Best Scene Nominees: Cunnilingus (Black Swan), Confrontation (True Grit), Cursing Scene (The King’s Speech), Melting Scene (Toy Story 3), Ruffian’s Singing Their Dreams (Tangled)
For best scene, we wanted to find those moments in movies that stuck with you long after you’d left the theater. There were no specific criteria, but you know the scenes when you see them. An aging teacher, coaxing a king to let fly a string of profanities. A young fourteen-year-old confronting her father’s killer. Mila Kunis going down on Natalie Portman. In the end, however, we decided to go with the climactic scene from Toy Story 3, when Woody and friends are about to be melted into indistinguishable plastic goop. One often wondered throughout the span of this trilogy of films, watching various plastic anthropomorphs undergo bizarre dismemberments and mutilations…how do toys die? Well here it is, folks: utter annihilation in the form of slow, melting torture. The moment went on for a shockingly long time, and we watched, horror struck, as realization dawned on the characters and each one accepted their death. And then at the last moment, an impossible, uplifting salvation from above. We would never have imagined that our beloved toys would be faced with such an implacable mortal peril, but the fact that it was so heart-wrenching was proof of the power of Pixar to move our hearts. Well done, good sirs. That took balls.
Worst Scene: Aang explaining to the earth benders that there was earth all around them (The last Airbender)
Best Dialogue Nominees: The King’s Speech, The Social Network, True Grit
It’s hard to look at True Grit in the context of the Coen’s recent triumphs such as No Country for Old Men and A Serious Man. Compared to them, True Grit is a by-the-numbers film, much less ambitious, and surprisngly simple and short. But like all the Coen’s films, it was made with a perfectionist’s attention to detail, particularly the dialogue. Not only is it historically accurate, it’s dense with characterization and flavor. Jeff Bridges is simply a joy to hear talk in his rustic grumble, and Hailee Steinfield is pleasurably precocious as a girl far more mature than her years belie. A true actor’s piece, the dialogue becomes the star of this film, revealing cultural insights and illuminating interesting power dynamics. While not a show-stopper in terms of action and spectacle, True Grit is meaty and satisfying for its brilliantly written dialogue, given to actors who know what to do with it.
Worst Dialogue: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Best Story Nominees: Inception, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit
While the accuracy of The Social Network’s biographical content is clearly debatable, no one can deny that the story was compelling. We loved it for its writing and plot, the way each line worked overtime adding layers, and how every scene advanced the plot in a new, crucial way. The structuring of the film within two intense legal battles focuses themes of ownership, friendship, power and success, and its unconventional, almost anticlimactic ending has echoes of Greek tragedy. Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue may be unrealistically verbose, and at times he forced melodrama upon the story, but the clear attention to detail and overall polish make this a screenplay worth paying attention to.
Worst Story: The Last Airbender
Best Sci-Fi / Fantasy Nominees: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Iron Man 2, Inception
With Inception, we reached new depths of science fiction invention. Dreams within dreams within dreams, all linked together—a matrix where only some are aware, a crime scene that leaves no evidence, an idea that stunned the world. This concept created unforgettable sets set in zero gravity, arctic fortresses, and, of course, “Limbo.” For days, the world spoke of nothing but unraveling the mystery and the science behind this mentally stimulating film. We watched over and over again, picking out every detail: the ring, the music, the top.
Christopher Nolan gave us what we’d all been dreaming of: great science fiction.
Worst Sci-Fi / Fantasy: The Last Airbender
Best Comedy Nominees: Easy A, Hot Tub Time Machine, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Other Guys
2010 was a particularly weak year for comedies, but Scott Pilgrim vs. the World displayed a very special brand of humor that wryly embraced the hypersaturated modern sensibilities, riffing off of indie music, video games, and awkward relationships. Though Michael Cera probably wasn’t to best choice to play this movie’s eponymous hero, the clever script, snappily edited by the talented Edgar Wright, kept the laughs coming steadily throughout the film. While 3rd act sloppiness and some apparent last-minute rewrites prevent this film from being a classic, we at The Nickel Screen think that this was the funniest and most original comedy to hit theaters this year.
Worst Comedy: Dinner for Schmucks
Best Drama Nominees: Black Swan, Shutter Island, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, True Grit,
While we may have a flare for the dramatic, dramas themselves are not our strong suit. I tried to watch 127 hours on a plane one time, but my headphone jack was broken. And nobody even got close to making it to The Fighter, but we saw a few, and while they all had virtues that spoke for themselves, The King’s Speech rose above the rest.
The Social Network and True Grit had undeniably excellent acting and dialogue, but in the end, neither was as rousing as George VI’s change from stammering duke to dominant sovereign. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush played off each other perfectly, the plot was well-paced, and the story was riveting.
So Much for Part 2! Click Here to Continue to Part 3: The Culmination.