BDN staffers weigh in on the 2011 Academy Awards

Posted Feb. 24, 2011, at 8:37 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 24, 2011, at 8:52 p.m.

–The critics:

Eric Russell, city reporter and opinionated fan of cinema in general

Emily Burnham, lifestyle reporter and avid movie-goer

Joel Crabtree, copy editor and guest blogger for WeekinRewind.com

Travis Gass, copy editor and snob about both film and music

Best Picture

Will win:

Russell: The King’s Speech

Burnham: The Social Network

Crabtree: The King’s Speech

Gass: The King’s Speech

Should win:

Russell: The Social Network

Burnham: The Social Network

Crabtree: Inception

Gass: The Social Network

Why?

Gass: It seems like the critical consensus is starting to build for “The King’s Speech,” but “The Social Network” is poised to be one of those films that defines the time we’re living in. The central paradox of Zuckerberg working to bring people together online while failing to make any lasting social connections in real life is one of the defining issues of the Internet era.

Russell: “The Social Network,” with its frenetic pace and whip-smart dialogue, embodies the current tech-savvy generation better than any film to date, but “The King’s Speech” is a gorgeously photographed, acted and designed period piece that also has a fascinating storyline. It’s the perfect Academy movie.

Best Director

Will win:

Russell: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

Burnham: David Fincher, The Social Network

Crabtree: Tom Hooper

Gass: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

Should win:

Russell: David Fincher

Burnham: Darren Aronofsky

Crabtree: David Fincher

Gass: Darren Aronofsky

Why?

Crabtree: Tom Hooper’s a great filmmaker, but David Fincher deserves recognition for “The Social Network,” which is generally regarded as the best-reviewed film of the year. Will he get it? Doubtful.

Gass: Aronofsky’s pitch-black ballet psychodrama expertly builds tension as it progresses, while keeping the audience wondering what’s real and what’s a product of Natalie Portman’s character’s mental breakdown.

Best Actor

Will win:

Russell: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Burnham: Colin Firth

Crabtree: Colin Firth

Gass: Colin Firth

Should win:

Russell: Colin Firth

Burnham: Colin Firth

Crabtree: James Franco, 127 Hours

Gass: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network

Why?

Russell: It’s not exactly an off year, but Colin Firth, for his performance as the stuttering King George VI in The King’s Speech, has this locked up. James Franco could challenge for his role as real-life hiker-amputee Aron Ralston in 127 Hours, but Firth, who has a history of solid, understated roles, would be a well-deserved winner.

Crabtree: As incredible as Colin Firth is in “The King’s Speech,” James Franco’s portrayal of Aron Ralston in “127 Hours” remains my favorite performance of the year.

Best Actress

Will win:

Russell: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Burnham: Natalie Portman

Crabtree: Natalie Portman

Gass: Natalie Portman

Should win:

Russell: Natalie Portman

Burnham: Natalie Portman

Crabtree: Natalie Portman

Gass: Natalie Portman

Why?

Russell: Front-runner Natalie Portman, as a tormented ballet dancer in “Black Swan,” will be challenged by Annette Bening, the passive-aggressive half of a lesbian couple in “The Kids Are All Right,” but it’s almost impossible to compare the performances. Bening’s is subtle and utterly believable but, physically and emotionally, Portman embodied the troubled soul of a top-notch ballet dancer.

Burnham: Though a part of me wants to root for Annette Bening, who feels almost tangibly real in her role in “The Kids Are All Right,” I know in my gut that Natalie Portman deserves it. Talk about method acting: the woman became the character in nearly every way. It is a deep, difficult, utterly mesmerizing performance, and with it she establishes herself as a formidable dramatic force.

Best Support Actor

Will win:

Russell: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Burnham: Christian Bale

Crabtree: Christian Bale

Gass: Christian Bale

Should win:

Russell: Christian Bale

Burnham: Jeremy Renner, The Town

Crabtree: Christian Bale

Gass: Christian Bale

Why?

Crabtree: That Christian Bale hadn’t been nominated for an Oscar before, “The Fighter” kind of shocks me. I’m glad to see it finally happen.

Burnham: With all due respect to Christian Bale, I believe that Jeremy Renner is one of the best actors currently in the business. There’s such explosive energy inside every performance I’ve seen him give, and he’s the best part of “The Town,” playing a bank robber ready to snap at any moment.

Best Supporting Actress

Will win:

Russell: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Burnham: Melissa Leo

Crabtree: Melissa Leo

Gass: Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

Should win:

Russell: Amy Adams, The Fighter

Burnham: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Crabtree: Hailee Steinfeld

Gass: Melissa Leo

Why?

Burnham: Hailee Steinfeld should have been nominated for Best Actress, and I think she was equally as good as Natalie Portman — in a totally different way, however. Her determination and steadfast, true heart (or, shall we say, “True Grit”), carries the entire movie. She makes Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon play second fiddle to her. Incredible.

Russell: This category always features surprises so, if that holds true, look for “True Grit” protagonist Hailee Steinfield to take the statue. If not, co-stars Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, for their roles in “The Fighter,” could duke it out. Leo’s matriarchal role was showier, but Adams, who often plays the princess or squeaky-clean female lead, showed considerable edge and brought great depth to the “girlfriend” role.

And who was cruelly ignored?

Burnham: Pixar will never win anything other than Best Animated Feature because Academy voters still think cartoons are for little kids, but “Toy Story 3” really was wonderful. I also think it’s just plain wrong that the Academy probably won’t give Best Documentary to “Exit Through the Gift Shop” simply because world famous graffiti artist Banksy refuses to reveal his true identity after more than 20 years of living anonymously. It’s a great film about the meaning of art in today’s world, and it should be seen by a lot more people.

Crabtree: Not nominating Christopher Nolan (“Inception”) for best director is the biggest injustice of the year. Andrew Garfield’s absence in the supporting actor category for his work in “The Social Network” is a close second. I also wouldn’t have minded seeing Danny Boyle get a Best Director nod for “127 Hours.”

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business

Similar Articles

More in Living