We are fewer than 24 hours from the announcement of the 2011 Oscar nominations, so it is high time for an eleventh hour predictions update. Despite the fact that my last predictions took place prior to the nomination announcements by many of the major guilds, there were not too many changes. View the entire list of predictions that have been updates so far here and see the analysis below.
It seems that there are 11 films that have a legitimate shot at hearing their name announced as Best Picture nominees tomorrow morning and a few waiting on the outside to be spoilers. The most solid are The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Inception, Black Swan, True Grit, and The Fighter. Films that aren’t quite locks, but seem like pretty safe bets are The Kids Are All Right and Toy Story 3. That leaves Winter’s Bone, The Town, and 127 Hours to fight it out for the 9th and 10th spot. Debra Granik’s Sundance winning drama Winter’s Bone has been a champion at many independent film Awards ceremonies this year. It should play very well with the contingent of Academy voters that gravitate towards the smaller releases. I expect it to hold on to the 9th spot.
Despite speculation when The Dark Knight was snubbed, the Academy proved last year that they have nothing against commercial fare, nominating The Blind Side, District 9, and Avatar. The Town was one of the commercially best received films of the Fall movie season and has a strong studio backing it. I’m predicting it to take the 10th spot over 127 Hours, a film that has been almost completely absent this precursor season and people are continually hesitant to see.
1) The Social Network
2) The King’s Speech
3) The Fighter
4) Black Swan
6) True Grit
7) The Kids Are All Right
8) Toy Story 3
9) Winter’s Bone
10) The Town
Alternate: 127 Hours | Possible Surprise: Shutter Island
I am going conservative in this category and predicting that the five individuals nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award will also find fortune with the Academy. Throughout the season there have been five films that continually appear on lists and awards charts and those five directors don’t have to fight too hard to stay in the spotlight. There will be much vindication for Christopher Nolan fans who are still bitter about his 2008 snub.
1) David Fincher – The Social Network
2) Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech
3) Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
4) David O. Russell – The Fighter
5) Christopher Nolan – Inception
Alternate: Ethan and Joel Coen – True Grit | Possible Surprise: Lee Unkrich – Toy Story 3
The five actors that I am predicting to get nominated for Best Actor have not changed since October, despite the fact that certain signs might have indicated a changing direction of the race. Colin Firth is the clear frontrunner and James Franco seems like the closest thing to a lock. Jesse Eisenberg and Jeff Bridges should be able to ride the wave of support following their respective films. It’s the fifth spot that has given me much pause. I find it hard to imagine that the Academy will resist the chance to nominate screen legend Robert Duvall, although he did recently miss out on a BAFTA nomination while Javier Bardem sneaked in. Many fellow actors have come out to rally support for Bardem in Hollywood, but if it’s down between Bardem and Duvall, I would think that seasoned thesps will vote for the latter.
1) Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
2) James Franco – 127 Hours
3) Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network
4) Jeff Bridges – True Grit
5) Robert Duvall – Get Low
Alternate: Javier Bardem – Biutiful | Possible Surprise: Paul Giamatti – Barney’s Version
One of the aspects that makes predicting Best Actress particularly difficult is the uncertain category classification of several potential nominees. Hailee Steinfeld is being campaigned by Paramount as a supporting actress, despite the fact that she is clearly lead. The Academy has gone against a studio’s expectations in the past and there is no reason that they should not put her in the category she belongs. Lesley Manville has received much praise for her performance in Another Year, although it seems like even critics can’t agree on whether she is a lead or supporting actress. I suspect that confusion might ultimately cost her a nomination. There is also the conundrum of Julianne Moore who belongs in lead category and is being campaigned in the lead category, but has a better chance of making it in supporting. The Academy could put her there just because they want to find a way to reward her. As far as the actual nominees, I’m sticking with the ones I’ve had most of the fall.
1) Natalie Portman – Black Swan
2) Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right
3) Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone
4) Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole
5) Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine
Alternate: Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit | Possible Surprise: Noomi Rapace – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Best Supporting Actor
Is it better to choose a performance that was well-liked by the critics, but did not receive much precursor attention or one that was present in the precursors, but is in a film so small most won’t have seen it? In this case, I am going to go with instinct and choose Winter’s Bone‘s John Hawkes over The Social Network‘s Andrew Garfield. A lot of attention is being paid to Garfield because of his Spider-Man gig, but one has to set aside the hype because you can bet many Academy members don’t get caught up in it. Hawkes is loved by the continually growing indie-contingent and that should help him secure the fifth spot on the ballot.
1) Christian Bale – The Fighter
2) Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech
3) Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right
4) Jeremy Renner – The Town
5) John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone
Alternate: Andrew Garfield – The Social Network | Possible Surprise: Armie Hammer – The Social Network
Best Supporting Actress
If I were to put money on the category that I am going to get the most predictions wrong tomorrow, it would be Best Supporting Actress. The confusing category could go any which way in terms of which women it decides to support, who it puts in what category, and whether it goes for new blood or established ladies. It’s looking like The Fighter is going to double up with Adams and Leo both getting in. I’m thinking that the Academy is going to listen to Paramount and put Hailee Steinfeld in supporting, so she should be a lock. Bonham-Carter was at one point the frontrunner, but has been fading into the background. Lesley Manville could sneak in here as Mike Leigh’s actresses often receive attention. However, I’m going to go with Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom for the fifth spot.
1) Melissa Leo – The Fighter
2) Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit
3) Helena Bonham-Carter – The King’s Speech
4) Amy Adams – The Fighter
5) Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom
Alternate: Lesley Manville – Another Year | Possible Surprise: Dianne Wiest – Rabbit Hole
Best Adapted Screenplay
Curiously this year my top ten Oscar predictions consists of precisely 5 adapted and 5 original screenplays. That makes it pretty easy to split it down the middle. However, there is always the chance that an outsider sneaks in like Rabbit Hole, The Way Back, or 127 Hours.
1) The Social Network
2) Toy Story 3
3) True Grit
4) Winter’s Bone
5) The Town
Alternate: 127 Hours | Possible Surprise: The Way Back
Best Original Screenplay
Although I haven’t seen Another Year, I find it hard to imagine that a Mike Leigh script does not get nominated. However, my instinct is putting Another Year as my alternate and instead opting for the five Original Screenplays that are Best Picture frontrunners. Everything statistically and historically is telling me that won’t happen, but I’m going to predict it anyway.
1) The King’s Speech
3) The Kids Are All Right
4) The Fighter
5) Black Swan
Alternate: Another Year | Possible Surprise: Get Low
Coming next…Part 2 – Animated, Documentary, Foreign Films