By this time next week, movie fanatics will finally know who took home the Oscar gold this year, and as always, there should be plenty of deserving winners, surprises and snubs.
So which films are going to walk away with the top prizes Sunday night? Here are my predictions for six of the major categories.
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Will win: There’s no denying this race is down to two of the 10 nominees: “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network.” The latter was the early favorite after sweeping the critics’ awards and winning the Golden Globe, but then “The King’s Speech” pulled off the Triple Crown of guild awards: the Producer’s Guild Award, the Director’s Guild Award and the Screen Actors Guild award. That sweep virtually guarantees it a best picture win.
“The Social Network” could still scrape by with a win, much like “The Departed” in 2007 after it missed out on the PGA and SAG awards. But the more likely scenario is a repeat of 2006 when a late surge for “Crash” bested early frontrunner “Brokeback Mountain.” Not to mention “The King’s Speech” is perfectly calculated to appeal to Academy bigwigs: true story + overcoming obstacles + British monarchy + significant historical event = Oscar gold.
Should win: I’m one of the people who thinks critics’ early instincts were right on target. “The Social Network” might skew too young for the older Academy members that will gravitate toward “The King’s Speech,” but just because it’s youthful and modern doesn’t make it any less deserving. And I don’t want to knock “The King’s Speech.” It was a truly beautiful, moving film with brilliant performances across the board. But it also feels like something I’ve seen before. “The Social Network” is fresh and even more expertly crafted.
When the project was first announced, people wondered how in the world a movie about the founding of a website could be remotely interesting. Masterful directing from David Fincher, sharp and snappy writing from Aaron Sorkin, a mesmerizing score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and some of the most talented young actors working today, that’s how. “The Social Network” transcends the story of Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook. It paints a portrait of a generation — a generation of young entrepreneurs itching to create something using the vast new tools at their disposal and a generation of hundreds of millions of people connected through the Web demanding instant communication and information.
Should have been nominated: The Academy selected 10 great films to honor, but I’m surprised Ben Affleck’s gripping crime drama “The Town” slipped by unnoticed.
Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
Ethan and Joel Coen, “True Grit”
David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
David O. Russell, “The Fighter”
Will win: Much like the best picture race, this award is down to “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network.” Tom Hooper pulled off a surprise Director’s Guild Award win, but I still think David Fincher is going to win the Oscar gold. Though the best picture and best director winners usually match up, this will likely be the first year since 2006 to have a split. There are three possible scenarios here: “The King’s Speech” wins both, “The Social Network” wins both or “The King’s Speech” wins best picture and Fincher wins best director, much like “Crash” and Ang Lee in 2006. I don’t see a “The Social Network” wins best picture/Hooper wins best director scenario as a real possibility.
Should win: I could see “The King’s Speech” working in another director’s hands, but without David Fincher at the helm, “The Social Network” wouldn’t have been the same movie.
Should have been nominated: Honestly what is it going to take for Christopher Nolan to get a best director nod? He was snubbed for “The Dark Knight” in 2009 and again this year for “Inception.” Talk about the Academy typically preferring conventionality over originality…
Javier Bardem, “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
James Franco, “127 Hours”
Will win: It’s probably the surest thing at this year’s ceremony – Colin Firth has this one in the bag. And after seeing his King George VI, emotional and endearing with a touch of humor, I can’t argue that he’s a very deserving contender.
Should win: This is a very strong category this year, and it’s incredibly difficult for me to choose the actor that should win. The ever-charming Colin Firth gave one of the best performances of his career in “The King’s Speech” and Jesse Eisenberg proved he’s not a Michael Cera clone but an extremely capable actor who captured Mark Zuckerberg’s neuroses and obsessive determination perfectly. But I might have to give a slight edge to James Franco as amputee Aron Ralston. “127 Hours” was essentially 90 minutes of Franco stuck between a boulder and a canyon wall, yet his engaging and realistic portrayal of a young man’s will to survive made it impossible to look away.
Should have been nominated: Though he hasn’t been getting the same awards recognition as his co-stars for his performance, Mark Wahlberg’s portrayal of boxer Micky Ward anchors “The Fighter.” His performance is decidedly more subtle than the supporting players in the film, but he holds his own as a man who just wants his family’s support as he strives to achieve his dream.
Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”
Will win: Annette Bening definitely has a shot. Given her three previous nominations, some voters may feel that it’s her time to win. But Natalie Portman is the clear frontrunner here.
Should win: Annette Bening gave a powerful performance in “The Kids Are All Right,” but this award belongs to Natalie Portman. She nails the timid, sheltered and pure White Swan side of Nina and her dangerous and seductive Black Swan side as she spirals into madness.
Should have been nominated: Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo have been getting all the buzz for “The Kids Are All Right,” but their characters’ emotional arcs wouldn’t be possible without Julianne Moore, who has been criminally overlooked for her role as free-spirited lesbian mom whose actions threaten the stability of her family.
Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone”
Jeremy Renner, “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”
Will win: Christian Bale has been sweeping this category thus far for his performance as drug addicted has-been boxer Dicky Eklund, and he’s not about to stop now.
Should win: Geoffrey Rush shouldn’t be overlooked for his subtle, thoughtful and humorous performance in “The King’s Speech,” but nobody completely becomes a character quite like Christian Bale. It’s almost impossible to believe this is his first nomination.
Should have been nominated: Andrew Garfield was completely snubbed for his performance as ousted Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin in “The Social Network.” His loyalty to Mark Zuckerberg, passion for Facebook and disbelief as his success begins to unravel craft a captivating and sympathetic character and illustrate Garfield’s potential as a powerhouse performer.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, “The Figher,”
Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”
Will win: Like her “The Fighter” co-star Christian Bale, Melissa Leo has swept this category at every other award show but the BAFTAs. This category does seem to have the most potential for an upset, possibly from fellow “The Fighter” nominee Amy Adams, but Leo is the best bet here.
Should win: Melissa Leo and Amy Adams both give incredible performances in “The Fighter,” but I’m partial to “True Grit’s” Hailee Steinfeld. She holds her own alongside veterans Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin, and the fact that “True Grit” was her first movie makes her command of performance all the more impressive.
Should have been nominated: Mila Kunis got all the supporting actress love for “Black Swan” at most of the other awards shows, but Barbara Hershey deserves some kudos for her chilling role as Nina’s overbearing and infantilizing mother.
What do you think? Are my predictions on target? Who do you think will walk away with Oscars in hand Sunday night, and who do you think should? Sound off in the comments section.
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