A lot of critics, both professional and minor, have been doing something strange recently. They’ve been naming picks for the 2011 Academy Awards. I found this odd. It’s only halfway through the year. How could people possibly guess which films would compete? We haven’t even reached Oscar season yet!
It was then that I remembered that The Hurt Locker had already been released this time last year. So, I think it’s fair to start making some predictions.
Toy Story 3 – As I said in my initial review, if Up can get nominated, this can get nominated. And it has a good shot at winning, too. The best-reviewed wide opening of the year.
The Kids are All Right – Been getting extremely strong critical reception, and been doing shockingly well at the box office for an indie. Best-reviewed indie of the year.
Inception – If nothing else, a nomination could be penance for The Dark Knight getting snubbed. Will walk away with Best Effects and Best Cinematography. Nolan will get a Best Director nod.
Winter’s Bone – Not getting a lot of press, but what it has been getting is very good. Won the Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Film at Sundance. Jennifer Lawrence will get a Best Actress nod.
The American – A dark thriller staring George Clooney. Will get nominated for the same reasons that Michael Clayton did.
Secretariat – I’m not saying this will be good, but neither was The Blind Side, but that still got nominated. This film appears to be in the same vein, so it’s got a good shot.
Cyrus – Another indie with good critical buzz. Has no chance of winning, but they need to fill ten slots somehow.
Jack Goes Boating – Based on a play. Directed by and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Blatant Oscar Bait #2.
The Social Network – David Fincher’s last film got nominated when there were only five slots, and it wasn’t even that great. Fincher is just that amazing. Aaron Sorkin will nab Best Adapted Screenplay.
Hereafter – Blatant Oscar Bait #3. Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Matt Damon. Their last collaboration, Invictus, failed to garner a nom because, well, it wasn’t that interesting. This film is being described as “a thriller in the same vein as The Sixth Sense“. I love that movie. Eastwood is capable of delivering.
In the end, much like last year, it’ll come down to two. One will be a box office smash, and critically acclaimed (Avatar/Toy Story 3), and one will be…critically acclaimed (The Hurt Locker/The Kids are All Right). This battle will end the same way, but Pixar will, of course, walk away with Best Animated Feature as a consolation prize.
The Academy surprises me and gives it to Toy Story 3, which is ultimately the superior film, unlike the situation last year. Just as this film represents the “end of an era” of sorts for Pixar, them winning Best Picture could signal the beginning of a new one. They’ve been critically lauded for years, but it took Up last year for them to break into any “serious” competition. Toy Story 2 won best Comedy at the Golden Globes, but who cares about them? They don’t have the “prestige” of the Oscars. It would be a monumental achievement, not only for Pixar, but for animation. It would prove to the stodgy old men in charge of the industry that the format can be the basis for good films, not just films for children. It’s a point that should have been proved years ago, but if this is what it takes, well good. I’m glad that, of any film, Toy Story 3 was the one to do it.