Welcome to this blog which is dedicated to providing a forum for a civil discourse on a variety of issues to try and make our society a truly better place for all. While the views expressed are strictly my personal opinions, please feel free to join in on these conversations accepting the premises that every attempt will be made to ensure that nothing but the truth be spoken and the truth be heard.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And the Winner Is

With the annual Academy Awards scheduled for this Sunday, it seems an appropriate time to weigh in with my picks for Oscar winners, but only in the major categories.  In so doing I will first list who I think will win followed by whom I would like to win.  However, as a prelude to those selections, I would like to comment on two movies, Barney's Version and Another Year, both of which seem to have been ignored by the Academy this year for reasons that totally escape me. 

The first tells the story of a blunt, over-bearing, self-absorbed individual who seemingly has no knack for diplomacy when dealing with his spouses, employees, friends or casual acquaintances.  But beneath that abrasive exterior is the heart of a man who ultimately shows deep and abiding love for the last of his three wives while slowly spiraling downward in the funnel of Alzheimer's.  The cast and acting are superb and there are none of those slow monotonous segments found in many movies that make the viewer wish he were watching it on Tivo and had a fast forward button.  So, I'm just dumbfounded as to why the only attribute the Academy found worthy of recognition was in their Best Achievement in Makeup category.  Besides my own rating of excellent, many other qualified movie critics also gave very favorable reviews of this movie, some of which you can read for yourself from a list of 83 at  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1423894/externalreviews.  At  least the star, Paul Giamatti, did receive the Golden Globe award for best actor, Rosamund Pike and Minnie Driver were recognized by the London Critics Film Awards for Actress of the Year and Supporting Actress of the Year respectively, and Rosamund Pike again for Best Actress in a Supporting Role by the Satellite Awards. 

As if to illustrate the exact opposite of the high octane approach to relationships Barney took, the second movie centers around the long-term, stable, genteel and happily married couple, Gerri and Tom, and four seasonal episodes they experience with some fairly dysfunctional friends which bring them full circle with the beginning of "another year".  However, it is Mary, played by Lesley Manville, who keeps reappearing and slowly deteriorates from a seemingly happy-go-lucky individual into a real mess who becomes the real focus of the movie.  While painful to watch, it is a brilliant piece of acting along with the entire ensemble cast who play their parts flawlessly, just as you would expect a group of talented British actors to perform, much in the tradition of Masterpiece Theater.  Even though the Academy, like with Barney's Version, did nominate Another Year for a single entry for "Best Writing for a Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen" (is that the same as Best Original Screenplay?), fortunately, other film groups recognized the broad excellence of this movie, to wit:    
Nominated for BAFTA Film Award - Lesley Manville for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated for British Independent Film Award - Jim Broadbent for Best Actor, Ruth Sheen for Best Actress, Lesley Manville for Best Supporting Actress and Mike Leigh for Best Director
Nominated for Chicago Film Critics Award - Lesley Manville for Best Actress
Nominated for London Critics Circle Film Award - Jim Broadbent for Best British Actor, Lesley Manville for Best British Actress, Ruth Sheen for Best British Actress, Peter Wight for Best Supporting Actor, David Bradley for Supporting Actor and Best British Film
Won National Board of Review Award, USA - Lesley Manville for Best Actress
Won San Diego Film Critics Society Award - Lesley Manville for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated for SDFCS Award - Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville and Ruth Sheen for Best Ensemble
Nominated for Washington DC Area Film Award - Mike Leigh for Best Original Screenplay   
Once again, read from 159 other reviews at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1431181/externalreviews.

And then there are Blue Valentine and Rabbit Hole which my wife thinks did not get their full measure of recognition, even though each got a Best Actress nomination, but time and space prevent further comment.  In any event here are my major picks for Sunday night:
Best Actor:  Colin Firth/Colin Firth
Best Actress:  Natalie Portman/Natalie Portman
Best Supporting Actor:  Christian Bale/Geoffrey Rush   
Best Supporting Actress:  Melissa Leo/Amy Adams
Best Movie:  The King's Speech/The Social Network *
* If for no other reason than the powerful social significance of Facebook in today's world (think Middle East and North Africa), as all nominees are worthy of Best Picture in my view.  

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