2010 appears to be a battle between "The Social Network" and "The King's Speech", with each one garnering mucho nominations. Personally, I thought that "The Social Network" was a vastly over-praised piece of mediocrity. Aside from Jesse Eisenberg's performance, which was stellar, the rest of it felt as phony as Hollywood itself. Maybe that is why so many are tripping all over themselves to praise it.
On the other hand, "The King's Speech" is a great story, acted by some of the finest performers currently working in film. It would appear to be no contest. But betting on who will win the gold statue has little to do with who deserves it. The keys are who is voting, and what the prevailing mood of the voters is. Let's get to it.
My picks are italicized.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Javier Bardem, "Biutiful"
Jeff Bridges, "True Grit"
Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"
Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
James Franco, "127 Hours"
Bridges and Firth do battle again, in a rematch from last year. Bridges won last year even though Firth deserved it. Firth can't lose this time. He plays a character with an affliction, in addition to doing another outstanding job. This award is the easiest single one to predict this year. If I'm wrong, you can pretty much throw out all of my other picks, too.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Christian Bale, "The Fighter"
John Hawkes, " Winter's Bone "
Jeremy Renner, "The Town "
Mark Ruffalo, "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush, "The King's Speech"
This is the category that pisses me off. Bale is going to win because he has an affliction. I grudgingly admit that he did a nice job, but to me, Rush's performance was the best one I saw all year, in any category.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Annette Bening, "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"
Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams, "Blue Valentine"
It's Natalie's year, and it's not like she doesn't deserve it. We all knew she was headed to an Oscar someday. It was only a matter of time. I was also very fond of Ms. Kidman's work, but she and the others will probably get steamrolled by the Portman Express.
The first category where I have mixed feelings. With two nominees from "The Fighter" there is always a fear of a split in the voting, but I'll still go with Melissa Leo, who I have loved since her days on the television series, "Homicide: Life On the Street".
Toy Story franchise will win, even though I preferred "How to Train Your Dragon".
Finally, a sticky category where any of three films could take it. I'm going to take a stand that it's going to be a "King's Speech" year and opt for it, realizing that "Inception" has a good shot at this one, and that "Alice In Wonderland" might even cop this.
This could be where "True Grit" slips the lasso around an Oscar. "Inception" is also looking like a strong contender for this one.
"The King's Speech" or "Alice in Wonderland". Flip a coin. I'll go with "The King's Speech" and continue to root for it to rout the competition.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
"Exit Through The Gift Shop"
"Exit Through The Gift Shop" is probably the best of the bunch, but rumor is that "Inside Job" has the inside track. I'll go with the rumor in this notoriously tough category to predict.
ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
"The King's Speech"
"The Social Network"
My editing friends assure me that "The Social Network" will capture this, even if I'm unclear as to why.
ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SCORE)
"How to Train Your Dragon", John Powell
"Inception", Hans Zimmer
"The King's Speech", Alexandre Desplat
"127 Hours", A. R. Rahman
"The Social Network", Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Truly wide-open category that could go a long way to who wins your Oscars pool. I'll take a shot with "The Social Network". Would be odd to see Trent Reznor up there. The people behind "The King's Speech" or "Inception" are just as likely to be singing after this award is announced.
ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SONG)
"We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3"
"Coming Home" from "Country Strong"
"I See the Light" from "Tangled"
"If I Rise" from "127 Hours"
Try betting against "Toy Story 3" and Randy Newman if you like. I won't.
My close friend who is an editor tells me that "Unstoppable" should win, but that "Inception" will win.
"The Social Network" is the proverbial lock.
If "The King's Speech" doesn't win this, it's going to be a long evening of disappointment for their connections.
Half of Hollywood says "The Social Network", while the other half says "The King's Speech". To be consistent, I'll take "The King's Speech". If it goes in the other direction, you'll wish you had not listened to me.
I've already tipped my hand to "The King's Speech". If it wins this, the rest of my selections will probably pay nice dividends. If "The Social Network" wins, well...