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At the Telluride premiere of Black Swan, I never would have predicted that Natalie Portman‘s fine frenzy would propel her past Annette Bening, who seemed apt to get an Oscar akin to Susan Sarandon‘s in Dead Man Walking. Old dame walking tall; new kid dancing to death. Career capstone versus arthouse launchpad. The Academy’s old, I guessed the fiftyish actress would prevail. But Bening has been almost AWOL on the campaign trail, perhaps because of her daughter’s alleged sex-change. (Someone I know and love is going through this now, so I understand and do not criticize her if this is the case.) And Hollywood loves a Cinderella story, and Black Swan has arrived like Cinderella on a rocket sled crashing into a maybe $100 million mountain. Its cultural impact has been immense (how in hell did it get snubbed for the makeup Oscar?). The drama of its surprise smash enhances people’s experience of the cinematic drama itself. Whereas Bening was correct to fear that her character might be perceived as not dramatic enough, so she required the filmmakers to make her bitchier and drunker. Even so, the character and The Kids Are All Right can’t match the impact of Black Swan. It’s like the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.
Right after the premiere, I was probably the first human to type the words “The King’s Speech” and “Oscar” in the same sentence, and I may be wrong to give up on it now. Remember, each time I sold Amazon stock it sextupled or octupled. But I think a somewhat analogous process to the Portman/Bening contest is going on, and The Social Network seems to me to have pulled a micromillimeter ahead.
My current predictions:
1. Colin Firth
2. Jesse Eisenberg
3. James Franco
4. Jeff Bridges
5. Robert Duvall
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
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Palm Springs international film festival