[Oscars Death Race 2011]

I’ve been obsessed with the Oscars for a ridiculously long time, but this is the first year where I tried seriously to see as many of the nominees as I possibly could. Considering that in the past month I also chose to do things like spend a week seeing 13 noir films, and catching the five hour version of Red Cliff, I think I did quite well.

The moral support of the Oscars Death Race on Twitter helped a lot!

I only missed two features which played in Seattle: Country Strong & Tron Legacy. I also haven’t seen four of the documentary shorts (one was available online) and three of the foreign language films (which haven’t opened in Seattle yet.)

My final tally was 47 of 56 nominated films, completing 20 of 24 categories. Not too shabby, and it left me Full of Opinions & with a burning desire for a corporate sponsor next year. And I don’t even buy popcorn.

Categories where I have seen all the nominees:

Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Who Will: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech.
  • Who Should: Javier Bardem, Biutiful
  • Also: James Franco was awesome in 2010, in both 127 Hours & Howl, and I’m glad he got some Independent Spirit love this weekend.

Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Who Will: Christian Bale, The Fighter.
  • Who Should: Well, Christian. But I’d give it to John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone.
  • Also: I would have loved to see Andrew Garfield here for Never Let Me Go. Or, hell, for The Social Network, because he was the only thing I liked about that movie.

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Who Will: Natalie Portman, Black Swan.
  • Who Should: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone. I also have a lot of love for Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine.
  • Also: I’d trade Portman, Bening, and/or Kidman for Carey Mulligan, Never Let Me Go. Guys, she spends most of that film *listening* and is utterly compelling the entire time.

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Who Will: Tough call! Melissa Leo, The Fighter or Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit.
  • Who Should: They’re both great. All the ladies here would make me happy, but I’d vote for Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom.
  • Also: I finally saw Another Year, and I am feeling the Lesley Manville love.

Animated Feature:

  • What Will: Toy Story 3.
  • What should: The Illusionist, luminous and heartbreaking.
  • Also: I would have been pleased if How to Train Your Dragon had gotten a cinematography nomination.

Art Direction

  • Who Will: Inception.
  • Who Should: Inception.


  • Who Will: Roger Deakins, True Grit.
  • Who Should: Roger Deakins, True Grit.
  • Also: He’s a genius of light. That’s just a fact.

Costume Design

  • Who Will: My impulse says Colleen Atwood for Alice in Wonderland.
  • Who Should: Sandy Powell, The Tempest. So beautiful & original!
  • Also: I resent that this category forced me to sit through I Am Love. Not all of the movies are for me.


  • Who Will: David Fincher, The Social Network.
  • Who Should: Danny Boyle, 127 Hours. But since they weren’t smart enough to nominate him, Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan.
  • Also: Christopher Nolan, people! And this is a category that makes me relieved that Shutter Island was shut out.

Documentary Feature

  • Who Will: I cannot call this category at all. I thought they were all very much worth watching. Inside Job has played longest & widest, I think. But Exit Through the Gift Shop is getting all the buzz. (Hooray!)
  • Who Should: Exit Through the Gift Shop! My love for this movie is huge.
  • Also: This was a great year for documentaries. I would have loved to see The Tillman Story in here. And even the Joan Rivers documentary.

Film Editing

  • Who Will: The Social Network, as part of its inevitable ‘minor’ award sweep.
  • Who Should: 127 Hours.


  • Who Will: Please, not The Wolfman. It’s bad enough that we have to describe it as Oscar nominated.
  • Who Should: Barney’s Version for some of the best aging work I’ve ever seen.
  • Also: I’d like to thank this category for preventing me from waiting for DVD for Barney’s Version.

Music (Score)

  • Who Will: The Social Network.
  • Who Should: 127 Hours.

Best Picture

  • I wrote up my full rankings already over here a month ago, and I haven’t changed my mind on anything.

Short Film (Animated)

  • Who Will: “Day & Night”.
  • Who Should: “Day & Night”.
  • Also: I would really enjoy it if “Madagascar, carnet de voyage” won, for the variety of animation techniques.

Short Film (Live Action)

  • Who Will: I have no idea.
  • Who Should: Hmm. “Wish 143”.
  • Also: They are all so depressing! How did that even happen? I swear they are not always so depressing.

Sound Mixing

  • Who Will/Who Should/Also: The Social Network. Deserved, too, if only for the first club scene ever captured on film with accurate sound.

Visual Effects

  • Who Will: Inception.
  • Who Should: Inception.
  • Also: This is another category where I had seen all of the nominees in original release. (Don’t worry — four of them I didn’t pay for.)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • Who Will: The Social Network.
  • Who Should: 127 Hours, for Boyle & Beaufoy’s well-deployed narrative restraint.
  • Also: It just occurred to me that there is an entire piece to be written here comparing these two approaches to filming the story of a real person. In a nutshell: Sorkin threw out the truth in favor of what he felt was a better narrative, and Boyle & Beaufoy threw out expected narrative in favor of the truth.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • Who Will: Tough call. I’ll go with The Kids Are All Right.
  • Who Should: Mike Leigh, Another Year.
  • Also: That said, it’s always funny when Mike Leigh films end up here.

Incomplete categories:

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • I saw: “The Warriors of Quigang”, which was interesting, but is not enough to make any sort of call on.

Foreign Language Film

  • I saw: Biutiful & Dogtooth. Biutiful is now one of my favorite films of 2010. Dogtooth is so original and disturbing I’m amazed it was nominated. The direction was fantastic. I never need to see it again.

Music (Original Song)

  • I saw: 127 Hours, Tangled, & Toy Story 3. I weep for Cher’s Burlesque snub*. *This is a lie.

Sound Editing

  • I saw: Inception, Toy Story 3, True Grit, & Unstoppable. Yes, Unstoppable. Thanks, AMPAS. Thanks a lot.

So, what do you guys think? Did you finish any of the categories I failed at? Did I really miss out not seeing Country Strong?

I will, of course, be live tweeting the ceremony tonight: twitter.com/letterboxed. Join me!

4 Replies to “[Oscars Death Race 2011]”

  1. I just saw the live-action shorts, and I didn’t think they were *that* depressing except for The Confession. I mean, except in that four out of the five involved children killing, threatening to kill, and/or being killed.

    If you count each of the live-action shorts separately I think I more than doubled the number of nominees I saw today… I am no death-racer.

    1. Other than that, they were not at all depressing!

      I frequently see the movies so no one else has to. It seems.

    1. I had a free pass to that, and I still didn’t manage to go! But to be fair, I enjoyed it more than I expected. I heart Denzel. And it didn’t commit the crime of being deadly-dull like The Wolfman did.

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