Generation Film’s Oscar Predictions for 2011

As we get closer to the Academy Awards and witness the unfolding of other prestigious award shows (Producer’s Guild, SAG, and no that doesn’t include the Golden Globes) it begins to get easier as to see who will win the highest honor in the film making world. We all have preferences of which film SHOULD be the winner versus the actual outcome that inevitably contradicts those previous expectations, which is why the following list will be an assessment of which films probably will win along with my personal picks of who was probably the most deserving. Mind you last year I was incorrect and surprised by many of the actual results, so I’m attempting to be even more analytical as to the potential outcomes. Enjoy.

Best Picture- Nominees: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are Alright, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone

Likely Winner: The King’s Speech; Personal Pick: Winter’s Bone

The Social Network was the early critical favorite coming into the awards ceremony this year especially after a big win at the Golden Globes, despite that show being run by a horrid and useless organization known as the Hollywood Foreign Press. However, those chances have been dramatically diminished after the British independent film The King’s Speech began picking up the more accurate indicating awards, such as Best Picture at the Producer’s Guild Awards and Best Acting Ensemble at the SAG Awards. While this isn’t a nail in the coffin, seal the deal situation against the Social Network’s chances, it certainly is a strong indicator as to which film the votes will be heading towards this Academy season. The Social Network is a fine film that was brilliantly put together by David Fincher in accordance with Aaron Sorkin’s fine script, but doesn’t have the rising emotional optimism that voter’s might be looking for in The King’s Speech. My personal pick, Winter’s Bone, will just be one of those rare independent gems that got the rare chance to be competing in this category and though it is a highly conceptual and nuanced film it just doesn’t have the dramatic catch as The King’s Speech or the modern parable relevance as The Social Network for most audiences to connect with. All in all with such films as True Grit and Black Swan in the running for Best Picture it has certainly been a better Award season year than in 2010. Although I would have preferred to see The Town up for Best Picture instead of The Fighter, Inception, or The Kids Are Alright.

Best Director- Nominees: Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), David O. Russell (The Fighter), Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), David Fincher (The Social Network), and The Coen Brothers (True Grit).

Likely Winner: Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech); Personal Pick: Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)

Again this is all linked not to the Golden Globes (which has become obviously more useless in the last couple of years) but to the Director’s Guild who honored Tom Hooper for his directing skills in the now front runner for Award’s glory The King’s Speech. Hooper has had a very interesting career in directing, including the HBO mini-series “John Adams,” and was snubbed last year for the directing nomination for his work on The Damned United (this should have been up for Best Picture instead of countless others including Invictus and The Blind Side). Of course, David Fincher might pull off a victory with this award due to his previous nomination two years ago with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. But if one just looks to the Director’s Guild, which is the same group that votes for the Academy, it is clear that their pick is Tom Hooper for his inspirational British film. However, if there was some objectivity in the ranks of Hollywood and the voting circles to honor the truly artistic and exceptional in their perspective fields of the year the award then should go to Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky. While melodramatic in some instances and unoriginal in others, Black Swan‘s direction was probably the best and strongest aspect to a complicated film. And for those who think Christopher Nolan was snubbed of a nomination take it up with the nomination of David O. Russell for his well acted but mediocre and typical sports drama The Fighter.

Best Actor- Nominees: Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), and James Franco (127 Hours).

Likely Winner: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech); Personal Pick: Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)

Colin Firth will win, it’s in the cards. What is unfortunate about this win is that it really isn’t for his performance in The King’s Speech which is quite good. Instead it’s for his remarkable performance last year in A Single Man that was instead given to Jeff Bridges for Crazy Heart, which wasn’t that fantastic. Actually Crazy Heart was just an updated version of Tender Mercies that will be completely forgettable in years to come unlike his great performance this year in the re-envisioning of True Grit. However, my personal pick is in favor of the young Jesse Eisenberg to win for his captivating performance as a fictionalized version of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. It balanced humor, narcissism, weakness, and boldness all in the same person with a controlled and calculated presentation.

Best Actress- Nominees: Annette Benning (The Kids Are Alright), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

Likely Winner: Natalie Portman (Black Swan); Personal Pick: Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)

Just looking at the trend of awards going in favor for Natalie Portman’s over the top, damaged, and mildly seductive performance in Black Swan, including the Golden Globe and the SAG award, it’s probably just fate that the young, academic actress will win her first academy award. She’s been acting for quite a long time (Leon: The Professional anyone?) and while she gives atrocious acceptance speeches she did give a deserving performance for the award. However, whoever has seen Winter’s Bone knows that Jennifer Lawrence’s determined and subdued performance was just one of the many captivating elements to the film that probably deserves the award. It was the only performance that didn’t result in over the top yelling or crying (we’re looking at you Nicole Kidman) and felt drastically real. Jennifer Lawrence showed us that women can have strong roles without all the melodramatic expressive movements and instead use subtlety and grace.

Best Supporting Actor- Nominees: Christian Bale (The Fighter), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are Alright), Jerremy Renner (The Town), and Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

Likely Winner: Christian Bale (The Fighter); Personal Pick: John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)

Another actor who has been on the scene ever since he was a child (Empire of the Sun, Henry V) Christian Bale looks to be the top contender for the Best Supporting Actor award for his portrayal as Dicky Eklund in The Fighter. He’s won the Golden Globe, the SAG, and he’s the top critic’s pick to win the award. There’s no doubt it was a good performance, one that outshined mostly everyone else in the film with him. However, my personal pick for the award is John Hawkes also in the independent film Winter’s Bone who balances all the mounting misperceptions of his character into a delicate, subtle, and incredibly haunting performance. Everytime he enters the screen in Winter’s Bone there is a constant feeling of unease due to never knowing exactly what he will do showing us that a performance isn’t always about acting but actually contributing to the tone of the film. Also I’m appalled by the nomination of Mark Ruffalo’s straight line performance in The Kids Are Alright over Andrew Garfield’s incredible performance in The Social Network.

Best Supporting Actress- Nominees: Amy Adams (The Fighter), Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), and Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

Likely Winner: Melissa Leo (The Fighter); Personal Pick: Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)

This was a strong category this year filled with familiar faces, newcomers, and comebacks. After winning the SAG award Melissa Leo looks to be in the prime seat to win the Academy Award, though personally I think the award would be better suited to practically any other contender. Helena Bonham Carter’s performance was quite good this year in The King’s Speech while Jacki Weaver, the familiar Australian actress, was just downright cold in her performance as a criminal raising Grandmother in Animal Kingdom. However, the fresh face Hailee Steinfeld in the Coen Brother’s new adaptation of the Western classic True Grit was truly memorable and was able to hold her own (and even out perform Matt Damon) with the others in the highly talented cast. But it was unfortunate not to see Barbara Hershey nominated for her bizarre and creepy performance of the overbearing mother in Black Swan.

Best Original Screenplay- Nominees: Another Year (Mike Leigh), The Fighter (Scott Silver, Paul Tamasey, & Eric Johnson), Inception (Christopher Nolan), The Kids Are Alright (Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg), and The King’s Speech (David Seidler).

Likely Winner: The King’s Speech (David Seidler); Personal Pick: The King’s Speech (David Seidler)

The first time in this series of awards that I’m going to agree with what the likely winner will inevitably be. The Writer’s Guild did not nominate David Seidler’s wonderfully written script for The King’s Speech due to some strange union law, but it is the critic’s pick. Most people will probably want Nolan’s contrite, convoluted, and blatantly borrowed “original” script for Inception, but truly The King’s Speech in comparison had actual defined characters that connected to us emotionally and riveting dialogue that wasn’t based solely on constant, boring exposition.

Best Adapted Screenplay- Nominees: 127 Hours (Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy), The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin), Toy Story 3 (John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich), True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen), and Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini).

Likely Winner: The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin); Personal Pick: Either 127 Hours (Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy) or True Grit (Joel and Ethan Coen)

If this were a contest on actual accuracy of the adaptation Aaron Sorkin’s script would be nowhere near this award. Sorkin’s script is brilliantly written with dialogue that is remarkably gripping but isn’t necessarily accurate to the actual book it’s based on. My personal picks on accuracy would be either 127 Hours or True Grit, which took their sources and made them practically word for word on the screen.  But this award has never been about accuracy but rather how well it was written, and Aaron Sorkin’s script fits just that premise with integrating different places of time and perspectives into a coherent and unique experience.

Best Animated Feature- Nominees: How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist, and Toy Story 3

Likely Winner: Toy Story 3; Personal Pick: Toy Story 3

Do I have to explain this one?

Best Foreign Film- Nominees: Biutiful (Mexico), Dogtooth (Greece), In a Better World (Denmark), Incendies (Canada), and Outside the Law (Algeria)

Likely Winner: Biutiful (Mexico); Personal Pick: Outside the Law (Algeria)

This is always a complex category, one that I usually get wrong. What ends up happening is that the vote always splits between two likely favorites, in this case Biutiful and Outside the Law, which then allows a third contender to slide its way into an Academy Award win. My guess is this might not happen this year considering the strength and praise for Biutiful, but if it does it will probably be In a Better World from Denmark. Outside the Law was quite the intense film about the Algerian uprising against the French, which was reminiscient of a similar Academy Award winner entitled Battle of Algiers.

Best Documentary Feature- Nominees: Exit Through the Gift Shop, Gasland, Inside Job, Restrepo, and Waste Land

Likely Winner: Inside Job; Personal Pick: Restrepo or Exit Through the Gift Shop

This has been the Academy’s political category for many years, one that has honored many mediocre films solely based on their “message.” Artistry has been null and void in the Best Documentary Picture category for a long time and this would be reason alone to give the award to the unique Exit Through the Gift Shop. Also the presentation style of Restrepo is so mesmerizing and grittily realistic and deserves to be known as The Hurt Locker of documentaries. But alas, the politics behind Inside Job will grant this admittedly well made film, with just a few minor factual errors, the award. It would be despicable if the blatantly false and disproved film Gasland won, so I’ll be content with Inside Job winning.

Best Animated Short: Nominees- Day & Night, The Gruffalo, Let’s Pollute, The Lost Things, and Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage

Likely Winner: Day & Night; Personal Pick: Day & Night

Best Documentary Short- Nominees: Killing in the Name, Poster Girl, Stranger No More, and The Warriors Qiugang

Likely Winner: Stranger No More; Personal Pick: Stranger No More

Best Art Direction- Nominees: Alice in Wonderland (Robert Stromberg, Karen O’Hara), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 (Stuart Craig, Stephanie McMillan), Inception ( Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, and Doug Mowat), The King’s Speech (Eve Stewart, Judy Farr), and True Grit (Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh) 

Likely Winner: Alice in Wonderland; Personal Pick: Inception

Best Cinematography– Nominees: Black Swan (Matthew Lebatique), Inception (Wally Pfister), The King’s Speech (Danny Cohen), The Social Network (Jeff Cronenweth), and True Grit (Roger Deakins)

Likely Winner: Inception (Wally Pfister); Personal Pick: The Social Network (Jeff Cronenweth) or True Grit (Roger Deakins)

Best Costume Design- Nominees: Alice in Wonderland (Colleen Atwood), I am Love (Antonella Cannarozzi), The King’s Speech (Jenny Beavan), The Tempest (Sandy Powell), and True Grit (Mary Zophres)

Likely Winner: Alice in Wonderland; Personal Pick: True Grit

Best Film Editing- Nominees: Black Swan (Andrew Wiesblum), The Fighter (Pamela Martin), The King’s Speech (Tariq Anwar), 127 Hours (Jon Harris), and The Social Network (Angus Wall & Kirk Baxter)

Likely Winner: The Social Network; Personal Pick: Black Swan

Best Live Action Short- Nominees: The Confession, The Crush, God of Love, Na Wewe, and Wish 143

Likely Winner: The Crush; Personal Pick: Wish 143

Best Original Score- Nominees: How to Train Your Dragon (John Powell), Inception (Hans Zimmer), The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat), 127 Hours (A.R. Rahman), and The Social Network (Trent Reznor)

Likely Winner: The Social Network; Personal Pick: The Social Network

Best Original Song- Nominees: “Country Strong” (Country Strong), “I See the Light” (Tangled), “If I Rise” (127 Hours), and “We Belong Together” (Toy Story 3)

Likely Winner: “We Belong Together” (Toy Story 3); Personal Pick: “If I Rise” (127 Hours)

Best Make Up- Nominees: Barney’s Version (Adrien Morot), The Way Back (Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk, Yolanda Toussieng), The Wolfman (Rick Baker, Dave Elsey)

Likely Winner: The Wolfman; Personal Pick: Barney’s Version

Best Visual Effects- Nominees: Alice in Wonderland (Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas, Sean Phillips), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 (Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, Nicolas Aithadi), Hereafter (Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Tojanski, Joe Farrell), Inception (Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Peter Bebb), and Iron Man 2 (Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright, Daniel Sudick)

Likely Winner: Inception; Personal Pick: Inception

Best Sound Editing- Nominees: Inception (Richard King), Toy Story 3 (Tom Meyers, Michael Silvers), Tron: Legacy (Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Addison Teague), True Grit (Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey), Unstoppable (Mark P. Stoeckinger)

Likely Winner: Tron: Legacy; Personal Pick: Inception

Best Sound Mixing- Nominees: Inception (Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo, Ed Novick), The King’s Speech (Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, John Midgley), Salt (Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan, William Sarokin), The Social Network (Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanik, mark Weingarten), and True Grit (Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland)

Likely Winner: Inception; Personal Pick: Inception

Make sure to watch the Academy Awards Sunday, February 27th

Update: 20 out of 24 correct. AND I had mentioned that the vote would be split between Biutiful and Outside the Law in the Best Foreign Film category allowing the Denmark film In a Better World to pull in the win. Sound editing was a simply mistake and who really can guess the short animated and short live action film…all in all it was an awful show with mediocre wins.

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