Best Actress - Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone (Emma Stone, Easy A)
This has always been the category that vexes me most. More often than not, the eventual nominees for Best Actress come from art house or period piece films that I have no interest in seeing. So I readily that my opinion here is less informed than the rest of this column. That said, Jennifer Lawrence was a revelation in "Winter's Bone." Stone is my runner-up almost by default because as much as I enjoyed her work in "Easy A," I just honestly didn't see many leading ladies this year that earned a mention here.
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter (Jeremy Renner, The Town)
Always a dog fight of a category, Best Supporting Actor always seems to be rich with great choices. As with DiCaprio in "Inception," if you'd asked me on December 28 who should win this award, it would be Renner in a landslide...and then I saw "The Fighter" and Christian Bale humbled my previous assumptions. A stunning all around performance.
Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit (Amy Adams, The Fighter)
Talk about bursting onto the scene. Making what is essentially her big screen debut, Steinfeld provided the driving force behind "True Grit" and made a lasting impression, at least on this writer. Adams, always a favorite here at The Soap Box Office, brought a great deal of spirit to "The Fighter" during the second act when it desperately needed it as well as some grit that I thought really added to the film's overall impact. On a side note, Marion Cotillard was perhaps my favorite Supporting Actress of the year, Steinfeld and Adams spent more time actually on the screen and therefore earned a bump in the rankings from me.
Best Picture: Inception (True Grit)
I've thought long and hard about this category. I'd talked myself into voting for "The Social Network" but after watching "Inception" again, I found myself no less impressed the second (and third) time around than I was the first time. That's something special in my opinion. To spin a tale as immersive as "Inception" is and pull it off seamlessly is a tremendous accomplishment. "True Grit" came on strong at the very end of the year and honestly, you could probably convince me to go with either film.
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network (Christopher Nolan, Inception)
Great films equal great races for Best Director. My heart would vote for Nolan whom I consider to be the best in the business. On the other hand, Fincher crafted what might be the most technically perfect film I've seen in a long time and deserves this accolade.
Best Adapted Screen Play: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network (Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit)
This is darn near a tie in my book. Both of these scripts were amazing. If forced to choose I would go with Sorkin's work on "The Social Network" because as I was blown away by his work as I watched the film whereas it's usually afterwards that I think about that stuff. Maybe that's a bogus way to go but this is my blog so...
Best Score: Trent Reznor, The Social Network
I don't really notice a film's score unless it's utterly fantastic, which this one certainly is. Not since "There Will Be Blood" has a score driven a film like Reznor's frenetic, contemporary arrangements did in "The Social Network."