Thursday, February 24, 2011

Predictions for the 83rd Academy Awards

Well today's the day you've all been waiting for: Oscar Prediction Day! If you've been reading all my reviews (and I'm sure you have, since literally SEVERAL people read this blog every single day!) then you probably have a pretty good idea of where I think all the chips will fall this Sunday night, but I have always reserved the right to change my mind, and I've always liked to make a crazy prediction or two just so everyone thinks I'm a genius if it comes true (this is a good way to win...or embarrass oneself in an Oscar pool). Now without further ado, my Oscar predictions for the best achievements in film for 2010:


BEST PICTURE
Let's face it, the race for Best Picture has been a two-film race from the beginning. While gaining a lot of publicity last year for expanding the Best Picture race to 10 films, the Academy can't change the fact that a couple of films are always going to gather all the awards-season buzz. So which will it be, The Social Network or The King's Speech? Pundits seem split on this; in Gold Derby's poll of 23 Oscar prognosticators, most say the The King's Speech will emerge victorious, but 6 are still holding out hope for The Social Network (and one chose Inception). To me, the answer is simple: The Academy loves films about royalty(The Queen, Shakespeare in Love, The Young Victoria) and films about people with disabilities (Forrest Gump, My Left Foot, Children of a Lesser God), and The King's Speech has both. This film won the BAFTA, the DGA, and the Producer's Guild Award, and Oscar is the next prize it will be taking home.
Verdict: The King's Speech should win easily, but The Social Network could still make a comeback.


BEST DIRECTOR
Everyone seems to be split on this one this year. Often, in a close Best Picture race, voters will split their votes for Best Picture and Best Director between different films; certainly this year’s contest is close enough that this is a real possibility.
Verdict: With voters wanting to seem less stuffy by rewarding The Social Network, David Fincher will take home this award


BEST ACTOR
Colin Firth is well liked in Hollywood, he is fantastic in The King's Speech, and he has never won an Academy Award. This one is a slam dunk. While Eisenberg and Franco both earned rave reviews, and Bardem was excellent as always, the best way to guarantee yourself an Oscar is to play a royal...just ask Helen Mirren, Cate Blanchett, and Judi Dench.
Verdict: Colin Firth is the closest thing to a sure bet we have this year.


BEST ACTRESS
Several pundits in recent weeks have been predicting a dark horse win for Annette Bening for The Kids are All Right, but I think this category still belongs to Natalie Portman this year. Portman's performance has won her the Screen Actor's Guild Award and the BAFTA, and has been widely regarded as her best yet. Academy voters also tend to (subconsciously?) vote for whoever will make the show most interesting (how else do you explain Marisa Tomei?), and Portman is my vote for most likely to cry and give a great speech.
Verdict: I don't care what Peter Travers of Rolling Stone says, Natalie Portman will win Best Actress for Black Swan.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Having won most of the pre-Oscar awards, Christian Bale looked like a sure thing a few weeks ago for his role in The Fighter. However, since Geoffrey Rush beat him at the BAFTAs a couple weeks ago, some of the shine has come off (pun intended). That said, Bale should still emerge victorious, but this was a more bruising Oscar contest than it was once shaping up to be.
Verdict: Christian Bale isn't as safe a bet as he was, but he will most likely edge out Geoffrey Rush for the prize.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
This is the biggest wild card of the major categories. For awhile it seemed like Melissa Leo had this award all locked up. Her performance was terrific, she won the Golden Globe and the SAG Award, but in early February, Leo caused a bit of controversy when she took out ads in the trade papers showing off her "glamorous" side. This may have soured some voters on her. Also to consider: Leo and The Fighter co-star Amy Adams are both nominated in the same category, making it likely that the film's fans could split support thus giving the award to another actress. The most likely candidate: 14-year old True Grit star Hailee Steinfeld. Her performance has earned great critical reviews and several critic's groups' awards, and her youth and innocence represent the antithesis of what people hate about the shameless campaigning.
Verdict: I think it will be Hailee Steinfeld, but Melissa Leo could still be in the running.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Aaron Sorkin is perhaps the greatest writer of our time. He has written some of the best plays (A Few Good Men), films (The American President) and TV shows (The West Wing, Sports Night) of the past 20 years, and The Social Network is his most acclaimed project in a decade and his highest-grossing film in nearly two decades. Moreover, the reason The Social Network is so compelling to watch is Sorkin's trademark rapidfire, witty dialogue. That his words are what we most remember about the film is both a positive for Sorkin, and a negative for some of the film's other nominees.
Verdict: Aaron Sorkin all the way. The Social Network will earn him a long-overdue Oscar.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
My sister said to me today, having not yet seen The King's Speech, "I still don't see the appeal. A guy with a stutter? Cool...but everyone loves it." The appeal is that David Seidler took what could very well have been a dull concept for a film and made it compelling, made the audience live and die with King George's successes and setbacks. For writing a fun, entertaining, and compelling film about what could have been a boring subject (and because he won the BAFTA just last week), it seems an Oscar is in the cards for David Seidler.
Verdict: David Seidler should win easily for The King's Speech.


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Conventional wisdom says that if a film is nominated for Oscars in other categories as well, (especially major ones), it has a better shot at the Best Foreign Language Film prize. Javier Bardem got a well deserved Best Actor nomination for Biutiful. Also aiding Mexico's submission is that Biutiful is the only film to get any sort of wider release in the US. These things matter less than you think though, since voters have to see all five films before they can vote in this category. (That rule is applied to the short film, documentary, and foreign language categories only; a voter who only saw Sex and the City 2 and nothing else last year can still vote in the remaining 19 categories.) Because of this, and because it won the Golden Globe, Denmark's In a Better World has a slight edge.
Verdict: In a Better World will most likely win, but Biutiful could upset.


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Do I really even need to say again why no other film has a chance this year besides Toy Story 3? OK, here goes: It is the highest-grossing film of 2010 and the highest-grossing animated film of ALL TIME! It was almsot universally loved by critics and audiences alike. It had heart and a funnybone, and if all that doesn't do it for you try this on for size: it's nominated for Best Picture. That means the Academy has already said its better then the other two films in the category since they weren't nominated for the top prize.
Verdict: Toy Story 3, duh!.


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
A few of these films this year got some wider releases than usual, but the one that everyone is talking about is Inside Job about the 2008 financial meltdown. It's topical, relevant, and (i hear) well made, and looks poised to take home the Academy Award.
Verdict: Inside Job


BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
I haven't seen any of these films, nor have I heard much about them so I'm going to defer to the wisdom of the crowd here, and the closest thing to a consensus among pundits on this one is "Strangers No More".
Verdict: "Strangers No More", with a chance that any other film could win...really...any of them.


BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
This is a tough one. I really liked four of the five films, but the two best are "Day & Night" and "The Gruffalo." I have to say "Day & Night" has a slight advantage because it played before Toy Story 3 and therefore was seen by a very wide audience. On the other hand, voters need to see all 5 films before they can vote in this category, so this doesn't really affect them. "The Gruffalo" is funny and clever—not to mention rhyming— and features this year's Oscar darling Helena Bonham Carter. This really could go either way.
Verdict: Verrrrrrrry slight advantage to "The Gruffalo," but "Day & Night could pull out a not-that surprising win.


BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM
My theory with this category used to be just pick the film with the coolest name, and to be honest that theory got me wins in this category as much as not. Having seen the five nominated shorts this year, makes it so much more difficult because they were all so good. I'm going to have to go with "Wish 143," though, because it's funny and it has heart. It follows the story of a teenager with terminal cancer who is asked by the British equivalent of the Make-a-Wish Foundation what he wants, and he tell them his wish is to lose his virginity. What's not to love?
Verdict: "Wish 143" but i won't complain no matter what wins.


BEST ART DIRECTION
The King's Speech


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
True Grit


BEST FILM EDITING
The Social Network


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
As in most categories this year, this one is The Social Network vs. The King's Speech; It's new and hip vs. traditional. The Social Network won the Golden Globe while The King's Speech took the BAFTA. Overall, It looks like The Social Network should win, but if a sweep starts early for The King's Speech, expect Alexandre Desplat to get caught in the wave.
Verdict: The Social Network


BEST ORIGINAL SONG
All the songs are pretty good, but the one that stands out above the rest is "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3. It's the kind of sappy, sweet song we've come to expect from Randy Newman every year (and especially in every Pixar film).If the Academy is trying to act all cool and modern (remember "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"?), they could reward Dido's "If I Rise" from 127 Hours, but that seems unlikely.
Verdict: "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3 will earn randy Newman his second Oscar.


BEST SOUND EDITING
Inception


BEST SOUND MIXING
Inception


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Inception


BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Take a look at the last 10 years of Best Costume Design winners and you may notice a pattern: The Young Victoria, The Duchess, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Marie Antionette, Memoirs of a Geisha...hmm...these all seem like period films. More often than not they also involve royalty. Does that sound like any films this year?
Verdict: With 0% of precincts reporting, CNN is ready to call this race for The King's Speech.


BEST MAKEUP
Academy voters sometimes treat this category as "Most Makeup" rather than "Best Makeup," and they may just assume that the creature-feature The Wolfman had the best makeup out there this year. Personally, I'd love to give this award to Alice in Wonderland like the BAFTAs did, but for some reason beyond understanding, it didn't get nominated. The Way Back and Barney's Version are both great films, with the latter having somewhat more impressive makeup work. If the Academy voters do what they should, they'll pick Barney's Version, but that's not the safest bet out there.
Verdict: Barney's Version should win this one, but should doesn't always do it at the Oscars, and The Wolfman has a decent chance of stealing it.

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