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What Oscar Got Wrong Again

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Mark Kermode | 11:38 UK time, Friday, 4 February 2011

The nominations for the 2011 Academy Awards have been revealed and, as usual, they don't make much sense.

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  • Comment number 1.

    No director’s nomination either for Polanski or for his film The Ghost. I finally caught up with this film recently and found it a well directed clever, cynical thriller. A candidate for a Kermode, if I may nominate it.

  • Comment number 2.

    Another thing it WILL get wrong is allowing The King's Speech to do a complete sweep of the major categories, when all it deserves is acting awards.

  • Comment number 3.

    I have to agree with you, in my opinion these are some of the worst Oscar nominations in recent memory. Christopher Nolan not being nominated for Best Director is a travesty. I also think that both Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Social Network, both of them gave much better performances than Jesse Eisenberg and Chloe Grace Moretz should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Kick-Ass, clearly more of a Supporting Actress than Hailee Steinfeld, just as star making and she gave, in my opinion, the best performance by an actress in 2010 (I would have said Natalie Portman if Black Swan didn't come out this year and I went by American release dates). I also think it was bad to see a total snubbing of Kick-Ass and Scott Pilgrim, both of those films were great and had some great roles in the technical side and, in terms of technicals and design, they deserve Oscar nominations more than Alice in Wonderland or, dare I say it, The King's Speech (masterful in script and acting, same as any other film based in that time in the technical side)

  • Comment number 4.

    The biggest snub for me has to be Lesley Manville for her spectacular performance in Mike Leigh's Another Year. When I saw that film, I immediately assumed she was going to be the frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress. Her not making the cut is completely incomprehensible. I'm surprised you didn't mention her, because aside from Christopher Nolan, no nomination for Lesley Manville was the Academy's biggest oversight.

  • Comment number 5.

    Osacar noms - was it ever thus? Not sure how they overlooked Nolan or Garfield, especially the latter as he gives a pretty great performance in the otherwise underwhelming Never Let Me Go. Surprised Sony didn't push it harder with the judges seeing as he is Spiderman.

    Great to see the Illusionist nominated though - but it won't win as it is up against Toy Story 3. Which is amazing and deserves to win Best Film. But it won't.

  • Comment number 6.

    Here's a theory for you. Perhaps the film company behind True Grit deliberately wanted Hailee Steinfeld to be nominated for the best supported actress, as considering Natalie Portman is a shoe in for the Best Actress Oscar, they would like to increase the probability of her winning an award, and there does not seem to be a most likely winner in that category.

  • Comment number 7.

    I was hoping Nic Cage got nominated but I think Bad Lieutenant came out in 2009 in America.
    The Oscars are never a true artistic refection of film to me. Most of the noms are studio driven noms. The best example was 2008 with the best pic noms...Are Benjamin Button and The Reader really the best films of that year?
    I think Monsters should have been nominated for visual effects and Gareth Edwards for director for that film. One of the best films in ages and is better than True Grit and 127 Hours

  • Comment number 8.

    To be honest I was thinking these were actually some ok nominations when compared to previous years and the crappy Globes. I did like, not love, but like Inception, but in my mind, Danny Boyle, not Nolan is the most amazing omission, and it seems odd that it's only Nolan that's moaned about.

  • Comment number 9.

    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?
    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?
    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?
    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?
    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?
    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?
    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?
    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?
    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?
    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?
    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?
    Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine?

    Can I make my frustration any clearer?????

  • Comment number 10.

    I disagreed most, not with a snub, but the inclusion of Winter's Bone. It was one of the 3 worst films I saw last year. All of the actors in the film played (seemingly) not just the same uneducated character but the same mean, crazy, sinister, sloooooow talking, unreasonable, drug addled, criminal, irrational, unaccommodating one. And the stronger the faux Southern accent, the dumber the character. And I mean duuuuummm with no 'B'. If you're going to nominate Jennifer Lawrence, then you might as well nominate the entire cast. They played the same stupid character.

    Getting rid of Lawrence from the nominations would have allowed True Grit's Steinfeld to be in the Best Actress category instead of... Anyway. I digress.

    Leaving Nolan off of the list was almost like slapping him in the face with a wet fish. It's not an omission as much as a deliberate insult in my mind.

    Jesse Eisenberg is another one that leaves me scratching my head. While doing an adequate job, he's playing a character that has no personality... At all. Given the fact Eisenberg gives the same performance in every film he's in is another reason why it boggles the mind that he's nominated. I agree with you that Garfield was very good in the film, but I would like to point out another role (or roles) that have been overlooked from The Social Network.

    Armie Hammer (and Josh Pence) playing the the Winklevoss twins was (were?) excellent. The fact that (like Nic Cage in Adaptation) I could distinguish the twins by their attitudes and mannerisms alone was remarkable in and of itself. They (he?) also drew the most laughs and it's one of the few times where the jocks get more sympathy than the nerds do in a film. At least Hammer would have gotten a nod from me. The FX were near seamless, as well, and I'm surprised The Social Network wasn't nominated for Best Visual FX.

    Alice In Wonderland and The Wolfman being nominated for anything (even Best Makeup) is also a travesty. Horrible films. Horrible! 2D or 3D...

    The one thing I'm NOT surprised about is that the Oscars once again got it wrong.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    JWD - good call. If you're gonna nominate Michelle Williams you have to nominate the other half of that duo because it's essentially one, inextricably linked dynamic.

    On the issue of Nolan's nods - the idea that Inception has better writing than direction is frankly ridiculous. The entire film is direction - that's the key problem with it. The script is a blueprint for creating a landscape with its own physics. How many people in the audience left that film remembering a character or quoted lines of dialogue?

  • Comment number 13.

    I agree that the oscar noms this year are a bit strange. I wanted Christopher Nolan to win best director (although I fully expected them to give it to David Fincher for not giving him it for Banjamin Button). Also I secretly wanted Daft Punk to be nominated for Tron: Legacy (although it's a complete bore-fest of a film and I really do think Hans Zimmer deserves for inception).

    What I find the most unbelievable in all is how the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo isn't nominated for best Foriegn Language film and (at a push I admit) Noomi Rapace isn't nominated for best actress. More suprisingly, that they have ignored it is that, is it wasn't a small little foriegn film you could only see in arthouse cinemas, it was a box-office hit and really good modern-day crime thriller. I haven't seen Of Gods and Men, but I feel TGwtDT is the best foriegn language film of the year, period. In terms of Noomi Rapace for best actress, alright Natelie Portman will win it hands down, but I thought she would have had a shot (and possibly won it ala Marion Cotillard). I really think it's the best preformance of an actress this year. Not saying Natalie's wasn't good-far from it, but it terms of the character (and that can be so easily to make an audience hate that type of character) and how she makes us feel for her. Even if you ignore GwtDT and look at the sequals she is the only thing that hols them together. Thank goodness the Baftas see more sense, although I suspect that Natalie will win it for Black Swan as well.

    P.s. If I'm at my most cynical I would have put Enter the Void for best cinematoraphy. Just a thought.

  • Comment number 14.

    I can't believe they left Chris Nolan out but included David O. Russell. I love Russell's earlier stuff but The Fighter feels like a TV movie, it's horribly cliched and saved only by Bale's performance.

    Of all the films in the Best Film category, only Inception and The Social Network will be talked about in 20 years time.

  • Comment number 15.

    You know, some people have been floating the idea that the Academy are conspiring to treat Nolan in a manner similar to what they did with The Lord of the Rings, where they save up all their praise for his third Batman film, and then decide to flourish him with a whole sweep of Oscars. Of course, if that's true, then it's a much riskier strategy than LotR because you could kind of guess what the overall look and feel of the third film would be since Peter Jackson had shot all three volumes of the one book altogether. There's absolutely no guarantee that The Dark Knight Returns will be as dramatically successful as Batman Begins or as politically sophisticated as The Dark Knight. The other wild card factor is that Nolan draws from a wide range of styles and influences within the Batman comic canon, and has thus far produced two very different films - the first a personal journey with a supernatural bent, and the other a crime opera with comic book archetypes replacing Michael Mann professionals - so we have no real idea what approach will be taken with the third instalment. Then again, even if TDKR is a disappointment, it wouldn't be the first time the Academy award the right artist for the wrong film out of a mounting sense of guilt, a la Martin Scorsese and Kate Winslet.

  • Comment number 16.

    Inception does have good direction of the action sequences and cgi but has poor direction of the acting which at times is wooden and awkward. The fact it didn't get nominated for editing is more shocking, the one thing that seperates inception from any other action film is the editing of the storyline not the direction.

  • Comment number 17.

    I still maintain, although there have been many great films released recently in the run-up to the Oscars that Shutter Island, an absolte masterpiece that rivals Black Swan for genre-bending creative genius, is a film by which all this year should be compared. Why have the academy overlooked Scorsese?!

  • Comment number 18.

    One of the things I've grown tired of is all the whinging I hear about how horrible it is popular blockbusters don't get nominated for awards. It's like the kind of statement one, meaning I, puzzle over in the book world: "I think the Pulitzer prize (I'm American) is a sham because Stephen King hasn't been recognized for his greatness," when Mr. King has the main thing that counts, readers, and doesn't need cheesy awards to boost his already too boosted career. The same is true of poor Mr. Nolan.

    1., as I understand it, Inception was not nominated for direction because a good deal of the action was sort of hard to follow. Actually, in my view, it was less incoherent than in The Dark Knight, which was less incoherent than Batman Begins, which completely fell apart in the climactic scenes. Still Inception is a bit all over the place with its slow mo car crashes and explosions, though frankly the mind-bending portion of the movie was really no harder to understand than say, Twelve Monkeys, which was reputedly quite trippy but actually turned out to be a rather simple action flick following the usual big-star rules, such as: the protagonist is Bruce Willis ergo he's not crazy. In my opinion, while Inception is cleverly worked out in terms of its layers of dreams (i.e. the bits of Di Caprio's lost love and guilt spread out, buried ever deeper the more hurtful they are) and very well acted by Di Caprio etc., and while I thought it was good as far as its blockbuster ingredients went, still I was a little disappointed. Here Nolan had the chance to do anything, go anywhere, had dreams within dreams within dreams, yet he merely boiled it all down to car chases and shootemups. Plus, why was it that all the projections, the dream figures, never molted or mutated into other things? Why did car crashes end in genuine car crashes, bullets necessarily kill anything, buildings orangely explode, following Hollywood's rules for streamlined reality? If anything the dreams were far too legible and firmly constructed, wound up with the same sort of narratively imposed limitations that made such a crippling annoying hash of The Matrix, though I certainly preferred Inception to that flick. Also, I thought the ending was rather tired, a kind of conventionalized tick at this date: is it real or are we still dreaming? Maybe it's all just dream, etc., etc. This "or is it?" type ending is rather like the unkillable monster murderers of eighties slashers, you knew it was coming the moment the movie started. Perversely, it's somehow more comforting than discombobulating. So, in sum, not only do I NOT think Nolan should have been nominated for best director with this movie, but I think it would be silly for this well made but rather banal film to win best picture. As for Psycho, who cares what stupid awards it did or did not win, might not have been nominated for? The movie's still iconic and alive and Hitchcock has emerged as the Shakespeare of cinema. If Nolan's really as good as everybody says then his work, independent of arbitrary honors which should go to more needy and noteworthy work, will live on in people's minds long past the award season.

  • Comment number 19.

    Perhaps these people weren't snubbed; the Oscar committee didn't nominate them as that would have ruled them out for the far more prestigious Kermode Awards!

  • Comment number 20.

    You know, I've always found it crazy that a movie can be nominated for best film and yet said movie's director is ignored. Surely the director plays an enormous role in making a movie worthy of nomination.
    You are quite right Mark when you say that Inception is surely the most directed movie out of all of them. Drama, intricate plot, mind blowing effects, high action, Nolan really had to garner in a lot of different aspects to give us such a stylish piece of work; well worth a nomination in my book.
    @crash landen Whilst I completely agree that the academy should have nominated Hailee Steinfeld in the best actress category, I feel I have to disagreee with your assessment of Winter's Bone. There is some very fine acting in this movie, both from Lawrence and in particular John Hawkes. Don't forget the subject matter and setting of this movie, in the poverty stricken Ozark mountains, where drugs are rife and life is hard. Jennifer Lawrence's plays Ree, stuggling to hold things together in this harsh landscape, and just when I thought I had a handle on John Hawkes' Teardrop he would turn it on its head and show another side to his character. There's a lot more depth of characterisation to this film than you think, may I suggest you give it another chance.
    I do however agree with your mention of Armie Hammer, if I hadn't read that it was just one guy playing the Winkelvii I would have totally believed that some acting twins had been found for the roles, marvellous stuff.

    I think perhaps Scott Pilgrim should have been up for a visual effects award.
    Of God's and men absolutely should have been nominated for best foreign language film as should Chico & Rita (does anyone know if it could have been nominated for best animated if it is in a foreign language?)
    I would have definitely nominated Aaron Eckhart for Rabbit Hole, who is equally as good as Nicole Kidman. Diane Weist was also superb and I was very impressed by the young Miles Teller too, I expect to be seeing more good stuff from him in the near future.
    Last but not least, what about Clooney's very understated performance in The American, surely that deserves a mention.

  • Comment number 21.

    Yes agreed,

    Although the most depressing thing is that we have not been given the Kermode/Nolan interview!!!!

    The Culture Show needs to set this up and make it an hour special - as the good Doctor needs to sit down with the most important British director at the moment for crying out loud.

    Enough of Mike Leigh et al - let's get Nolan in the chair... you owe it to yourself Dr. K

  • Comment number 22.

    Id like them to go back to just 5 films for best film. I think if that was the case then Inception would not have got a nomination which in turn would make Nolan being missing from the directors nom' more palatable for you Mark. Im not fussed by Nolan not being there.
    However I would like to have seen noms for Justin Timberlake for The Social Network and Mila Kunis for Back Swan. Also Daft Punk for the score for Tron.

  • Comment number 23.

    Is it just me, or does Christopher Nolan, at least in those B&W shots that flashed up during the blog, bear an uncanny resemblance to Harry Enfield?

  • Comment number 24.

    This year's nominations for the most part are a shambles.
    Personally, I think not nominating Christopher Nolan for best director is the worst mistake the Academy have made for a good 3 years. It's an absolute disgrace. The only possible reason I can think why he wasn't nominated is because the Americans didn't want two British directors in the same category stealing their thunder.

    Other huge errors this year are:

    - Mark Ruffulo for 'The Kids are Alright' - why?? I could have understood 'Shutter Island' but not this one.

    - No nomination for Daft Punk's score for 'TRON: Legacy'

    - No nomination for Barbara Hershey for 'Black Swan'

    - No nomination for Hilary Swank for 'Conviction'

    - 'The Illusionist' should have been nominated for Best Foreign Film as well as Best Animated

    The list is blooming endless.

  • Comment number 25.

    And to make things worse, with the King's Speech set to sweep the awards following its Director's Guild win, the media will be telling us what a fantastic night it has been for British film.

    We shouldn't be surprised that the Academy has failed to recognise the talent yet again. Given its failure to award Best Director to Alfred Hitchcock, or indeed to award Best Picture to any one of his films, it amazes me that its judgement is still taken seriously all these years later.

  • Comment number 26.

    I heard a funny story once that the 'illustrious members of the Aacademy' Gawd bless 'em !! Just didn't have the time to watch all the films they were sent ?? Hence they farmed some of the Oscar offerings out to their staff,for example housemaids,pool maintenace,gardener's etc for their opinions.... Now this is is totally tongue in cheek......But many a true word spoken in jest?

  • Comment number 27.

    Not right enough Kermode.
    BLUE VALENTINE is the best movie of the year and should win Best Director, Best Actress and Best Actor. The idea that Tom Hooper could win for competently putting a camera in front of very good actors and a very good screenplay, or that David O. Russell could win for a non-David O. Russell film or that the Coens have been nominated even though they definitely will not win, but that DEREK CIANFRANCE, who spent twelve years of his life putting together this utterly new and harrowing masterpiece, has been left out of the equation is nothing short of the final straw against the Academy. And if that isn't, then the fact RYAN GOSLINGS obvious nomination was stolen from him by Jeff Bridges, who the academy have NO intention of letting win the Oscar will suffice.
    They let Mickey Rourke and Martin McDonagh lose to California politics, they failed to nominate Tobey Maguire or Sam Rockwell for Brothers and Moon, respectively. The Oscars are dead and they should be.

  • Comment number 28.

    On a slightly geekier note, I was surprised to find that 127 hours failed to get nominated in the sound editing and sound mixing categories. I can't think of another film I've seen in the last year that uses sound effects so effectively to help tell the story. The 'nerve' scene sent shivers through me due to a combination of great acting and terrific use of sound.

  • Comment number 29.

    Like he should worry with the amount of money Inception has made.

  • Comment number 30.

    The film that got truly snubbed was Tron Legacy. One nomination, nothing for visual effects or soundtrack.

    My personal favourite film of last year was Scott Pilgrim but I never expected that to get nominated for anything, it's too bright and shiny and it's also a comedy film.

    I do however think that the Oscars need a massive overhaul, if only to stop the kind of films that come out at this point every single year, solely to sweep the Oscars often undeservingly.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think Andrew Garfield should have got a nod for Never Let Me Go, in which he's even better. Goodness knows that playing Peter Parker seems like a dead end for an actor of his talents- remember how everyone liked Tobey Maguire back in 2001?
    Never Let Me Go is the major omission in general, I feel. Brilliant film that seems to have been buried by all and sundry- it's even released in the UK in a week when True Grit will be eating up most people's attention.
    I agree that Christopher Nolan deserved a nod for Best Director for Inception too, and as much as I liked The Fighter, I don't think that David O. Russell was better.
    On the other hand, it's all down to personal opinion. Oscars are the most prestigious awards, certainly, but there's so much political gubbins and silly decision-making going on that ultimately, like Christmas No.1 or the Nobel Peace Prize, it's just a meaningless title except in the year that it's awarded.

  • Comment number 32.

    @Crash_Landen re: 10 -

    I don't think we were watching the same film were we? "Winter's Bone" in your bottom three? Really?.

    As I have stated in other previous posting, I was really impressed with it - a true American slant on Loachian kitchen-sink realism. Also, I'm not sure what you mean by faux-southern accent. Like Loach, the filmmakers have mainly used local residents and real dialogue - I sincerely doubt the hill-billy band at the house were faking their characterisation.

    The reason Jennifer Lawrence (deservedly) gets a nod is the fact that, at 17, she's in virtually every scene and is it's emotional centre - they'd be mad not to acknowledge her!

  • Comment number 33.

    Mark your reviews are beginning to attract my attention. I agree with your assessment of Descent in comparison with another film that I have not seen and probably will not. It's compelling and scary. In fact I have not seen more than about 35 minutes of it, because it had me starting even more than 'The Others'.

  • Comment number 34.

    Can we all guess at the kermode award noms then?

    going to be a classic year i think for the only awards that truly reflect the years films without all the political nonsense/borderline corruption (at least in an artistic sense) of the oscars.

    may i surgest a new catagory for a wittertainment peoples choice award for best cinematic experience of the year?

    my vote would be for black swan!

  • Comment number 35.

    On the absence of Christopher Nolan from the Best Director category, I think it comes down to numbers: there are 10 nominations for Best Picture and 5 for Best Director, therefore it's inevitable that someone is overlooked.

    I've always been of the opinion that there shouldn't be a "Best Film/Best Director" distinction at all - case in point being "Crash" winning over "Brokeback Mountain" for Best Picture but Ang Lee beating Paul Haggis for Best Director.

    I guess the reason there is a difference is due to the voting constituencies being different but it seems awfully redundant nonetheless...

  • Comment number 36.

    No Mark. Inception was lucky to even get a best film nod, you know why? Because Inception is quite a boring film.

    Chris Nolan obviously has a tendency for extremely childishly conceived, cliché ridden movies. He and his brother have to stop writing the scripts and get someone else (someone a lot better) to do it.

  • Comment number 37.

    I really don't know what all the fuss is all about, couldn't careless who is nominated or wins these self backslapping has to wonder how low their self esteem really is that they have to have awards nearly every week for their performances... for gods sake!! they get paid for it... and damn well paid too!!... and they still expect to rewarded... geez! anyone would think they are bankers... what with their bonus issues right now... which probably equates to a gong here and there for these idiots. if its a good film I go see it, if its not I won't... they are the only awards I give out to these feckless egotistical idiots

  • Comment number 38.

    Academy Awards. Really, who cares!

    It's completely tedious. The last time I was excited by 'Oscar night' I would have probably been too young to stay up and watch it. It certainly doesn't make for improved or more diverse movies. It just another black tie, back-slapping knees up for the over indulged. You have to go back a long way to find movies that could be considered worthy winners of the Best Picture trinket.

    From '69 -'78 they really did appear to represent outstanding achievement. IMHO they had been somewhat patchy prior to '68 and almost ridiculous post '78. In conclusion then, who gives a damn what they Academy votes in/out/for. I think Christopher Nolan is in better company NOT being nominated. Lets be honest, if the Best Picture category hadn't recently been expanded, I doubt Inception would have even made it in.

    Just think of the 'also rans' for theses best picture category winners and tell me the Academy can spot 'outstanding achievement'. Exactly. Trust me, this list could go on and on and....

    Kramer Vs Kramer(1979). Gandhi (1982). Terms of Endearment (1983). Out of Africa (1985). Platoon (1986). Driving Miss Daisy (1989). The English Patient (1996). Titanic (1997). A Beautiful Mind (2001). Chicago (2002). Crash (2005). Slumdog Millionaire (2008). The Hurt Locker (2009)

    ...The Kings Speech (2010)

  • Comment number 39.

    This is completely off topic I know but just wanted to share it with you all. Check out Richard Vezina's stunning tribute to the movies and talent of Mr Stanley Kubrick (via Live for Films)

  • Comment number 40.

    A bigger snub for me was that The Tillman Story wasn't nominated for best documentary. I was shocked more than surprised.

  • Comment number 41.

    #38 - @Arch Stanton

    Indeed. I'm constantly amazed anyone takes these things seriously and gets into a tizz when HOT TUB TIME MACHINE doesn't make the list.

  • Comment number 42.

    @Luke Smith


    I, like you, enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo about as much as any other foreign film I saw last year. However, there are a couple of reasons why it could not be nominated for the 2010 Academy awards.

    The rules are that the film has to be shown in the originating country in the year of consideration. TGwtDT was released in Sweden in 2009 so it would not be eligible for the 2010 Oscars.

    Even more importantly, films have to be submitted by the host country, so the Academy does not get to pick which films are for consdieration. Some people may remember that in 2008, the year the "Let the Right One In" would have been eligible, the Swedish cinematic powers that be chose, in their wisdom, "Everlasting Moments" as their submission.

    So The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo could have been eligible for last years Academy Awards except that once again the Swedish submitting body chose "Involuntary" instead.

    I notice that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo also has a number of different countries listed as country of origin (although I think it is predominantly a Swedish film) which may be one reason why it wasn't chosen to represent Sweden.

    So don't blame the Academy for the omission this time. As for all the 2010 nominations they did make....


  • Comment number 43.

    We get angry about the oscars because its human nature to want justice in the film world. Andrew Garfield's snub for Social Network is ridiculous, he was so good in it, probably better than Eisenberg though i think people are being unfair on him, he was pretty good i thought, its the fact he has been oscar nominated that people are annoyed. Jeremy Renner was good in The Town but did it really merit an oscar nomination? Not too sure about that. The sound editing categories snubbing 127 Hours is strange, but my biggest snub would be Danny Boyle for Best Director, okay Nolan is a snub as well but 127 Hours was a fantastic film and very innovatively directed. But of course he couldn't be nominated because hes already had "his year" with the frankly overrated Slumdog Millionaire. Sigh, why can't the Oscars just nominate what was good, who cares if Boyle won a million oscars 2 years ago, 127 Hours is better than Slumdog!

    At least David Fincher is going to win best director right? Well, if he loses out to Tom Hooper i'm going to be very angry, no ill feelings towards Tom Hooper but i wouldn't say the King's Speech direction is the best thing about it. It's Hooper's first nomination whereas Finchers 2nd or 3rd i forget but he REALLY deserves to win, Fincher for best director! Social Network for best film! Reznor and Ross for best score!

  • Comment number 44.

    Oh yeah and one more thing, when are you going to do the Kermode awards Mark? Does the Culture Show exist anymore because i don't really watch TV, anyway you better give an award to Andrew Garfield because once he becomes Spiderman he'll never get another one again :'(

    Oh and just my crappy little blog project

  • Comment number 45.

    @ JWDPiggott
    Blue Valentine is my 2010 favorite!
    Come to think of it, It's all time fav! So much so, I don't even care what nominations and awards it gets.

  • Comment number 46.

    @ 42. antimode

    Fair point. I'll shut up for a while :P

  • Comment number 47.

    Dr K,

    Please could you explain what you mean by the term 'most directed', how can one film be 'more directed' than another one? Don't get me wrong, I loved Inception and agree that Nolan should have picked up a directing nod, but I can't understand this unusual turn of phrase.


  • Comment number 48.

    @ CrashLanden.

    What's this about "faux accents?" More than 3/4 of the cast were using their own accents in Winter's Bone. Contrast that with True Grit were the majority (notably all leads) were not speaking with their own accents since they do not come from the American South. The little girl that played Ree's younger sister in the film actually lives in that home. I'm not sure someone from the UK is in a position to gauge how genuine regional American accents are anymore so than an American can credibly evaluate how genuine a Brummie or Geordie accent might be. I don't have an issue with the rest of your comments even though we disagree as I realise that's just down to personal taste and preference. The Coen Brothers, who you seem to like, are themselves big fans of Winter's Bone.

  • Comment number 49.

    I always enjoy your reviews, Mark, but have realised, since your support of Darrenofsky's (see what I did there?) "The Fountain" that we sometimes share different tastes.

    I have tried watching this wretched pile twice - both with the best of intentions. I think I got 20 mins in last time.

  • Comment number 50.

    @ Joel_Cooney & Cioran

    Yes, we saw the same film. We disagree. We all have our favorites and films we don't care for. And yes it's in my Top 3 Worst, right behind Clash of the Titans and Alice In Wonderland. I thought it was that bad. Illogical. A movie of stereotypes and cliches. Unrealistic (especially the face off with the police officer. That part was hysterical. Trust me when I say that cops here in the US live for the opportunity to shoot at someone who brandishes a weapon at them. There would have been 400 other cops there from every surrounding county just to observe the perp's carcass afterward). I'm not even going to mention the part with the chainsaw! I'll really get going over that.

    And faux Southern accents....

    Cioran... Much like the Good Doctor, who knows when Russell Crowe is performing an authentic sounding British accent or not; I myself can discern between realistic American accents of a number of regions (especially in the South) and if the actors in the film are from the Ozarks area, then that just confirms how bad they are as actors. Just because they're from the area proves nothing. There have been some highly acclaimed films with highly acclaimed actors that have performed terrible fake accents. Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby (a movie which I despised) and Robert Deniro in Cape Fear (which I enjoyed) both come to mind. I think they even used the same dialect coach which is more proof that Hollywood is not in touch with reality... And I'm not from the UK, BTW. I live in the good ol' US of A, so I think I can claim some knowledge of accents here.

    On top of all that, the blanket portrayal of the people in Winter's Bone would be downright offensive had they NOT been of the 'Anglo' persuasion. I disagreed over the movie with a very good friend of mine (whose family comes from Mississippi and ARKANSAS... where the film takes place). I told him to imagine the race of the people portrayed in Winter's Bone as say black and imagine how this film would be then viewed where every character can be swapped out with any other character in the film and have no noticable difference in personality, demeanor or IQ. He didn't agree with me that it's a terrible film (it is), but he did agree with me on that point.

    And just because a director says that a movie is great does not make it so. On a recent installment of Mark and Simon's Film Reviews, Danny Boyle (who I am also a fan of) called Pineapple Express a 'hoot'. I agreed with Mark on that one also, that it surely is not a 'hoot'. It was a terrible film. And as much as I love the Coens (and I do), they thought after remaking "The Ladykillers" that they had made another great film, which they had not.

    If you want to watch an intelligent film about ignorant (in one way or another) Americans where the accents of the region ARE accurate, I might suggest a film like American History X. Or A Simple Plan. Or Raising Arizona. Or Sling Blade. Or Good Fellas. Or No Country For Old Men. Or Fargo. Or The Big Lebowski... And you'll find in all of those films a variety of character and characters unlike Winter's Bone.

    Just my opinion, though. Sorry for the long winded response. I felt like I was channeling a Kermodian rant for s second or two. So I guess I'm up to 4 cents now on this particular blog post. Again, sorry.

  • Comment number 51.

    tbh, I don't really care at all.

    The Oscars and wot-not are only the industry patting itself on the back.
    I never understood the "pull" of it for us mere-mortals.

  • Comment number 52.

    Perhaps the biggest mistake is in not nominating Tron for the soundtrack and special effects catorgories.

    The soundtrack was one of the most perfectly suited and integrated origional scores there has been in a blockbuster movie for at least a decade.

    The effects were amazing and even the standard CGI in the film puts actual noms like Ironman 2 to shame. The best effect though was the virtual actor, a very convicing young Jeff Bridges.

    The fact that the virtual actor was realised so well might acually be the reason for the snub. Virtual actors are all well and good when they are blue cat like aliens but when you have actual human actors represented in such a way that some people can't tell the difference (Claudia Winkleman in Film 2010 didn't realise that it hadn't been done with make up until it was pointed out to her by her co-presenter) then as the technology improves further it is in danger of putting some actors out of a job. If you can't afford Tom Cruise as your leading man in a few yers it would be possible to have someone who looks a lot like him for a fraction of the cost using this technology or if you're making a high profile bio-pic of Laurel and Hardy instead of getting actors that can convincingly portray Laurel and Hardy why not just make virtual actors that look like them?

    As this was near perfected in Tron I personally suspect the reason why it has been snubbed may well have a lot to do with reservations against this technology from some acadamy members.

  • Comment number 53.

    Nice rant, Crash.

    I'll only comment on the bits that stuck out for me lest we all start writing theses. I loved Winter's Bone.

    "Unrealistic (especially the face off with the police officer. That part was hysterical."

    I found the face-off believable within the dynamics of small country towns. I know Australian country towns where the local cop is a local boy and only gets the respect from townspeople that they deserve. I could certainly see a scenario where a local cop in a small country town would back-off from a confrontation with someone they knew to be dangerous. In Australia cops in small country towns make compromises every day for all sorts of reasons. I didn't find this scenario unrealistic at all.

    "There would have been 400 other cops there from every surrounding county just to observe the perp's carcass".

    Um, I can't claim any specialist knowledge of the rural U.S., but I know plenty of areas in rural Australia where, if the local cop called for back-up, they'd have to wait a few hours while someone drove there. Meanwhile they're making the life and death decisions RIGHT NOW. I thought that was the point of the whole movie - you're on your own out here, you have to make your own way because there sure as h-word ain't nobody got your back. Although I'd argue that the movie ultimately had a happy ending, within its context.

    I can't comment on the accents because I don't know enough to have an opinion.

    "On top of all that, the blanket portrayal of the people in Winter's Bone would be downright offensive had they NOT been of the 'Anglo' persuasion...[snip]...imagine how this film would be then viewed where every character can be swapped out with any other character in the film and have no noticable difference in personality, demeanor or IQ."

    I didn't find the characterisations interchangable at all, in fact I thought the movie did a remarkable job of portraying character with such minimal dialogue. I thought the motivations of the different characters were well drawn and differentiated.
    -The "bad guys" were concerned to preserve their interests but were not without compassion and lived by a certain code.
    -Ree was faced with the ultimate terror of losing everything she valued in life and tenaciously floundered around trying to find any solution she could think of regardless of what it cost her.
    -Probably the character that "grew" on me most throughout the film was Teardrop, a man highly conflicted between avoiding trouble, getting his own share of limited resources, accepting the harsh realities of life, conforming to social codes no matter how much pain they brought him and trying to do the right thing according to both the social mores and his conscience.

    I didn't find the characters in WB "stereotypical" - of what? poor white trash? I found them no less complex or moving than I found the characters in Sling Blade or A Simple Plan (2 of my most tragically favourite films). Obviously I saw much more "character" in the characters of WB than you did.

    In fact I sort of find it difficult to understand why you hate WB so much if you like Sling Blade or A Simple Plan so much (I agree that these are much better executed films than WB in general terms). I think the scene where Ree tries to sign up to the military is one of the most achingly moving depictions of a real character who's run out of choices that matches many of the most moving parts of SB or ASP.

    OK, you've played the race card, now I'm going to play the gender card - do you think that the fact that WB features so many female characters has made any difference to your judgement of whether the characters are stereotypical? I wonder whether a female viewer sees more complexity in Ree's character.

    "I'm not even going to mention the part with the chainsaw! I'll really get going over that."

    Yeah, this was a little over-the-top believability-wise, but it made for good drama. And afterall - it's only a movie.

    Interesting comparison of WB, SB and ASP. I think WB and SB ultimately leave one with some hope for the human spirit. ASP I just found shattering.

  • Comment number 54.

    @crash landen
    Here's a nicely written, detailed review of Winter's Bone, however what's even more interesting is the reply that someone has written underneath. Worth a read.

  • Comment number 55.

  • Comment number 56.

    Was Another Year released too late to get any nominations? If it wasn't then that was a huge oversight from Oscar.

  • Comment number 57.

    And the Oscars mean what exactly????....nothing....;)

  • Comment number 58.

    @ Alina

    "Nice rant, Crash."

    Thanks I admire yours as well.

    In your first couple of defenses of WB, you essentially tell me (paraphrasing) "I don't live in the US, but..." and "I know here in Australia..."

    Trust me on this. I live here. They're terrible accents. And the days of Andy Griffith are over. If you brandish a weapon (of any kind) at a cop ANYWHERE in the US, you're going to die in all likelihood. Owning a gun is fine here. Getting hostile and brandishing a weapon at a cop is the surest way of meeting your maker. It;s hands down THE most ridiculous scene in WB.

    The cop backing off was nothing more than plot convenience. So was when the 2 guys watched while 'Teardrop' smashed the truck windshield. Axe or no axe, it wasn't believable TO ME.

    "I didn't find the characterisations interchangable at all..."

    I can't argue that much. This is subjective I guess. I think they are interchangeable (even to the point where you could interchange the family of thugs with a certain Sawyer family in a certain horror franchise... not one of those people in that family had a conscience or felt killing the girl, of which they were prepared to do, might land them in some trouble?). You don't agree. We seem to like the same movies, we just disagree here.

    But since we've both seen A Simple Plan... That film had some very ignorant characters and most of them were 'redneck' types, but each was completely distinctive. They had more range of emotion (or A range to be precise). Bill Paxton was not of the same mindset and intelligence as Brent Briscoe's character for instance. Sure, they were slightly higher on the economic scale than the characters in WB, but they're still 'rednecks'. And even the poorest of the poor can be happy, or humorous, or EVEN intelligent. That's not evident in WB... TO ME, anyway.

    "OK, you've played the race card, no"

    Ew... The race card. I wasn't thinking about it like that. It was just my way of trying to illustrate how braindead the characters were written/acted/directed. I think it's less acceptable if its in an area (like race or gender) where stereotypes of a certain group have been overly used in the past. Even portrayals of lawyers or politicians (occupations) can be unfair. I don't think gender makes any difference for me, though. Bridget Fonda's character was the most interesting character in ASP, as another aside.

    I just didn't find anything special about Lawrence's performance in her role. She frowns the entire film until the end (which has been done and done better in films like The Accidental Tourist and the Russian film The Return) and she acts appropriately hurt when the hillbillies beat her up. There is no nuance that I can discern. She reads her lines... I would put Rebecca Hall's performance in The Town over Lawrence's. Whatever you thought of Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett was great in Robin Hood. Violante Placido was on fire in The American. Olivia Williams in the Ghost(Writer). Mary Elizabeth Winstead brought more to the table for Scott Pilgrim than Lawrence did to WB. Alicja Bachleda was outstanding in the low key Ondine (released here in 2010). (Even) Olivia Wilde displayed more of a personality in Tron:Legacy. Just my opinion, though.

    But thank you for (somewhat) agreeing about the chainsaw scene, at least. Like I said, we seem to agree on other films, we'll just disagree about WB. If WB wins any Oscars, be sure that I'll be losing my lunch over it.

  • Comment number 59.

    @ MargeGunderson

    Argh! You posted while I was typing...

    Yeah, decent review and a wildly enthusiastic response. I've heard the same kind of enthusiam about other films about how accurate it is, when I know better. The poster commented about how the people there hate 'outsiders'. That may be that person's experience. I've heard my own hometown described the same way, but again; I know better. You're going to have a variety of opinion no matter where you go. Take this blog for instance. We all have our opinions.

    It might have corrected me on one thing. I thought the film took place in the Arkansas area of the Ozarks, instead of the Missouri area. It still doesn't change my opinion of the film, though.

    I haven't seen Another Year, BTW. I would like to, but it's not playing in my area yet (neither have Made In Dagenham, Monsters, and Of Gods And Men).

  • Comment number 60.

    @ Joel_Cooney

    Have to completely agree with you there Crash was a better film and better directed than Brokeback Mountain and yet Crash didn't get both awards. Am i surprised? No. Because it's the Oscars and it is based entirely on the opinions of people who for some reason don't actually seem to know much about films!

    Nolan deserved a nod as director and i completely agree with the Dr -why is Hailee Steinfeld not nominated for best actress??!! Also why no Toy Story 3 for Best Picture when it was clearly the best film of the year? Typical academy for you.

    However, I would at this point just like to say a huge thank you to the Academy for not allowing Avatar to walk away with the Best Picture award last year. It was an average film and, to be honest, quite poorly directed. The best special effects ever? Most definately. The best movie ever(as some people claim)? Most definately not. THANK YOU ACADEMY FOR REALISING!!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    @ morg

    Toy Story 3 is up for Best Picture

    @ Margegunderson

    Another Year is up for Best Original Screenplay

  • Comment number 62.

    @ Crash Landon

    You are objectively wrong about the accents in "Winter's Bone." No offense, but the fact that you're American doesn't make you an expert on Southern dialects. I've lived in the Ozarks my entire life, so I can say with confidence that the film is a very accurate depiction of this part of the U.S. Not just in terms of the accents, but in the way it vividly evokes the setting and way of life. The same way, I would imagine, "Taxi Driver" was so evocative of mid-'70s NYC. You can write another multi-paragraph rant if you want, but I happen to know I'm right. I've never been more confident about anything else in my entire life.

    I agree with you about that other thing, though.

  • Comment number 63.

    Also, even though your dismissal of Jennifer Lawrence's performance is fairly transparent contrarianism, it's still annoying. Like, you can't possibly serious when you say "Mary Elizabeth Winstead brought more to the table for Scott Pilgrim than Lawrence did to WB." In other words, Winstead has more stuff to do (because Scott Pilgrim is a movie where lots of stuff happens), therefore her performance is better. Lawrence is restrained and subtle, therefore her performance lacks nuance. No, actually she's portraying a stoic, introverted character, so her performance is absolutely perfect and I have no idea why I'm defending her because doesn't need it because everyone but you thinks she's great I need to go to sleep now

  • Comment number 64.

    @full metal jackson
    Ah! so it was eligible. In that case I can't believe Lesley Manville wasn't nominated.

  • Comment number 65.

    The Oscars always get it wrong but at least their selection this year is not as bad as the Golden Globes which just was ridiculous. One thing that I'm pleased with is that Javier Bardem is finally getting the recognition he deserves for Biutiful. After winning at Cannes it seemed that he had been forgotten and that Colin Firth was getting all of the attention for The King's Speech (a film that I feel is very overrated). As far as I'm concerned, Bardem's performance is on a much higher level than any of his competition in the Best Actor category and whether people like the film or not, I believe he thoroughly deserves every award that he is nominated for. An outstanding performance is when fine actor such as Bardem makes you forget who they are so that you become totally engrossed in their character and the situations that they are dealing with.
    In the end, I think Firth will win both the Oscar and the BAFTA because his performance is far more mainstream. Personally, I think his performance in last year's A Single Man was far more touching and his BAFTA for that was well deserved.

  • Comment number 66.

    Where on earth is 127 Hours for best sound effects and editing?
    The nerve cutting scene only had the effect on the audience that it did because of perfect noise.

  • Comment number 67.


    Here's a link to a good article on why Lesley Manville missed out:

  • Comment number 68.

    I'm more interested in the "Kermodes". When are the nominations due so we can discuss them instead of this vacuous nonsense?

  • Comment number 69.

    If Meeks cutoff had been released im sure it would have won some Oscars.

    Alex Gibneys Casino Jack and the United states of Money and Countdown to zero in the docs

    We are What we are in foreign films, i could go on

  • Comment number 70.

    @full metal jackson
    Thanks for posting the link, most interesting. I certainly wouldn't have put her up for the lead award, that was a big mistake and a little insulting to Ruth Sheen who is also fantastic (which in turn is also a bit like nominating Bening but not Moore). Far better to have put her up for supporting actress, then she might have stood a chance.

  • Comment number 71.

    @ ramirez555

    Nope. I'm not objectively wrong about the accents. We just disagree. And you, too, are missing my point and maybe can't see the forest for the trees.

    "...she's portraying a stoic, introverted character, so her performance is absolutely perfect..."

    EVERYONE IN THE FILM IS PLAYING A STOIC INTROVERTED CHARACTER. There's no nuance to her performance or anyone else's in the film. Even the children are stoic. You could swap Lawrence and Dale Dickey in the film and the only thing in the performance that would change is the appearance of the characters.

    And there's nothing contrarian on my end. I don't like the film. Period. I never watch a film thinking "Hey, everyone else likes this, so I'm going to go against the grain." I've already listed why I don't like the film. We just disagree.

  • Comment number 72.

    Alright, alright, fine.

    I agree with you on A Simple Plan, though. That's a seriously underrated flick.

  • Comment number 73.

    Best editing should go to Triangle,end of

  • Comment number 74.

    The stand out shock for me has to be the exclusion of Andrew Garfield for Best Supporting Actor. Mark Zuckerberg may have been the focal point of the Social Network, but in terms of performance Eisenberg's cannot be compared to Garfield's. The penultimate scene where Garfield storms across the new Facebook office to confront Jesse Eisenberg shows power and control rarely seen in such a comparatively young actor. A sadly overlooked performance for which a nomination was the least Andrew Garfield deserved. Oscar really did get it wrong on this one.

  • Comment number 75.

    @71 Crash

    Are you familiar with the Australian movie Wake in Fright?

    It's about an urban bloke who gets caught up in the Australian outback and goes bonkers.

    Or Dead Heart?

    It's about a bunch of urban blokes and blokettes who get caught up in the Australian outback and go bonkers.

    I mention them because the stereotypes you deplore of Ozarkians are also attributed to outback Ozites - self-reliant, stoic, introverted, uncommunicative to the point of elective mutism, handy with a gun or an axe, unfeeling and even brutal in their treatment of women and wildlife, deeply suspicious of authority and outsiders, exuding an unspoken air of menace and, above all, tough enough to survive very, very harsh conditions. And probably in need of a good dose of anti-depressants to alleviate their sour disposition and bleak mood.

    While watching Winter's Bone I wasn't thinking "look at them funny folk in the Ozarks", I was thinking "I know people like that in Australia". I'm not sure how much the film maker intended their movie to appeal universally or whether they felt they were making a statement about a specific set of conditions in a specific place but the fact is that I think what you see as stereotypes are actually characteristics typically observed in established communities living under particular conditions and this is true whether they are in the rural U.S. or rural Australia or indeed, the Scottish Highlands.

    We don't have problems with crystal meth in Oz, but we do have problems with alcoholism and petrol and glue sniffing that translate in much the same way as depicted in Winter's Bone.

    I'd say the fact that an Australian who knows nothing about the Ozarks sees so much in the movie suggests that the movie has a power that goes beyond simple stereotyping of people of a particular geographic area. Maybe you're a bit too close to the region to stand back from it. I know friends who go bonkers when they see a film set in Melbourne that shows a no. 75 tram travelling in the wrong direction.

  • Comment number 76.

    I see Time Out London has posted up 100 Best British Films with contributions from a plethora of journalists, yet one person in particular is conspicuously absent? What happened?!

  • Comment number 77.

    There are 2 things which I have noticed most about the nominations:

    1) The lack of democracy in the voting - when you look at forums such as this with all different age groups and preferences represented, and some fairly literate movie lovers to boot, you immediatedly notice the diversity of opinion. So if that's how people really appreciate film, why do already more or less know who's going to win and why is there so much repetition, both through different categories and thematically over the course of several years?

    2) If we look at the key differences between the favourite, The King's Speech, and two of the lesser recognised blockbusters, Inception/Black Swan, a clear template emerges of the Oscars' ideal film. In the King's speech, you have a strong distinction between director, writer and actors - the writer has the least power but a charming back story (that he suffers from the same disability as the King in question - we know how they love a disability, a phoney social cause for them to justify themselves with - and has been a long time afficionado of Hollywood and the Studios, quietly honing his scriptwriting waiting for their recognition) - the director is a well mannered and disciplined, studio friendly, actor focused, middle aged man who has stretched his budget to generate the maximum profit - the actors are classically trained English actors and assorted international stars, playing a classic script about 'significant' people. Their is not a single thing about the film which suggests Maverick, and everyone knows their place - heavily dependent on Hollywoods recognition. Compare that to Nolan and Aronofsky - people who want to write and direct so they can convey their own ideas and bypass hollywood's writing teams, people who are quite capable of blowing lots of money on an artistic vision which does not make a massive profit, men who have cult followings that ignore Hollywood's appraisal of their work - especially those from outside America - men who have the potential to produce spectacular and imaginative images on screen that Hollywood cannot reproduce with it's own bloated Avatar formula (because they are about a vision and a personal message)- films that are often more about ideas than acting, yet they still draw great actors who like the challenge. They are indeed mavericks who, particualrly in Aronofsky's case, are not dependent on Hollywood's recognition and may rejoice in the death of the studio and writing team systems.

    They are basically saying, Chris, go back to writing - know your place. Darren, stop trying to encroach on our space, the mainstream.

  • Comment number 78.

    In the Battle of the Guys Who Didn't Get the Supporting Actor Nod I'd rate Timberlake over Garfield. Garfield did "looking disappointed to be screwed over" with aplomb, but Timberlake had a much broader range to cover and did it so well - from manic hero to evil schmuck. Hard to do "unpleasant" with that much subtlety and texture.

  • Comment number 79.

    Let's just get rid of them, eh? Nothing but back-patting anyway.

    Lots of omissions because there are lots more films than there are awards, and one panel will always make mistakes given the practicalities of a jury system.

    Finally, "Inception is the MOST directed film of the year, so Nolan must be the best director" which I have heard on each of your blogs/podcasts for the last 8 weeks at least, is a bit like saying, "Bob Dylan is the best singer ever, because he sings (if you can call it that) more words than anyone else."

    Perhaps a great film should flow a little bit as well, driven by great acting and not overlapping/convoluted storylines. Maybe Inception is the most directed film of the year, because the story is so stupid that it had to be directed so much.

    Do us a favour, quote that.

  • Comment number 80.

    I always thought that the Oscar was entitled 'Actress in a Supporting Role'. As such, surely Hailee Steinfeld doesn't have to be second fiddle to another actress in the film, but just not the biggest part in the film.

    I haven't seen the new True Grit yet, but my assumption is that Jeff Bridges is the lead role and she has a supporting role to him.

  • Comment number 81.

    i was wondering if you are going to give your predictions for the oscars this year. i did put on an accumulator last year and waiting for the results was great fun. please give some tips again this year.

  • Comment number 82.


    Arguably you could make a case that Ms Steinfeld is perhaps the biggest part of the film. I think in screen time, she might be. There are not many scenes in which Jeff Bridges is in and she is not and there are many longer scenes in which she is in and Bridges is not. The story is told from here point of view. She's there at the beginning through to the end.

    I was very impressed with her performance whereas Bridges was a bit too much "old goat/scrote". From memory, I think Wayne's performance was better.

  • Comment number 83.

    @full metal jackson

    sorry i didnt see that on the list! my apologies

  • Comment number 84.

    The baffling thing is not that Nolan didn't get a nomination for Best Director, but that he *did* get a nomination for the screenplay. The story's a mess, there's way too much exposition and the romantic scenes that should give the film emotional depth are just cringe inducing.

    Should have been nominated:
    - Greta Gerwig: Best Supporting Actress for 'Greenberg'.
    - Michael Douglas: Best Actor in a Leading Role for 'Solitary Man'.
    - Ryan Gosling: Best Actor in a Leading Role for 'Blue Valentine'.
    - Blue Valentine: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay

  • Comment number 85.

    So this is slightly late, but I think it may make an interesting topic for discussion. I came across a blog discussing the costumes in Inception, and what a shame it is that they have not been nominated for any of the big awards. But at the end, the blogger had a bit of a rant at critics:

    "But why should costumes be any less discussed than any other aspect of a movie? The only costume-based comments you see in movie reviews are words like "sumptuous" and "dazzling", which are clearly just code for "there were a lot of corsets/crinolines/sequins". Considering the fact that it's a visual medium, you'd think film critics at least would pay more attention to what people are wearing. Clothes always have meaning, whether you intend them to or not."

    So I was just curious as to how much attention you pay to things like costumes in a movie?

  • Comment number 86.

    Inception was a truly boring film with awful performances from almost all actors and actresses including that round headed man-child Dicaprio.
    And please although I like Nolan don’t take Hitchcock’s name in vain

  • Comment number 87.

    I like Chris Nolan's "Memento" and "Requiem for a Dream" and admire his work in what I think was the best of the Batman series, "Batman Begins." However, your belief that "Inception" is a bold move to make a big-budget film that takes the intelligence of its audience for granted gives too much credit to the film. It is not nearly as intelligent as you think, not by half. It is also not confusing, and so does not require much intelligence to comprehend. The idea is plain jane, and nothing about the underlying premise gripped me in the slightest. Descartes did much better, and without cinema to aid the imagination.

  • Comment number 88.

    I don't think Nolan is comparing his work to Descartes'. I don't think anyone else is comparing his work to Descartes' (or Freud's, for that matter).

    I think the term "intelligent" was being used relatively to other blockbusters such as Avatar or Terminator Salvation and much worse.

    I am dubious that anyone claiming to completely comprehend everything about Inception in one viewing, does so. I don't think you are supposed to be able to completely deconstruct it. I think it is meant to leave you wondering about one or two details. But that's just me.

    I can understand people saying they found it boring or the emotional detachment thing but to say it has no interesting ideas is bogus.

    You didn't like.. so you didn't like. End of.

  • Comment number 89.


    [I posted something similar to the below on a Fincher fan blog several months ago. Since you've expressed great fondness here for GwtDT and have tagged my very first post about films as just "Crazy," well, I can't help being curious about your reaction to it. But, please, no more ad hominem replies.]

    A couple of troubling aspects of the Swedish version of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, which I saw prior to reading the novel: First, it didn't ring at all true that this hardened, self-sufficient, bad-ass Lisbeth would have given in even once to her slime-bag guardian, particularly after we had just watched her take on a gang of young thugs with no concern for physical or legal repercussions. It just didn't jibe with what we'd seen of her character up to then and even less with what we learn of her later (setting fire to her father, e.g.). Lisbeth thinks quickly on her feet, so making some plausible excuse to come back later with promises to indulge him then (and with a camera for filming this first abuse), or just walking out without any whore-gotten money, or even outright decking him if he didn't allow her -- all such actions would be truer to the character. As the scene unfolded otherwise, well then I was certain Lisbeth would bite right through the creep while indulging him. Instead she meekly complies, making that second sadistic scene setup with the skeezy geezer guardian seem gratuitous -- which it should not.

    Far more troubling than this instance of character contradiction, however, was the film's utter silence on Harriet Vanger's culpability in serial murder. (It was at least touched on in the novel, albeit very briefly and only with Lisbeth having halfway proper reactions of "Bitch!" and "Bullshit!"). Harriet's initial escape for self-preservation is perfectly justified, but once out of immediate harm's way to not find some way -- ANY way -- to inform authorities of what her father had done and her brother's involvement, makes her a silent partner in the horrific torture and murder of dozens of innocent women. Yes, her father was dead, and maybe she could somehow convince herself her brother would not carry on as he had, but at the very least she had the victims' families to consider, fercimminy!

    I'm sure I wasn't the only viewer who suspected Harriet was alive all along from those earliest scenes with the uncle's flower pictures. But as the plot unfolded, I pushed it aside as an unthinkable possibility. Near the very end, when everyone was all warm and fuzzy at her reunion with her beloved uncle, it truly pissed me off how the elephant in the room was completely and conveniently (to the plot) ignored. Between Harriet's knowledge and the good uncle's wealth and power, there is no scenario to justify decades of silence and preventable murders. It stunned me this angle went unexplored, especially given the plot's Nazi connections. After all, that dark chapter in history was made possible only by so many "good people" doing and saying nothing. Harriet is no hero, and I only hope Fincher's version will examine her guilt to some extent. Lisbeth forcing Harriet to tour her brother's abattoir containing all the photos of torture victims she could have saved would be a fair start.

    "For evil to prevail, it only requires that good people do nothing."

  • Comment number 90.

    Oscar may have got it wrong. But the BBC has got it most definitely WRONG again for something like the 8th year in a row by not having the rights to screen the Oscars ceremony, or a comprehensive highlights package. I don't have SKY - this should be something the BBC works harder to get.

  • Comment number 91.


    Thank you for your reasoned criticism of Dragon-Tat-Girl. I have to say it is superior to some of the seemingly random attacks on Inception in this very blog.

    It is quite some time since I saw tGwtDT so some of the plot details are a bit hazy now. What I remember, is how I felt while watching it and how it left me feeling afterwards. What I am looking for from a film is primarily entertainment, as shallow as that might be. If a film is intelligent and thought-provoking that is a bonus. To me, a film is entertaining if it has a good story and tells it well. It doesn't have to be entirely believable so I was kind of surprised to find a story about a nest of Nazis in, of all places, Sweden. However, this story found popularity first in Sweden with Swedish people so I assume, historically, it is not quite as far-fetched as I might have believed.

    I notice that you were moved to read the book after you saw the film, so I have to conclude that you did not hate the film. I have not read the book. To me it was an interesting tale although it certainly wasn't very believable. I dont think the main character was believable although she was intriguing, mysterious and irritating. But I did think it was believable that she would have allowed her parole officer to abuse her so she could set him up and blackmail him and I didn't find the rape scene gratuitous (the guy was quite revolting). I think the scene was intended to shock and I think it succeeded. Since Stieg Larson's motivation for writing the book was that he witnessed a rape as a teenager but did nothing to help the girl and felt quilty about it ever since, perhaps the scene and Lisbeth's suffering in the story represents some kind of punishment that he feels is due to him.

    I don't think of the Harriet character as a heroine, she was not important as an on screen character although she had an important position in the story. Lisbeth was not a heroine, either, she was an antiheroine. She was an enigma as we very slowly find out her background. I am not sure if the author condones her behaviour or thinks it is justified given her troubled history. I prefer to think that he does not but I could be wrong.

    A good film, perhaps not a great film. I liked the way the story plays out as a mystery and everything is revealed slowly in parallel to the way we discover Lisbeth's story. Yes, quite unbelievable in parts but that can also mean novelty and interest. I did not like Lisbeth's character particularly, although I did care
    what happened to her.

    Now, never mind all that, let's get to the meat and potatoes of your post. You other people can move along. There is nothing else here for you to see (except Mark Kermode whose ears might start burning), I want to finish some business with Kat330.

    Everybody gone? Good.

    First off, that was not an ad hominem attack.

    I thought it would have been clear from the adjectives I used that I was not attacking you, personally ("crackpot" is also used of a person but the other adjectives "concocted, contrived, cockamamie", while unflattering, can not be). That should have told you I was talking about your idea, not you. And when I said "it was Crazy", that should have told you I was not talking about you, personally. So, not ad hominem, then.

    You have twice mentioned that this was your first post as if you should be given a pass no matter what you said. Personally, I would always prefer somebody to speak their mind rather than be condescending. I did not know it was your first post, but hope I would not treat you any differently whether it was your first or thousandth post. I like to think we are all on an equal footing here and these are, after all, just opinions (and we know what Clint said about opinions).

    This is the Mark Kermode blog, isn't it? You know, the man who makes his money speaking his mind and giving his forthright opinions. The man who likes to rant about films/filmakers/actors and even ridicule some of them with his "impersonations".

    Just checking.

    Most of his opinions/rants are WAY harsher then anything I say to anybody on this blog; harsh enough for some people to threaten personal violence (Danny Dyer did not take it well at all). And yet while Kermode fans apparently cheer him on from the sidelines as he puts the boot in it seems like some of us can be a leeettle bit sensitive about what gets said to ourselves. Hmmm.

    So why did I think your idea was crazy (aside from the fact that neither "Bonnie and Clyde" or "Star Wars" actually start with a C)? Well it's just a bit arbirtrary, innit? I am sure that "Bonnie and Clyde" was some time (possibly, years) in the making so using 1967 as the start of a golden decade (so that you can end in 1977 with Star Wars) is a bit questionable. "Bonnie and Clyde" was heavily influenced by the French New Wave Cinema of the early 60's, in fact, Truffaut was initially asked to direct it and when he dropped out Godard was asked next, so rather than being entirely new it is linked to what came before.

    And on choosing "C" as the letter to pick classic films from, "C" is used to represent three possible phonemes ("Ch", "K", "S") in English so it occurs quite a bit. If someone wanted to try it for another letter they might do well to try it with "T" as this also has three phonemes "T", "th(e)" and "th(eory)" which altogether occur about 10% of the time. Obviously there are many films with "The" in the title so perhaps that's not going to knock anybody's socks off.

    Apart from calling you a leeetle bit sensitive I dont think there were any ad hominem attacks there, were there? (although I didnt think there were, last time ;-))

  • Comment number 92.

    @antimode (everyone else, flee for your lives!)

    The "meat and potatoes" of my post? You must read my words more carefully, because there's the rub. My idea of extending an olive branch was to ask your opinion as focused on FILM (i.e., tGwtDT) rather than on that string of negative adjectives, single sentence summation of a simple blog post (now the "C-post" because "first" is forever soaked with meaning). IOW, I had wanted to move on. Considering I don't know A-mode from Adam, it's not some hypersensitive leap to view your C-post reply as a personal insult, even though you claim it was directed at an abstract (my personal opinions) and not to me as a person. I'm just not certain there is enough distinction there to mitigate ad hominem, whether disingenuously winky-adorned or not.

    To point: If I hadn't looked back to some of your previous contributions to the blog after your sort-of "sorry" second post, I'd have presumed that you, in fact, are a thorough crackpot putting up cockamamie and crazy posts, so first posts often DO warrant different consideration. And if you'd actually offered anything substantive on the C-post contents, we would have gotten off on the right foot. An interesting discovery in my A-mode archive review here is we probably concur yea and nay about films more often than I do with Kermode himself. But to suggest that the followers of a blog owner renowned for his rants and ridicule should behave in kind -- IOW, UNkind -- is plain silly. Who would want to read comments that were nothing more than strings of disconnected epithets? And do you fancy yourself a Kermode wannabe or your own man (or woman, if the case)?

    Before moving on to the actual meat and potatoes, a mea culpa: I first tried sending that C is for Cinema through a "contact the show" form a half dozen times unsuccessfully. Frustrated by the unexplained "error, try again" results, I decided to register here and see if it would post on the blog. Well, it did. I remembered to edit out bits directed to Kermode and the show, but I should have edited it even further, placed it elsewhere and explained that it was initially (pun) intended for my own posterous and tumblr blogs. Even so, your eventual comments on it above suggest you'd rather be flip than address my content seriously, or you simply have never bothered to read carefully what I wrote. I realize the blogosphere has the collective attention span of a gnat, where only the 140-character rant ranks, but one still hopes a longer post will be respected with more than a glance-over.

    Having said that (my nod to Larry David), I just looked at what I began writing yesterday once I'd found your post in the evening (here in the U.S.). It was a point-by-point rebuttal to your C-post comments, but I realize all of it boils down to please go back and read the C-post more carefully. You'll C why "B&C" and "SW" aren't expected to begin with "C," and my reference to RELEASE dates only, and how it was simply a discussion-starter exercise to form other lists by other people with other letters. As to your earlier roots of "B&C" comment, standing on the shoulders of giants doesn't preclude groundbreaking elements of a film; otherwise, there's no new ground since moving frames were first projected. Oh, and your "T titles starting with The" comment is truly petty, an A-mode flipping off of my earnest challenge. If you still want to discuss the C-post at this point, I recommend you find it at its more proper resting place. [House rules allow no links, but it doesn't require a Sherlock to locate it from the info at hand.]

    Now on to tGwtDT: Thank you for the reply, but I would again ask you to read me more carefully -- a skill similar to active listening -- to save reiteration and needless clarification. I did not dislike the film (and "Inception" topped my list of films SEEN in 2010, tied with "The Secret in Their Eyes"). I have a couple of major problems with it, which I delineated. I prefaced that the context of the post was a hope Fincher's remake might correct these serious issues, or that someone who didn't see problems could sufficiently explain why no alteration's needed. The film, btw, improved on the novel in most every aspect of telling the story, which is rare. However, the movie made a mistake in making Harriet an even MORE sympathetic character. I never implied it made her (or anyone) a hero, but the camera lingered on photos of her, both uncle and Blomkvist seeming entranced by her visage, and then also at the Australian meet-up, and finally the warm reunion back at the scene of the crimes. I read the novel specifically hoping Larsson explored Harriet's unforgivable inaction, but there's nothing beyond Lisbeth's justified outburst. However short the novel fell, that is still a basis for the film to improve on the story's deficiency rather than make it worse.

    As for the Lisbeth problem: I said the blackmail sequence should not SEEM gratuitous, meaning I had no problem with her character setting up and taking violent revenge in and of itself -- from the get-go I expected it of her -- but I'm saying the escalated level of sadism in the second interaction need never have happened if she'd acted true to her character in the FIRST scene with the sleazeball. Do you understand this point? I watch films to be entertained and engaged, too, but if something pulls me out of my suspension of disbelief even momentarily, there's always a sound cause for it. Maybe as a writer and Method-trained (former) actor, I have different sensibilities and am "a leeetle bit sensitive" to what rings false within the context created by a team of artists.

  • Comment number 93.


    I am suffering through a post Oscars head cold and may not get to address all your points.

    I am confident that my understanding is correct and that a criticism of somebody's opinion or their position is not what is meant by 'ad hominem' unlike a criticism of their character or person. However, it doesn't take much to cross the line and I am sure I do that on occasion as describing you as sensitive was 'ad hominem', strictly speaking.

    You are probably right that I did not give your words sufficient consideration to glean all your intended meaning but I read your post again and it does come across that you are being quite critical of the film/story without giving a single positive example. So when I said you did not hate the film I was simply noting that your criticism of the film was not absolute. I would probably have to watch it again to decide whether the first abuse scene seemed out of character and how much Lisbeth submits herself in it. I am Remembering that Larsson said his motivation for writing the series was witnessing a rape. I don't know what he saw but I imagine the real victim (named Lisbeth, incidentally) was not able to fight back or perhaps decided not to fight back for fear of worse injury. That is what we get in the film, a victim who may be able to fight back but decides not to. Given what he has said, the rape scene might be the most important part of the story as far as the author is concerned. I think it was important to the author that we see Lisbeth just as a victim without seeing her fight back so I think the first scene and the second scene are both necessary in my view but I would like to watch again to see if I now agree with you.

    I didn't mean to suggest that on the Kermode blog we should all act like Mark Kermode but rather that if we are willing to listen to his polemics on others with
    pleasure we should be able to tolerate a certain amount of teasing of ourselves, unless we are hypocrites (an example of you not reading me accurately). I am not a Mark Kermode wannabe although I am sure he has a very nice life. I don't think I would be satisfied doing what he does as a critic because it involves focusing exclusively on the work of other people. On the other hand, he is a man of many other parts (broadcaster, writer, entertainer, academic, musician). I don't know which gives him the greatest pleasure out of those but if it was me it would probably be being a musician because I see that as the most creative outlet.

    Like you, I also highly rated Inception and The Secret in their Eyes as some of the years best films and have written about them in Mark's blog. I also really enjoyed Social Network and Black Swan but have not seen as many films this year as I usually do, so I have missed out on Gods and Monsters and Winter's Bone, for example. TGwtDT comes somewhere below all these but still a worthy film and the later two films in Larson's series are not quite as good although the third film is an improvement on the second.

    On past experience of remakes I am not confident the English language remake of TGwtDT will be an improvement or on a par with the Swedish original just as Let me In was not of the same standard as Let The Right One In. Let Me In seemed to lose the intensity, emotion and atmosphere of the original and seemed blander.

    I will be interested to see how Fincher's TGwtDT stacks up.


  • Comment number 94.


    Sorry to hear of your head cold, and I do wish you a speedy recovery. Myself, I contracted more of a post-Oscars headACHE pulsing overnight from that three-hour absence of even minimal stimulation and strengthened by sucker's remorse for squandered time.

    On Kermode & Mayo: My husband brought the podcasts into our lives a few years ago -- about the time "There Will Be Blood" was reviewed -- and personally I've found the aspects outside the Kermodgeonly rants are of more interest to me, so "hyprocrite" applies not so much. I enjoy the Mark and Simon interplay, the grammar wars and wittertainment, the game-like challenges to listeners with e-mail entries discussed and, often enough, even the actual content of his film reviews.

    The volume of Mark's rants may have ratcheted up in recent months, which I suspect is due to encouragement from his fanboy base and not much to my liking. Still, I can tune out or fast forward a podcast, whereas a (first) reply to a (first) blogpost is a bit less ephemeral. His ridicule of celebrities is not usually my cuppa either -- though I championed Gervais at the Globes, and I'll confess to a titter or two when Mark launches into his Paltrow peep -- but HIS targets are paid quite well to take it on the chin and are in a lofty enough position to be pretty immune to it (if they ever catch wind of it even). So Kermode's personalized punches are on a very different plane than that of some stranger launching insult adjectives at a lowly earthbound mortal's opinion post. (I will retract the "ad hominem," however, since the distinction is important to you. You are pronounced the winner of that grammar round. ;)

    Again to tGwtDT: I didn't cover anything clearly positive in that first snippet since I'd prefaced the context of my complaints. But as you know now, it's rather high praise to state that a film improves on its source material (Larsson needed a better editor is all). Everyone dislikes the second film, but I may have liked it more with Salander fully true to the character established in her first frames in the first film, and especially without the Harriet hypocrisy to annoy me. That reminds me of something I neglected to note from your tGwtDT comments, which you referenced a second time here: i.e., Larsson "witnessed a rape as a teenager but did nothing to help the girl and felt guilty about it ever since." The striking irony of that is then how he could allow Harriet to do nothing in preventing the needless slaughter of dozens of women and to wind up with guiltless impunity?! Learning of this background tidbit, which sounds plausible enough, along with the Nazi theme (explored more in the novel) actually makes the Harriet plot even more problematic for me. Hmm. Yes, I doubt Fincher will have addressed my issues, but one can always hope.

    I only recently watched the third in the series. After my husband pointed out how nearly every scene was shot within a palette of blues plus yellow-golds/oranges, this became the focus of entertainment in the main, sad to say. I did see "Winter's Bone" -- right up there just under "Inception" and "tSiTE" for seen in 2010 -- but did not see "Social Network" until early this year (great opening scene and whip-smart script), and still not "Black Swan," "True Grit," "The Fighter" or "The King's Speech." Oh, and I enjoyed "The Town" more than I'd anticipated. I'm that unusual stripe of cinephile who never needed to be first in line for a film and very happy to avoid the masses of bad-mannered filmgoers. Instead surviving quite well, if very retarded, on a Blu-ray player fed a steady diet of Redbox releases and loans from a local lending library for the "current" crop, alongside purchased Criterion and Amazon box sets for revisiting the classics. Recently enthralled (again) by "The Seventh Seal" and "The Red Shoes."

    Take and give care ("T&GC," a trademark sign-off).


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