The Oscars 2011: who should win, and who will win

It's the inevitable Oscar prediction post! Come in and play along, as we check out what will win, and what should win...

Ah, the Oscars. The mighty rewarder of generally very good films and performances, on the understanding that they’re not very edgy, and they’re not comedies. Aside from that, all are welcome.

This Sunday sees the 2011 awards taking place in Los Angeles, hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway. And as is traditional, we’ve been moseying through the nominations to pick out the likely winners. The King’s Speech leads the nominations this year, and it’s rapidly gathering steam as the movie to beat.

So, let’s take a look…

Best Supporting Actress

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Amy Adams (The Fighter) Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech) Melissa Leo (The Fighter) Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

Who Will Win: Hailee SteinfeldWho Should Win: Hailee Steinfeld or Jacki Weaver

By the standards of the Best Supporting Actress category, this is really quite a strong field. Granted, Steinfeld should be in the Best Actress category, as her role is central to True Grit. Yet, some savvy marketing has positioned her in a supporting role, which is a gong that she’s far more likely to win. It’s a great performance, too, and it’s hard to argue that she wouldn’t be a worthy winner.

Melissa Leo has been the running favourite for weeks, but there’s a feeling that she’s going to be edged out, it seems.

I’ve not seen Animal Kingdom, myself, but I am reliably informed by colleagues that Jacki Weaver is sensational in the film, and really, had more people seen it, would be a stronger contender.

As for Helena Bonham Carter? She’s strong in The King’s Speech, certainly (and she was the best thing in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, too), but she’ll have to make do with her BAFTA.

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Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale (The Fighter) John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone) Jeremy Renner (The Town) Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right) Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

Who Will Win: Christian BaleWho Should Win: Christian Bale

It’s sheer bad luck on the part of Geoffrey Rush that he puts in an outstanding, anchoring performance in The King’s Speech, and comes against an amazing turn from Christian Bale in The Fighter.

Arguably the best thing in the film, Bale has been long overdue an award, and had the Academy got the stones, he would have been nominated for American Psycho over a decade ago. But the Oscar world doesn’t work like that, sadly.

The Fighter, though, should give him the need to clear some space on his mantelpiece.

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Best Actress

Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole) Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) Natalie Portman (Black Swan) Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

Who Will Win: Natalie PortmanWho Should Win: Natalie Portman

Again, a really exceptionally strong field here. Given some of the middling performances that have fleshed out the actress categories in the past, this is as strong a line-up as we’ve seen in years. Seriously, how could you argue with any of the five here as potential winners?

Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine is just brilliant, Jennifer Lawrence is magnetic in Winter’s Bone, and Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right is a masterclass in performance. Nicole Kidman, too, deserves credit for really quite terrific work this year.

But Natalie Portman, whatever you think of Black Swan, utterly owns her role. It’s a brave, gripping and surprising piece of acting, and the film simply wouldn’t work without her.

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Outside of Toy Story 3, this is the easiest-to-predict award of the night.

Best Actor

Javier Bardem (Biutiful) Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) James Franco (127 Hours) Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) Jeff Bridges (True Grit)

Who Will Win: Colin FirthWho Should Win: Colin Firth

Again, it’s hard to grumble too much with the running favourite here. Colin Firth really should have won last year, as I thought his performance in A Single Man was better, but less crowd-pleasing, than his turn in The King’s Speech. But he’s still excellent in Tom Hooper’s film, and the gong is surely his.

I’m going to go against the grain a little and suggest that Jeff Bridges’ fine work in True Grit wouldn’t have made it to my top five shortlist, and James Franco would surely have done battle with Ryan Reynolds had more people seen Buried.

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If the gong isn’t going to Firth, I’d love it to go to Jesse Eisenberg, though, for his amazing turn as Mark Zuckerberg. If the role of an actor is to make you believe the character on screen is utterly, one hundred percent believable, then you have to conclude that Eisenberg knocked it out of the proverbial park.

Best Director

Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) David O. Russell (The Fighter) Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) David Fincher (The Social Network) Joel & Ethan Coen (True Grit)

Who Will Win: Tom HooperWho Should Win: David Fincher

I share many people’s bemusement that Christopher Nolan didn’t warrant a nomination here. Tom Hooper does a good, strong job with The King’s Speech, but I’d take the work of his fellow nominees over his for the gong. I don’t want to downplay his achievements, as I really enjoyed The King’s Speech. It’s just I couldn’t place him in the same league as David Fincher’s work in The Social Network.

That, for me, was a wonderfully directed feature film, a helmer utterly in control of his material, and knowing where to place the beats in his film. The opening scene alone is something the vast bulk of directors would simply fail to get right.

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I’d love him to win, but fear the Academy will group around a film that’s far more to the demographic of the Oscar voter. Fincher is the bookie’s favourite, mind.

Best Original Screenplay

Mike Leigh (Another Year) Scott Silver (The Fighter) Christopher Nolan (Inception) Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right) David Seidler (The King’s Speech)

What Will Win: The King’s SpeechWhat Should Win: The Kids Are All Right/Another Year

Tricky call, this. Again, I suspect that Oscar night will be a bit of a King’s Speech love-in, and I know, as a Brit, I’m supposed to go along with that. But I thought the film had a solid script at best, with some strong dialogue.

Contrast it with the undercurrents of the screenplay to The Kids Are All Right, a movie that juggled several themes and presented them in an accessible, funny way, and I know which I think is the bigger achievement. Mike Leigh is rarely not deserving of reward, too, and a win for Another Year would be hard to sniff at.

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Then there’s the Nolan factor. The sheer weight of ideas in Inception does make him a decent shot for this, but a director nod would have been more appropriate.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours) Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3) Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit) Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini (Winter’s Bone)

What Will Win: The Social NetworkWhat Should Win: The Social Network

Easy. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay for The Social Network was arguably the best of 2010 full stop, and while the Toy Story 3 script shouldn’t be overlooked, this is a richly deserved win for The Social Network. Surely.

Best Animation

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How To Train Your Dragon The Illusionist Toy Story 3

What Will Win: Toy Story 3What Should Win: Toy Story 3

It’s great to see The Illusionist snap up a nod here, as it’s a cherishable film that really deserves a larger audience. And if the Oscar nomination helps it get one, and gets people to seek out Belleville Rendez-Vous, too, then all the better.

But this one’s obvious. It’s Toy Story 3. As it should be.

Best Picture

Black Swan The Fighter Inception The Kids Are Alright The King’s Speech 127 Hours The Social Network Toy Story 3 True Grit Winter’s Bone

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What Will Win: The King’s SpeechWhat Should Win: The Social NetworkAnd here’s the category that will define whether Academy voters are still happy in the comfortable centre-ground of old (see: A Beautiful Mind, Dances With Wolves, Titanic), or whether they’re really looking to reward the very best film.

This is the second year that the nominations have been expanded to cover ten films, and to be fair, had they not been, then you could easily rid the list of 127 Hours, for starters.

In fact, it’s the expansion of the list that’s given The Kids Are All Right, Inception and Winters Bone a spot in the limelight. Given that District 9 got a nod under these new rules last year, it’s hard to grumble about them.

However, this one looks like a battle between The King’s Speech and The Social Network, and if you follow the bookmarkers, The King’s Speech is the hot favourite. In fact, the shortest odds you can get on a film outside of these two winning is 50/1, for True Grit.

The King’s Speech ticks all the boxes for a traditional Oscar winner, to be fair, and again, it is a very, very good film. But The Social Network was really something special, ambitious and brilliant. It really should be the one taking home the Oscar.


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Look for Alice In Wonderland to snag Art Direction, and Costumes, True Grit or Inception should nab the award for Cinematography and Visual Effects. Film editing, sometimes an indicator of the Best Picture award, may just go to The Social Network, while Sound Mixing is likely to bolster Inception‘s trophy cabinet.

Then, look for Tron: Legacy to possiblly pick up an Oscar for Sound Editing (that, or Inception), and I’d love to see How To Train Your Dragon get the Original Score gong (but suspect The King’s Speech will get it. Glen chats about this more in his article, linked to at the bottom).

I’ve not seen all the nominees for the assorted shorts, Make-up and Foreign Film, so can’t call those. And I never predict songs. It just goes wrong.

Leave your thoughts and predictions in the comments below…

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