The nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards are in.
Despite a year with no movie that distinctly stands out amongst its peers, David Fincher and “The Social Network” have been cleaning up at the early award shows. While not an extraordinary year in cinema, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could provide a few surprise picks, as they already have with their nominations.
One year after the Academy chose to nominate 10 films for Best Picture for the first time since 1943, the category is full of nomination-worthy films, but doesn’t have one that stands like some films in the past have.
The clear favorites are “The Social Network,” (which has already won at both the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards), “Black Swan” and “The King’s Speech.” A potential dark horse – no pun intended – for Best Picture are Joel and Ethan Coen’s “True Grit.” The western did not receive a single nomination in any category at the Globes, yet it is up for 10 Oscars, second to “The King’s Speech,” which is nominated for 12 awards. While the tale of Mark Zuckerberg’s rise to world domination is definitely in the lead for the biggest award of the night, don’t be too surprised if the Academy chooses “Black Swan” or “The King’s Speech.”
Colin Firth, who plays the tongue-fumbling King George VI in “The King’s Speech,” and Natalie Portman, as the elegantly-psychotic Nina Sayers in “Black Swan,” are nearly shoo-ins for the Best Actor and Actress awards, respectively. Their nominations come as no surprise to anyone as both have already taken home two awards for their performances, and neither have any real competition in their categories.
It should be noted, however, that the Academy made a few different selections than the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) made for the Globes. Ryan Gosling (“Blue Valentine”) and Halle Berry (“Frank and Alice”) were not nominated for an Oscar in the categories and were respectively replaced by Javier Bardem (“Biutiful”) and Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”).
The nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Actress also have almost clear-cut winners as Christian Bale, for his emotional performance as Boston-native Dicky Eklund in “The Fighter,” and Melissa Leo as his mother in the same film. Geoffrey Rush (“The King’s Speech”) and Jeremy Renner (“The Town”) are the only other actors to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor at each the Critic’s Choice, Golden Globe, Screen Actor Guild and Academy Awards, but are still unlikely to be recognized considering the powerful performance by Bale. On the other hand, Mila Kunis (“Black Swan”) was not chosen as a nominee for Best Supporting Actress, a category she was nominated for at the other three ceremonies. She was snubbed in favor of the young Hailee Steinfeld for her breakout performance in “True Grit.” She won the Best Young Actor/Actress at the Critic’s Choice Awards, and could provide another dark horse victory for the latest Coen Brothers’ film.
The thickest category of nominees is without question for Best Director. While their films didn’t necessarily blow up the Box Office, their outstanding work on these films is undeniable. The nominees are Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”), David O. Russell (“The Fighter”), Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech), Joel and Ethan Coen (“True Grit”) and of course, David Fincher (“The Social Network”).
Fincher is the favorite to win so far after taking home a Golden Globe and a Critic’s Choice Award for the film. Each of these directors, however, did magnificent work on each of their respective films, and it would come with little surprise if someone other than Fincher took home the award. “The Social Network” was put together beautifully and was a clean, accurate portrayal of the setting – although the same probably isn’t true with regards to Facebook’s real story.
Aronofsky seems to be the most likely director to upset Fincher, but Russell, Hooper and the Coen Brothers aren’t far behind. Christopher Nolan (“Inception”) and Danny Boyle (“127 Hours”) were not nominated for the award, but with such great work by an all-star cast of directors, it’s not terribly surprising.
To see whom the actors themselves choose to win the big awards, watch the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, Jan. 30 on TNT and TBS. For a full list of the Academy Award nominees, go to http://oscar.go.com/nominations.
Justin Gagnon can be reached at [email protected]