I’ve been meaning to get to this all week and here goes.
Best Picture: I still think that expanding this field from 5 to 10 was one of the sillier moves the Academy has made in a long history of silly moves. The ten films nominated are Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are Alright, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone.
I’ve seen 6 of the 10. The early consensus is that this is the year of Social Network with King’s Speech having an outside chance. I think Social Network is a fantastic achievement but I also think it’s a film that won’t hold up over the years. Facebook will one day fade into obscurity and this film will be little more than a curiosity. Academy voters skew old and many of them don’t vote for their favorite film (otherwise Debbie Does Dallas would probably have an Oscar); they vote for films that they think make the Academy look good and tasteful. There’s a month of hardcore campaigning ahead and I’d like to think that the dark horse here is True Grit. It’s the Coen Brothers’ most successful film at the box office and perhaps it might take home the award though I’m not ready to bet on this yet.
Best Director: Darren Aronofsky ‘The Black Swan’, David O. Russell ‘The Fighter’, Tom Hooper ‘The King’s Speech’, David Fincher ‘Social Network’, Coen Brothers ‘True Grit’. This one is Fincher’s to lose. Regardless of anything else, Social Network is a masterpiece of pacing, of taking a film that’s basically scenes of people sitting in rooms talking to each other and keeping things moving briskly. It doesn’t condescend to the audience. And Fincher already took home the DGA award. (Update January 30th: My bad, Tom Hooper got the DGA nod for King’s Speech. Guess I’ll have to break down and watch it but right now I still think Fincher deserves this.)
Best Actress: Annette Bening ‘The Kids Are Alright’, Nicole Kidman ‘The Rabbit Hole’, Jennifer Lawrence ‘Winter’s Bone’, Natalie Portman ‘The Black Swan’, Michelle Williams ‘Blue Valentine’. The only one of these 5 that I’ve seen in Portman but she gives a bravura performance and she should win in a hop, skip and a jete.
Best Actor: Javier Bardem ‘Biutiful’, Jeff Bridges ‘True Grit’, Jesse Eisenberg ‘The Social Network’, Colin Firth ‘The King’s Speech’, James Franco ’127 Hours’. Everyone loves The Dude and here, taking on The Duke, he gives a masterclass in acting. But if it’s going to be a King’s Speech sweep, Firth could win.
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’. The buzz is all around Melissa Leo’s performance but Steinfeld stands a chance.
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’. This is the easiest category to predict. There’s Bale and then there’s everyone else.
Best Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon, Illusionist, Toy Story 3. TS3 would almost seem to be a given here. Voters will see it on the ballot in two places and think, “I won’t vote for this for best picture so I’ll vote for it here.” Unless they’re tired of Pixar winning here, in which case Dragon is a terrific film.
Best Cinematography: I’m guessing the front runner is Roger Deakins for True Grit. Wally Pfister’s work on Inception was also excellent.
Best Adapted Screenplay: My money would be on Aaron Sorkin for Social Network. Someone who has had his share of ups and downs, this is his latest comeback and the Academy will take note of that.
Best Original Screenplay: In this category I’ve only seen The Fighter and Inception and I seriously doubt either of those two films will win.
Best Film Editing: I think Social Network is going to take this one.
That’s not all the categories but most of the so-called major ones. You can see the full list of nominations here.
So which films would you vote for?