Ed predicts: 2011 Academy Award winners 

click to enlarge Colin Firth and Helen Bonham Carter
  • Colin Firth and Helen Bonham Carter

Usually I spend a large portion of my annual Oscars story railing about deserving films and artists that appear likely to be shot down by Academy members more concerned with making a statement than voting for the best nominee. This year I'm in agreement with the probable winners in 4 of the 6 major categories. Oh my. Here's this year's run down for this year's event, Sunday, Feb. 20. For local Oscar parties, see nuvo.net.

Best picture

Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

Not a bad film in the list, although I never got why so many people went gaga over The Kids Are All Right. Doesn't matter in this context, because every prognosticator in the country agrees that the race is between The Social Network and The King's Speech. The hip, edgy now-a-go-go "Social Network" vs. the inspirational we-can-overcome-handicaps-if-we-work-together The King's Speech.The Social Network is a critics' darling that won most of the early awards, but then boredom with trophy-predictability jump-started a backlash The King's Speech - so dignified, so refined, so British – started looking more and more like the film that would best represent the Oscars. It isn't – while The King's Speech is a fine film, The Social Network is more challenging, nuanced and satisfying. But remember, we're dealing with the Academy Awards, where Dances With Wolves beat Good Fellas, Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan and Crash beat Brokeback Mountain.

Will win: The King's Speech

Should win: The Social Network

Best actor

click to enlarge Jesse Eisenberg
  • Jesse Eisenberg
Javier Bardem: Biutiful
Jeff Bridges: True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg: The Social Network
Colin Firth: The King's Speech
James Franco: 127 Hours

There's no contest here. Colin Firth will win for The King's Speech. His performance is rich and moving – Firth always does great work. He's not my choice, though. I really liked what James Franco did in 127 Hours, but even more impressive was how Jesse Eisenberg dealt with the challenges of his role in The Social Network. He was handed a sullen character with limited social skills and he took us inside the guy's head, making him relatable while remaining true to the screenplay.

Will win: Colin Firth

Should win: Jesse Eisenberg

Best actress

click to enlarge Natalie Portman
  • Natalie Portman
Annette Bening: The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman: Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence: Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman: Black Swan
Michelle Williams: Blue Valentine

Annette Bening is supposed to be the dark horse here. She was excellent in The Kids Are All Right, she is widely respected and liked within the acting community, and people are tired of voting for Natalie Portman over and over this year. But here's the thing: Darren Aronofsky handed Portman a big, juicy over-the-top role in his crazy-ass mix of art and schlock and Portman knocked it out of the park. How can anyone – even people who hate Black Swan - watch Portman be so sensitive, vulnerable and whacked-out and not want to give her a trophy?

Will win: Natalie Portman

Should win: Natalie Portman


click to enlarge David Fincher
  • David Fincher
Darren Aronofsky: Black Swan
David O.Russell: The Fighter
Tom Hooper: The King's Speech
David Fincher: The Social Network
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen: True Grit

It is obligatory that I start by noting that Christopher Nolan was robbed of a nomination for Inception. Robbed, I tell you! But then, I'm still steamed that Exit Through the Gift Shop wasn't nominated for Best Picture in addition to Best Documentary, so let's move on. There are a number of deserving directors here, but The Social Network's David Fincher managed to take a story full of young men typing and sniping and make it pop and crackle with energy and an intense sense that we were witnessing something very, very new. Of course, that's not why he will win. Fincher will win because Academy members planning to vote for The King's Speech for Best Picture will give their votes in this category to The Social Network as a consolation prize.

Will win: David Fincher

Should win: David Fincher

Supporting actor

click to enlarge Christian Bale
  • Christian Bale
Christian Bale: The Fighter
John Hawkes: Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner: The Town
Mark Ruffalo: The Kid's Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush: The King's Speech

Christian Bale is as sure a winner in this category as Colin Firth is in Best Actor. All five nominees were excellent, with John Hawkes giving a standout performance in Winter's Bone. But not many people know Hawkes, while most movie fans are familiar with Bale and what a stretch the role of Dicky Eklund was for him. And any question of whether Bale may have overacted was removed when the real Dicky made an appearance at the end of the movie.

Will win: Christian Bale

Should win: Christian Bale

Supporting actress

click to enlarge Melissa Leo
  • Melissa Leo
Amy Adams: The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter: The King's Speech
Melissa Leo: The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld: True Grit
Jacki Weaver: Animal Kingdom

Bless her heart, Melissa Leo made this category interesting. She was considered the front runner for her bold work in The Fighter, until she took out her own For Your Consideration ads in some trade publications. Now the studios take out ads like that all the time, but for Leo to do so independently has stirred up controversy, with some calling her decision "vulgar." Oh the humanity! So will Leo's "vulgarity" cost her the prize? If so, it will likely go to young Hailee Steinfeld, who was so good in True Grit? I'm rooting for Leo.

Will win: Melissa Leo, but a Steinfeld win wouldn't be a surprise.

Should win: Melissa Leo

FUN FACT: After five terrific seasons on the TV series Homicide, Leo got sacked because the powers-that-be ran out of ideas for her gritty, working-class character and decided to replace her with Michelle Forbes, who was sexy in a more traditional Hollywood way. Now Leo's in hot water for looking old-school glamorous in print. Isn't show business wonderful?


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What others are saying (33)

Boise Weekly First Quarter Film Stinkers A closer look at the numbers indicates that neither history nor logic can justify a box office model that packs 25 percent of its calendar with high-priced trash by George Prentice 03/23/2011
The Coast Halifax Logging into The Social Network The Facebook-based film brings a high IQ, without preaching a social discourse on its network. by Hillary Titley 10/07/2010
Creative Loafing Atlanta The Fighter's a smash hit Googley-eyed Christian Bale gives a knockout performance by Curt Holman 12/17/2010
30 more reviews...
Colorado Springs Independent Now a major motion picture! From orphaned owlets to Fincher's Facebook, here's a fall preview of book-to-movie adaptations. by Scott Renshaw 09/09/2010
Indy Week Futzing with Facebook by JP Trostle 09/29/2010
Indy Week The Fighter is pat and derivative The only explanation for the existence of The Fighter is the Ben Affleck-ian belief that the world can always use another blue-collar tale set among the Boston-area Irish. by Neil Morris 12/15/2010
Tucson Weekly We Like This 'The Social Network' is yet another masterpiece from director David Fincher by Bob Grimm 10/07/2010
The Coast Halifax A TKO for The Fighter A cast that packs major punch makes for a standout sports movies. by Matt Semansky 12/09/2010
Colorado Springs Independent Rocky road: The Fighter The comparisons to Stallone's masterpiece are justified, for all the best possible reasons.

by Scott Renshaw 12/16/2010
Colorado Springs Independent Opening this week The Social Network, Let Me In, Case 39 and more. 09/30/2010
Portland Mercury His Majesty Colin Firth The King's Speech's princely rewards. by Marjorie Skinner 12/23/2010
Indy Week Aaron Sorkin handles the truth Sorkin on the drive behind Facebook and those who created it, on the allure and trappings of social media, and on why he decided to option Andrew Young's book about the John Edwards sex scandal and cover-up by Neil Morris 09/29/2010
Boise Weekly The Projector: Movies opening Friday, Oct. 1 A protective vampire; an Australian crime family; something from Fight Club's Fincher; a dive becomes the place to be; teens and their virginity; Oliver Stone's long-awaited Wall Street sequel; and the high-school bully finally gets what's due to her. It's all at the movies. 10/01/2010
Indy Week Facebook gets its movie, courtesy of Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher The irony is this tech-led revenge of the nerds ends up succumbing to the same trappings of ambition, entitlement and narcissism, as well as emulating the very social caste system they rebel against. by Neil Morris 09/29/2010
Indy Week Pondering the 600 million in Facebook's global village The nation that for the last 50 years has defined its "dream" as a house in the suburbs where no one can bother you is now spending more and more of its spare time letting everybody back in. by Gerry Canavan 09/29/2010
Colorado Springs Independent Opening this week TRON, How Do You Know, even some True Grit showings 12/16/2010
Portland Mercury Split Decision Mark Wahlberg gets knocked out... by his supporting cast. by Wm. Steven Humphrey 12/16/2010
Creative Loafing Atlanta Catfish, Social Network refresh our ideas about Facebook Snappy, engrossing movies provide status updates of the online zeitgeist by Curt Holman 09/24/2010
The Coast Halifax Melissa Leo goes the distance The actor explains why her role of Alice in The Fighter didn’t feel right at first. by Matt Semansky 12/16/2010
Chicago Reader The Price of Privacy In The Social Network, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg learns a thing or two about it. by J.R. Jones 09/30/2010
East Bay Express The Social Network and the "F" Word The billionaire geek who invented Facebook (The Social Network) meets the juvie outcasts of the living dead (Let Me In). by Kelly Vance 09/29/2010
Boise Weekly The Projector: Movies opening Friday, Dec. 17 Frosty goes Hollywood (catch him on film and you could win big, a black swan, a girl and some guys, a talking bear, a Benedictine nun and some special screenings. It's all at the movies. 12/17/2010
Memphis Flyer Facebook, Official David Fincher crafts a great film on an allegedly unlikely subject. by Chris Herrington 09/30/2010
East Bay Express The Fighter and Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale One goes ten rounds before being TKO'd, the other puts the claws back on Santa. by Kelly Vance 12/15/2010
Boise Weekly The Prize-Winning Punch of The Fighter Oscar gives prizes to the pugilist. by Jordan Wilson 03/16/2011
Chicago Reader The Best Movies of 2010 Carlos, Enter the Void, Dogtooth, and more by J.R. Jones 12/16/2010
Charleston City Paper David O. Russell affectionately portrays a blue-collar clan in The Fighter The Eklund clan, stars of The Fighter, are not necessarily an introspective bunch. Matriarch Alice Eklund (Melissa Leo) hasn't absorbed the fact that her beloved son Dicky (Christian Bale) is a crack addict. And Dicky hasn't thought about how he will look when an HBO documentary about crack addiction he stars in finally airs. With hair-trigger tempers, this Lowell, Mass., family acts instead of thinks. But their id-driven lives are our entertainment gain: Based on a true story, The Fighter runneth over with raw energy, crazy action, and the highly seductive, brainless gallop of people dashing toward the brick wall of their own vanities and fears. It couldn't be more fun. by Felicia Feaster 12/15/2010
Charleston City Paper The founders of Facebook get in a Poke War The Social Network feels like a strange and satisfying blend of two worlds. On one hand, it's a classic Hollywood screwball comedy where brainy dialogue ping-pongs with dizzying speed between über-brainy Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his equally tongue-lashing prone peer group. "Dating you is like dating a Stairmaster," quips his exasperated Boston University girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). by Felicia Feaster 09/29/2010
Charleston City Paper The fall 2010 book-to-movie preview Whether the result is good, like The Road, or absolutely horrible, like Ramona and Beezus, or just another dang adaptation of a Jane Austen novel, it's once again the season for filmmakers to turn a notable book into the next great (or terrible) film. Here are some of the lesser-known novels coming to your multiplex before year's end. (As always, release dates are subject to change.) by Scott Renshaw 09/08/2010
Tucson Weekly Hammy Haymakers A showy Christian Bale performance can't cover up major flaws in 'The Fighter' by Colin Boyd 12/16/2010
Portland Mercury Profile Picture The Social Network: David Fincher does not want to be Mark Zuckerberg's friend. by Erik Henriksen 09/30/2010
Boise Weekly The King Has Something To Say Take Colin Firth home with you. by Jordan Wilson 04/27/2011
Colorado Springs Independent Face-plant: The Social Network Life and all its weird facsimiles come at us so quickly nowadays, which is partly why you know you want to see The Social Network anyway: to process. by Jonathan Kiefer 09/30/2010

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