At a luncheon for the Oscar-shortlisted documentary The Lottery, co-hosted by Lawrence O’Donnell, I felt compelled to ask the über-smart MSNBC host what his favorite movies of the year were.
“Like everything, that’s a political question,” O’Donnell replied sardonically. “I’m running the politics through my mind right now. Does it have to be a movie I saw?”
“Absolutely not,” I said, playing along. “Actually, it’s way better if it isn’t.” “Well, I’ve seen no movies because I work till 11,” he admitted. Pause. “However, my favorite movies were The Company Men by my friend John Wells and The Social Network by my very good friend and former employer Aaron Sorkin.” “Very political,” I replied, “but Darren Aronofsky will hate you now.” “Fuck him!” cracked O’Donnell. “He’s never paid me for anything!”
One Nomination Under God
He’s never paid me anything except compliments, but I can still be totally clear-headed when predicting next week’s Oscar nominations, especially since I’ve totally seen the films. But you absolutely don’t have to! As always, you simply take the SAG nominations and change one or two of the choices, and, voilà, you’re a visionary.
The Best Actress nominees will be the following five moxie-ish females: Natalie Portman is so committed in Black Swan that not nominating her would be like pulling out that mattress as she jetés onto it. (Hopefully for her, No Strings Attached won’t prove to be her Norbit.) In The Kids Are All Right, Annette Bening gorgeously plays a twist on her familiar control freak who softens; her Joni Mitchell scene alone deserves a prize. Hilary Swank went for an Oscar-bait “I’m gonna get my brother out of jail!” role in Conviction and, hey, it worked. (More interestingly, this will be the third Annette vs. Hilary battle in Oscar history. This is getting vicious.) Nicole Kidman will be rewarded for finally appearing in something not horrible, a/k/a Rabbit Hole. And Jennifer Lawrence gave Winter’s Bone lots of youthful moxie, and it’s not her fault that her character pretty much starts out knowing everything already.
Falling off the list somehow are Julianne Moore for Kids, which is absurd—she’s Annette’s equal, and she even convincingly screws a man; Lesley Manville for Another Year (another crime—she was brilliant); Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (it just got bluer); and Halle Berry for Frankie & Alice (“Multiple personalities, huh? So what you’re saying is I got all these people living inside me, but I don’t know who they are?”).
Best Actor: Colin Firth is the frontrunner for The King’s Speech because overcoming disability is Oscar’s favorite theme, and besides, Firth is tremendous and he deserved to win last year, too. Despite all that, he’ll cop the prize. Can’t wait to hear his speech!
The other nominees: James Franco has an Oscar field day alone onscreen for most of 127 Hours. (He does have a leg to stand on.) Jesse Eisenberg serves a scary plate of Asperger’s deluxe in The Social Network. Jeff Bridges will feel the love from last year’s win and ride it to another nomination for the revenge comedy Western True Grit. And no one plays an even crustier old codger like Robert Duvall in Get Low, or in anything.
Tumbling under the radar are Mark Wahlberg, who gives the most subtle performance in The Fighter, and that’s his problem; Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine (by now it’s black-and-blue); and Javier Bardem for Biutiful (not everyone finds it so biutiful. For once, terminal illness won’t bring Oscar quivering to its knees).
Best Supporting Actress honorees: Helena Bonham Carter is the backbone behind the royal in The King’s Speech (“Go for your therapy, George!”); Melissa Leo and Amy Adams unself-consciously throw themselves into the family boxing ring for The Fighter. (The second she put on that hair dye and accent, Melissa became queen of the character actresses. Amy holds her own as the “MTV girl” with spunk—she’s the Queen Elizabeth of this particular situation.) Mila Kunis gets to be tutu much in Black Swan, playing both yin and yuck. And True Grit‘s Hailee Steinfeld has the youthful moxie, etc. etc.
Tragically omitted will be Jacki Weaver, whose showstopping Oedipal mama in the under-noticed Animal Kingdom makes Melissa Leo’s character look like mother of the year.
Best Supporting Actors will be Christian Bale for losing weight and playing a psycho once again in The Fighter; Geoffrey Rush as the unconventional therapist who improves The King’s Speech; Mark Ruffalo for dabbling in lesbianism in The Kids Are All Right; Andrew Garfield for being better than Justin Timberlake in The Social Network; and Jeremy Renner for bringing his ratty allure to The Town.
Runner-up: Winter’s Bone‘s John Hawkes, in which he was a dentist’s wet dream. He’ll surely grow up to be either Jeff Bridges or Robert Duvall.
You must believe me that the Best Picture nominees will be: The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, Toy Story 3, 127 Hours, True Grit, The Kids Are All Right, and The Town. The first five will get Best Director nods. And most important, Best Song will be . . . boring!
And let’s go from Oscar to Oscar Wilde and note that a surefire Tony contender is Brian Bedford, who’s in drag in The Importance of Being Earnest (though he’ll still be eligible for Best Actor, I’m quite certain). Bedford is so dryly hilarious as Lady Bracknell that they should write him into Act Two. And you never think twice about his being a man. He actually plays it like less of a drag queen than most women have! Multiple personalities, huh?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 19, 2011