It’s Oscar night once again, and as you might expect, I have a few thoughts on the subject.
My picks for the evening:
The King’s Speech wins the big one this year. Pay no attention to the Hollywood Foreign Press giving the Golden Globe to The Social Network. That’s an entirely separate bloc of voters. The Producers Guild, Directors Guild, and Screen Actors Guild all honored The King’s Speech, and a lot of those folks are voting members of the Academy, too. This one’s a no-brainer.
Many pundits are predicting one of those rare splits between Best Picture and Best Director, saying that David Fincher, well-respected throughout Hollywood, will win for his work on The Social Network, defeating Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech). I’m not buying it. Hooper beat Fincher for the DGA Award, and that’s usually a very accurate predictor of Oscar success. I’ve come to like David Fincher a lot more than I used to (I hated many of his earlier efforts, like Alien 3, Seven, and The Game), and I really enjoyed The Social Network, but I don’t see the split happening this year. Tom Hooper wins.
Colin Firth, for The King’s Speech. Firth won the SAG award, and is a lock to take home the Oscar, too. Bank on it.
Natalie Portman, for Black Swan. Don’t believe the hype that this is a tight race between Portman and Annette Bening. I love Bening, and she was great in The Kids Are All Right, but Portman won the SAG, and hers was the much showier role. She’s even more of a sure thing than Firth. This one’s already in the bag. Hope she’s cleared some shelf space.
Best Supporting Actor
SAG Award winner Christian Bale (The Fighter) probably wins here. Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) could give him a run for his money, but Rush already has an Oscar. I’m sticking with Bale.
Best Supporting Actress
Conventional Wisdom says that two actors nominated in the same category will split voters. Conventional Wisdom also says that the Supporting Actress Oscar often goes to a young up-and-comer (Geena Davis, Marisa Tomei, Anna Paquin, etc.). This would would seem to bode ill for Melissa Leo, nominated along with her co-star Amy Adams for The Fighter, and bode well for young Hailee Steinfeld, the plucky heroine of True Grit. But Conventional Wisdom apparently forgot to notify SAG, which gave the award to Melissa Leo, anyway. Here’s a category that has been rife with upsets in the past, but when SAG speaks, I listen. Actors make up the largest bloc of Academy voters.
Best Original Screenplay
As happened last year, I had a hell of a time making this pick. The WGA Award went to Inception, and if I were voting, I, too, would honor Christopher Nolan’s intricate and daring script. But I’m not voting. Also, did you know that The King’s Speech was not eligible for the WGA Award? In the end, this pick came down to a numbers game for me: did I really believe that Inception, a film that garnered eight nominations but was snubbed for Best Director, would wind up with more Oscars than, say, True Grit, which had 10 nominations? No, I really don’t. And since I already have Inception tabbed for two other awards (see below), I’m going against my gut here and picking David Seidler, for The King’s Speech.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Though The Social Network will not win as many statuettes as it perhaps deserves, here’s one I think it will pick up. WGA Award winner Aaron Sorkin is one of the best writers in Hollywood today, and it’s criminal that he doesn’t already have an Oscar. That gets rectified tonight.
Best Animated Feature
Toy Story 3. Never pick against Pixar.
Here’s another Oscar for The Social Network. This award often goes hand-in-hand with Best Picture, but the ACE gave its Eddie to Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, no doubt for the skillful way they guided us through the film’s myriad time jumps.
Here’s another tough category. Wally Pfister quite deservedly won the ASC Award for Inception. But Roger Deakins (True Grit) has been nominated nine times and never won. Much as I hate picking against the ASC, I gotta figure that True Grit, with its 10 nominations, is not going to get completely shut out. So I’m going with Deakins here.
Best Art Direction
The King’s Speech. Probably. But I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see Inception win.
Best Costume Design
I’m guessing the outlandishness of Alice in Wonderland will trump The King’s Speech. The more the costumes draw attention to themselves, the better their chances.
As with Costume Design, the showier stuff tends to win here. That makes Rick Baker’s work in The Wolfman the favorite. Plus, it’s a nice homage to the original iconic makeup made famous by Lon Chaney, Jr.
Best Original Score
Hans Zimmer’s score for Inception was distinctive and memorable, but as mentioned above, it comes down to a numbers game. I don’t think Inception‘s support is all that strong. I’m guessing that the momentum for The King’s Speech will sweep up this category, too, bestowing an Oscar on Alexandre Desplat.
Best Original Song
Seems like Randy Newman has half a million Oscars already, but the truth is, he’s only won once before. In a relatively weak category, his "We Belong Together," from Toy Story 3, seems the likeliest candidate.
Best Sound Mixing
Here’s another category that often goes to the eventual Best Picture winner–but not this year, I think. The CAS gave its top honor to True Grit, and I figure that 10 nominations overall should be good enough to garner at least two wins.
Best Sound Editing
I’ve given up on the Academy recognizing just how much sound effect work goes into animated films, so I don’t see Toy Story 3 winning here. Loud often does well in this category, and Inception fits the bill nicely.
Best Visual Effects
Inception. Gotta go with the obvious.
Best Foreign Language Film
Biutiful seems to be the most well-known of the nominees, given that Javier Bardem also picked up an acting nomination for his work in that film. But this is a notoriously unpredictable category, so I’m going with Incendies instead.
Inside Job. Probably. Especially given the inexplicable snub of films like The Tillman Story and Waiting for Superman.
Best Documentary Short
Strangers No More. Best guess.
Best Live Action Short Film
I’ve actually seen all the live action and animated shorts this year . . . which means absolutely nothing in terms of Oscar prediction. If anything, it makes the task harder, as I keep second- and third-guessing myself. It’s a strong slate of films, but I’m thinking this one is basically a toss-up between the very dark The Confession and the slightly more upbeat Na Wewe. I’m going with the latter.
Best Animated Short Film
In terms of technique, I thought Madagascar, carnet de voyage was probably the most impressive, employing numerous animation styles, from simple line drawings to stop-motion. Furthermore, Pixar doesn’t do nearly as well here as it does in the Animated Feature category. But Day & Night was pretty inventive, too, so I’m giving it the edge.
And that’s it. Will you be watching the show tonight?