‘Social’ versus ‘King’s’ as Oscar nominees are announced

Although Israel has received Best Foreign Language Film nominations for the last three years in a row, this year Israel didn’t make the cut.

Natalie Portman in 'Black Swan' 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Natalie Portman in 'Black Swan' 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Oscar nominations, which were announced in Hollywood on Tuesday, pitted The Social Network, a drama about the founding of Facebook, against The King’s Speech, a look at how King George VI of Britain conquered his stammering problem.
The King’s Speech was the all-around leader in the nominations, with a staggering 12. The Social Network received a more than respectable eight, as did Inception, the drama about dream technicians.
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The other nominees for Best Picture, a category which for the second year in a row includes 10 films, were Black Swan, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, Inception, True Grit, 127 Hours, Winter’s Bone, and Toy Story 3.
Although Israel has received Best Foreign Language Film nominations for the last three years in a row (for the films Beaufort, Waltz with Bashir and Ajami), this year Israel didn’t make the cut. Israeli director Shlomi Eldar’s documentary, Precious Life, was on the short list for a documentary nomination, but in the end did not receive one.
The Best Director nominees are: Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan, David O. Russell for The Fighter, Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech, David Fincher for The Social Network, and Ethan Coen and Joel Coen for True Grit.
Jerusalem-born Natalie Portman, a critics’ and popular favorite for her performance as a ballerina on the verge of madness in Black Swan, received a Best Actress nomination for that film is and the favorite to win. It is the first Best Actress nomination for Portman, who was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category for Closer in 2005.
Her main competition for an Oscar win – she already won a Golden Globe for this film – is likely to come from Annette Bening, who plays a lesbian mother in The Kids Are All Right. Bening has been nominated several times but has not won. The other nominees in this category are Nicole Kidman as a grieving mother in Rabbit Hole, Michelle Williams as an unhappy wife in Blue Valentine, and Jennifer Lawrence as a teen with a drug-dealing father in a rural area in Winter’s Bone.
COLIN FIRTH, who has the title role in The King’s Speech, is the favorite to win Best Actor. His competitors are Jesse Eisenberg as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, James Franco (who will be co-hosting the Oscar telecast, with actress Anne Hathaway) as a trapped mountaineer in 127 Hours; last year’s winner, Jeff Bridges, in True Grit; and Javier Bardem as a petty criminal with a connection to the supernatural in Biutiful.
The Best Supporting Actress nominees are Amy Adams and Melissa Leo from the boxing drama, The Fighter; Hailee Steinfeld as a girl out to avenge her father’s death in True Grit; Helena Bonham Carter as the king’s wife in The King’s Speech; and Jacki Weaver in The Animal Kingdom, about a crime family.
The Best Supporting Actor nominees are: Geoffrey Rush as the king’s speech teacher in The King’s Speech, Christian Bale as a washed-up boxer who coaches his brother in The Fighter, Mark Ruffalo as a perplexed sperm donor in The Kids Are All Right, and Jeremy Renner as a bank robber in The Town.
The many candidates for supporting actor nominations in The Social Network – Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer and Justin Timberlake – apparently canceled each other out.
But the race seems to be a battle between the two frontrunner films, Social, which is American and very much a young people’s film, the other, King’s, a historical drama involving a disability, the type of film that is traditionally considered Oscar bait.
The Social Network, written by Aaron (West Wing) Sorkin, was the big winner so far this awards season, winning the Golden Globe for Best Drama and virtually every critics’ award. It seemed like the clear frontrunner, until The King’s Speech surprisingly won the Producers Guild Award last week.
The Foreign Language Film nominees for this year are Biutiful, a crime/redemption drama from Mexico; Dogtooth, from Greece, which has been described as an exotic horror film; In a Better World, from Denmark, a drama of the friendship between two families; Incendies, from Canada, about a family searching for its Middle Eastern heritage; and Outside the Law, from France, the story of an Algerian crime family.
There was much controversy, as usual, about the foreign films that didn’t get nominated.
Many in France were outraged that Outside the Law, which is by an Algerian director, was the French nominee. The Foreign Language film shortlist and nominations are determined by an executive committee and their choices have often sparked debate in the past. But Israel’s entry, the Ophir-winning The Human Resources Manager, was not considered to be as strong as past candidates.