Sunday, February 27, 2011

2011 Oscar Predictions

Since it would be shirking my duties as a film writer not to publish my predictions of the winners at tonight's Academy Awards, I present them now. If you are in a pool with me--for entertainment purposes only, of course--no copying!

Best Picture: The King's Speech
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Ten years ago I think the winners of the headline prizes held more potential surprises, in part because there wasn't nearly as much tracking and discussion of such stuff online. Now anyone who pays attention can reliably predict at least four of these six awards, if not five. I'm not buying into the backlash at Melissa Leo because of the glam For Your Consideration ads she took out, but that casts a smidgen of doubt on my selection of her. Splitting the oft-linked wins between Director and Picture doesn't feel like as big of a risk as it usually is. It could be what makes or breaks my sheet since these categories deliver more points in the pool I participate in.

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
Best Original Screenplay: The King's Speech
Best Cinematography: True Grit
Best Film Editing: The Social Network
Best Sound Editing: Inception
Best Sound Mixing: The King's Speech
Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland
Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Makeup: The Wolfman
Best Visual Effects: Inception
Best Original Score: The King's Speech
Best Original Song: "Coming Home", Country Strong

The guild categories (plus music) are where the pool winners and losers will be separated. While some of these seem clear cut--the screenplay categories are likely locks--it gets trickier after that. Whether it's true or not, my perception is that a "spread the wealth" mentality has been eroding. That's what has me less certain of True Grit in Cinematography. The King's Speech is nominated in both categories I have Alice in Wonderland winning, but my gut tells me that the Oscars will go to the film with the Most Apparent Art Direction and Costume Design.

I'm taking a flier on Best Original Song. The Country Strong nominee is the only one I can claim to know at all, but maybe that's because it's the most recent one of the bunch I've seen. More importantly, while most probably have the impression that animated films have dominated, it's been nine years since a song from an animated film won ("If I Didn't Have You", Monsters, Inc.). That could mean I'm backing the wrong one--just watch the 127 Hours song win--but "Coming Home" seems like a radio- and Grammy-friendly track tailor-made to win awards.

Best Documentary: Inside Job
Best Foreign Language Film: Haevnen (In a Better World)
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Best Animated Short: The Gruffalo
Best Documentary Short: Strangers No More
Best Live Action Short: Na Wewe

Aside from Animated Film, which is a sure thing, the rest of these come down to shots in the dark. This is especially true of the shorts. Seeing them isn't necessarily helpful. Last year I saw the Animated Shorts and whiffed on the winner. This year I've seen the Live Action Shorts and think God of Love is unquestionably better than all of the others, but I'm going with Na Wewe because it seems "important" and is better than the mediocre other three.

The breakdown of predicted feature film winners:

5 - The King's Speech
3 - The Social Network
2 - Alice in Wonderland
2 - The Fighter
1 - Black Swan
1 - Country Strong
1 - In a Better World
1 - Inception
1 - Inside Job
1 - Toy Story 3
1 - True Grit
1 - The Wolfman

Post-awards update: Looks like I made 17 correct picks out of 24, which was good enough to win the pool I was in. (Since each category was worth various points, I needed the fourth tiebreaker--show length--to win the prize.) If I hadn't split Picture and Director, I would have connected on all six major categories.

The surprising difference--and what put me in an early lead--was Leo's win. The majority picked Steinfeld, likely from Entertainment Weekly inexplicably putting her as the favorite.

So much for "research", though. I blew the Live Action Shorts category, although I was happy to see the best one win. Recent history for Best Original Song winners went out the window with the Randy Newman song netting him a rare victory. (Also, were those about as forgettable of a bunch of songs as you could have?) I read somewhere that the Sound categories had been divided in recent years by Sound Editing favoring a blockbuster type and Sound Mixing going to the Best Picture. The latter didn't hold true this year.

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