Oscar Nomination Predictions 2011

E: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!    Its a bit like getting a second Christmas; there’s just something about the days before the Oscar nominations come out.  Ah, the wild speculations!  Will there be dreadful snubs?  Shocking additions to the expected field?  Will my favorites sneak in?  Don’t get me wrong, I love the show it self, but for me, it’s all about the nominations.

So without further delay, this is what I think you’ll be hearing early tomorrow morning.

Best Actor

Write These Names Down Now:
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

Solid Bet:
Jeff Bridges, True Grit

Conventional Wisdom:
Robert Duvall, Get Low

What’s Wrong With:
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine

Not To Be Taken Lightly:
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Mark Wahlburg, The Fighter

If the Academy’s Feeling Wacky:
Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole
Paul Giamatti, Barney’s Version

Most years, there’s at least one performance that clearly runs away with its award, and this year, everyone who follows the Oscars knows that Colin Firth gives one of those performances.  As the stuttering crown prince of England, Firth bloody well stammers his way through the most ghastly contortions, right into our hearts.  It’s a towering performance with a really enchanting emotional arc, worth every ounce of attention it’s received. There’s little more to be said; second nomination in as many years, here we come.

James Franco too excels as the hiker (Aron Ralston) trapped in a rocky crevice who – gulp – somehow manages to free himself by amputating his own crushed hand.  With a pocket knife.   Though the subject matter makes audiences squirm, the performance has won an avalanche of critical raves.  Franco will host the show (along with the bright and lovely Anne Hathaway) and will certainly figure among its (first time) nominees.

At 25, Jesse Eisenberg’s quite young to be honored with a Best Actor nomination.  The Academy may prefer it’s ladies young and nubile, but they like a bit of gristle on their men.  They want to feel like the fellow’s earned it.   Eisenberg’s turn as acerbic, bitter, brutal genius Mark Zuckerberg has won universal acclaim, and he’s widely presumed to have a place on this prestigious list, age not withstanding.

After those three men, it becomes trickier. The Hollywood Foreign Press was strangely unimpressed with True Grit, and refused to give its star, last year’s Best Actor winner (at the Globes and with Oscar) Jeff Bridges the honor of losing to his previous competitor Colin Firth.  The Screen Actors Guild did put Bridges’ try at one eyed Marshall Rooster Cogburn onto their short list, and most people assume Oscar will follow suit.  The role has already won John Wayne his only Oscar.

From here, it gets really confusing.  Ryan Gosling was nominated for a Golden Globe as a man whose marriage is falling apart.  Robert Duvall (as a misanthropic hermit throws his own funeral to see what people really think of him before he dies) is on the SAG shortlist.  They each received one of the 6 Broadcast Film Critics noms.  So why is everyone so sure that Duvall’s going to be nominated for Oscar?  SAG’s picks tend to be a little wackier than the Hollywood Foreign Press’s, so that’s unconvincing to me.  Is it because Duvall’s appropriately gristly?  Because he’s been nominated before?  Gosling’s been nominated before, and justly so.  Is Blue Valentine too dark?  A lot of these movies are dark.  Are we all assuming that Academy members (which is to say, the old ones) won’t watch it?  (And honestly, what are the chances that they watch everything?)  Don’t these things mostly go on reputation, momentum and buzz? So it shouldn’t even matter if they don’t see it, not for the nomination.  Is it because with Eisenberg and Franco in the race, the entire slate would just be too youthful?

Get Low has absolutely no profile – although the story is promising. But the film fizzled, even for an independent/art movie, and so did the expectations for everyone accept Duvall.   I haven’t read anything praising his performance, the way we did back when he made The Apostle, and not anywhere near the amount of press Blue Valentine has generated.

There are other contenders for the fifth slot besides Duvall and Gosling.  Mark Walhburg turns in good work in The Fighter, which was rewarded with a Golden Globe nomination.  Wahlburg’s performance as mild mannered light weight boxer Mickey Ward is overshadowed (in art as in life) by his colorful costars.  Buzz for The Fighter seems to have cooled slightly in the wake of True’s Grit‘s box office triumph.  But was it hot enough during the voting period?  It’s possible.  Adapted from yet another real life, Paul Giamatti’s said to be a wizard as a Jewish Canadian comedian.  Javier Bardem has a powerful patron in Julia Roberts, but many people think that Biutiful is too dark to draw a large enough audience.  That didn’t prevent 21 Grams, another masterwork from Biutiful’s director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, from garnering Oscar nods for Naomi Watts and Benecio Del Toro.  This, too, could happen.  Far less likely (despite garnering great reviews) but still within the realm of possibility is Aaron Eckhart for his role as a grieving father trying to experience – and transcend –  the devastating loss of a child.

It’s not usually smart to go in against brilliant Oscar predictors like EW’s Dave Karger, but in this case, I just can’t help it. I know he’s young.  I know the movie’s not cute.  It may be wrong, but I don’t see enough reason why it won’t be Gosling for me not to choose him.  So my guess?  Bridges, Eisenberg, Firth, Franco, and Gosling.

Best Actress:

The Commonly Accepted Four:
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, Black Swan

The Switcheroo
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Top of the Crop:
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

The Rest of the Plausibles:
Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
Noomi Rapace, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Hilary Swank, Conviction

The Other Switcheroo:
Lesley Manville, Another Year

Most commentators see Annette Bening and Natalie Portman locked in a mortal fight to the death to win this Oscar.  Poor Annette, you have been here before.  Twice.  Three time nominee Bening started the summer off as the presumed favorite for her role as one of two lesbian moms suddenly saddled with their children’s sperm donor, set to up her personal total to four.  Portman will pick up her second nomination as a ballerina whose perfectionism teeters toward madness.

Kidman has seemed a lock before (for Cold Mountain, but most notably To Die For; she was considered the frontrunner to win) only to be left out. Of these four, I would rate her chances the lowest.  Her movie, about parents grieving differently the loss of their young child, unquestionably lacks the buzz of Black Swan and The Kids Are All Right, and hasn’t been widely available on video like TKAA and Winter’s Bone.  If there’s a surprise snub, she’s the ripest for it.

Of course, Jennifer Lawrence is rather a surprise, in that you’ve probably never heard of her and may not have heard of her movie.  But you’re certainly going to be hearing about her (she’s playing Mystique in the upcoming X-Men prequel) and you certainly ought to rent her movie.  To borrow a phrase, her character Ree Dolly – a teenager caring for her family and hunting for the father who abandoned them – has true grit.

Manville had an explosive start to the season, winning the National Board of Review’s best actress prize for her role in Mike Leigh’s drama.  Since then, her star has slowly faded.  What’s more, people seem to be reassigning her role as a supporting one.  Hailee Steinfeld, on the other hand, was campaigned as a supporting actress, but as with Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation, and Keisha Castle Hughes in Whale Rider, the role is so obviously a lead that the campaigners are running into trouble.  Category confusion can be a tough thing.  Johansson missed out on a nomination all together, while Hughes was properly reassigned by voters to the lead category.  Can Steinfeld expect the fairy tale ending?  Will she muscle out Michelle Williams here, or will she fall short, as Johansson did?  Will she be nominated in the supporting field, as Haley Joel Osment was for The Sixth Sense, despite clearly being the lead character?

No one who’s seen True Grit can doubt that Mattie Ross is the leading character of that movie.  Hailee Steinfeld may not be as famous as Jeff Bridges, but she’s in more of the movie than he is.  If there’s a frame of that movie without her in it, it’s focused on rocks and trees.  I can’t but think that as this movie’s been seen, her chances are good.  Campaigning her in Supporting is simply preposterous and an injustice of which Miss Mattie Ross would not approve.

You won’t catch me feeling sorry for Oscar winner Halle Berry (in a similar role to that which won her the Oscar), or two time winner Swank (playing a real life working class Massachusetts woman who gets a legal degree to defend her unjustly convicted brother), but I will say, Julianne Moore, it looks like you’re going to be screwed again.  That makes this rather like last year, among more than a few others. When is the Academy going to pony up an award for this fantastic performer?  It’s a puzzle to me why Bening’s role has hogged all the lime light.  Moore, as the more emotional and less confident lesbian partner,  is just as good.  It’s possible she could get that fifth slot if Academy members feel that way too.

If you count up precursor nominations, Michelle William’s is the obvious choice to take the fifth slot for her work in Blue Valentine, as a nurse falling into, and then ripped out of love with a man incapable of living the balanced, grown up existence she’s working to build.  But Hailee Steinfeld mixes things up.  As we’ve discussed above, Blue Valentine is controversial. True Grit is making a lot of money; that’s not necessary for Oscar success, especially not in the Best Actress category, but having your movie get seen has got to help.  My feeling is that it’s down to these two actresses, and I’m guessing that by the thinnest of margins, Steinfeld gets the check on her dance card this time.

I’m saying Bening, Kidman, Lawrence, Portman and Steinfeld.  This’ll be interesting, because both ladies in contention here are at the end of the alphabet, so we won’t know until the last name called.

Supporting Actor:

You Can Count On:
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

In The Mix:
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Armie Hammer, The Social Network
John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

The Sentimental Choice:
Michael Douglas, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps
Pete Postlethwaite, The Town

Not Outside the Realm of Possibility:
Matt Damon, True Grit
Sam Rockwell, Conviction
Justin Timberlake, The Social Network

So, okay, this might sound awful, but I’m afraid Pete Postlethwaite died too recently to get the full bang out of the sympathy vote.  He could have been a contender, otherwise.  Pete’s been a family favorite since his memorable, Oscar nominated turn in In The Name of The Father (and it still rankles that he and Ralph Fiennes both lost to Tommy Lee Jones here).  His work will stand on it’s own, likely without the benefit of a posthumous Oscar nod. The surprise BAFTA nod (the British Academy) will likely be his sentimental send-off.  Likewise I think Michael Douglas beat cancer too recently for that to elevate his not overly buzzed about reprisal of his Oscar winning role as Gordon Gecko to the top eschelon of the year’s performances.  This is a heavily overcrowded field most years, and this time it’s even richer than usual.

The clearest standout of this category is Christian Bale.  He stands to pick up his first nomination, and a likely win, for his astounding work as  ruined, crack addicted boxer Dicky Ecklund.    This is big, bold acting, loud precise mimicry, and it’ll blow your mind.  Likely to join him is Geoffrey Rush, Best Actor winner and 3 time nominee, for his role as the unconventional speech therapist who helps a king learn to speak – and more importantly, to trust himself.

Out of a sea of outstanding choices, Jeremy Renner stands to gather his second nomination for playing a risk taking hot head, this time a bank robber rather than a bomb defusing soldier.  Andrew Garfield, the new Spiderman, has garnered critical acclaim as the bright and kindly roommate who couldn’t swim with the sharks in The Social Network; he’s angling for his first nomination.  And Mark Ruffalo just excels as the scruffy, laid back restaurateur who learns that not only does he had two children from sperm donation, but that this family thing might be kind of great.  His laconic Californian speech is utterly new for him, and quite savory.  Despite flirting with Oscar before (notably for You Can Count On Me) Ruffalo stands to pick up his first nomination here.

Of course, if it turns out that the Academy really adores The Social Network, it might want to friend Armie Hammer (who – with the aid of Benjamin Button style digital technology – plays upper crust twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss) or Justin Timberlake (improbably fantastic as Napster cofounder and high living, big thinking, swaggering weasel Sean Parker) .  Ruffalo or Renner, or even Garfield, could see their chances cut for either of those fellows.  Matt Damon loses himself utterly in the role of Texas Ranger Le Beouf; there’s not a moment when you’re aware of looking at a major movie star.  Or the Academy could do the right thing and anoint Winter’s Bone‘s mercurial loose cannon John Hawkes.   SAG substituted Hawkes for the more generic Garfield, and I’d wish to see the Academy do the same.  I don’t feel like I’m that lucky, though.  You can bet he’ll make my personal list, and contend with Bale as the best of the year.

In the end, I think Academy voters will use the Golden Globe slate: Bale, Garfield, Renner, Ruffalo and Rush.

Supporting Actress:

As Obvious As It Gets:
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter

No, I’m Not Making A Joke:
Mila Kunis, Black Swan

Is She Too Low Profile?:
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

The Switcheroos:
Lesley Manville, Another Year
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Why Not?
Barbara Hershey, Black Swan

The Left Field:
Miranda Richardson, Made in Dagenham
Winona Ryder, Black Swan
Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole
Olivia Williams, The Ghost Writer

Everyone but BAFTA seems to agree on three performances: Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen Mum, Amy Adams as the feisty barmaid/girlfriend Charlene who helps cowed boxer Micky Ward stand up to his overbearing family, and Golden Globe winner Melinda Leo as Micky Ward’s equally feisty mother and manager.   The trio, really, is all about tradition, family values, and standing by their men.  Bonham Carter, better known for playing crazy, would pick up her second career nod for playing the upper crustiest of upper crusts; she may come by that tony sneer naturally, as she’s a direct descendant of one of England’s prime ministers.  (Am I the only one who can’t believe that Wings of the Dove was her only nomination?  I’d have expected Margaret’s Museum or Howards End or A Room With A View at least.)  Leo, who’s been stunning art house audiences since 21 Grams, graduated to Oscar nominee two years ago with Frozen River.  She seems to specialize in hard scrabble, working class heroines, and Alice Ward is no exception.  If you’ve seen anything else she’s done, however, don’t think you can anticipate Alice Ward; on the other hand, if you live in Massachusetts, you might have seen her type of firebrand before.   Adams has been nominated twice before as the perky pregnant sister-in-law in Junebug, and the naive nun in Doubt; here she’s being rewarded for playing so very convincingly against type.   Charlene is no one’s enchanted princess, though she’s surely a hero.

From there, of course, it gets trickier.  Mila Kunis plays opposite Natalie Portman as a mysterious rival ballerina and potential love interest.  She didn’t seem initially to gather the best reviews of the films’ trio of supporting actresses, but she has surely hogged the awards attention.  Though we might think of her more as a comedienne (Family Guy, That 70s Show, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), the support for her has been unflagging.  She has to be considered one of the top candidates, and likely to join her close friend Portman at the nominees luncheon.  She would – unsurprisingly – be a first time nominee.

So if we think those four slots are set, it leaves us in a pickle figuring out the final nominee.  Australian Jacki Weaver burst onto the awards circuit with her performance in a small Aussie flick, Animal Kingdom, in which she plays the devilish matriarch of a crime family.  She won the National Board of Review, which opens up Awards Season, and that’s put her on the map.  She’s followed with a LA Critics Award (one of the two most prestigious city award groups, along with New York), and was nominated at the Golden Globes and the Broadcast Film Critics. But.  The trail stopped cold. She was forgotten at the SAG nominations.

She was forgotten there in favor of Hailee Steinfeld, who has wracked up an equally impressive list of nominations.  But talk has turned of late, quite loudly, to the insanity of calling Steinfeld a supporting actress.  True Grit is the story of Mattie Ross, as she hunts down her father’s killer with hired guns.  Her wit and courage belie her age; she’s a bright, upright, strong willed child forced to incredible lengths to achieve her bloodthirsty justice.  Steinfeld’s incredibly impressive and ought to get a nomination, so the question becomes, where?  If people put her where she ought to be, it opens the space for Weaver – or someone else – here in supporting.  Or, if people can’t decide where to put Steinfeld and she doesn’t get into either category, Weaver should be in.

The someone else (if there is one) could be previous nominee Barbara Hershey, who plays Nina the ballerina’s controlling, emotionally abusive stage mother in Black Swan.  Most people I know who’ve seen this movie wonder why Hershey’s been left out of the awards fuss, and she certainly seems like the type of actress Oscar would love to award.  I don’t think I’m quite gutsy enough to assume this, but I have a weird gut feeling that if a surprise occurs, it’s going to be Barbara Hershey.

A vacancy could profit Lesley Manville, a British character actress (Mrs. Hale!  Mrs. Rose!  Mrs. Micawber!) who opened award season as the National Board of Review’s best actress.  Her candidacy has stalled utterly, however, probably due to the general feeling that it isn’t a lead role at all.  So what to do with her?  Could she possibly make Oscar’s short list here?  Maybe.

This field doesn’t have nearly the depth of lead actress or supporting actor this year.  All of the ladies I’ve listed in left field would be exactly that, left field. Supporting actress is known by Oscar watchers as the category with the most surprises, but that tends to be surprise wins more than surprise nominations.  I’m sticking with Adams, Bonham Carter, Kunis, Leo and Weaver.

(A sort of write-in campaign was launched in the press to put Steinfeld in the lead category.  Writers encouraged Academy members to put Steinfeld’s name in both categories, rather than risk be being entirely left off the slate.  What I’m unsure of is this.  What happens if she makes the count in both?  Who picks which category they leave her in?  Fascinating.)

Best Director:

Everyone Agrees On:
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception

The Remaining Slot:
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit

Another Great Option:
David. O. Russell, The Fighter

Left Field:
Ben Affleck, The Town
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Derek Cianfrance, Blue Valentine
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Biutiful
Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone
Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island
Lee Unkrich, Toy Story 3

I hate this category.  They’ve genuinely been insane over the years, picking people who don’t remotely line up with best picture.  Of course with 10 nominees in the Best Picture slate these days, that’s getting harder and harder to do. Aronofsky, Fincher, Hooper, and Nolan had been on every shortlist, and seem likely to repeat here.  Of those four I’d say Hooper (as a relative unknown) is likeliest for a surprise snub, but it would be that, a surprise.  The other three are very director’s movies (particularly Nolan and Aronofsky), auteurs visions.  Also, three of Hooper’s actors are virtually locked in for acting nominations, and it’s rare that a film would be so honored but then ignored for its direction.

The Directors Guild picked Russell to round out their field, but the DGA rarely matches up perfectly with Oscar, and this is the likely place where they’ll diverge.  The Globes put the Coens on their list; the brothers won an Oscar a few years ago for No Country for Old Men, but have their first true commercial success here with True Grit.  Danny Boyle has been placed on more lists, but as Oscar season advances, we’re hearing less and less about 127 Hours (which made a searing impression early in the fall, with talk of another sweep for Boyle and the film), and more about True Grit.  Oscar campaigns can be all about the timing.  Is it enough?

Best Animated Feature:

The Winner:
Toy Story 3

The Runner Up:
How To Train Your Dragon

Rounding Out the Category Is:
The Illusionist

Unless They Go With:
Despicable Me
Tangled

Other Worthy Contenders:
Megamind

Those of you who read this space know that I’ve been pulling my hair out – at length – over the travesty of this season.  How can it be that the best year in memory for animated features is also one where the category isn’t allowed the full slate of nominations?  If you haven’t heard me blubbering about it, the case is this: if there are more than 15  full length animated movies produced in one year, there’ll be five slots.  Last year was the first time that happened in the category’s short history.  This year, there were 15.  It’s just a shame, that’s all.

Best Picture:

Generally Acknowledged As The Top:
Black Swan
Inception
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit

3 out of 4 Ain’t Bad:
127 Hours
The Kids Are All Right
The Town
Winter’s Bone

The Best of the Rest:
Another Year
Blue Valentine
How To Train Your Dragon
Shutter Island
The Ghost Writer

People are assuming they know what the films are which would have been nominated for Best Picture if there were only five nominees: Black Swan, Inception, The Fighter, The King’s Speech and The Social Network.  Or course, more often than not there’s one shocking snub, and what everyone assumes to be true turns out to be not so obvious after all.  With a ten nominee slate, however, these five can’t miss.  They’ve appeared on the Producer’s Guild list, their directors have all been nominated by the Directors Guild, they’ve been nominated by the Hollywood Foreign Press.  Only Inception was left off the Screen Actors Best Ensemble list, but that film was a triumph of imagination and direction more than acting. The Social Network – the story of the spiteful prank born to a brilliant Harvard student which spun out into a 25 billion dollar company in less than a decade – has stormed all precursor awards until losing the Producer’s Guild.  That award went to the costume drama The King’s Speech, which explains how stuttering Bertie became King George of England – not simple the dates, but the physical and emotional toll it took him to become an effective leader.   Inception defies explanation as a dreaming marvel of intricate, manifold design. In Black Swan, young Nina covets the lead role in Swan Lake, but does she have what it takes, or will her search for the emotion behind the role drive her to madness?  (Sounds totally overwrought, I know, but I understand that it’s spelling binding.  Still dying to see this one.)  And The Fighter tells the story of a tough boxer from Lowell, Massachusetts (once the seat of the American industrial revolution, and now a poor, downtrodden proud city).  Can he find greatness only through abandoning the family that got him most of the way but might not see his specific worth enough to get him the rest of the way?  This movie’s wicked awesome, and it’s goin’ to the big pahty.

This doesn’t, of course, mean that these are the necessarily the best movies of the year, or even the best reviewed.  There’s a strange witchery of commerce, critical acclaim, accessibility and seriousness of purpose that combines to produce Oscar movies.  Two box office champions from unusual genres also fit the bill: the Coen brother’s remake of the classic Western True Grit, and Pixar’s third Toy Story film.  True Grit is thrilling, dark and heroic at once, and it’s filling theaters right now.  Toy Story 3 tips its hat to the magic – not simply of childhood, but an adult’s nostalgia for it.  The appeal to adults as well as children made it not only of of the best reviewed films of the year, but the highest grossing movie of 2010.  If  Hollywood weren’t so prejudiced against animation, this film would be a true contender for the win.

That brings the total to seven, and leaves us 4 obvious contenders for 3 slots.  First up in 127 Hours, the Oscar buzz movie to beat until The Social Network shoved it boldly out of the way.  The latest offering from Danny Boyle (who you might remember clutchign an armful of Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire) covers the unthinkable extreme of human survival; it’s so unthinkable, however, and so unflinching, that it has a fair number of viewers hiding their heads – or just not willing to watch at all.  The Kids Are All Right deals with tough issues (lesbian parenting, sperm donation, fidelity, family dynamics and a host of others) with a deft, light, joyful shining touch.  What makes a family?  And what makes a family function?  Ben Affleck gets more respect as a director than an actor these days; in The Town, he takes a genre flick – a heist movie – and elevates it.  Set in Charlestown Massachusetts, the movie details the lives of career criminals. Cambridge, Lowell, Charlestown – good work this year, Massachusetts!  And finally we can head down to the Ozark mountains for Winter’s Bone, the haunting tale of a young girl who must find her missing father before the bondsman takes their family farm.   For a while, it was looking like 127 Hours had faded completely, but now it’s looking more like Winter’s Bone might be left in the cold.  So the question is, when did most of Hollywood vote?

It’s probably not going to happen, and my brother will call me sexist for caring, but if Winter’s Bone and The Kids Are All Right sneak in there’ll be 4 movies with female protagonists in this year’s race, which is kind of amazing.  Oscar tends to be heavily male dominated. Last year there were only 2 of 10 Best Picture nominees that told women’s stories, and half the nominees didn’t even have any women in them.  Certainly in the days of the 5 nominee system, the Best Actor contenders almost all came from the Best Picture nominees, and the Best Actress contenders tending to come from much tinier indie movies that no one but Oscar freaks like me had ever heard of.  And maybe that’s not terribly different, but we have the chance to have at least three and maybe even 4 Best Picture nominees star women, and I’m going to celebrate that as a step up.

Now, True Grit and Winter’s Bone (similar stories, when you come to think about it) will certainly be on my personal top ten list for the year.  I have yet to see Black Swan, but I don’t doubt that it’s worthy of consideration, as is The Kids Are All Right.  So, here’s hoping!

Now of course it’s possible that other films could sneak in.  The Ghost Writer seems the most promising spoiler to me; it’s a Polanski film about political conspiracies, and it the critics just loved it.  Mike Leigh’s Another Year tells the story of a happily married couple and their grumpy friends; it’s got quite a few fans. Then there’s Shutter Island, Martin Scorsese’s trippy 40s thriller about an insane asylum and the secrets (and people) it may or may not be hiding.  You can never take Marty for granted.  Blue Valentine described the rise and fall of a lower middle class romance in excruciating detail.  And How To Train Your Dragon?  Well, it’s got no chance, this story of a boy who uses his brain, his courage, and his imagination to unutterably change the lives of every single person around him, but I love it so.  It’s my favorite movie of the year.

Or at least, it is so far.  I do have a few films left to catch.  I’ll fill you in on that soon enough.  Oscars favorites?  Likely to be (much as it hurts me to leave off my favorite films) 127 Hours, Black Swan, Inception, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, The Town, Toy Story 3, and True Grit.

********

So there it is!  What can I say of the other categories?  You should consider Alice in Wonderland, The King’s Speech, Shutter Island, Inception, Black Swan, True Grit and Tron:Legacy to mix it up for the Art Direction and Costume prizes.  Harry Potter has a fair shot at Visual Effects but could even mix it up with the Art Direction gang.  For Best Song, look to Burlesque and possibly Tangled to score.  Adapted screenplay is a tough race to figure out who’s lucky enough to lose to Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network; you might be fascinated to learn that (according to Wikipedia and Pixar itself) likely nominee Toy Story 3 is considered an adapted screenplay because it is a sequel.  Sometimes, this stuff makes no sense. At any rate, the cartoon is a contender for a nomination, as are Winter’s Bone, True Grit, 127 Hours and The Ghost Writer.

Over in the original screenplay category, check out The King’s Speech, The Kids Are All Right, Inception and The Fighter.  Trent Reznor has a great shot at a nomination and maybe even win with his score for The Social Network; bet you never thought you’d hear the words Trent Reznor, Oscar nominee, did you?  Right up there with Oscar winner Eminem…  The documentaries which have garnered the most attention and or notoriety include Inside Job (the Wall Street crash), Waiting for Superman (education), The Tillman Story (Pat Tillman), and Client 9 (Elliot Spitzer). We’ll see if they all make the list; the most popular ones – the ones that actually appear in art houses outside of New York and L.A. – tend to get snubbed on the theory they don’t need the attention.

And there it is.  Who are you rooting for?  What’s exciting to you?  I can’t wait for tomorrow, to see how it all really turns out!

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6 comments on “Oscar Nomination Predictions 2011

  1. lily says:

    neh, franco looks 36. eisenberg looks 20. it won’t look like a thanks to franco youthful line-up.

  2. lily says:

    er, youthful line-up thanks to franco, hehehe.

    • E says:

      Hee hee. You’re right, Franco’s a bit leathery for his age – but still, compared to, say Bridges and 80 year old Duvall, he’s a young whippersnapper. So to speak.

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