Each year (2009, 2010) I review the Oscar contenders* for you in 6 words each, as inspired by my friends over atΒ SMITH Magazine.

This year, the 2011 nominees are:

Best Picture

“Black Swan”
Everything isn’t beautiful at the ballet.

“The Fighter”
Bawxing Bawston bruthahs seek fame; redemption.

To sleep, perchance not to dream.

“The Kids Are All Right ”
More realistic lovemaking than Black Swan.

“The King’s Speech”
Stoic stubborn stutterer suffers speaking setbacks.

“127 Hours”
The only film I didn’t see.
REVISED: One should ALWAYS leave a note. (2/24)

“The Social Network”
Loss’ll ignite demand for ‘Dislike’ button.

“Toy Story 3”
Best of the franchise to date.

“True Grit”
Should have ended with the gunshot.

“Winter’s Bone”
Long, harrowing trek through meth country.


Best Direction

Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan”
If not for this, for “Requiem”.

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for “True Grit”
β€˜Twern’t no “Fargo”, but could happen.

David Fincher for “The Social Network”
“Speak faster!” does not direction make.

Tom Hooper for “The King’s Speech”
Elegant job with consummate cast. Bravo!

David O. Russell for “The Fighter”
Good script. Amazing actors. Definite contender.


Actor in a Leading Role

Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
Truly heartbreaking if he doesn’t win.

Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
Lovely reinvention. No trace of Wayne.

Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
Eisenberg portrays Zuckerberg. Facebook status? ‘Awkberg!’

James Franco in “127 Hours”
Oscar nominees shouldn’t be hosting. Period.
REVISED: Most harrowing portrait of survival, ever.Β (2/24)

Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”
Preferred performance in “Single”. And yet…


Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
Made out with JMo. Winner already?

Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
Ugh. I totally hated this movie.

Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”
Just like that: A star’s born.

Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
What can I say? Natalie. Portman.

Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”
Ryan Gosling should’ve gotten same nod.


Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
Any role he won’t diet for?

John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone”
He’s my favorite. Win’s doubtful, tho’.

Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
More recognition for astounding actor. Yippee!

Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
Made out with JMo. Winner already?

Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”
Where was his native Aussie accent?


Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
Loved her since “Psycho Beach Party.”

Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”
Simply magnificent when she dresses normally.

Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
This woman is due. Overdue. Forrealz.

Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
IMHO, made the movie worth watching.

Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”
Made Lady MacBeth seem downright cuddly.


Adapted Screenplay

Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy for “127 Hours”
Damn! Really wish I’d seen it!
REVISED: Minimal dialogue made for maximum effect.Β (2/24)

Aaron Sorkin for “The Social Network”
Proof! Truth is stranger than fiction.

Michael Arndt, story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich for “Toy Story 3”
Made me cry to infinity and…

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for “True Grit”
If only for the stellar dialogue.

Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini for “Winter’s Bone”
Female screenwriters represent! More in 2012!!


Original Screenplay

Mike Leigh for “Another Year”
Glorious slice-o’-life examination. My book’s winner.

Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson. Story by Keith Dorrington and Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson for “The Fighter”
The extraordinary characters really wrote themselves.

Christopher Nolan for “Inception”
Made me think. Rare for Hollywoodland.

Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg for “The Kids Are All Right”
Nomination’s a win for modern families.

David Seidler for “The King’s Speech”
After 60 years’ writing: finally! Recognition!


Animated Feature

“How to Train Your Dragon”
In any other context: Title’s porn-ish.

“The Illusionist”
Truly magical coming of age story.

“Toy Story 3”
Third time seems charmed, Buzz [&] Woody!


Documentary (Feature)

“Exit through the Gift Shop”
Does anyone think Banksy’ll really show?

Screenings invite lawsuits. What the frack?

“Inside Job”
Required viewing for every American. REQUIRED.

Only made it halfway through. Grueling.

“Waste Land”
Recycling trash; creating art; recycling ourselves.


* * * * *

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…

*All apologies to the short filmmakers, make-up artists, costume, production and sound designers and editors and all the rest of my fellow BTL homies.Seriously and from the bottom of my heart, I promise, I DO stay for every single last credit and I KNOW how major the role is that you play in the process.xo ~k

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KIMBERLY M. WETHERELL Kimberly's many and varied lives have included actor, stage manager, opera and film director, producer, writer, and restaurateur. She only has three lives left and she's not going to waste a single one of them. The first Arts & Culture Editor for TNB and creator of the TNB Literary Experience, Kimberly has been published by Rizzoli in the book Brooklyn Bar Bites, CRAFT Magazine, The Mighty, and SMITH Magazine, among others. She co-founded the food and drink reading and storytelling series DISH at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City and she's working on multiple projects including her debut novel, several screenplays, and a documentary about female film editors. She thanks you for stopping by and sitting a spell.

45 responses to “6-word Oscar Reviews. 
3rd Annual Edition.”

  1. Gloria says:

    You cheated with IMHO, but I’ll give it a pass because I couldn’t agree more. That girl is the real deal. LOVED that movie.

    Kimberly, I look forward to these six word Oscar reviews more than I could possibly tell you without sounding like one of those TNB kiss-assers that we sometimes get accused of being. But whatev… You’re fucking hilarious.

    “The King’s Speech”
    Stoic stubborn stutterer suffers speaking setbacks.

    Michael Arndt, story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich for “Toy Story 3”
    Made me cry to infinity and…


    Do you think Banksy will show?

  2. Becky Palapala says:

    I haven’t seen a single movie on this list. Which, though I never really pay much attention to my aversion to movie theatres otherwise, suddenly makes me a little sad.

    However, having never seen Black Swan seemed to have no prohibitive effect on my ability to dream about it, which I did last night.

    Since my Morpheus-directed version was pretty okay, I’ll just go ahead and root for the real-world version, too.

    • That’s a real shame, Becky. All things considered, this year’s list is particularly wonderful.

      And I bet your dream was pretty close to the real thing – not unlike Inception.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Well, that’s not to say I’ll NEVER see them. I just usually see them 2-3 years after everyone else.

        I don’t remember much about the dream, except it was definitely Black Swan, and I was definitely, at some point, semi-lucid and thinking, “this is a pretty cool dream….”

  3. Matt says:

    The screwy reverse on the nominations for True Grit have destroyed my last bit of faith in the Academy Awards. Hailee Steinfeld was the lead in that movie, not the supporting performance. It’s her story; Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) is supporting her.

    I enjoyed the performances in The Kids Are All Right but thought the script was a real mess, especially in the third act.

    I am happy to see John Hawkes and Jennifer Lawrence nominated, though, even if a win is a long shot. Damn, Winter’s Bone was a good movie.

  4. Hooray! It’s here at last! I’ve been checking TNB daily for this πŸ˜‰

    The only one I have yet to see is The Fighter. I have plans to get to that one by Oscar weekend, though. Not a Mark Wahlberg fan, but I hear the rest of the cast is riveting enough to make up for it. I think you might be surprised at 127 Hours. I walked out thinking Colin Firth might not need that best actor award after all. And that’s a serious, serious admission for me. It made my cry, in fact, the idea that I would dare think James Franco in this case might be more deserving than Colin Firth. I’m cringing as I type. Sorry Colin! So so sorry.

    I also really like John Hawkes. I spent thirty minutes trying to convince my husband Joe that the guy who played Tear Drop was the same guy who played the Dennis-Hopper-a-la-Apocalypse-Now-esque Lennon on “Lost.” He’s a chameleon, that guy.

    Banksy should send that little old British lady who claims she’s Banksy to accept his award.

    • Lenore said it best: Marky Mark, once again, played a sensitive tough guy. But I’ll give him this: He’s one hell of a producer.

      Leo, Adams & Bale cannot be outdone, however. And I’ll stop there before spoiling anything else. πŸ™‚

      I’m super-bummed I missed “127 Hours”. Super. Bummed. This is when living in Florida is a real drag. The film never made it to this part of the state and by the time I got down to Miami, where it was playing, it had already left the theatres. πŸ™

  5. Greg Olear says:

    Yay! Glad you did this again. One of my fave annual features.

  6. Irene Zion says:


    Just let’s not talk about “Biutiful,” eh?
    Don’t have the stomach for it.
    Wanted to jump off a bridge.
    (And don’t be such a show-off about how tough you are!)

    How come you didn’t do foreign films?

    • I’ve never reviewed the foreign-language films.
      Space and attention span constraints, don’tchaknow?
      Plus, it’s hard to see everything.
      Especially here on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

      Notice how I didn’t mention Biutiful? πŸ˜‰

      • Irene Zion says:

        And, Kimberly?
        I thank you for that.
        I really do.
        (I don’t want to spend another day on a bridge thinking about whether life is worth living…)

  7. Totally agree that nominees shouldn’t host. But look forward to year when Hathaway’s nommed. Will come.

    I also think that cartoons should be nommed for either Best or Best Animated. Toy Story 3 is going to win animated (I haven’t seen any of the TS flicks, but I loved How To Train Your Dragon, but I doubt it has any shot at actual Best Pic.

    Which I see as split between The King’s Speech and The Social Network, the split of which might give Black Swan a shot. I haven’t yet seen Swan; I loved Requiem for a Dream the single time I saw it, but it was, like, soul-hurting to watch. Like, perturbing. I have a feeling Swan is the same way, and it’s something I have to mentally/emotionally prepare for.

    Which is a high thing to say about a movie.

    I loved both Network and Speech, with favor toward the latter. I will disagree with your Fincher dismissal above; I seriously think Fincher is one of the best directors working today. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a sad step back after the bold leap forward that was Zodiac, which I thought was an absolutely perfect movie. I’ve heard people say it’s Aronofsky’s year of recognition because he didn’t get it for Requiem, but nobody mentions that Fincher didn’t get it for Se7en, Fight Club, or Zodiac, all of which were spectacular (and The Game is ludicrously underrated, too. What an awesome mindtrip that movie is).

    I’m surprised Toy Story 3 is adapted (I think adapted screenplay will go to Sorkin); from what? I’d like to see The King’s Speech win original, but I also wonder if it might not be the one category they give Inception (which I thought sucked but a lot of people loved dearly, and it’s Nolan, who’s becoming a surprising mix of commercial success/critical darling. It’s just a shame he hasn’t made anything really great since Batman Begins).

  8. Hathaway was nommed last year for “Rachel Getting Married”. (In case you don’t remember.) πŸ™‚ And I don’t mind her hosting this year (I hope) but as soon as Franco got the nod, they should have pulled him. Seems too gimmicky.

    And I totally disagree with your ‘Animated’ argument. Just because a film is animated, doesn’t mean it’s not the best film of the year. Animators are filmmakers, despite the speciality of the medium. The speciality of the medium, however, is another achievement entirely. Same of foreign-language. And the same of 3D films, I imagine, in the future.

    BTW: “Swan” is nothing like “Requiem”. It’s also everything like it. You should definitely see it. πŸ™‚

    I’m not dismissing Fincher, necessarily. His work on “Network” simply wasn’t up to par with his earlier efforts. “Network” was good, better than I expected, even. But I feel like it’s a super-meta phenomenon, unlike anything we’ve seen before, and without the current reality to bolster it, as a film all by itself, it doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on. It is not an enduring timeless film – something that I feel is critical when considering “Best Film”.

    So, more than six words? Yep.


    • Oh, I wasn’t saying that an animated flick couldn’t win best picture. Beauty and the Beast was up for best pic, wasn’t it? And certainly not saying that animators aren’t filmmakers. I just think that it’s silly, at this point, to nom a picture in both Best Pic and Best Animated Pic. TS3 won’t win Best Pic. It’ll probably win Best Animated Pic. By your phrasing, though, maybe a separate direction-of-animation category, rather than a second picture category?

      I get the analogy you’re making to foreign language but don’t think it works, because I can’t think of a foreign language flick that has (or had) a shot at best picture.

      Honestly, I think TS3 only got a best pic nom this year because they had ten, and so had room for it. If the category had been restricted to five, I think it would have been The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Black Swan, True Grit, and either Winter’s Bone or The Kids Are All Right. The rest I sort of see as “We have the room now, so we can nominate a couple of others.”

      Totally disagree with you about Fincher, too. Fincher’s learning something very few artists ever do, which is that the best style is none at all. They say that the best writing makes people think no effort went into writing it (E.B. White, maybe?), and I think the same here; the true achievement of The Social Network is that it looks like it’s only direction was “Speak faster.” I get what you mean about meta-ness, but I think Fincher did exactly what Hooper did, which was to laser-focus on the relationship(s) inherent in a specific moment in time and demonstrate the effects on society right then. I mean, who really knew of the Duke of York (besides that he had ten thousand men, whom he marched right up a hill before he marched them down again)? I think the problem with The Social Network is actually that you can’t see London from the basement of Buckingham palace, meaning that it would be akin to someone watching The King’s Speech at the start of World War II. I honestly think Network displays a maturity and sophistication Fincher never managed with Fight Club and Panic Room.

  9. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    β€œ”Speak faster!” does not direction make.”

    You’ve summed up that entire film perfectly. I saw The Social Network in English but with French subtitles and there were paragraphs of text at the bottom of each shot needed to keep up with the dialogue.

    I’m with Cynthia too, that 127 Hours was a surprise. I had to be forced to watch it, but it ended up for me being a more uplifting and exhilarating experience than Slumdog Millionaire.

    Meanwhile, I haven’t seen The Fighter but remain skeptical that I haven’t seen nearly the same story multiple times already. That, and sometimes a tiny amount of Bale goes a long way.

    Thanks for this entertaining rundown.

    • Okay – clearly I’m going to have to try and find “127 Hours” before next Sunday. I do so hate to be uninformed when it comes to these kinds of things.

      Perhaps I can find a good internet pirate to help me*?

      (Oh, and you’re right about “The Fighter” ‘s oft-told plot. Bale’s pretty ridiculously wonderful in this, tho’. Freakishly dead-on when you see the real guy in action.)

      *(I can’t believe I just typed that. I’ll send Franco and Boyle $5 each to repent. I’m sure they need the money more than I do. Guilt? Assuaged.)

    • Irene Zion says:


      Trying to read paragraphs of subtitles makes me laugh.
      Did people laugh at the absurdity of it?

      • Nathaniel Missildine says:

        There was laughter in the theater over the dialogue, but mostly confusion as to why the Americans are in such a hurry.

  10. […] The Nervous Breakdown thenervousbreakdown.com/kwetherell/2011/02/6-word-oscar-reviews-3rd-annual-edition/ – view page – cached K-dub splashes around the Oscar pool., K-dub splashes around the Oscar pool. […]

  11. Zara Potts says:

    Zister, you’re on my list.

    (I love these annual pieces – you are so damn clever and cute.)

  12. I’ve seen a lot of these movies recently and I enjoyed them all. I’d make a terrible film critic because I just love films. Even the bad ones.

    I really, really liked “How to Train Your Dragon” but after realising that it sounds like a porno… well… I think I like it even more.

    • Kimberly says:

      You know, honestly, I’m the same way. I really do love movies — even the ones I hate. I can always find something good about them, and I never, ever regret the time I spend in a theatre.

      Except for the time I spent watching the Inuit/Canadian film ‘Atanarjuat‘. I mean, Goddamn I really want those two hours back.

      • Irene Zion says:

        I didn’t think anyone else wasted time on that movie.
        Why is it we couldn’t leave the theater and waited all the way to the end?
        Just hoping something would happen?
        Hoping for global warming?

  13. Ducky Wilson says:

    “Speak faster!” does not direction make. – Perhaps my favorite. I just watched Social Network last night and I had to rewind several times to make out the dialogue. This is my problem with Altman, too.

    Also agree Gosling should have been nominated.

    And run to go see 127 Hours. I was on edge the whole time. But maybe it’s because I hike a lot and never tell anyone where I’m going. I will now always leave a note.

    Bale – convinced he is a method actor.

  14. Lenore says:

    “Should have ended with the gunshot.”

    yes. yes yes.

  15. Tom Hansen says:

    Bardem and Winter’s Bone. The rest, meh. I’m still waiting for someone to pull a Brando too. Wimps

  16. Jessica Blau says:

    Wow, this is SO smart and clever and great! Why do I think this should be put on fliers and handed out on the red carpet??

    My six words on you:

    Hilarious woman who’s seen all but one.

  17. Just saw 127 HOURS. Revised accordingly.

  18. Simon Smithson says:

    I can’t believe I’ve only seen two of the films nominated for Best Picture.

    I don’t even know myself any more.

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