Friday, February 25, 2011

My Oscar Picks

By John Gilstrap

One really cool perk of belonging to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is the gift that starts giving sometime in lat October, and runs fairly steadily through the end of the year: the flood of movie screeners for awards season.  Because none of the films I've been paid to write have ever been produced, I am not a member of the Academy, yet I do get to vote for the WGA Awards, and that in itself is pretty cool.

Some years, the flow of screeners is better than others, but 2010 brought a bumper crop.  Don't get me wrong, I still go to the theater periodically, but not nearly as often as I used to.  When watching in the privacy of my own home, I've never once had to shoot a dirty look to a rude teenager with a cell phone.  That alone greatly improves the movie-going experience.  (Plus, we can pause the movie for bathroom breaks.)

With the Oscars looming this coming Sunday (my birthday!), I thought I'd make my pitch for a few of the major categories, listing which contestants I think should win, and, in some cases, who I think will win, even if I disagree.

Best Supporting Actress.  This one is tough for me, as I think it's tough for anyone who watched some of the performaces that are competing with one another.  Hailee Steinfeld's portrayal of Mattie Ross in True Grit was spellbinding.  She commanded every scene she was in.  I couldn't take my eyes off of her.  If she won, I would not be disappointed.  But my vote goes to Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech.  Through facial expressions alone, she was able to project a love of her husband that tore at my heart.

Best Supporting Actor.  Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech.  'Nuff said.  I can't imagine the award going to anyone else this year.  Much is said of Christian Bale's performance in The Fighter, but while I thought he was terrific in the role, he engaged in a little bit too much scenery chewing for me.  Geoffrey Rush, on the other hand, merely lived his character.

Best Actress.  Okay, time for full disclosure here.  This is the category for which I saw the least number of films.  I'm going to default to Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right.  Her portrayal of a heartsick middle-aged lesbian was a memorable part of a very memorable movie.  That said, all the buzz says the Oscar is going to Natalie Portman for The Black Swan.  Having not seen the movie (yet), I defer to the opinions of others.

Best Actor.  Another tough call.  Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit was a force of nature.  I loved every minute of his screen time.  (Every minute of the film, for that matter.)  While Jesse Eisenberg was fantastic in The Social Network, I don't think the story was big enough to compete with some of its competition.  My choice for Best Actor is Colin Firth in The King's Speech.  He was, in a word, fantastic.

Best Adapted Screenplay.  Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network.  Reading a Sorkin screenplay is like taking a master class in writing action and dialogue.

Best Original Screenplay.  Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg for The Kids Are All Right.  Okay, that's my pick.  I don't think it will win, though.  The momentum all seems to be behind David Seidler for The King's Speech.

Best Picture.  For me, it's a tie between True Grit and The King's Speech.  If I were to place a bet, I think the smart money is on The King's Speech. 

So, Killzoners . . . What do you think?  Here's your chance to go on the record.


  1. Good post, John. I agree with your assessment of True Grit and The King's Speech. As much as I enjoyed True Grit, I hope The King's Speech wins. A lifelong stutterer myself, I cried through the whole movie. Firth nailed stuttering so perfectly that it was hard to believe he was acting.

  2. Having seen so few of the movies I'm not sure my opinion accounts for much, but I'd lean toward Inception for best original screenplay. My suspicion is that Bale will win it for best actor simply because the academy so likes it when actors gain or lose weight for their roles. Plus, if you've actually see recent film footage of the man he was playing, you can see that, well, Bale wasn't actually overacting, the guy's just like that. I'm amused to think of Geoffrey Rush NOT chewing the scenery, since in almost every role I've ever seen him in he has, but I'll take your word for it. I was hoping to see The King's Speech this weekend.

  3. Happy advanced birthday greetings, John. Your Oscar picks are in sync with most others I've read. But I would like to see one upset for best picture. I've watched Inception 4 times already and can't wait to watch it again. One of the most intriguing stories and movies I've ever seen.

  4. I used to watch movies in theatres more and miss it. You make me want to see True Grit and The King's Speech however. Loved your assessments.

    I did rent the social network and was really enthralled by it. Not so much the specific acting, although it was wonderful, but the way that story was told. The screen writing, editing, and directing should make it a real contender. I love good writing. And seeing that plot unfold with the complexity of going from past to present to multiple testimonies was amazing.

  5. Peter O'Toole is a lock this year. And it's about time!

    What's he up for again?

  6. I go to the theater once a year max. I'm still catching up on my to be watched list from '06.

    My kids though, they go a lot with the grands. Despicable Me has had them laughing non-stop all year. Other than that, I'm with Jim. Go Peter O'Toole!

  7. Happy Birthday, Gilstrap.

    My grandson says:
    Best Movie: Toy Story 3

  8. I'm still catching up with the movies, but I can't quibble with your votes so far. I'd love the King's Speech to do well--it even impressed my mother (over 80 and English).

  9. I enjoyed True Grit. I thought it was well done. I haven't had a chance to see the King's speech, but I'm looking forward to it. I don't think my favorite movie made the list. Personally, my favourite movie of last year was RED... the cast was amazing, the characters were fun and well done, and no the plot wasn't earth shattering, but it blended action, humor, and heart really well, with a tall, side glass of class. (And I can watch it over and over again and enjoy it more each time- the others... well, for those I have seen on the lists- honestly, once was enough.)