2011 Oscars Predictions

The Oscars are tonight. I’m looking forward to them this year much more than previous years, simply because I’ve seen so many of the nominees compared to previous years. Here’s what I’m thinking about the big categories from tonight’s ceremony:

Best Picture

Will Win: The King’s Speech

Should Win: The Social Network

Should Have Been Nominated: Blue Valentine

Black Swan remains my favorite film of 2010, I’m comfortable knowing that The Social Network is without doubt the best film of 2010. It makes me sad that a film like The King’s Speech is probably going to win, especially since in this writer’s opinion it never should have been nominated in the first place, keeping out more deserving films like Blue Valentine and Never Let Me Go. I found nothing remarkable about The King’s Speech at all. The plot isn’t particularly interesting, and while the acting is solid, it doesn’t move me in any way. Compared to The Social Network, which features one of Hollywood’s great scripts of our time, wonderful acting and directing and an awesome score, it’s going to be a shame when the reductive Oscar bait of a movie beats it out for the big prize.

Best Director

Will Win: David Fincher

Should Win: Darren Aronofsky

Should Have Been Nominated: Christopher Nolan and Mark Romanek

Two of the strongest directorial works were not nominated this year. We all know about how egregiously Chris Nolan was robbed, and the choices Romanek made in Never Let Me Go turned what could have been a stilted version of the book into close to a masterpiece. Of the actually nominated, I’d only be upset if David O. Russell (simply because The Fighter just wasn’t good enough) or Tom Hooper (see paragraph above) wins. I’d be fine with the Coens, Fincher, or Aronofsky winning the prize, though I have a feeling Fincher will be given the nod knowing that his film will be denied the big prize. This one will most likely be the consolation alongside screenplay.

Actor in a Leading Role

Will Win: Colin Firth

Should Win: Jesse Eisenberg

Should Have Been Nominated: Ryan Gosling

Gosling was arguably better than everyone in this category, and was not nominated. Of the people we have to work with, Colin Firth is going to win, despite giving the weakest performance of the four I’ve seen. It’s fine, but it’s fine in a way that is uninspiring, whereas Eisenberg created a wonderfully realized character with all of these subtle little twists and turns whenever he interacts with the rest of the human race. Jeff Bridges is also a little out of place actually getting nominated here. He was fine, and fun to watch, but nothing about his performance was particularly astounding.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Will Win: Christian Bale

Should Win: Christian Bale

Should Have Been Nominated: Andrew Garfield

I wasn’t really blown away by The Fighter. It’s good, but the third act devolves into some painful sports clichés that the first two acts deftly avoided by focusing on the family drama aspect more than the actual boxing. Still, I’m going to own this film, and I’ll probably watch it quite a bit almost entirely to watch Christian Bale’s performance. This is a good situation, as Bale deserves a major award in general for his years of excellent work, but he’s not going to get a pity Oscar for a performance that wasn’t his best (Training Day, anyone?). Of the nominees, Mark Ruffalo doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near the list, somehow depriving The Year of Garfield from even reaching the Oscar nominee list. Between The Social Network and Never Let Me Go (which arguably could have been either a leading or supporting role), it’s a crying shame he was shut out.

Actress in a Leading Role

Will Win: Natalie Portman

Should Win: Natalie Portman

Should Have Been Nominated: Carey Mulligan

At least this is one category The King’s Speech can’t win. Portman’s a foregone conclusion, and since this will basically be the only category Black Swan will win, they’ll at least get something. It’s still strange that Michelle Williams is nominated when Gosling isn’t, but in general the nominees for this one are good. I would have loved to see Carey Mulligan’s bravura performance from Never Let Me Go receive a nomination, but it’s very clear that the Academy simply didn’t care for or about the film.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Will Win: Melissa Leo

Should Win: Melissa Leo

Should Have Been Nominated: Olivia Williams

It still bothers me that Hailee Steinfeld was nominated for this category. She won’t win (I don’t think she will, at least), leaving the two ladies from The Fighter with the best opportunity at taking this one down. Leo has more momentum overall, and her performance is flashier, making me think she’ll take it down over Amy Adams. Olivia Williams deserves praise for her work in The Ghost Writer, and easily should have been in the mix over the leading role of Hailee Steinfeld.

Animated Film

Will Win: Toy Story 3

Should Win: How to Train Your Dragon

Should Have Been Nominated: This one’s pretty much fine

I unabashedly love How to Train Your Dragon a lot. I’ve found it has a lot more rewatchability and staying power compared to Toy Story 3. I also know that no one agrees with me on this one, but that’s fine.

Original Screenplay

Will Win: Inception (Gods, I hope so)

Should Win: Inception

Should Have Been Nominated: Don’t Have an Answer for This One

I think The King’s Speech winning this one would probably be the worst injustice the film would commit against the ceremony this year. The screenplay for Inception is difficult to argue against; it’s a fiendishly complex and legitimately interesting fresh idea that was executed about perfectly on a script level. If it’s beaten by the adaptation of a real life event with little to no innovation, that’s actively upsetting.

Adapted Screenplay

Will Win: The Social Network

Should Win: The Social Network

Should Have Been Nominated: Never Let Me Go

Sorkin’s moment. Completely deserved. That is all.

It’s odd that everyone has been talking about how disappointing this movie season has been, despite (in my opinion at least) having one of the strongest award seasons I’ve personally seen, with Black Swan, The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Rabbit Hole, True Grit, and Blue Valentine all being released in December alone. That’s why it’s such a shame that The King’s Speech, an average Oscar bait film with no true aspirations, is going to win so many awards tonight when truly important films with great screenplays and strong ideas like The Social Network and Inception are going to be denied the big prize, among other awards. The King’s Speech is this year’s A Beautiful Mind, Chocloat, Cinderella Man, etc. and doesn’t have the same cinematic importance of the others nominated in its various categories. I can hope the right films win, because it’s a statement that movies like The King’s Speech aren’t just automatically going to take home awards, but that’s probably not going to be the case.