Oscar Moment: FINAL 2010 Predictions!

24 01 2011

Best Picture

  1. The Social Network 
  2. The King’s Speech 
  3. The Fighter 
  4. Black Swan  (5)
  5. Inception  (4)
  6. True Grit  (9)
  7. Toy Story 3  (6)
  8. The Kids Are All Right  (7)
  9. 127 Hours  (10)
  10. The Town  (NR)

In case you needed any reminder of why the movie in the top spot is comfortably perched there, look above.

“The Social Network” is way ahead in the lead, and I personally don’t think that anything is going to stop it.  But “The King’s Speech” threw an interesting twist into the race with its PGA victory on Saturday night with the help of a preferential ballot, and more discussion about this will be appropriate once the slate is officially set for February 27.

At this point, I honestly think that “The Fighter” could be the only movie with a chance to knock it out of the top slot.  It could easily take the SAG ensemble win, and it has popped up unexpectedly in many guilds.  The movie has also positioned itself to win two acting awards after victories with the BFCA and HFPA.  I just get a sinking sensation that this is the movie that has enough across-the-board love to pull an upset on a preferential ballot.

“Black Swan” has popped up on EVERY guild list this year, something that could make it the most nominated movie of the year.  This is obviously huge for the movie, but now that it’s assured a nomination, I’m thinking about how likely a win would be.  Given that the movie tends to polarize, the chances are small.  And as I’ve said about “The King’s Speech” all year, it’s not the Academy’s type of movie anymore, so I still have a hard time seeing it win.  “Inception” is out of the running because it missed out on a SAG ensemble nod despite being star-studded, and you need the support of the actors to win.

Those are the five certainties, and I’d be awestruck if any of those five miss.  I think “True Grit” and “Toy Story 3” are locks for nominations as well.  “The Kids Are All Right” is in, but I still stand by my assertion earlier this year that it would not shock me to see it left off.

It’s down to three movies – “127 Hours,” “The Town,” and “Winter’s Bone” – to battle it out for the final two slots.  There could, of course, be lurking surprises like “The Blind Side” last year, but no movie seems to have positioned its chips to make a big move on nominations day.  Every critical darling is underseen, and all the box office smashes are poorly reviewed.

I think “127 Hours” is in because it has a passionate base of supporters that should be able to overcome the faction of the Academy that simply won’t watch the movie.  It’s from Danny Boyle, who is clearly an Academy favorite after his “Slumdog Millionaire” orchestrated a sweep of the Oscars in 2008 that we only see once or twice a decade.  This a powerful movie, and those who can sit through it walk out with an enhanced appreciation of life.  I think they can easily power it to a nomination.

Previously, I had predicted “Winter’s Bone” to take that final slot.  But ever since the PGA left it on the outside looking in, I’ve been more inclined to favor “The Town.”  As I said on the LAMBcast, putting Ben Affleck’s movie in the field would make for a perfect 50-50 split between indies and blockbusters.  It would give a nice sense of “something for everyone” to Best Picture, which is kind of what I think the idea was when they expanded the field.

But “Winter’s Bone” does have a few things going for it.  While I don’t think many people LOVE “The Town,” I do think that there is a significant handful of people that do love “Winter’s Bone.”  It’s nothing like any of the other Best Picture nominees this year; it’s understated, quiet, stars no-name actors, and is truly of an independent sensibility.

The other so-called “indies” in the race feature recognizable actors and have largely entered mainstream consciousness.  I wouldn’t count out the desire to represent a part of the industry that isn’t manifest in the first 9 nominees, but my pick is still on “The Town.”  For better or for worse.

In case you were really hankering for my no guts no glory pick for a Best Picture nominee, it would be “Shutter Island.”  But I don’t think that’s likely.

Best Director

  1. David Fincher, “The Social Network” 
  2. Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”  (3)
  3. Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”  (4)
  4. Christopher Nolan, “Inception”  (2)
  5. David O. Russell, “The Fighter” 

No real change in the field here.  If there’s any surprise in this category, it will likely come at the expense of David O. Russell, a prickly figure in Hollywood.  But since this would be his first nomination, and those likely to replace him have won in the past three years (Danny Boyle/The Coen Brothers), he seems like a good bet.  I’d also say that Christopher Nolan isn’t as safe as most would like him to be; the DGA has shortlisted him twice and the Academy has yet to recognize him in this category.  A snub would be shocking but not unforseeable.

For the win, it’s Fincher way out in front.  Even if “The King’s Speech” or “The Fighter” makes headway in the Best Picture race, there is no doubt that this award will be going to “The Social Network” and its genius helmer.  It would be foolish to place your money anywhere else.

Best Actor

  1. Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech” 
  2. Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network” 
  3. James Franco, “127 Hours” 
  4. Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”  (NR)
  5. Mark Wahlberg, “The Fighter”  (4)

Firth, Eisenberg, and Franco are the three certainties here.  Barring a shocking upset at the SAG awards, Firth is poised to orchestrate a clean sweep on the way to an Oscar victory.

Given the runaway box office success of “True Grit,” I think Bridges is a likely nominee.  He has SAG support, which is crucial in the Oscar race.  I had qualms with him missing out on a Globe nod and being last year’s winner, but he’s such a likable figure in the industry that my qualms have been fairly assuaged.

As for that tricky last spot, some will say it’s Robert Duvall thanks to the BFCA/SAG nods, his status as an Academy favorite, and his age.  But in spite of all of that, what love has ANYONE shown “Get Low” this year?  As much as they love Duvall, my gut opinion is that they will choose someone in a more lauded movie.  The SAG is notoriously sentimental for older actors, and Duvall has won before.  There’s no necessity to bring him back into the race for a role that doesn’t stand up to his towering prior ones.

BAFTA nominee Javier Bardem for “Biutiful” is a possibility, as is Globe nominee Ryan Gosling for “Blue Valentine.”  But since very few people have seen either of those movies, my final pick for Best Actor is the leading man in a movie I’m pretty sure just about every Academy member saw – Mark Wahlberg in “The Fighter.”  He may not have been a huge force in the precursor awards, and his supporting co-stars are probably all better than him.  But he’s at the heart of the movie, and he produced the sure-fire Best Picture nominee.  A second nomination for Wahlberg just feels right to me.

Best Actress

  1. Natalie Portman, “Black Swan” 
  2. Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right” 
  3. Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone” 
  4. Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”  (5)
  5. Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”  (NR)

Portman is the clear frontrunner thanks to a BFCA win against Bening and a Globe win against Lawrence/Kidman.  If she wins the SAG, all signs point to her victory.

Bening is assured a nomination, of course, due to her two-decade history with the Academy.  She won the Globe in comedy over little competition and has racked up every important precursor on the way to the Oscars.  Something that should not be discounted in her favor is that she is the president of the actor’s branch of the Academy.

Lawrence is another lock, and while I hesitate to classify Kidman as one, I don’t really see too many scenarios with her on the outside looking in.  Her slot is up for grabs, but she’s in the best position to grab it.

The last slot has a lot of people scratching their heads.  Could it be SAG nominee Hilary Swank for “Conviction?”  BFCA nominee Noomi Rapace for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?”  BFCA/Globe nominee Michelle Williams for “Blue Valentine?”  Globe nominee Julianne Moore for “The Kids Are All Right?”  NBR winner Lesley Manville for “Another Year?”

There are so many possibilities, but my instinct is telling me that it will be Hailee Steinfeld for “True Grit.”  Sure, she was campaigned in Best Supporting Actress, but the Academy has corrected category fraud several times in the past decade.  She is so clearly a lead that I feel like many people would see it as a travesty for to be nominated in Best Supporting Actress.  She is the shining star of the film, so I feel pretty confident that she will pop up here.

But if the Academy follows the herd mentality and places her unjustly in Best Supporting Actress?  My bet would be on Julianne Moore, the better of the two actresses in that movie AND the one with more Oscar nominations to her name.

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Christian Bale, “The Fighter” 
  2. Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech” 
  3. Jeremy Renner, “The Town” 
  4. Andrew Garfield, “The Social Network” 
  5. Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right” 

No change here since the last predictions, neither in nominees nor in order.  Bale is poised to run away with the Oscar after BFCA/Globes victories.  Love for “The King’s Speech” could fuel a surprise Rush win, but Bale gives the performance of the year.  I don’t really see him losing.

As for the other nominees, Renner seems strong after BFCA/Globes/SAG nominations.  After “The Hurt Locker,” he’s popular with Academy members – and his movie is likely to be a Best Picture nominee.  With “The Social Network” so out in front of the Best Picture race, I think Andrew Garfield can ride on the coattails of the movie’s success to overcome the SAG snub.

And even though I didn’t think all that highly of Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right,” he has SAG support, which means a lot.  He wasn’t nominated by the Globes, but nowadays that doesn’t mean all that much.  He’s the strongest of the “other” contenders, two of which were in pretty poorly received movies – Sam Rockwell in “Conviction,” Michael Douglas in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” – and one of which, John Hawkes for “Winter’s Bone,” is hardly a recognizable name.  Hawkes could steal Garfield or Ruffalo’s slot, but I feel comfortable with this slate of five.

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Melissa Leo, “The Fighter” 
  2. Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”  (3)
  3. Amy Adams, “The Fighter”  (4)
  4. Mila Kunis, “Black Swan”  (2)
  5. Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom” 

I’m expecting the most nomination morning surprises in the Best Supporting Actress category.  The only true lock, in my mind, is Melissa Leo for “The Fighter,” who won the prize from many critics groups in addition to high-profile BFCA/Globes victories.

I think Helena Bonham Carter is pretty much assured a nomination because she’s in “The King’s Speech” and has received nods from the BFCA/Globes/SAG.  But I wonder if a flag will go up in voters minds, as did in mine, that she doesn’t GIVE a performance.  Sure, we like her, but does this deserve an Oscar nomination?  I have a feeling most will unfortunately reply yes.

Amy Adams is safe in my mind, but there’s a chance that voters will only make room for one supporting lady from “The Fighter.”  I think their first choice would be Leo, yet I think voters will happily reward Adams with her third Oscar nomination.

Besides those three, I’m really shaky.  Mila Kunis seems like she would be a shoo-in after receiving major nominations from the BFCA/Globes/SAG.  “Black Swan” has a lot of respect, and this is a category favorable to younger actresses.  Yet maybe she’s too young, and maybe she’s been in too much other stuff that’s crummy.  Cameron Diaz received the holy trio of nominations for “Vanilla Sky” and got snubbed by the Oscars, and it could happen again.  But since Kunis is a Best Picture-nominated film, I feel good about her being nominated.

And then that pesky final slot.  It could be Lesley Manville, who was nominated here as opposed to lead by the BAFTAs, for “Another Year.”  It could be Hailee Steinfeld if the Oscars don’t auto-correct category fraud.  But something tells me it will be Jacki Weaver for “Animal Kingdom.”  I still think there could be name recognition issues, and there are likely many voters that haven’t seen the movie.  However, I’m at a bit of a loss of who else to predict here.

Best Original Screenplay

  1. The King’s Speech  (3)
  2. Inception  (1)
  3. The Kids Are All Right  (2)
  4. Black Swan 
  5. The Fighter  (NR)

This category intrigues me.

There are three incredibly different movies vying for the win – historical drama “The King’s Speech,” humorously dramatic “The Kids Are All Right,” and creatively crafted action flick “Inception.”  All have different strengths, making this an incredibly hard category to predict.

Smart money would probably be on “The King’s Speech” since it’s the leading Best Picture contender of the bunch.  But since it was ineligible for the WGA awards, we don’t have any trial run for the Oscars.  I think the race becomes “The King’s Speech” vs. whoever wins the WGA, “The Kids Are All Right” or “Inception.”  I give the edge to the latter since the writer’s branch of the Academy has nominated Christopher Nolan before.

I filled the last two slots with Best Picture nominees “Black Swan” and “The Fighter,” but both are on the bubble and could be replaced by Mike Leigh’s “Another Year.”  The Academy is notorious for worshipping Leigh, particularly for his writing.  However, it’s been a pretty dry year for he and his movie, and I just don’t see him getting nominated again.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. The Social Network 
  2. Toy Story 3 
  3. 127 Hours 
  4. True Grit  (5)
  5. Winter’s Bone  (4)
This race can essentially be boiled down to Aaron Sorkin and four other writing teams that will lose to Aaron Sorkin.  The only way he could have blown it was by being butthead Aaron Sorkin in his acceptance speeches at the BFCA/Globes, and he was charming at both.  I would be awe-struck if any other movie wins it.

Pixar is popular with the writers branch, so “Toy Story 3” makes the cut.  Danny Boyle and Christian Colson are also Academy favorites, so “127 Hours” makes the cut (and the Globe nomination helps).  The Coen Brothers are beloved by the writers branch, so “True Grit” seems incredibly likely.  It’s a battle royale for that fifth slot between “Winter’s Bone” and “The Town,” much like they are fighting for that last Best Picture slot.  But I see Deborah Granik’s “Winter’s Bone” taking this as a consolation prize as it has received more attention for its writing throughout the season.

What do YOU expect to hear called tomorrow morning? What Oscar nominees are you hoping for?  Sound off in the comments!!

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One response

27 01 2011
rtm

Oh I haven’t seen these for-your-consideration posters. Interesting that they put a giant photo of Andrew Garfield for TSN but he didn’t garner a nomination 😦

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