MY OSCAR PICKS (NOT THE ACADEMY’S)

(Editor’s note: Who needs nominations? Elliott Miller tells you who ought to win this year’s Academy Awards, regardless of whether they have a snowball’s chance this Sunday.)

BY ELLIOTT MILLER

It is now but three days from the Oscars, and I thought I would write a little piece about my personal choices for some of the leading categories rather than picking from the ones that the Academy has so kindly selected for me. The awards written on in this piece will be Best Supporting Actor and Actress, Best Actor and Actress, Best Director and Best Picture. There are many more awards than just these, of course, but to be perfectly direct they really don’t matter in the slightest. Best Animated Film is useless because if that award exists, where is Best Action Film or Best Comedy? None of the makeup awards or costume design awards seem to matter to people who aren’t already in the aforementioned fields, and all the rest are for movies and shorts that aren’t available for any normal people to view before the ceremony. Without any further ado, here are my personal picks.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass)

Chloe Grace Moretz’s portrayal of the 11-year-old crime fighter Hit-Girl is one of the most memorable and adorably psychotic performances I’ve ever seen from an actress, let alone a child actress. What makes her performance so great is that despite all the brutal, borderline sadistic violence she imposes upon her perpetually unfortunate victims, she remains a vulnerable and lovable little girl, and it’s that juxtaposition that puts her so firmly on the map.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)

Okay, Christian Bale probably does deserve this award, but I haven’t seen “The Fighter” yet. I know. I didn’t get to see it because I’m not yet 17 and the person that was supposed to take me got caught up watching a football game and therefore I didn’t get to go. Therefore, the award of Best Supporting Actor goes to a sturdy second place, Mark Ruffalo, from this year’s obligatory indie favorite. He was really pretty good in the film, if unremarkable, but there aren’t really many other actors deserving of this award. Maybe Andrew Garfield from “The Social Network.” Let’s call him third place.

BEST ACTRESS – Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)

Unlike “The Fighter,” I have seen “Black Swan,” and while Natalie Portman is most likely going to win for Best Actress, her performance is one of the most overrated since Bullock’s from “Blind Side.” It’s all reaction shots and sobbing, with a vigorous preparation schedule for all the dancing and occasional on-screen orgasms. If that was truly Oscar-worthy, where’s Meg Ryan’s little gold statue? Hailee Steinfeld, while she was placed unfairly in the Supporting Actress category, is very much the center of “True Grit,” and at 13, she presents one of the most headstrong, instantly likeable heroines since, well, the Best Supporting Actress winner (see above). However, Steinfeld’s character possesses a more eloquent vocabulary.

BEST ACTOR – Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)

Sorry, Colin. Your performance was serviceable to the story, but not really particularly multi-layered or complex in any real way. Take consolation, however, in the fact that you’ll get the Oscar because of “A Single Man.” Consider it an apology Oscar. I, however, am giving awards based on the performances themselves, and this year the best male performance, hands down, was Jessie Eisenberg’s portrayal of the Facebook “founder” Mark Zuckerberg in David Fincher’s new movie. Despite the questionable nature of the character’s relationship to the person on whom it is based, Eisenberg’s performance is memorable due to his brilliantly cold line readings (“You have some of my attention, you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?”) in combination with the subtle emotion in his face help to create a sympathetic antagonist.

BEST DIRECTOR – Christopher Nolan (Inception)

Christopher Nolan is the next great director. “The Dark Knight” was the best film of 2008, and “Inception” was his finest achievement as a director thus far. He uses visual effects sparsely, and is a complete master at directing complex and thrilling sequences in film. The spinning hallway sequence is a perfect testament to this.

BEST PICTURE – Inception

From the trailers and TV spots, “Inception” looks like an adolescent male’s brainless summer action flick. When the film was actually released however, it proved to be the best movie that Christopher Nolan has made to date, the best film of 2010, and one of the most intelligent, entertaining, and thrilling movies I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. There were plenty of capable films in 2010, but “Inception” towers over the others for true imagination, not just in its visual palette, but also in the design and structure of the film. Without spoiling anything, only a film like this could have an hour-long sequence comprised entirely of a van falling off of a bridge.

Well, those are my picks for the main Academy Award categories. Some of them are slightly iconoclastic just for the sake of being so, but I truly do stand behind all of them. I’m looking forward to another year of great movies.

Elliott Miller reviews films for Digitale Stories and for Cardinal Newman High School’s Arts and Literary Magazine. To see his other articles, click here.