Oscar Postpartum 2011

It was far from the most exciting Academy Awards broadcast. The most surprising thing that happened was that Kirk Douglas stole the show from hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

As for my Oscar picks I got exactly the same amount right that I did last year – 13 out of 24.

Here are the ones I got wrong:

BEST PICTURE: THE KING’S SPEECH. For the first time in 4 years I got this one wrong. I picked THE SOCIAL NETWORK because that was what I was feeling, but the Academy voters felt differently. THE KING’S SPEECH is excellent and deserving so I’m not disapointed.

Funnily enough last September Bill Maher joked on his HBO show (Real Time With Bill Maher):

“New rule: If they are going to make a historic epic full of British actors in period costumes about Queen Elizabeth helping her father get over his speech impediment, why bother having the Oscars at all? You win.”

He didn’t get the plot right exactly, but he was dead on there.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo won for THE FIGHTER. I really thought Haileed Steinfeld would take it. Sigh.

BEST DIRECTOR: Tom Hooper for THE KING’S SPEECH. I picked David Fincher for THE SOCIAL NETWORK – I really should’ve seen THE KING’S SPEECH sweep coming.

These were pretty much stabs in the dark:

BEST FOREIGN FILM: IN A BETTER WORLD. Honestly can’t remember why I went with INCENDIES.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Wally Pfister for INCEPTION. Was pulling for Roger Deakins for TRUE GRIT because he’s been nominated 9 times and I thought it was his time. It wasn’t.

BEST SCORE: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for THE SOCIAL NETWORK. The Academy got this one right, but I didn’t with my pick of Alexandre Desplat for THE KING’S SPEECH.

BEST SONG: Randy Newman for TOY STORY 3. Another I was happy to be wrong about. I had choosen A.R. Rahman, Rollo Armstrong, and Dido for 127 HOURS which didn’t win anything.

BEST DOCUMENTARY: INSIDE JOB – Man, I so wanted Banksy to win for EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP. However INSIDE JOB was a great flick too so I’m fine with it.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: STRANGERS NO MORE. My pick – KILLING IN THE NAME is another that I can’t remember why I picked it.

Ditto on these 2:



My favorite line of the entire broadcast: “You’ve just been Inceptioned!” – as spoken by Alec Baldwin.

More later…

THE FIGHTER: The Film Babble Blog Review

Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale play Boston boxing brothers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund in this strong drama based on true events.

Set in the early ’90s, the film begins documentary style as HBO is filming Bale for a film about his comeback. We see archival video of the real Eklund in the ring with Sugar Ray Leonard.

Wahlberg is following in his half brother’s footsteps, being trained by him for an upcoming fight. Their tough talking mother Melissa Leo manages Wahlberg and also has 7 daughters who act as a sort of trashy teased Greek chorus on the sidelines.

A very skinny Bale (well, maybe not as thin as in THE MACHINIST) is unhinged and bug-eyed, yet utterly believable and not over the top in his portrayal. He spends most of his time in a crackhouse when he should be at the gym with Wahlberg.

Wahlberg meets Amy Adams as a bartender and asks her out, but he stands her up because he’s embarrassed about losing his latest bout. She confronts him on this and almost immediately they are dating.

Wahlberg is offered a chance to be paid for training year round in Las Vegas for a chance at the title, but his loyalty to his mother and brother gets in the way.

Adams believes he should take the opportunity and this makes her unpopular with Wahlberg’s family – especially the 7 sisters who gang up on Adams, but they find that the petite redhead has a bit of the fight in her too.

Trying to hold on Wahlberg, Bale goes to the dark seedy side of addiction and creepy criminal behavior. We find out that the HBO documentary about Bale is actually about crack not his improbable comeback.

Bale lands in prison while Wahlberg signs on for new management. Wahlberg starts winning fights, but he’s aware that it’s Bale’s training that ultimately gets him there.

With it’s blue collar background and salt of the earth archetypes, THE FIGHTER doesn’t break any new ground and its narrative rambles at times, but it has solid performances and a great grasp on the genre’s well worn conventions.

In his third film with director O. Russell, Wahlberg shows off the years of work he’s put into the part and delivers some of his most layered acting. Bale may steal every scene he’s in (it’s nearly impossible to look elsewhere when he’s on the screen), but Wahlberg more than holds his own as do Adams and Leo.

The fight scenes are shot digitally so that they resemble how boxing appears on television through bright lighting and resolution lines – an effect that enhances the realism nicely.

O. Russell has had trouble when thinking outside the box in previous work (I HEART HUCKABEES was an overreaching unfunny mess), but here his indulgences are reigned in – seems here he neatly thinks inside the box (or in the ring) and it pays off.

More later…