This year’s Oscars have a pretty good selection of films up for awards; it’s so good, in fact, that I worry a bit that the next six months will see nothing but crap released (bit of a worry when you run a cinema). Whereas the Golden Globes were reduced to nominating The Tourist, and the BAFTAs managed to miss the fact that Winter’s Bone had even been released, the Oscars have managed to avoid any obvious omissions, and are pretty low on undeserving nominations. I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees except The Kids Are All Right, so I’m having a crack at predicting the results of the major awards.
I’ll start with the no brainers. Natalie Portman clearly has Best Actress in the bag, and that’s in a year when she had a lot of strong competition (after Edinburgh this year I was certain Jennifer Lawrence had already nailed it). She’s the perfect candidate in that great things have been predicted for her since Leon, but she’s never really given the performance everyone thought she was capable of (possibly because the right role just hasn’t come along). Black Swan itself may be love it or hate it (I loved it myself) but most would agree this is a triumphant turn by someone who always seems like a nice person. I don’t think anyone (well, maybe Annette Bening) would begrudge her the award.
Similarly, it seems pretty clear that it’s Colin Firth’s turn. He’s come close before, so he’s shown patience and earned his spurs. And he is genuinely very good in The King’s Speech.
As for the rest, I would like to see The Social Network run off with the bulk of categories. However, it’s facing the twin threat of a reliable, very well made, traditional British costume drama on one side and a reliable, very well made, traditional American costume drama on the other (King’s Speech and True Grit). I might be wrong, but I suspect the Academy hive mind will share the awards out between these two, though I wouldn’t want to guess which will get Best Picture, with a smattering for the others. Aaron Sorkin should get something for the screenplay, but that could well be the lot.
The Supporting Actor/Actress awards are tougher to call. This is The Fighter’s best chance of picking up an award (well, unless it gets Best Sound Editing or one of the others that nobody really cares about) so it’s supporters may well decide to concentrate their votes here. However, I will be actively enraged if Christian Bale gets something for his manic, scene hogging turn. I don’t care how close he is to the real person he’s playing; it’s too big for the film. But they love giving Oscars to people who play real people, and Bale is generally seen as Oscar worthy. Just not for this one, please. Similarly, though I’ve been a fan of Melissa Leo since her time in Homicide: Life on the Street, her turn in The Fighter is pitched to match Bale’s, and therefore becomes part of the problem.
I would rather see John Hawkes rewarded for Winter’s Bone, and Hailee Steinfield for True Grit (even though she’s playing the lead and should not, therefore, be in this category). But I wouldn’t be totally surprised if the King’s Speech juggernaut takes these as well.
For director I would pick David Fincher, but the Coens will probably take it, leaving Original Screenplay for The King’s Speech. Not an ideal split, but at least the nominations are fairly spread over a good selection of films, so everyone will have something good to put on the DVD covers.