27 February 2011

THE BIGGER PRIZE

People say 2010 was a terrible year for filmmaking. They say there were more bad movies than ever – more sequels, more remakes, fewer new ideas. By way of example, these doomsayers point to things like Grown Ups, Killers, The Bounty Hunter, Sex and the City 2, The Last Airbender, Iron Man 2, and you know what? I can't disagree. There were a lot of wretched films out last year. But that's not news. Name the year where the good outnumbered – or better yet, outperformed – the bad. Just one year ago, in 2009, the biggest hit at the box office was James Cameron's sci-fi 3D wankfest, Avatar. Pretty movie with innovative special effects? Sure, I'll buy that. Excellent filmmaking with a wonderful story and brilliant acting? Absolutely not. But people flocked to it in droves and it was a serious contender for Best Picture in last year's Academy Awards, despite the fact 2009 also boasted excellent movies like A Single Man, The Hurt Locker, District Nine, Inglourious Basterds, Up, Up in the Air and more.

The Academy Awards are today, and this year, the nominations are packed with some truly wonderful films: Winter's Bone, True Grit, Black Swan, Inception, The King's Speech, The Kids Are All Right, The Fighter, 127 Hours... 10 films were nominated for Best Picture and while I haven't seen each and everyone, they at least all seem worthy of being considered. Before last year, only five films were eligible for nomination, but since they expanded it to 10, there have actually been enough good films to warrant the expanded nomination list. And what's more, there are a number of fine films that could have made the list and didn't.

So, yeah, maybe there were some shitty films out in 2010, but there some genuinely great work made its way into cinemas, too. Any year when I can go see Black Swan and True Grit back-to-back, or an indie film like the shamefully unsung Get Low, seems like a pretty good one to me. I just plain ignored all that bad stuff.

Anyway, here are my picks for the big awards. (Oh, and the Winter's Bone poster is courtesy of a blog called Thirsty For Milk. Lots of great alternative designs for various movie posters over there, so check it out!)

Best Picture - Winter's Bone
Best Director - Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan
Best Actor - Colin Firth for The King's Speech
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Christian Bale for The Fighter
Best Actress - Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone
Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit
Best Animated Feature Film - The Illusionist
Best Adapted Screenplay - True Grit, by Joel & Ethan Coen
Best Original Screenplay - Inception, by Christopher Nolan