Good Morning Oscar, February 7: Winners, Rogues & MVPs

Santa Barbara Fest names winners, Darren Aronofsky stands out, Melissa Leo goes DIY

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which over the past week and a half has showcased and honored a slew of Oscar nominees (Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, the cast of "The King's Speech") and near-misses (Lesley Manville), gave out awards to the films it's been screening on Sunday. The winners include Oscar-nominated animated short "The Lost Thing" (Best Animation Short Film) and the Romanian Oscar entry "If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle" (Best Eastern Bloc Award), along with the narrative features "Face to Face," "Togetherness Supreme," "Nostalgia for the Light" and "Patisserie (Coin De Rue)," and the documentaries "The Boy Mir: Ten Years in Afghanistan" and "Troubadors," the last of which won the SB Audience Choice Award. (Santa Barbara International Film Festival)

Darren AronofskyAlso in Santa Barbara, Jeff Wells took in the director' panel, and decided that "Black Swan" helmer Darren Aronofsky (left; Getty Images photo by Jason Merritt) took MVP honors. A quote from Aronofsky, courtesy of Wells: "Actors are always in control. At is most intense movie acting is a 30-second burst of emotion and then we call cut. So I never pushed Natalie [Portman] too close to the edge. Working with Mickey Rourke, who doesn't respect directors or scripts or other facets of the filmmaking process, definitely changed the way I work." (Hollywood Elsewhere)

Picturing what she is sure will be "a 'King's Speech' near-sweep," Sasha Stone takes a look at the year's "most contentious" races, starting with the Best Picture faceoff but also including David Fincher vs. Tom Hooper, Natalie Portman vs. Annette Bening, "Toy Story 3" vs. "How to Train Your Dragon" and Geoffrey Rush vs. Christian Bale. A common thread is that she's afraid that "The King's Speech" will win in a whole lot of categories, and thinks it's a shame if it does so in many of them: Supporting Actor, Art Direction, Film Editing, Cinematography … (Awards Daily)

Melissa Leo, perhaps feeling the presence of young Hailee Steinfeld hot on her heels, has taken it upon herself to launch her own Supporting Actress campaign, buying full-page ads that picture her in poses far more glamorous than her look in "The Fighter." To Pete Hammond, this means Leo is "going rogue," and he uses it as the jumping-off point for a history lesson in personal campaigns launched by "Oscar-hungry nominees or the reps behind them." (Deadline

Anne Thompson surveys Saturday night's triple header of awards shows – a busy night in which the Writers Guild Awards, the Annie Awards and the Art Directors Guild Awards all took place – and agrees with my Friday post that the first two of those don't mean much when it comes to predicting the Oscars. Her conclusions: Aaron Sorkin is the Oscar Adapted Screenplay favorite, but his WGA and Scripter wins don't mean that his movie is likely to overtake "The King's Speech"; neither does Christopher Nolan's win for "Inception" mean that "TKS" writer David Seidler should fret about Oscar night; and the "How to Train Your Dragon" sweep of the Annies doesn't change the fact that "Toy Story 3" "should easily win the animated category" at the Oscars. But she does think that the Art Directors Guild may have signaled that the Art Direction Oscar is now "a likely battle between [ADG winners] 'The King's Speech' and 'Inception.'" (Thompson on Hollywood)