Matt’s 2011 Oscar Predictions

     February 25, 2011


I will be so happy once Oscar season is over.  I won’t have to hear about who’s up, who’s down, who deserves to win, and how Best Picture nominee A is more historically accurate than Best Picture nominee B.  For all the needless pomp and circumstance, the awards do serve a purpose.  Sure, studios like the kudos, but they really like the big business an awards film can generate.  Audiences like the awards because it’s a way of telling them “There were so many great movies last year, but here’s the one you must see because Hollywood agreed it was the ‘best’.”

But since the awards show appeals to our competitive spirit, I’ve decided to give my predictions for this year’s winners along with who I think deserves to win among the nominated films.  As a reminder, I will be live-blogging the Oscars, which air Sunday, February 27th, at 8pm on ABC.  Hit the jump for my semi-educated guesses.

the-kings-speech-movie-poster(1)BEST PICTURE

Will Win: The King’s Speech

Should Win: True Grit

What you need to know about Oscar voting is that it’s not about making a statement.  It’s about cover.  As seen by the wide disparity of critics picks (The Social Network) and love from the guilds (The King’s Speech), the Academy just wants to know that Hollywood won’t be shocked by their choice.  As an Oscar voter, you can simply explain, “Look, the DGA, the SAG, the PGA, and other major guilds all voted for this film!  How can we disagree?”

The King’s Speech is this year’s safe choice for an academy voter.  It’s a nice film that uplifts the audience without really challenging them, has strong performances, and it’s done well at the box office.  I think True Grit is a brilliant western, but the Coens already got all of their awards in 2007 for No Country for Old Men and the Academy is about spreading out the love, which brings us to…


Will Win: David Fincher, The Social Network

Should Win: David Fincher, The Social Network

The only serious competition against The King’s Speech is from The Social Network, which is still clinging to all of the critical momentum it amassed before the guilds starts saying, “Oh, you silly Facebook movie.”  This is the way the Academy intends to have its cake and eat it too (as opposed to inedible, useless, viewing cake).  The only pause I have here is that the Director’s Guild Award went to The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper.  The last time a director won the DGA but didn’t get Best Director was in 2002 when Rob Marshall won the DGA for Chicago but Roman Polanski won the Oscar for The Pianist.


Will Win: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Should Win: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

If there’s a lock in any of the acting categories, it belongs to Firth.  He’s likable, he gives an impressive performance (and the Academy loves watching actors do disabilities), and no one else in the category has any momentum.  Bardem and Bridges already have Oscars and Eisenberg and Franco are young enough that the Academy probably feels they’ll get another shot down the line.

black_swan_movie_poster_01BEST ACTRESS

Will Win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Should Win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Again, it’s a matter of momentum and cover, but it’s possible that Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) could pull an upset.  This is her fourth nomination and Portman (for reasons I find baffling) rubs some people the wrong way.  But she hasn’t really done anything wrong and while Bening has been an established player in Hollywood for decades, Portman isn’t a neophyte.  I won’t be surprised if Bening takes the award, but I’m still putting my money on Portman.


Will Win: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Should Win: Christian Bale, The Fighter

Some Oscar prognosticators are allowing for the possibility of a King’s Speech sweep and that Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter will pull surprise victories in the supporting actor and actress categories.  Personally, I think that’s a long shot and a film really has to be an undeniable favorite to hit that big of a victory.

I will say it’s funny that the role that got Bale his first Oscar nomination and likely first win was one where he didn’t play his typical grim-and-gritty act.  It’s also a sign that while his Terminator Salvation on-set rampage earned him a bit of infamy, the love he’s received over the course of the awards season shows that Hollywood is quick to forgive and forget.


Will Win: Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Should Win: Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

While I would love to see Steinfeld take home the Oscar, it’s rare for the Academy to dole out awards to young actors.  It’s far more common (especially in the supporting categories) for the Academy to honor industry veterans.  Leo’s been in the business for a quarter-century and while her personal Oscar-campaign may have soured a few voters, I don’t think it will be enough to send the award to another contender.

The-Social-Network-movie-poster-David FincherBEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Will Win: David Seidler, The King’s Speech

Should Win: Christopher Nolan, Inception


Will Win: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Should Win: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

This year’s screenplay categories simply serve to highlight the two-contender race.  There may now be “ten” nominees, but there’s really only two and I don’t see that changing any time soon.  This year belongs to The King’s Speech and The Social Network and their screenwriters are going to be accepting Oscars on Sunday.


Will Win: Toy Story 3

Should Win: How to Train Your Dragon

Toy Story 3 is a great film, but I think HTTYD is better.  However, most folks, including Academy voters, feel the opposite.  Expect Pixar to put another trophy in their case.


Will Win: The King’s Speech

Should Win: Inception

I think if the news about Lionel Logue’s office in The King’s Speech being the set of a porno had come out earlier, it could have shifted some votes.  But all the ballots are in and so it becomes an amusing footnote rather than a “scandal”.  Yes, there’s room for Alice in Wonderland to take the trophy, but I think voters are disenchanted with the Burton style and, if they’re like me, didn’t see anything fresh with Alice.


Will Win: Roger Deakins, True Grit

Should Win: Roger Deakins, True Grit

This is one of the tougher categories.  Wally Pfister won the ASC and BFCA, but Deakins won the BAFTA.  But I think this will be, after nine nominations without a win, Deakins’ year.  He’s been working the press circuit, he’s undeniably one of the best cinematographers working today, and his work on True Grit is worthy of an Oscar.

alice_in_wonderland_character_poster_helena_bonham_carter_red_queen_01BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Will Win: Alice in Wonderland

Should Win: The King’s Speech

Like with art direction, I don’t see anything special in Alice in Wonderland’s costumes.  It’s important to note that when the Academy “spreads the wealth”, they only do it when there’s a clear alternative.  If the award could easily go to any film, or even three of the five nominees, then odds tend to favor the safe choice, i.e., the Best Picture frontrunner.  I have more confidence in The King’s Speech taking the Oscar for art direction than I do in it taking costume design.


Will Win: Inside Job

Should Win: Exit Through the Gift Shop

For all of his recent Oscar-campaign shenanigans, I don’t think the Academy will give the award to Banksy.  It isn’t because they don’t like him or are worried about what he’ll do if he gets up on stage.  It’s simply because Inside Job is the safe, “serious-minded” choice.


Will Win: The Social Network

Should Win: The Social Network

The real “should win” is Inception, but that wasn’t nominated.  Don’t ask me why.  But with that film and its cutting between dream levels out of the running, the clear frontrunner is the one where we cut between two depositions and multiple storylines.


Will Win: In a Better World

Again, it’s all about cover, and while the Globes are mostly irrelevant, they did provide momentum for Susanne Bier’s drama.  However, Incendies could also take the victory, so if you’ve already slapped that on your home Oscar ballot, you may want to stick with it.  Since the only film of the five nominees I’ve seen is In a Better World (and it didn’t really do anything for me), I’m not going to make a recommendation on what should win instead.


Will Win: The Wolfman

Should Win: The Wolfman

I got to give it up for makeup visual effects guru Rick Baker, and I think the Academy will too.  If he wins, it will be his seventh Oscar victory.


Will Win: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

Should Win: Hans Zimmer, Inception

Awards Daily is my awards season bible, but I have to split with them when it comes to Best Score.  They predict that The King’s Speech will take the trophy, but I think the Academy will want to keep showing love to The Social Network where it can.  There’s also nothing particularly memorable about Alexandre Desplat’s score for King’s Speech.  Finally, the Academy can show some surprising edge when it comes to music, and if you don’t believe me, you can ask Eminem and Three Six Mafia about their Oscars.

I don’t have anything against Reznor and Ross’ Social Network score.  I just prefer Zimmer’s for Inception.


Will Win: “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3

When folks talk about eliminating the Best Song category, they’re looking at years like this as evidence.  There was no truly great song this year and Randy Newman’s “We Belong Together” is the least controversial choice.  I don’t really care who wins.

Inception-movie-posterBEST SOUND EDITING

Will Win: Inception

Should Win: Inception


Will Win: Inception

Should Win: Inception


Will Win: Inception

Should Win: Inception

When a film has critical acclaim, is a box office smash, and is must-own for home-theater nuts, it’s the clear favorite to win these three categories.


Will Win: Strangers No More


Will Win: The Gruffalo


Will Win: Na Wewe

Ah, the shorts category: where Oscar predictions are won and lost.  Most people haven’t seen these films (I’ve only seen a few of the live-action shorts and a couple of the animated shorts) and there’s hardly any buzz on these movies.  I defer to Awards Daily’s predictions/consensus-appraisal on these films.

So those are my predictions for the 2011 Oscars.  My success rate usually hovers around 75% but hopefully this year I’ll do better.  I’ve never scored a perfect ballot before but maybe 2011 will be my year.  At the very least, I hope it’s an entertaining show, and that hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway reach a Hugh Jackman-level of charm.

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