Monday, January 24, 2011

Oscar Predictions: What I Think Will Happen...

Tomorrow morning at around 8:37 am ET, the nominations for this year's Academy Awards will be announced. As many of you know, I love this time of year—I love the excitement of the nominees being announced and I love the pomp and circumstances of the Oscar ceremony.

I've been an Oscar fanatic since the mid-1980s. However, I will say that my excitement has dulled a little since then, for a few reasons. First, the internet has opened the floodgates for more and more film critics, all of whom weigh in with their predictions.

Second, there are so many film awards given now, there rarely is much surprise by the time the Oscars roll around. And third, since I know so much about the Oscars, I've seen year after year that the awards are rarely given to those who give the best performances. The Academy is either playing catch up for individuals who should have won previously, making some sort of political or social statement, or recognizing someone for their body of work or being well-liked.

That being said, I'll still get the chills just before the nominations are announced tomorrow. And here is what I think might happen:

Best Picture
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network
The Town
Toy Story 3
True Grit

If any other film sneaks into this top 10, it probably will be Winter's Bone. No other movie has really captured as much praise as the 10 I've listed, and I think this is a pretty fantastic list, actually.

Best Actor
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

I'm going out on a limb with Javier Bardem, but believe the former Oscar winner has a good shot. The person most likely standing in his way is Robert Duvall, who was terrific in the little-seen Get Low. Other actors completely deserving of recognition are Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine (and it's his nomination I'd be most excited about), Aaron Eckhart for Rabbit Hole and Mark Wahlberg for The Fighter. Truth be told, if Wahlberg's movie gets a large number of nominees tomorrow, he may find himself included.

Best Actress
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Again, I'm going out on a limb in this category with Julianne Moore. I really hope she gets nominated, although I think it signifies even more that Annette Bening will lose again. Those actresses with an outside chance at a nomination include Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (so deserving), Oscar fave Hilary Swank for Conviction and British actress Lesley Manville for Mike Leigh's Another Year. (Some think she could wind up in the Supporting Actress category.) The other surprise could be if voters realize that Hailee Steinfeld was in virtually every scene of True Grit and deserves a Best Acress nod instead of one for Supporting Actress.

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech

There's a part of me that thinks Garfield might get bumped by a posthumous nod for Pete Posthlethwaite's performance in The Town, but it was a really small part. Then again, if there's a sentimental spot to be filled, Michael Douglas could take it for reprising his Oscar-winning character, Gordon Gekko, in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. And Matt Damon could ride into the category for True Grit as well, as could John Hawkes for his quiet, seething performance in Winter's Bone.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

In my mind, the only surprise in this category will come if Steinfeld gets a Best Actress nod. In that case, the fifth slot should be filled by one of these women: Lesley Manville, Barbara Hershey for her creepy performance in Black Swan, or Australian actress Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom, for which she received a Golden Globe nod.

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David O. Russell, The Fighter

The Coen Brothers could sneak into this category for True Grit, but hopefully they won't do it at the expense of Nolan, who has been nominated for three Directors Guild Awards (for Inception, Memento and The Dark Knight), but never gotten an Oscar nod.

And there you have it. Honestly, I hope for some surprises, and I'll be back tomorrow to compare these predictions with reality!

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