My Pre-Oscar, Post-Football, Annual Pre-Viewing Preview!

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As I sit contemplating the undertaking before me, I think back to the last few days – the Super Bowl on Sunday, the inevitable aftermath of the Super Bowl (figurative, not literal) hangover, reminiscing on a long football season, and how my Patriots wasted a 14-2 record on a lost to the Jets – THE JETS – of all teams.  I thought back to the season, the Dec 19 beating of Green Bay; the pounding of the Jets (yes, THOSE SAME JETS!) before that; the Monday night debacle of the Dolphins (Side note – I missed the first half, but tuned in just as it got interesting); opening day win over the Bengals, all the preseason games… It got me thinking – How much football did I watch this year?

Gulp.

At minimum, I watched 9 hours a weekend for 17 weeks.  Add in college, it goes higher.  Preseason, and post season – even more.  All total – between the beginning of August and the beginning of February – I watched about 270 hours football.  That’s the equivalent of a full time job for 6 and a half weeks.  This doesn’t include the draft, the combine in March, all of my fantasy football prep, fantasy drafts, mock drafts, weekly player ranking… needless to say, I am burned out.  Emotionally drained.  Tired of football in all forms.  Need some sort of February respite.

Its times like these, I adore being a fan of film.  Because the Oscars give my brain a chance to shift out of the analyzing of cover 2/Tampa 2 argument against a 3 wide receiver set when your team is down by more then 2 scores, deep in your own territory.

Now – it is simple – clean and objective.  Who is the best?

The rules (for me) are simple:  between now and the Oscars, watch as many of the films nominated for the major categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay) as possible.   After each one, write a review of it based off what it is nominated for, then once all is said and done – Make my official Oscar picks with an informed knowledge of the films.

Simple, right?

Lets find out…

BEST PICTURE:

I will state this again, just as I stated it last year – 10 best picture nominations is way, way too much.  Just because McDonald’s puts more burgers on the menu – does it make them better?  Not at all – just more filler for people like me to prognosticate about and debate over and over for an entire month, giving films like “Toy Story 3” “ The Social Network” and “The Kids are All Right” as much free advertising and word of mouth as possible.  If you take those 3 out, that knocks us down to 7 – easier, but not easy enough.  The second cut is harder – I think “127 Hours” and “Inception” are the next 2 out – down to 5.

This next cut is harder – Who stands above these five?  And who is lagging behind?  I think “Winter’s Bone” and “The Fighter” come out next – leaving 2 period pieces, and a surrealistic horror to fight for the top prize.  In the end, always bet on shock value for attention over all else

Prediction:  Black Swan          Hopeful: The King’s Speech               Dark Horse: True Grit

BEST DIRECTOR

Last year, I prognosticated Kathryn Bigelow’s wins, saying “Isn’t it a misnomer that the director of the Best Picture isn’t also the best director?” Look it up – I said it, and then she won both.  The group of directors gathered here today helped shape me into the film-watcher I am, by creating some of the best films of my formative years.  Films like The Hudsucker Proxy, Se7en, Requiem for a Dream, The Big Lebowski, Spanking the Monkey, Fight Club… these are the films that helped me see that a little creativity, and vision, can take you to farther reaches then imagination alone.

Now, I have much love and affinity for the Coens, but I cannot see a remake of a 1969 John Wayne classic (both adapted from the book, True Grit) leading to Oscar gold.  Nor do I see the very traditional Academy voting in a movie about Facebook.  I can – however – see them getting behind a styled, shaped piece that has been best described as “Psychological Thriller” .

Prediction:  Black Swan         Hopeful: The King’s Speech               Dark Horse: The Fighter

Best Actor

Now this is an intriguing list of talent – 2 past Oscar winners, with one of the best actors of the last 5 years not to win a statue, the (aurguably) greatest actor of my generation… and Jesse Eisenberg.

One of these things is not like the others…. One of these just doesn’t belong…

Yes, I have heard Jesse Eisennerg’s character in “The Social Network” called an “inauspicious prick” at best – but that does not a Best Actor make.  Nor is it easy to give it to Javier Bardem for a foreign language film.  Plus – if you are hosting the Oscars, the chances of you winning are slim to none (Sorry James Franco).

As my friend ThunderE says “Historical Character – a dead one?  Give it to them”

Prediction: Colin Firth            Hopeful: James Franco          Dark Horse: Jeff Bridges

Best Actress

I admit, I am curious as to this list of nominees for Best Actress – all good, but none have wow-ed me for a long time.  Annette Bening?  While I adored her in “The American President” I haven’t seen anything of range in her for a long time.  While I am relatively ignorant of the career of Jennifer Lawrence, I am sure that “Winter’s Bone” can help sway me one way or the other.  Nicole Kidman?  Good, but not great.  Michelle Williams?  What I have seen of her, I have always enjoyed – but I have not seen nearly enough of her.  Natalie Portman?  All over the place acting-wise, and always willing to take a risk.

I like risk – shows you’re willing to try to go past yourself into new areas.

Prediction: Natalie Portman               Hopeful: Michelle Williams     Dark Horse: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actor and Actress are the hardest to predict – and this year is no different.  Though I do have a hard time taking Dusty from “Eastbound and Down” (John Hawkes) seriously, as I find it hard to believe Jeremy Renner is nominated again.  However, Geoffrey Rush and Christian Bale are two of the best, and the level of commitment, the level of detail Christian Bale puts into a role is beyond words at this point.

Prediction: Christian Bale      Hopeful: Geoffrey Rush          Dark Horse: Mark Ruffalo

Best Supporting Actress

This is a two horse race.  That is nothing against Hailee Stienfeld, Jacki Weaver, or Melissa Leo – until I have a chance to weight the subtleties of their performances, I have to believe this comes down to Amy Adams against Helena Bonham Carter.  It is nice to see Amy Adams stretching herself to be different characters, getting into the gritty, dirty and grime of a character; it is equally as nice to see Helena Bonham Carter pick herself up to the level of Queen Elizabeth.

Until further notice, this is a dead heat.

Prediction: Amy Adams          Hopeful: Helena Bonham Carter        Dark Horse: Melissa Leo

Best Original/Best Adapted Screenplay

This is where it all starts, doesn’t it?  The building blocks for every movie begin on these pages.  The story comes to life, the characters are built, the director envision, the set designers create, costumers sew… the very life of a movie starts at the conception of a screenplay.  All we see on the screen is based off the very words on a page a write strung together, and their vision, adaption, creation and thoughts give us the very entertainment we have today.

Prediction: The King’s Speech            Hopeful: The Fighter              Dark Horse: Inception

Prediction: The Social Network          Hopeful: 127 Hours                Dark Horse: True Grit

Up Next:  Black Swan

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