Saturday, February 26, 2011


Every year yours truly matches wits with (or at least tries to think like) members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  And if you enter an Oscar® pool or play along at home, you’re doing the same.  So below are my wishes and predictions for Hollywood’s most glamorous night of 2011:

Best Picture

For some time now Conventional Wisdom (“CW”) has held that THE SOCIAL NETWORK was a lock for the evening’s big prize.  Not any more.  With the Directors Guild and Producers Guild unexpectedly crowning THE KING’S SPEECH, the Best Picture award is in play.  I have a feeling this is going to be one of those SAVING PRIVATE RYAN vs. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE evenings.  I’m going to side with the monarchy this year.

Should Win:  WINTER’S BONE

Best Director

After the head-scratching decision of the Directors Guild, I fear Tom Hooper could win for THE KING’S SPEECH.  Of the Best Director nominees he’s my least favorite (I felt his and the cinematographer’s framing choices were self-conscious and distracting).  David Fincher’s attention to detail is stamped into every frame of THE SOCIAL NETWORK, but he never calls attention to his craft.  This year I think (hope) the Academy is going to split the big prizes.

Should and Will Win:  David Fincher, THE SOCIAL NETWORK

Best Actress

This contest comes down to veteran Annette Bening in THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT and upstart Natalie Portman in BLACK SWAN, if we hold with CW.  Which we do.  Before seeing TKAAR I would have put money on Bening.  After seeing the film, and how her role is closer to a supporting than lead performance, I’m switching to the hardworking Portman, who is in almost every frame.

Should Win:  Jennifer Lawrence, WINTER’S BONE
Will Win:  Natalie Portman, BLACK SWAN

Best Actor

Set aside the fact that Bardem and Bridges have both won already, and that Eisenberg and Franco have years ahead of them to rack up awards.  Set all that aside, because Colin Firth’s performance as George VI in THE KING’S SPEECH is the year’s best, bar none.  Long may he reign.

Should and Will Win:  Colin Firth, THE KING’S SPEECH

Best Supporting Actress

If there’s going to be a major upset, it will be in this category.  You have Amy Adams and Melissa Leo, equally good in THE FIGHTER.  You have the marvelous Hailee Steinfeld (who should have been nominated as lead actress) in TRUE GRIT.  And you have the mesmerizing Helena Bonham Carter in THE KING’S SPEECH.  (I haven’t forgotten Jacki Weaver in ANIMAL KINGDOM, though the Academy already has.)  This will be the voting equivalent of a catfight, and I believe the Queen Mother will outlast them.  But, then again, I could be wrong.

Should Win:  Hailee Steinfeld, TRUE GRIT
Will Win:  Helena Bonham Carter, THE KING’S SPEECH

Best Supporting Actor

CW has this one as a lock.  And I would agree.  (Though I would add that this is the strongest overall acting category.)  Christian Bale’s performance is showy but never sentimental, and it always feels organic.  He deserves the prize, though I wouldn’t mind if he shared it with the understated John Hawkes.

Should Win:  Christian Bale, THE FIGHTER and John Hawkes, WINTER’S BONE
Will Win:  Christian Bale, THE FIGHTER

Best Adapted Screenplay

Again, CW gave this to Aaron Sorkin and THE SOCIAL NETWORK a long time ago.  And I see no reason to alter that opinion.  The Coen Brothers and Boyle & Beaufoy have each won recently, and I don’t see an animated movie (even one as deserving as TOY STORY 3) winning a writing award.

Should Win:  Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini, WINTER’S BONE
Will Win:  Aaron Sorkin, THE SOCIAL NETWORK

Best Original Screenplay

With the clear momentum of THE KING’S SPEECH, you would be foolish to vote against David Seidler.

Should Win:  Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington, THE FIGHTER
Will Win:  David Seidler, THE KING’S SPEECH

Best Animated Film

Don’t get me wrong.  I wanted to see the Pixar folks fall flat on their face with a third TOY STORY installment released 10 years too late.  But it was the happiest crow I ever ate.

Should Win and Will Win:  TOY STORY 3

Best Foreign Language Film

I haven’t seen any of these nominees.  Despite the presence of Javier Bardem, I wouldn’t see BIUTIFUL if it was the last movie on earth.  Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is pretentious.  Suffering through BABEL and 21 GRAMS was enough.  I read about the nominated films and made an educated guess.


Best Documentary Feature

I didn’t see these either.  (Sue me.  I’ve been busy.)  I heard good things about EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, and it would tickle me if it won.  But I suspect INSIDE JOB’s timely dissection of the financial crisis will carry the day.


Best Cinematography

Roger Deakins is long overdue for this award, and TRUE GRIT looks fantastic.  I think he will win.  But don’t count out Wally Pfister for INCEPTION.  He’s been nominated for almost every Chris Nolan movie over the past several years, and could be seen by the Academy as equally deserving.

Should Win and Will Win:  Roger Deakins, TRUE GRIT

Best Film Editing

I love how Pamela Martin cut together THE FIGHTER.  But I think that this award will go to one of the front-runners of the evening, either THE KING’S SPEECH or THE SOCIAL NETWORK.

Should Win:  Pamela Martin, THE FIGHTER
Will Win:  Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, THE SOCIAL NETWORK

Best Costume Design

When in doubt on the costume design award, go for the period piece.  If you have a choice between period pieces, go with a Best Picture front-runner.  In this case, either TRUE GRIT or THE KING’S SPEECH.

Should Win:  Mary Zophres, TRUE GRIT
Will Win:  Jenny Beavan, THE KING’S SPEECH

Best Art Direction

The rules for the art direction award are little different from but similar to the costume design rules.  Period pieces or fantasy films are popular with the academy in this category.  Choose those first.  But, again, it will most likely come down to front-running films.  So that leaves INCEPTION, THE KING’S SPEECH or TRUE GRIT.

Should Win:  TRUE GRIT

Best Original Score

We can take A.R. Rahman out, since he won for SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.  John Powell and Hans Zimmer are likely placeholders so the composers of the two top films can slug it out.  Alexandre Desplat should have been nominated for THE GHOST WRITER and not THE KING’S SPEECH, and the Academy has been testing their street cred lately.  I’m going with the hipper choice this year.

Should Win and Will Win:  Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, THE SOCIAL NETWORK

Best Original Song

I have always detested this category.  I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times there was a song deserving of a nomination, let alone a win.  This year I’m ambivalent.  A.R. Rahman and Randy Newman have won recently.  A country song won last year.  That leaves one choice.

Should Win:  “We Belong Together”, Randy Newman, TOY STORY 3
Will Win:  “I See the Light”, Alan Menken, Glenn Slater, TANGLED

Best Sound Mixing

The rule for this category is to go with a musical or a film about a musician, if available.  Absent that, look for an epic action movie or one of the front-runners.  That takes SALT off the table.  I sense that THE KING’S SPEECH and TRUE GRIT are considered less technically sophisticated than THE SOCIAL NETWORK.  I suspect it will come down to that or INCEPTION.  The outcome will depend on TSN’s momentum.

Should Win and Will Win:  THE SOCIAL NETWORK

Best Sound Editing

The placeholders in this category are TRON: LEGACY and UNSTOPPABLE.  If TRUE GRIT had a serious chance of winning Best Picture, I’d go with that.  But it doesn’t, sadly.  I would focus on INCEPTION and TOY STORY 3.  It could go either way.

Should Win and Will Win:  INCEPTION

Best Visual Effects

This one’s a gimme.

Should Win and Will Win:  INCEPTION

Best Makeup

Did anyone see any of these movies?  I sure didn’t.  THE WOLFMAN was the only one I noticed in theaters, and I would rather transform into a wolf and back on a continuous loop than see that Joe Johnston disaster.  Oh, the winner.  This one’s a tough call.  If there were period makeup, I’d go with that.  No.  The Academy likes fantasy makeup and aging makeup.  Who cares?  I’ll go with the fantasy makeup.


Best Documentary Short Subject

I read an article by someone who saw the movies.  This one sounded good.

Will Win:  SUN COME UP

Best Animated Short Subject

I read an article by someone who saw the movies.  This sounded like a title the voters would like.


Best Live Action Short Subject

Do I really need to again admit I have no clue?

Will Win:  GOD OF LOVE

1 comment:

  1. Well the should wins are taste and nothing is wrong really where taste is concerned... just what speaks to someone, but of your will wins, Brian I think your major picks all are tapping into the Academy's collective unconscious... except maybe supporting actress... I think the Melissa Leo ad stuff is being way overplayed and so much nonsense. She'll take the Oscar the same way she took the SAG award... they are the biggest voting block after all... well cinematography is another issue too.... Deakins is one of the very best but it's a squeaker to me with Black Swan.