Saturday, February 05, 2011

Black Sheep's Oscar Screening Guide

The Academy Awards are but three weeks away and, with 56 different films nominated for Oscars this year, if you have not started your academy screening yet, it doesn't seem likely you will be able to see them all unless you basically have nothing else to do between now and February 27. Fear not though, with a little planning, you can still catch all the likely winners in all the major categories. Those are the only one's anyone ever remembers anyway, right? (wink.) Allow me to demonstrate ...

First things first, get thee to ye olde video shoppe, if one still happens to exist in your neighborhood. One quick visit and you can pick up half the Best Picture nominees. Better yet, don't even get up. Order them all on demand. In one weekend you can knock off INCEPTION, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, TOY STORY 3 and WINTER'S BONE.

INCEPTION is a serious contender in the Original Screenplay category, as well as in Art Direction and Cinematography. It is also practically a lock in both Sound Mixing and Editing as well as the Visual Effects category. I see it walking away with 3-4 and it is an awesome good time so definitely see it if by some freak accident, you have not already done so.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK has lost serious steam in the Best Picture race after it's win at the Golden Globes but it still remains the biggest competition for the big prize. I don't think anyone has ruled it out just yet and rightfully so. Aside from a potential Best Picture triumph, David Fincher is still tipped to win Best Director despite his loss with the Director's Guild. Also, Aaron Sorkin is all but guaranteed to win the Best Adapted Screenplay prize and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are the favorites in the Original Score category. I don't see it taking home any more than 3-4 prizes but what it does take will be big. Must see before Oscar night for sure.

TOY STORY 3 will almost certainly win Best Animated Feature but it will likely stop there. Annette Bening is the biggest threat in the Best Actress category and the best hope for THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT to take home an award. I don't see WINTER'S BONE unfortunately taking any of the four categories it is nominated in but you should see it regardless. There are very great reasons this little movie got so much recognition from the Academy and, if you aren't able to see it before the ceremony, be sure to watch it afterward.

If you have any extra time on your hands, you can also catch Best Supporting Actor nominee Jeremy Renner in THE TOWN, surprise Best Supporting Actress nominee, Jackie Weaver in ANIMAL KINGDOM and Best Animated Feature and Original Score nominee, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. All are available to rent now. None will actually win but if you want to be thorough, you should see them.

Now, next weekend is Valentine's Day weekend and this year's romantic offerings at the movies are insulting - an Adam Sandler mess, Shakespeare retold with animated gnomes and Justin Bieber in 3D. If your first Valentine's Day movie is any of these, you are guaranteed to break up, I'm sure.

Ladies, why not show your men you can take things a little rough and bring him to THE FIGHTER? You will get to enjoy Marky Mark and the numerous cat fights and big hair while he will be amazed you chose to "suffer" through a boxing movie just for him. And fellas, why not bring your gals to the ballet? BLACK SWAN may take place in a ballet company but you get to see Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis make out and the film is so intense, no one will want to be sleeping alone that night. As an added bonus, you will see the likely winners for Best Supporting Actor and Actress (Christian Bale and Melissa Leo) as well as the likely Best Actress winner (Portman).

127 HOURS and TRUE GRIT are still both playing in theatres and you could easily see them if you had the time but I honestly don't see either film walking away with any gold. The Coens might surprise me with a Cinematography win but if you miss either of these, I can't see it having too big an impact on your Oscar night.

What does that leave? Oh right, the official front-runner, Tom Hooper's THE KING'S SPEECH. After taking home the Producers, Directors and Screen Actors Guilds' top honours, it seems unstoppable. The good news is that it is a fine piece of filmmaking and well deserving of all its praise. Why not see everything you can before Oscar weekend and save this one for last? Treat yourself to a royal dinner and then enjoy the film that is poised to take Best Picture and Best Actor for Colin Firth. It could also easily walk away with Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design and Art Direction. I have a distinct feeling Oscar night will be a regal affair so if you miss THE KING'S SPEECH, you might as well not bother watching.

Black Sheep will be posting reviews for all the Best Picture nominees in the days to follow and will also post an interview with Oscar nominee, Javier Bardem (Best Actor for BIUTIFUL), next weekend.

Thanks for reading and enjoy your screenings!

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