Drum roll, please. It’s a little late, but here are my thoughts and gripes about the sham that is the 2011 Academy Awards. As always, my personal winners will be receiving homemade awards. So, you’re welcome, Jennifer Lawrence.
Let’s just go right on down the line, leaving best picture awards for last.
Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Deserves it: James Franco- While I don’t think this is a Best Picture kind of film, Franco’s genuinely stunning performance was superb.
Doesn’t deserve it: Jeff Bridges- He was great, to be sure, but I kind of feel like I saw this performance already in Crazy Heart, only dirtier this time around.
Screwed: Casey Affleck- Michael Winterbottom’s borderline exploitation film, The Killer Inside Me, was mostly miss, but Casey Affleck’s talent cannot be tamed.
Jim Carey- I love you, James Carey (get it? Because of I Love You, Phillip Morris? It was awesome. Go see it.)!
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Deserves it: John Hawkes- I thought the award was clearly Bale’s for his wild genius in The Fighter, but I have come to my senses, and John Hawkes is an untouchable miracle in Winter’s Bone.
Doesn’t deserve it: Mark Ruffalo- Like Bridges in True Grit, Ruffalo was great in The Kids, but not award caliber.
Screwed: A 2 way tie betwixt Michael Fassbender, who was astonishing in Fish Tank, and Josh Brolin for his nightmare inducing bad guy in True Grit.
Best Actress in a Leading Role:
Deserves it: Jennifer Lawrence- There were some excellent performances this year, but there’s really no question in my mind about who came out on top. Jennifer Lawrence.
Doesn’t deserve it: Annette Bening- Sorry, Ms. B. Your particular yet hip lesbian mom routine left me wanting.
Screwed: Katie Jarvis- Katie Jarvis was a marvel to behold in Andrea Arnold’s stunner, Fish Tank. For shame, Academy.
Hailee Steinfeld- How in the hell is Steinfeld’s integral and inspired turn considered a “supporting role”? I guess the silver lining is that she is guaranteed the win now, since she doesn’t have to go up against Jennifer Lawrence.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Deserves it: Hailee Steinfeld- In a room full of badassery, none can hold a candle to Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit. It was close race, though, Melissa Leo.
Doesn’t deserve it: Helena Bonham Carter- I love you, Helena, but stoic and mannerly does not an award caliber performance make.
Screwed: Hailee Steinfeld- How you managed a supporting nom out of this deal is bull. Maybe you need to give Rooster Cogburn a call to have him hunt down the bastard who killed your Lead Actress nomination.
Also screwed: Rebecca Hall in both The Town and Please Give. Did you not see these films, Academy?
Best Animated Feature Film:
Deserves it: The Illusionist- Usually, I just cite how outclassed all other animated films were by Pixar, but Chomet’s The Illusionist is a treasure. Go see it.
Doesn’t deserve it: How to Train Your Dragon- As evidence by the scant 3 films in this category, I’m sure Dragon is only there to make it a 3 horse race.
Screwed: Sadly, as always, there are too few animated films to declare a screw job.
Best Art Direction:
Deserves it: The King’s Speech- The courtroom gasps as BC goes against his deep rooted filmic values and roots for the dreaded “period” film. The proof is in the wallpaper, ladies and gentlemen of the jury.
Doesn’t deserve it: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Come on, Academy! Stuart Craig and Stephanie McMillan had 6(!) filmic points of reference. Really? Wasn’t the task for you two just “hey, let’s just make this look exactly like the other films.” And Warner Brothers probably just gave you the key to the HP storage bloc. Yeah, truly difficult.
Screwed: The Social Network- The visual equivalent of seeing inside Jay Gatsby’s home, festooned with teak furniture and social privileges just beyond your reach.
Deserves it: Jeff Cronenweth- The Social Network was enragingly stunning in terms of visual style. Bravo, Mr. C.
Doesn’t deserve it: Roger Deakins (True Grit)- My hand is trembling as I type this. Don’t hunt me down, Mr. D. You are still my hero. It was those awful long shots of Bridges and Steinfeld riding through the nighttime desert that lost me.
Screwed: Bill Pope (Scott Plgrim vs. The World)- Your cinematographic stylings rocked and rolled. Lame, Academy. Lame.
Deserves it: David Fincher- It was a perfect storm, and Fincher is Poseidon. All hail the Fincher.
Doesn’t deserve it: Oddly enough, the Coen Brothers didn’t nail it with True Grit. It was off somehow, and it went on too long (you should have ended it with Mattie in the hole, Joel and Ethan. You know it’s true).
Screwed: Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)- He shouldn’t win, of course, but anyone who can keep that many plates a-spinning deserves some recognition. Come on!
Best Documentary Feature:
Deserves it: Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz- Exit Through the Gift Shop entertains and subverts the genre it simultaneously elevates. Mad props!
Doesn’t deserve it: Inside Job- This doc was great, but jeez, does the Academy HAVE to nominate every political doc? I would almost rather see Babies up for a nom than something easy like this.
Screwed: RIZE- Every year it’s the same grudge from me. David LaChappelle, your lack of recognition for your filmic triumph is like my JFK assassination. And I will one day unmask the grassy knoll shooter, mark my words.
Best Film Editing:
Deserves it: Jon Harris (127 Hours)- Hell yes, Jon Harris! You edited the hell out of Danny Boyle’s frenetic opus.
Doesn’t deserve it: The King’s Speech- I loved the film, but it was very by the book (for me, that is).
Screwed: Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World)- Again, anyone who can keep this many tantalizing elements in order and deliver such a dazzler deserves at least one trophy of a golden man to put on the old mantle. Seriously, this was like the editing equivalent of a Sleigh Bells album.
Best Foreign Language Film:
Deserves it: Dogtooth- Giorgos Lanthimos crafts a film that is one part bizarre, one part- well, it’s all parts bizarre, but the result is something truly astounding.
Doesn’t deserve it: Micmacs- Seriously, Academy, just because it’s Jean-Pierre Jeunet does not mean you need to automatically- wait, what? The Academy didn’t nominate this oddly paced and inconsistent fairy tale? Oh, well good job, then. Finally, we agree on something.
Screwed: A Prophet- Simply put: it was amazing.
Deserves it: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross: the duo crafted a stellar score that resonates like nobody’s business. And subtle as hell.
Doesn’t deserve it: See the screwed section.
Screwed: Tron: Legacy- Are you going to look me in the eyes and tell me that the whimsy of John Powell’s score out-charmed the distorted electro genius of Daft Punk’s score? You know, Academy, it’s like I don’t even know you.
Best Original Song:
Deserves it: Every other song but Gwenyth Paltrow’s musical trip to the dentist, Country effing Strong. If this song represents the best the film has to offer in terms of music, then it will be a sad year for film. Somehow, though, I knew this atrocity as going to be nominated, just like I knew, deep down, what was going to be wearing the little red coat at the end of Nicholas Roeg’s classic film, Don’t Look Now. It didn’t make it any less horrifying, however.
Doesn’t deserve it: I think I just covered it.
Screwed: Every song written for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World- The songs were perfectly crafted to represent each musical character (the bands), and each song worked to forward the story. Isn’t that what great songs are supposed to do? Did I miss something?
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Deserves it: The Social Network or Winter’s Bone- Both of these films speak volumes, in vastly different ways. Aaron Sorkin does it in The Social Network by actually speaking volumes, and the result is verbal jousting and dialogue lyricism at its finest. Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini allow the quiet to speak just as much as the words, which is a feat and wonder to behold.
Doesn’t deserve it: Toy Story 3- you really have no business being in this category, TS3.
Screwed: The Town- Chuck Hogan’s fiction about Boston’s many sides is the stuff of classics, and writers Peter Craig, Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard adapt the novel into a time bomb of an action drama.
Best Original Screenplay:
Deserves it: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (The Fighter)- The writers craft a juicy morsel for every actor and actress to sink their teeth into, even Sugar Ray himself. Nice work.
Doesn’t deserve it: Lisa Cholodenko, and Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right)- I liked the film, but I didn’t love it.
Screwed: Nicole Holofcener (Please Give)- Holofcener’s story about manners, guilt and the right thing to do is biting and endearing in every way. Asleep at the wheel again, Academy?