Defending the ten Best Picture nominees


-- Image courtesy of Time

“127 Hours”
Why it SHOULD Win
Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours” takes an autobiography that should only work on paper and runs wild with cinema’s artistic craft. Through the use of hyperkinetic editing and a primal one-man-show performance, Boyle created an inspirational true story of strength and determination that no other film this year conveyed as strongly, vividly or graphically.
Why it WILL Win
“127 Hours” was a dark horse entry into the Best Picture race to begin with, and yet it scored six Oscar nods. And although it’s a radically different film, the Aron Ralston story is illustrated with a “Slumdog Millionaire” vibe of both tragedy and uplift.
Why it WON’T Win
“127 Hours” is the second lowest box office performer, namely because a good number of Academy members were either too terrified or repulsed by the prospect of the arm cutting scene to even see the damn thing. It also doesn’t help that James Franco is hosting the ceremony.
— Brian Welk

“Black Swan”
Why it SHOULD win
Director Darren Aronofsky helms the most visually stunning film of the year with “Black Swan.” The film gets in your head from the first frame and stays there long after its tragic end. Natalie Portman is perfect in her role as Nina, a neurotic artist balancing reality and illusion and Mila Kunis shines as Lily, the lurking seductress who is a threat to Nina’s already tempered sanity. “Black Swan” is a psychological drama in the horrifying world of ballet that avoids the pitfalls of cheesiness for a film that is equally as powerful as it is entertaining.  
Why it WILL win
Natalie Portman’s brave performance with Aronofsky’s bold direction has had the press abuzz all year. It is also one of the top box office successes of 2010. Portman’s wins for Best Actress at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards help place the film ahead of the pack.
Why it WON’T win
A wonderful performance alone can’t carry a film. “Black Swan” will likely have to be considered culturally relevant and theatrically fascinating simultaneously. Looks like “The Social Network” is more likely to get that vote since we live in the age of Facebook mayhem.
— Mickey Woods

“The Fighter”

Why it SHOULD win
Why “The Fighter”? Better question, why not “The Fighter”? Perceived heavyweights “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” haven’t separated themselves like contenders have in years past, so the upstart “Fighter” deserves a shot. Its performances are the best part of the movie and some of the finest of the year, with supporting nominations for Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams. Bale is truly brilliant while the other two should not be understated.
Why it WILL win
It would obviously be a surprise to see “The Fighter” win, but if it does, it will be because of the acting chops of Batman and his dynamic interactions with Marky Mark, who really isn’t that bad here.
Why it WON’T win
Certainly the truly stupid amount of boxing movies made since “Rocky” (and the way its Best Picture win has been historically perceived) hurts the film, so chances are the Academy will be extremely cautious about rewarding “The Fighter” this year.
— Adam Lukach

Why it SHOULD win
“Inception” was the smartest, hippest, most talked about action flick of the summer. It was innovative and exciting even if it wasn’t “The Matrix” we were promised. The combined screen credit of Christopher Nolan and Leo DiCaprio filled the seats, and the puzzler ending brought people back.
Why it WILL win
Nolan has the Academy’s attention. He directed Heath Ledger to a Best Supporting win in 2008, and “The Dark Knight” made enough noise that everyone’s keeping an eye on his projects, which have a tendency to fall in the narrow overlap between critical and commercial success.
Why it WON’T win
Some critics and viewers got lost in all the dream layers without caring enough about DiCaprio’s lost love subplot to stick through the twists and turns. The holes in the dream logic and an over-serious, at times condescending tone may be enough to hold this summer blockbuster back from being a staunch competitor to the winter releases.
— Kaleb Havens

“The Kids Are All Right”

Why it SHOULD win
Lisa Cholodenko’s summertime sleeper deserves the Oscar win due to outstanding writing and acting. Focusing on the pain of growing up, the struggles of relationships, the attempt to define personal identity and the pain of being disconnected from those you love, these universal themes are what set this nominee apart.
Why it WILL win
Coming off two Golden Globe wins including Best Comedy or Musical and Annette Benning’s win for Best Actress, “The Kids Are All Right” could be the surprise winner this year.  
Why it WON’T win

Simply put, audiences have opted for the cinematic drama and action of the other nominees at the box office. Receiving the eighth highest domestic and worldwide grosses out of the Oscar nominees and tying for the least amount of Oscar nominations at four, the Academy is most likely to reflect the public’s opinions on this vote and award a higher-grossing film with more nominations.
— Bridget Ameche

“The King’s Speech”

Why It SHOULD win
With its inspirational story, sympathetic characters and veteran actors, it’s the very definition of a “prestige picture” — the kind of film that gets Oscar buzz almost immediately. And historically, those that actually win Best Picture are the ones that are the most emotionally engaging for the audience. The direction of “The King’s Speech” lends it a sense of intimacy, of bearing witness to interactions between real people, making it one of the most satisfying films this year.
Why It WILL win
It cleaned up at the BAFTA awards and picked up a Golden Globe and some SAG awards just for good measure. “The King’s Speech” is an obvious choice for its moving story line and historical significance.
Why It WON’T win
Counting against it are a less-accessible story line compared to some of the other nominees and the mere fact that the Academy loves to give Best Picture Oscars to American films. Of the 82 years of Oscar, only 10 Best Picture winners have been British.
— Katelyn Colvin

“The Social Network”

Why it SHOULD win
“The Social Network” has a cast without a weak link, an engaging and clever script and an excellent soundtrack. If that wasn’t enough, it has the most relevant message of any of the other contenders for Best Picture. This movie will serve as a testament of how we interacted with each other and what we thought was important at this time. It may be embarrassing to look at years from now and say it was true, but that is the power that this movie holds.
Why it WILL win
The Academy likes to appear modern and relevant. This tendency was one of the deciding factors in last year’s win for “The Hurt Locker,” and “The Social Network” will benefit from this as well. It also had a respectable box office return which definitely doesn’t hurt its chances.
Why it WON’T win
Throughout this movie, no one overcomes anything or turns a convention on its head. It’s a movie about characters interacting and doesn’t really have enough flash to get it the kind of notice from the Academy that will ensure it a win.
— Matt Lyles

“Toy Story 3”

Why it SHOULD Win

Never mind Pixar animation at its finest. Never mind the graceful way it concluded the “Toy Story” franchise like the final climactic segment of a book instead of just a second sequel. Above all, “Toy Story 3” was a great, captivating and rewarding story, living up to its own title just as much as its two predecessors did. Its perfect timing didn’t hurt either: Andy’s coming of age spoke directly to many of its young adult audience members the same way the first “Toy Story” did when they were children in 1995.
Why it WILL win

If you believe “Toy Story 3” tops “Beauty and the Beast” and “Up,” the only other animated films ever nominated for Best Picture, then maybe the Academy will consider it to set the bar for the animated Best Picture standard. Still, its only hope is if the “irresistibly heartwarming” angle actually works on the academy — and hey, it did for “Driving Miss Daisy.”
Why it WON’T win
It has no actual acting and no actual cinematography. What’s more, no animated films, and only two sequels, have ever won Best Picture.
— Steven Arroyo

“True Grit”
Why it SHOULD win
Some critics have suggested that “True Grit” will usher in a new golden age of Westerns. While that probably won’t happen, the mere suggestion that it could is well worth rewarding. The Coens painted the West as beautifully as it’s ever been and got four brilliant performances out of their cast, including a generation-defining one from newcomer Hailee Steinfeld.  
Why it WILL win
The Academy loves the Coen Brothers, and this is one of their best films, nearly on par with the likes of “The Big Lebowski,” “Fargo” and “No Country for Old Men.”  
Why it WON’T win
Westerns had their day, and the Academy isn’t likely to reward one with its top prize for the first time since “Unforgiven.” Plus, “True Grit” is a remake of an American movie, and no such film has ever won Best Picture.
— Brad Sanders

“Winter’s Bone”

Why it SHOULD win

One film in the running for Best Picture that most people never got around to seeing is “Winter’s Bone.” The film’s gritty depiction of Appalachian life is unflinching and at times even painful. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as a weary and wise teenager cleverly avoids the annoying precociousness that other actors rely on.
Why it WILL win
The best bet for “Winter’s Bone” is to hope that Oscar voters are charmed by Lawrence’s performance. There aren’t many characters in the film, so its success rises or falls on her shoulders. The supporting characters are strong but rarely glimpsed.
Why it WON’T win
Even with Lawrence’s great performance, chances are that voters won’t be willing to award a film with a small release and such a limited focus. It’s not about influential social networks or a distinguished monarch. There’s also a good chance that the film’s dark tone and nearly complete lack of sunlight will turn off some voters.
— Brian Marks

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