The BFCA have revealed their "Critics Choice" nominees and Black Swan looms like an evil tutu'ed shadow over the competition with a record breaking 12 nominations. True Grit and The King's Speech were second with 11 nominations each, indicating that the BFCA voters really do like the films they've just seen the most. The BFCA has long been known (and celebrated and reviled) as being obsessed with predicting the Oscars. It's a curious character quirk for an awards body that ought to be concerned with establishing its own voice and one that would be a smidgeon more respectable, even as pure punditry, if they'd only limit their acting categories to 5 nominees like the Oscars do. When individual pundits are judged on their predictive power, they aren't allowed extras, you know? But ah well.

Running the gamut from beloved to respected to entirely snubbed

 The top ten films are as follows:
  • 127 Hours
  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The King's Speech
  • The Social Network
  • The Town
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter's Bone
Did not make it all the way: The films racking up the highest nomination tallies outside of the Best Picture field were The Kids Are All Right and Alice in Wonderland (with 4 noms a piece).

Proving once again that comedies have tough treks to awards glory outside of the Globes, you'll notice that none (apart from an animated film) are mentioned. Though the BFCA are 16 years old, there is only one year to accurately compare their listings to the Academy in terms of Best Picture. Last year they chose Nine and Invictus in their top ten; Oscar passed on both. If the same stats hold true this year, two of those 10 above will drop away in 42 days when the Oscar nominations are announced. (Perhaps The Kids Are All Right, or Another Year will step in. Perhaps not... maybe the BFCA will go 9/10 or even *gasp* 10/10 this year.)

Curiously the BFCA field of nominees is only four-wide in four different craft categories? I can't figure why. Don't want to hog the entire blog with each and every category so the full nomination list with much opinionated commentary (and snubbing notes) is after the jump.

Annette Bening – “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman – “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman – “Black Swan”
Noomi Rapace – “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Michelle Williams – “Blue Valentine”
  • This list is a bit more unruly as is this category in 2010. The four women most often predicted for Oscar are present but the other two (Noomi & Michelle) are important campaign gets. There's no Lesley Manville for Another Year (bad news for her) no Julianne Moore (she'll be in the Globe lineup I expect) and no Tilda Swinton for I Am Love... who has been picking up a smidgeon of renewed buzz again lately.

    Trivia note: This is Nicole Kidman's 7th nomination with BFCA (including ensemble citations) making her one of their very top performers in their 16 year history.
Jeff Bridges – “True Grit”
Robert Duvall – “Get Low”
Jesse Eisenberg – “The Social Network”
Colin Firth – “The King’s Speech”
James Franco – “127 Hours”
Ryan Gosling – “Blue Valentine”
  • No surprises here but... F*** yeah, Ryan Gosling. This is every pundits top six for Oscar. But obviously Oscar restrains itself to five. So who is out? I'm assuming Franco & Firth are quite safe. But the other four... I could see any snub (yes even Bridges or Eisenberg) and any get. I'm so pleased for Gosling who is smashingly good in that movie. What'cha think?
Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), the captain of True Grit's ship.

Amy Adams – “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter – “The King’s Speech”
Mila Kunis – “Black Swan”
Melissa Leo – “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld – “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver – “Animal Kingdom”
  • In the past couple of weeks the Supporting Actress category has seemed to be in major flux but we may be experiencing The Great Settling as it were. (The Mila Kunis nod is the only mild surprise. She's fun and totally sexy in the movie but I don't understand it as "great acting"... would've much preferred Barbara Hershey.) I still think we need the Golden Globes tomorrow to be sure about this lineup.

    P.S. Hailee Steinfeld is the lead of True Grit, no ifs ands or buts. She's in every scene. She drives the story. She narrates. She even gets in on the action. It's so silly to call her supporting but whatever. Awards season makes people do dumb things.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTORChristian Bale – “The Fighter”
Andrew Garfield – “The Social Network”
Jeremy Renner – “The Town”
Sam Rockwell – “Conviction”
Mark Ruffalo – “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush – “The King’s Speech”
  • The only surprise here, if you can call it that, is the lack of a Bill Murray citation. But otherwise all of these men are expected to be actual threats for Oscar nominations next month. Obviously AMPAS might change it up a bit. 

Elle Fanning – “Somewhere”
Jennifer Lawrence – “Winter’s Bone”
Chloe Grace Moretz – “Let Me In”
Chloe Grace Moretz – “Kick-Ass”
Kodi Smit-McPhee – “Let Me In”
Hailee Steinfeld – “True Grit”

  • This category disappoints me as I knew it would as it usually only settles around whichever young performers are the most famous. But that said, I think it's pretty inexcusable in a list of six not to include Josh Hutcherson (who is mildly famous) from The Kids Are All Right who was so perfect at conveying the film's coming of age catalyst need as well as in his differentiating his relationship with all five of his co-stars since his relationship to each was quite different.

    Low profile snubees also include Katie Jarvis (Fish Tank), James Frecheville (Animal Kingdom) and Faith Wladyka (Blue Valentine).

    Perhaps Lawrence is the defacto winner but I didn't vote for her myself, primarily because I didn't even think of her as eligible (it's "under 21" which she is... but since she's so close to 21 she didn't even occur to me when voting. Oops).

The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
The Town
  • I'm on board with these choices apart from The Town, which I don't understand as "great ensemble acting" but only as good cast of recognizable faces performing their roles adequately (some) to well (many) all the way to superbly (Renner). Having watched The King's Speech a second time recently, I think I've been a bit rough on it in terms of hating its presence in these ensemble categories. The supporting cast is quite delectable actually. But knowing the way ensemble votes tend to go I'm assuming that if they win, it'd only be because of the trio which is why I have a problem with it as an "ensemble". The Kids Are All Right should obviously win this prize but I have no illusion that it will.

Darren Aronofsky – “Black Swan”
Danny Boyle – “127 Hours”
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen – “True Grit”
David Fincher – “The Social Network”
Tom Hooper – “The King’s Speech”
Christopher Nolan – “Inception”
  • Oscar's expected nominees list absent the Coen Bros. I believe True Grit would not be in the running for 11 nominations had it opened a couple of months ago. This is an example of a film really benefitting from its last minute berth. Since I often bitch about the reverse (films which are doomed by December glut releasing) I thought it was worth noting when it really works. Maybe I'll be in the minority but I just don't think it's top tier Coen Bros at all. But it's good enough with a few super sharp moments and a strong finish to be an exciting last watch before turning in your ballot. Ending well is so important.

“Another Year” – Mike Leigh
“Black Swan” – Mark Heyman and Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin
“The Fighter” – Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson (Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson)
“Inception” – Christopher Nolan
“The Kids Are All Right” – Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
“The King’s Speech” – David Seidler
  • One of these will have to fall off with Oscar. That looks to be Black Swan, which is more often lauded for its visuals and performances than its story or dialogue.

“127 Hours” – Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle
“The Social Network” – Aaron Sorkin
“The Town” – Ben Affleck, Peter Craig and Sheldon Turner
“Toy Story 3” – Michael Arndt (Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich)
“True Grit” – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Winter’s Bone” – Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini
  • Again, you have to jettison something for Oscar. I'm guessing we lose The Town. And I still hope that Oscar voters throw a surprise in here, like The Ghost Writer or Rabbit Hole. You can imagine that The Social Network will hog many #1 spots on AMPAS ballots. When there's a steamrolling #1, that opens up the field to upsets, given the unique way that Oscar tallies votes, discarding the ballot after calculating its #1 (if you're #1 choice is counted on the first round, your ballot is gone... which means that true passion for something other than Aaron Sorkin's highly verbal instant classic, will count since those ballots won't be discarded immediately as they fill the other 4 slots.)

“127 Hours” – Anthony Dod Mantle
“Black Swan” – Matthew Libatique
“Inception” – Wally Pfister
“The King’s Speech” – Danny Cohen
“True Grit” – Roger Deakins
  • These nominations are getting really repetitive, eh? But these are some talented men.

“Alice in Wonderland” – Stefan Dechant
“Black Swan” – Therese DePrez and Tora Peterson
“Inception” – Guy Hendrix Dyas
“The King’s Speech” – Netty Chapman
“True Grit” – Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh
  • Glad to see Black Swan here though I am horrified by the nomination for Alice in Wonderland. That film was so ugly and busy on so many levels. I like the handsome sets and costumes of The King's Speech quite a lot but it is, in some very noticeable ways, striving to be nominated in all these craft categories. It's always presenting itself like "look how pretty I am... like a twee diorama. Did you notice the wallpaper?! Yeah, we thought that was a great touch"

“127 Hours” – Jon Harris
“Black Swan” – Andrew Weisblum
“Inception” – Lee Smith
“The Social Network” – Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter
  • Why only 4 nominations? It's a mystery. I expect these are all easy gets for Oscar noms, too. But what else? 

“Alice in Wonderland” – Colleen Atwood
“Black Swan” – Amy Westcott
“The King’s Speech” – Jenny Beavan
“True Grit” – Mary Zophres
  • Black Swan was on my ballot and I was among the first pundits to suggest it could find its way to Oscar in this category -- knowing that it would have the performative element, and not just ballerinas rehearsing and sexing. I'm disappointed, though that there's no imagination left for a 5th and less high profile nominee. What about Made in Dagenham or Tilda's duds in I am Love. Or even all those espionage sleek corporate power looks in Inception. People are so literal about costume design which is why you almost only ever seen very period films and / or royalty porn hogging this category each year.

Alice in Wonderland
Black Swan
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
True Grit
  • I can't figure why Harry Potter is here. Which new characters were there makeup wise? The makeup in True Grit is fun -- Barry Pepper and Josh Brolin are so hideous in that movie so you know the make up team had to work hard.

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Tron: Legacy
  • No Scott Pilgrim. Oh, my fellow voters... you bore me. Alice in Wonderland is U-G-L-Y. Why do people like it? ARGH.

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
  • Oscar list? I love the sound work in The Social Network but I worry that it might be a little artful for Oscar if you know what I mean. They prefer the loud explosive movies. Movies which attempt to use sound in interesting or authentic or mood-shifting ways, don't always fare well.

Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3
  • No surprises there though Oscar's 3-wide field is still hard to read beyond the toys and dragons. Will Tangled (old school retro choice), The Illusionist (sublime artful choice) or Despicable Me (populist choice) win that crucial third spot?

The Town
  • No Scott Pilgrim again? sigh.

Date Night
Easy A
Get Him to the Greek
I Love You Phillip Morris
The Other Guys
  • No Scott Pilgrim? Trivia: It received a higher BFCA rating at the time of its premiere "80" than all but one of their nominated comedies (strangely Easy A was the top reviewed). No Kids Are All Right?
Entirely Snubbed Films That Were Rated "80" or Higher by BFCA (i.e. higher than some of their actual nominees)
Scott Pilgrim vs. The
World, Shutter Island and The Ghost Writer

The Pacific
Temple Grandin
You Don’t Know Jack
  • I abstain from this category each year as I never know what's eligible and I generally haven't seen any of them since I am cinema focused. Hasn't Temple Grandin been winning prizes for like 15 months now?

I Am Love
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Why only 3 nominees?

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
The Tillman Story
Waiting for Superman
  • Really? You just went for Oscar frontrunners even here? (Barring Joan Rivers). They couldn't have made a point of nominating something like Catfish? That would have been an exciting move.

“I See the Light” – performed by Mandy Moore & Zachary Levi/written by Alan Menken & Glenn Slater – Tangled
“If I Rise” – performed by Dido and A.R. Rahman/music by A.R. Rahman/lyrics by Dido Armstrong and Rollo Armstrong – 127 Hours
“Shine” – performed and written by John Legend – Waiting for Superman
“We Belong Together” – performed and written by Randy Newman – Toy Story 3
“You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me Yet” – performed by Cher/written by Diane Warren – Burlesque
  • Can I just say, nothing against Dido and A.R. Rahman who I've enjoyed before. "If I Rise" is so dull. Now that I actually vote in a major organization I'm realizing why campaigning is so important. In categories like this it's really hard to know what's eligible unless the films present those songs to you. Some films send out CDs and some don't. I received the music to all of these so they were obviously campaigning.

“Black Swan” – Clint Mansell
“Inception” – Hans Zimmer
“The King’s Speech” – Alexandre Desplat
“The Social Network” – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
“True Grit” – Carter Burwell
  • Disappointed that they went with Desplat's The King's Speech rather than his superior work on The Ghost Writer but then you have to remember... the voters are thinking Oscar. Still, in this category, I'd be surprised to see much Oscar similarity. Oscar is notoriously stingy with previously unnominated composers and this list contains four of them: Mansell, Reznor, Ross, Burwell. So, this list will never transfer without some adjustment to Oscar.
There you go. Your verdict on this year's pool of film nominations? Or would you rather just wait for the Golden Globes tomorrow.

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