Insert idolatry-related caption here.

As you all know, this Sunday brings us the Academy Awards. I was too far behind to comment on the best films of 2010 in December, but a few months grace-period(!) has allowed me to catch up and compile some Mockingbird Oscar picks: films that succeed on their own terms artistically, without turning a blind eye to our favorite themes (judgment and love, guilt and absolution/forgiveness, the quagmire of identity formation, redemption in suffering, the level-playing field of original sin, the bondage of the will, addiction, Jesus, resurrection, grace, grace, grace, etc). Fortunately, the two are seldom mutually exclusive, reality being what it is. In fact, as CNN picked up on, this year had more quality Grace in Practice-friendly films than any in recent memory – Get Low, King’s Speech, and Toy Story 3 stand out particularly in that regard.

Disclaimer: The major releases I still haven’t seen are Winter’s Bone and Another Year. Also, it should go without saying that all of these movies have ratings, and that regardless of how non-glorifying/real they may be, if frank depictions of sex and drugs make you uncomfortable (which is perfectly valid!), don’t watch Blue Valentine or The Fighter, respectively. The King’s Speech has plenty of bad language, and True Grit some serious violence. Toy Story 3 has a scary bear (and clown).

Best Picture Nominations (5 not 10, thank you very much)
True Grit. Absurdly funny and chock full of great performances, with some of the best opening voiceover lines of all time. Let’s not forget Stanley Fish’s take
Toy Story 3. It’s hard to make a family film this delightful without resorting to cutesy sentimentality, especially when it’s animated. This one not only runs the thematic gauntlet, it oozes wisdom and love and beauty.

The King’s Speech. Again, feel-good does not always mean trite. The performances really sold it for me – the sets didn’t hurt.

The Fighter. Fireworks all around. Welcome back, David O. Russell.
Blue Valentine. Harrowing and very hard to watch, but also as affecting a film as I’ve seen this year. It’ll stay with you, for better or worse: a crash course in judgment and love (and death) in marriage, not to mention human bondage.
Best Picture Nominations: Honorable Mentions
Get Low. If it were purely a matter of Gospel content, this one would win. A feature-length sermon illustration.
The Kids Are Alright. I wish I were as cool as Mark Ruffalo…
Please Give. …or Catherine Keener. With Bush out of office, the amorphous mass known as “liberal guilt” was in sore need of some less sanctimonious representatives, better jokes and genuine heart – in other words, to laugh at itself a bit more convincingly – and in these two films, it got them in spades, without sacrificing one iota of human drama.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. I’m not kidding. See below.
The Social Network. It takes some serious talent to make such deplorable characters and such a jounalistic plot so compelling. 

And – why not – Inception. In one fell swoop, Christopher Nolan exposes The Matrix trilogy for the lame-fest it was.

Winners (plus a few bonus categories)
Best Actor: Colin Firth in The King’s Speech. Though he may have been even better in A Single Man.
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale in The Fighter. His best performance yet, Newsies notwithstanding.
Best Actress: Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine, with Annette Bening in The Kids Are Alright a very close second. Her “compost” monologue alone!
Best Supporting Actress: Jackie Weaver in Animal Kingdom wins by a landslide. Surprisingly weak category this year. Amanda Peet should have gotten a nod for Please Give.
Best Adapted Screenplay (tie): Joel and Ethan Coen’s True Grit and Aaron Sorkin’s Social Network.
Best Original Screenplay: Nicole Holofcener for Please Give.
Best Animated Feature (not counting TS3): Batman Under the Red Hood. I’m serious! The best DCAU film yet, by a long shot. An actual improvement on the comic.
Best Short Film: “The Confession” by Tanel Toom. Yowza.
Biggest Surprise: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I initially avoided it out of Michael Cera-fatigue but boy was I mistaken. A new genre is born! One that delivers everything (and more) that 3D promises, yet in two meager dimensions.

Second Biggest Surprise: The Town. It’s official – Ben Affleck is a really talented director.

Best Director: Christopher Nolan for Inception. Both to spite the Academy and the studios, and because it was undeniably fun. David O. Russell probably deserves it most, though, for The Fighter.
Best Foreign Language Film: Micmacs. Don’t know how this one went so overlooked. Think live-action Loony Tunes crossed with Fraggle Rock with an undercurrent of melancholy and an aesthetic straight out of Amelie (which is not surprising, since both films were directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet). This one is as fun and inventive as they come, qualities sorely lacking in a category which has always favored the ueber-serious.
Best Documentary: Public Speaking. Sorry Banksy.
Most Overrated: Black Swan.

Best Picture: Toy Story 3. The competition was strong, but TS3 was the best film of the year, from every vantage point I can think of, but especially ours. The film is abreactive gold, from start to finish, with imagination to spare. [The series we ran on it is one of my favorite things we’ve done, not to mention this.] The incinerator scene will go down as iconic. I highly doubt it will win. 

So… what are we missing? What are your picks?