Saturday, February 26, 2011

Final Oscar Predictions 2010

The Academy Awards are this Sunday, which means it's that time of year, where you wait for Ted to speak up with his final predictions and thoughts. Here we go!

Best Picture:
1. The King's Speech
12 nominations (something a lot of films don't do, let alone a British period piece). The power of the Weinstein Company. Favorite to win at least Actor and Original Screenplay. Won the major guild awards (over The Social Network). At this point, it losing would be a pretty big upset.

2. The Social Network
If you had ask me a month ago, I would have said yes. But the tide turned. It's not even my favorite of the 10, but I still hope it upsets because it feels more like the Best Picture of 2010 than The King's Speech. Oh well.

3. Toy Story 3
If any film can overcome the top two, it will be this one. It's got a crazy enough fan base to do, especially since they're ranking them. It would be a win for the series and there's a real push for it. But it's still an animated movie.

4. The Fighter
It's been the underdog of the year, but it has yet to pick up significant steam to pull off the upset.

5. Inception
No director nomination means it's out, but lots of people are pissed that it might get the short end of the stick with wins (maybe only Visual Effects?). Perhaps The Dark Knight supporters will show their muscle here?

6. Black Swan
It definitely has passionate support, but with only five nominations (and no love for the other actresses or technical achievements), it probably won't be winning.

7. True Grit
The movie landed 10 nominations but even with that overall support, there's no real passion for it.

8. Winter's Bone
It's a dark, depressing drama with four overall nominations and no Best Director nomination. Not enough to win.

9. The Kids Are All Right
It's a comedy with four overall nominations and no Best Director nomination. Not enough to win.

10. 127 Hours
It was a slight surprise that it got in (although I got the 10 all correct). No Best Director nomination and not a lot of love overall.

Best Director:
1. David Fincher, The Social Network
This will be the film's big award. Fincher has paid his dues and this is his second nomination. They try hard to honor directors with visions and it's hard to picture him not winning (even though he lose the DGA). Plus the last director winner who didn't seem to have such a hard time "directing" their movie was (arguably) Barry Levinson for Rain Man, so that should be enough for me to think that Hooper won't win.

2. Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
If they go crazy for The King's Speech, it could happen. But he couldn't even win at home with the BAFTAs. Yes, he won the DGA award, but so did Rob Marshall for Chicago and he still lost to Roman Polanski for The Pianist (although Fincher is no Polanski). Although I'm reminded of when Ron Howard beat Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, Robert Altman and David Lynch back in 2001.

3. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
If the two frontrunners split, Aronofsky will be the one to reap the rewards. It's the type of directing job that the directors branch will nominate, but won't give the win. But after stellar work with Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, and The Wrestler, I'm glad he's here.

4. David O. Russell, The Fighter
Russell got lucky to get in here, because his reputation in Hollywood is that of a prick. But he's played the game very well and this should help him make more interesting films in the future (more Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees and less of The Fighter).

5. Ethan and Joel Coen, True Grit
The Coens just won for No Country for Old Men two years ago. There's no movement to give another one this quickly.

Best Lead Actor:
1. Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Of the four acting categories, the easiest to call. Firth has pretty much won every precursor available (including some critic awards) and lost last year. He's in the Best Picture frontrunner, which will certainly help here (in the past decade, seven of the ten winners' films were up for Best Picture and one of them won). He's British, he's playing royalty, he suffers from a speech impediment. It's a done deal.

2. James Franco, 127 Hours
Had Firth won last year, Franco might have had a shot (unless they really wanted to reward Bridges). A very brave and somewhat uncomfortable performance to watch, he carried the entire film (enough so, that it even placed in Best Picture). That said, he's still a little on the younger side (32), and Oscar voters prefer them a tad more older in this category. Some might also think he'll have more chances in the future.

3. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
If, somehow, Eisenberg wins, he would become the youngest winner in the category (he just turned 27). On top of that, the love for the film has fizzled out in the last month of the race and there's no urgency to reward the acting from The Social Network (witness the snub of the supporting actors and no wins from SAG).

4. Javier Bardem, Biutiful
The nomination was the prize for Bardem. His performance was really great, the stuff actors love (dying of cancer!). But it was a very late contender, and while there's enough support for him to get nominated, he already has an Oscar (Supporting Actor for 2007's No Country for Old Men) and there's no rush to get him another one.

5. Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Bridges won last year, so a repeat win is very unlikely. Plus, last year he beat Colin Firth (both were deserving), so it's nice that he can stay out of Firth's way this time. There's also the John Wayne factor (The Duke won for this role, way back in 1969) and some older voters might stick with that performance as their favorite.

Best Lead Actress:
1. Natalie Portman, Black Swan
If Oscar voters want to honor a hot young thing who gave a showy performance, this is it. This is Portman's second nomination (first in lead) and nothing has slowed her down yet. The only thing that might turn off voters is the genre (crazy ass thriller), but even so, this will be the best place to honor the film.

2. Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
If Oscar voters want to honor a seasoned veteran who gave a subtle performance, this is it. Bening has lost three times in the past (and twice, famously, to Hilary Swank), but she's within some distance here. Still, I don't think the voters care if The Kids Are All Right goes home with one award, so I expect her to just enjoy the company of The Beatty when Portman wins.

3. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
Thrilled that she made it in, especially when it looked like she might miss (although sad that Ryan Gosling wasn't so lucky). She probably doesn't have a huge amount of support to win, but what worries me is that she cut into some of Portman's votes.

4. Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Second youngest nominee in this category (the record will always belong to Keisha Castle-Hughes), Lawrence defied a lot to get in. The movie peaked too early to win anything and even when it did win big, she missed (witness the wins at the Gotham Awards, but no Breakthrough win for her). This was a vote of confidence nod and maybe she'll be back in the future.

5. Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Very glad that she finally earned a spot back at the table. It's probably her most surprising performance in a long time. She'll get points for bringing the play to the screen, but the nomination is all she's getting.

Best Supporting Actor:
1. Christian Bale, The Fighter
Bale's won almost all the precursor awards (minus BAFTA). It's been a long time coming, and it's performance that definitely deserves it. Hopefully that will mean he'll stop killing himself over his performances.

2. Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
Rush has won before (Best Actor for Shine in 1996), and he's usually so damn annoying with his over-the-top, scenery chewing complex. But he didn't do any of that in this one. If they REALLY love the film it could happen. But I think Bale is too strong of a frontrunner for that to happen.

3. Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
This was supposed to be his, but he got lucky getting in because he could have missed. He makes it look easy, especially in this one. Glad that he finally got in (and he would have my vote), but better luck next time.

4. Jeremy Renner, The Town
Renner was really good and definitely the male standout in the film (Blake Lively was my favorite), but I think this was more of a support for him as an actor. After The Hurt Locker, we all can't wait to see more work from him. Plus the film missed in the top 10.

5. John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Hawkes got lucky to get in over other contenders (sorry Andrew Garfield *sniff), so the nomination is his reward. But it was a terrific performance.

Best Supporting Actress:
1. Melissa Leo, The Fighter
She might have been over-the-top with her role (and, as of late, with her campaign), but she's won everything that she can (with the exception of the BAFTA because they have no idea who she is and didn't nominate her). On top of that, I don't think there is enough support to get another one of the ladies to win. What will be interesting is if The Fighter can pull off both supporting wins. The last time that happened was in 1986 with Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest for Hannah and Her Sisters). And another interesting statistic is that if both Leo and Bale win, it will be the first mother/son (characters) winners since 1989 when Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker won for My Left Foot.

2. Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
She didn't do a whole lot, but other actresses have won for less. The BAFTA win (and more importantly, the speech) might have charmed enough voters who are not inclined to give Leo their vote. Plus, the movie might sweep her in (although Firth being the only acting win makes more sense).

3. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Yes, Anna Paquin and Tatum O'Neal won when they were young, but I feel like they had more support (or their movies did) back then. Steinfeld as lost a lot of buzz since the Oscar nominations were announced. Still wouldn't be shocked.

4. Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Weaver may have missed out on a SAG nomination, but she definitely has her fans. The film was probably too slight to pull out a win...but so was Pollock and Marcia Gay Harden snuck in there. Still Weaver's an unknown in Hollywood, so like Shohreh Aghdashloo and Sophie Okondeo before her, except her to have fun, not win and then get offered a lot of roles in great (and not-so-great) stuff.

5. Amy Adams, The Fighter
She was supposed to win something major to stop her co-star from winning, but it never happened. At best, Adams will steal some votes, but probably not enough for her to win or to prevent Leo from winning.

Best Original Screenplay:
1. The King's Speech
A Best Picture frontrunner, with no reasonable contender that can stop it. Most might be split between Inception and Kids to stop it from winning this. Plus, writer David Siedler's back story about overcoming his own stuttering has been making the rounds and will likely impress voters.

2. Inception
If enough people are angry over Christopher Nolan missing in the Best Picture lineup, he could upset here. He has the Writers Guild award, which could help (although The King's Speech wasn't eligible there). But it's still a head scratcher among some Academy members (you know the older voters didn't get it).

3. The Kids Are All Right
Any other year, this would have won. It's the light-hearted dramedy from Focus Features. Those always win here. But it lost momentum and it didn't win anything major.

4. The Fighter
It's a true story! But it can be a little annoying to some, especially those who are put off by the family aspect of it.

5. Another Year
Mike Leigh always gets in and never wins. And this one lost a tremendous amount of attention.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
1. The Social Network
Aaron Sorkin's script was the MVP of the film (give or take Fincher's direction) and he hasn't lost anything yet for this one. If they want to honor great dialogue, here's where they start and end.

2. Toy Story 3
The most emotional entry of the five, it was a truly satisfying end to a fantastic trilogy. But Aaron Sorkin didn't write it.

3. True Grit
It's a Coen brothers script, so it has lots of great lines. But it's a remake and a lot of old Hollywood voters might hold that against it. Plus, Aaron Sorkin didn't write it.

4. 127 Hours
The script was good, but the true feat of the film was James Franco and Danny Boyle's direction. Plus, Aaron Sorkin didn't write it.

5. Winter's Bone
A really smart script, but Winter's Bone is probably going to go home empty handed. Plus, Aaron Sorkin didn't write it.

Best Animated Feature:
1. Toy Story 3

2. How to Train Your Dragon
It would be a huge upset if it happened. But it does have some support and if it wasn't for Toy Story 3, it would happen. Oh well.

3. The Illusionist
The Triplets of Belleville couldn't overcome Finding Nemo. So expect history to repeat itself, but it's a great that it got in.

Best Documentary Feature:
1. Inside Job
2. Exit Through the Gift Shop
3. Gasland
4. Waste Land
5. Restrepo
I could really see any of them win. Restrepo has a Hurt Locker vibe to it, Waste Land is supposed to be an interesting look at people who live in a garbage heap, Gasland is supposed to be about some insane things that are happening in our backyard and Exit Through the Gift Shop is Banksy's film on the culture of art (which really was a surprise nominee, given how stuffy this branch can be). But Inside Job has the gravitas and his been the frontrunner here for quite some time (especially since Waiting for "Superman" missed here).

Best Foreign Language Film:
1. In a Better World, Denmark
2. Incendies, Canada
3. Dogtooth, Greece
4. Biutiful, Mexico
5. Outside the Law, Algeria
The film to beat is the Golden Globe-winning In a Better World, but this category is notorious for upsets. Biutiful is probably the most known of the five, but it's such a downer and not the best work from IƱarritu. Outside the Law got a lot of flack for taking liberties with history, so it's also out. Incendies has received good notices, so wouldn't be surprised to see it win. Lastly, Dogtooth is apparently so bizarre, a win would be shocking. But so was it's nomination.

Best Art Direction:
1. The King's Speech
The set pieces in the palace, and in the grungy offices of the speech therapist, should be enough to cinch the win. If it's going to win Best Picture, it's going to need more wins under its belt.

2. Alice in Wonderland
Sometimes, "Best Art Direction" is really "Most Art Direction." If that's the case, this ugly looking thing wins. Also, every Tim Burton movie that gets nominated here (Batman, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd) wins.

3. Inception
This one is probably hurt by the visual effects. Although that didn't hurt Avatar last year either.

4. True Grit
In any other year, this one would be the easy pick. However, it seems rather simple compared to the rest of the nominees.

5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One
Not much of an improvement over the last ones in terms of new set designs. They'll wait for the last one, if they want to honor the series.

Best Cinematography:
1. True Grit
They say the prettiest looking film, or the one that would make for a cool postcard picture wins this. If that's the case, look no further than this Western. In addition, Roger Deakins has yet to win here and after so many years of stellar work, it's his time.

2. The King's Speech
Or they could be lazy and give it to the Best Picture frontrunner? If the film wasn't so drab, I'd go for it.

3. Inception
Wally Pfister won the cinematographer's guild, but I don't think they're ready to honor cinematography that is so technically difficult. But they did go for Avatar last year.

4. Black Swan
Very good work from here, but it's another of those low-budget indies that was shot for cheap and some don't like that particular look.

5. The Social Network
Even with it being a favorite in other categories, I think this is the one category it's pretty much out of it.

Best Costume Design:
1. The King's Speech
A Best Picture frontrunner that won the Costume Designers Guild...but so did Alice and Helena Bonham Carter's costumes aren't very splashy.

2. Alice in Wonderland
Tim Burton's bizarre adaptation won the Costume Designers Guild...but so did King's Speech and it's ugly.

3. True Grit
Westerns offer lots of costumes and it's a time period they like...but it feels like those costumes have already been rewarded in the past.

4. I Am Love
Lots of people were happy that its contemporary costumes got in...but it's the film's only nomination and they don't honor contemporary work with the award (see The Devil Wears Prada).

5. The Tempest
Sandy Powell has won a few of these...but no one liked the movie and this is its only nod.

Best Film Editing:
1. The Social Network
Usually the film that wins this, wins Best Picture. But, often times it goes to the film with the best achievement. The Editors Guild went with this one, so I'll play it safe and say it wins here too.

2. The King's Speech
But this is the actual Best Picture frontrunner. Hmm. It would be such a lazy vote though, and I have to imagine that they won't be that lazy this year.

3. The Fighter
Boxing movies feature a lot of editing, so this one isn't out of it, if the other two split it.

4. Black Swan
You can't deny the edits made in this one, especially all the dance sequences. But it's probably too light of a subject to win this category.

5. 127 Hours
Many think this took Inception's spot (I still think that would have won this category over the two frontrunners). Plus, 127 Hours is looking like it's heading to no wins at all.

Best Makeup:
1. The Wolfman
Rick Baker dominates this category. Even when it's not a great movie. Plus he won for An American Werewolf in London which was the first film honored when they created this category.

2. Barney's Version
Paul Giamatti won the Globe, so there must be some support for the film. But it's old age makeup (pancake face!) and those don't usually win this category.

3. The Way Back
Apparently, it's minimal makeup (i.e. scars and wounds and such), so it's probably not flashy or showy enough to win. Plus the movie was a dud with critics and audiences.

Best Original Score:
1. The King's Speech
Multiple nominations for the composer? Check. Best Picture frontrunner? Check. BAFTA win? Check. Use of Beethoven in the film's climax? Check. Winner.

2. Inception
Hans Zimmer score might be the most memorable of the year, but there doesn't seem to be a rush to get him the win this year...unless they want Inception to get some more wins.

3. The Social Network
The work from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross already took home the Critic's Choice Award and Golden Globe. It was probably a bit of a miracle that they got nominated, considering their aversion to dual composers in recent years.

4. How to Train Your Dragon
John Powell's delightful music was perfect for the film, but there doesn't seem to be a movement to give the film a win. This being its only other nod might help voters who loved it but don't want to vote against Toy Story 3 in Animated Feature.

5. 127 Hours
This is probably the only one out of it. Too sparse.

Best Original Song:
1. "I See the Light," Tangled
Classic Disney. Classic Alan Menken (he even references himself). The movie was snubbed in Animated Feature.

2. "If I Rise," 127 Hours
If they don't give it this, it will go home empty-handed. But is there enough support to muster a win? Are they tired of A.R. Rahman (who just won two, two years ago)?

3. "We Belong Together," Toy Story 3
Multiple wins for Pixar finale? It's the weakest of the Toy Story theme songs ("You've Got a Friend In Me" and "When She Loved Me" where way better). Plus, does anyone remember how it was used in the film?

4. "Coming Home," Country Strong
Could surprise just because it was random that it got in in the first place. Gwyneth Paltrow didn't write the song, but she has more buzz around her now than she's had in a long while.

Best Sound Mixing:
1. Inception
2. The Social Network
3. True Grit
4. The King's Speech
5. Salt
Inception wins this because it was snubbed for Directing and Editing...although not even The Dark Knight could win this two years ago, and they might want to give more love to The Social Network.

Best Sound Editing:
1. Inception
2. Toy Story 3
3. True Grit
4. TRON: Legacy
5. Unstoppable
Inception wins this because it was snubbed for Directing and Editing...although I wouldn't be surprised to see Toy Story 3 win if they want it to get more than just Animated Feature.

Best Visual Effects:
1. Inception
Easy call. The city of Paris folded on top of itself. Then Joseph Gordon-Levitt had that fight in the zero gravity.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One
First time the series has been included here, but I doubt it will win because they'll likely honor it next year with the final installment.

3. Alice in Wonderland
Ugly. Visuals. But it made a lot of money. And there's a lot of visual effects. But they were ugly. Fugly, if you will.

4. Iron Man 2
The first one didn't win. And they didn't improve the effects like the second Spider-Man did when it won the category.

5. Hereafter
One tsunami. That was it.

Best Animated Short:
1. Madagascar, a Journey Diary
2. Day & Night
3. The Lost Thing
4. The Gruffalo
5. Let's Pollute
The last two are apparently too slight to win (although The Gruffalo has a a stellar voice cast, including Helen Bonham Carter), but ultimately, the voters here look at the animation work, which would give the edge to the French, Madagascar, a Journey Diary over Pixar's Day & Night.

Best Documentary Short:
1. The Warriors of Qiugang
2. Poster Girl
3. Strangers No More
4. Sun Come Up
5. Killing in the Name
The filmmakers of The Warriors of Qiugang won in this category before, so I'll just go with that. But this category is always tough to call (especially because there's no World War II entry). Poster Girl is about PTSD (timely!), Strangers No More features kids in Tel Aviv (kids!), Sun Come Up is about global warming (timely!) and Killing in the Name is about terrorism (timely!) Good luck.

Best Live Action Short:
1. Na Wewe
2. God of Love
3. The Confession
4. The Crush
5. Wish 143
None of these winning would surprise me. I went with the one that's supposed to be the most depressing...because that's what they like.

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