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Oscar Nominations Announced

Posted by: Matthew Turner 28/01/2011 @ 15:16
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 34
Films seen this week: Men on the Bridge, Paul, How Do You Know, Hereafter, Client 9, Little White Lies, Inside Job, Killing Bono

Oscarwatch: Oscar Nominations Announced
This week saw the long-awaited announcement of the 2011 Oscar nominations, which means that awards season is officially in the final stretch. I'll be honest – I'm often more excited by the Oscar nominations than the awards themselves, because, barring the odd shock win, they usually go according to plan and are either disappointing or boringly predictable. That said, this year's Oscar noms have gone some way to restoring the balance of justice after the infuriating awards-based crimes recently committed by both BAFTA and the Golden Globes (don't get me started, etc). As such the list of ten Best Picture nominees actually reads like a decent top ten for once – it has two of my own 2010 Top Ten films on it, for example (Winter's Bone, The Social Network), two more that were on my top 20 (Toy Story 3, Inception) and at least one film that will definitely be on my 2011 Top Ten list (True Grit), even if the likes of Black Swan and The King's Speech drop off the top ten by the end of the year.

The night before the nominations I wrote a short Oscar wishlist on Twitter and I got almost everything I was hoping for. These included:

1. a Best Picture nomination for Winter's Bone and a Best Actress nom for Jennifer Lawrence (it also wound up with a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination and, wonderfully, a Best Supporting Actor nom for John Hawkes – take THAT, BAFTA, you bunch of idiots),
2. Best Animated Feature nods for The Illusionist and How to Train Your Dragon (I'd feared Tangled and/or Despicable Me would nab the second and third slots)
3. a Best Actor nomination for Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network
4. a Best Actress nomination for Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (ignored by BAFTA)
5. a Best Foreign Film nod for Dogtooth (my second favourite film of last year, after Winter's Bone).

The only disappointments, for me, are the lack of a Best Director nomination for Debra Granik (read our interview with Granik) and Ryan Gosling missing out on an equally deserved Best Actor nom for Blue Valentine. Naturally, the Nolan fans are up in arms about Nolan being bounced out of a Best Director nomination (most Oscar experts I spoke to hadn't counted on the Coen Brothers getting nominated in that
category) and I guess I'd rather have seen Nolan nominated than David O. Russell, but I can't bring myself to be that upset about it. It's too early to call the winners, obviously, but it's currently looking like Firth, Portman and Bale, with directing and supporting actress categories still wide open. Oh, and the nailed-on, cast-iron certainty of an award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Social Network. Actually, I'm going to go out on a limb and say The Social Network will also win Best Picture. There you go. Roll on 27th February, by which time I'm hoping to have watched the Best Documentary and Best Foreign Film contenders that I haven't seen yet.

Trailerwatch: Water for Elephants
This is yet another film that I wasn't aware of until I caught the trailer at the end of Film 2011 the other night. It's based on a best-selling novel by Sara Gruen that I also hadn't heard of but I'm a sucker for stories about old-time show business, both in film and book form (The Prestige, Carter Beats the Devil, Geek Love) so my interest is officially piqued. The story is told by a 93 year old man (Hal Holbrook), who looks back over his life as a young man (Robert Pattinson – actually quite good casting for a young Hal Holbrook) when he worked as a vet with a travelling circus and fell in love with a beauiful animal trainer played by Reese Witherspoon. There's also something about a great disaster in the plot, but the trailer, thankfully, doesn't give it away.

The film's villain is played by Christophe Waltz (typecast again), and I'm trying to avoid spoilers so I'm only skimming the synopsis, but it looks as if Waltz plays Witherspoon's husband and she has an affair with Pattinson. (I refuse to call him R-Pattz unless I'm constricted by a 140 character limit). I'll admit that the Pattinson factor is giving me cause for concern as I find him terribly wooden at the best of times and the trailer isn't doing him any favours in that regard, but I love the idea of Reese Witherspoon as a 1930s circus performer and she always looks right at home in period pieces. Director Francis Lawrence apparently made both I Am Legend (aka Ian Legend, follow-up to Ian Robot – WHEN will Will Smith complete his “Ian” trilogy?) and Constantine, so he has a certain visual flair and the trailer certainly looks promising in that regard. I'm intrigued, anyway. Opens here 4th May 2011.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Three new entries this week with Disney fairy tale adventure Tangled, harrowing Javier Bardem drama Biutiful and comedy-drama Barney's Version all making it into the top ten. I will also put in a good word for superb eco-doc Gasland which seems to have vanished from cinemas but is definitely worth tracking down; hopefully its recent Oscar nomination will see it back on the big screen soon. Interview-wise, we have an excellent round-table interview with Barney's Version star Paul Giamatti and an exclusive one-on-one interview with a remarkably unguarded Donald Sutherland. Elsewhere you can still read our exclusive interview with Honeymooner star Gerard Kearns here, an exclusive interview with actor-turned-Abel-director Diego Luna, an even more exclusive interview with ex-Hollyoaks star Roxanne McKee, our press conferences interviews with Gyllenhaal and Hathaway; press conference interviews with the stars and director of The Way Back; an exclusive interview with the makers of Catfish and press conference interviews with the stars of The King's Speech. Phew. That's a lot of interviews. Sadly, my interviews-corresponding-with-top-ten mission is failing miserably. Current score: 2 out of 10. Must try harder.

1. The Social Network
2. The King's Speech
3. Blue Valentine
4. Black Swan
6. Tangled
7. Biutiful
8. Barney's Version
9. 127 Hours
10. Morning Glory

DVD of the Week: World's Greatest Dad (released Jan 31st, RRP £14.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is World's Greatest Dad, a black comedy directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, starring Robin Williams as a teacher who finds his dreams of becoming a respected writer suddenly fulfilled after a tragic accident involving his obnoxious son (Daryl Sabara).
Admittedly, the title makes it sound like another Robin Williams schmaltz-fest but this is actually the polar opposite of a Robin Williams schmaltz-fest and proves, once again, that Williams can be a terrific dramatic actor when the occasion arises.

In addition, Goldthwait's sharply observed script explores the intriguing issues of talent versus fame while making a series of comments on our media sensation-obsessed culture. In short, this is brilliantly written, commendably offbeat and darkly funny – it was also one of the best films of last year. Here's hoping Goldthwait keeps making movies like this because he's currently something of a unique voice in American cinema and his films deserve a wider audience. Highly recommended. DVD extras include: deleted scenes, out takes, the trailer, a short film by Goldthwait (Deadly Syndrome) and a 12 minute Making Of featurette.
No commentary though, sadly.


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