Oscar Winners Revisited: Who Should’ve Won in 2011

By @ZShevich
Oscar Winners Revisited: Who Should’ve Won in 2011

In honor of Oscar season being fully upon us, we’ve created a new column that combines three of our favorite things: arguing about the Oscars, nostalgia, and passing judgment on others. Oscar Winners Revisited hopes to re-evaluate past Academy Awards results and see how well the winners and nominees held up versus the choices Way Too Indie Staff members would make today. We’ll be sticking to the big six categories: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress. Make sure to check back on Way Too Indie tomorrow for another year’s batch of Academy Award winners, revisited.

Who Should’ve Won An Oscar in 2011

Best Supporting Actress

Who Won – Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Who Should’ve Won – Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Melissa Leo Hailee Steinfeld

It’s hard to complain about Leo’s win for The Fighter, though her self-funded pleading for the award looks more desperate now than even then. Truthfully, her performance might be the year’s second Best Supporting Actress role, but her performance wasn’t the best in the category. As the lead of her film, True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld carries a movie that also features major actors like Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin. The 13-year old’s steely reserve, and scrappy determination in the face of an overwhelming Wild West is captivating filtered through the Coen’s vision for True Grit, and aided by a script packed with Southern idioms Steinfeld is a delight in the role. This is the type of performance Hilary Swank would have won an Oscar for if Steinfeld were 10 years older, but her relative youth makes the part easier to ignore. 4 years later, it’s impossible to overlook Steinfeld’s captivating performance. [Zach]

Best Supporting Actor

Who Won – Christian Bale, The Fighter
Who Should’ve Won – John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone

Christian Bale John Hawkes

The Academy loves when big name actors lose massive amounts of weight for their role, as if that’s the only way to show true dedication, and that’s exactly what Christian Bale did (for the second time in his career). Truth be told, Bale did a great job in David O. Russell’s The Fighter, it’s hard to imagine the film without him. But the best performance in this category goes to a different nominee who played a meth-addict; John Hawkes for Winter’s Bone. Here Hawkes makes the most of his limited screen time and perfectly counterbalancing the then little-known Jennifer Lawrence as her drugged up uncle. Hawkes embodies the part of the conflicted antihero with his natural scrappy grit, making him the perfect fit for the role. After picking up the win during the Independent Spirit Awards for this role, there were high hopes Hawkes would also win his first Oscar too. But to this day we’re still waiting for that to happen. [Dustin]

Best Actress

Who Won – Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Who Should’ve Won – Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Natalie Portman Michelle Williams

I can’t think of a more heartbreaking performance from 2010 than Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine, it’s one of the best lead actress performances of the decade so far and right up there with Anne Dorval (Mommy), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night) and so many others. Natalie Portman who won this year for Black Swan was incredible in that film, arguably the best she’s ever been, and that certainly made the loss for Williams easier to understand. But still as great as Portman is and she is great, Williams is just on another level with a performance full of tragic and beautiful moments (sometimes seconds apart) as a woman caught in the dissolution of her marriage. [Ryan]

Best Actor

Who Won – Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
Who Should’ve Won – James Franco, 127 Hours

Colin Firth James Franco

Are you serious? James Franco plays a man who literally gets trapped between a rock and a hard place for 127 hours in agonizing pain and resorts to an unthinkable escape, and yet the Award goes to the portrayal of a British King with a speech impediment? Franco spent the entire film by himself, in a single setting, and wasn’t even able to move, yet his relentless determination proves the power of the human condition, inspiring everyone who watched it. In doing so, Franco demonstrated his ability to perform in a more serious role and earned an Independent Spirit Award in the process. The King’s Speech is one of those films that people forget about several years later, and while Colin Firth’s performance was sufficient, Franco’s is one that sticks with you over the years. [Dustin]

Best Director

Who Won – Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
Who Should’ve Won – David Fincher, The Social Network

Tom Hooper David Fincher

The Social Network isn’t David Fincher’s best work, not by a long stretch, he’s at his best on films like Se7en and Zodiac. But still it’s impossible to call any of the other nominees this year more deserving than the calculated, precise and damn near perfect work on display from Fincher here; it’s almost insulting to award it to anyone else in fact. Still, Tom Hooper and The King’s Speech rode a wave of late-season awards success and pulled the rug right out from under Fincher. It’s not that Hooper’s a totally undeserving winner, although between The Damned United and The King’s Speech I began to sour on his style, it’s that he’s undeserving in 2011. Aaron Sorkin wrote a great script, Jesse Eisenberg gave a career-best performance, but it’s Fincher who is the true MVP of The Social Network bringing his procedural leanings, unique style and oddly strong sense of humor to this story about the beginnings of Facebook or what could just as accurately be called a story of friends, betrayals, and human nature. Fincher’s presence at the helm can’t be undersold and is the biggest reason why this film is or will be considered a masterpiece by many. [Ryan]

Best Picture

Who WonThe King’s Speech
Who Should’ve WonThe Social Network

The King’s Speech The Social Network

The Academy Awards have a penchant for looking back at history with the films they awards their top honors. The King’s Speech fits that mold, an ostensibly feel-good project that depicts a bygone era through the experience of a King and his speech therapist. It’s a pleasant film that for one Weinstein-fueled reason or another turned into the foregone conclusion of 2011’s Best Picture race. In awarding The King’s Speech, the Academy snubbed several films that will be remembered as various auteurs’ defining works, notably David Fincher’s The Social Network. “The Facebook Movie,” as many people dubbed the movie, retains the cold precision of Fincher’s other works but fills its story with damaged egos and big money squabbling. The script from Aaron Sorkin (which won Best Adapted Screenplay this year) features dialog delivered at the pace of a screwball comedy, while somehow communicating the intricacies of computer programming and web strategy. The Social Network is a distinctly modern movie, and it captures the rebirth of America’s tech boom without the benefit of hindsight. But far beyond that it’s a compelling story about human behavior, and the value of relationship vs. power. [Zach]

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