Oscar crowns ‘King’s Speech’, annoints Quebec’s ‘Incendies’

In second place, ‘True Grit’ edges out ‘Social Network’ with 10 nominations

The universe unfolded as it should, more or less, with this morning’s announcement of the Oscar nominations. Predictably, The King’s Speech led the field with 12 nominations. And why not? As a universally loved period piece that’s about royalty and disability, it could not be closer to Oscar’s heart. What may have surprised some observers, especially those who look to the Golden Globes as a predictor, is that the Coen brothers’ True Grit (entirely snubbed by the Globes) is in second place with 10 nods, edging out The Social Network, which tied Inception with eight nominations (though most of Inception‘s honours are in technical categories). In the acting awards, the one surprise is that Javier Bardem snared the fifth nomination for Biutiful, one that might otherwise have gone to Canada’s Ryan Gosling for the equally melancholy Blue Valentine.

But Canadians can rejoice in seeing Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies score Quebec’s first nomination in the foreign-language category since Denys Arcand won for The Barbarian Invasions seven years ago. I think Villeneuve’s main competition will be Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful. Both films are family dramas powered by exceptionally intense, and complex, narratives. And both, are distributed in the U.S. by Sony Classics, which puts that company in a curious position. Presumably there will be more weight behind the Biutiful campaign because it also has a Best Actor nomination for Bardem, who has the heft of Hollywood stardom (and Julia Roberts) in his corner. But Biutiful is the story of a petty criminal who’s dying of cancer in Barcelona, and Academy members might have a closer affinity to Incendies, which resonates with current politics, and connects an immigrant family in North America to the scars of war in the Middle East.

As for the Best Picture category, ever since the Academy expanded it from 5 to 10 spots, it has become less compelling. They should call it the Good Picture category. It includes all the obvious contenders. Yesterday, for the record, I sent a list of my Best Picture predictions to the producers of CBC Radio’s Q, which had me on a panel this morning. And I’m not very proud to say that, by omitting some of my favorite films (such as Never Let Me Go), I predicted 10 out of 10. The Academy recently enlarged that category to make room for more blockbusters. The positive flipside of that, I suppose, is that there’s also more room for small gems such as Winter’s Bone, this year’s designated indie darling (it also got two acting nods and a screenplay nomination). For the “real” Best Picture nominees, however, go to the movies named in the Best Director category: Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky), The Fighter (David O. Russell), The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper), The Social Network (David Fincher) and True Grit (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen).

In the Best Actor race, it looks like it will be a coronation for Colin Firth, though one could argue that Eisenberg’s pitch-perfect, not showy—almost invisible—performance in The Social Network was better. But for my money, Bardem’s work in Biutiful is the most impressive of the lot. Other nominees are the crustier-than-ever Jeff Bridges for True Grit, and the chameleon-like James Franco for his virtuoso one-man show in the under-nominated 127 Hours.

Natalie Portman should have a lock on Best Actress for her bravura performance as a psycho ballerina in Black Swan. But don’t underestimate Hollywood’s love for Mrs. Warren Beatty, Annette Bening. Also, though The Kids Are All Right is a small, non-studio film, it does takes place in the Hollywood heartland of contemporary Los Angeles, and unfolds as an actor’s dream, ripe with juicy relationships. Also nominated are Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine).

For Best Supporting Actor, expect a cage match between Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) and Christian Bale (The Fighter). Best Supporting Actress is a bit harder to call, with Melissa Leo and Amy Adams competing against each other (for The Fighter), and young Hailee Steinfeld having a real shot for True Grit. She could win. Why? Three reasons: 1. She’s being honoured in a diminutive category for what is actually a substantial lead performance—she carries the movie. 2. The Academy may find this is the only major category in which it can express its obvious affection for the film. 3. Throughout the Academy’s history, Best Supporting Actress could be easily renamed Best Newcomer.

Expect David Fincher to win Best Director for Social Network, and the film’s writer, Aaron Sorkin, to win Best Adapted Screenplay. Original Screenplay will no doubt go to David Seidler for The King’s Speech, in part because the epic saga of creating the script (and waiting for the Queen Mother to die) was almost as compelling as the film itself.

In the documentary feature category, there was at least one egregious snub: even if there were two other nominees about artists (Exit Through the Gift Shop and Waste Land),  Marwencol deserved to be there. But Inside Job, which did a brilliant job of exposing the unpunished criminals behind the economic collapse, will likely win.

And last but not least, our very own Canadian epic, Barney’s Version, scored a single nomination for Makeup. Although Paul Giamatti won a well-deserved Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical, I don’t think anyone, even the film’s producer, Robert Lantos, expected him to get an Oscar nod. But this Makeup citation at least allows Lantos to brand his labour of love “Oscar-nominated,” while giving him an excuse to attend the awards.

Here is the full list of nominees:

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
  • Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
  • Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
  • Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”
  • James Franco in “127 Hours”

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
  • John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone”
  • Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
  • Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”
  • Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
  • Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
  • Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”
  • Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
  • Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Animated Feature Film

  • “How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
  • “The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
  • “Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

Art Direction

  • “Alice in Wonderland”
    Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
    Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephanie McMillan
  • “Inception”
    Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
  • “The King’s Speech”
    Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
  • “True Grit”
    Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh


  • “Black Swan” Matthew Libatique
  • “Inception” Wally Pfister
  • “The King’s Speech” Danny Cohen
  • “The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth
  • “True Grit” Roger Deakins

Costume Design

  • “Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood
  • “I Am Love” Antonella Cannarozzi
  • “The King’s Speech” Jenny Beavan
  • “The Tempest” Sandy Powell
  • “True Grit” Mary Zophres


  • “Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
  • “The Fighter” David O. Russell
  • “The King’s Speech” Tom Hooper
  • “The Social Network” David Fincher
  • “True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Documentary (Feature)

  • “Exit Through the Gift Shop” Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz
  • “Gasland” Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
  • “Inside Job” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
  • “Restrepo” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
  • “Waste Land” Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • “Killing in the Name” Nominees to be determined
  • “Poster Girl” Nominees to be determined
  • “Strangers No More” Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
  • “Sun Come Up” Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
  • “The Warriors of Qiugang” Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Film Editing

  • “Black Swan” Andrew Weisblum
  • “The Fighter” Pamela Martin
  • “The King’s Speech” Tariq Anwar
  • “127 Hours” Jon Harris
  • “The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter

Foreign Language Film

  • “Biutiful” Mexico
  • “Dogtooth” Greece
  • “In a Better World” Denmark
  • “Incendies” Canada
  • “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria


  • “Barney’s Version” Adrien Morot
  • “The Way Back” Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
  • “The Wolfman” Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

Music (Original Score)

  • “How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell
  • “Inception” Hans Zimmer
  • “The King’s Speech” Alexandre Desplat
  • “127 Hours” A.R. Rahman
  • “The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)

  • “Coming Home” from “Country Strong” Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
  • “I See the Light” from “Tangled” Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
  • “If I Rise” from “127 Hours” Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
  • “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3″ Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Best Picture

  • “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
  • “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
  • “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
  • “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
  • “The King’s Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
  • “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
  • “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
  • “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
  • “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
  • “Winter’s Bone” Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

Short Film (Animated)

  • “Day & Night” Teddy Newton
  • “The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
  • “Let’s Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
  • “The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
  • “Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois

Short Film (Live Action)

  • “The Confession” Tanel Toom
  • “The Crush” Michael Creagh
  • “God of Love” Luke Matheny
  • “Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt
  • “Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sound Editing

  • “Inception” Richard King
  • “Toy Story 3” Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
  • “Tron: Legacy” Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
  • “True Grit” Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
  • “Unstoppable” Mark P. Stoeckinger

Sound Mixing

  • “Inception” Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
  • “The King’s Speech” Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
  • “Salt” Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
  • “The Social Network” Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
  • “True Grit” Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Visual Effects

  • “Alice in Wonderland” Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
  • “Hereafter” Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
  • “Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
  • “Iron Man 2” Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • “127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
  • “The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
  • “Toy Story 3” Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
  • “True Grit” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  • “Winter’s Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • “Another Year” Written by Mike Leigh
  • “The Fighter” Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
    Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
  • “Inception” Written by Christopher Nolan
  • “The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
  • “The King’s Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler

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