Wednesday, February 16, 2011

83rd Academy Awards: Predictions (Picture, Direction, Performances)

With less than two weeks to go before Oscar night, I thought I would get started on my predictions for the big day. Leading the way with 12 nominations, and consistent success at the lead-up ceremonies, is The King's Speech. Following this we have True Grit (10), The Social Network and Inception (both 8).

Best Picture 

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Having now seen all of the nominees if I had to choose a top 5 here it would be The Social Network, Black Swan, Inception, 127 Hours and The Kids are All Right. But, again we have ten nominees (and ten strong ones this year), and it looks like The King's Speech is now the favorite. Leading the way with 12 nominations, and picking up DGA, SAG and BAFTA awards, it has surpassed The Social Network as the one to beat. I really enjoyed The King's Speech, and I hope Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush find themselves rewarded, but I really don't think it is the best film of the year. 127 Hours, which just made the cut, was one of the years best film experiences, but a victory looks unlikely. And Toy Story 3, which wasn't as good as Pixar's representative last year, Up (in a weaker year), also doesn't have much of a chance. Winter's Bone and The Kids Are All Right are certainly two of the years best indie darlings. Great screenplays, exceptional performances from their ensemble, and beautifully directed by both Debra Granik and Lisa Cholodenko. It is sad to foresee they may walk away with nothing. True Grit and The Fighter, both quite conformative to popular genre, were both propelled by exceptional performances and astute direction from The Coen Bros and David O. Russell, who both featured amongst the nominees for Best Director. They have very strong outside chances, but I don't see it. Inception was the best film of the year until The Social Network came along, but even then it seemed like a two film race. Christopher Nolan's greatest film is unlikely to surprise, especially since he was mysteriously snubbed for direction. That leaves two. Black Swan is a masterpiece of psychological horror, which likely won't attract too many votes from the Academy, and features the best performance of the year. But snubs for supporting actress, screenplay and sound (leaving a total of 5 nominations), doesn't give me confidence. The Social Network, propelled by Aaron Sorkin's brilliant adapted screenplay and Fincher's marvelous direction, is the BEST film of the year, and my personal selection as the winner. Still, I can't shake the thought that The King's Speech will take it out.

MY PREDICTION: The King's Speech

ALSO LIKELY: The Social Network

Best Director

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

The most glaring absence here is Christopher Nolan, with the Coen Bros' taking his spot. Despite being a grand Western and sensational re-adaptation of Charles Portis' novel, this is not the Coens' best work. David O. Russell transformed what could have been a generic boxing biopic into a moving family drama that managed to balance the stories of both Mickey and Dicky, and made it more than a film about boxing. Tom Hooper must be commended for drawing outstanding performances from Firth and Rush (but then Firth was even better in A Single Man), but his win at the DGA was somewhat unjustified. The Social Network is Fincher's best work since Se7en (1995) and he has made some great film (Zodiac!!) and he is the likely winner here, despite The King's Speech taking out the top gong. I personally feel that the best directed film is Black Swan. Darren Aronofsky matched his work in The Wrestler (2008) here, and transformed this psychosexual thriller into a visionary work of art. He would be my pick, but is sitting in third place at the moment.

MY PREDICTION: David Fincher (The Social Network)

ALSO LIKELY: Tom Hooper (The King's Speech)

BEST DIRECTION THAT WON'T WIN: Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) 

Best Actress

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Natalie Portman looks set to win it this year. She won the Golden Globe, the SAG and the BAFTA, which all but locks you in for the Oscar. Her nearest competitor is Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right, who was also noticeably exceptional. Jennifer Lawrence and Michelle Williams also gave outstanding performances, but they will have their year in the future. I haven't seen Rabbit Hole but reports are that Nicole Kidman is incredible. Despite the strong group of nominees, I think Natalie has it wrapped up.

MY PREDICTION: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

ALSO LIKELY: Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right

BEST PERFORMANCE THAT WON'T WIN: Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

Best Actor

Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

Javier Bardem claimed the last spot over Ryan Gosling for his work in Biutiful, and it is the only performance I am yet to see. Jeff Bridges was great as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit but I don't think it warranted a nomination to be honest, and he certainly shouldn't win. Youngsters Jesse Eisenberg and James Franco are both outstanding. Eisenberg was given the best lines of the year, and made you feel sympathetic about a genuine asshole, and Franco's one man show in 127 Hours is just so good. He is Colin Firth's closest danger. Firth, who really should have won last year for A Single Man, will get the award this year, for his heartwarming portrayal of the stammering King George VI in The King's Speech. 

MY PREDICTION: Colin Firth (The King's Speech)

ALSO LIKELY (BUT UNLIKELY): James Franco (127 Hours)


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

I loved Jacki Weaver's performance in Animal Kingdom despite her character being written extremely over-the-top, but she is the outsider here. The Fighter duo were both exceptional, with Melissa Leo receiving the most recognition to date. She looks to repeat her Golden Globe and SAG victories with another one here. Hailee Steinfeld (who technically is a lead in True Grit), at just fourteen years of age, and in her first film role, is astonishingly good in the Coen Bros Western. She is my pick. Helena-Bonham Carter, who won the BAFTA on the weekend, really didn't do much at all in The King's Speech. I personally find her inclusion here a mystery, but she remains lost in her own hype. Lesley Manville, for Another Year, certainly missed out. I think it will go to Leo, but watch out for Hailee Steinfeld in the future.

MY PREDICTION: Melissa Leo (The Fighter)

ALSO LIKELY: Helena Bonham-Carter (The King's Speech)

BEST PERFORMANCE THAT WON'T WIN: Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) 

Best Supporting Actor 

Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech       
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids are All Right 

No Andrew Garfield for The Social Network! Certainly one of the biggest snubs of the year. The second best performance on the years best ensemble. Jeremy Renner was the best performance in the other-wise underwhelming The Town, but i still find it hard to leave out Garfield, who was the emotional centre of his film. This is one of the best categories though. John Hawkes was great as Uncle Teardrop in Winter's Bone. Really worked well alongside Jennifer Lawrence, and his character has a great developmental arc. Mark Ruffalo, one of my favorite actors, makes it all look easy in The Kids Are All Right. In the end you find it hard to blame such an awesome guy for all the trouble he and Julianne Moore get up to. Geoffrey Rush, who won the BAFTA for his performance in The King's Speech, works brilliantly alongside Colin Firth. As a support, I think he is the winner here. I have a few problems with Christian Bale. I found him to be a co-lead, as nearly the entire first half is about him. Also, before he goes to prison, I think his performance draws way too much attention. He is more subtle once he is released, which is where I think he wins this. Once again, his impressive physical transformation shows his commitment to the role, which was demanding and challenging. Bale will take it out, but this is a strong category. A win for Rush (if The King's Speech takes the sweep) won't surprise though.

MY PREDICTION: Christian Bale (The Fighter)

ALSO LIKELY: Geoffrey Rush (The King's Speech)

BEST PERFORMANCE THAT WON'T WIN: John Hawkes (Winter's Bone)


  1. It would be nice to see The King's Speech win Best Film, I think it deserves it.

  2. It's a really moving period piece that is given such a modern look through its cinematography. What more is there to say about the performances? Firth and Rush are phenomenal. I wasn't so impressed by Helena Bonham Carter though. I don't think she did much at all. I was also surprised by how funny it was. I think that's what I enjoyed the most, the moments between Bertie and Logue. It's a great film. But it isn't my pick for Best Picture. We shall see!