Oh boy, here we go… The 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony is finally upon us this Sunday, February 27th, and it’s going to be a real doozy this year. Will The King’s Speech ride its wave of popularity to sweep the show or will The Social Network and Inception steal its thunder… er, Oscars? Will Melissa Leo’s self-promoting squander her chances at Best Supporting Actress? And will they ever just stop with the stupid interpretive dance routines?
We’ll find out Sunday. Until then we all have office pools and Oscar parties to plan. Not sure what to put on your ballots this year? Crave Online has all the predictions. What will win, what could pull out an upset and just for the hell of it who actually deserves to win the award. We’ll be back Monday with a full analysis of the 83rd Annual Oscar telecast. Good luck!
BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
NOMINEES: 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone
WHO WILL WIN: The King’s Speech
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): The Social Network
WHO SHOULD WIN: Inception
The King’s Speech has the most nominations (almost always an indicator of a Best Picture win) and has swept all the guild awards (also in its favor), and everyone’s still talking about the thing. It’s expected to win, but The Social Network still has all the critical support. We expect the superior Inception will siphon off many of the “hip” votes from The Social Network, giving the conventional (but still quite good) Oscar bait The King’s Speech the edge. On a side note, isn’t it disappointing that despite ten nominees the Best Picture race still boils down to just two real contenders?
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
NOMINEES: Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), The Coen Bros. (True Grit), David Fincher (The Social Network), Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), David O. Russell (The Fighter)
WHO WILL WIN: David Fincher, The Social Network
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
WHO SHOULD WIN: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Director usually matches up with the Best Picture winner, except when the Best Picture winner is extremely conventional and the obvious runner-up is more daring. (See: Gladiator/Traffic, Crash/Brokeback Mountain, etc.) The safe money for once is on David Fincher (who really deserves it, especially since Christopher Nolan got snubbed), but don’t rule out Tom Hooper altogether. Just rule out everyone else.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
NOMINEES: Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), James Franco (127 Hours)
WHO WILL WIN: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Javier Bardem, Biutiful
WHO SHOULD WIN: James Franco, 127 Hours
Colin Firth has both an excellent performance and the “Sorry About Last Year” mentality necessary to take the Oscar… just like he’s taken every other Best Actor award this year. Javier Bardem has some traction for his soulful performance in (the otherwise execrable) Biutiful, but despite being the only other serious contender he runs a distant, distant second. It’s a shame Oscar co-host James Franco doesn’t have a better shot, since his strikingly complex performance in 127 Hours was the best lead performance by an actor all year.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
NOMINEES: Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
WHO WILL WIN: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
POSSIBLE SPOILERS: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
WHO SHOULD WIN: Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
The Academy loves to give the Best Actress Oscar to young ingénues for some reason, and Natalie Portman’s already award-splattered performance in Black Swan has been the frontrunner for a while now. But don’t rule out Annette Bening either, whose performance (unlike Portman’s) has not been tainted with untoward critical scrutiny, and has the “Sorry About Last Decade, Oh… And The One Before That” mentality in her favor. Still, both great performances paled in comparison to (young ingénue) Jennifer Lawrence’s powerful turn in Winter’s Bone. Pity she doesn’t have a chance in hell.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
NOMINEES: Christian Bale (The Fighter), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Jeremy Renner (The Town), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
WHO WILL WIN: Christian Bale, The Fighter
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech
WHO SHOULD WIN: John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone; Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right (tie)
Christian Bale’s performance as a charismatic, drug-addicted former prizefighter may be Oscar bait but it’s still really good Oscar bait. Although he’ll have some competition from Geoffrey Rush (who could ride the wave of King’s Speech’s popularity to a surprise win), he’s the clear frontrunner and has been from the start. Personally, we’d have a hard time picking between the strikingly human turns by John Hawkes and Mark Ruffalo, both of whom turned in career-best performances (and that’s saying something).
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
NOMINEES: Amy Adams (The Fighter), Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Jackie Williams (Animal Kingdom)
WHO WILL WIN: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech; Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
WHO SHOULD WIN: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Melissa Leo’s won the majority of the awards in the Best Supporting Actress category so far but she’s not quite a sure thing. Her blatant self-campaigning turned off some Academy members and Amy Adams could steal some votes, leaving room for Helena Bonham Carter (if The King’s Speech sweeps, which we’re not counting on) or more likely Hailee Steinfeld, who gave the best performance by a lead actress all the year even though she’s been inexplicably demoted to ‘supporting’ status by the Academy.
BEST WRITING, SCREENPLAY WRITTEN DIRECTLY FOR THE SCREEN
NOMINEES: Mike Leigh (Another Year), Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington (The Fighter), Christopher Nolan (Inception), Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right), David Seidler (The King’s Speech)
WHO WILL WIN: David Seidler, The King’s Speech
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington, The Fighter; Christopher Nolan, Inception
WHO SHOULD WIN: Christopher Nolan, Inception
Our heart’s with Inception, which could pull out its only major Oscar win in a category famous for recognizing such groundbreaking screenplays as Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but it might be too complicated for many voters to understand, let along recognize for its greatness. The safe money’s on David Seidler’s conventional but still strong screenplay for The King’s Speech, although The Fighter has a vocal following as well.
BEST WRITING, SCREENPLAY BASED ON MATERIAL PREVIOUSLY PRODUCED OR PUBLSIHED
NOMINEES: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours), Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), Michael Arnt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3), Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (True Grit), Debrah Granik, Anne Rosellini (Winter’s Bone)
WHO WILL WIN: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Realistically? None.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Aaron Sorkin won this award months ago, when The Social Network turned the story of people talking in front of their computers into one of the most exciting stories of the year. And he deserves it too. We respect the hell out of Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy’s complicated adaptation for 127 Hours, and the heartrending Toy Story 3 has one of Pixar’s best screenplays to date (really saying something), but this year they’re just lucky to be nominated.
Photo Credit: PNP/WENN.com
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR
NOMINEES: How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist, Toy Story 3
WHO WILL WIN: Toy Story 3
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): The Illusionist (Maybe)
WHO SHOULD WIN: The Illusionist/Toy Story 3 (tie)
Toy Story 3 will win. We’re just going to have to get used to that, which will be pretty easy since it’s one of the best films of the year. Just about as good: Sylvain Chomet’s adaptation of Jacques Tati’s screenplay for The Illusionist, which has the teensiest, tiniest chance to pull out a shocking win for its beautiful story and equally exceptional 2D animation.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
NOMINEES: Biutiful (Mexico), Dogtooth (Greece), In A Better World (Denmark), Incendies (Canada), Outside the Law (Algeria)
WHO WILL WIN: In A Better World (Denmark)
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Everything but Dogtooth (Greece)
WHO SHOULD WIN: Anything but Biutiful (Mexico)
We haven’t seen most of the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film so we’re going with conventional wisdom, which states that Golden Globe winner In A Better World will take home the prize. It’s a tough category to predict, however, since Academy members are actually required see every single film nominated and campaigning to skew their votes is minimal. Just about anything but Dogtooth, which is probably a little too incest-y for most voters’ tastes, has a real shot. As long as Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu’s spectacularly awful Biutiful doesn’t take home the award we’ll be happy, but unfortunately it’s a real contender in the category.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
NOMINEES: Matthew Libatique (Black Swan), Wally Pfister (Inception), Danny Cohen (The King’s Speech), Jeff Cronenweth (The Social Network), Roger Deakins (True Grit)
WHO WILL WIN: Roger Deakins, True Grit
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Wally Pfister, Inception; Jeff Cronenweth, The Social Network
WHO SHOULD WIN: Roger Deakins, True Grit
Roger Deakins has had nine previous nominations for classic films like The Shawshank Redemption, O Brother Where Art Thou and No Country For Old Men but has never taken home the award. That seems likely to change this year, since he shot the only real epic in a category famous for favoring them. Best Cinematography also tends to be a consolation prize for Best Picture contenders who lose the major award, so he could face competition from Inception and The Social Network, both very well shot films that are unlikely to take home the big prize. Then again, neither is True Grit…
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN EDITING
NOMINEES: Jon Harris (127 Hours), Andrew Weisblum (Black Swan), Pamela Martin (The Fighter), Tariq Anwar (The King’s Speech), Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall (The Social Network)
WHO WILL WIN: Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall, The Social Network
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Tariq Anwar, The King’s Speech
WHO SHOULD WIN: Inception, damn it.
Inception had the best editing of the year. The fact that it wasn’t nominated is a technicality. With that out of the way we’re left with a category that’s slightly up in the air. Best Editing frequently goes hand-in-hand with a Best Picture win, but unless the sedately paced King’s Speech pulls out a general sweep (which is possible but we’re not betting on it) The Social Network’s astoundingly brisk pacing for such a talky picture will probably steal this award.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION
NOMINEES: Robert Stromberg, Karen O’Hara (Alice in Wonderland), Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1), Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Douglas A. Mowat (Inception), Eve Stewart, Judy Farr (The King’s Speech), Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh (True Grit)
WHO WILL WIN: Robert Stromberg, Karen O’Hara, Alice in Wonderland
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Douglas A. Mowat, Inception; Eve Stewart, Judy Farr, The King’s Speech
WHO SHOULD WIN: Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Douglas A. Mowat, Inception
The very flashy design work in Alice in Wonderland makes it a frontrunner, although The King’s Speech could steal the award in a sweep, or simply because it’s a period picture, damn it. Inception’s ingeniously paradoxical art direction has a good chance as well, but it might be a little too “cool” to take a prize like this. Alice in Wonderland is the safe bet.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
NOMINEES: Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland), Antonella Cannarozzi (I Am Love), Jenny Beavan (The King’s Speech), Sandy Powell (The Tempest), Mary Zophres (True Grit)
WHO WILL WIN: Colleen Atwood, Alice in Wonderland
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Everything but I Am Love
WHO SHOULD WIN: Mary Zophres, True Grit
Best Costume Design usually goes to gowns with ruffles, and Alice in Wonderland’s ruffles might as well have ridges. I Am Love’s contemporary designs are unlikely to impress Academy members, who favor period looks in this category, leaving room for just about anyone else to steal the award (we’re rooting for the pitch-perfect costumes from True Grit, personally), but Alice in Wonderland’s costume design is just impossible to ignore, since it’s the most in-your-face of the nominees.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP
NOMINEES: Adrien Morot (Barney’s Version), Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, Yolanda Toussieng (The Way Back), Rick Baker, Dave Elsey (The Wolfman)
WHO WILL WIN: Rick Baker, Dave Elsey, The Wolfman
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Yeah, right.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Rick Baker, Dave Elsey, The Wolfman
We suspect this category is actually a joke.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES, ORIGINAL SCORE
NOMINEES: A.R. Rahman (127 Hours), John Powell (How To Train Your Dragon), Hans Zimmer (Inception), Alexandre Desplat (The King’s Speech), Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross (The Social Network)
WHO WILL WIN: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, The Social Network
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Hans Zimmer, Inception; Alexandre Desplat, The King’s Speech
WHO SHOULD WIN: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, The Social Network
The Social Network is the only film of the year with a score people are actually talking about, making it a clear frontrunner, but is it too hip for Academy members? If so, look to The King’s Speech to nab the award or possibly Hans Zimmer’s memorably booming score from Inception, but The Social Network is still the odds-on favorite.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES, ORIGINAL SONG
NOMINEES: A.R. Rahman, Dido (“If I Rise” from 127 Hours), Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges (“Coming Home” from Country Strong), Alan Menken, Glenn Slater (“I See The Light” from Tangled), Randy Newman (“We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3)
WHO WILL WIN: Randy Newman (“We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3)
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): A.R. Rahman, Dido (“If I Rise” from 127 Hours)
WHO SHOULD WIN: Randy Newman (“We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3)
Not a great year in the Best Song category, but then again when was the last time we had one of those? (2007 wasn’t bad, but before that we had to go all the way back to 1995 to find a year with more than two strong nominees.) “If I Rise” from 127 Hours has the benefit of being the one interesting-sounding song and it has a lot of traction behind it, but Randy Newman’s “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 has the benefit of being the most hummable tune, and is probably the best song nominated anyway.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
NOMINEES: Laura Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick (Inception), Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, John Midgley (The King’s Speech), Jeffrey H. Haboush, William Sarokin, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell (Salt), Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Mark Weingarten (The Social Network), Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland (True Grit)
WHO WILL WIN: Laura Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick, Inception
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, John Midgley, The King’s Speech; Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Mark Weingarten, The Social Network
WHO SHOULD WIN: Laura Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick, Inception
For the record, the Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing rewards the best mix and balance of audio tracks and effects. It’s actually pretty rare these days to find a feature film that doesn’t have solid sound mixing, and the nominees here are no exception. Action films have a better chance in the sound categories, since they sure seem to have a lot of sound, giving Inception its some of its best chances for Oscar gold… but The King’s Speech could ride the wave of good will and steal the award out from under it, as could The Social Network if the Academy decides it just plain doesn’t like Christopher Nolan at all.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
NOMINEES: Richard King (Inception), Tom Myers, Michael Silver (Toy Story 3), Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Addison Teague (Tron: Legacy), Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey (True Grit), Mark P. Stoeckinger (Unstoppable)
WHO WILL WIN: Richard King, Inception
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Tom Myers, Michael Silver, Toy Story 3; Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, True Grit
WHO SHOULD WIN: Richard King, Inception
Best Sound Editing refers to the artificial creation of sound effects for a film, as opposed to their ‘mix.’ You’ll notice some weirder nominees in the category as a result, like Unstoppable and Tron: Legacy, which had heavily engineered soundscapes, and the absence of The King’s Speech (which didn’t have to invent new noises for its fairly straightforward historical parlor room drama). We suspect Inception’s a lock, but Toy Story 3 and True Grit have a real shot anyway, being more “Academy-Friendly.”
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
NOMINEES: Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Cary Villegas, Sean Phillips (Alice in Wonderland), Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, Nicolas Aithadi (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1), Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky, Joe Farrell (Hereafter), Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin (Inception), Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright, Daniel Sudick (Iron Man 2)
WHO WILL WIN: Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin, Inception
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Cary Villegas, Sean Phillips, Alice in Wonderland
WHO SHOULD WIN: Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin, Inception
Nobody expects Inception to lose Best Visual Effects this year. As soon as everyone saw the trailer it had the award in the bag. Alice in Wonderland has a small shot, since it’s arguably the most effects-heavy film nominated, but it wasn’t nearly as clever – or as good – as Inception.
BEST DOCUMENTARY, FEATURES
NOMINEES: Exit Through the Gift Shop, Gasland, Inside Job, Restrepo, Waste Land
WHO WILL WIN: Exit Through the Gift Shop
POSSIBLE SPOILERS: Inside Job, Restrepo
WHO SHOULD WIN: We have no idea, but we’re rooting for Exit Through the Gift Shop anyway.
We haven’t seen most of the nominees for Best Documentary this year. Inside Job and Restrepo have the most buzz… outside of Exit Through the Gift Shop, that is. Everyone’s waiting to see what the famously anonymous Banksy will do if he wins the award – if he can even get into the ceremony – making it the most talked about documentary nomination since Fahrenheit 9/11. We suspect he’ll take home the Oscar even if he’ll be watching from home at the time, but without viewing the other nominees our perspective is admittedly skewed.
BEST DOCUMENTARY, SHORT SUBJECTS
NOMINEES: Killing in the Name, Poster Girl, Strangers No More, Sun Come Up, The Warriors of Qiugang
WHO WILL WIN: Killing in the Name
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Strangers No More
WHO SHOULD WIN: We have no damned clue.
We haven’t seen a single one of the short documentaries nominated in the category, but here’s what Killing in the Name is about: a Jordanian man confronting the Muslim extremists who suicide-bombed his wedding. It’s the frontrunner, but people are saying great things about Strangers No More, a film about a multiethnic Israeli school, so it could pull out the win instead. Anyone’s game, really.
BEST SHORT FILM, ANIMATED
NOMINEES: Day & Night, The Gruffalo, Let’s Pollute, The Lost Thing, Madagascar a Journey Diary
WHO WILL WIN: The Gruffalo
POSSIBLE SPOILER(S): Day & Night; The Lost Thing
WHO SHOULD WIN: The Gruffalo
The Gruffalo is nearly perfect filmmaking from start to finish, and we can’t imagine anyone at the Academy failing to recognize it. The only thing The Gruffalo has going against it is a flash and pedigree that could already make it seem like too much of a winner in a category that feels custom-made for underdogs. If the Academy turns on The Gruffalo… well first, shame on them… then look to Pixar’s on-the-nose intolerance allegory Day & Night or the quirky Australian gem The Lost Thing to steal the award out from under it.
BEST SHORT FILM, LIVE-ACTION
NOMINEES: The Confession, The Crush, God of Love, Na Wewe, Wish 143
WHO WILL WIN: God of Love
POSSIBLE SPOILERS: Everything but The Crush
WHO SHOULD WIN: God of Love
It’s an unusually strong year in this category, and every film is a worthy contender. We suspect the slight and unpolished comedy The Crush is the only film without a serious chance. The Confession is so serious that it’s almost a joke, but it’s the only straightforward drama which could make it stand out. Na Wewe, a memorable satire of the Rwandan genocide, and Wish 143, about a teenager dying of cancer who asks the Make A Wish foundation to get him laid, are both great nominees and deserving of accolades, but the hilarious and touching God of Love is clearly the best film in the category. We suspect that will give it the edge, but the other, more Oscar bait-y nominees (except for The Crush obviously) will give it one hell of a run for its money.