This is only the third time in the history of the Academy Awards that a man and woman have been co-hosts, with James Franco and Anne Hathaway doing the honors this year. The last time this happened was in 1957 when Celeste Holm and Jerry Lewis hosted. Does this mean that there will be some shocking winners this year? Or will the usual Oscar prognosticators prove correct as they historically do? We won’t find out until February 27, but until then, here’s my annual look into Oscar’s crystal ball (with the projected winner in bold).
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Early on, The Social Network was the heavy favorite after winning Best Picture from most of the critics’ groups, but when The King’s Speech won the Producers Guild Award, the race was on. The Producers Guild Award isn’t as an accurate predictor of Oscar success as some of the other Guild awards, but the past three years have produced the same winners. Since then, though, The King’s Speech has won the top awards from the Directors Guild and the Screen Actors Guild, so it appears that The King’s Speech will be hauling in a king’s ransom on Oscar night.
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
David O. Russell (The Fighter)
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (True Grit)
Only six times in the 63-year history of the Directors Guild Awards has the DGA winner not gone on to claim the Oscar. However, two of those six times have happened since 2000. In 2000, Ang Lee won the DGA Award for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but Steven Soderbergh won the Oscar for Traffic. Then in 2002, Rob Marshall was honored by the DGA for Chicago, but Roman Polanski ended up being honored by Oscar for The Pianist. As with the Best Picture race, the frontrunners are Hooper (The King’s Speech) and Fincher (The Social Network). Hooper won the DGA Award and, since history usually repeats itself, will walk away with the Oscar.
Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
Bening has been here before. The last two times she was nominated, the Best Actress race basically boiled down to her and another actress. Both times, Hilary Swank walked away with the gold man. This time, she shares frontrunner status with Portman, who has won most of the critics’ awards and earned top honors from the Screen Actors Guild. Bening, however, has been lobbying hard and has lots of friends in high places. A few months ago, Javier Bardem was an extreme long shot for a Best Actor nomination until his friends in high places started lobbying on his behalf. Hollywood truly is a who-you-know town, and you can never underestimate the politics involved. But Portman does have the showier, more “actier” role, and Academy voters do seem to vote more for the showier, Black Swan-like roles than the more understated, The Kids Are All Right-like roles.
Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
James Franco (127 Hours)
This is one of the few sure bets this year. Firth is respected by the Academy and has been winning awards left and right.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)
Though Leo has won many of the pre-Oscar awards, including the all-important Screen Actors Guild award, I don’t think this is as sure a bet as some think. Bonham Carter could win due to the increasing momentum for The King’s Speech. The Academy also has a history of awarding young ingénues in this category, so Steinfeld can’t be counted out either.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
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)
Bale was, for a long time, the new Johnny Depp in that he was respected in the industry but never quite connected with audiences on a big commercial level. That has since changed, just like it did for Depp, in the last few years. Though he might not get too many votes from the cinematography branch of the Academy (see his incident during filming of Terminator: Salvation), actors love him, proven by his SAG win.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Mike Leigh (Another Year)
Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington (The Fighter)
Christopher Nolan (Inception)
Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right)
David Seidler (The King’s Speech)
In a box office landscape where big budget movies are either sequels or remakes, Inception stood out as the rare “original” thinking man’s blockbuster that wasn’t based on a comic book, novel or video game. The Nolan Conspiracy is why we have 10 Best Picture nominees now. What is the Nolan Conspiracy? I’m glad you asked. After The Dark Knight failed to score a Best Picture nod a few years ago, there was a huge outcry from both the industry and the public. The very next year, we suddenly have 10 Best Picture nominees. If that had happened the year before, The Dark Knight surely would have made the shortlist. To add a further layer to the conspiracy, Nolan was up for a third Directors Guild Award this year for Inception, but for the third time, was shut out of the Best Director at the Oscars. He’s rightfully seen as one of the few filmmakers who’s able to mix commerce and art – thus, the thinking man’s blockbuster maker – and the Academy members want to reward him for that. His Writers Guild Award reinforces that notion.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours)
Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)
Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3)
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (True Grit)
Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini (Winter’s Bone)
This is another one of the few sure bets, as Sorkin has been sweeping the pre-Oscar prizes. He’s a respected industry veteran and his Writers Guild win solidifies his position as the heavy, heavy favorite.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
How to Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3
When in doubt, as if there was any, go with Pixar. Plus, it’s the only animated film up for Best Picture.