There isn't a clunker among this year's 10 nominee's for Oscar's "Best Picture" award, the headliner of Sunday night's sure-to-be-bloated extravaganza.
No, I don't think they're all winners -- some of them have no chance at all. But it's hard not to be impressed by what Hollywood cranked out last year.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the year's top 10:
- "Black Swan"-- This is Natalie Portman's movie, and she's a favorite for the Best Actress Oscar as a dancer tortured by her quest for perfection. The creepy Darren Aronofsky-directed thriller set in the cutthroat world of ballet is entertaining, but doesn't have the feel of a "Best Oscar." In fact, it's a tad melodramatic.
- "The Fighter" -- It's the last of the 10 that I saw on the big screen and I can't believe I waited so long. It's a couple things: a well-paced story about an underdog boxer trying to make it in a world that's working against him, and the story of a messed-up family that can't figure out that ma doesn't always know what's best.
- "Inception" -- It's either a compelling story about multiple layers of consciousness or a confusing blend of jazzy special effects and a confused story that doesn't quite add up. I liked it, but the polarizing reaction makes me think it has no chance of the top prize.
- "The Kids Are All Right" -- An entertaining and insightful look at what families really are, I'm pulling for Kenosha-born Mark Ruffalo to pick up a Best Supporting Actor award.
- "The King's Speech" -- Colin Firth isn't the sole star in this movie about Great Britain's King George VI, with Geoffrey Rush as his unconventional speech teacher sharing the screen in a great, true, story that, for some reason, seemed even to have been forgotten in the U.K. While the movie is unsurprising, it's an inspiring story of the importance of the trappings of leadership.
- "127 Hours" -- This is James Franco's movie, and don't be surprised if he picks up the Best Actor title. His one-man show makes for a great -- if sometimes hard to watch -- movie. But I don't think his extended monologue is going to win the Best Picture crown.
- "The Social Network" -- Some of the hype about this story of the birth of Facebook was over the top, but it remains a must-see movie to get a feel for one of the big stories of our shared culture over the last decade. It's not a documentary, and isn't a 100 percent fact-based story of Mark Zuckerberg and his creation. But neither was 1939's "Story of Alexander Graham Bell" with Don Ameche (another Kenosha-born actor) yelping for Watson. This is Hollywood, which is all about telling stories. Director David Fincher could very well pick up the Best Director Oscar.
- "Toy Story 3" -- Fun, quick-paced and, ultimately, sweet, this Disney animated sequel tells a bittersweet story about growing up and moving on. But an animated film, even as entertaining as this one, isn't going to be picked as Best Picture. Watch for it to be Best Animated Feature.
- "True Grit" -- I waited six months to see the Coen brothers' remake of the story of Rooster Cogburn and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, it's blend of Western excitement, with finely-drawn characters and the quick wit of the Coens made it my favorite movie of 2010. That doesn't necessarily mean it's the Best Picture.
- "Winter's Bone" -- I put this off look at a menacing Ozarks clan as long as I could, finally watching it Wednesday night On-Demand on Time Warner Cable. While it is a frightening thriller, Jennifer Lawrence's 17-year-old "Ree" offers a light of hope and optimism in a dark and inbred world.
What will win (and what should win): "The King's Speech" has been the favorite, picking up honors in other pre-Oscar awardscasts. And I think it will win -- and deserves the Best Picture honor.
It has an overall optimism and wit that creates a winning picture. And the historical drama is close enough to our time period so that the lessons seem relevant. The cast is wonderful, and while the story doesn't unfold in a surprising way, it's still fresh and new.
If, there's an upset, I'd be perfectly happy with the Best Picture going to "The Fighter," or "Winter's Bone." But I just don't think that's going to happen.
Final Oscar preparations: Just before this weekend's Oscars, ABC announced a deal to air the biggest annual awards' show through 2020. This year's Oscar Awards marathon formally starts at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on Channel 12 -- if you ignore the hours and hours of pre-Oscar programming on several channels. It's schedule to end at 10:30, but nobody believes that.
They're going with non-comedian co-hosts this time around, Anne Hathaway and James Franco. And this 19-second video clip may just be a look at an opening "Grease"-like number. Or, maybe not:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.