And the Oscar Goes to…

by Mark Botzong

Horizon Reporter

The Academy Awards is in no way the most entertaining event on TV. Filling most of its three-hour length with corny skits and droning acceptance speeches, the Oscars may not be appreciated as much as it should by movie buffs out there like me.

Even so, of all the yearly award shows, this is the only one that I watch. Unlike music and television awards, film award shows have a more universal appeal.

If a film is high quality, more people are likely to agree about it than, say, music which has too many genres for people to agree upon. On January 25, the Oscar nominations for the best films from 2010 were announced.

Listing all 24 of my Oscar choices would be far too dull. Also, I don’t know enough about such film concepts as sound editing and costume design to seem like I know what I’m talking about. I have focused on the awards that I feel most readers care about, and hopefully will find most interesting.

Continuing the new tradition, this year’s awards have 10 Best Picture nominees. I get the feeling that some will only tune in to see this award be given.

The more likely front-runners in my opinion are “Black Swan,” “Inception,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Social Network,” and “True Grit.” Of the five nominees I have seen (“Toy Story 3” being the fifth), my pick for Best Picture is “True Grit,” although I would be satisfied if “The King’s Speech” ends up winning.

Directed by the Coen brothers, “True Grit” is the remake of the 1969 John Wayne Western. It has everything you’d ever want from a movie, especially from a Western. I was surprised with the unexpected humor that the Coen brothers incorporated into the film.

That, coupled with the contrasting scenes of violence, make “True Grit” a wonderful film to watch. The cinematography was fantastic, resembling a more traditional movie. It didn’t rely on fancy crane shots or unnerving freehand techniques, like some recent Westerns.

I was surprised that, even though “Inception” was nominated for Best Picture, director Christopher Nolan was snubbed for a nomination. Perhaps when Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” is released, he will get the recognition he deserves.

With that in mind, Joel and Ethan Coen, directors of “True Grit”, should win. If the Coen brothers pull off another win this year, it will be their second one since 2007’s “No Country for Old Men.”

Characters in the film who only appear for a short time, even ones who have very few lines, steal the scenes that they are in. The dialogue, which isn’t at all sparse, is always entertaining.

Just the way that the characters say the lines they are given with their varying Southern drawls is an absolute delight to hear. I was never bored and left the theater very satisfied.

Like last year, Jeff Bridges is nominated for the Best Actor category. In “True Grit”, he portrays the often drunk and unintelligible, yet thoroughly entertaining, Rooster Cogburn. His line delivery is superb and hilarious at times. Bridges is my choice for Best Actor.

Even though I don’t think “The King’s Speech” was better than the other nominees, I do think it should win other awards, such as Best Supporting Actor. Geoffrey Rush, known by most for his work in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, portrays a speech therapist that helps Colin Firth’s character to work through his speech impediment and deliver speeches to the public.

I could relate specifically to the main character’s struggles, and thoroughly enjoyed Rush’s performance, which involved a good amount of humor and inspiration.

Best Actress is a tough one for me, mainly because I haven’t seen any of the films that have been nominated with a Best Actress in them. If I could pick anyone for this category, newcomer Hailee Steinfeld would steal the win.

But due to Academy politics, she is surprisingly nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “True Grit,” despite having more screen time than any other actor in the film. One of the best performances I have ever seen from someone of her age shines through brilliantly, so I choose Steinfeld for Best Supporting Actress.

 Best Animated Feature comes down to Pixar’s wonderful “Toy Story 3”, Dreamworks’ fun-filled “How to Train Your Dragon”, and a foreign animated film called “The Illusionist.”

“Toy Story 3” was by far the most emotional film for me this past year, not to mention the best animated one. If it doesn’t win, something is truly wrong with the Academy.

Although I haven’t seen any of the nominated documentaries except “Restrepo,” I have a good feeling it has a chance of winning because of its insight into the Afghan war.

I was captivated by Trent Reznor’s score of “The Social Network.” It has one of the most original musical scores I have ever heard. “Inception” also had an epic score, so I’ll be happy with either of them winning.

“Day and Night”, which was the short film shown immediately before “Toy Story 3,” is the only nominated short film I’ve seen, was an amazing use of both 2-D and 3-D animation, while having a bit of commentary about how different people should try to work together. I hope it snags the win.

When hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway take the stage on February 27, who knows what will happen?

Hopefully they will be at least somewhat funny and entertaining. What really matters is that the votes will be in, and there will be nothing anyone can do about the outcome. It’s not about the awards, it’s about recognizing the impact of art at its best.

When the winners make their sappy speeches, thank people you’ve never heard of, and carry on about how “it’s such an honor,” just remember the importance of film, and how it affects us all.

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