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The 83rd Academy Awards Best Picture Nominations

The ten films from 2010 nominated for Best Picture.

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Ten Movies... One Winner

  • Feb 1, 2011
In my review of the Oscar Nominations I already talked about how having ten best picture nominees is a pretty bad idea.  But just because it's a bad idea doesn't mean we can't take a moment to examine them and perhaps do a little more Oscar discussion.  This year the ten chosen don't seem to be so bad.  I've seen about seven of them so far (with Winter's Bone, 127 Hours and The Kids Are Alright still left on my list).  So far the movies I've seen were indeed fun.  I found the least enjoyable of the batch was... well, still worth a 4.  So I've had fun this year.  The nominees were predictable and the Best Picture nominees were TOTALLY predictable, but recall that five of them are the movies they really wanted while the other five are not.  So let me first state that I have ideas of what I'd like to see win Best Picture and what I think will.  I'll most certainly be watching Oscar night and if you'd like feel free to play along by getting yourself a ballet. 

Best Picture is the big cheese, though.  The award that makes several of the other awards insignificant.  That's not to say there aren't other big awards (Director, Actor, Actress, Original Score and Screenplay are all considered "big" awards) but it's the one where we find out what film the Academy voters think was the best example of film making all year and what have you.  The audience almost NEVER agrees with said decision.  Nevertheless it's one of the only categories I actually really like to try and guess.  The other really fun category is Original Score, but that's a different story all together.

So we'll take the nominees one by one.  I'll tell you what I think and about it's chances.  I haven't made a guess yet (but I'm leaning closer to one than the other).  First I'll list the nominees for the four people on this site who don't know what they are yet.

Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
The Kids Are All Right
True Grit
Winter’s Bone
Toy Story 3
The Social Network
127 Hours

And we'll take them in that order too.  First up...

Black Swan
Black Swan is a good movie.  A fantastic one, really, but at the moment I just don't think the Academy is feeling Darren Aronofsky just yet.  They neglected to nominate The Wrestler for much beyond Actor and Supporting Actress.  So the chances are kind of slim
.  It's got something creative going for it, but I'm willing to bet they're going to settle for giving Natalie Portman the Best Actress instead.  Or it'll get something else it's nominated for.  But Best Picture is a long shot for Aronofsky's film simply because the director hasn't really reached veteran status with the Academy yet (the keyword is "With the academy.")  He's still an up and coming director who probably has a lot more to offer and so to award him now might be considered too soon.

The Fighter
The Fighter has that kind of story that everyone loves.  A down and out loser (who isn't Seth Rogen) who manages to overcome all the odds and rise up against everything!  It's a feel good story of sorts.  That said, if it wins anything it's likely to be for it's acting more so than Best Picture stuff.  As much as this is definite Oscar Bait (boy is it ever) it has to contend with much harder hitting movies.  There's no game going on here, just a bunch of people who will probably look beyond it for the time being.  The Fighter stands out as a good movie, but what it lacks is the ability to really say a whole lot about anything.  The Academy loves that deep, weird, artistic "Can you read between the lines," kind of bullshit.

On nearly every website where you see a poll asking "What was the best movie of 2010," Christopher Nolan's Inception topped a good deal of them.  On every CRITICS list?  Not so much.  Beyond that, Inception is one of those "Extra" movies nominated for Best Picture.  One that's only there because there are 10 slots to fill, not because they think it's Best Picture worthy.  One of those, "Well, we can throw the audience a bone," type deals.  Which is why Inception isn't likely to win Best Picture.  Likewise, the last time a movie won best picture WITHOUT the director getting a Best Director nomination was over 20 years ago, and I doubt Christopher Nolan has the kind of influence to be the first director to break that mold--especially with this being his first film to garner a Best Picture nomination.  Likewise, as I've said before, it's got a lot of stuff about it the Academy just doesn't like.  From being far too noisy, to having too much action etc.  It doesn't have that prestigious pull.  If Inception had been made twenty years ago they might've given a Best Picture nod some serious thought... in this day and age, though?  Nope.  Just a movie they have the space to put there.  Sorry Nolan fans, your film has no chance.

The King's Speech
The Fighter is feel good, but The King's Speech is feel good, uplifting and joyful.  A really happy movie, sure, but one that's also very powerful.  This is DEFINITELY Oscar Bait and is actually one of the films that has the biggest shot at winning (it has competition, we'll get to that).  It's got outstanding performances, expert craftsmanship.  It's also got the most nominations out of any film.  Also (and this is the big one) it's got Harvey Weinstein pushing it.  And Harvey Weinstein is notorious for running some fairly brutal Oscar campaigns.  When Weinstein learns what his biggest competitor is he'll attack, I guarantee you.  Although that can also HARM The King's Speech if Harvey pushes the Academy too hard.  Sure Weinstein won them over with Shakespeare in Love, but he couldn't put enough chops in there to beat out Titanic or Slumdog Millionaire.  And with Slumdog Millionaire Harvey was definitely brutal in attacking that one.  That doesn't mean Harvey doesn't have influence, he does and if he decides to run his campaign just right... yeah, he just might be able to win. 

The Kids Are All Right
As I haven't seen this one yet, I can only make a guess about why this one isn't much of a winner.  Much like Inception it was given one of those five extra spots.  It won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical and that's fine and all... and it has some other awards it's nominated for, but I'm not sure the Academy finds The Kids Are Alright is up to snub with the likes of some of the other fare.  The lesbian situation involved is hardly going to be an issue for the Academy (if it was two dads it wouldn't have a shot at all) it's just that the movie is one of those filler movies. 

True Grit
The Academy LOVES the Coen Brothers.  They've often spoken quite fondly of their films.  And True Grit is probably one of the Coen Brothers best films.  It's the one that just about anyone can sit down and enjoy.  It doesn't have the odd comedy that isn't for everyone (The Big Lebowski) but it also doesn't present so much that might be a little over the heads of people or have a little too much to swallow (No Country For Old Men).  Likewise, True Grit is also the second highest grossing western film out there.  That doesn't mean much to the Academy but they might be pleased to know the western isn't dead.  However, The Academy just gave the Coen Brothers tons of accolades for No Country for Old Men.  Just three years ago in fact.  Unless they see True Grit as awe inspiring it doesn't have a chance for Best Picture.  The Academy likes to share the spotlight sometimes.  And this is just too soon for them to be giving the Coen brothers another award (doesn't mean it's never happened... Godfather and Godfather Part II were only two years apart).  Especially because they were up on stage a grand total of three times when they were awarded for No Country For Old Men.  We've seen enough of them for the time being.  It's a slim chance and although sometimes people do take home awards within a few years of each other, The Academy doesn't appear to like doing it too much.

Winter's Bone
Winter's Bone may be one of the surprises that popped up here.  Sure it's given one of those extra five slots, but consider that it's a movie with a lot of praise and buzz going behind it, despite that it's one of the more mysterious movies.  It's a movie a lot of people are saying, "What the hell is it?" Including the Academy.  Yet it's nominated for 4 oscars... all of them Major awards.  It could very well be a movie that people find they have to see.  There wasn't enough of a push for this one so far, though.  It's got nominations for major categories, though, which helps, but it's lack of appeal is something to harm it.

Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 is a marvelous film.  Perhaps the best of the trilogy because it's the most emotionally encompassing.  But like Inception and The Kids Are All Right... it's taking one of those leftover slots.  Likewise, of all the movies nominated for Best Picture... Toy Story 3 probably has the slimmest chance of winning.  In the first place, it's an animated film.  The Academy has always had a bias against animated films.  Beauty and the Beast caused an uproar when nominated for Best Picture.  But beyond that, the Academy already established the "Best Animated Film," category so that they would never actually HAVE to nominate an animated film for Best Picture.  With the slots opened to ten, however, and not much to choose from, Toy Story 3 finds itself nominated more so because they have the room to do so.  But since it's expected to win "Best Animated Film," anyway, that reduces it's chances a lot more.  But the point is simple: It's an animated movie that has it's own category.  It's the same reason you're not likely to ever see a Foreign Language Film win for Best Picture.  It has it's own category.

The Social Network
This is the other big one that has a shot.  And it's ultimately the competition to The King's Speech.  Whether you love or hate Facebook, the Social Network is one of the first films to take social networking seriously and show just HOW it has become a part of our culture.  So many movies like to use Social Networking for comedic fodder while so many television shows involving detectives or investigation simply make it the boogeyman that a pedophile used to find his prey.  Very few movies take social networking (or at least the impact of it) that seriously and we actually have a film that does here.  That shows how it and how the digital age has really become the digital age... by using more than just cell phones.  It's pretty cool stuff.  But the biggest nod to The Social Network is likely going to be the man behind the camera: David Fincher.  He's a guy who the Academy adores and he's a veteran director.  One who has provided a lot for cinema.  If things work out, the Academy might just decide that the guy is due for an award and that he needs to be honored in some way.  That's not to say The Social Network isn't a good movie.  It is (it's also not in one of the "wasted slots" for Best Picture), it's only to say that it being a good movie is actually what fuels the Academy to give David Fincher his due.

127 Hours
Here's a bit of trivia for you... during screenings of 127 Hours some people in the audience fainted at the moment when James Franco's character finally cuts off his arm.  For some in the audience it was too much to handle.  I thought that was amusing.  I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm sure I can get through it... hopefully.  However, from the standpoint of looking at Best Picture nominations, the reason it seems like this one has little chance is for the same reason as True Grit.  Danny Boyle was given his due when he made Slumdog Millionaire and it's too soon to give him another one unless 127 Hours is the next Citizen Kane.  Likewise, it was given one of those extra slots and lacks a Best Director nomination.  It is likely that James Franco will stand a chance... but since he's going up against Colin Firth I doubt it. 127 Hours looks like the Best Picture nominee that will get the least amount of recognition for the moment.  My opinion on that could change.

So with all that in mind... what's a great way to break this one down?

Your Best Bets:
Either The Social Network or The King's Speech are your best bets in the Best Picture pool.  The two films have the most buzz behind them and have caught more attention than the other eight nominations.  Likewise so far the competition seems to be between those two.

Movies to Avoid Placing Your Bet On:
This one is pretty simple.  I'd avoid wasting your time picking Inception or Toy Story 3 in your Best Picture pool.  The two films have a lot more stacked up against them.  In spite of Inception actually getting eight nominations, Best Picture will not be one of the awards it wins.  It's likely to pick up Sound Editing or Sound Mixing or something and possibly Visual Effects and Cinematography... stuff like that, but in the long run Best Picture is a no go.  Toy Story 3 already has expectations to win Best Animated Film and if that's the case then Best Picture is off the table since it has its own category.

The other movies are pretty much toss ups but I'd say you're better off sticking with the Best Bets if you're the type that likes to run an Oscar pool or something like that.  Likewise you can also read about the buzz and that jazz through a ton of different sources, including bloggers who will make their own predictions.  I've told you what I can here, but that can't exactly be taken for granted.  I'm not an insider and I've only been at this game for roughly fifteen years.  I know some things but not others.  And besides, there is always mystery involved.  You never know... maybe they'll throw us for a loop and be like, "Give that damn Oscar to Inception!" but I highly doubt it.  I've been surprised some years (Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan?  What?) and other years I've wondered who couldn't see it coming (Million Dollar Baby, No Country for Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker).  The past couple of years I've been much more on the mark.  I'm more interested to see if my guess is right, but I haven't decided between The Social Network or The King's Speech yet.  We'll see.

This year the ten films nominated don't look half bad, although it's still fairly easy to wade through much of what you see there and in the end figure out that there are some movies that are nominated but it's pretty obvious they don't have a shot.  The Academy may be "representing everything," with these nominees, but there is kind of an empty feeling when you realize that movies such as Inception, Toy Story 3, The Kids Are Alright, Winter's Bone and 127 Hours aren't actually supposed to be there... but they are because they have the space for it.  These are movies I'd place my bet on as a last resort because they're nominated for the Academy to say, "We can use them to represent something," rather than to actually say, "They're among the finest films made this year!"  And if they don't think they're REALLY among the finest, you should probably pay attention to the ones they actually think are.  You can tell which ones they are because they're also nominated for Best Director.  Although many movies have been nominated for Best Picture before without getting a Best Director nod, ever since the slots opened up to ten it has become really easy to see just what exactly they wanted by paying attention to not just the directors... but what else they're nominated for.  The only "extra" film here that is actually nominated because they think it's among the year's best is probably Winter's Bone.  But that is also not really a good choice in your Oscar Pool.  So keep that in mind.  Just because there are ten Best Picture nominees doesn't mean that some of those extra ones actually stand a chance.  If you want to do well in your Oscar Pool enter with that knowledge.  I know that some of you are like, "Dude, Toy Story 3 (or Inception, The Kids Are All Right, etc.) was the best movie I saw this year!" but consider that if you want to put something into the Oscar pool... they're likely to be ignored.  It's one of the only real sad things about opening up the slots to 10.

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February 02, 2011
of all the nominees, I haven't seen 2 but one is to be rectified real soon. I am surprised just how many movies I've seen last year. Great breakdown. I especially liked your bits on INCEPTION and 127 HOURS.
More The 83rd Academy Awards Best P... reviews
Quick Tip by . January 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
The nominees are: "Black Swan," "The Fighter," "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right," "The King's Speech," "127 Hours," "The Social Network," "Toy Story 3," "True Grit," and "Winter's Bone." With the exception of "The Fighter," I'm pleased with the choices the Academy made. "The King's Speech" leads the way with twelve nominations. "True Grit" follows …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #6
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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