It is that time of year again for me to prognosticate the winners of this year's Academy Awards, as if I were the Oracle at Delphi.
Will Win: "King's Speech"
Two months ago it seemed impossible that anything would beat "The Social Network," but after winning the majority of critics' prizes and the Golden Globe, it appears that David Fincher's film has lost much of its momentum. The positive buzz around "The King's Speech" has even propelled this small prestige film to over $100 million at the box office. The film boasts an extremely powerful cast and a tight, snappy screenplay that are incredibly popular with the Academy.
Will Win: David Fincher, "Social Network"
Tom Hooper, the director of "King's Speech," did win the DGA award, but if the British Academy did not give the prize to Hooper, it seems unlikely that the Oscars will either. Fincher is well respected and this may be the consolation prize for the facebook movie not winning the top prize.
Will Win: Colin Firth, "King's Speech"
This is the one category where there is absolutely no possibility of an upset. People were saying Firth would be nominated last year even before the film was out of post-production. He is playing a British monarch with a speech impediment, two of the academy's favorite character attributes: disability and royalty. Firth is also popular and never been honored. His win will surely result in a standing ovation as well. Hopefully, his wife doesn't cheat on him with a Nazi sympathizer, like last year's sure thing winner Sandy Bullock.
Will Win: Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Natalie Portman is the clear front runner in this category but there is a dark horse: Annette Bening. Bening is a Governor of the Actors' Branch of the Academy and she has never won before. She lost twice to Hilary Swank and this year she portrayed a lesbian in a well-liked independent comedy. I think Portman will take it in the end, but there could be a major upset here.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Christian Bale, "The Fighter"
Bale has been pointed to as one of the strongest actors of his generation. From intense indie dramas like "The Machinist" to huge blockbusters like "Dark Knight," Bale is accomplished in a number of genres. His performance as a crack-addicted boxer was the highlight of David Russell's family melodrama. If any upset were to happen, it would be Geoffrey Rush as the King's speech therapist.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Helena Bonham Carter, "King's Speech"
Melissa Leo was the clear leader in this race, but then she took a major misstep by taking out large ads in the trade papers courting voters for their votes. Many people saw it as a highly tacky move. I believe she still has the edge but the "King's Speech" steamroller may very well bulldoze this category, too. Carter, a woman noted for eccentricities and her marriage to famed director Tim Burton, may ultimately triumph in this category. But then there is also Hailee Steinfeld, the fourteen-year-old wonder kid in "True Grit." This is one of the only wide open races this year.
Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: David Seidler, "King's Speech"
I would much rather see Lisa Cholodenko win here for "The Kids are All Right," but Seidler, with his first nomination with the script he plied around town for years before it was picked, up has a true underdog story. Plus, the film is going to win Best Picture, so screenplay prizes often go to the Best Picture winner as well.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Aaron Sorkin, "Social Network"
Everyone in Hollywood loved Sorkin's work on "The West Wing," and his lock on this prize seems assured. This is the chance to honor a respected writer and a film that has been honored by most film critics across the country.
Best Animated Feature
Will Win: "Toy Story 3"
Unlike most threequels, "Toy Story 3" did incredibly well at the box office (grossing a billion dollars worldwide) and with critics--it was the best reviewed film of the year, in fact. A travesty would occur if this failed to win in this category.
Will Win: The "Tangled" Song
Who knows who will win in this category? Some predict that AR Rahman will repeat here, but since he won just two years ago for "Slumdog Millionaire," I can't see the Academy giving him the prize for a movie that has failed at the box office and not reached the same critical respect as his first foray into Anglo-American cinema. Alan Menken wrote the songs in "Tangled" and he hasn't won since "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas, so this may be a chance to give Menken his ninth Oscar.
Will Win: Trent Reznor, "Social Network"
Some think Alexandre Desplat's score for "King's Speech" will triumph here. He has never won and been nominated several times, but the Academy actually has a past awarding rock stars in this category. Prince won for "Purple Rain," and Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Byrne of Talking Heads won for "The Last Emperor." With a new upsurge of younger Academy members, Reznor will most likely be able to beat the established film composers.
Will Win: "Social Network"
I have no clue how "Inception" was not nominated in this category, but with that removed from the running, "Social Network" clearly has the edge.
Will Win: "True Grit"
Roger Deakins, who has shot many of the Coen Bros. finest films, has never won an Oscar. This will most likely be his year to shine.
Best Costume Design
Will Win: "Alice in Wonderland"
"Alice in Wonderland" may not have received heaps of praise from critics, but its costume designs were one of the actually unique aspects about it. When Alice shrunk, her dress became a huge mess, and when she grew her dress became small and tight. Something never done in any other adaptation of Carroll's work. It was a brilliant move and may give the film its sole win in this category.
Best Art Direction
Will Win: "King's Speech"
Although "Alice" had the most spectacular sets, most of them CGI'ed, "King's Speech" went for accuracy and simplicity on a shoestring budget. Sometimes less is more.
Will Win: "Exit Through the Gift Shop"
Banksy's tongue-in-cheek documentary blurred the lines between fiction and non-fiction and in the process made some profound statements about art's relation to commerce. Categories like documentary are difficult to predict because for one to be able to vote in this category he or she must be able to demonstrate to the Academy that he or she has seen every film nominated (a regulation not in place for categories like Actor, Actress or Picture). Thus a small group of people who saw all the films may elect a film that has not even been released in theaters to win. "Inside Job," a well-reviewed doc about the meltdown of 2008, may upset here, but I am going with innovation here.
Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: "Biutiful"
To vote in this category, like in the Documentary category, you have to see all the nominees. I haven't seen a single one, thus I am going with the film with Bardem, only because Bardem is in it. The Danish film may win because of its triumph at the Golden Globes. This category often results in upsets ("Departures" over "The Class;" "Lives of Others" over "Pan's Labyrinth;" "Secret of their Eyes" over "White Ribbon"--that is the last consecutive three years). Frankly, no one can know who will win here.
Best Visual Effects
Will Win: "Inception"
"Tron" had some gorgeous effects but since it seems that is ALL it had, the much smarter and better "Inception" will easily beat the competition.
Will Win: "Wolfman"
No one could have seen this coming: "Wolfman" will be an Oscar-winning flick. Rick Baker who has six OScars already designed the fur mask for Benicio Del Toro. Why the make-up branch did not nominate films, such as "Black Swan," "Alice in Wonderland," or "Inception," I shall never know.
Best Animated Short
Will Win: "Madagascar, carnet de voyage"
I like the title and it's about Madagascar, so in honor of Jane, I say this will win
Best Documentary Short
Will Win: "Killing in the Name"
Sounds like a good expose about something violent and without justice.
Best Live Action Short
Will Win: "Na Wewe"
It's about Rwanda, why not?