2001: A Space Odyssey

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic masterpiece 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

On this episode of TRIO SIMPATICO David and Joshua are joined by returning guest DANIELLE RANDLES to discuss our recent viewing of this catalyst of science fiction film making.

During a limited re-release of the movie in select IMAX theaters we gathered a TRIO SIMPATICO contingent to take in the cosmic splendor of this Kubrick classic on the big screen!  During this episode we share our thoughts about seeing the movie in IMAX for the first time and how that experience differs from previous viewings.

But we don’t simply end our discussion there!  We also take this opportunity to talk about the little-known cinematic follow up to 2001, 1984’s 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT directed by Peter Hyams.  We discuss the tremendous burden of this sequel, the impossibility of matching its predecessor, and the genuinely great things about this completely different but worthy film.

Plus we touch upon the companion novels by Arthur C. Clarke, how to make the name Keir Dullea sexy, and so much MORE!  Listen HERE!

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Solo: Dissection

This is it!  Trio Simpatico’s Solo: A Star Wars Story coup de grâce!

SPOILERS abound beyond this point as Joshua and David welcome guests TIM MCFARLAND and BRIAN ASHTON as the quartet undertakes a SOLO: DISSECTION episode!

Finally sitting down to tear into Solo: A Star Wars Story your co-hosts and their guests crack open the brand new Official Guide to the movie written by Lucasfilm story group head honcho Pablo Hidalgo!

Using the official guide as a map the group covers nearly every aspect of the film giving our opinions and commentary on what we liked, what we didn’t like, and what we hope to see in future STAR WARS ANTHOLOGY films!

PLUS if this conversation leaves you wanting more, fear not!  As you’d expect by now with these episodes, we ran long and had to cut some sections for time, however we are putting those cut segments together for a future bonus episode!

So look for that coming up on TRIO SIMPATICO!

simpaticopodcast.com

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Save Us John Williams!

     Ugh!  This is completely off topic but  I just watched the Rebecca Black video on YouTube, you know the one where some random teenage girl is singing like a car alarm about a day of the week, complete with explanations of the subsequent days that follow.  Christ!  If you’re not convinced our nations creative culture has hit rock bottom then just go take a peek at the video for “Friday.”  My wife summed it up best in saying that that production was the outcome of children being coddled and told that everything they do is “awesome” and “special.”  Sorry kids sometimes you just can’t sing, no matter how much you dial up the autotune.  We can’t all be star athletes either.  Hard work and perseverance are a major part of achieving what we want out of life, but sometimes a measure of talent is needed to actually make those dreams a reality.  Play to your strengths. 

     Ah but why waste my breath right?  I mean that music video is awful, but it already has over a million views.  Sure many, like myself, have watched it simply to see how bad it is but that notion is lost on our commercialized culture.  A million views means a lot of eyes have seen this train wreck and when there’s an inevitable follow up there will be an immediate viewership response which means there can be some profit to be made on this shit.  I really don’t hold anything against the young lady herself, at best she has been misguided, at worst she’s a bit delusional.  But I don’t see it as having much to do with her. Someone with some film equipment noticed her genuine desire to be a star (talent aside) and the dollar signs started floating down from the heavens as the plans were set into motion to make her the next Justin Beiber/Disney-esque pop star.  There is so little class left in our culture.  Sigh

     I could go on and on ranting, but that wasn’t actually what I wanted to write about today.  I came here with the intention of talking about my love for composer John Williams.  However after seeing that video this morning it just put me in a foul, pessimistic mood so I had to piss and moan a bit.  Anywho, on to John Williams.  Now there’s a classy dude.  I would not hesitate to place John Williams among the ranks of Mozart and Beethoven.  Traditional classical music scholars might scoff at the idea that a mere movie composer, who writes scores for films, would even be considered equal to the great symphonic masters of history.  But I say, really what’s the difference?  John Williams has written traditional symphonies, not many, but he has a few under his belt.  He is though of course most known for his memorable and moving film scores, which often complete the movies they are a part of.  Imagine Jaws without its soundtrack.  Not only the famous tensely menacing theme of the shark but also the incidental sections which highlight the adventure of the open water really add quite a bit to that movie.  Without that music Jaws would seem rather flat and somewhat dull.  It is impossible to separate the music from the action.  Now think about Mozart, Wagner, and Mendelssohn many of their best known works come from their operas and theatrical pieces.  The movies of their day.  I’ll grant you that in some cases these masters had a much larger role in the stories that were being portrayed on stage, but it was all about the music telling those stories, evoking the emotions and tensions that were being played out on stage.

Fact: I have seen John Williams in concert more times than any other band/musician.

     Let me just say that I do like to think of myself as having a rather eclectic taste in music, I don’t only listen to symphonic and classical music. I can appreciate pretty much all music and have it represented in some form or another on my ipod.  With the exception of modern country music, that shits awful.  Though even that has a few exceptions I suppose.  I realize that the only musical discussions on my blog currently are this, and a post about Handel.  I just think it’s important to understand the history of music, and appreciate the diversity of classical music that is out there.  There are some exciting and cool works to listen to, it’s not all chamber music and lullabies for your developing toddler.

     Now back to John Williams.  I have said for a long time that I believe the great film composers are the true legacy of classical music and the great composers of the past.  John Williams, Henry Mancini, Howard Shore, even Danny Elfman all draw on the past as well as adding something new to the sound of symphonic music.  I would love to hear more works from these and other modern movie composers played along with the Bizet and Verdi pieces that are played on NPR and elsewhere. 

     My fandom of John Williams and my overall appreciation of movie scores, began in 1993 at the tender age of twelve.  At that time I had very little knowledge of such subjects.  One weekend my dad told me he was taking me to a movie, we were going to see Jurassic Park.  As I sat in the theater watching the awesome scenery and effects of that movie one thing struck me which had never occurred to me about a movie before.  The music.  It was an “ah ha!” moment for me that has really effected my movie going experience to this day.  I remember exactly which scene it was that caught my attention, it was towards the beginning of the movie just before they reach the island, as the group is soaring over the ocean in a helicopter on their approach to Jurassic Park.  The music is perfectly timed with a cut, so that the music shoots up suddenly to sweep the viewer up and soar them along to this tropical location.  It is a memorable tune that had me paying attention to the rest of the music in the movie, but not distracting me at all from what was happening as people were getting chased and bitten in half by dinosaurs, in fact it enhanced that experience.  As the credits rolled I made sure to pay attention and see who had written that crazy awesome score.  John Williams, a name that would send me investigating all his other work.

Jurassic Park, both the movie and the book, changed my life.

     Back in modern times, the wife and I watched Jurassic Park again recently and I was reminded just how perfectly John Williams’ score weaves the action together as well as highlights the slower more emotional scenes.  I would argue that his work on Jurassic Park is his finest in terms of punctuating a movie, in doing the most heavy lifting to create suspense, and in establishing an overall sense of wonder.  As a kid I was obsessed with Jurassic Park and the soundtrack was actually the first CD I ever bought.  (Yeah I’m awesome.)  Through some searching I soon realized that John Williams was the man behind the music of my favorite movies of all time, Star Wars.  From there I discovered that John Williams was the sound of Jaws, Indiana Jones, and pretty much every Steven Spielberg movie ever.  I was hooked for life, and the rest is history.

Frequent collaborators, John Williams and Steven Spielberg.

     This blog has kind of gotten off track, I had a whole comparison ready to go between the Magic Flute and the ET soundtrack, but I’ve gone on too long at this point.  I have more or less just lectured about my love for John Williams.  I guess if I had to sum up this blog it would be to encourage any parents out there, or hip aunts and uncles, etc. to go out and purchase some John Williams music for some of the kids in your family.  Chances are they already like some of the movies he’s been a part of, so it is an easy in.  Start your kids off with something like the Star Wars soundtracks.  Their enjoyment of something familiar might encourage an interest in classical works, and the intricacies of large orchestral pieces.  That interest might than be translated into other music, be it classical or rock and roll or hip hop.  If kids have a good understanding of different sounds, and the building blocks of music they might be able to cultivate a genuine interest in music, instead of a desire for fame through music.  Maybe John Williams can even help our future generations avoid being bamboozled into making terrible musical decisions, like taking part in obnoxious music videos about random words.

That is all!

John Williams has been as equally important to these movies as the actors and directors.

Some Thing Old, Some Thing New.


     Today I had the chance to rewatch John Carpenter’s The Thing. It’s been several years since I’ve seen the movie and I was pleasantly surprised how well it still holds up. I know there are a great many people out there who hold The Thing to be the pinnacle of sci-fi horror movies. There are certainly plenty of reasons for someone to think that, and I won’t argue. Though I don’t think it is my personal favorite, it certainly is a quality flick. One comment I regularly hear that I have a small problem with however is that John Carpenter’s The Thing is far superior to the original. I’ve read that folks don’t believe it should even be called a remake, and that the 1982 version is such a completely different, better type of movie that the two are incomparable. As much as I have to admit that the newer movie is a much scarier movie with truly superior effects I think there are really far more similarities between them then most people want to admit. This is not at all to detract from Carpenter’s movie, in fact if anything it should add to his praises for such a boffo adaptation! John Carpenter’s The Thing should really be a guide for making any type of “reboot” especially in this day and age when it seems every movie is a remake. (And there is actually a remake of this movie coming out this year some time . . . )

     Both of these movies were a part of my childhood in different ways. My dad is older than most dads in my age range, and as such always watched the classic movie channels. Turner Classic Movies seemed to constantly be on one TV or another in my house growing up. The original 1951 The Thing From Another World also just happens to be one of my father’s favorite horror movies and since it was one of the few horror movies to be regularly shown on TCM I was exposed to that movie on a regular basis. Of course what youth doesn’t rebel somewhat against their elders? Though my parents loved TCM I was not a fan as a kid. I turned my sights to basic cable and the wonders of the late night movie. By the time I was old enough to be sneaking downstairs to watch late night TV John Carpenter’s The Thing was hitting the airwaves of basic cable and even that edited for TV version was enough to make me piss a little.  Needless to say it left an impression, and brought to mind the phrase “This isn’t your fathers Thing.”   (Which is just creepy when you read it.)

     Before going into the similarities of the 1951 and 1982 versions let me state one difference I really enjoy about the movies. The beginning. At the start of the original movie the arctic base camp investigates and subsequently discovers the crashed UFO and the frozen space man. That scene is one of the most iconic and chilling of old school horror. The music along with the camera pulling up to reveal all the men standing at arms length forming the perimeter of the massive ship encased under the ice still has an impact. Thinking about how movies were made back in the fifties it even adds something more to the effect of the shot when you wonder where and how they actually got that shot of that icy plain and the huge dark disc embedded within it. They of course take photos, then cut around the frozen alien and haul the block back to base where it thaws and mayhem ensues.
     That type of beginning really works for the time period. However I really like the first few scenes of Carpenter’s version. It opens with a helicopter flying over the snow as a gunner onboard tries to shoot a running husky down below. Already you know something is wrong. The copter pursues this seemingly innocent animal across the snow until they reach an American research base at which point the helicopter lands and the gunner in a frenzy continues to try and kill the dog. Grenades are tossed, bullets are fired, the new arrival’s helicopter is blown up, and the American research team doesn’t know what the hell is going on. Already they are in the middle of the mayhem, they just don’t know it yet. I always like those types of stories. Of course it all becomes clear later when they travel to the neighboring base where they find everyone dead and records full of exposition relating the modern details of this alien reimagining.

Now onto the heart of this tirade! Why you should love both versions of The Thing, and perhaps appreciate even more the work of Carpenter’s Thing.

-Setting
     An obvious one. Both movies are set in the Antarctic in a U.S. scientific base. This is an important element because this means that the characters are not only fighting some creature, they’re fighting the elements as well. A small group, fending for themselves, in the most secluded place on earth. I can’t think of anything more terrifying.

-Suspense Is Key
     Though both versions of the movie have their scary moments, what really draws you in is the suspense, an element both films make use of almost as soon as the movies start. In the original the main driving force for the suspense are the teams hand-held Geiger Counters which they use to track the alien through the base. Because of the time period the alien is obliged to be radioactive, and the gradually quickening pings of the Geiger Counters warn the men when the beast is approaching. This makes for some great moments as one of the men stares transfixed on the flashing screen while the others tensely check their surroundings waiting for the monster to come crashing through the wall at any moment. The ’82 version masterfully twists this intense suspense and mixes it with suspicion when they discover that their Thing can get inside of other living creatures, imitating and absorbing them devouring them on a cellular level. This creates fear among the men as they realize that some of them are not who they appear to be.

Robert Cornthwaite as Dr. Carrington

-Crazy Scientists
     Both movies have one wacky scientist who thinks he’s so much smarter than everyone else and thinks he has all the answers if everyone else would just shut up and listen to him! In the original that scientist is Dr. Carrington played by the eerie Robert Cornthwaite, who could be Dr. Quest’s evil twin. In the remake the “mad scientist” is Dr. Blaire, played by the one and only Wilford Brimley. 1951 – Carrington thinks he can reason with the alien, it is an intelligent being from a highly advanced society surely it will be open to rational discussion. He is wrong, The Thing kills him. 1982 – Dr. Blaire realizes fairly quickly that this alien is a high risk to not only their safety but the security of the entire world. In an attempt to isolate it Blaire tries to destroy all the radio equipment and their various modes of transportation. He is right. Unfortunately everyone else just thinks he’s lost it and attempts to stops him. The first movie was telling us not to listen to those God hating, free thinking, science commies. The other was saying, maybe we should have listened to the scientist, before it was too late. Very topical for their times.

Wilford Brimley as Dr. Blaire

-Creative Aliens in Cinema
     The two Things are quite different in each movie but they are both quite groundbreaking for their time. In 1951 any alien in a movie that wasn’t a martian or some kind of lizard was pretty unique. This alien evolved from plants and sought blood for its nutrients, a sensational idea at the time I’m sure. Though they don’t go into great detail about the Carpenter alien, there wasn’t any need to, it just sort of spoke for itself. That Thing was an effects masterpiece that tore into, digested, gored, and ripped its way across the screen and was groundbreaking in its style.

-Badass Leads
     Kurt Russell was just great in the 1982 movie, and it made me think about how many awesome movies he has been in. Does he intentionally pick cool, sci-fi, movie geek roles? Or has he just been typecast into those parts? Either way I’m not complaining. The ’51 version starred Kenneth Tobey an all-american military hero type who smoked cigarettes, barked orders, and killed ugly alien bastards. Both guys are badasses, though Kurt Russel is more of the Wolverine badass while Tobey was more of the Captain America badass.

-Dog Mutilation
     Kill all the scientists and military researchers you want, but when you kill an animal that’s when it really hits home with the audience. Both movies feature, pretty early on, some dogs getting eaten by hungry aliens.

-Fire Bad!
     Both versions make it clear that this particular brand of alien has no weakness for cold, it can stay frozen for thousands of years if need be. So if you want to kill The Thing, you’d better have some high voltage wires or a couple of flame throwers. This also creates a great dynamic between the setting and the action. There are several scenes in both movies where you have someone engulfed in flames stumbling through the blizzard conditions of an Antarctic storm.

-Memorable Endings
     Both movies have unique endings that leave the viewer with something to think about in terms of whether the threat is really over or not. In the original we are left with the now famous line “Watch the skies!” which is modern sci-fi legend. In the ’82 version we are left with an uneasy feeling due to the ambiguous nature of that films end. The final scenes of both Things leave the audience with some lingering questions and a few worries.

     So I guess what this has all been about is just me trying to tell you to love all Things equally. The 1951 The Thing From Another World and the 1982 The Thing have equal merits for different eras of filmmaking. John Carpenter clearly has a love for the original movie, as well as the original book “Who Goes There?” which both are based on. It is said that Carpenter based his take more on the book, than the movie however. I agree that John Carpenter really did a stellar job adapting the movie, and it isn’t simply some knock off attempt. I just hope that some of you also go back and take another look at the old The Thing and try to appreciate it for what it was at the time, and not simply as some old horror movie with bad special effects!  Oh and if this new remake/reboot/whatever is any good than perhaps I’ll have another post about it as well.

James Arness as The Thing (1951)

Two Cents From Two Witsamans. Our Oscar Picks.

Well it’s that time once again, time for the academy awards. Big stars, hollywood glamor, and a whole lot of ego boosting. Currently every asshole with a computer is flooding the interwebs with their own Oscar predictions. Well prepare to add me to that long list because I am about to drop my awards precognition on you all! However how many people do you know who have their wife offering a counterpoint to their predictions? Probably not many! This is the first in a, hopefully, ongoing series of posts where my wife weighs in on my plethora of geeky interests. This topic though holds equal bearing for us, as we both like to think of ourselves as pretty enthusiastic cinephiles. So without further ado, I present my Oscar Predictions Husband and Wife Point/Counterpoint!

"And the Oscar goes to . . . . "

Original Song:
Joshua: Coming Home from Country Strong. I have not seen this movie or heard this song but that movie seemed to do well, it was about music, and it has an original song so my money is on that!

Lauren: We Belong Together from Toy Story 3. Not because I think it’s good. In fact, every Randy Newman song in the world now reminds me of Family Guy. However, that fat bastard has a lock on heart-warming songs for animated features (see his 2002 Oscar win for Monsters Inc.).

Original Score:
Joshua: Inception. The score of this movie was a central part of the whole experience, if anything the score was one of the viewers only links to sanity while watching this movie. Some of the other scores have some big names attached to them, but Hans Zimmer is no lightweight and I personally think this one has the upper hand.

Lauren: The Social Network. The score contributed to the buzzy energy of this film. In a movie that could have so easily felt nerdy, dry and boring, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed a score that helped make computer programming feel sexy and edgy. Well, done, my friends.

Sound Editing:
Joshua: True Grit. I don’t really have a strong case for it at all but the film really drew you in to the scenes, like you were out on the trail with them. If Ben Burtt has taught me anything during my repeated viewings of the commentary reels of the Star Wars movies, it’s that sounds can make or break a scene. I assume with as much ambiance and picturesque landscapes filmed in this movie there must also be a great deal of detailed, subtle sound editing.

Lauren: Who gives a shit? Eh, I’m going with Inception.

Sound Mixing:
Joshua: Inception. There were a lot of crazy sounds coming together in so many scenes of this movie, I can’t really see it going to any of the other choices.

Lauren: Agreed.

Ben Burtt won an oscar in Sound Editing for Star Wars (1977)

Film Editing:
Joshua: Social Network. A wonderfully edited movie, that’s it.

Lauren: Agreed on this one as well. I really felt that this film had good pacing. Black Swan, The Fighter, and The King’s Speech all had moments that could have been cut.

Costume Design:
Joshua: The Tempest. I didn’t see the Tempest, but I did see Alice in Wonderland, and as much as I like Tim Burton, I really don’t think that movie should win any awards even for costuming.

Lauren: I’m going with Alice in Wonderland on this one. I like the use of Alice’s increasingly tattered and strangely sized dress to indicate the changes that our fair heroine goes through in the film. Though I agree the movie sucked, I think the visuals were fairly stellar. And many of those visuals were created through exciting costume choices.

Visual Effects:
Joshua: Inception. This is a tough call, I really want Harry Potter to win, just because I think Deathly Hallows Part 1 really stepped the game up on effects, but I think Inception was just perfect on the effects, very cool, very trippy, and interesting original concepts.

Lauren: Inception. I agree with Josh about Harry Potter, but regardless of my personal feelings, HP is just not Oscar Bait. No matter how much I love it. Inception, on the other hand, was made wonderful by the dizzying visual effects. I sincerely hope the Academy doesn’t screw this category up. Why was Iron Man 2 even nominated, btw?

Live Action Short Film:
Joshua: God of Love. I have no idea, this is purely a guess.

Lauren: Na Wewe. I was going to go with this one anyway, as it has a foreign title, thereby making it automatically more Oscar worthy. However, after reading up on the short film category, I think this one has even more of a shot. It takes place during the Rwandan genocide, and tells the story of a group of people who are pulled over in Burundi. The guerillas demand that the Hutus go to one side of the road and the Tutsis go to the other. The Tutsis will be killed. In a show of solidarity, both groups refuse to move. I think given the current political climate abroad, Oscar voters will go with a film that has a message that highlights our shared humanity. OR maybe they’ll go with Wish 143, about a dying kid whose last wish is to lose his virginity. Who knows.

Animated Short Film:
Joshua: Day & Night. This is actually the only animated short I saw, but honestly it is great. It is very original and harkens back to the earliest days of Disney and other big animation studios. When animation was still an art form and an experimental one at that. Just a great concept and execution.

Lauren: I agree with Josh on this one. I loved Day and Night.

Art Direction:
Joshua: Harry Potter. This is one I just really want to win, pure and simple. I have loved the look of the last few Potter films and like I said earlier Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a great looking film all around.

Lauren: I’m going with Alice in Wonderland on this one. The movie was bad. Hella bad. But it had such a great visual point of view.

Makeup:
Joshua: The Wolfman. Sure why not?

Lauren: I’m going with Barney’s Version. Not because I’ve seen it. Or because I give a shit about this category. I’m just imagining this as a serious take on the children’s program, Barney, that I was forced to watch with my brother as a child. Don’t ruin my vision.

Cinematography:
Joshua: The King’s Speech. I think there were just some really great shots in this film and I really liked the way it was shot, along with everything else about this movie!

Lauren: True Grit. Classic Western in a new and Coen-y way. Great shots of the wide open prairie, and that cool sequence near the end when Jeff Bridges rushes our delirious heroine to the doctor amid a swirling sky of trippy stars.

Adapted Screenplay:
Joshua: The Coens for True Grit. Here the brothers Coen do what they do best, write good dialogue, and they really make use of the already great words at their disposal. I think they have this hands down.

Lauren: I’m going with Social Network here. I’ve heard alot of badmouthing of Sorkin lately, and I’m not sure why. I don’t know much about the guy. I was not a watcher of the West Wing. However, I enjoyed the dialogue in this film and I think the liberties he took with actual events made for a well-rounded and moving story.

Original Screenplay:
Joshua: David Seidler for the King’s Speech. This was a bit of a tough call, but once I thought about it, there’s really no contest. This isn’t just a good screenplay, it’s also part historical research paper, part detective work, part biography, etc. There’s a lot going on in this screenplay, a big workload that really came together in the film. Inception was close, and although it is a highly original concept for a screenplay I don’t think it had the same level of dynamism, if that makes sense.

Lauren: I agree with Josh on this one as well. A huge amount of research went into this, and a lot of work to present the royal family as both regal and relatable.

Foreign Language Film:
Joshua: Biutiful. I haven’t seen any of these and this is the only one I’ve heard anything about.

Lauren: I agree, although I’ve heard that the film is inconsistent and Bardem’s performance is the only truly good thing about it. So we will probably be wrong.

Animated Feature:
Joshua: Toy Story 3. If this doesn’t get the Oscar it will be a crime.

Lauren: I’m rooting for Toy Story 3, but I think the Oscar will go to The Illusionist (brought to you by the creators of 2003’s The Triplets of Belleville). In 2003, the award went to Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo. I think the academy will be showing the French Folks some love this year to make up for their last slight. Plus, I don’t care how you slice it, hand drawn art just feels like it has more craftsmanship than the computer animated stuff. Also, Toy Story 3 was just a little too maudlin for me.

Documentary Short:
Joshua: Sun Come up. I literally just heard about this on NPR and it sounds really interesting and very topical. It’s about a small series of inhabited islands that are being overtaken by rising sea levels. The documentary deals with the people being displaced and having to cope with their former home becoming submerged.

Lauren: Yes. Those of you who “don’t believe in climate change” can suck it.

Documentary Feature:
Joshua: Exit Through the Gift Shop. Again I have not seen any of these but I have come across a few articles mentioning this one, so my guess is Gift Shop.

Lauren: Three way tie here between Exit Through the Gift Shop, Restrepo, and Inside Job. Exit is about “guerilla art” and I’m sure the Academy just salivates over the very idea, but Restrepo and Inside Job are topical and represent good investigative journalism (on the war in Afghanistan and the Wall Street debacle, respectively). I will be shocked if one of these three doesn’t take home the prize.

Director:
Joshua: Darren Aronofsky. I think Arononfsky has it this year, it is close, but honestly his track record speaks for itself. Darren Aronofsky makes good, interesting movies.

Lauren: I’m going with Aronofsky here as well, because I know that Black Swan is not going to win for best picture and darn it, someone needs to be recognized for that film.

Supporting Actress:
Joshua: Hailee Steinfeld. I really want her to win, I think she was awesome in True Grit and the only one that might give her trouble is Amy Adams, maybe. But I think she deserves it, she was very strong up against her talented male co-stars.

Lauren: I really want Hailee Steinfeld to win also, but I don’t think she will. I think the Oscar will go to either Melissa Leo or Amy Adams, both of whom turned in solid performances in The Fighter. I’m putting my money on Amy Adams. Leo’s portrayal of the matriarch of a boxing family is over the top and just. too. much. (Although, from what I hear, so is the real life woman she portrays). Amy Adams’s Charlene is much more nuanced and strong. I won’t be upset if she walks away with the award.

Actress:
Joshua: Natalie Portman. I think she was perfectly cast for Black Swan and I think this role will get her the Oscar. If she doesn’t get it, I will be very surprised.

Lauren: Agreed. And to be honest, I’m not sure why Annette Bening is even in this category. Yes, she turned in a good performance, but I was more focused on Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right, and she didn’t even get a nomination.

Supporting Actor:
Joshua: Geoffrey Rush. He is always great, and I think had he not been in the King’s Speech the movie would not have worked. That is not to say that the other actors weren’t great, but he was truly a support in this production. Give the man an Oscar!

Lauren: Christian Bale. Dude knows how to transform himself into a brawling, crack-addicted nutjob. Not sure if he should be proud of that (?) but it was a performance with phenomenal range.

Actor:
Joshua: Colin Firth. This is a really really tough call, but I like Colin Firth and hope he wins. I think he did a phenomenal job in the King’s Speech and really brought his emotional A-Game. He played the stutter up well without over doing it, and as we all know from Tropic Thunder you “never go full retard” just enough of a disorder to express that gut wrenching pain. I think he’s got this one.

Lauren: Colin Firth. Because this was a carefully crafted, restrained and lovely performance. And because the King’s Speech is not going to win for best picture.

Best Picture:
Joshua: The King’s Speech. I already know Lauren will disagree with me on this one but I think it was the best. The academy loves movies about the royals. This was one particular monarch that had gone by the wayside in modern memory and was ripe for a movie to bring him back to the forefront. World War II, personal struggles, family scandal, the man who would be king, overcoming the odds! There are just so many things in this movie that I can’t think of any reasons why it shouldn’t get the oscar!

Lauren: I loved The King’s Speech. But I also love A LOT of things that 83 year old ladies love–reading, baking, the BBC, wearing elbow length gloves, etc. I think the audience at the theater when we went to see this illustrates perfectly exactly why this film will NOT win the Oscar. Nothing but white-hairs as far as the eye could see, and there were more than a few “Hush Mabel”s from well-meaning family members who had sprung Granny from the retirement home for the day. This is an example of the old academy. The Social Network, on the other hand, is a film that is both well-crafted and of-the-moment. It has love, betrayal, ambiguous heroes and villains, sex, drugs, money, power, hubris, and redemption–all of the good stuff. But it plays out in a very “now” kind of a way. For me, this is a bigger accomplishment than doing a period piece about the royal family. Also, and Josh disagrees with me on this, The King’s Speech lacked a clear narrative arc. For me, it felt like it was about to end at approximately 3 different times. I hate it when movies do that. So, for what it’s worth, I’m putting my money on The Social Network. And I’ll be way pissed if Winter’s Bone wins.