The 83rd Annual Academy Awards: A Cheat Sheet

You may not know by now, but I’m a movie nerd. In fact, I have seen all of the films nominated for Best Picture this year at the Academy Awards. Which brings us to why we’re here: I’m going to help those of you who didn’t want to spend a million dollars at the theater last year, but still want to impress at your Oscar party guests. (Read all of Meredith’s reviews here)
I’m going to give you a synopsis that’s shorter than a tweet, a list of major nominations, and a fun fact to impress your friends with during the commercial breaks. And I’ll tell you the films you should place your bets on…but don’t come after me if you don’t win your pool!
Note: I’m only going through the films that were also nominated for Best Picture so keep in mind that Javier Bardem, Jeremy Renner, Nicole Kidman, Michelle Williams, and Jacki Weaver are also all nominated for acting awards.
127 Hours
Synopsis:
Based on a true story, a climber is trapped under a boulder for 127 hours.
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (James Franco), Best Editing, Best Score, Best Song (“If I Rise”), Best Adapted Screenplay
Fun Fact: Until the end of time, everyone’s going to be describing this movie as “the-one-where-James-Franco-cuts-off-his-arm.” Franco actually filmed a video for Funny Or Die in which his grandma mocks the “pussies” who don’t keep their eyes open during the scene.

Black Swan
Synopsis: A ballet dancer lands her dream role, which leads to her possible psychological deterioration.
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Natalie Portman), Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Editing
Fun Fact: Mila Kunis has come out with a lot of interesting statements about her drop to 98 pounds for her role. She criticizes the industry for being “f*cked up,” claiming, “In real life, I looked disgusting, but in photographs and on film, it looked amazing.” Kunis, who was nominated for a Golden Globe, didn’t receive an Oscar nom.
My pick for Best Actress.

The Fighter
Synopsis
: Based on a true story, a boxer must overcome obstacles, such as his trainer-brother’s drug problem, to succeed.
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Best Supporting Actress (Amy Adams and Melissa Leo), Best Director, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay
Fun Fact: Melissa Leo is getting some flack for her “Consider” campaign. Judge for yourself…
My pick for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo).
Inception
Synopsis: In a futuristic world, a group of dream-invaders set out to plant an idea in someone’s mind through his dream.
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Score, Best Original Screenplay
Fun Fact: Director Christopher Nolan has been snubbed by the Academy in the past for Memento and The Dark Knight. His snub this year started a little Twitter drama.
The Kids Are All Right
Synopsis: The sperm donor to two lesbian mothers makes his way into the family’s lives for better or for worse.
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Best Actress (Annette Bening), Best Original Screenplay
Fun Fact: Annette Bening and Julianne Moore were both campaigned for a Best Actress nomination, but Bening beat out Moore for a nod.
The King’s Speech
Synopsis
: King George VI of Britain must work to beat a speech impediment that will affect his career.
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush), Best Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Original Screenplay
Fun Fact: There was a lot of debate, after the film was released, about removing swears in order to get a PG-13 rating. You’ll be shocked to know that the creative forces behind the film were opposed, but the big money-hungry companies behind the film were for the edit.
My pick for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor.

The Social Network
Synopsis
: The story of the students who founded Facebook and their subsequent fight to get credit for it.
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg), Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Adapted Screenplay
Fun Fact: Mark Zuckerberg made a surprise appearance on SNL when Jesse Eisenberg hosted to poke fun at the film. Turns out Zuckerberg is no actor, but hey, I don’t think he’s looking for a backup job anyway.

Toy Story 3
Synopsis: Woody, Buzz, and co. are left to fend for themselves in a vicious day care center while their original owner heads off to college.
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Animated Film, Best Song (“We Belong Together”), Best Adapted Screenplay
Fun Fact: Pixar always finds a way to work small details in from past and future films that they’ve made. Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear made his first appearance in Up. Check out Toy Story ‘s other sick hidden Easter Eggs (I’m a sucker for The Shining references).

True Grit
Synopsis: A young girl enlists the help of two men to avenge her father’s death.
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Jeff Bridges), Best Supporting Actress (Hailee Steinfeld), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay
Fun Fact: Hailee Steinfeld, 13-years-old at the time, beat out 15,000 girls for the role of Mattie.

Winter’s Bone
Synopsis: A girl must face the dangerous world of crystal meth dealing in order to find her father.
Nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (John Hawkes), Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Adapted Screenplay
Fun Fact: The Rolling Stone interview of nominee Jennifer Lawrence quotes her as saying, “I’m attracted to my brother.” Let’s hope it’s a misquote.

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