Although the mighty producer and film executive Harvey Weinstein has had his financial problems in recent years, today’s Oscar nominations demonstrate once again his peerless ability to get Hollywood’s attention with his movies.
Although “The Social Network” has won nearly every preliminary best picture prize, Weinstein’s terrific British period piece “The King’s Speech” has to be viewed now as the Oscar front runner with 12 nominations — more than any other picture. (“The Social Network” received eight nominations.)
Scott Rudin produced “The Social Network” and it once again puts him into competition with Weinstein who has managed to take more than a few Oscars from Rudin in years past.
Back in the day, when Weinstein ran the mighty Miramax Films, he was able to rack up best picture nominations for such unlikely fare as “The Crying Game” and to pack the acting slots with underdog contenders like Jim Broadbent for the arthouse bio-pic “Iris,” a performance that would go on to win on Oscar night.
He also pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Oscar history in 1997 when Juliette Binoche took the best supporting actress prize from the presumed winner, Hollywood icon Lauren Bacall.
Weinstein and his brother Bob no longer run Miramax, the Disney-backed company named in honor of their parents — so they don’t put out as many pictures each year as they used to — but their savvy choices for The Weinstein Company have kept them major Oscar players.
“The King’s Speech” might not win the best picture race, but you can bet on Colin Firth winning the best actor prize for that film, and Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter have to be regarded as front runners in the supporting divisions for the same picture.
The Weinstein Company managed another coup by landing a best actress nomination for Michelle Williams’ performance in “Blue Valentine” (above).
The expansion of the best picture category from five to ten films last year has once again been a benefit to smaller, independent movies and high-grossing blockbusters.
It’s doubtful that the summer Leonardo DiCaprio smash “Inception” would have been chosen in a five-film field, and the same could be said of the low-budget “Winter’s Bone” and “127 Hours.”
Hollywood folk believe that the only five best picture nominees that matter, however, are the ones that landed best director nominations. By this standard, the top five are “Black Swan,” “The Social Network,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Fighter” and “True Grit.”
Previous winners almost always have an edge in the Oscar nominations, so it is not surprising that co-directors Joel and Ethan Coen were nominated for “True Grit” as was Jeff Bridges for his performance in the same film.
As wonderful as the indie pic “Rabbit Hole” is, it seems highly unlikely that the film would have scored a best actress nomination without Nicole Kidman in the role (she won the prize in 2003 for “The Hours”).
Poor multiple nominee Annette Bening (above, right) once again seems positioned to be forced to smile graciously as another performer takes home the best actress prize.
A few months ago, Bening was viewed as a semi-lock for her beautiful work in “The Kids Are All Right” but then “Black Swan” came along with that fantastic meltdown performance by Natalie Portman.
Bening has been a victim of timing and unexpected groundswells — she lost twice to Hilary Swank — and could be this generation’s Deborah Kerr, a well-liked and prodigious actress who was nominated six times and never won.
You can find a complete list of nominees elsewhere on this site and we will all find out who the winners are Feb. 27