These are my picks for who will win at the Academy this year, not who I think should win. With some short commentary.
1. Best Actor: Colin Firth
This is a pretty easy pick.
2. Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush
A good case could be made for several other actors nominated this year, and the biggest problem with Rush winning is that he already has a best Actor Oscar and no one else nominated this year has an Oscar of any kind. But Rush was truly fantastic, and he's much older than the other nominees. Also The King's Speech works so well primarily because of Rush and Firth together.
3. Best Actress: Natalie Portman
This isn't quite as easy as picking Firth, but it's close. Portman was like a force of nature in this film.
4. Supporting Actress: Either Amy Adams or Melissa Leo
When multiple actors are competing for the same category it seems as though the Academy usually snubs both. But I don't think that will be the case this year.
5. Animated Feature Film: The Illusionist
This is easier than picking Firth. Toy Story 3 and Dragon were excellent and entertaining but that's about all. Nothing about them was artistic in anyway. Artistic is The Illusionist's middle name (if it had one). The Academy is a total sucker for animated films like this. I haven't even seen it, but I know the Academy is going with this. It's french for crying out loud!
6. Art Direction: Inception
Everybody knows that this was easily one of the best films of the year, and a landmark in a young important Director's career. But its too action oriented to get any of the serious awards. So it will receive almost every technical award it has been nominated for, starting with this one.
7. Cinematography: This is impossible to determine absolutely, all five are deserving in different ways, but my gut tells me it will ultimately be between Libatique and Pfister...and I'm calling Pfister. Mostly because of the reasons given for Art Direction. Since Portman is pretty much a shoo-in for Best Actress the Academy won't feel the need to give Black Swan other awards the way it will for Inception.
8. Costume Design: I really don't care, but Wonderland's costumes were great. I'm picking that just to pick something.
9. Directing: David Fincher
This battle really should be between Aronofsky and Nolan. They are better directors (probably the two best Director's working right now) but Fincher has been making good films longer and Nolan's filmography has been too action/comic book oriented, as well as financially successful. Also Nolan still isn't even nominated in this category! And since this is Aronofsky's first nomination there's no way he's getting it. The Coen brothers are disqualified because they finally won their first director Oscar recently and honestly True Grit was really good but not quite Coen good, so they wouldn't be winning for their stunning remake anyway. Fincher's got it. I don't think he was the best director this year, but he made a great film and he's been doing that for a while.
10. Documentary: I really don't care, the documentary category is notoriously stupid at the Oscars
11. Documentary Short Subject: I care even less...
12. Film Editing: Inception deserves this but its not even nominated, so I'm going with Black Swan
13. Foreign Language Film: I care, but I haven't seen any of the nominees this year
14. Makeup: this year, I don't care, but I'll go with Wolfman just cause I like the original Lon Chaney Jr. film and they went with a similar retro design
15. Original Score: The Social Network (even though Inception probably deserves to win) Trent Reznor is always sexy
16. Original Song: Toy Story 3, if anything else wins blech!
17. Best Picture: The Social Network
The Social Network is not the best film that was made this year. Black Swan and Inception were. But Fincher's opus was probably the most balanced. It was a truly great film about a very interesting and enduring topic. It is thematically the Citizen Kane of my generation. It had several fantastic performances. Basically this film is flawless, but it has something else that Nolan's and Aronofsky's incredible films didn't have: a meaningful historic narrative. If a film is making a "social" point (no pun intended) while being generally awesome the Academy is going to pick it, nine times out of ten. That's how Ghandi beat E.T., Chariots of Fire beat Raider's of the Lost Ark, Hurt Locker beat Avatar etc. (even though unlike those other films Avatar actually sucked)
18. Animated Short Film: Who cares?
19. Live Action Short Film: Really who cares? I'm actually asking
20. Sound Editing: This is a toss up, but based on previous argumentation I'm going with Inception
21. Sound Mixing: This is also a toss up, but based on previous argumentation I'm going with Inception
22. Visual Effects: Inception, based on the previous argumentation
23. Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
I'm just going with the old gut on this one. The Social Network was sexy while being meaningful. I think this is the safest bet.
24. Original Screenplay: The King's Speech
The Fighter and Inception might be more deserving overall, in terms of structure and originality, but The King's Speech was clever, meaningful, and inspiring. It's also true.
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