Oscar predictions

King's Speech & Social Network duke it out for the Oscars

King's Speech & Social Network duke it out for the Oscars

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"The Social Network"
The King's Speech
"The King's Speech"
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Natalie Portman in "The Black Swan"
News_Jeff Bridges_True Grit
Jeff Bridges in "True Grit"
Events_Ronald McDonald_Oscar viewing party_March 10
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The King's Speech
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News_Jeff Bridges_True Grit

Attention Oscar handicappers: As of early Tuesday morning, the preliminaries are over, and the heavy-duty prognosticating has begun for the 83rd annual Academy Awards.

As many predicted, the main event is shaping up as a down-to-the wire race between The King’s Speech (leader of the pack with 12 nominations overall) and The Social Network (eight nominations).

After nabbing top honors from several film critics’ organizations (including H-Town’s very own Houston Film Critics Society) and a Golden Globe, Network – David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s fleet, flashy and fiercely funny drama about the founding of Facebook -- is widely viewed as the front runner for Best Picture.

But King’s Speech – the true-life story of King George IV’s determined efforts to overcome his stammer and lead England during a time of crisis – is heading into the home stretch with the cachet of being the sort of old-fashioned and uplifting period piece traditionally beloved by older Academy voters. And it doesn’t hurt at all that Harvey Weinstein – the same irrepressible impresario who masterminded the upset of Shakespeare in Love over seemingly prohibitive fave Saving Private Ryan a decade ago – is behind the Oscar campaign for this Brit production as well.

What happens if these two acclaimed nominees cancel each other out in a generation-gap steel-cage grudge match? Well, this being the second consecutive year that the Motion Picture Academy has expanded the list of Best Picture finalists to ten titles, there are eight other films that could benefit from a split vote. (Very, very nice to see the worthy indie Winter’s Bone in this Top 10.)

As I noted last year: If you doubt that a true underdog could ever triumph over more heavily hyped competitors in this category, go talk to the makers of Reds and On Golden Pond, the “sure things” that lost the gold to Chariots of Fire back in 1982.

Already, some veteran Oscar soothsayers – David Poland of Movie City News being only the most prominent – have suggested that True Grit has the right stuff to emerge as a kinda-sorta compromise winner.

To be honest, this strikes me a more than a little unlikely. In fact, if there really is an upset, I think it’s far more plausible that Christopher Nolan’s eye-popping, brain-teasing Inception would score a surprise win.

But, hey, if you would have asked me yesterday to predict the five finalists for Best Actor, I would have told you to bet the farm and all the cows and chickens living there on Robert Duvall’s being a major contender, if not the sentimental favorite, for his career-highlight performance in Get Low. As it turns out, however, he didn’t make the final cut. So go figure.

With that in mind, you may wish to apply a grain or two of salt to my early line Oscar predictions:

Actor in a Leading Role

Javier Bardem in Biutiful
Jeff Bridges in True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network
Colin Firth in The King’s Speech
James Franco in 127 Hours

Likely Winner: Colin Firth
Possible upset: Jesse Eisenberg
Conspicuous by his absence: Robert Duvall in Get Low

Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman in Black Swan
Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine

Likely Winner: Annette Bening

Possible upset: Natalie Portman

Conspicuous by her absence: Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right

Actor in a Supporting Role


Christian Bale in The Fighter
John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner in The Town
Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech

Likely Winner: Christian Bale

Possible upset: Geoffrey Rush
Conspicuous by his absence: Andrew Garfield in The Social Network

Best Actress in a Supporting Role


Amy Adams in The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech
Melisa Leo in The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit
Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom

Likely Winner: Melissa Leo
Possible upset: Hailee Steinfeld
Conspicuous by her absence: Mila Kunis in Black Swan

Adapted Screenplay

127 Hours -- Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network -- Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 -- Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
True Grit -- Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone -- Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Mortal lock: The Social Network

Original Screenplay


Another Year -- Written by Mike Leigh
The Fighter -- Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
Inception -- Written by Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right -- Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech -- Screenplay by David Seidler

Likely Winner: The King’s Speech
Possible upset: The Kids Are All Right
Possible consolation prize: Inception

Director


Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
David Fincher, The Social Network
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, True Grit

Likely Winner: David Fincher
Possible upset: Tom Hooper (but only if there’s a King’s Speech sweep)
Conspicuous by his absence: Christopher Nolan for Inception

Best Picture

Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Too close to call: The King’s Speech or The Social Network