Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Oscar Predictions: September 2010

Now that the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals are over, its time to update my Oscar predictions. A lot has changed over the past month, as many of this year's baitiest films have now made their debuts and are scheduled for release. So who's in and who's out?
BEST PICTURE
127 Hours
The Kids Are All Right
Toy Story 3
Inception
The King's Speech
The Social Network
Another Year
Somewhere
The Fighter
Rabbit Hole
The Way Back has an uncertain future, with many people saying its probably moving to 2011. I've gone ahead and dropped it because I don't see a Peter Weir film being a small-release affair, and so I'm going under the assumption that we'll see this one clean up the Oscars next year. Never Let Me Go has opened to mixed reviews, with plenty of praise for the actors but not so much for the sanitized production, so I doubt it will land in the field of 10 now. The triumphs of The King's Speech and Somewhere at Toronto and Venice, respectively, cement them as serious contenders. I'm adding The Fighter because the trailer hints at greatness, and because if there's one thing Oscar loves, its a boxing movie. And now that Rabbit Hole has been picked up for US distribution this year, I think it's going to be hard to ignore for voters. There's a lot of buzz for Secretariat too, but since many people are pegging it as this year's The Blind Side, I'm not convinced yet. And despite the insane love for Black Swan, I still think the Academy will find it too weird for their tastes; however, if it achieves universal acclaim and great box office, then its certainly a contender.
BEST DIRECTOR
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David Fincher, The Social Network
Mike Leigh, Another Year
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
If I'm dropping The Way Back, of course I'm dropping Peter Weir from the lineup as well; maybe next year. I've also decided to drop Lisa Cholodenko, since I was never comfortable with that choice and the "women directors are awesome!" moment has probably passed within the Academy. However, with the positive buzz coming out of Toronto for 127 Hours, it seems that Boyle could easily return to the category he won two years ago. The excellent notices for Another Year seem to indicate that its time for Leigh to return to the category as well. I'm not ready to commit to either David O. Russell (The Fighter) or Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) just yet, but those are certainly possibilities.
BEST ACTOR
James Franco, 127 Hours
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Robert Duvall, Get Low
I was originally resistant to putting Duvall in my predictions, since I felt the film couldn't hold its momentum for another year (this was originally on last year's festival circuit). However, having seen the film and with Duvall holding his share of buzz, I think he's going to be able to hold out and pick up another nomination (for now, at least). I dropped Gosling because Blue Valentine has been relegated to literal last day of December release, meaning I don't think enough people are going to see it for him to manage a nomination this year. I'm still reluctant to add Jeff Bridges (True Grit), since he just won last year and they rarely nominate someone again the year after a win, but he's still a strong possibility. Paul Giamatti has emerged from out of nowhere for Barney's Version, but for seem reason the Academy seems to be allergic to him, so I'm not entirely convinced yet.
BEST ACTRESS
Anne Hathaway, Love & Other Drugs
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Lesley Manville, Another Year
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Robin Wright's The Conspirator, which played well at Toronto, now seems to be heading for 2011, so she'll factor into next year's race. And as Eat, Pray, Love has failed to make much of a critical impression, its unlikely that Roberts will return to the ceremony for the first time in a decade this year (she's a Golden Globe nomination lock, as always, though). Manville, who I had as a supporting nominee in my previous predictions, has made the move to lead, which further complicates the increasingly competitive category. It was recently announced that Bening and Julianne Moore would both be campaigned as leads for The Kids Are All Right; I think Bening is still safe, but Moore will probably fail to earn a nomination and end up being shut out of this year's ceremony. And then of course there's plenty of buzz for Diane Lane (Secretariat), Gwyneth Paltrow (Country Strong), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone; my review), Hilary Swank (Conviction), Sally Hawkins (Made in Dagenham), Naomi Watts (Fair Game) and Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine). But in the end, I'm going with Portman: she's earned incredible raves for her performance, and seems like a safe bet for now.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
Sam Rockwell, Conviction
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
With Harris now more or less out of the race, there's a spot to fill. I still feel mostly comfortable with my four holdovers, though Rockwell's probably the iffiest: Conviction premiered at Toronto to mediocre reviews, but Rockwell received a lot of positive attention, so I believe he's still in the running. There's not an incredible amount of competition here this year, and I'm certain that one of the Social Network actors will be nominated. I've gone with Garfield, but don't count out Justin Timberlake: Oscar loves a musician who can act, and his performance is certainly the showiest in the film.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Dianne Weist, Rabbit Hole
Elle Fanning, Somewhere
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Barbara Hershey, Black Swan
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
There's been some major changes here. First, Lesley Manville moved to lead, which opened up a spot. Then, even though it premiered to good reviews at Toronto, Brighton Rock did not get picked up for distribution (yet), so I'm going ahead and dropping Andrea Riseborough and Helen Mirren. I feel stupid for ignoring Carter in my first predictions; I thought she didn't have what it takes, but with so much good buzz for the film and her performance, she's practically a lock at this point. Leo has gained some major fire for her (unseen) performance in The Fighter; most of this is based on the trailer, so I'm not certain. Now that Rabbit Hole has distribution, I feel certain she'll make the cut. Hershey has a great role and great buzz, so I wouldn't be surprised to see her earn a nomination for it. And I'm still not convinced that Fanning can break into here, but I'm not convinced by any of the other contenders either. This is the most wait-and-see category of the bunch this year.
What do you think?

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