Sunday, January 30, 2011

Early Oscar Predictions

I will make my official and final predictions quite close to the ceremony, but here I'll list out my instincts at the moment. Later I will take time to reflect, read what other prognosticators have to say, see how the campaigning plays out, etc.

Picture: Before the nominations I would have said The Social Network. Now it's a tough call as The King's Speech led the way with 12 nods. True Grit is in second with 10 which also makes it a contender, but it's almost unheard of for a film to win Best Picture without a Film Editing nomination. It hasn't happened since Ordinary People 30 years ago. Also a Coen brothers film won only 3 years ago. The King's Speech surprised with the PGA win, so I'm going with that one. Especially since the Academy traditionally goes for the costume dramas.

Director: This could well be a split year between these two prizes. I don't see Tom Hooper winning this one even if The King's Speech is ultimately the big winner at the end. Once again, the Coen brothers just won this award 3 years ago, so it seems unlikely. David Fincher, on the other hand, looks like the likely victor, especially considering his Curious Case of Benjamin Button looked like the odds on favorite a couple of years ago and was lost in the big swing toward Slumdog Millionaire. My guess would be for Fincher.

Actor: Colin Firth for The King's Speech. Case closed.

Actress: A month ago I was saying Annette Bening, but it looks like Natalie Portman has the momentum. So Bening will lose this award for the third time in a row to a younger actress (she's already lost twice to Hilary Swank).

Supporting Actor: For the moment I'm hesitatingly saying Christian Bale. But Gregory Rush was simply outstanding in The King's Speech (not to take away from Bale's brilliant performance in The Fighter). And perhaps lots of voters will remember Bale's foul-mouthed rant at cinematographer Shane Hurlbut on the set of Terminator: Salvation and think twice about giving him an award.

Supporting Actress: This is a tough one. I'm going with Melissa Leo for the moment, but Hailee Steinfeld is a pretty good bet also. But also consider that the supporting categories can sometimes throw a surprise out there, so it could go to Jacki Weaver if enough voters see Animal Kingdom.

Original Screenplay: Inception has a strong chance, but I think this is going to The King's Speech.

Adapted Screenplay: I have little doubt that Aaron Sorkin will win this for The Social Network.

Animated Feature: Toy Story 3. Next!

Foreign Language Film: Most likely Biutiful from Mexico.

Film Editing: There was a time when this award almost always went to the Best Picture winner, but more and more often it's going to a different film. I'm saying The Social Network for the piecing together of what is essentially three different threads in a seamless effort.

Cinematography: This might be one of the most difficult awards to call. Will this award go to The King's Speech just to be on the bandwagon? Will Roger Deakins finally get his well-deserved Oscar for True Grit even though its cinematography draws the least attention to itself in this bunch? Perhaps The Social Network for its cold metallic look. What about the dark recesses of Black Swan? Or the absolutely beautiful Inception? For now I'm going with The Social Network.

Art Direction: The King's Speech. The Academy almost always rewards the British costume drama when there's one on the docket.

Costume Design: Ditto this category, but I think they'll go for Colleen Atwood's fantastic work in Alice in Wonderland. Three time winner Sandy Powell is a strong contender for The Tempest, but have enough voters seen it?

Original Score: This is an unbelievably strong crop of musical score nominees with the exception of 127 Hours, whose music I can't recall. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's score for The Social Network is exceptional and might just win if it isn't too offbeat for the Academy. Otherwise we're looking at an Oscar either for Hans Zimmer's pounding Inception score (Zimmer's only Oscar is for The Lion King and this is a guy who wrote the music for The Thin Red Line and Gladiator) or Alexandre Desplat's wonderful work on The King's Speech. Desplat has exploded onto the movie scene in recent years, churning out incredible music in films as diverse as Lust, Caution and Fantastic Mr. Fox. I am going with The King's Speech, but may change my mind later.

Original Song: I'm not really familiar with any of the four nominated songs, but I'll go with Country Strong.

Makeup: Rick Baker for The Wolfman because it's the most obviously rendered makeup effects of the three nominees.

Visual Effects: Last year I complained that this category needs to be expanded to five nominees, which the Academy has done, and this year they've included one that doesn't even deserve to be on the list. My pick is for Inception.

Sound Mixing: Inception again.

Sound Editing: And again Inception.

Documentary Feature: Probably Restrepo, the film made by film makers who risked their lives by spending a full year embedded with a squad of Marines in Afghanistan.

For the next three I'm shooting in the dark because I know nothing about them. I always try to seek out as many as I can to make a better guess before the ceremony, but right now...

Documentary Short: Killing in the Name because the title sounds good.

Live Action Short: Na Wewe because it's about genocide in Burundi. But Wish 143 is about a terminally ill teenager. Hmmm.

Animated Short: The Gruffalo. It's based on a well-known children's book. Interestingly, Helena Bonham Carter, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress this year, did a voice in this film.

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