The Oscars: Our Critics Picks
With an eye on quality, not Academy politics, THR reviewers cast their ballots
On Oscar Night, you won’t find me in the winners’ circle. Instead, I’ll be huddled with the game boys who loved Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Or maybe I’ll drift over to the small group in the corner that adores independent cinema and therefore dug Winter’s Bone and Biutiful.
If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed me a ballot, my best picture would be Inception. Twenty years from now, people will scratch their heads over why the Academy is so determined to overlook Nolan, just as it did Alfred Hitchcock back in the day.
Because Nolan didn’t even make the cut for best director — to the everlasting shame of the Academy’s Directors Branch — I’ll pick David Fincher, a wonderful runner-up, and go for The Social Network, with a nod to Aaron Sorkin for best adapted screenplay. At least I can vote
for Nolan in the original screenplay category.
I thought Javier Bardem gave the best acting performance of 2010 in Biutiful in Cannes, and I haven’t changed my mind. Jennifer Lawrence as lead actress and John Hawkes in supporting actor in Winter’s Bone and Hailee Steinfeld for supporting actress in True Grit — even though it’s a lead performance — round out my contrarian’s picks.
Given that I rarely watch a film more than once, and I’ve seen The Social Network four times already, there is no doubt in my mind that it’s the best picture of the year. That goes double for David Fincher’s direction and Aaron Sorkin’s script, which has been categorized among adapted screenplays but is in virtually every sense original in that the book on which it was “based” wasn’t yet finished when he wrote his script.
As I felt Colin Firth decisively deserved to win last year for A Single Man, I’m entirely on board with him winning best actor this year for another superb performance in The King’s Speech. So impressively and evenly distributed is the talent in the other acting categories that choices are not so clear-cut. However, for best actress I like Annette Bening, whom I don’t believe has ever been better than she is in The Kids Are All Right. For supporting performances, I’ll take Jeremy Renner, whose relentless malevolent energy in The Town recalls James Cagney, and Jacki Weaver as an entirely unexpected Big Bad Mama in Animal Kingdom.
Among the original screenplays, Kids Are All Right by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg would win my vote by virtue of the consistently vibrant and humorous humanity of its dialogue and emotional exchanges.