2011 Oscars Challenge: The Fighter

“The Fighter” comes in fourth with the most nominations for the Academy Awards, with seven, including three huge nominations for performances. The real life boxer tale brings in an Original Screenplay nod, a first time nomination for director David O. Russell, and Film Editing, making the film a lock for the Best Picture nomination as well. “The Fighter” looks like a true contender.

Mark Wahlberg missed his nomination, not for a lack of trying, as it is one of Wahlberg’s greatest career performance, but he is completely surrounded with talented individuals. Christian Bale and Melissa Leo are favorites heading towards the ceremony. Having both won Golden Globes for their performances, why wouldn’t they be considered top tier? Amy Adams trails with voter support, but not with me.


Between Adams and Leo, I give my vote to Adams. Much younger and much more to prove, Adams delivers the better performance. If you look down the line of Leo’s performances, she is a powerhouse. Her career impresses and she stands out brilliantly in most of her films. “The Fighter” marks an above average performance (in general) but matched with any of her own previous nominations, it is lacking. It is easy to be the hated mother of two boxers and it is simply too easy to hate her character in the film. There is no dimension to cause turmoil. I feel you were supposed to feel reconciled with her at the end, but I got none of that and I was simply left not getting the hype.

Amy Adams, on the other hand, steps out of her normal rigamarole as the pretty faced, sweetheart and delivers a much bigger punch than expected. The somewhat provocative, somewhat brilliant bartender and Micky’s girlfriend, her part is pivotal in the film, and her parts were the most anticipated (not just for her beauty, either). She is sensual and persevering, hard edged, yet thoughtful, and her character ends up with such depth that it is a shame she will not be awarded on the big night.


The three actresses with the best shot of winning Best Supporting Actress will fall in the hands of Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, and Hailee Steinfeld. I do feel, beyond my desire to see her win, Adams will be the bottom runner, as the Academy appears to enjoy extremes. Meaning, either they will give the award to experienced Melissa Leo, what could be her last big win, or to Hailee Steinfeld, as the young, charismatic breakthrough performance. Hailee was placed in the “supporting” section to give her a better chance and that wouldn’t happen unless they thought she could win.

Christian Bale has all but won this award, and I have said it before. He won the Golden Globe for the performance and he will win the Academy Award for it and I am behind that decision fully. Bale is normally the hard hitting ruffian (“The Dark Knight”, “Terminator: Salvation”) but truly is a chameleon when it comes to his dramatic roles. “The Machinist” marks one of Bale’s best performances in which he lost a significant amount of weight and lost himself in the role. Bale becomes the character of Dicky and it is hard to tell the real person from the portrayal. It will be a pleasure to hear Bale become an Academy Award winner.


Great acting can be split between to outlets. The actor’s / actress’s ability and the ability of the director. Many critics did not even count David O. Russell as a contender for the director award and many believe Russell took the final spot from Christopher Nolan (or they believe The Coen Brothers did), but whatever you believe, Russell is now in the game. Most believe it is David Fincher’s turn to be appreciated for “the Social Network”. I, myself, believe Christopher Nolan was robbed and deserves this, but Fincher would probably be my second choice, for the sole fact that he, as a body of work, deserves it. However, this is Russell’s first time up to the plate and definitely deserves some recognition.

“The Fighter” has amazing film editing. It builds suspense in all the right places, carries the 90’s feel of the film to its pinnacle, and essentially creates something out of nothing. “The Fighter” could have felt like every single boxing film known to man, but it had something special. The biggest opponents for the Best Film Editing gold include “Black Swan” and “the Social Network”. The latter is the film to beat in every category as most believe it can do no wrong.


As impressive, heartfelt, and close to the true story as it is, “The Fighter” has an uphill battle for the Original Screenplay oscar as well. “Inception” is my frontrunner for that category, as Nolan better be recognized at least some point in the night. As I have been saying about a couple films now, had this been a different year, “The Fighter” would have had a lot better chance of taking home more awards. If this were the year “Million Dollar Baby” won, David O. Russell may have had a better chance at getting his film more gold.

“The Fighter” is a great film. Another one of the best films of the year. Christian Bale will take home the gold (which will be one of my favorite wins of the night) and many argue that Melissa Leo (I prefer Amy Adams) will too. Two wins out of seven is not great, but it is better than nothing. I can bet David O. Russell is proud.


(30 OF 41 FILMS REMAINING)-(24 DAYS TO OSCARS)


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