Os­car glory

Movies rang­ing from hip sub­ject to classy pe­riod piece are eye­ing the cov­eted Os­cars.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FASHION - By DAVID GER­MAIN

Movies rang­ing from hip sub­ject to classy pe­riod piece are eye­ing the cov­eted Os­car.

TWO dra­mas un­fold­ing in a new world of global com­mu­ni­ca­tions could emerge as front-run­ners at the Academy Awards.

Di­rec­tor David Fincher’s The So­cial Net­work is set in mod­ern times as the founders of the Web­site Face­book bat­tle over their cre­ation. Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech takes place in the 1920s and 30s as Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s dad strug­gles with his speech im­ped­i­ment at a time when the royal fam­ily is counted on to voice re­as­sur­ance through the new medium of ra­dio.

The So­cial Net­work has al­most uni­ver­sal ac­claim, a hip sub­ject and im­pres­sive box­of­fice re­sults since it opened in the United States last month.

The King’s Speech does not open un­til late this month, but it’s an old-fash­ioned awards con­tender, a classy pe­riod piece that has been an au­di­ence favourite at film fes­ti­vals for its heart and hu­mour.

“We didn’t re­alise it was a com­edy as well as a drama. We had no idea peo­ple en­joyed it on so many lev­els,” said Colin Firth, who stars as the stam­mer­ing King Ge­orge VI, re­luc­tantly tak­ing the throne af­ter his brother ab­di­cates and find­ing un­ex­pected kin­ship with a wily Aus­tralian speech ther­a­pist (Ge­of­frey Rush).

“It ticks a lot of boxes that are no­to­ri­ous for be­ing sup­posed nom­i­na­tion bait, you know – monar­chs and dis­abil­i­ties and that sort of thing. But it has very lit­tle to do with that as far as I’m concerned. The sub­stance of this is to do with this friend­ship.”

The So­cial Net­work also deals with friend­ship – the un­rav­el­ling kind.

Jesse Eisen­berg stars as Face­book mas­ter­mind Mark Zucker­berg, play­ing him as an abra­sive, so­cially in­ept ge­nius who ends up in fe­ro­cious le­gal feuds with his for­mer best buddy (An­drew Garfield) and oth­ers claim­ing he stiffed them on the site’s pro­ceeds.

Fincher said he’s hope­ful but that Os­car talk is pre­ma­ture. The So­cial Net­work screen­writer Aaron Sorkin is even more tightlipped about awards.

“I just won’t talk about it,” Sorkin said. “I can tell you that right now, what means some­thing to me is that peo­ple who have seen the movie seem very moved by it. It’s ev­ery­thing we could have hoped for when we be­gan the project.”

Nom­i­na­tions come out Jan 25, with the Os­cars pre­sented on Feb 27.

Here’s a look at more pos­si­bil­i­ties for best pic­ture as well as for other top Os­car cat­e­gories:

Best Pic­ture

As­sum­ing The King’s Speech and The So­cial Net­work make the cut, eight other films will com­pete for the re­main­ing slots as the Os­cars go with 10 best-pic­ture nom­i­nees again, con­tin­u­ing an ex­per­i­ment started last year that broad­ened the field to in­clude main­stream hits such as The Blind Side and smaller pro­duc­tions such as The Hurt Locker, which won for best pic­ture.

The cat­e­gory was ex­panded partly be­cause of The Dark Knight, the 2008 Bat­man block­buster that earned Heath Ledger a post­hu­mous Os­car but missed out on a best-pic­ture nom­i­na­tion, de­spite rave re­views. This bodes well for The Dark Knight di­rec­tor Christo­pher Nolan’s fol­low-up, last sum­mer’s sci-fi smash In­cep­tion, one of Hollywood’s smartest ac­tion thrillers in years.

It also el­e­vates the prospects for the year’s top-gross­ing hit, Lee Unkrich’s an­i­mated com­edy Toy Story 3, along with Ben Af­fleck’s heist drama The Town and per­haps David Yates’ Harry Pot­ter And The Deathly Hal­lows: Part 1, the next-to-last film in the fan­tasy fran­chise.

Smaller re­leases could slip into the field of 10, in­clud­ing Ozark thriller and top Sun­dance win­ner Win­ter’s Bone, the fam­ily comic drama The Kids Are All Right, the sur­vival story 127 Hours, and Never Let Me Go, a tragic tale set in an al­ter­nate re­al­ity.

Two-time best pic­ture and di­rec­tor win­ner Clint East­wood can­not be counted out for his af­ter­life drama Here­after, and sev­eral up­com­ing films have Os­car buzz af­ter be­com­ing favourites on the fes­ti­val cir­cuit, in­clud­ing the en­sem­ble drama An­other Year, the fa­ther­daugh­ter tale Some­where; the cur­mud­geon chron­i­cle Bar­ney’s Ver­sion, and the dance drama Black Swan.

Two films from Os­car-win­ning di­rec­tors are on the awards radar, though they do not come out un­til year’s end and have not been seen by Os­car watch­ers: Joel and Ethan Coen’s

Best Di­rec­tor

With 10 best-pic­ture se­lec­tions, it seems like five di­rect­ing slots just aren’t enough to go around.

Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech, David Fincher for The So­cial Net­work and Christo­pher Nolan for In­cep­tion look like solid bets.

Past win­ners Danny Boyle for 127 Hours and Clint East­wood for Here­after have fresh prospects, as does Dar­ren Aronof­sky for Black Swan, Ben Af­fleck for The Town and Mike Leigh for An­other Year.

An­i­ma­tion con­tin­ues to gain in crit­i­cal es­teem, so Lee Unkrich might have a shot for Toy Story 3.

The ques­tion marks re­main the film­mak­ers be­hind De­cem­ber’s late­com­ers: past win­ners Joel and Ethan Coen for True Grit and James L. Brooks for How Do You Know.

And a year af­ter the first woman won the di­rect­ing Os­car, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker, past nom­i­nee Sofia Cop­pola could be back in the run­ning for Some­where, along with in­die long­shots Lisa Cholo­denko for The Kids Are All Right and De­bra Granik for Win­ter’s Bone.

Best Ac­tor

Colin Firth earned his first Os­car nom­i­na­tion for last year’s A Sin­gle Man, and some who have seen him as Ge­orge VI in The King’s Speech think Os­car vot­ers should just hand him the best-ac­tor prize. Of­ten play­ing glibly sar­donic char­ac­ters in the past, Firth is mes­meris­ing as the stam­mer­ing king, strik­ing a won­der­ful bal­ance be­tween im­pe­ri­ous and wretched.

There’s plenty of glib­ness to be had among other con­tenders, in­clud­ing Jesse Eisen­berg’s sav­agely bit­ing Face­book founder in The So­cial Net­work; James Franco as a one-man force of na­ture, play­ing a climber trapped alone in a canyon in 127 Hours; and Paul Gia­matti in the life story of a crusty pro­ducer of schlock TV in Bar­ney’s Ver­sion.

Other pos­si­bil­i­ties: Ben Af­fleck ( The Town), Javier Bar­dem ( Biutiful), Jim Broad­bent ( An­other Year), Matt Da­mon ( Here­after), Leonardo DiCaprio ( In­cep­tion), Stephen Dorff new take on the Western True Grit and James L. Brooks’ comic drama How Do You Know. ( Some­where), Michael Dou­glas, ( Soli­tary Man or Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps), Robert Du­vall ( Get Low), Aaron Eck­hart ( Rab­bit Hole), Ryan Gosling ( Blue Valen­tine), Sean Penn ( Fair Game).

Still un­seen is last year’s win­ner, Jeff Bridges, in True Grit, and the male cast of How Do You Know, Jack Ni­chol­son, Paul Rudd and Owen Wil­son.

Best Ac­tress

Natalie Port­man is an un­holy ter­ror in Black Swan, which takes the give-your-all-for-dance com­mit­ment of The Red Shoes to deeply dis­turb­ing places. A past sup­port­ing-ac­tress nom­i­nee for Closer, Port­man gives her­self over com­pletely to her role as a goody twoshoes bal­le­rina whose me­nac­ing dark side emerges as she pre­pares for her dream role in Swan Lake.

An­nette Ben­ing dom­i­nates The Kids Are All Right as the acer­bic au­thor­i­tar­ian in a fam­ily of les­bian par­ents, whose house­hold un­rav­els af­ter they meet the sperm donor who fa­thered their chil­dren. Ju­lianne Moore as Ben­ing’s spouse also has Os­car prospects, though she could end up in the sup­port­ing cat­e­gory.

Other pos­si­bil­i­ties: Anne Hath­away ( Love & Other Drugs), Sally Hawkins ( Made In Da­gen­ham), Ni­cole Kid­man ( Rab­bit Hole), Diane Lane ( Sec­re­tar­iat), Jen­nifer Lawrence ( Win­ter’s Bone), Helen Mir­ren ( The Tem­pest), Carey Mul­li­gan ( Never Let Me Go), Ruth Sheen ( An­other Year), Hi­lary Swank ( Con­vic­tion), Naomi Watts( Fair Game), Michelle Wil­liams ( Blue Valen­tine).

Still un­seen are past win­ners Gwyneth Pal­trow in Coun­try Strong and Reese

Wither­spoon in How Do You Know.

Sup­port­ing Ac­tor

An­drew Garfield is just start­ing his block­buster ca­reer in the ti­tle role of the next Spi­der-Man. Af­ter ac­claim and hon­ours for the Bri­tish drama Boy A, Garfield also may be get­ting his first taste of awards sea­son, Hollywood style, with ex­cel­lent sup­port­ing roles as the be­trayed co-founder of Face­book in The So­cial Net­work and a board­ing school youth with a grim destiny in Never Let Me Go.

The So­cial Net­work co-star Justin Tim­ber­lake also has prospects, play­ing the Nap­ster cre­ator who comes be­tween the two best friends be­hind Face­book.

Other pos­si­bil­i­ties: Pierce Bros­nan ( The Ghost Writer), Vin­cent Cas­sel ( Black Swan), Joseph Gor­don-Levitt ( In­cep­tion), John Hawkes ( Win­ter’s Bone), Bob Hoskins ( Made In Da­gen­ham), Dustin Hoff­man ( Bar­ney’s Ver­sion), Tommy Lee Jones ( The Com­pany Men), Bill Mur­ray ( Get Low), Sam Rock­well ( Con­vic­tion), Mark Ruf­falo ( The Kids Are All Right), Ge­of­frey Rush ( The King’s Speech).

Look­ing bright:

could emerge as one of the front-run­ners at the Academy Awards.

Colin Firth por­trays King Ge­orge VI in TheK­ing’sSpeech. Both ac­tor and film are pos­si­ble nom­i­nees in the Best Ac­tor and Best Pic­ture cat­e­gories.

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