Monday, December 27, 2010

Film feature: State, regional critics agree: 'Social Network' was year's best film

Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network.

By Hap‭ ‬Erstein

There is no dominant front-runner for this year’s Best Picture Oscar,‭ ‬but you would never know that from the polls of the Florida Film Critics Circle and the Southeastern Film Critics Association‭ (‬the two groups I belong to as a voting member‭)‬.

Both tapped‭ ‬The Social Network,‭ ‬David Fincher’s account of the founding of Facebook,‭ ‬as the best film of‭ ‬2010‭ ‬and,‭ ‬as happens only occasionally,‭ ‬I am in agreement with the groups‭’ ‬pick.‭ ‬Both organizations also named Fincher best director and singled out Aaron Sorkin for best adapted screenplay.‭ ‬SEFCA also recognized the movie’s cast as the year’s best ensemble,‭ ‬an award that the FFCC does not present.

Both groups also saw the leading acting categories the same,‭ ‬voting Colin Firth as the year’s best actor for his performance as speech-impaired King George VI in‭ ‬The King’s Speech and the best actress award went to Natalie Portman for the mentally unhinged ballerina in‭ ‬Black Swan.‭ ‬I concur on Firth,‭ ‬and expect him to also pick up the Oscar for the role,‭ ‬in part for being overlooked last year for his also impressive dramatic turn in‭ ‬A Single Man.‭ ‬I liked Portman’s performance,‭ ‬but my vote went to Annette Bening for‭ ‬The Kids Are All Right,‭ ‬and the two of them should be battling it out for the Oscar.

‭The critics‭’ ‬panels diverged when it came to the supporting acting categories.‭ ‬The Florida group voted for Geoffrey Rush,‭ ‬the unconventional speech therapist in‭ ‬The King’s Speech,‭ ‬and Hailee Steinfeld,‭ ‬the spunky frontier teen in the remake of‭ ‬True Grit.‭ ‬The Southeastern association went with two performers from‭ ‬The Fighter,‭ ‬Christian Bale and Melissa Leo,‭ ‬as the brother and mother of brawling boxer Mickey Ward.‭

Mark Wahlberg,‭ ‬Jack McGee,‭ ‬Melissa Leo
and Christian Bale in The Fighter.

I side with the SEFCA picks and think they both are probable Oscar winners.‭ ‬Bale steals‭ ‬The Fighter with his loopy,‭ ‬brain-addled,‭ ‬drug-addicted performance and should edge out the fine work by Rush,‭ ‬who previous took home an Academy Award for‭ ‬Shine.‭ ‬Leo is a little-known veteran actress who is greatly admired in the industry.‭ ‬By contrast,‭ ‬Steinfeld is making her film debut.‭ ‬She’s quite good in the Coen Brothers‭’ ‬highly stylized‭ ‬Western,‭ ‬but her central role is really the movie’s lead.‭

In a true no-brainer,‭ ‬both groups call‭ ‬Toy Story‭ ‬3‭ ‬the best animated feature of the year.‭ ‬I not only agree,‭ ‬but think the Oscars should just give a statuette to the film now and consider naming the category for the Pixar Studio.‭

The Florida Film Critics managed to scrape together four awards for‭ ‬Inception,‭ ‬the mind-bending action picture about invading the subconscious as a form of industrial espionage.‭ ‬FFCC recognized it for best original screenplay,‭ ‬best cinematography,‭ ‬best art direction/production design and best visual effects.‭ ‬SEFCA gave its original screenplay award to‭ ‬The King’s Speech and cinematography to‭ ‬True Grit,‭ ‬with‭ ‬Inception‭ ‬the runner-up in both categories.

I side with the‭ ‬Inception wins,‭ ‬but imagine the more traditional Motion Picture Academy will lean toward‭ ‬The King’s Speech come Oscar time.

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit.

The Florida circle calls‭ ‬The Tillman Story,‭ ‬about the friendly-fire death of pro football’s Pat Tillman in Iraq,‭ ‬the best documentary of‭ ‬2010.‭ ‬The Southeastern group went with‭ ‬Inside Job,‭ ‬the well-made saga of the financial collapse.‭ ‬I voted for‭ ‬Waiting for Superman,‭ ‬the story of the failure of our public schools and how to fix them.

The year’s best foreign film,‭ ‬according to SEFCA,‭ ‬was the Korean thriller‭ ‬Mother.‭ ‬The Florida critics tapped‭ ‬I Am Love,‭ ‬a family tale of commerce and awakening passion,‭ ‬which got my vote.

The Florida Film Critics Circle is composed of‭ ‬19‭ ‬writers from publications across the state.‭ ‬The Southeastern Film Critics Association has‭ ‬43‭ ‬members working in print,‭ ‬radio and online media in nine states throughout the region.‭

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