The Kids are All Right
Toy Story 3
The King's Speech
The Social Network
I think the first seven of these films are pretty solid bets at this point: most of them have been seen and have earned the requisite reviews to make the cut, and The Fighter has earned some good early reviews. I'm still not completely sure about True Grit, but the trailers have me thinking that its at least a very real possibility. I'm dropping Another Year, since most of that film's buzz seems to be resting only on Lesley Manville, as well as Rabbit Hole, since I just don't think it'll make it anymore. Winter's Bone has plenty of momentum, and its only increasing; if it can continue this impressive display of staying power, then its in. I'm really skeptical of Blue Valentine, but its gaining a lot of attention for its NC-17 rating and the Weinstein's pledge to repeal it, so I'm thinking that this buzz will encourage voters to see it, and if they see it, it'll get in. But that spot could easily go to Black Swan (I'm waiting for reviews before I include it) or possibly The Way Back, though I doubt the latter has much of a chance. And I'm glad I never had faith in Secretariat: there's no way that one will make it here now.
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David Fincher, The Social Network
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
David O. Russell, The Fighter
I don't really feel comfortable picking Russell: his film doesn't seem like a sure thing, and he has a bad reputation for being an abrasive director. But unless Black Swan is nominated, giving Darren Aronofsky a stronger chance, I don't really see any of the directors of the other Best Picture nominees getting in (and with a 10-wide field, I highly doubt anyone can score a directing nod without having their film land in the top category again). I'm keeping the rest of my field though; there's nothing to indicate they won't be nominated.
James Franco, 127 Hours
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Robert Duvall, Get Low
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
I know, I know, it seems like I flip-flop on Ryan Gosling in every installment. I've dropped him this time because I'm finally getting on the Bridges train, though I'm not necessarily convinced. Still, he's got a lot of buzz, and the industry still loves him. For Gosling, I feel that even if enough people see his film to put it into Best Picture, his performance will probably be perceived as too natural or subtle to be nominated. I'm not too sure about Wahlberg, either, since most of his film's reviews have singled out Christian Bale instead of him. But Paul Giamatti (Barney's Version) and Javier Bardem (Biutiful) are strong possibilities too, so anything could happen.
Annette Bening, The Kids are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Lesley Manville, Another Year
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
I'm finally relenting and including Lawrence; her film is getting strong buzz and she's the most poised contender in this category to be the Next Big Thing. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of Anne Hathaway, but at this point her film just seems less and less like a legitimate Oscar contender. She's not out of the running, but she doesn't seem as strong a bet as she once did. Of course, the deck is pretty stack this year (though I wouldn't say its too crowded), so there are several other women who could find themselves earning a nomination.
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
I've decided to swap out Justin Timberlake for his Social Network co-star Garfield, since the latter has picked up considerable momentum and has the same Next Big Thing status as Lawrence does. The one who's really in trouble is Rockwell: despite having an on-fire career at the moment, his film has floundered, which will hurt his chances. However, he's been singled out as the best thing about the film, so I'm sticking with him for now. Waiting to take his place, though, are Timberlake, Ed Harris (The Way Back), Dustin Hoffman (Barney's Version), and even Armie Hammer (The Social Network).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Rosamund Pike, Made in Dagenham
Okay, okay, Pike is probably just wishful thinking. And I am kind of playing her here as a wild card. But this category is still wide-open, and Barbara Hershey, Miranda Richardson, Hailee Steinfeld, Juliette Lewis, Dianne Weist, Kristen Scott Thomas, Marion Cotillard, Sissy Spacek, and even Rebecca Hall are all waiting in the wings, and a case could be made for any one of them. In the early reviews for The Fighter, Adams has been picking up some unusually strong notices, so it looks as if the Academy will reward her unconventional casting with her third nomination.