The Best Picture 10:
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
The rest of the nominees.
First impressions: Perhaps the most significant item - and the one I'm sure everyone will be talking about today - is that once again, Christopher Nolan got shut out from Best Director. I never thought The Dark Knight was Best Picture worthy, at least, not in a field of five nominees, but I did believe Nolan deserved a Best Director nod. And now, to see him left off the ballot again is mind-boggling. Who else today is making films like Nolan? Who else could have made a film like Inception? When you see how much love it got in the tech categories - Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction (but not Editing, which is also insane since editing is so very crucial for this movie) - all of that is directly attributable to his vision for the story. But don't take my word for it. At least his original screenplay was nominated.
Yay for Michelle Williams and John Hawkes making the cut in Acting. Hawkes was nominated by SAG, so this wasn't too much of a surprise. No Robert Duvall or Julianne Moore though. No Blue Valentine screenplay either.
Exit Through the Gift Shop made the cut for Documentary Feature. Big surprise. It's currently available on Hulu, so I plan on finally watching it. Look for a post about it next week.
The important thing to remember when evaluating what will win Best Picture is the "preferential ballot" system, which went into effect last year when the field expanded to ten nominees. Here's how it works. (It's kinda complicated, but it's not that difficult to understand once you grok the mechanics of it.) Under this system, one does not need the most number-one votes to win. Divisive films - those that people either love or hate, with little in-between - will have a harder time winning under the preferential ballot. Some say this is what cost Avatar the Best Picture Oscar last year (though I like to think The Hurt Locker would've won regardless).
The Social Network has racked up a stunning amount of critics awards, and it won the Golden Globe for Best Picture/Drama, but The King's Speech beat it for the Producers Guild Award, where Network was heavily favored. As a result, what started out looking like a Network dominance has turned into more of an actual race. My money is still on Network to win at the moment, but Speech and especially The Fighter stand very good chances as well. We'll know for sure February 27.