Before we dive into the should/will win debate, allow us to take a moment to express our dismay at the complete and total absence of even a single nomination for the Coen Brothers’ “True Grit,” which merited at least consideration for Best Picture (drama or comedy, you pick), Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Screenplay. We can’t shake the feeling that maybe not enough members of the Hollywood Foreign Press saw the film.
But enough whining, lets’ take a look at the nominees. We’ve put who we think will win in italics and who we think should win in bold.
Of the films nominated, none was more ambitious than Christopher Nolan’s massive—in every sense—heist film about a bunch of guys who break into your dreams. And the more we look back at the list of nominees, the more "Inception" stands out as the one we'd tell people they had to see. But this is shaping up to be “The Social Network’s" year, which is understandable, as it’s a very good film that’s very much about the moment we’re living in. We just can’t help but wonder if 10 years from now we’ll look back and think, “Good film, but what was all the fuss about?”
On the one hand, we admire the HFPA for making a point of making sure that comedies and musicals are properly recognized. On the other hand, we wonder about the HFPA’s sense of humor. Where’s “The Other Guys,” “Cyrus,” “Get Him to the Greek,” “Scott Pilgrim,” “Kick-Ass,” “Easy A” or “Hot Tub Time Machine”? At least those are true comedies.
Best Actor in a Drama
Jesse Eisenberg – “The Social Network” as Mark Zuckerberg
Colin Firth – “The King’s Speech” as King George VI
James Franco – ‘127 Hours” as Aron Ralston
Ryan Gosling – “Blue Valentine” as Dean
Mark Wahlberg - The Fighter as Micky Ward
No performance knocked us out quite like Gosling’s in “Blue Valentine,” a go-for-broke-warts-and-all” clinic in an emotionally harrowing un-love story. But Firth’s been denied for too long, and the role of a stammering British king rising up to face the Nazis will be too much for voters to ignore.
Best Actress in a Drama
Halle Berry – “Frankie and Alice” as Frankie/Alice
Nicole Kidman – “Rabbit Hole” as Becca Corbett
Jennifer Lawrence – “Winter's Bone” as Ree Dolly
Natalie Portman – “Black Swan” as Nina Sayers
Michelle Williams – “Blue Valentine” as Cindy
Willams’ work in “Blue Valetine” was every bit as impressive as Gosling’s, and probably harder to conjure. The part called for Williams to play an unalloyed monster for much of the film, a cruel, nasty, uncommunicative woman who lacks the courage to save her marriage. But Portman was brilliant as Nina, the beautiful white swan who slowly turns black. As underwhelming as we found the film, Portman was fantastic in a physically and emotionally demanded role.
Best Actor in a Comedy
Johnny Depp – “Alice in Wonderland” as Mad Hatter
Johnny Depp – “The Tourist” as Frank Tupelo
Paul Giamatti – “Barney's Version” as Barney Panofsky
Jake Gyllenhaal – “Love and Other Drugs” as Jamie Randall
Kevin Spacey – “Casino Jack” as Jack Abramoff
The only threat to a Johnny Depp win is Johnny Depp possibly splitting the Johnny Depp vote, which could leave an opening for Giamatti to sneak in. Doubtful.
Best Actress in a Comedy
Annette Bening – “The Kids Are All Right” as Nic
Anne Hathaway – “Love and Other Drugs” as Maggie Murdock
Angelina Jolie – “The Tourist” as Elise Ward
Julianne Moore – “The Kids Are All Right” as Jules
Emma Stone – “Easy A” as Olive Penderghast
As much as we loved Stone in “Easy A,” Bening was as good as ever in “TKAAR.” That said, Stone’s work in “Easy A” is exactly what this category should all about; while “TKAAR” may have been a comedy (it was funny, but not really a comedy), Bening’s role was decidedly dramatic.
Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale – “The Fighter” as Dicky Eklund
Michael Douglas – “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” as Gordon Gekko
Andrew Garfield – “The Social Network” as Eduardo Saverin
Jeremy Renner – “The Town” as James "Jem" Coughlin
Geoffrey Rush – “The King's Speech” as Lionel Logue
Bale turned himself into a crack head right before your very eyes. But we’d like to give a shout to Renner, whose work as a trigger-happy bank robber has received too little attention.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams – “The Fighter” as Charlene Fleming
Helena Bonham Carter – “The King's Speech” as Queen Elizabeth
Mila Kunis – “Black Swan” as Lily
Melissa Leo – “The Fighter” as Alice Eklund
Jacki Weaver – “Animal Kingdom” as Janine 'Smurf' Cody
Another high five to the HFPA for recognizing Weaver’s eat-her-young matriarch in the brilliant Darwinian crime family drama “Animal Kingdom.” In this category it should be Weaver and a meaningless discussion about second place. Instead it will be Adams taking him the prize, and she was outstanding as Mark Wahlberg’s muse/spine/rock, so we can live with it.
Darren Aronofsky – “Black Swan”
David Fincher – “The Social Network”
Tom Hooper – “The King's Speech”
Christopher Nolan – “Inception”
David O. Russell – ‘The Fighter”
See Best Picture, Drama
Simon Beaufoy, Danny Boyle – “127 Hours”
Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko – “The Kids Are All Right”
Christopher Nolan – “Inception”
David Seidler – “The King's Speech”
Aaron Sorkin – “The Social Network”
When he’s on his game, Aaron Sorkin writes dialogue better than anyone. He was on his game while writing “The Social Network.”
Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat – “The King's Speech”
Danny Elfman – “Alice in Wonderland”
A.R. Rahman – “127 Hours”
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross – “The Social Network”
Hans Zimmer – “Inception”
Reznor & Ross’ managed to highlight the foreboding, drama and betrayal that lurked around every corner of “The Social Network,” without drawing attention to itself. Meanwhile, Hans Zimmer’s score for “Inception,” (which we loved) inspired fart jokes and The Big Red Button.
Best Original Song
"Bound to You" – “Burlesque”
"Coming Home" – “Country Strong”
"I See the Light" – “Tangled”
"There's a Place For Us" – “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”
"You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" – “Burlesque”
We can’t really get behind any of these nominees, but the HFPA is going to pull their collective hair out over whether to vote for Gwyneth, the Euro-phile beauty who may yet have a career ahead of her, or Cher, who showed them a good time last year.
Best Animated Feature Film
“How to Train Your Dragon”
“Toy Story 3”
Another category that isn’t even close. We’re actually surprised that “TS3” wasn’t nominated for Best Picture.
Best Foreign Language Film
“Biutiful” • Mexico
“The Concert” • France
“The Edge” • Russia
“I Am Love” • Italy
“In a Better World” • Denmark
Javier Bardem showed a depth and range rarely seen in film as a hustler dying of cancer in “Biutiful,” but we have a feeling that Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film will prove to bleak for the HFPA. Now a triumph of the human spirit, like “The Concert”? That could be right up their alley.