Monday, December 20, 2010

Chicago Critics: Collegiate Men and Serious Little Girls Dominate.

The Chicago Film Critics are the latest critics association to announce their awards and they've gone, like virtually everyone else, with The Social Network.

 These 52 critics love Sorkin & Fincher's warring young entrepeneurs. They also like their actresses real young and their prizes spread out.

Best Picture The Social Network
Best Director David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actress Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Actor  Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Supporting Actress Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), the captain of True Grit's ship.
  • If you assume that Helena Bonham-Carter, and The Fighter girls are safe in the Supporting Actress race, does this rush of Hailee Steinfeld wins prophecy that she'll be stealing Jacki Weaver's spot? If so how will we ever forgive these (and other critics) who inexplicably ruled in Hailee's favor? Or will Hailee take Mila Kunis's spot? Or does it signify only that True Grit was the last film to screen for critics groups and they tend to love Coen Bros movies more than just about anybody? Your verdict please in the comments.
Best Supporting Actor Christian Bale, The Fighter
  • Since I was taken to task for only bitching about Hailee's category fraud I should note here again that I think this is a lead role too. More bitching! Wheeee. (still and all... Hailee's is the single most fraudulent categorization this year with Bale & Rush doing the Jeff Bridges co-lead thing in their movies. Notice how no one thinks Jeff Bridges is "supporting" in True Grit.)
Best Screenplay Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Best Documentary Exit Through The Gift Shop
Best Foreign Film A Prophet
Best Animated Film Toy Story 3
Best Cinematography Wally Pfister, Inception
Best Original Score Clint Mansell, Black Swan
Most Promising Performer Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Most Promising Filmmaker Derek Cianfrance, Blue Valentine

The Blue Valentine trio.

A few observations...
  • The median age of the female actress winners is 21. (The median personality is humorless. Seriously... Hailee, Natalie and Jennifer are allergic to smiling in those movies.) Those Chicago critics sure do like 'em young. At least they have for the past four years (each year the youngest nominee has won). For what it's worth, I do promise to stop talking about age biases for at least a couple of weeks but there's one more comprehensive Oscar trivia post about it coming tonight which covers the men, too so it's stuck in me brain.
  • Hmmm. How is Jennifer Lawrence "more promising" than Hailee Steinfeld but can't defeat her in direct battle? Maybe Jennifer slipped like Sugar Ray Leonard in the ring with Christian Bale? Oh no wait, that's right... they demoted Hailee to supporting. Argh. I honestly keep forgetting because it's so ridonculous.
  • Chicago tends to stick with presumed Oscar categories, even if it looks ridiculous; they also named Kate Winslet "Best Supporting Actress" for The Reader.
  • Happy to see an honor for Derek Cianfrance for Blue Valentine. The first step in getting great performances is to cast great actors but you do still have to direct them afterwards. That he did with a confident hand.
  • Can Rapunzel fend off challengers?
  • Toy Story 3 has all but won the animated Oscar even before nominations are announced, but it's getting hard to suss out what it's ostensible competition will be isn't it? How To Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist and Tangled all have devoted fans so which of those three films gets the snub? It becomes really hard to say when one film dominates the discussion to such a degree that you hear of little else.
 And finally, thanks to In Contention for pointing this out but it's so brilliant.


    Billy Held An Oscar said...

    Mila Kunis ? Really ?

    Ryan said...

    re: Hailee and Kunis

    the fact that the HFPA told Paramount to suck it regarding Hailee's supporting campaign does give me (some) hope that enough AMPAS voters will think twice before scribbling her name down in supporting.

    i saw BLACK SWAN for the second time yesterday and dear god, these Kunis kudos are so baffling. The only explanation is her admittedly fierce sex-appeal. whatever the outcome, I just want to hear Jacki Weaver's name read on January 25th...

    Jorge Rodrigues said...

    I have to ask a question here: how do you fancy the odds that Manville pulls a "reverse-Winslet" and gets nominated in supporting (as it should be) at the Oscars?

    With that category being the terrible mess it is (with 2 spots up for grabs), I think we could see this one as a possibility.

    Especially since Williams seems now poised to grab the 5th spot in the Best Actress category.

    NATHANIEL R said...

    Jorge -- i dunno. i am actually pleased that it's so hard to read this year for the fifth spots because it's often too dull.

    On the other hand, i fear we're going to have lots of nasty surprises on nomination morning like Kidman being snubbed or none of the 50+ women in supporting actress or what have you.

    Manville is an interesting case though because me, the guy who has too many opinions on categorization, cant' decide where she blongs. so i could see her falling through the cracks. If ever there was a role where you let the studio decide, it's there i think since both arguments make sense.

    NATHANIEL R said...

    p.s. i will be a mite sad if Gosling isn't nominated but Williams is.

    Jorge Rodrigues said...

    Hmm Nathaniel, the only real, true surprise I'm now fearing is Halle Berry coming out of nowhere and getting a nomination.

    Jorge Rodrigues said...

    And yes I'm counting on both Williams and Gosling nominated.

    NATHANIEL R said...

    Jorge -- than who do you propose Gosling knocks out?

    The Kid In The Front Row said...

    I love that Social Network is high on everyone's lists and predictions.. I really think it's a superb movie.

    Jorge Rodrigues said...


    I think Jeff Bridges is out. I really do.

    I think it all boils down to at what extent will the Academy embrace THE FIGHTER (which I haven't seen but seems right up their alley).

    If they like it, I say Bridges and Duvall are out and Gosling and Wahlberg are in.

    What amazes me the most about BLUE VALENTINE is the ammount of press Harvey Weinstein was able to generate from that NC-17 rating situation.

    TWC got to make a huge deal about this entire situation, got A LOT of people talking, got many, many critics advising to see the movie and then when it came the time to protest against the rating, they managed to lower it to R without having to change a word in the dialogue or cut any scene.

    Now THAT'S how you play it. With this he managed to bring a lot of publicity to the movie and I think this is part of the reason why Blue Valentine has managed to survive (well, at least the two stars) in the December glut.

    OtherRobert said...

    I don't think Kunis is any less a valid nominee choice for Black Swan than Christina Ricci was in Monster or Chloe Sevigny was in Boys Don't Cry. Her edge is playing a two-note character (happy/friendly, sexy/manipulative/dirty, both of which are gross understatements) that actually pushes the action of the film. The film's narrative wouldn't hold up if her character was removed without major revisions (that could be as simple as her Prince befriending her, etc., but that wouldn't make for nearly as interesting word of mouth as the actual plot and would wreck the final reel) and I'm struggling to think of another actor that would fit the role as well as Kunis.

    Alex said...

    The trouble reading Manville, though, is that Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress are both really competitive races, which was not the case back in 2008. No one was getting into the Supporting Actress lineup outside of those 6. Winslet already a spot lined up in Actress and she just knocked her other performance out.

    I read somewhere that when the project was first discussed 9 or 10 years ago Jennifer Connelly and Rachel Weisz were attached to play the Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis roles. I wonder what that film would've been like. At least Connelly would have a deserved her Oscar...

    NATHANIEL R said...

    OtherRobert -- ftr i think Ricci is TERRIBLE in Monster.

    but i get your point. however i do think it's weird to judge performances based on how crucial the character is. Yes, Mila's sexy devil is ESSENTIAL to Black Swan. But is Mila's performance Oscar-worthy? It's a different discussion entirely.

    TB said...

    See, I think both Michelle Williams and Kidman will manage to eke out a nomination, but that means I like the Oscar Best Actress field too much for good things to be happening elsewhere.

    So I'm calling the two most deserving performers of Actor and Supporting Actress getting snubbed. Gosling losing out in a surprise nomination to Wahlberg because the Academy goes crazy for The Fighter, and Weaver, not Kunis, loses her spot to Steinfeld because no one goes out of the way to see her movie.

    Anonymous said...

    Although I have my choices (obviously) as to whom I'd like to see in each category, to actually have a year in which *both* lead and supporting actress categories are difficult to predict (let alone the win) makes me very happy indeed.


    Kevin said...

    But is Mila's performance Oscar-worthy? It's a different discussion entirely.

    Well, let's have that conversation, shall we? I argue that her performance, much like the dancing ability of her character, Lily, is effortless. She isn't given too much to do but what she does do is pretty great. She plays the dark mirror really well, she is essentially playing two roles (the real Lily and Nina's psychotic interpretation of Lily) and plays both believably, and she isn't playing nearly as repetitive a character as Barbara Hershey is. Plus, she has more screen time than Winona Ryder. I don't know if I'd prioritize her nomination over Hershey's, but I do consider it a terrific performance.

    Cluster Funk said...

    Although you may not be keen on the nomination itself, Nat, you may be happy to hear that the London Film Critics nominated Hailee as Best Actress. (They did likewise with Christian Bale for Best Actor.)

    Iggy said...

    What I don't understand is if all these critics groups not from NYC and LA aren't important for the race. Why giving them support publishing their decissions?
    I see it like that episode in the Simpsons where the giant ads came to life and the only way to destroy them was ignoring them. the amount of critics associations is getting monster-size. Ignore them, or create your own bloggers awards at the end of the season: best speech, best oscar clip, best campaign, best publicist, best fake tears, best invisible in the red carpet (by own choice)...

    NATHANIEL R said...

    Iggy -- you have a point. I've considered not publishing the results... and i definitely don't publish them to the degree that some sites do... but it's hard because i enjoy the oscar conversation and i know many readers care.

    TB -- i totally understand the selective pessimism. The reason I fear the worst in BEST ACTRESS is that the presumed lineup is WAY TOO GOOD. It's just never ever that good. ;)

    Kevin -- I agree that Mila gives a good performance. I guess i just can't make the leap to "best" because there's not a lot for her to do other than be suspect and über sexy both of which she is marvelous at. But I just don't see the depth there that i do in the other performances raking in the mentions (thus far). Though I do think it's worthier than Hailee's turn. I like Hailee's performance too. I just don't think it has any business in a "best" conversation. unless you're talking "most promising young actor" in which by all means, throw something Hailee's way even if I thought Katie Jarvis was better in Fish Tank for example.

    NATHANIEL R said...

    cb - agreed. the degree of difficulty predicting is thrilling.

    Paul Outlaw said...

    Best Actress: Bening, Kidman, Lawrence, Portman, Williams

    Best Supporting Actress: Adams, HBC, Leo, Manville, Steinfeld

    But it all comes down to Manville. Is she lead or supporting or slipping through the cracks?

    Jonathon said...

    I think Williams is in for Leading Actress and Garfield & Ruffalo to fill up Supporting Actor.

    As for the remaining two spots for Supporting Actress...Mila and Jacki. I think Manville is out of this race and Steinfeld needs to gtfo. Category fraud and weaker than Jacki's cartoon antagonist and Mila's effortless eye fluttering. GTFO GTFO GTFO.

    The only category I'm having trouble with is Leading Actor. Who will take up the last two spots? Gosling? Wahlberg? Bridges? Duvall? I HAVE NO IDEA PLEASE HELP.

    The predicting this year is so hard, I hate it. It's not thrilling for me, it's making my stomach turn. :(

    Unknown said...

    That "Social Network" FYC poster is as insufferably smug and obnoxious as the film's near universal praise is incomprehensible. I find it baffling that so few critics organizations considered any other movie the absolute best of the year. That isn't to say that providing a voice of dissention should be the sole reason for any of these bodies to give out their awards, but I don't see the value of their existence if they're all going to echo each other's sentiments.

    Sara said...

    When Black Swan was first announced in development wasn't it newspapers that suggested Weisz was attached, and eventually Eva Green was suggested?

    I could swear Aronofsky himself has said Portman was first approached for this yen years ago and was unofficially attached ever since.

    If Weisz was ever involved I'd imagine it was for the Winona Ryder role. Connelly, I don't even know. Especially since the two actresses (for Nina and Lily) need to look very similar.

    Allen said...

    To add to Sara's comment...Mila Kunis was offered her role. Over Skype, no less. Rumors of other actresses attatched to it are false, I say.

    Sara said...

    I had to google Skype, god. I am officially old at 25.

    And I have to agree with those who favor Gosling over Williams. She was good, just not as good as I thought she could be given the material. Whereas Gosling hit it out of the park.