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

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


Should win: The

Social Network

Best actor

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


Should win: Jesse


Best actress

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


Should win: Natalie



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


Should win: David


Supporting actor

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


Should win:

Christian Bale

Supporting actress

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


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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