2011 Oscar Predictions

Finally it’s here: the big show. For the first time in my life, I had seen all the Best Picture nominees when they were announced that morning. So for me, this year means a lot more. There’s a lot I could cover here, but I think I’m going to limit myself to 10 categories. Beyond that, be sure to ask me on Twitter (@kipjmooney). Here goes…

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

After winning nearly every single critics’ association award–and making my own No. 1–The Social Network seemed poised for a sweep. But then The King’s Speech went and won three major prizes: the producers, directors and actors guild awards. It’s only happened a few other times. Most recently, The Return of the King completed its shut-out in 2004. But Apollo 13 also won all three in 1996, and we all know how that turned out (Braveheart won in case you don’t remember). Still, I’m predicting The King’s Speech wins Best Picture, with a split in the director’s race.

Will win: The King’s Speech
Could and should win: The Social Network
Should have been here: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
David O. Russell, The Fighter

I was a big fan of Tom Hooper’s last film (The Damned United) but I think it takes a lot more than drawing good performances out of already talented actors to be awarded the big prize. Apparently the directors guild disagrees with me on that one. But the Oscars are a different beast. Over the last 15 years, the Academy has awarded it to someone else. That’s not a great track record if you’re predicting a split, but I feel more confident than most prognosticators. Fincher’s a well-respected veteran who’s just now getting recognition. Hooper, while overseeing a fine ensemble, is unremarkable in every way.

Will and should win: Fincher
Could win: Hooper
Should have been here: Edgar Wright, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

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

This is almost certainly a lock for Firth, who probably should have won last year for A Single Man. If only he and Bridges could have switched, because this is likely the highlight of Bridges’ career. Yet the most deserving nominee is Franco, who’s duties at host couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. Though he’s still young, and will win one day. If there’s room for a shock–and I doubt it–I could see Eisenberg winning, pulling an Adrien Brody and becoming the youngest actor to win in this category. But for now, all the other nominees should just sit back and have a ball on the red carpet.

Will win: Firth
Could win: Eisenberg
Should win: Franco
Should have been here: Robert Duvall, Get Low

Annette Bening, The Kids are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Let’s ask ourselves a question of the potential upset that’s been asked of the lead for a few weeks now: Is Bening really that great an actress? She’s done some quality work here and there, but to give the idea that she’s “due” is preposterous, especially considering her co-star Julianne Moore wasn’t nominated this year and has yet to win. Portman’s role is far more demanding and she pulls it off flawlessly. She’s also been a darling on the red carpet and the stage. It’s her race to lose, and rightfully so.

Will and should win: Portman
Could win: Bening
Should have been here: Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (also, Hailee Steinfeld)

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

How on earth is this Christian Bale’s first nomination? There are at several times he should have been nominated in the last decade, starting with American Psycho. But at least he’s finally here and should have no trouble winning his first, much-deserved Oscar. Any complications will come from Rush, who’s never been better.

Will and should win: Bale
Could win: Rush
Should have been here: Andrew Garfield, Never Let Me Go or The Social Network

Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

My dad always says this is the toughest race to call, and rightfully so. Last year was easy, but I never would have picked Penelope Cruz or Tilda Swinton in the years prior–mainly because I found their performances overrated. So I feel it’s a three-way race this year among Carter, Leo and Steinfeld. Leo was the front-runner, winning many of the preliminary awards, but there’s been talk that her shameless self-promotion has turned off a lot of voters, which is kind of stupid, but then again, the Academy can be too. Steinfeld gave the kind of performance you stand up and cheer for, but she’s awfully young and they don’t always go for that. But I think Carter will hear her name called Sunday night for several reasons: 1. She’s a well-respected veteran actress, 2. She was in three huge movies this past year, 3. She’s playing the caretaker of someone with a disability. They eat that stuff up. None of this is to say she’s undeserving, I’m just keeping my fingers crossed for Steinfeld, even if she was the lead in True Grit and not a supporting player.

Will win: Carter
Could win: Leo
Should win: Steinfeld
Should have been here: Chloe Moretz, Kick-Ass

Mike Leigh, Another Year
Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson, The Fighter
Christopher Nolan, Inception
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg, The Kids are All Right
David Seidler, The King’s Speech

Oh, goody. Someone else with a “personal journey” will win for a pretty good script over a vibrant script by a talented writer. But I’ll take anything over The Kids are All Right.

Will win: The King’s Speech
Could win: The Kids are All Right
Should win: Inception
Should have been here: Mark Heyman and Andrés Heinz and John McLaughlin, Black Swan

Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy, 127 Hours
Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Michael Arndt, Toy Story 3
Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit
Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini, Winter’s Bone

I can’t tell you how pissed I’ll be if for a second year in a row, the year’s best film goes home empty-handed. But if that means an award for Toy Story 3 that’s not in a ghetto category, I won’t be upset for long.

Will and should win: The Social Network
Could win: Toy Story 3
Should have been here: Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Black Swan
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

Such a tough, tough call. For me, Black Swan‘s deft hand-held camerawork is marvelous, giving a you-are-there intensity to an already insane film. But it’s grainy look will probably detract from a voting board that wants pretty postcard shots. Roger Deakins definitely fits the bill and has yet to win. That opening shot alone from True Grit is worth the award. But the cinematography society recently gave its award to Wally Pfister, whose currently on his fourth nomination and sixth collaboration with Christopher Nolan. I think he’ll win for elevating the action movie to artistic new heights and I can’t argue with that.

Will win: Inception
Could win: True Grit
Should win: Black Swan
Should have been here: 127 Hours

127 Hours
How to Train Your Dragon
The King’s Speech
The Social Network

Another close race. I admire Alexandre Desplat’s work, but like all the technical work on The King’s Speech, I feel it’s pretty generic. I’d love to see Hans Zimmer win for some of his more outlandish work (he previously won for The Lion King) but seeing a rock star come up and accept the award would be a pleasant surprise too.

Will win: The King’s Speech
Could win: The Social Network
Should win: Inception
Should have been here: TRON: Legacy

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