A couple of star performances in the best film of the year.

A couple of star-making performances in the best film of the year.

My Top 20:

  1. The Social Network
  2. The King’s Speech
  3. Inception
  4. True Grit
  5. The Ghost Writer
  6. Winter’s Bone
  7. Black Swan
  8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I
  9. Another Year
  10. Toy Story 3
  11. The Town
  12. Biutiful
  13. The Kids are All Right
  14. Tangled
  15. Shutter Island
  16. Never Let Me Go
  17. Rabbit Hole
  18. The Fighter
  19. Green Zone
  20. Blue Valentine

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The Social Network
  • Best Director:  David Fincher  (The Social Network)
  • Best Actor:  Colin Firth  (The King’s Speech)
  • Best Actress:  Natalie Portman  (Black Swan)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Christian Bale  (The Fighter)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Melissa Leo  (The Fighter)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Social Network
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Inception
  • Best Cinematography:  True Grit  /  Inception
  • Best Animated Film:  Toy Story 3
  • Best Foreign Film:  Carlos

note:  For the first time since 1997, neither the Consensus Picture or Director winners go on to win the Oscar.  However, after only happening 3 times from 1980 to 2004, for the third time since 2004, all four Consensus acting winners go on to win the Oscar.

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The King’s Speech
  • Best Director:  Tom Hooper  (The King’s Speech)
  • Best Actor:  Colin Firth  (The King’s Speech)
  • Best Actress:  Natalie Portman  (Black Swan)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Christian Bale  (The Fighter)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Melissa Leo  (The Fighter)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Social Network
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The King’s Speech
  • Best Cinematography:  Inception
  • Best Animated Film:  Toy Story 3
  • Best Foreign Film:  In a Better World
The little film that could and did.

The little film that could and did.

Top 10 Films  (Top 1000):

  1. The Social Network  –  (#15)
  2. Winter’s Bone  –  (#48)
  3. Toy Story 3  –  (#58)
  4. Black Swan  –  (#85)
  5. The Kids Are All Right  –  (#94)
  6. The Ghost Writer  –  (#130)
  7. The King’s Speech  –  (#147)
  8. Carlos  –  (#158)
  9. Inception  –  (#173)
  10. True Grit  –  (#191)

note:  Because so much of the focus for the Top 1000 is on classic films, because they have had a longer time to sink into the critical consciousness, they have a separate list called the Top 250 of the 2000′s.  The number in parenthesis is for their rank in the Top 250 for the 21st Century.  There are no post-2007 films on the Top 1000.  For the record, 127 Hours is #196 which makes The Fighter the only Oscar nominee from the year not to be on the list.

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. The Social Network  –  3429
  2. The King’s Speech  –  2515
  3. Black Swan  –  1812
  4. Inception  –  1751
  5. The Fighter  –  1398
  6. True Grit  –  1193
  7. The Kids are All Right  –  1010
  8. 127 Hours  –  867
  9. Toy Story 3  –  826
  10. Alice in Wonderland  –  529

note:  The Social Network sets a new record for points and critics points.  True Grit sets a new record for points for a film with no Golden Globe points by a long way – the previous record was 759 (United 93).

Top 10 Films  (2010 Best Picture Awards):

  1. The Social Network
  2. The King’s Speech
  3. Black Swan
  4. Inception
  5. True Grit
  6. The Kids are All Right
  7. The Fighter
  8. Toy Story 3
  9. 127 Hours
  10. Winter’s Bone

note:  The Social Network sets a new record for Best Picture wins without winning the Oscar (8).

The trilogy bows out with magnificence.

The trilogy bows out with magnificence.

Top 10 Films  (Domestic Box Office Gross):

  1. Toy Story 3  –  $415.00 mil
  2. Alice in Wonderland  –  $334.19 mil
  3. Iron Man 2  –  $312.43 mil
  4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse  –  $300.53 mil
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I  –  $295.98 mil
  6. Inception  –  $292.57 mil
  7. Despicable Me  –  $251.51 mil
  8. Shrek Forever After  –  $238.73 mil
  9. How To Train Your Dragon  –  $217.58 mil
  10. Tangled  –  $200.82 mil

note:  I saw more films on this list in the theater than I saw films in the theater in 2009 (4 to 3).  This list shows the dominance of animated films, with five films making the list.

Top 10 Films  (Worldwide Box Office Gross):

  1. Toy Story 3  –  $1063.2 mil
  2. Alice in Wonderland  –  $1024.3 mil
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I  –  $956.4 mil
  4. Inception  –  $825.5 mil
  5. Shrek Forever After  –  $752.6 mil
  6. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse  –  $698.5 mil
  7. Iron Man 2  –  $623.9 mil
  8. Tangled  –  $590.7 mil
  9. Despicable Me  –  $543.1 mil
  10. How To Train Your Dragon  –  $494.9 mil

note:  Though they are in a different order, this is the same list, which is a rarity.  And just off the list are a lot of changes.  Iron Man 2 doesn’t travel all that well – superhero films often don’t – making a fraction more domestically than abroad.  But Harry Potter travels very well, taking in almost 70% on the international market.  Just off the list, with much higher international percentages are Clash of the Titans (66.9%), Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (74.9%) and The King’s Speech (67.0%).  But the next three films on the domestic list had been The Karate Kid (50.8% international), Tron: Legacy (57.0%) and True Grit (31.8%).  Apparently Jeff Bridges wasn’t a worldwide star in 2010.  Although Secretariat did worse – earning almost $60 million domestically and barely over $500,000 internationally so maybe horses were the real problem.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

The best, and possibly the most unsettling performance of the year.

The best, and possibly the most unsettling performance of the year.

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  The Social Network
  • Best Director:  David Fincher  (The Social Network)
  • Best Actor:  Colin Firth  (The King’s Speech)
  • Best Actress:  Natalie Portman  (Black Swan)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Christian Bale  (The Fighter)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Hailee Steinfeld  (True Grit)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Social Network
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The King’s Speech

Comedy / Musical:

  • Best Picture:  Toy Story 3
  • Best Director:  Jean-Pierre Jeunet  (Micmacs)
  • Best Actor:  Paul Giamatti  (Barney’s Version)
  • Best Actress:  Annette Bening  (The Kids are All Right)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Mark Ruffalo  (The Kids are All Right)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Kristin Scott-Thomas  (Nowhere Boy)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Toy Story 3
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Kids are All Right
You'd best watch out, because she is about to give you a piece of her mind.

You’d best watch out, because she is about to give you a piece of her mind.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  The Social Network
  • Best Director:  David Fincher  (The Social Network)
  • Best Actor:  Colin Firth  (The King’s Speech)
  • Best Actress:  Natalie Portman  (Black Swan)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Christian Bale  (The Fighter)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Hailee Steinfeld  (True Grit)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Social Network
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The King’s Speech
  • Best Editing:  The Social Network
  • Best Cinematography:  Inception
  • Best Original Score:  The Social Network
  • Best Sound:  Inception
  • Best Art Direction:  Inception
  • Best Visual Effects:  Inception
  • Best Sound Editing:  Inception
  • Best Costume Design:  Alice in Wonderland
  • Best Makeup:  Alice in Wonderland
  • Best Original Song:  “I Have a Dream”  (Tangled)
  • Best Animated Film:  Toy Story 3
  • Best Foreign Film:  Biutiful
Biutiful - the best of a weak year for Foreign films.

Biutiful – the best of a weak year for Foreign films.

Top 4 Foreign Films:

  1. Biutiful
  2. Incendies
  3. The Illusionist
  4. Potiche

Let’s face it – this was not a good year for Foreign Films.  In a lot of years I can do a Top 10 and still leave room for ***.5 films trailing off the end.  Here, I couldn’t even come up with 5.  And only two of them are four star films (one of which, Incendies, got a general release so late it won Best Foreign Film for the Boston Film Critics in 2011).  The Illusionist, the #3 film here would have been #10 in 2009.  The Academy nominated Biutiful, Incendies, In a Better World (which won), Outside the Law and Dogtooth.  The first two were dark, but magnificent films that absolutely deserved nominations (Incendies would also get a BAFTA nom while Biutiful would earn Globe, BAFTA and BFCA noms but neither would win any).  In a Better World, a good film, but not quite good enough to reach ***.5 status and make my list would win the Oscar and Globe.  Outside the Law is of a similar caliber.  But Dogtooth is wretched and repulsive.  Some of that could also apply to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the original Swedish film that had strong acting and directing but wasn’t really good enough to merit a place on the lists, even though it won the BAFTA and BFCA.  Then there is Carlos, which won three critics awards, but was originally made for television and so I don’t include it at all (it is quite good, but I think I would still rank it as high *** and not quite good enough to make the list).  Then there is I Am Love, which earned Globe, BAFTA and BFCA noms, but would have been eligible in 2009 for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars (it would rank 3rd here – it ranked 5th there).  And there was Of Gods and Men, another good film, but not great (though it won the NBR and earned a BAFTA nom).

Words are really unnecessary.

Words are really unnecessary.

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Toy Story 3
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “I already told you I don’t want to join your super secret boy band.”  Robert Downey, Jr. in Iron Man 2
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “You know, you really don’t need a forensics team to get to the bottom of this. If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.”  Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network
  • Best Opening:  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Best Ending:  Inception
  • Best Scene:  the Spanish version of Buzz in Toy Story 3
  • Best Use of a Song:  “O Children” in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Best Ensemble:  Inception
  • Funniest Film:  Toy Story 3
  • Funniest Character:  Kieran Culkin in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  • Most Over-rated Film:  Dogtooth
  • Stupidest Casting:  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, in which no female that Scott has relations with is as good looking as his sister (Anna Kendrick)
  • Worst Film:  The Last Airbender
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit
  • Sexiest Performance:  Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  Hot Tub Time Machine
  • Best Soundtrack:  Tangled
  • Star of the Year:  Leonardo DiCaprio  (Inception  /  Shutter Island)
  • Coolest Performance:  Joseph Gordon-Leavitt  (Inception)
  • Best Teaser:  Inception
  • Best Trailer:  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Best Tag-line:  “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.”  (The Social Network)
  • Best Cameo:  Ewan McGregor in Nanny McPhee Returns
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Javier Fernández-Peña in Toy Story 3  (Spanish Buzz)
  • Best Use of Boston:  The Town
  • Worst Use of Boston:  Knight and Day

Film History:  For the first time, we have two films that make over $1 billion worldwide; both films (Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland) are Disney films.  Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes while Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere wins the Golden Lion in Venice.  After it never happening in the first 30 years, for the second year in a row the winner of the Sundance Film Festival is nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars: Winter’s Bone.  Black Swan dominates the Independent Spirit Awards, winning Picture, Director, Actress and Cinematography.  The Social Network sweeps Picture, Director and Screenplay at the Satellite Awards.  The Last Airbender wins 5 awards at the Razzies, including Worst Picture, Director and Screenplay.  Eric Rohmer and Jean Simmons die in January, Lynn Redgrave and Dennis Hopper in May, Satoshi Kon suddenly in August of pancreatic cancer at age 46, Claude Chabrol, Arthur Penn and Tony Curtis in September and Blake Edwards in December.

Academy Awards:  Colin Firth wins Best Actor over Jeff Bridges after losing to Bridges the year before – the first time someone has avenged their own loss in the category since 1937.  Even with the 10 Best Picture nominees, every nominee is nominated for either Director or Screenplay.  The King’s Speech becomes the first Weinstein Company film to win Best Picture.  It is also the first film to be nominated for the Big 5 tech categories (Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound, Art Direction) and win Best Picture since 2000; it’s the 13th to lose all 5, but the only one to do so but still win Best Picture.  Losing in 8 categories, it has the most losses for a film to win Best Picture since Rebecca lost in 9 categories in 1940.  It is the first film to win Best Picture and Best Actor since 2000 – tying the longest gap in Oscar history (34-44).  True Grit ties Gangs of New York for 3rd most nominations without any wins (10).  Sandy Powell and Colleen Atwood face off against each other in the Best Costume Design category for the 6th time (and second year in a row, Powell having won the year before) with Atwood winning for the third time (this is a repeat of 04-05 where Powell won in 04 and Atwood in 05).  Rick Baker wins an unprecedented seventh Best Makeup Oscar (no one else has more than 3).  Ken Ralston is nominated for Best Visual Effects for Alice in Wonderland, 16 years after his last Oscar nomination.  For the first time since it became a competitive category in 1955 there are no Best Foreign Film nominees from Western Europe.  It is also the first win for Scandinavia since 1988, the first nominee from the Baltics since 2001 and only the third time there have been two nominees from North America.  Other Oscar notes on the year can be found here.

The Oscars do a pretty damn good job.  The only categories where they don’t give the award to one of my top 3 choices are Director (my #4) and Foreign Film.  In most categories they nominate 3 or 4 of my Top 5, with their other nominees being in my Top 10.  Only in Makeup and Foreign Film do I really argue with them.  And with Foreign Film they didn’t have much choice – it wasn’t a good year, as I noted above.  But for Makeup, The Wolfman isn’t a bad choice as a winner, but to go with Barney’s Version and The Way Back when they could have gone with Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter, Black Swan or True Grit was a bad move.  Their one really bad move was not nominating Christopher Nolan as I noted here and here.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Foreign Film for In a Better World
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Foreign Film for Dogtooth
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Director for Christopher Nolan for Inception
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Dogtooth
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  The Ghost Writer
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Foreign Film
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Actress
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Best Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Costume Design, Animated Film

Golden Globes:  The Globes embarrass themselves and make their awards almost a complete joke by nominating the worst slate ever for Best Picture – Comedy / Musical (The Kids Are All Right, Alice in Wonderland, Red, Burlesque, The Tourist).  While many of the best films that fit the bill were no longer eligible because of the Animated Film category (Toy Story 3, Tangled, Despicable Me), just look at the Actor and Actress categories.  They could have nominated Barney’s Version, Easy A or Love and Other Drugs – not great films, but films of a much, much higher quality than Burlesque or The Tourist (which they compounded by also nominating for Actor and Actress).  With the new expanded Oscar lineup, for the first time since 1975 all five of the Picture / Director nominees at the Globes end up nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.  Ironically, while four of them are nominated for Picture and Director (with Inception the odd man out), the final Picture / Director Oscar nominee – True Grit – fails to earn any Globe noms at all.  Like The Hurt Locker the year before, The King’s Speech is nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay but wins none of them (yet goes on to win them all at the Oscars).  The Social Network instead wins all three – the first to do so and not win Best Picture at the Oscars since Brokeback Mountain and the first to do so and not win Best Picture or Best Director at the Oscars since Chinatown in 1974.  Joining Speech and Network in the Picture, Director and Screenplay races is Inception while Black Swan and The Fighter are both nominated for Picture and Director.  Of all of those only Inception goes home empty-handed as Speech wins Actor, Swan wins Actress and The Fighter takes home both supporting awards.   The King’s Speech ends up with 7 nominations – the most by a film that fails to win Best Picture since Cold Mountain in 2003 (which had 8) and only the second most since 1990.

Awards:  The King’s Speech becomes the first film to win the Oscar without winning a critics award for Best Picture since 2002.  This is because The Social Network does a massive sweep – winning all six Best Picture and Best Director awards (also adding in 5 Screenplay awards, three Actor awards and even two for Score).  All of this combines for a staggering 1682 points – 141 over the previous record, though, because there were fewer awards in 1997, as a percentage of points it is still smaller than L.A. Confidential.  In a very distant second is Black Swan (two Actress, two Cinematography, one Score, one Editing) followed by The King’s Speech (three Actor, one Supporting Actor).  So, after three straight years in which the film with the most critics points won Best Picture at the Oscar, we go back to the days of 1990 (GoodFellas), 1994 (Pulp Fiction), 1997 (L.A. Confidential) and 2004 (Sideways), when the film with the overwhelming amount of critics points (5 of the top 6 all-time) fail to win Picture or Director at the Oscars.

The guilds become the first big steps on The King’s Speech road to Oscar – it wins the Producers Guild and (more surprisingly) the Directors Guild.  Not being eligible for the Writers Guild, it becomes the first film to win the Oscar for Best Picture without a WGA nomination since 2000 and only the second since 1984; it also becomes the first Oscar winning Original Screenplay to lack a WGA nom since 2002 and only the second since 1995.  With their nominations for True Grit, the Coen Brothers become only the 5th and 6th writers to earn four consecutive WGA nominations and the first since Woody Allen had five in a row from 1983-87.  For the first time since the SAG Awards began in 1994, all four winners match up with Oscar for the second year in a row.  For only the second time (2001 was the other) all the films nominated for Best Ensemble at SAG are nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.  With 2 wins and 4 nominations each, The King’s Speech and The Fighter become only the 5th and 6th films to earn 200 points at SAG.  For the first time in six years, all five DGA films are nominated for Best Picture, but one of them isn’t nominated for Director (Inception).  Though Inception ends up with the most guild points (585) and wins (9) and ties for the most nominations (15 – with Black Swan), it is The King’s Speech that is the big winner, taking home 6 awards (most of Inception’s awards are for Visual Effects or Sound Editing).  The biggest shock among the guilds is the loss of Toy Story 3 to How To Train Your Dragon at the Annies, namely because Dreamworks buys all its animated staff memberships.

The King’s Speech ties eight other films for third place all-time with 14 BAFTA nominations.  But, winning 7 awards (tied for 2nd – with 4 other films), it manages to crush American Beauty‘s 615 points record by earning a whopping 680 points.  It becomes the first film since the re-establishment of the Best British Film award to win both that award and Best Picture.  It also wins Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress and Original Screenplay, though it loses Best Director to Social Network.  Black Swan is second with 12 nominations but only manages to win Actress.  Social Network and Inception are also in the Picture, Director and Screenplay races, with True Grit in for Picture and Screenplay but being ousted in the Director race by Danny Boyle for 127 Hours.  Among the longlist, Shutter Island (12 bids) and Never Let Me Go (8 bids) both fail to earn any nomination while The Town‘s 11 longlist bids yield only one nomination.

With the Broadcast Film Critics Association having expanded their categories the year before, all sorts of new records appear.  For the first time we have films with double digits in nominations – Black Swan leading with 12, followed by The King’s Speech and True Grit with 10 each.  But that doesn’t help them win.  The 32 nominations only lead to 3 wins – Actress for Swan and Actor and Original Screenplay for Speech.  The big winners are Social Network (sweeping Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay among its 8 noms) and Inception (5 wins among 9 noms – all in tech categories).  These 5 films are joined in the Picture, Director and Screenplay categories by 127 Hours.  Social Network does set a new record with 430 points (which will be broken the next year) but Gladiator’s record of 6 wins stands untouched.

Best Director:  David Fincher manages to win pretty much everything except the big two – the DGA and the Oscar.  Tom Hooper manages to win both of those for The King’s Speech, while losing to Fincher at the BAFTAs, Globes, BFCA and Satellites.  They’re followed by Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (Indie Spirit win, DGA, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA, Satellite noms), Christopher Nolan for Inception (DGA, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA, Satellite noms) and David O. Russell for The Fighter (DGA, Oscar, Globe noms).  My own list is Fincher, Nolan, the Coen Brothers (Oscar, BFCA noms), Hooper and Roman Polanski for The Ghost Writer (Satellite nom).  My 6 through 10 are Aronofsky, Debra Granik for Winter’s Bone (Satellite nom), Ben Affleck for The Town (Satellite nom), Martin Scorsese for Shutter Island and Alejandro González Iñárritu for Biutiful.

Best Adapted Screenplay:  It’s a complete sweep for The Social Network – it wins every critics award as well as all the awards groups (WGA, Oscar, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA).  However, because the New York Film Critics give their only Screenplay award to original film The Kids Are All Right, it fails to match the 11 wins for Sideways.  Network is followed in the Consensus by 127 Hours (noms from all 5 awards groups), True Grit (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA noms), Toy Story 3 (Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA noms), and a tie for 5th place between Winter’s Bone (Oscar, BFCA noms) and The Town (WGA, BFCA noms).  My winner (like everyone) is The Social Network, followed by True Grit, The Ghost Writer, Winter’s Bone and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I.  My 6 through 10 are The Town, Toy Story 3, Shutter Island, Never Let Me Go and Rabbit Hole.

Best Original Screenplay:  This one is close all around.  Inception wins the Consensus (WGA, CFC wins, Oscar, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA noms) over The Kids are All Right (NYFC win, WGA, Oscar, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA noms) with The King’s Speech in a close third (Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA wins, Globe nom).  However, Speech wasn’t eligible for the WGA.  Had it earned a nomination, it would have just eeked out a victory over Inception and had it won instead of Inception, it would have handily won the Consensus.  In the distant fourth and fifth spots are The Fighter (WGA, Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA noms) and Black Swan (WGA, BAFTA, BFCA noms).  My own list has the old-fashioned storytelling in The King’s Speech just barely squeaking out a victory over the fascinating machinations of Inception.  They’re followed by Another Year (Oscar, BFCA noms), The Kids are All Right and the darkly fascinating Biutiful.  My 6 through 10 are Black Swan, Blue Valentine, Micmacs, Made in Dagenham and The Secret in Their Eyes (with The Fighter at 11th).

Best Actor:  Though Colin Firth and Jesse Eisenberg split the critics awards (New York, LA, Chicago for Firth, Boston, NSFC, NBR for Eisenberg), Firth wins all five awards groups (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA) while Eisenberg earns noms from all five.  Following them on the Consensus list are James Franco for 127 Hours (all 5 noms), Jeff Bridges for True Grit (only missing a Globe nom) and Javier Bardem for True Grit (Oscar, BAFTA noms).  My own list is headed by Firth and includes Eisenberg, Bridges and Bardem but my fifth nominee is Leonardo DiCaprio for Inception.  My 6 through 10 are DiCaprio again (for Shutter Island), Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine (Globe, BFCA noms), Paul Giamatti for Barney’s Version (Globe – Comedy winner), Franco and Aaron Eckhart for Rabbit Hole.

Best Actress:  Natalie Portman dances away with the Consensus as well as the BSFC, CFC, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe and BFCA.  In a very distant second is Annette Bening for The Kids are All Right, winning the NYFC and Globe – Comedy, as well as earning SAG, Oscar, BAFTA and BFCA noms.  They are followed by Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole and Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms for both) and Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms).  My own winner is Portman, followed by Bening, but in a tight race for the final three spots I go with Lawrence, Williams and Julianne Moore in Kids (BAFTA, Globe – Comedy noms, probably would have gotten more if not for category confusion).  But leading off a strong second group is Kidman, followed by Sally Hawkins in Made in Dagenham, Tilda Swinton in I Am Love, Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go and LAFC winner Hye-ja Kim in Mother.

Best Supporting Actor:  Christian Bale easily takes the Consensus Award for The Fighter, winning three critics awards (Boston, Chicago, NBR) as well as the Oscar, SAG, Globe and BFCA (and earns a BAFTA nom).  In a distant second is Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech, who beats Bale at SAG and wins the NSFC as well as earning SAG, Oscar, Globe and BFCA noms.  The rest of the list are Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right (NYFC win, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA noms), Jeremy Renner for The Town (SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms) and Andrew Garfield (BAFTA, Globe, BFCA noms).  All of those make my Top 7 in a good year.  My winner is Bale, followed by Rush, John Hawkes for Winter’s Bone (SAG and Oscar noms), the surprising Justin Timberlake in The Social Network and Renner.  My 6 through 10 are Ruffalo, Garfield, Pierce Brosnan for The Ghost Writer, Pete Postlethwaite for The Town (BAFTA nom) and Matt Damon for True Grit.

Best Supporting Actress:  After getting very little consensus from the critics (the 6 awards went to 5 different actresses with only Jacki Weaver earning multiple wins), the awards groups solidify behind Melissa Leo.  For her role as the rather crazed mother in The Fighter, she wins the NYFC, SAG, Oscar, Globe and BFCA.  She’s followed by Weaver in Animal Kingdom (as another crazed mother) who wins the LAFC and NBR and earns Oscar, Globe and BFCA noms.  Then comes a virtual tie between Helena Bonham-Carter for The King’s Speech (BAFTA win, SAG, Oscar, Globe, BFCA noms) and Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit (CFC win, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA noms – though the BAFTA was for lead).  In fifth place is Amy Adams in The Fighter (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA noms).  My own winner is Steinfeld for an incredibly impressive breakthrough performance, followed by Leo, Bonham-Carter, Lesley Manville for Another Year (BAFTA nom, NBR winner as lead) and Adams.  My 6 through 10 are Weaver, Olivia Williams for The Ghost Writer (NSFC winner), Mila Kunis for Black Swan (SAG, Globe, BFCA noms), Barbara Hershey for Black Swan (BAFTA nom) and Kristin Scott-Thomas for Nowhere Boy (BAFTA nom in 2009).

The best Disney film in 19 years didn't get the acclaim it deserved.

The best Disney film in 19 years didn’t get the acclaim it deserved.

Under-appreciated Film of 2010:

Tangled  (dir. Nathan Greno  /  Byron Howard)

This is the tragedy of how the Best Animated Film category works.  The number of nominees in the category is determined by how many films qualify.  So, in 2002, when there were 17 films we had five nominees, even though only two – Spirited Away and Lilo and Stitch – deserved nominations.  However, in 2010, there were only 15 films.  That meant there would only be 3 nominees, in spite of this list of worthy films: Toy Story 3, Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me and The Illusionist.  So, while the Annies, Globes and BFCA would nominate all 5, the PGA, BAFTAs and Oscars would stop at 3 and all three groups would drop Tangled.  So, the best Disney film in 18 years (since Aladdin) would end up ranked 5th on the Consensus list for the year.

There are a couple of things going on here.  The first is that while How To Train Your Dragon is very good and Despicable Me is hilarious at times and The Illusionist is very charming, none of them are as good, as witty, as good to look at, as Tangled.  With good lead characters, an absolutely superb animal and a fantastic soundtrack (not to mention a solid villain and magnificent colors) this is exactly what we could wish for from an animated film.  It was Disney’s 50th animated feature film and I ranked it as #9, ahead of such classics as Snow White and Cinderella.

Tangled does exactly what Disney films used to do – it tells a good fairy tale story and it makes it more modern.  It has a charming princess as its heroine, a dashing rogue as its hero, an evil witch to be tangled with and a horse.  Let’s discuss the horse for a moment.  His name is Maximus and he is far more wonderful than you ever could have imagined.  From the first minute we see him, we know he is proud and strong and magnificent.  He can chase down a rogue, battle him for a bag, even duel him with a sword.  He can sniff him out no matter where he goes to hide.  And yet, he has a heart and will listen to a young woman in despair and will help her out, even teaming with his foe.  And Maximus does all of this with something that Disney animals rarely have to deal with – he can not speak.  Though he is clearly very intelligent, he is not anthropomorphic.  Nothing comes from a voice performance.  It is all about what the animators manage to do with him on the screen.  It is a pure triumph of animation.

Maximus would have been enough to make this a wonderful film.  But we also have the soundtrack.  After Alan Menken received 3 Oscar nominations for Best Original Song for Tangled in 2007 (the second time he had done that feat), the Academy changed the rules, determining that no more than two songs from a film could be nominated.  So, to make things easier, Menken only submitted one song from Tangled.  That song was “I See the Light”, which would probably be the best song from a Disney animated film since “The Circle of Life” in The Lion King, if not for one thing.  It’s only the second best song in the film, behind the wonderful, enchanting, funny “I Have a Dream”, which inspires a tavern full of outlaws to help Rapunzel.  The Academy gave Best Original Song to “We Belong Together”, a very good Randy Newman song from Toy Story 3, but the award belonged to Menken.  Ironically, Newman complained about the fact that the Academy only nominated four songs; had Menken submitted the other songs, he almost certainly would have picked up another nomination.  And to top it off, a third song, “When Will My Life Begin” also earns a Nighthawk nomination (I have no two song limit).

In the end, Tangled didn’t get exactly screwed.  It’s an Oscar nominee and received 3 nominations for Best Animated Film.  But for a film of this caliber, a film that instantly becomes a Disney classic, on a level with its best films, with a wonderful soundtrack (their best in at least 16 years) to not get nominated at the Oscars, to lose out on the Oscar for Best Original Song, to make less money at the box office than a lackluster fourth Shrek installment (when they should have stopped at two) is just wrong.  Too many people either didn’t see it or didn’t appreciate it.  If you’re in the former, then see it, because it’s great for all ages.  If you’re in the latter, I can’t help you.

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