Who Will Star In This Year's Oscar Nominations?

Originally published on January 23, 2011 7:45 am
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LIANE HANSEN, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

(Soundbite of music)

HANSEN: We find out this week of Oscar will friend "The Social Network," if "The Fighter" could be a contender and whether or not "Toy Story 3" will prove to be more than just kid's stuff. On Tuesday morning, the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences will announce the nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards.

Movie critics and film buffs have their short lists and predictions already. Wesley Morris is film critic at the Boston Globe. He's at member station KPCW in Park City, Utah. Welcome to the program, Wesley.

Mr. WESLEY MORRIS (Film Critic, Boston Globe): Thank you, Liane.

HANSEN: I know you're there for the Sundance Festival, seeing the new crop of pictures. But I want to go back, obviously, to 2010 and Best Picture category. Which films do you think have the best chances of being nominated?

Mr. MORRIS: I think nine of these movies are fairly certain - "Black Swan," "The Kids Are All Right," "The Social Network," "The Town," "Toy Story 3," "The King's Speech," "Winter's Bone," "The Fighter," "Inception," and "True Grit." One of those may not make the cut. It might "The Town," it might be "Winter's Bone," which means that "127 Hours," the movie in which James Franco's arm gets caught by a boulder, could make the cut or "Shutter Island," which was very popular and directed by a popular member of the Academy, Martin Scorsese.

But, you know, it'll be interesting to see what actually the 10 movies turn out to be.

HANSEN: Well, this is the second year there will be 10 nominations in that category instead of five. I mean, what do you actually learn from knowing those extra five movies that are up for consideration?

Mr. MORRIS: Well, it's really interesting. I mean, when the Academy used to do this many years ago, I feel like it told a really interesting story of what the Academy liked and not just what we've been trained to think of as Academy Award movies. And I really like the idea of knowing what those bottom five movies are.

I mean, last year, "District 9" and "The Blind Side" and "An Education" - I don't think that those three movies would have been one of the five nominees if they'd kept the old system. But it really gave you a sense of what movies the people who make our movies like, and that's really interesting.

HANSEN: "Black Swan" also did quite well at the Golden Globes, garnering a Best Actress win for Natalie Portman, who plays a ballerina on the edge of sanity.

(Soundbite of movie, "Black Swan")

Mr. VINCENT CASSEL (Actor): (as Thomas Leroy) All that discipline for what?

Ms. NATALIE PORTMAN (Actress): (as Nina Sayers) I just want to be perfect.

Mr. CASSEL: (as Thomas Leroy) You what?

Ms. PORTMAN: (as Nina Sayers) Want to be perfect.

HANSEN: Chances that she'll get a nomination for Best Actress. Others?

Mr. MORRIS: Annette Bening, who's likely going to win for "The Kids are All Right." I mean, I think she was better in a different movie called "Mother and Child," but, I mean, I'm in a minority on that movie being as good as it is. Annette Bening's your likely winner. I mean, Natalie Portman could also win. And I think the other three women will probably be Nicole Kidman...

HANSEN: For "The Rabbit Hole."

Mr. MORRIS: ...for a film called "Rabbit Hole," Jennifer Lawrence for "Winter's Bone," who plays a girl looking for her father - she's very good in that. And your fifth nominee is going to be a crapshoot.

HANSEN: What about the 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld? Longshot for "True Grit"?

Mr. MORRIS: Well, it'll be interesting to see what happens to her because she's being campaigned for as a supporting actress to better her odds in the nomination. But she also has a shot at a Best Actress nomination because people have watched the movie and said she's in just about every scene. Who is she supporting?

(Soundbite of movie, "True Grit")

Ms. HAILEE STEINFELD (Actress): (as Mattie Ross) You have misjudged me if you think I am silly enough to give you $50 and watch you simply ride off.

Mr. JEFF BRIDGES (Actor): (as Rooster Cogburn) I'm a bonded U.S. marshal.

Ms. STEINFELD: (as Mattie Ross) That weighs but little with me. I will see the thing done.

Mr. MORRIS: So, I mean, you know, those are politics and it'll be interesting to see. 'Cause, you know, as a voter you can put her in either category. And so, it'll come down to which category did she get more votes in and whether, having it be unclear what her function is in the movie, splits the votes in both departments and she gets nothing.

HANSEN: So, what was your favorite picture of 2010?

Mr. MORRIS: This year, I kind of begged to make a list of 10 movies and didn't - without ranking them, and several of the possible Best Picture nominees are among them, but I also really like "Jackass 3D," which is nowhere near close to being a Best Picture nominee. Liane, I'm sorry.

HANSEN: That's OK. It's OK.

Mr. MORRIS: It's really good. I also liked "Mother and Child," that movie I mentioned before with Annette Bening and Kerry Washington and Naomi Watts. After "The Fighter," that's the best acting across the board in a motion picture I saw last year. And "Inside Job," a documentary about the financial crisis that - I mean, last year was one of the best years I can think of for non-fiction filmmaking, and I think that'll show up in the nominees.

But, I mean, forget the Oscars, I think that non-fiction films and documentary filmmaking is as strong in America as it ever has been. And many of the movies I saw last year, like a wonderful film called "Sweetgrass," about a bunch of sheep being herded for their last pasture basically up in Montana.

(Soundbite of movie, "Sweetgrass")

Mr. MORRIS: It's a beautiful, very moving, shrewdly well-made movie and has no shot at an Oscar for Best Picture. But I really loved it. And, you know, one of the things about movies is we all have our favorites. And there are people in the Academy who will have favorites that won't be nominated either. But it's interesting how these 10 movies can really start a conversation about what our movie-going year was like.

HANSEN: Boston Globe film critic Wesley Morris joined us from member station KPCW in Park City, Utah. Thank you, Wesley.

Mr. MORRIS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.