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Dummies’ Guide To The Academy Awards

Mike Lee

With the season of awards shows upon us, it seems to be the right time to explain the process of the Academy Awards (Oscars). It can be a very fun process before the actual nominations come out, choosing the actors and movies you think will win in each category, sort of like a March Madness bracket. And once you choose your finalists it is really just a game with yourself as to if you chose right or not.

The process of choosing is probably the hardest. There are the movies that everyone has heard about (“The Social Network,” “Inception”). Then there are the obscure movies (“Winter’s Bone,” “The Kids are Alright”). Then there are the really independent movies that got really good reviews but are really gritty so people are really unsure if they want to see them (“127 Hours,” “Black Swan”).

The problem is that if you don’t see all of the movies you don’t have a definitive idea of who you should nominate. The best way to go from here is to:

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  1. See the three top contenders for best picture- “the Social Network,” “The King’s Speech” and “The Fighter.”
  2. Decide on best actors and supporting actors from those pictures (ex. Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech” and Christian Bale for “the Fighter”).
  3. To decide on Best Actress and Supporting Actress you must see “Black Swan” because Natalie Portman will win Best Actress.
  4. Know who the Directors are.
    1. Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”) He makes pretty unknown movies, sadly. His other most famous would be “The Wrestler,” which was out two years ago. His movies are generally great but really gritty.
    2. David O. Russell (“The Fighter”) His last biggest movie was probably “I Heart Huckabees.” “The Fighter” was great but it was mostly because it was a good story, screenplay and acting. There wasn’t much that said amazing director in this category. No amazing lighting or camera angles.
    3. Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) Is not a well known director in America, possibly more so in England. He was probably most well known for directing the HBO miniseries, “John Adams,” it won most categories it was nominated for in the Emmys. Hooper’s directing style is very realistic. When watching the movie the angles are as if you are the camera looking at things.
    4. David Fincher (“The Social Network”) He is among the most known that are nominated this year. Some of his previous pictures include “Fight Club,” “Panic Room,” “Seven,” and “The Curious case of Benjamin Button.” His movies are characteristic of dark lighting and clever scripts. Many of them are based on books though so factoring in originality is one thing. But although many are not original, the adapted screenplays are always excellent in that they fit his directing style well.
    5. Joel and Ethan Coen (“True Grit”) So it’s not original, it’s a remake but it was so much more exciting than the original. The Coen brothers are known for “Fargo,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” They almost always write the screenplays as well. Typically the movies are dark comedies or dramas, even if they are not mainly a comedy there are always some funny jokes.
  5. Now that you are familiar with the directors, cinematography and art direction are next. These are specific arts, not known to many outsiders, so don’t worry. If “Inception” does not win though, just know that watching the Oscars is a waste of time.
  6. With none of the other categories being that important the last big one to know about is Best Picture, the Big Kahuna. “The Social Network” will win. “The King’s Speech” will, however, be its biggest contender and be very close to winning. If for some reason “The Social Network” does not win then “The King’s Speech” will.

Hopefully, this list will lead you down the right path to making intelligent choices for this and any future shows to come.

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Dummies’ Guide To The Academy Awards