(Originally posted over at Fabulous Apple. In preparation for this year’s “Not-Oscars,” here’s what I said about last year…)
We all know the Oscars don’t always get it right.
Of course, “right” is a matter of opinion — but with some perspective, there are a few awards and nominations we collectively agree did not go the way they should. A Beautiful Mind as Best Picture over Lord of the Rings, Gosford Park, In The Bedroom, and Moulin Rouge? Tommy Lee Jones as Best Supporting Actor for The Fugitive over Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List? The Green Mile and The Cider House Rules nominated for Best Picture in 2000 over Fight Club, Magnolia, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Being John Malkovich, or Election? Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich beating Ellen Burstyn in Requiem For A Dream?
Yeah. Everyone’s a critic — especially me. But regardless of what the Academy says, there are a number of great performances from 2010 movies you should see — many you’re probably not even aware of. So in preparation for my “Not-Oscars 2011,” here are those that should have been nominated last year.
(The winners are in bold at the top, and from in descending order of how kudos-worthy they are. An asterisk marks the ones actually nominated.)
Julianne Moore — The Kids Are All Right
Natalie Portman — Black Swan *
Nicole Kidman — Rabbit Hole *
Kim Hye-ja — Mother
Annette Bening — The Kids Are All Right *
Michelle Williams — Blue Valentine *
Noomi Rapace — The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Yep. I, like many others, feel the Oscars got it wrong by nominating Annette Bening and snubbing Julianne Moore. Moore had more screen time and pulled off a more challenging role. Of course, Bening was fantastic too, and equally good in Mother And Child (again playing a bitchy mother). In other news, I’ve always been a fan of Natalie Portman and adored her in Black Swan, and was excited to see some of Kidman’s best work in years in Rabbit Hole. Kim Hye-ja, meanwhile, played just about every emotion in the book pitch-perfectly in a film that wouldn’t have worked without the sympathy we feel for her character. The always-solid Michelle Williams played an emotionally-wrought role with a lot of honesty, and Noomi Rapace took the now-iconic Lisbeth Salander to new heights and was the best part of her Swedish-language trilogy. Meanwhile, I just didn’t go nuts for Winter’s Bone’s Jennifer Lawrence like so many others did — she was solid, but the character didn’t captivate me as she did so many others. Julianne Moore was robbed.
Jesse Eisenberg — The Social Network *
Aaron Eckhart — Rabbit Hole
James Franco — 127 Hours *
Colin Firth — The King’s Speech *
Ryan Gosling — All Good Things
Ryan Reynolds — Buried
Jeff Bridges — True Grit *
Upon second viewing I was even more impressed with Eisenberg’s performance than I had been at first. He manages to convey so much underneath that edgy, condescending exterior, and never becomes as unlikable as he reads in the screenplay. Almost as impressive is Eckhart’s moving work as a grieving dad — he deserves as much recognition as Kidman, but isn’t getting it. James Franco finally becomes a bona fide leading man in 127 Hours, single-handedly (ha!) carrying the entire movie, while Oscar favorite Colin Firth is undeniably strong in The King’s Speech. Gosling was unfortunately snubbed for Blue Valentine, but I find his killer-in-drag performance in All Good Things just a little more interesting. And much like 127 Hours, Buried is a one-man show (somehow, even more so), and Ryan Reynolds makes every moment count. Finally, Jeff Bridges is just a lot of fun in True Grit. But sorry, Javi — through no fault of your own, Bituiful was just too snoozy for me to get into your performance as the Academy obviously did.
Jacki Weaver — Animal Kingdom *
Naomi Watts – Mother And Child
Kirsten Dunst — All Good Things
Delphine Chaneac — Splice
Mila Kunis — Black Swan
Blake Lively — The Town
Lesley Manville — Another Year
The toughest category for me this year — unfortunately I had no room for the girls from Rabbit Hole due to so much strong, diverse work this year. My favorite screen character of the year is Jacki Weaver’s sunny, ruthless “Grandma Smurf,” and in a just world, she’d win the Oscar. I also found Naomi Watts’ adopted ice princess fascinating in the little-seen Mother And Child — here we have a woman that not only seduces her neighbor’s husband just for the hell of it, but then leaves her panties lying around for the woman to find (all while carrying Samuel L. Jackson’s love-child). Kirsten Dunst provided a surprisingly empathetic emotional core in All Good Things, while Mila Kunis was naughty and magnetic as the bad girl in Black Swan. Meanwhile, Delphine Chaneac was asked to do a lot of things actresses are rarely called upon to do (such as sprout wings while riding Adrien Brody), playing a mutant creature who is sexy one moment, dangerous the next — and always scarily convincing in the over-the-top sci-fi/horror/drama Splice. And let’s not forget the Gossip Girl herself as a surprisingly good white trash slut in The Town, or Lesley Manville as by far the best thing in Mike Leigh’s Another Year (she’s so good that I was bored whenever she wasn’t on screen). Perhaps you’ve noticed I’ve made no room for The Fighter’s Oscar twins Melissa Leo or Amy Adams (both very good, but I’ve had better), Helena Bonham Carter (underutilized in The King’s Speech, and a lot more fun when she’s bonkers in Alice in Wonderland or Harry Potter), or Hailee Steinfeld (who I caught stumbling over the Coen Brothers’ difficult dialogue — and besides, she’s not “supporting,” she’s the main fucking character). The Academy and I really don’t see eye-to-eye this year.
Andrew Garfield — Never Let Me Go
Ewan McGregor — I Love You Phillip Morris
Armie Hammer — The Social Network
John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone *
Miles Teller — Rabbit Hole
Mark Ruffalo — The Kids Are All Right *
Samuel L. Jackson – Mother And Child
A strong year for supporting actors. Yes, Christian Bale’s drug-addled boxer was the most exciting thing in The Fighter, and yes, Geoffrey Rush held is own in The King’s Speech. I enjoyed Jeremy Renner in The Town, but none of these so much as some lesser-recognized performances this year. The guys from The Social Network could practically fill this category themselves, so I recognized Andrew Garfield’s more emotionally taxing work in the lesser-seen Never Let Me Go instead. I’ve been a fan of his for years (especially in the fantastic Brit drama Boy A) and am glad to see him getting his due, even if the Oscars unfairly snubbed him. And as much as I enjoyed Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker, I am even more enamored with Armie Hammer playing two roles distinctly (they could have been mere punchlines). Ewan McGregor was surprisingly good (and surprisingly gay) in a hilariously earnest performance that did not go the easy route and make him a homosexual caricature. It’s a bravely committed performance for a straight actor. Meanwhile, Miles Teller is a revelation in Rabbit Hole and the Oscars got it right by nominating the unnerving, unpredictable John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone and The Kids Are All Right‘s deadbeat dad Mark Ruffalo. And if you haven’t seen Samuel L. Jackson in his surprisingly sensitive performance in Mother And Child, you’re missing out.
Darren Aronofsky — Black Swan *
David Michod — Animal Kingdom
David Fincher — The Social Network *
Christopher Nolan – Inception
Bong Joon-ho — Mother
Derek Cianfrance — Blue Valentine
Lee Unkrich — Toy Story 3
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Animal Kingdom — David Michod
The Kids Are All Right — Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg *
Black Swan — Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz and John J. McLaughlin
Blue Valentine — Derek Cianfrance & Cami Delavigne and Joey Curtis
Mother and Child — Rodrigo Garcia
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Social Network — Aaron Sorkin *
Rabbit Hole — David Lindsay-Abaire
Toy Story 3 —Michael Arndt *
True Grit — Joel & Ethan Coen *
I Love You Phillip Morris — Jhn Requa & Glenn Ficarra
The Social Network
The Kids Are All Right
Mother And Child
The Social Network — Trent Reznor and Atticus Roth *
Inception — Hans Zimmer *
Tron: Legacy — Daft Punk
I should totally be the Academy, right?