oh ... there goes my idea for a column, I guess.

Nah, what the heck, I'll tell you my thoughts whether you want to read them or not. So stay tuned ... or not.

First of all, I have to say that I have seen five of the films which have been nominated in the Best Film category. A couple of years ago, that would have been really impressive, because there were only five films nominated until last year.

For the years 2009 and 2010, however, the Academy decided they would open up the category to include ten nominees. The reason was to make sure that popular movies that might not otherwise be included would be on the list. I'm really not sure why getting on "the list" would increase a film's chances of taking home the Oscar, but there you have it.

Anyway, I have seen half of the nominated films this year - 'The Fighter,' 'Inception,' 'The Social Network,' 'Toy Story 3' and 'True Grit.'

That eliminates half of the field for me because I haven't seen the films. I probably will see most of them eventually, but most likely not before February 27. Those films are 'Black Swan,' 'The Kids are All Right,' 'The King's Speech,' '127 Hours,' and 'Winter's Bone.'

I could look all of these up and tell you what they're about, but without doing so, here's what I DO know about "The Other Five." 'Swan' is about a ballet dancer who has kind of gone off the deep end, if you get my drift. Natalie Portman portrays the young lady, and she has won a lot of awards thus far, so she's probably the prohibitive favorite for the Best Actress Oscar. 'Kids' stars Annette Benning, another Oscar front-runner, and Julianne Moore as a couple of Lesbians. That's all I know about that one. 'The King's Speech' may be the favorite to win the award. It is the story about a King of England - the current Queen's father - who had a serious stammering problem and the unconventional speech therapist who worked to help him overcome that problem. Colin Firth, as the King, seems to be everyone's favorite to win the Best Actor award. '127 Hours' is the true-life adventure about the young man who cut off his arm to save his life. 'Winter's Bone' - I have absolutely no clue what it's about or what actors are in it.

Here is my rundown on the "Big Five" that I have seen :

'The Fighter' is another true story, about boxer Mickey Ward, his half-brother Dickie Eklund, and their, shall I say, dysfunctional family, which includes their mother/fight promoter and seven sisters. The acting is terrific in this film. Melissa Leo, as the mother/promoter, has won several Supporting Actress awards, including the Golden Globe, and I wouldn't be terribly upset if she nabs the Oscar in that same category. However, I also wouldn't mind if another nominated actress from 'The Fighter,' Amy Adams, who plays Mickey's girlfriend, takes home the gold. These things being the way they are, though, the two might cancel each other out. Another Supporting Actress nominee whose performance I have seen is 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld, who is nominated for her portrayal of Mattie Ross in 'True Grit.' She is wonderful in the role, and probably better than Kim Darby was in the 1969 version, because she is much closer to the age of the character than was the then 21-year-old Darby. While we're on 'True Grit,' I throughly enjoyed the Coen Brothers' version, which is said to be closer to he 1968 Charles Portis novel - although, having seen the 1969 film just a week before the 2010 version, they seem pretty similar to me. Another nominee from 'Grit' is Jeff Bridges, up for Best Actor for his portrayal of 'Rooster' Cogburn. I think Bridges - probably his generation's best film actor, along with Sean Penn and Robert Downey jr., does an excellent job., considering he had some mighty big cowboy boots to fill - those of Duke Wayne in his Oscar-winning performance. Bridges most likely won't win the Oscar this time around for three reasons - #1 - Firth's performance; #2 - Wayne's performance in the same role; and #3 - Bridges won the Best Actor award last year, beating out Firth's performance in 'A Single Man.'

'Inception' is a wonderfully - made film, but frankly, I am going to have to watch it again on DVD, so I can run it back and forth and try to figure it out. The film concerns dreams and changing or preventing things from occurring and ... well, you understand. Leonardo DiCaprio stars.

I just saw 'The Social Network,' which about the controversy surrounding the founding of the ultra-popular social networking 'Facebook,' and, while again, I can see where some people thought this was a great film, I frankly found the soundtrack music by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails to be very irritating, and between that sound and an opening scene set in a noisy music-filled bar, I found myself watching the whole film with subtitles, so I could "hear" what the characters were saying.

That brings us to the other one of "The Big Five" that I have seen, Toy Story 3. Though it will probably win for Best Animated Film, it likely won't win in the Best Film category. But if it did, I, for one, would be delighted. I think this third adventure of Woody and Buzz and friends was a wonderful way to bring the series to an end.

My favorite film of the year was (F). None of the above.

If I had had a vote, I would have cast it for 'The Town,' Ben Affleck's exciting film about love and bank robbery in the Charleston section of Boston. The only major nomination the film received was for Jeremy Renner in the Best Supporting Actor category. I hope he wins, but the likely (and deserving) winner should be Christian Bale, for his portrayal of Dickie Eklund in 'The Fighter.'

FYI - three of the year's major films - 'The Fighter', 'Social Network,' and 'The Town' were all set in the Boston/Cambridge/Lowell, Massachusetts area.

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner