Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win Hollywood’s Grand Prize?
By Amy Beth Arkawy
NEWS JUNKIE POSTFeb 25, 2011 at 10:19 am
Often as capricious as it is coveted, the Oscar remains the most prized statue of Hollywood’s seemingly endless awards’ season. And while pitting one film or performance against another is like comparing Milk Duds to mushrooms, that hasn’t stopped cinematic pundits from making our annual best guesses on who will score Oscar gold, and who will go home empty handed.
I’m usually better at this prediction game than I’d like. A few wrong calls would portend a more exciting evening. And I fear the 83rd Academy Awards show Sunday will need all the help it can get in that department. The biggest mystery may surround the show’s inexplicable hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway and whether they will bomb with as much finesse as David Letterman’s now infamous “Uma-Oprah” Oscar hosting stint. A real upset would be the pair scoring a Billy Crystal caliber performance. But, hey, with expectations so low, they may well surprise. I’m also predicting at least one wardrobe malfunction, a dubious collection of colorful fashion disasters, three helter-skelter acceptance speeches, a surprise presenter or two, and Joan Rivers finally melting into the Red Carpet.
Check out my predictions for the top categories. Feel free to play along at home; come back Monday and compare scores.
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
I know I was one of the cinematic lemmings blithely riding the early “The Social Network” Awards train. And the film about the founding of the uber popular social networking site and it’s not so people friendly founder, may still pull out a Best Picture win. But the odds have swung in favor of “The King’s Speech.” After collecting top honors at the Critics Choice, Golden Globes, SAGs, Producers and Directors Guilds, the British historical drama about King George VI and his relationship with his therapist as he conquers a daunting speech impediment has both the Awards momentum and Harvey Weinstein’s ( who co-produces and distributes stateside) marketing mojo going into Sunday’s Oscar ceremony.
Both solid films, neither “The Kings Speech” nor “The Social Network” is particularly daring. Both employ pretty traditional techniques. So it’s amusing to see a plethora of “Network” fans making their case in the blogosphere by comparing this year’s race to the 1977 Oscars which featured a showdown between the ground-breakers “Star Wars” and “Annie Hall,” with Woody Allen’s neo-romantic comedy taking home top prize. One blogger suggested “The Social Network” is comparable to both films.
Sorry, I just don’t see it. If you’re voting for inventiveness “Inception” would easily win. Christopher Nolan’s film about manipulating reality and infiltrating dreams is a bold, ambitious film in such need of serious editing, it cost Nolan a Best Director nod. and will, surely, cost his film the top prize.
What “Social Network” is is a timely movie, cursed, ironically, by its own bad timing. I really thought it would triumph over its early fall release, but alas, I suspect it will not. The film may also suffer from a lagging feel good factor. The truth is, King George VI and his therapist Lionel Logue are far more sympathetic than Mark Zuckerberg. Audiences –and Academy voters–may simply be rooting for the historical Royal more than the contemporary composite of an arrogant young billionaire.
Yet the Academy sometimes goes against the tide. So this is one is still a toss up, with the royal edge remaining with The King.
Will win: “The King’s Speech.”
“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
While the Best Director is usually given in tandem with the Best Picture, it’s not always the case. The Academy has been known to spread around its gold. And if “The King’s Speech” wins, it may award the Best Director statue to “The Social Network‘s” David Fincher. He won the Golden Globe, but “King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper fetched the DGA which is usually a predictor for the Oscar. Quite frankly, Fincher’s fleet direction, which kept “The Social Network” moving at an almost thriller pace ( no small feat considering he timed the movie perfectly around Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant, verbose script; and a lot of the action takes place in a deposition room) should best Hooper’s more deliberate, traditional film making.
Will Win: David Fincher
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”
What I thought might have been the toughest category to predict, looks to now be a breezy victory for Colin Firth. Jesse Eisenberg–who fetched early prizes from the National Board of Review and the L.A. and NY critics– seems to be suffering from “The Social Network’s” fade. And that’s a shame as the young actor, who infuses his less than likable character with pathos and a simmering vulnerability, has truly elevated himself into the adult leading man realm. Jeff Bridges, too, may fall prey to imperfect timing. While his big, boozy turn in “True Grit” may even surpass his “Crazy Heart” performance, that one earned him the Oscar last year, and while not unheard of ( Tom Hanks pulled it off with “Philadelphia” and “Forest Gump“), back-to-back wins are rare.
And just as it was clearly Bridges’ turn last year, so too, it seems to be Firth’s moment to score Oscar gold. The British actor– who has steadily built his nearly 30 year career with over 50 films–arguably deserved the top prize last year for for subtle and nuanced work in “A Single Man.” This year, he takes on King George VI with a blend of bravado and vulnerability that is sure to warm Academy voters’ hearts, Plus this time, everyone is likely to have seen “The King’s Speech.”
Who will win: Colin Firth
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”
I’m not exactly going out on a limb when I remain steadfast in predicting Natalie Portman will dance off with the Best Actress Oscar for “Black Swan.” Yes, Darren Aronofsky’s psycho-sexual thriller is a flawed film, but the star’s performance is bravura. And that little promotional fact that is bandied about with all the frequency of overpriced popcorn dust that Portman spent an arduous year training for the part of a ballet dancer has surely scored points among voting actors. Fewer folks saw Michelle Williams’ captivating, edgy performance in “Blue Valentine“, even fewer probably saw Nicole Kidman’s “Rabbit Hole” turn, fewer still Jennifer Lawrence’s achingly beautiful performance in the haunting “Winter’s Bone.”
There is the growing Annette Bening upset buzz. Yeah, she’s a a three-time past nominee with nary an Oscar to call her own and the Academy has been known to bestow unofficial “career wins.” But Bening isn’t as old as Paul Newman was when he finally won for “The Color of Money.” And she is a member of the Academy’s Board of Governors ( whatever that does for her). She is also a heterosexual star who plays gay, which earned Oscar gold for Sean Penn (“Milk”) and Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia”).
But while her performance in “The Kids Are All Right, ” is admirable, it can’t trump Portman’s undeniable tour de force. And quite frankly, I found Julianne Moore-who got the big awards’ season snub- more interesting as Bening’s quirkier partner.
Will Win: Natalie Portman
Best Supporting Actor:
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”
When upsets occur, it’s often in the supporting categories. So while everyone has Christian Bale–who’s picked up most of the pre-Oscar Awards, as the winner for his volatile performance in “The Fighter,” there is room for Geoffrey Rush–who grabbed the British Academy Award for his delightful turn as the off-beat therapist in “King’s Speech“– or Mark Ruffalo–who offers one of his strongest performances as sperm donor turned late- in- the- game dad in “The Kids Are Alright” –to walk off with unexpected Oscar gold. Rush already has a Best Actor Oscar for his remarkable “Shine” performance. So I’m cheering for Ruffalo, who deserves recognition, as does “Kids.” Of course, Mark Wahlberg was snubbed in the Best Actor category, so it’s up to the Academy to honor David O. Russell’s hardscrabble film with supporting awards. And, as Bale said during his SAG acceptance speech, “This was a loud role and I fucking loved it!” Loud often prevails.
Will Win: Christian Bale
Best Supporting Actress
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”
Speaking of loud, Melissa Leo’s over-the-top tour de force train wreck practically screams, “Yo, chowdaheads, where’s my Oscah?” And until she paid for her own industry “For Your consideration:” glam shot ads, she was a shoo-in. Frankly, whatever so-called backlash that unconventional move may have stirred seems manufactured, another attempt to create controversy and interest in a predictable year.
But Hailee Steinfeld’s break-out role in “True Grit” may now be in play. Still, I wouldn’t bet a year’s supply of Junior Mints against Leo’s abrasive mama. Steinfeld is a young upstart in the wrong category. Hers is really a leading role, and while that maneuver worked to nab an Oscar for Timothy Hutton back in 1981 for “Ordinary People,” I’m guessing it won’t fly here. A formidable actor, respected by the Academy, the fifty something Leo –who was nominated in the Best Actress category two years ago for her quietly powerful role in “Frozen River“– has earned the accolade for both her “Fighter” flamboyance and an impressive career. Let’s just say: this chick’s got range.
Will win: Melissa Leo
Best Original Screenplay
Another Year” Written by Mike Leigh
“The Fighter” Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
“Inception” Written by Christopher Nolan
“The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
“The King’s Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler
If ” King’s Speech” runs the table, Daid Seidler’s screenplay is an easy winner. If Oscar is in a sharing mood, Nolan may score for his inventive “Inception” script, which will also be a consolation prize for the Director shut-out. He did win the award from the Writer’s Guild, but Seidler picked up prizes from the Critic’s Choice and British Academy Awards, among others. It’s a fine, straightforward script with an inspiring back story. Academy voters–particularly writers–will be impressed with Seidler’s patience. Wanting to tell this story for over twenty-five years, by request from the late Queen Mum, the dutiful British subject, waited until her passing to pursue the project.
Will win: David Seidler, “The King’s Speech”
Best Adapted Screenplay
“127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
“The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
“Toy Story 3″ Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
“True Grit” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
“Winter’s Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini
Easier to predict than Portman’s victory: the Oscar goes to Aaron Sorkin’s taut, smart, literate script. He’s already won a bushel of accolades and deserves every one. “The Social Network” script is one of the best in years, and is an integral part of the film’s cultural resonance and what may be its lasting impact.
Will win: Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network.”
For a complete list of categories and nominees, check out the official Oscar website.
The 83rd Academy Awards will be televised live on ABC Sunday at 8 pm, et, 5 pm pt.
Please follow Amy Beth Arkawy on Twitter.
- February 27, 2011 -- Oscar Crowns ‘King’s Speech’; Firth, Portman, Bale, Leo Also Big Winners
- January 25, 2011 -- ‘Social Network,’ ‘King’s Speech,’ Portman Lead Oscar Pack: 2011 Nominations Offer A Few Surprises
- January 21, 2011 -- Awards Season Fatigue? Get Reel: Check Out Hidden Cinematic Gems on DVD
- January 14, 2011 -- Crown Colin Firth’s ‘King’s Speech’ Performance With Oscar Gold
- December 15, 2010 -- ‘The Social Network’ Friends Awards Season And Connects With Our Virtual Age