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number 26

from FIND

Best Feature: BLACK SWAN




Best Male Lead: JAMES FRANCO for 127 HOURS

Best Supporting Female: DALE DICKEY for WINTER’S BONE

Best Supporting Male: JOHN HAWKES for WINTER’S BONE




Best First Feature: GET LOW

Best First Screenplay: LENA DUNHAM for TINY FURNITURE

John Cassavetes Award: DADDY LONGLEGS

Robert Altman Award: PLEASE GIVE

Acura Someone To Watch Award: MIKE OTT for LITTLEROCK

Truer Than Fiction Award: JEFF MALMBERG for MARWENCOL

Piaget Producers Award: ANISH SAVJANI for MEEK’S CUTOFF

(SPIRIT AWARDS  2.26.11)

the complete list of nominees

the 2011 OSCAR nominations…

sorting through…


Here are today’s major winners and losers, as I see them.


“The King’s Speech” — With 12 nominations, including best picture, best director for Tom Hooper and acting nominations for its three featured performers (Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter), this appealing yarn about George VI, aka Bertie, and his Aussie speech therapist will now be seen as Oscar co-favorite. I’m not buying it, at least not yet. I foresee a split ticket, with “Social Network” winning best picture and best director, but “King’s Speech” potentially winning two or even all three of the acting awards.

“True Grit” — The surprise chick flick of the season — and if you think I’m cracking a joke, you haven’t seen it — piled up a bunch of nominations, but most likely won’t win in any major category. In the upside-down star-system logic of Hollywood, Jeff Bridges was nominated for best actor in what is clearly a supporting role, while youthful star Hailee Steinfeld, who’s probably on-screen for 80 percent of the film’s running time, won a supporting-actress nod.

“The Fighter” — Yes, Mark Wahlberg’s quiet starring role as small-town palooka Micky Ward was passed over, which is kind of too bad. But with a best-picture nomination and supporting nods for Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams — all of whom were fantastic — this richly enjoyable yarn of downscale ’90s America may get a second look from viewers who stayed away the first time around. Bale and Leo are seen by many as favorites, but the “King’s Speech” upsurge may swamp them.

“Winter’s Bone” — Debra Granik’s devastating crime saga set in the Ozarks came out early in the year and did modest business. But critics didn’t forget it, and neither did the Academy, which delivered a best-picture nomination, an acting nod for young star Jennifer Lawrence, and a supporting-actor nomination for the menacing John Hawkes.

“Gasland” — Oscar’s documentary category often tracks closely with rising social and political issues, and this relatively obscure work from activist filmmaker Josh Fox explores “hydrofracking,” a controversial and destructive method of natural-gas extraction that has rapidly become a hot environmental cause in the Northeast.

“Exit Through the Gift Shop” — Is the debut film from shadowy British artist Banksy a genuine documentary or an artfully constructed fraud? I’ve never thought it was an interesting question — since the movie is hilarious, and poses the same philosophical questions about art and commerce, either way — and in delivering an Oscar nomination, I guess the Academy agrees.

“Dogtooth” — This dark and disturbing allegory from Greek filmmaker Giorgios Lanthimos looked like the longest of long shots for foreign-Oscar consideration. But persistent critical adoration put it on the map, and here it is. (I’m not the biggest fan — but I’ll deal with the intriguing list of foreign-film nominees in due course.)


“The Social Network” — Don’t get me wrong; I still think this is the best-picture favorite, and that David Fincher will also go home with the best-director statuette. But it received fewer nominations than either “King’s Speech” or “True Grit.” Jesse Eisenberg won’t win, and neither Andrew Garfield nor Justin Timberlake were nominated for their outstanding supporting performances.

“Inception”—  Despite a world-conquering box-office take of $823 million and the adulation of countless fans, Christopher Nolan again finds himself a bit player in the Oscar race. “Inception’s” nods for best picture and original screenplay are basically affirmative action for commercial cinema. I don’t think it will win in either category, and Nolan himself was passed over in the directing category. Various commentators are acting like a surprise — at this point, it’s more like a ritual.

“Blue Valentine” — Maybe that NC-17 controversy really did hurt. Michelle Williams was nominated for best actress, but costar Ryan Gosling was passed over, and Derek Cianfrance’s gritty marriage drama, despite all the critical raves, was otherwise ignored.

“127 Hours” — Sure, both Danny Boyle’s film and star James Franco were nominated. But a muddled critical reception, mediocre box office and the general sense that Franco is an overexposed hipster avatar have rendered this brutal, effects-driven freakout an Oscar-race afterthought.

“The Town” — Ben Affleck’s Boston bank-heist thriller was well reviewed early in the fall, but all along it was just a dumbass pop film that was slightly better crafted than others of its ilk. Jeremy Renner’s supporting-actor nomination is richly deserved, but Oscar otherwise gave the cold shoulder to this forgettable vanity project.

“The Tillman Story” — Amir Bar-Lev’s fascinating documentary about Army Ranger Pat Tillman, the former football star killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan — an idiosyncratic individual from an amazing American family — seemed like an obvious contender. I guess Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger’s “Restrepo,” a powerful you-are-there doc, filled Oscar’s war-movie quota.

read the full article here

(SALON.COM  1.25.11)

also see the 10 oscar nods that won’t happen but should…

best films of 2010…

the Village Voice/L.A. Weekly film critics poll…


And the winner of the 2010 Village Voice/L.A. Weekly Film Critics Poll is… The Ghost WriterBlack Swan, Greenberg, Bluebeard, Mother, Exit Through the Gift Shop and Enter the Void.

Just kidding. There’s only one movie of the moment: The Social Network.

Listed on 52 of 85 ballots cast (the largest percentage of any poll-topping movie since Todd Haynes‘ Far From Heaven won in 2002), David Fincher‘s Birth of a Cyber Nation, directed from Aaron Sorkin‘s script, took the 11th annual Voicepoll, just as it captured critics’ awards in New York, Los Angeles and Boston. Old media acknowledges new. The last time a newly anointed Time “Person of the Year” like Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg got the simultaneous Hollywood treatment was back in 1943 (Joe Stalin, Mission to Moscow).

Truly, 2010 was the year of the globalistic rogue — runner-up to the Zuckerberg story was Carlos, Olivier Assayas‘ five-and-a-half-hour saga of the most notorious international terrorist of the 1970s, while Exit Through the Gift Shop, by art-world mystery man/prankster Banksy, handily won both Best Documentary (or “documentary”) and Best First Film.

Jesse Eisenberg‘s Zuckerberg defeated Édgar Ramirez‘s Carlos for Best Actor (although in the real world, both their Google numbers combined — plus Banksy’s — are but a ridiculous fraction of the 131 million citations for global rogue Julian Assange, whose biopic is surely to come).

The poll’s top three movies all but swept the table. Sorkin overwhelmingly won for Best Screenplay; Assayas edged Fincher for Best Director. Meanwhile, third-place Winter’s BoneDebra Granik‘s indie backwoods thriller, collected a pair of awards: Feisty teenager Jennifer Lawrence pirouetted past Black Swan’s Natalie Portman for Best Actress and John Hawkes out-blustered The Fighter‘s Christian Bale for Best Supporting Actor, although in the battle for Best Supporting (lowlife) Actress, Bone’s Dale Dickey lost to Animal Kingdom‘s Jacki Weaver.

The rest of the Top 10 are a decidedly mixed bag: Roman Polanski‘s absurdist political thriller The Ghost Writer finished fourth, followed by a couple of surprise foreign films, Maren Ade‘s acerbic relationship comedy Everyone Else and Giorgios Lanthimos’ allegorical family drama Dogtooth. Darren Aronofsky‘s madcap Black Swan came in seventh, just ahead of Alain Resnais‘ even madder Wild Grass, tied with Bong Joon-ho‘s Hitchcockian murder mystery Mother and followed by the year’s top-grossing movie, Toy Story 3.

The poll has a few anomalies. Three critics named movies as the year’s best that figured on no one else’s ballots: the Nicholas Winding Refn viking fest Valhalla Rising, documentary The Tillman Story and Rodrigo García‘s adoption drama Mother and Child. But these are proudly declared individual statements. Movies are more generally a collective art and social phenomenon.

As box office receipts measure popularity, polls manifest consensus. What’s really fascinating is intensity of feeling. Each poll has a hidden story, revealing those movies that are not only liked butreally liked or even passionately lurved. Carlos may have appeared on significantly fewer ballots than The Social Network, but it garnered more first-place votes and had a higher average score. To quantify this sort of intensity, we’ve derived a primitive algorithm (factoring a movie’s average score with the percentage of voters listing it first or second) known as the Passiondex™.

Application of the Passiondex™ to movies listed by at least three critics yields a somewhat different list of winners, headed by the bleak, violent Red Riding Trilogy (No. 26). Substantially trailing that critical cult winner are Manoel de Oliveira‘s blandly eccentric Strange Case of Angelica (No. 29); Carlos; Chang-dong Lee‘s epic crime drama Secret Sunshine (No. 16); Todd Solondz‘s dark comedy Life During Wartime (No. 35); Jessica Hausner‘s deadpan religious satire Lourdes (No. 24); Miguel Gomes‘ not-quite music doc Our Beloved Month of August (No. 20); Toy Story 3; and Dogtooth. (That Lourdes, Dogtooth and Life During Wartime all received votes as the year’s worst film just enhances their cult status.) Tied with Dogtooth, and just ahead of Greenberg (No. 18) on the pash list: The Social Network.

(LA WEEKLY  12.23.10)


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