This is my fourth year making predictions for the annual night-of-all-nights in film, the Academy Awards. As usual there are sure things, frontrunners, and dark horses occupying the 24 categories, but I can easily say that this is the hardest year of Oscar predictions I have done to date. Logic leans me one way, and then my gut and personal opinions steer me in a completely different direction.
Take, for instance, this year’s battle for Best Picture. Logic tells me “The King’s Speech” will take the cake. My gut tells me that “The Social Network” has a strong chance, and my personal opinions argue that the movie is far more deserving of the title. And then there’s a nagging part of me that thinks Academy voters could split on their votes for the two frontrunners, and a dark horse like “True Grit” or “The Fighter” could sneak in and snag a victory.
But, alas, these are my predictions and what I write here shall be my final, set-in-stone guesses. Like always, I have included my own personal take on who or what should win, and this year I feel that the Academy will be getting a lot of major categories wrong.
“The Kid’s Are All Right”
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network”
“Toy Story 3″
WHAT WILL WIN: Unfortunately, “The King’s Speech.” I am sick and tired of hearing about this movie, but this speaks highly for the movie’s marketing push by the ever-persistent Weinstein brothers. The film was bred for awards stardom, and it should get its due in the biggest category of the night. “The King’s Speech” is enjoyable, well acted, and finely crafted, but keep in mind, this was in no way the “Best Picture of the Year,” but rather the best campaign.
WHAT SHOULD WIN: In a decade’s time, nobody will be talking about “The King’s Speech.” The riveting, socially relevant “The Social Network” however, will still hold true as a defining film of the new millennium, characterizing our technologically savvy, self-centered and domineering society of the 21st century. “The King’s Speech” efficiently retells history, while “The Social Network” conquers events that are still evolving in our world today. Mark Zuckerberg is a household name these days, and bravo to a film that conquers his questionable rise to billionaire status sans fear. As much as I enjoy having accurate predictions, I am hoping to be wrong with this particular category. “The Social Network” losing will be the biggest robbery of the night.
Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
David O. Russell, “The Fighter”
Joel and Ethan Coen, “True Grit”
WHO WILL & SHOULD WIN: David Fincher for “The Social Network.” Tom Hooper won the Director’s Guild Award for “The King’s Speech,” which almost 90% of the time matches up with the eventual Oscar winner, but I think this year will fall in the other 10%. I am taking a huge risk here, but nothing about “The King’s Speech” screams intricate direction, while Fincher handles “The Social Network” like a well-oiled machine, and I think the Academy will lean in the latter’s favor.
WHO WAS LEFT OUT: Every director in this category deserves the nomination, but where on earth is Christopher Nolan for “Inception?” The mind-bending movie is directed to near-perfection, even more so than “The Social Network,” and after getting robbed for his direction of “The Dark Knight” two years ago, one would think the Academy would be prepared to make amends with Nolan this time around. I said it before and I’ll say it again…shame on you, Academy.
Javier Bardem, “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
James Franco, “127 Hours”
WHO WILL & SHOULD WIN: As much as my distaste has grown for the endless marketing movement for “The King’s Speech” and its 12 nominations, this is the one category where kudos is most deserved. Colin Firth’s acting is simply sublime, and he conquers the role of King George VI with heartbreaking force. My personal pick was originally Jesse Eisenberg for “The Social Network,” but there is no denying that this year (especially after losing last year for “A Single Man”) is Colin Firth’s fight to lose.
WHO WAS LEFT OUT: Mark Wahlberg for “The Fighter.” Everybody else in this film got their recognition, but Marky Mark’s quiet and subdued take on Lowell fighter Micky Ward is the emotional core of the movie; a reserved performance that packs a powerful punch when it really needs to. Not to mention, Wahlberg spent years upon years training for this movie, to the point where he is now extremely skilled in the sport of boxing.
Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”
WHO WILL WIN: Natalie Portman has had everything going for her lately, and she owes it all to “Black Swan.” She met her fiancée on the set, which led to a now very visible pregnancy. And if the actress is glowing now, she will be absolutely beaming when she grabs the award for Best Actress as a ballerina spiraling out of mental stability in…you guessed it, “Black Swan.”
WHO SHOULD WIN: I was originally going to argue that Nicole Kidman deserves the award for “Rabbit Hole,” but I still haven’t forgiven her for the travesty that was “Just Go With It.” So I will go with a personal favorite, Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right.” As one half of a lesbian couple with two teenage children, Bening is poignant and natural, showcasing a flawless emotional spectrum throughout the film.
WHO WAS LEFT OUT: I would have loved to see a nomination for Bening’s costar and other half in the film, Julianne Moore, who gives an on-par performance in the movie. If only the Academy gave out trophies for Most Dynamic Duo…
Best Supporting Actor
WHO WILL & SHOULD WIN: Christian Bale is haunting in “The Fighter.” From his nasty dental display to his hollowed out face and sickeningly skinny frame, he truly dived into the role of Dicky Eklund with unconditional dedication. Some call his performance over-the-top, but when tackling the role of a charismatic junkie, it’s hard not to be. And besides, that’s who Dicky was, and Bale is flawless in his portrayal.
WHO WAS LEFT OUT: No Andrew Garfield for “The Social Network?” No Matt Damon for “True Grit?” It was a big year for supporting actors, but I wish I had seen these two standouts get the nominations they deserve.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”
Jackie Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”
WHO WILL & SHOULD WIN: This is quite possibly the trickiest major category of the entire night. Melissa Leo was a major frontrunner for “The Fighter,” but recently released her own personal “For Your Consideration” ads and has appeared needy and desperate to pull off a victory. Not to mention, she has been completely full of herself as of lately.
I think this leaves the floor open for gutsy young newcomer Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit.” Ironically, she shouldn’t even be in this category, because she is the lead and only actress in the film. But she has a better chance here, and I’m taking a leap of faith in predicting that Steinfeld sneaks in for the win.
And the other categories…
Best Adapted Screenplay: Easily the biggest “sure thing” of the night, next to Colin Firth as Best Actor. Aaron Sorkin should walk away easily with a win for his brilliant script for “The Social Network,” which is far more original than adapted anyway.
Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler for “The King’s Speech.” It really should go to Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” which he spent nearly a decade conceiving, but instead it will go to Seidler’s cookie-cutter inspirational fare.
Best Original Score: Will Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails become an Academy Award winner for his and Atticus Ross’s transfixing ‘Social Network’ score? Oh, I very much think so. Unless the Academy gets stingy and decides to award a less unique score like Alexandre Desplat for “The King’s Speech.” But I’m going with Reznor and Ross for the win on this one.
Best Animated Film: Obviously “Toy Story 3.”
Best Art Direction: My guess is that it will go to the dull “Alice in Wonderland.” But look at the world of “Inception” and try not to be amazed.
Best Cinematography: A tough decision, but the world created in “True Grit” is so naturally gorgeous through its camera work, I’d be surprised if the movie didn’t end up winning.
Best Makeup: “The Wolfman,” for bringing back natural, horror movie effects instead of pure CGI.
Best Sound Editing: This one will go to “Inception” …
Best Sound Mixing: And this one will go to “The Social Network.” I’m not going to bother explaining the difference between the two categories, because these are some of the most important, but least recognized categories.
Best Documentary: The politically charged “Inside Job” will get the win. I’m still a bit bothered that the brutally honest insight on the American education system, David Guggenheim’s “Waiting for Superman,” wasn’t even recognized.
Best Documentary, Short Subject: I haven’t gotten a chance to view these yet, but I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say “Killing in the Name.”
Best Film Editing: “The Social Network,” which orchestrated a multi-perspective narrative that swapped between deposition rooms, Harvard parties, and nightclubs with ease.
Best Foreign Film: Another shot in the dark here, I’m going to go with “Incendies.”
Best Animated Short: Pixar’s visually stunning (with social commentary to boot!) “Day & Night,” which preceded “Toy Story 3” in theaters.
Best Live Action Short: This is a strong, strong category; I loved all the live action short films this year. I think the Academy will go with “The Confession,” a dark and disturbing, and somewhat satirical, take on a young boy’s first confession.
Greg Vellante is a film critic for The Eagle Tribune.