Oscar Predictions!

James Franco & Anne Hathaway host the Oscars this Sunday at 8:30 on CTV
“Heads, it’s The Social Network. Tails, The King’s Speech,” says Pat in a vain attempt to predict this year’s Best Picture winner. It really is a toss-up as to what will take top prize, which is funny, because back when I made my picks for the Golden Globes, I almost wrote that it was a done deal for The Social Network. Pre-Globes, The Social Network clobbered the competition: When the critics groups dished out their awards – it won everything. After it racked up four prizes at the Globes, however, it seems like Hollywood cried, “No more!” Between the Globes and the Oscars is when the big awards, from the guilds, are handed out. The King’s Speech won three of the four "top" prizes, netting honours from the Screen Actors Guild, the Producers Guild, and, in the biggest upset, the Directors Guild. (Speech was ineligible at the Writers Guild awards.) The guilds matter most because their members overlap with the Academy, whereas the critics groups do not. Will the Oscars follow the guilds, or will we see lots of critics patting themselves on the back Monday morning? Who knows?

Regardless of the outcome, Sunday night should (hopefully) offer a good show. The Academy has changed things up by appointing Anne Hathaway and nominee James Franco as co-hosts (presumably in an attempt to lure younger voters). Also good in terms of both show quality and running time is the recent decision to axe the stupid montages (re: “A tribute to writers on film” etc.) and the even better choice to cut the five-presenter retrospectives for the acting nominees. The Best Song nominees are also back in the show after a one-year hiatus, although it’s too bad that this is one of the weaker years for this category – Cher would have brought a lot to the show, but her song isn’t nominated. James Franco had rehearsed the song for the broadcast, but that too has been cut…thank God.

Anyways, on to the nominees! I’ve seen most the nominees, except for a few of the foreign, two documentaries, and the odd tech nominee. And the shorts, but it’s impossible to see those beforehand, unless they surface on Youtube.

Was Black Swan too much for voters? Say it ain't so!
Best Picture
For all the reasons listed above, it’s really down to The King’s Speech and The Social Network. I assume that since Speech took the industry prizes, it’s more likely to win. (The Best Picture win at BAFTA helps, too.) Also, I think that the new ballot system, in which voters rank the Best Picture nominees from 1 to 10, is more likely to help The King’s Speech than The Social Network. For example, although my #1 is for Black Swan, if I were an Academy member, my vote would probably end up going to The King’s Speech. Films now require 50% of the vote (plus one) to win, so if a film doesn’t have 50% after the first round of voting, the film that came in last is removed from competition and all the ballots that had it in their #1 spot are redistributed according to their #2 choice, and so on and so on. I assume that since Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone, 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, and Inception didn’t score nominations for Best Director, they probably polled lower than the other BP nominees and will be eliminated first. Of the remaining five, The King’s Speech has the most likely crossover appeal: if voters don’t have Black Swan at the top of their ballot, the probably have it at the bottom, since it’s certainly a “love it or hate it” type of movie. The Fighter is probably out, too, since that seems like a film many people admire, but don’t love. Both The Social Network and True Grit might appeal to similar voters and end up splitting some votes between themselves. Finally, like The Social Network, The King’s Speech is an exceptionally well done film; however, unlike Social, Speech is a real crowd pleaser that has a strong message and is quite accessible, which makes it the most likely to win votes throughout the rounds.
Will win: The King’s Speech
If I picked the winner: Black Swan
Snubs: Another Year

Darren Aronofsky directs Vincent Cassel on the set of Black Swan
Best Director
While fans of The Social Network will surely cry foul over the top prize, they’ll likely be able to console themselves with the next best thing: Best Director. David Fincher’s work on The Social Network offers another typically well-made-film from the director, and many feel that it’s the most daring and visionary film among the nominees. I admire the film, but I wouldn’t go that far. Darren Aronofsky’s work on Black Swan is the most audacious and complex work this year, and I really don’t think that any other director could have done better with the same material. The same goes for nominee Christopher Nolan, for his mind-boggling difficult orchestration of Inception. I’d hardly say the same for David O’Russell’s work on The Fighter – it’s good, but the strong acting fuels the film a lot more than the craftsmanship. On the other hand, nobody could have created a revisionist adaptation of True Grit as solidly as the Coen Brothers did, but as good as their work is, do they really need a fifth Oscar to add to their wins from 2007? I think that Fincher’s only competition here is The King’s Speech’s Tom Hooper, but that also seems unlikely. Fincher’s been making consistently good films for years, but Hooper’s only major film credit is The Damned United and it wasn’t all that good; additionally, Fincher benefits from the fact that this category still plays by the “one vote” ballot, and Hooper seems more like a ‘second choice’ nominee.
Will win: David Fincher, The Social Network
If I picked the winner: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Snubs: Christopher Nolan, Inception; Danny Boyle, 127 Hours

Expect a speech from Colin Firth!
Best Actor
Unlike the last two categories, I this one seems like a no-brainer: Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. He’s amazing in the film, he’s won almost all of the top prizes, and he lost last year… case closed. Firth also lost to nominee Jeff Bridges, and if Bridges hadn’t won last year for Crazy Heart, he might actually have a chance for True Grit – at least this nomination disproves claims that last year’s win was really a lifetime achievement award. If it was another year, James Franco would have it in the bag for 127 Hours, but he’ll have to content himself with hosting duties. The dark horse of the bunch could be Javier Bardem for his excellent work in Biutiful because rules require voters to see all the foreign nominees if they want to vote for Best Foreign Language Film, yet there is no rule stating that they must see The King’s Speech in order to vote for Best Picture. (Problematic???) This all seems like silly speculation, though… Firth is among the “sure things” of the night.
Will win: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
If I picked the winner: Firth
Snub: Paul Giamatti in Barney’s Version (robbed!!!), Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine
Does Black Swan appeal to the same voters who awarded Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side?  
Best Actress
Well, I think we all know that I’m rooting for Natalie Portman. She’ll probably win, too, since she’s the driving force in Black Swan and the film has to win something after the great year it’s had. I think that there’s an outside chance that Annette Bening could win for The Kids Are All Right, since 1) she’s great in the film, 2) she was equally good in Mother & Child this year, 3) this is her fourth nomination, 4) she’s highly respected in the field, 5) she’s the chair of the Academy’s Actors Branch, and 6) Black Swan is a polarizing film and some feel that Natalie went a bit too nuts. As much as Jennifer Lawrence, Nicole Kidman, and Michelle Williams are nominated for great performances, the odds barely give Bening a strong chance. The race might have been a bit more interesting had Lesley Manville been nominated for her jaw-dropping performance in Mike Leigh’s Another Year, but unfortunately, Manville was probably the victim of a messy last minute release and a poor campaign by the studio.
Will win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
If I picked the winner: Portman
Snubs: Lesley Manville in Another Year, Sally Hawkins in Made in Dagenham

Fingers crossed for Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech!
Best Supporting Actor:
I think this is one of the tougher categories to call. As it was a month ago, the competition is between Christian Bale for The Fighter and Geoffrey Rush for The King’s Speech. Bale has won more awards and he could have the edge since he’s never won before, but Rush has; however, I honestly can’t see Rush losing. It might be bias because I think that Rush is the best part of the film, but it’s hard to imagine The King’s Speech winning top prize without the majority of the voters checking off Rush’s name on the ballot as well. Then again, with seven nominations, The Fighter is bound to win something. Time to pull out the coin!
Will win: Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech?
If I picked the winner:: Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech!

Jacki Weaver should win Best Supporting Actress, but did enough voters see Animal Kingdom?
Best Supporting Actress
This category is a disaster! I’m crossing my fingers in hopes that enough voters actually saw Animal Kingdom and the great performance by dark horse Jacki Weaver. Weaver deserves to win by a landslide, but it seems unlikely given the limited run of the film. She could benefit from the potentially self-destructive efforts of front-runner Melissa Leo, who put her work in The Fighter at risk by circulating a pair of tacky and notorious For Your Consideration ads shortly after her wins at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards. I really like Leo and her work in The Fighter, so I’ve avoided commenting on the situation: The uproar against her has been far too mean-spirited and it ignores the quality of her performance. (Did we not learn anything from Mo’Nique last year?) The backlash against Leo could throw some votes to her Fighter co-star Amy Adams or to Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech; however, most of the smear tactics on the Internet have been directed towards Bonham Carter since her win at the BAFTA’s, so Leo might be safe. All I hope is that the dirty tricks against Leo and HBC don’t swing votes over to Hailee Steinfeld for her bigscreen debut  in True Grit. It would be a slap in the face to the other nominees if Steinfeld won, since they’ve been slugging it out in the business for years, but are still relegated to supporting roles. Additionally, although Steinfeld gives an admirable performance in the film, it’s a lead role. She is in virtually the whole film…I think Colin Firth has less screen time in The King’s Speech! The blatant cheating by Steinfeld’s studio overshadowed stronger performances by actresses who had smaller roles in their films, and it’s a mystery that Steinfeld fooled voters, since it was only two years ago that voters rejected The Weinstein Company's campaign for Kate Winslet as Best Supporting Actress in The Reader and awarded her in the lead instead. I hope that Steinfeld’s extra presence doesn’t give her the edge, especially since her role isn’t all that challenging to begin with. While Steinfeld makes an easy part look tough, the four other nominees make their complex roles look easy, which is often a mark of great acting. After all this, though, I’m going to hope that enough voters are making it about the performance and not the politics, so I think that Leo will still win, although by a far slimmer margin than she did at previous ceremonies.
Will win: Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Will win: Amy Adams, The Fighter
Will win: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
If I picked the winner: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Snubs: Rosamund Pike, Barney’s Version; Marion Cotillard, Inception; Barbara Hershey, Black Swan

Whew! I’ve worn myself out with the major categories, so here’s a full list of nominees with quick picks. Agree/disagree? Who are you rooting for?
Free bragging rights to all those who out predict me this year!!!

★ Will win
If I picked the winner
Snub: A nominee I would have picked instead

Best Picture:
    Black Swan – Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
    The Fighter – David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
    Inception – Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
    The Kids Are All Right – Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
The King's Speech – Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
    127 Hours – Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
    The Social Network – Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin
    Toy Story 3 –  Darla K. Anderson, Producer
    True Grit – Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
   Winter's Bone – Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

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

Actor in a Leading Role:
    Javier Bardem in Biutiful
    Jeff Bridges in True Grit
    Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network
Colin Firth in The King's Speech
    James Franco in 127 Hours

Actor in a Supporting Role:
    Christian Bale in The Fighter
    John Hawkes in Winter's Bone
    Jeremy Renner in The Town
    Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech

Actress in a Leading Role:
    Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right
    Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole
    Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman in Black Swan
    Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine

Actress in a Supporting Role:
    Amy Adams in The Fighter
    Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech
★Melissa Leo in The Fighter
    Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit
    Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom

Adapted Screenplay: 
    127 Hours – Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin
    Toy Story 3 – Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
    True Grit – Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
    Winter's Bone – Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini
Snub: Incendies – Denis Villeneuve

Original Screenplay:
    Another Year – Mike Leigh
    The Fighter – Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington
    Inception – Christopher Nolan
    The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech – David Seidler
Snubs: Please Give – Nicole Holofcener

Animated Feature Film:
    How to Train Your Dragon – Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
    The Illusionist – Sylvain Chomet
Toy Story 3 – Lee Unkrich

Art Direction:
-Alice in Wonderland
Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
-The King's Speech
Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr
-True Grit
Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

    Black Swan – Matthew Libatique
    Inception – Wally Pfister
    The King's Speech – Danny Cohen
    The Social Network – Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit – Roger Deakins
Snubs: 127 Hours (Anthony Dod Mantle, Enrique Chediak), I am Love (Yorick Le Saux)

Costume Design:
    Alice in Wonderland – Colleen Atwood
    I Am Love – Antonella Cannarozzi
The King's Speech – Jenny Beavan
    The Tempest – Sandy Powell
    True Grit – Mary Zophres
Snubs: Colleen Atwood should have been nominated for the glamorous threads of The Tourist and not for the garishly over-the-top costumes of Alice in Wonderland

Documentary Feature:
    Exit through the Gift Shop – Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz
    Gasland – Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
Inside Job – Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
    Restrepo Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
    Waste Land – Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley
Snub: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Documentary Short Subject:
“Killing in the Name” – Jed Rothstein
“Poster Girl” – Sara Nesson and Mitchell W. Block
“Strangers No More” – Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
“Sun Come Up” – Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger
“The Warriors of Qiugang” – Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Film Editing:
    Black Swan – Andrew Weisblum
    The Fighter – Pamela Martin
    The King's Speech – Tariq Anwar
    127 Hours – Jon Harris
The Social Network – Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter
Snubs: Inception – Lee Smith (possibly the strangest snub of all!)

Foreign Language Film:
    Biutiful – Mexico
    Dogtooth – Greece
    In a Better World – Denmark
Incendies – Canada
    Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) – Algeria

    Barney's Version – Adrien Morot
    The Way Back – Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
The Wolfman – Rick Baker and Dave Elsey
Snub: The Tempest

Original Score:
    How to Train Your Dragon – John Powell
    Inception – Hans Zimmer
    The King's Speech – Alexandre Desplat
    127 Hours – A.R. Rahman
The Social Network – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Snub: Never Let Me Go – Rachel Portman

Original Song (click the link, have a listen, and judge for yourself!)
    “Coming Home” from Country Strong –Tom Douglas, Troy Verges, Hillary Lindsey
    “I See the Light” from Tangled –Alan Menken and Glenn Slater
★“If I Rise” from 127 Hours –A.R. Rahman, Dido and Rollo Armstrong
    “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 – Randy Newman
Snubs: You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” from Burlesque; African Child” from Get Him to the Greek

Short Film (Animated):
“Day & Night” Teddy Newton
“The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
“Let's Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe
“The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann
“Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois

Short Film (Live Action):
“The Confession” Tanel Toom
“The Crush” Michael Creagh
“God of Love” Luke Matheny
“Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt
“Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Sound Editing:
Inception –Richard King
    Toy Story 3 – Tom Myers and Michael Silvers
    Tron: Legacy – Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague
    True Grit – Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey
    Unstoppable – Mark P. Stoeckinger

Sound Mixing:
Inception – Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick
    The King's Speech – Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley
    Salt – Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin
    The Social Network – Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten
    True Grit – Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland

Visual Effects:
    Alice in Wonderland – Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
    Hereafter – Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky and Joe Farrell
Inception – Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
    Iron Man 2 – Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick