Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Early Bird Oscar Predictions

Some may say it is a frivolous game played only by fools and faux film critics (sorry David Poland) but even I (one who takes the idea of film history and mise-en-scene and cinephilia quite seriously - well, except for when I don't) must fall prey to those naked little gold men each and every year.  Usually I do not bother making predictions until closer to the end of the year, but I suppose it's never too early to play game guesser when it comes to the Oscars, so here goes.

Since it is now a ten film race (something that has both its good points and its bad points - the latter outweighing the former) smaller films (deserving and undeserving both) can sneak in, but we still have the big dogs on top.  Many pundits claim this is a two-way race between The Social Network and The King's Speech, but one can surely see those insistent Inception people trying to break in and make it a three-way (but not the good kind).  

After those three, both True Grit and Toy Story 3 are pretty much locks.  The latter's eventual nomination is one of those downsides to the ten team race, but an upside is the lock that The Kids Are All Right seems to have been given.  I think the seventh and eighth nominees are most likely going to be 127 Hours (from Danny Boyle) and Black Swan (from Darren Aronofsky).

That leaves two more spots and about seven more films vying for them.  I am going with Mike Leigh's Another Year making the ninth spot and Winter's Bone sneaking into that final slot with a strong precursor/critical push.  Eastwood's Hereafter could very well take one of these last two's place (he is Clint Eastwood after all) but the film just doesn't look like it will play strong enough.

Other possibilities are Secretariat (the Oscars love boring, mediocre, feel-good fare on occasion), The Fighter (though more likely in the acting categories), Get Low (again, acting instead probably), Never Let Me Go (if it gets a strong push in the precursors) and/or Blue Valentine (again, precursors a must).  Then again, I would personally love to see Scorsese's Shutter Island appear on this list, but there is no way that is happening.

Of course this is all just pure speculation made months before anything concrete is even going to happen, so take it as you will.  I will dispense with commentary now (well maybe a little more commentary) and just give my predictions for the major categories (in order of probability), and then I will probably not even mention any of this again until December when the race will begin to heat up for reals yo.

1. The Social Network
2. The King's Speech
3. Inception
4. True Grit
5. Toy Story 3
6. The Kids Are All Right
7. 127 Hours
8. Black Swan
9. Another Year
10. Winter's Bone

The other possibilities were already stated above but for those who skim and do not want to scroll back, these possibilities are (in order of probability) Hereafter, Secretariat, The Fighter, Never Let Me Go, Get Low & Blue Valentine.

1. David Fincher for The Social Network
2. Tom Hooper for The King's Speech
3. Christopher Nolan for Inception
4. Danny Boyle for 127 Hours
5. The Coen Bros. for True Grit

Although there will probably never be another lone wolf director nomination (since there are 10 BP nominees now) there could still be a surprise or two, so don't count out Mike Leigh for Another Year or Aronofsky for Black Swan (or even Cholodenko for Kids if the all boys club dares to nominate another woman so soon after Bigelow's victory last year).

1. Colin Firth in The King's Speech
2. James Franco in 127 Hours
3. Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network
4. Jeff Bridges in True Grit
5. Robert Duvall in Get Low

This is probably Firth's to win (he should have won last year but Bridges' outdid him with the whole "never won before" motif) and Franco and Eisenberg just along for the ride (they will have lots of chances later).  Don't count out Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine) or even Michael Douglas (Wall Street or Solitary Man) just in case The King's Speech, 127 Hours or True Grit tank.  Let's not count out Leoardo DiCaprio either, just in case the Inception people get their way.

1. Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right
2. Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone
3. Lesley Manville in Another Year
4. Natalie Portman in Black Swan
5. Nicole Kidman in The Rabbit Hole

This is Bening's Oscar to lose (and I don't think she will this time).  Kidman's nod (of course) rests on The Rabbit Hole doing well upon release.  If it doesn't then we could see Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine), Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go) or Sally Hawkins (Made in Dangenham) sneak in.  We could also see Julianne Moore get a nod for Kids, but they may go supporting for her instead (much like the Brokeback Mountain split of Ledger in lead and Gyllenhaal in support).

1. John Hawkes in Winter's Bone
2. Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech
3. Christian Bale in The Fighter
4. Andrew Garfield in The Social Network
5. Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right

I have yet to see any of my fellow Oscar pundits name Hawkes as a choice here, but I think if he gets enough precursor victories (the critical love is already there) then he could easily get in - and even win.  Garfield could split the vote with cast mate JT and neither one get in, but Garfield is the stronger candidate because he is the figurative heart of the film (though Oscar does love a good villain and JT does manage to bring evil back).  It is also great to see Bale looking like a lock (unless the film falls flat on arrival) especially considering his never being nominated before (can you believe that!?).  We could also see Sam Rockwell sneak in if his film, Conviction, opens well - probably in place of one of the Social Network boys.  And no one count out Bill Murray for Get Low or either Damon or Brolin for True Grit.  A tough category indeed.

1. Helena Bonham Carter in The King's Speech
2. Melissa Leo in The Fighter
3. Hailee Steinfield in True Grit
4. Barbara Hershey in Black Swan
5. Dianne Wiest in The Rabbit Hole

Easily the most open-ended category in the race.  Pretty much anything could happen here.  Withe most likely exceptions of Carter and possibly Leo, we could easily see a bunch of ladies popping into the top five.  The most likely (and the one I kicked off at the last minute for Wiest) is Sissy Spacek for Get Low and/or Miranda Richardson in Made in Dangenham.  We could also see Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (if it opens well), Julianne Moore for The Kids Are All Right (if they go supporting in her campaign) or Marion Cotillard for Inception (if that ball starts rolling).  Then again, I think a surprise nod for Kristin Scott Thomas in Nowhere Boy could be in the cards.

That's it for now.  I will update these lists come early to mid-December.

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