For the next revision, which will come a month from now, I will have (hopefully) watched Black Swan, Made in Dagenham, The King’s Speech, The Fighter, How Do You Know?, and Rabbit Hole. That should make things a lot more clear for me.
1- The Social Network
2- The King’s Speech
3- Toy Story 3
5- The Kids Are All Right
6- True Grit
7- The Fighter
8- 127 Hours
9- The Way Back
10- Another Year*
Alternative: Winter’s Bone
Having watched 127 Hours now, I believe it’s good to go for a nod here.** I’m still putting The Fighter and True Grit slightly ahead of it though, based on word of mouth and previous directorial credits, respectively.
Winter’s Bone still looks a little too indie to me for a nomination in this category. Maybe when I finally watch the film I’ll have more faith in it. But everything else seems to be having one big obstacle in the way of a nod. Another Year? Very late release. Shutter Island? Very early release. Black Swan? Out of academy’s safe territory. Blue Valentine? That NC-17 rating.
1- David Fincher (The Social Network)
2- Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
3- Danny Boyle (127 Hours)
4- Christopher Nolan (Inception)
5- Ethan and Joel Coen (True Grit)
Alternative: Peter Weir (The Way Back)
Fincher, Hooper and Boyle look like solid bets. I’ve put Nolan after these three but the truth is, whether you like his films or not, most people think he’s overdue for a nomination, and that should really help him out this year. He probably came in sixth two years ago with The Dark Knight. I think he’s in this year. The fifth spot is wide open now. Other than my two guesses, Darren Aronofsky, Mike Leigh or David O’Russell can all take that place.
Best Original Screenplay
1- Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right)
2- David Spiedler (The King’s Speech)
3- Christopher Nolan (Inception)
4- Mike Leigh (Another Year)
5- Sylvain Chomet (The Illusionist)
Alternative: Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy (The Fighter)
Predicting The Illusionist in this category is probably not the right move. We know now that the Best Animation category will only have three nominees this year, but if The Illusionist can get in there, then I can see it getting in here as well. Inception’s nomination may well depend on the reaction of the precursor awards. The dialogue was kinda clunky after all and the film might be seen as a more technical effort than a literal one.
Best Adapted Screenplay
1- Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)
2- Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3)
3- Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini, Daniel Woodrell (Winter’s Bone)
4- Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours)
5- Ethan and Joel Coen (True Grit)
Alternative: David Lindsay-Abair (Rabbit Hole)
This seems like the category that would reward Winter’s Bone and Rabbit Hole if they fall short elsewhere. And the other alternative I could think of (The Way Back) looks like more of a director’s piece. I would personally like to see Roman Polanski sliding in here, but I doubt that can happen.
Best Lead Actor
1- Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
2- James Franco (127 Hours)
3- Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter)
4- Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
5- Robert Duvall (Get Low)
Alternative: Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Looks like team Bardem is laying low these days, so I’ve removed him from my predictions for now. He’s a recent winner, the film is apparently a downer, and to make it worse, it’s not in English. All of these factors mean that a strong campaign should be in order for him to have any chance.
Unlike the consensus that is taking shape in the blogsphere these days, I still believe Jesse Eisenberg has a good shot at the nomination. I don’t think Get Low was well-received enough, or even seen enough to get enough votes, but it’s Robert Duvall we’re talking about, so anything is possible.
Best Lead Actress
1- Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
2- Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
3- Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
4- Lesley Manville (Another Year)
5- Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Alternative: Sally Hawkins (Made in Dagenham)
This looks like the most interesting category in the acting branch this year – if not the most crowded. From here, Portman and Bening appear to be battling it out for the win, but last year at this point, no on could imagine Sandra Bullock as the winner, so we’ll probably have to wait till we can call anything a lock. I have a feeling Sally Hawkins’ inexplicable snub for Happy-Go-Lucky might come in handy for her this year. This academy specializes in make-up nominations. Julianne Moore might come in the conversation as well; if the film is loved enough, why not have two female lead nominees?
Is she beloved enough to be nominated again? Why isn't she beloved anyway? She's SUCH a great actress.
Best Supporting Actor
1- Christian Bale (The Fighter)
2- Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
3- Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
4- Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)
5- Ed Harris (The Way Back)
Alternative: Matt Damon/Josh Brolin (True Grit)
Even though the Coen Brothers have a good track record in this category (3 nominations and one win), I might be overestimating the possibility of Damon’s nomination. He was nominated for a bland performance in a mediocre film last year and he probably won’t have the momentum to carry himself on to nomination morning. Josh Brolin plays the villain, however, and that has paid off for Bardem and Macy before.
Does anyone see Timberlake as an Oscar nominee?
Best Supporting Actress
1- Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)
2- Dianne Wiest (Rabbit Hole)
3- Miranda Richardson (Made in Dagenham)
4- Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)
5- Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Alternative: Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
I understand that there’s no conversation about Mila Kunis, but it seems to me like there’s no conversation about anyone in this category, so I decided to go for her over Melissa Leo as my alternative. I also wonder about Jacki Weaver. The performance is, no doubt, t e r r i f i c. I think it’s a matter of visibility for this small foreign film.
1- Roger Deakins (True Grit)
2- Wally Pfister (Inception)
3- Enrique Chediak, Anthony Dod Mantle (127 Hours)
4- Jeff Cronenweth (The Social Network)
5- Danny Cohen (The King’s Speech)
Alternative: Russell Boyd (The Way Back)
I’ve included Danny Cohen this time instead of Matthew Libatique (Black Swan), on the account that Cohen is going to ride the best-picture-frontrunner waves. This might not be the smartest guess. The cinematography branch of the academy has nominated several films in the past few years that were certainly nowhere near a best picture nomination. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Assassination of Jesse James are the most recent examples that come to mind. ***
1- Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall (The Social Network)
2- Lee Smith (Inception)
3- John Harris (127 Hours)
4- Tariq Anwar (The King’s Speech)
5- Roderick Jaynes (True Grit)
Alternative: Lee Smith (The Way Back)
I initially predicted Lee Smith for both his films, but then the last time an editor was nominated for two films in the same year was Walter Murch in 1990; so I predicted the Coen brothers instead. No one will know how good True Grit actually is, until it comes out. If the Coens deliver though, they’ll have a really good shot at all the major categories, and they’ve been nominated twice in this category before. I left Black Swan out this time around. Is the film as well edited as the trailer?
*Is it me or is Another Year really getting the most half-assed release of all these films? It’s opening on December 31st in the U.S. (could it really have been any later?), and it has no scheduled release date in Canada (and I live in Toronto, North America’s third largest movie market!) It doesn’t even have a North American poster yet.
** I’m not planning on writing a review of 127 Hours, but in short, I can say that I liked but didn’t love it. It’s a powerful film and Franco is a commanding presence on the screen (definitely deserving of the nomination he will get), but for me, it lacked a certain je ne sais quoi, maybe a real emotional punch. It looks more like Danny Boyle’s flexing his directorial muscles -and boy is he not muscular- than trying to make a sympathetic film about this amazing adventurer.
*** It’s a sad fact knowing that Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford did not get a best picture nomination. The 2007 line-up is as strong as they come, but the well-crafted, emotional and insightful Jesse James is perhaps my most favourite film of the past decade.
My top five picks for that year were actually close to the academy’s though. I had Diving Bell and Jesse James instead of Atonement and Juno. 3/5 is far better than the academy usually does for me. Compare that to 1/5 in ‘08 (Milk being the one) and 3/10 in ’09.