THE CRITICS: The Critics Start to Weigh In on 2010


This week several critic and film organizations released their best of 2010 awards in movies. I will only deal with three here: AFI top ten list; the Los Angeles Film Critics Association; and the New York Film Critics Circle. Others, like the Boston Film Critics, The New York Film Critics On-Line etc., are interesting and make the Oscar guessing game fun, but they have even less influence on the Academy than their bigger siblings do.

Well, sort of, kind of. This isn’t exactly true. It’s not that the LAFCC and NYFCC have no influence at all, it’s just that it’s so hit and miss, that what influence they have has to been garnered by instinct and weighted heavily against what seems to be trending with Academy voters, whom often have very different tastes than the critics, i.e., I don’t care what the critics have to say, The King’s Speech is going to beat out The Social Network when Jack Nicholson or whomever opens that envelope at the end of the show.

Also, there are some technical issues as well on some of these awards, as will be noted.

The AFI was most interesting because the top ten seemed to mirror almost exactly what is expected of the Academy this year: The Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours (someone at AFI needs to learn how to alphabetize—numbers go at the beginning of a list), The Social Network, The Town, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone.

Notice what is missing? That’s right, The King’s Speech. However, AFI only awards films substantially made in America, which means The King’s Speech was ineligible (though, significantly, it did receive a special award). However, since the King’s Speech is supposed to not just only make the Academy top ten, it’s supposed to take home the top honor, the question is, which of the AFIers will be left behind? I predict The Town will not make the Academy cut.

Next is the New York Film Critics Circle, which according to an inside story, was a knock down drag out between The Social Network and The Kids Are All Right (see http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/race/kids-beat-aaron-sorkin-nyfcc-59299). Though The Social Network won Picture and Director, it did not win screenplay—which, because of some manipulation of the voting (all perfectly within the rules), went to The Kids Are All Right. The same manipulation apparently got Marc Ruffalo Supporting Actor over Christian Bale for The Fighter. All this really means, though, is that The Kids Are All Right should be a lock for numerous top noms. Annette Benning’s award for Actress won’t hurt her chances for winning the Oscar (apparently The Black Swan left a few too many critics a bit cold). Also significant is Melissa Leo winning for Supporting Actress. Jacki Weaver has been doing well with her performance with other awards, but since she’s Australian in an Australian film, this may help Leo’s chances with the Academy.

Colin Firth won Actor, which should help him pull ahead of Jessie Eisenberg, who, with the critical awards, has taken James Franco’s place as Firth’s biggest threat. However, like Franco, it is doubtful the Academy is going to give it to a newcomer like Eisenberg, especially when they have to apologize to Firth for not giving the award to him last year for A Single Man.

Also of interest: Carlos won Foreign Language Film. However, Carlos was made for TV and is ineligible for the Oscars (and wasn’t Spain or France’s entry in the Foreign Language category). The Illusionist, the animated film from the makers of The Triplets of Bellville and based on a screenplay by Jacques Tati, won best Animated Film, which could help it make the third slot at the Oscars with Toy Story 3 and How to Train Your Dragon. Animal Kingdom received an award for Best First Film. If Animal Kingdom keeps getting recognitions like this, it will be interesting to see if it can somehow manage an upset and make the Academy’s top ten (but what could it possible replace—127 Hours if the bloom of its rosy red cheeks wears off, or True Grit if it bombs at the box office?

Next the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards.

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