Nominations for the 83rd Academy Awards were announced today, but for a person who spends a lot of time immersed in TV and movies, I couldn't muster up much enthusiasm. I did muster sufficient enthusiasm to watch the president of the Academy and Mo'nique announce the noms live at 7:30am local time, but that was mostly because I was already awake and getting dressed for work at the time anyway. Still, though, I find award-show season fascinating, particularly this year, the first after AMPAS changed the rules in order to nominate ten films for Best Picture. Of those ten, I've seen four (Toy Story 3, The King's Speech, The Social Network, and Inception), and have plans to see Black Swan, True Grit, and 127 Hours. If I wanted to be a Serious Movie Person, I would go whole hog and check out Winter's Bone, The Fighter, and The Kids Are All Right, too, but I just don't have the time, energy, money, or, indeed, inclination. I hope The King's Speech takes the big prize, but I could see The Social Network repeating its Golden Globes performance.
Overall, there weren't many surprises, to my eye, although I'm quite pleased to see John Hawkes nominated as a supporting actor in Winter's Bone, even though I haven't seen it, since he played Sol Star on Deadwood and was consistently one of my favorite parts of the show (also, he's a fellow Minnesotan, so I feel a sort of reserved fondness for him that befits the mild-mannered stereotype). I've been a Natalie Portman fan for ages -- and through many years of substandard movies -- so I'm glad she's finally found a role that give her a decent shot at the Oscar (although she was nominated for Closer), and I loved Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech, therefore they are my picks for their respective categories.
For actors, we'll go with Colin Firth in a leading role -- because how great was he in The King's Speech? -- and I'll play the odds and pick Christian Bale for the supporting win because I've heard his performance in The Fighter is the best he's ever been (my sentimental pick, though, is Geoffrey Rush, because I love him).
Director? Anyone's guess, though I'll be rooting for the Minnesota entrants, the Coen Bros.
The nominees for original screenplay were read before those for adapted screenplay, so I had a moment where I thought Aaron Sorkin had been snubbed, but The Social Network was adapted from a book, so no worries there. I was underwhelmed by the movie on the whole, but Sorkin is such a brilliant writer (see: The West Wing) that you can't not nominate him, especially for a movie so relevant to the millions who use Facebook on an hourly basis. (Personally, I don't feel comfortable being logged into the site.) As someone who occasionally struggles with the necessary writerly task of world-building, I would love to see Christopher Nolan win the original screenplay prize for Inception, but I think he'll have a tough time winning voters away from The King's Speech, which is so utterly charming and thoroughly entertaining that it will probably win. The latter film also has the advantage of not requiring the audience to follow four or five levels of story simultaneously, all moving on different timelines.
The no-contest category: Toy Story 3 will crush the competition in the animated feature race, because 1) Pixar always wins, and 2) everyone liked TS3 because it was even better than the previous two and it made us all cry.
N.B.: Having not seen many of the nominated films, my predictions are hindered by ignorance.