Culture Club: Oscar 2011 predictions

When you throw in the fact that it is a period piece, British, and about a physical ailment, it may be difficult to beat “The King’s Speech” in any race.

I’ve been dreading putting up my Oscar picks for a few days. This year just seems like one of the oddest years in recent Oscar history. First, I thought “The King’s Speech” would sweep everything. Then it did poorly with all the critics groups, Golden Globes, and Broadcast Film Critics. All of those groups uniformly went for “The Social Network.” After they won everything, everyone was saying “The Social Network” will win Best Picture. Then, “The King’s Speech” surprisingly won the Producers Guild, Directors Guild, twelve Oscar nominations, and the British Academy Film Award. That pretty much sealed the deal with “The King’s Speech”. Then, as of the weekend before the Oscars, “The Social Network” won London Film Critics and ACE Editing Guild award. So the big question is which way will the Academy finally turn on February 27?

Best Picture

Nominees: Black Swan, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, The Kids Are All Right, Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone, 127 Hours, True Grit, Inception, and The Fighter

The King’s Speech / IMDb

Expect “The Fighter” to be a close third finisher. In the end, I think the race will come down to “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech.” I would love nothing more than for “The Social Network” to win. I feel as if that film rises higher than anything else in 2010. It truly speaks to what’s going on in this country right now. I also feel that it will stand up in ten years as a consistently excellent film. However, many in the Academy simply feel that “The Social Network” swings too young and too sinister. Those members truly loved “The King’s Speech” and rewarded it with a ton of nominations. When you throw in the fact that it is a period piece, British, and about a physical ailment, it may be difficult to beat in any race. If there is an upset, “The Social Network” could prevail, especially considering it is a slight favorite for director (an award it even won at the British Film Awards over “The King’s Speech’s Tom Hooper).
Will Win: Ugh, the very nice, but traditional “The King’s Speech
Should Win: “The Fighter” or “The Social Network”

Best Actress

Nominees: Nicole Kidman “Rabbit Hole,” Michelle Williams “Blue Valentine,” Natalie Portman “Black Swan,” Annette Bening “The Kids are All Right,” and Jennifer Lawrence “Winter’s Bone”

Natalie Portman / IMDb

Jennifer Lawrence, former nominee Michelle Williams, and former winner Nicole Kidman, all received deserved nominations for their superb (but little seen) films. Expect Portman to win for the showiest role in a highly nominated movie. She won the British Film Award, Golden Globe, Broadcast Film Critics, Screen Actors Guild, and Golden Globe. Given that she is a previous nominee and has the most technically difficult part, she will win. If there is a spoiler here, it will be Golden Globe (Comedy Actress) winner Annette Bening. She delivered the most nuanced and layered performance of the five. She has also been Oscar bridesmaid four times and is long overdue for a win.
Will Win: Natalie Portman
Should Win: Annette Bening

Best Actor

Nominees: Jesse Eisenberg “The Social Network,” Jeff Bridges “True Grit,” James Franco “127 Hours,” Colin Firth “The King’s Speech,” and Javier Bardem “Bitiful”

Colin Firth / IMDb

Had Bardem and Bridges not already won, they might be considered bigger threats. Eiseberg and Franco are two of our finest young actors and would be wonderful choices for Best Actor. Both will have chances in the future. This is the biggest lock of the night. Colin Firth is long overdue (including his nomination last year for “A Single Man”) and has won every major award this season. He will win in a cake-walk.
Will Win: Colin Firth
Should Win: Who knows…they are all fantastic.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Amy Adams “The Fighter,” Melissa Leo “The Fighter,” Hailee Steinfeld “True Grit,” Helena Bonham Carter “The King’s Speech,” and Jacki Weaver “Animal Kingdom.”

Melissa Leo / IMDb

This is hands down, the hardest category of them all to call this year. Everyone (other than maybe the little seen Australian Weaver) could feasibly win. Amy Adams is my personal favorite of the year. She delivered the finest work of her young, yet fantastic career (three nominations in six years). Leo has the showier role. He won the Golden Globe, Broadcast Film Critics, and SAG award, and has to be considered the slight front-runner. She (and some of her campaign stunts) has turned a few voters off. That, and her part is a bit flashy (and scenery chewing) compared to Adams (whom she may split votes with). Fourteen-year-old Steinfeld could actually win for her leading (debatable) role in “True Grit.” She got fantastic reviews. However, she has many years ahead of her, and little work history to go on. Finally, that leaves Carter in the simplest and smallest part of the bunch. However, she won the British Film award and is well respected (a former nominee) in a beloved and nomination heavy film. She could be swept along with other wins for “The King’s Speech.”
Will Win: A tight race for Leo
Should Win: Adams

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Geoffrey Rush “The King’s Speech,” John Hawkes “Winter’s Bone,” Mark Ruffalo “The Kids Are All Right,” Jeremy Renner “The Town,” and Christian Bale “The Fighter”

Christian Bale / IMDb

Ruffalo and Hawkes are well respected actors receiving their first nominations. Renner was nominated last year (“The Hurt Locker”) and is quickly proving to be a huge star with serious acting chops. This year’s race will come down to Bale and Rush. Rush is beloved and recently won the British Academy Award. Had he not previously won (“Shine”) he would probably win for his touching performance in “The King’s Speech.” He could still win based on respect and his film lifting performance. However, Bale has won everything else this season, for his outstanding work in “The Fighter.” He had the performance of the year and truly embraced it. If anything holds him back from a win, it will be his notorious off-camera personality. It seems that he has had that in control this entire awards season.
Will Win: Bale (barely over Rush)
Should Win: Bale or Rush

Other major predictions

Best Director: David Fincher (in a slight lead over Directors Guild Winner Tom Hooper)
Best Adapted Screenplay: “The Social Network”
Best Original Screenplay: “The King’s Speech”
Cinematography: “True Grit” barely over “The King’s Speech”
Editing: “The Social Network”
Animated Film: “Toy Story 3”
Foreign Film: “In a Better World”
Documentary: “Inside Job” barely over “Exit through the Gift Shop”
Sound, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, and Art Direction: “Inception”
Score: “The King’s Speech” over the far superior score from “The Social Network”
Song: “Toy Story 3”
Costumes: “Alice in Wonderland” barely edges out “The King’s Speech”
Make-up: “The Wolfman”…SERIOUSLY

Wayne Bell is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. He moved to Fayetteville in 2003 for his Master’s Degree and you can almost always catch him at Little Bread Co. or Hammontree’s. For more of Wayne’s contributions, visit his author page.