Awards Tracker

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Category: Black Swan

Tom O'Neil's gutsy SAG Awards predictions

SAG Awards 11The SAG Awards start in just a few hours. Herewith Tom O'Neil's predictions for who will walk away with trophies:

X = Predicted Winner

Jeff Bridges, "True Grit"
Robert Duvall, "Get Low"
Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"
X - Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
James Franco, "127 Hours"

Firth is an awards juggernaut and can't be stopped.

Annette Bening, "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"
X - Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Hilary Swank, "Conviction"

Annette Bening has a shot at winning here. She's a beloved veteran who plays gay –- like Sean Penn, who won best actor two years ago for "Milk." But Natalie Portman has mojo, sex appeal and gives the kind of fierce physical performance that wows. It also helps that she stars in a film about the performaning arts –- that's very appealing to fellow actors who vote here.  Oh, yeah, and it also helps that she's pregnant and beaming about it.

Christian Bale, "The Fighter"
John Hawkes, "Winter's Bone"
Jeremy Renner, "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo, "The Kids Are All Right"
X -- Geoffrey Rush, "The King's Speech"

Most award gurus are betting on Christian Bale, who won the Golden Globe and lots of critics' awards, but I think Rush will prevail because of the tsunami of sudden love we're seeing for "King's Speech." It was only one of two films sent to the full SAG membership on DVD. (The other was "Social Network.") That helps too.

Amy Adams, "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter, "The King's Speech"
Mila Kunis, "Black Swan"
X -- Melissa Leo, "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit"

Based on the argument I made for Geoffrey Rush winning, I should also back Helena Bonham Carter, but she doesn't give an emotionally flashy performance -– not like Melissa Leo, who mugs, grandstands and rattles the rafters as the fiesty mom of a boxer who doesn't pull her punches.

"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"The Kids Are All Right"
X -- "The King's Speech"
"The Social Network"

Most pundits say "Social Network" or "Fighter" will win here, but I think this where we'll see more surprise awards love for that rumbling volcano "King's Speech."

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If I Ran the Oscars: Comedian Jon Manfrellotti takes a shot

Manfrellotti In this interview series, we ask a host of famous free thinkers to recast the Oscars in their own image. Please direct your attention to our next presenter: actor-comedian Jon Manfrellotti, who steals scenes weekly as Manfro the bookie on TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age”:

 Now that the nominations have been released, which films and performers do you think the academy voters will pick to win the Oscars this year?

For best picture, I think it’s going to be “The Social Network.” Everybody and his brother is on a computer, so now they can go online and tell each other, “I TOLD you it was going to be ‘The Social Network’!”

They’re probably going to give best actress to Natalie Portman. She made a weird face into the camera, and had a lesbian scene, so she’ll get it. On the men’s side, it’ll be Christian Bale for supporting actor, because he lost weight, and it’ll probably be Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech.” You gotta feel bad for a king who lisps.

So if you were in charge of the academy, who would go home with Oscars this year?

Me personally, I’d give it to Jeff Bridges, because I love him. I think he’s great. I know he won last year, and he’s playing the same character but this time with an eye patch. But he still pulled it off. And Hailee Steinfeld blew me away. She was phenomenal. But man, where do you go from there? Better go right into rehab and get it over with.

Which films and performers from the past do you feel deserved the Oscar but didn’t receive one?

Glenn Close should have won for “Dangerous Liaisons.” She lost to Cher in “Moonstruck.” Come on, was Sonny stuffing the ballot? And “Raging Bull” lost to “Ordinary People.” It should have been called “Ordinary Movie.” You talk about a boring movie -– instead of anesthesia, they should show “Ordinary People” before surgery.

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Poll: What will win the SAG Award for best ensemble?


Eight days ago, before "The King's Speech" won the Producers Guild of America Award and led with the most Oscar nominations, we asked you what will win that key Screen Actors Guild Award for best ensemble this Sunday. Poll results: "The Fighter" (33%), "The Social Network" (29%), "The King's Speech" (21%), "The Kids Are All Right" (8%), "Black Swan" (7%).

Now let's ask again. The SAG ensemble award is considered to be so important because it has a reputation for predicting best picture at the Oscars, but, truth be told, it's a tenuous link. Over the past 15 years, they've overlapped seven times. However, two of those occasions were hugely significant because the SAG victories foretold upsets to come at the Oscars: "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) and "Crash" (2005). At this point, "The King's Speech" is gaining such momentum that its Oscar victory as best picture wouldn't be considered an upset. Indeed, most pundits favor it to win.

According to Gold Derby's poll of 19 experts, eight predict "The Social Network" win will best ensemble, seven pick "The Fighter," four (including me) say "The King's Speech."

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: SAG Awards

The secrets of 'Black Swan' visual effects -- How did they do it?

In Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller “Black Swan,” an increasingly imbalanced ballerina, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), struggles to break free of her inhibitions. Cast as the lead in a production of “Swan Lake,” Nina perfectly embodies the purity and reserve of the white swan but falls well short of finding the aggressive sexuality and passion of its counterpart, the black swan. She is pushed ever harder by the company director to let loose, to go beyond the technical aspects of the dance and find the emotional resonance of the darker character. Yet, through weeks of rehearsals, she never captures it. The night of the show, as Nina’s mental state grows ever shakier, she suddenly breaks free to transform, quite literally, into the stunning and seductive black swan as Tchaikovsky’s score thunders around her.

-- Elena Howe 

Box office tally: Oscar best picture nominees

Oscar silhouette dollarsNow that Oscar nominations are out and pundits are weighing their prospects for academy gold, let's consider how much real gold they struck at the box office. Over at Box Office Guru, Gitesh Pandya has broken down all top categories according to domestic box office take to date. Below: best picture.

"Toy Story 3" - $415 million
"Inception" – $293 million
"True Grit" – $139 million
"The Social Network" – $95 million
"Black Swan" – $84 million
"The Fighter" – $73 million
"The King's Speech" – $58 million
"The Kids Are All Right" – $21 million
"127 Hours" – $11 million
"Winter's Bone" – $6 million

-- Tom O'Neil


Illustration by Tom O'Neil

Oscar nominations: Natalie Portman's 10-year plan

Natalie Portman 
Natalie Portman, a 2004 Oscar nominee for "Closer," devoted much of her life to the making of "Black Swan," for which she received a lead actress Oscar nomination. It seems that investment has paid off.

“I am so honored and grateful to the academy for this recognition," Portman said in a statement. "It is a wonderful culmination of the 10-year journey with Darren [Aronofsky] to make this film.  Making 'Black Swan' is already the most meaningful experience of my career, and the passion shown for the film has completed the process of communication between artists and audience.  I am so thankful for the support we have received and I share this honor with the entire cast and crew of the film, especially Darren Aronofsky.”



'The King's Speech,' 'True Grit' top Academy Award nominations

Oscar nominees react

Full list of nominations

Photo of Natalie Portman from Reuters.

Oscar nominations: 'Black Swan' producer Scott Franklin felt the pressure to deliver

It would seem that "Black Swan" producer Scott Franklin is pretty graceful under pressure. Tuesday morning in New York, for instance, he was juggling getting his kids ready for school while anxiosuly awaiting the announcement of the Oscar nominations. 

“I was watching 'Good Morning America' with my wife and kids. We ran out to take my son to his bus and rushed back in. But it hadn’t aired yet so we caught it,” he says. 

Will that poise follow him to the red carpet? “It’s not that nerve-racking,” he says. “I’m a producer. So I’m not being hounded for interviews and photographs. It’s fun, the energy and buzz. I take it all in stride and enjoy it.”

The real pressure came much earlier, with the filming of "Black Swan," which he says was far more trying than making "The Wrestler," another Darren Aronofsky film that Franklin helped produce.

“'The Wrestler' was Darren going back to smaller, independent films.  There was a lot less pressure then. We weren’t on that many radars and we didn’t have a studio like Fox Searchlight behind us; we didn’t have distribution going in; Mickey [Rourke's] career was on the comeback. So we could really relax and do our thing,” he says. 

“Black Swan" "was a much more complicated film to make; we had more money but money was still tight. It was a lot more ambitious. And we were coming off the success of 'The Wrestler.'"

And with the inclusion in this film of Natalie Portman, "a  bona fide movie star, that created more pressure. We really had to deliver.”

Appears they delivered just fine. Not only was the film nominated for best picture, but Aronofsky made the best director nominees list. “I think he deserves it," Franklin says of the director. "I’m thrilled for everybody, but it’s been a long time coming for Darren.”

This year’s crop of nominated films is especially good, Franklin adds. And he credits the large number of independent films in the mix this year to the fact that there are now, for the secodnd year running, 10 films nominated for best picture instead of five. 

“When 'The Wrestler' appeared there were just five best picture noms.  It’s a very different year this year,” he says. “Ten noms gives us a chance for more diversity. And we have some great indie films this year -- that will hopefully keep independent films going.  And then 'Social Network' is great –- it’s a story of its time.  So having 10 noms helps that way. But it also dilutes the prestige of the category. I wish they’d had 10 when we did 'The Wrestler'!”



'The King's Speech,' 'True Grit' top Academy Award nominations

Oscar nominees react

Full list of nominations

-- Deborah Vankin



Oscar nominations: 'Black Swan' director Aronofsky happily expecting more spoofs

“Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky was up early Tuesday morning, but not to listen in to the Oscar nominations. He was playing Legos with his 4-year-old when his mom called and told him that not only was his movie nominated for best picture, but he was nominated for director and Natalie Portman was nominated for her lead role in the film.

“Black Swan,” an unconventional film combining classical ballet with some horror and psychological thriller elements, was seen by some as too edgy of a movie to win much notice from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, let alone the general public. But the film has become a box-office hit and now an awards contender too.

“While we were making the film, it wasn't our intention” to try to snag awards, Aronofsky said. “We were out there trying to make a scary film. People call it a psychosexual horror film, which I don't think is typical Oscar fare.”

Aronofsky’s previous movie, “The Wrestler,” garnered Oscar nominations for lead actor Mickey Rourke and supporting actress Marisa Tomei, but Aronofsky himself has never been nominated in the director category.

“It's funny, I grew up watching the Oscars,” he said, “But I never thought I was that type of filmmaker.”

 As “Black Swan” has become a bit of a cultural phenomenon, it’s come in for some ribbing on TV shows like “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock.” Aronofsky said he’s not worried about a little more joking about it during the Oscar broadcast, which will be hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

 “I’m always flattered to be mocked,” he said. “I hope James Franco and Anne Hathaway take their shots at us.”

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Natalie Portman and Darren Aronofsky at the Palm Springs International Film Festival this month. Credit: Dan Steinberg / Associated Press

Envelope Directors Roundtable: When a scene doesn't work

What does a director do when a performance just isn't working? Recasting the part could be "calamitous," one filmmaker says.

How honest should you be when a scene -- or an entire performance -- just isn't working? Do you go with honesty is the best policy or soft-pedal the hard truth a little?

For one director, it all comes down to this: "Don't cast a brain surgeon to play a brain surgeon."

At the Envelope Directors Roundtable, Ben Affleck ("The Town"), David Fincher ("The Social Network"), Lisa Cholodenko ("The Kids Are All Right"), Ethan Coen ("True Grit"), Darren Aronofsky ("Black Swan") and Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") addressed those questions, with some often entertaining answers.


The Envelope Directors Roundtable: Actor-director relationships

The Envelope Directors Roundtable: Ben Affleck on being an actor-director

The Envelope Directors Roundtable: Shaping the story [Video]

Envelope Directors Roundtable: The managed compromise

Envelope Directors Roundtable: Fighting for your film

-- John Horn


Envelope Directors Roundtable: Actor-director relationships

Being a director, it seems, means being half filmmaker and half therapist to a cast of actors. Some of them you can let go and watch them fly, and some take a lot of hand-holding. Either way, you do whatever they need to be free, even the ones that make you want to pull out your hair. 

At the Envelope Directors Roundtable, Ben Affleck ("The Town"), David Fincher ("The Social Network"), Lisa Cholodenko ("The Kids Are All Right"), Ethan Coen ("True Grit"), Darren Aronofsky ("Black Swan") and Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") addressed those issues -- in the video clips above and below.

The trick, they say, is to have your anxieties privately until you see what it is the actor is doing, but even then, you may have to recast the role.


The Envelope Directors Roundtable: Ben Affleck on being an actor-director

The Envelope Directors Roundtable: Shaping the story [Video]

Envelope Directors Roundtable: The managed compromise

Envelope Directors Roundtable: Fighting for your film

-- John Horn


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