Sorry about no new post last night. There was a really messed up situation happening with one of my students and I was on and off the phone all night trying to sort it out; I couldn't. It's up to a Board of Ed member and the director of the drama program to fix it before 2 this afternoon. The 2011 Academy Awards ceremony goes off on Sunday night whether you're ready or not. Using my latent psychic abilities, weeks of research into blog posts, interviews, and articles about the Oscars, and a hot tip from a homeless man who lives two blocks over, I have the potential winners for the major categories right here. Place your bets, but don't blame me if these tips are wrong.
Winner: The King's Speech
Why? It's what's hot right now. All these US awards bodies suddenly woke up fifteen years in the past and remembered how much they love intimate period dramas with British casts. It's not a bad film, just a predictable awards magnet.
Dark Horse: The Social Network had all the momentum going until The King's Speech's unexpected rise to progeny. It has plenty of critical support and the large cast leaves more people campaigning.
Long Shot: Toy Story 3 has huge box office, near-universal positive reviews, nostalgia, the Pixar-stamp of quality, and a level of emotional maturity that doesn't betray the average Academy members notion of "animation" but doesn't fall into the "just for kids" stereotype. This could be the real dark horse. I'm not expecting it to win, but I wouldn't be surprised if the excellent ad campaign and quality of the film wins out if The King's Speech and The Social Network split voters.
Winner: David Fincher, The Social Network
Why? It is a director's showcase. So much is going on to make this film what it is and Fincher clearly was in control of every frame of the film.
Dark Horse: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech. If the film sweeps, he will win as well.
Long Shot: Darren Arronofsky, Black Swan. It's a true auteur's showcase. If they want to honor flashy direction, Arronofsky's their only pick.
Winner: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Why? Strong performance in a historical drama + handicap + impersonation + momentum from a better performance that should have won last year.
Dark Horse: Javier Bardem, Biutiful. The man has enough reach in the Academy to get nominated for a performance in a foreign language film. He knows the right people to campaign for him to win here.
Long Shot: James Franco, 127 Hours. It's a fantastic performance that would have won Best Actor if the film was more popular. Not even an "in any other year" caveat. 127 Hours underperformed so Franco loses out. The goodwill of hosting could have been enough to get voters to see the film and award him.
Winner: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Why? Because an actress who wins almost every precursor for a role that requires great physical dexterity and bombastic emotions is almost guaranteed the win if they're nominated.
Dark Horse: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right. It's a quieter performance than Portman's, but probably better acted. She's viewed as due more so than the younger Portman.
Long Shot: Any other nominee. It's a two-horse race, and my actual winner and runner-up (Kim Hye-Jae and Noomi Rapace) weren't nominated. Michelle Williams is probably the closest, but clearly no one saw the film as Ryan Gosling wasn't nominated in Actor for much better work than Williams did in Blue Valentine.
Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Why? He's a missing child and streak of super-villainy away from hitting all the major recurring character traits of male acting award winners at the Academy. The performance is good, too.
Dark Horse: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Long Shot: John Hawkes, Winter's Bone: Yes, Geoffrey Rush is in the more popular film, but Hawkes gives the kind of performance you can't forget. If the voters see Winter's Bone (snicker, ain't happening, guffaw), it will win this category (ha ha ha ha ha if they saw the film it would have a lot more nominations roflcopter).
Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Why? We will know quite early in the telecast how well The King's Speech will fare based off of this category. Carter's work is effortless, funny, heart-felt, and worthy of recognition. There might be enough voters who think she's due, combined with enough voters relieved she went to work on another quiet British period picture (where they first fell in love with her), to give her the win.
In Contention: Melissa Leo, The Figher. She's won more awards, but her personality (revealed to the whole world in those paid for by her glamour FYC ads) might be too off-putting to ever win. Her work in Frozen River was far less gimmicky and more nuanced and she couldn't win then, either.
Dark Horse: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom. If the Academy members saw this film (the who the hell is Jacki Weaver factor should have spurred enough voters to investigate), she will win. It is the best performance by anyone this year. Smart, subtle, menacing, heartfelt, and captivating. It's like the perfect storm of Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds, Marlon Brando in The Godfather, and Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. It is the quintessential villain you can't help but fall in love with and want to be proven wrong on the villainy front. If this were an American film, Weaver would be a lock.
Best Original Screenplay
Winner: The King's Speech
Why? It's the Academy's golden child. It can do no wrong.
Dark Horse: The Kids Are All Right. If the Academy is going to give that film an award, it will be here. The screenplay is very strong and more than makes up for structural flaws with realistic characters and charming interactions throughout the film.
Long Shot: Inception. If enough voters understand the film's story, it will win. Period. End of discussion. This is original screenplay, not take a moment in history and base your screenplay off of three well-documented and transcribed public speeches.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: The Social Network
Why? Because it's the best of the well-seen nominees in the category.
Dark Horse: Toy Story 3. If the film wins here, it might take Best Picture. The screenplay is great and should appeal to a wide cross-section of voters.
Long Shot: Winter's Bone. But that would have required the Academy members to have seen the film. I'm not holding my breath for the best nominated screenplay, either category, to win here.
Take those predictions and bank on them. Maybe. I'm not responsible if you lose money on the Oscars.