The American Dream hasn’t been lost by this generation, it has merely been abused by rhetoric so that the definition is almost buried by disdain and smarmy remarks by media and intelligentsia who want to demonstrate their superiority to grasping lower individuals. I repeat: a pop star rocketing to the top of the charts with an inane, manufactured album is not achieving the American Dream. Neither is winning the lottery or becoming the new “It” fashion girl. It’s about an achievement-based society where you are given the chance to work your ass off and keep what you worked for without anybody looking down their nose at your efforts.
Ok, I’m done, that’s been bothering me for years. Those who have been holding back your sarcastic comments may now release your worst.
Alrighty, I’m going out on a limb this year. In an effort to sabotage any later attempt I may make to pretend that I had predicted the outcome of the entire Oscars, I’m putting my guesses/wishes out two days before the event. Note that I have eliminated the categories that I am either apathetic toward or lack knowledge about. Also be aware that I will be making it a personal effort to use the phrase “when I saw it at Sundance” as frequently as possible. Feel free to assume that I will be using my stuffiest tone.
Best Visual Effects: Inception. They made a city fold into a cube. And it was cool.
Best Cinematography: Black Swan. The paranoid space of most of the show was such a fantastic contrast to how they filmed the dance sequences.
Best Art Direction: True Grit. Yup.
Best Song: Toy Story 3’s “We Belong Together.” Any animated film that could make me cry that hard was obviously doing something right, and I think that something was partly Randy Newman.
Best Documentary: Restrepo. I’d be thrilled for Exit through the Gift Shop if by some miracle they won, but I doubt it. I don’t believe the quirky value or what they address about the nature of contemporary art is “deep” enough for The Academy. I saw Restrepo at Sundance last January; not only was it well made, the subject matter was much weightier in ways the self-important Academy likes best.
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3. As if there was ever any real competition for this one (I’m in the process of founding a non-profit to encourage the Toy Story makers to go and save Bo already).
Best Original Screenplay: Inception. Breaking into Chris Nolan’s brain should be Leo’s ultimate goal.
Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Stanfield from True Grit. I get that she probably won’t win. But she should. Almost as much as Jacki Weaver from Animal Kingdom should, but I know she has even less chance. When I saw her performance at Sundance last year, she was the terrifying character that I carried around in my brain for weeks afterward. There’s something so sinister about grandma-seeming softness disguising a moral code that would make Mussolini blush.
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale in The Fighter. This is the category where I am blatantly hedging my bets, since he’s swept everything so far. I truly wish John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone would win—when I saw the movie at Sundance it was his intensity and inscrutability that captured my imagination and fascination. Also, the fact that he was able to be that terrifying while being named Teardrop was proof positive of his craft.
Best Actor: Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. He. Has. To. Win. I’ve always adored Colin Firth, largely because he has ever been so comfortably Coliny. In contract, this is the role of his lifetime. This is character where he pushed himself to the limits, and I want to celebrate how un-Darcy like he was from the rooftops.
Best Director: Darren Aronofsky of Black Swan. This man’s pysche lives in a dark and thoroughly unwholesome place. I’m genuinely worried about what drives him to take the audience to the emotional places that he does, but I can’t deny the fact that he is successful with every single attempt. So, bravo.
Best Picture: The King’s Speech. I really loved some of the other contenders, but as a complete film I felt like The King’s Speech was not only masterfully executed, it really had a soul. They captured an individual’s struggle and made it a deeply emotional journey for everyone watching. Truly enduring and important filmmaking was happening there. So I want it to win.
The sad part is that I’m still going to feel compelled to update my status every day on facebook, even when I know that that very act will only highlight how thoroughly I’m already filtering my reactions and feelings through a historically compact and bloodless mechanism.