Here's a teaser for you. I hate ties, but in the case of one category below, I saw no other option. It wouldn't have been possible for me to decide one way or another. I also may have cheated by ranking one actor according to not one performance, but three. The alternative was nominating him three separate times and Ryan Gosling and his shaky #10 spot would so not have approved of that.
Speaking of teasers, here's a few for the Top 30.
1. Out of the 30 films, 6 will have received no prior nominations at my awards.
2. The highest of these clocks in at #11.
3. That being said, the films with the most nominations aren't necessarily clustered at the top. Several films in the top 10 have only 2 other nominations.
4. 6 films out of 30 were directed by women.
5. 9 films are Oscar nominees.
That's something for you to sip on while we move onto tonight's main event.
Best Supporting Actress
This is the odd year where Lead Actress is commanding most of my attention. The truth is that Supporting Actress is usually my favorite category. This nice mix of the young and up-and-coming ladies with a few seasoned vets shows why. They range from scene-stealers with limited roles to glamor icons doing far more with a glance than any dialogue they're given. Topping the list are two women who I've been dying to award for a while now, with the winner in particular giving one of the best performances of her career. And runners up? Sure, I can think of a few. How about Mia Wasilkowska for The Kids Are Alright and Barbara Hershey for Black Swan? Speaking of which.
10. Mila Kunis in Black Swan
9. Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom
8. Blake Lively in The Town
7. Marion Cotillard in Inception
6. Kristen Scott-Thomas in Nowhere Boy
5. Rooney Mara in The Social Network
4. Kiera Knightly in Never Let Me Go
3. Alison Barry in Ondine
2. Rebecca Hall in Red Riding: 1974
1. Olivia Williams in The Ghost Writer
Best Supporting Actor
Here's a usually fun category that's looking quite serious this year despite a couple of oddball turns mixed in for good measure. 2010 was a terrible year for comedy, so there's very little of that, but it sure was a great year for character actors to rise to the occasion. Out of the 10 actors listed here, only one of them has much mainstream acceptance, the rest are by varying degrees obscure, foreign, forgotten, or from the magic land of TV. And once again, I couldn't be happier with my winner. A great performance from a truly under-appreciated actor. Runner up: the guys in Micmacs and also Armie Hammer. Wish I had room for him.
10. Stephen Rea in Ondine
9. Ben Mendelsohn in Animal Kingdom
8. Kieran Culkin in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
7. Niels Arestrup in A Prophet
6. Barry Pepper in True Grit
5. Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech
4. David Bradley in Another Year
3. Vincent Cassel in Black Swan
2. Peter Wight in Another Year
1. John Hawkes in Winter's Bone
Best Lead Actor
Gentleman, I can't think of a single thing you all have in common, except that I somehow still preferred you all to James Franco despite liking 127 Hours a lot. That is definitely the big head-scratcher omission here, although I did still find room for one of the Academy's nominees. Oh, and this would be the category were I cheated and combined three performances into one slot. And a very respectable spot that is. Runner up: James Franco.
10. Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine
9. Michael Fassbender in Fish Tank
8. Jim Broadbent in Another Year
7. Jessie Eisenberg in The Social Network
6. Song Kang-ho in Secret Sunshine
5. Anthony Mackie in Night Catches Us
4. Tahar Rahim in A Prophet
3. Colin Farrell in Ondine
2. Andrew Garfield in The Social Network/Never Let Me Go/Red Riding 1974
1. Edgar Ramirez in Carlos
Best Lead Actress
What a year for actresses, huh? Even the Academy put together its best lineup since 1996 and that's with the inclusion of the so-so Bening. Hell, I found room for three of those ladies here, a handful of terrific foreign performances, and even a surprisingly great turn in a genre series nearing its end. Oh, and there's clearly something amazing happening in Korean film right now, so I kinda couldn't help but notice that. My top 3 all would be winners in any just world, and yes, one of them technically already is, but we all know that my awards carry just a little more prestige than the Oscars. As for the winner, I probably should have seen it coming, since this is not the first time this director has lead his leads to all-time list. Runner's up: Ruth Sheen in Another Year, Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole
10. Emma Watson in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
9. Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine
8. Isabelle Huppert in White Material
7. Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone
6. Giovanna Mezzogiorno in Vincere
5. Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go
4. Jeon Do-yeon in Secret Sunshine
3. Natalie Portman in Black Swan
2. Kim Hye-ja in Mother
1. Lesley Manville in Another Year
The best indicator yet of what my Top 30 list is going to look like, below are the 10 directors responsible for some of the greatest cinematic feats of last year. All have excelled in very different ways, from animation to working class realism, from minimalism to, well, maximalism. And all capped off with two singular visions that find the respective directors at the absolute peak of their powers. That's why there's a tie here for first place. Not only could I not choose between them, but I would never expect either director to create something so remarkable ever again. That's not an expression of doubt, since I was never expecting something so extraordinary in the first place. In light of that, I thought it only fair to declare a tie. Runners Up: Claire Denis for White Material and Neil Jordan for Ondine.
10. Sylvain Chomet for The Illusionist
9. Danny Boyle for 127 Hours
8. Roman Polanski for The Ghost Writer
7. Catherine Breillat for Bluebeard
6. Bong Joon-ho for Mother
5. Marco Bellocchio for Vincere
4. Olivier Assayas for Carlos
3. Mike Leigh for Another Year
1. Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan
1. Gaspar Noe for Enter the Void
And that should tide you over until tomorrow night, when the grand spectacle of the Top 30 is unleashed on the world. Thanks for watching.