Academy Award Predictions

I’m feeling… what’s the word? Uneasy, I guess. The Academy Awards will be held this Sunday, and this is the first year since 2006 where I’m going into the award ceremony pretty uncertain about what will win most of the big prizes. (At least in 2005, I was dead certain that Best Picture would go to “Brokeback Mountain.” I was just wrong.)

What had looked like a slamdunk win for “The Social Network” for most of the precursor season — the critics went bananas for it, and it picked up every Best Picture award around for a while, making it look like a lock — was upended when the guilds went nuts for Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech,” flipping expectations on their heads and turning this into, if not a horserace, a win for the unpredicted horse. “The King’s Speech” won big at the Producers’ Guild, the Screen Actors Guild and, most tellingly, the Directors’ Guild, snatching what should have been a mortal lock to win from “The Social Network” and David Fincher and going into the Oscars broadcast the new frontrunner.

But I’m not sure. There has never been a year in which the critics so solidly backed one film and the guilds another. All the signposts you look for when guessing a Best Picture winner point to “The King’s Speech,” but there’s every reason to believe, given the solid support behind “The Social Network,” that it still stands a fighting chance.

Plus there are a handful of categories that are either so strong or so baffling that who knows will take it. Best Costume always goes its own way, but there’s no clear, frilly period piece that’ll win outright. Best Cinematography could go with the guild and laud Wally Pfister, or it could award the perennial Oscar bridesmaid Roger Deakins with his first win. Does Rick Baker win Best Makeup for the werewolves of “The Wolfman” or does one of the other, more subtle executions in “Barney’s Version” or “The Way Back” take the award? And who the hell ever knows who’ll win in the short film categories?

It’s in this shaky spirit I submit my Oscar predictions. I have a 50 percent chance that I will be wrong here. But precedents were made to be broken. Commentary below each category, when warranted:

Actor in a Leading Role

* Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”

* Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”

* Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”

* Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”

* James Franco in “127 Hours”


Actor in a Supporting Role

* Christian Bale in “The Fighter”

* John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone”

* Jeremy Renner in “The Town”

* Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”

* Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”


Actress in a Leading Role

* Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”

* Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”

* Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”

* Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”

* Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Some are predicting an Annette Bening upset, but the safe money is still with Portman, though I can only imagine that the older Academy voters probably hate and resent “Black Swan.”


Actress in a Supporting Role

* Amy Adams in “The Fighter”

* Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”

* Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”

* Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”

* Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Look for Steinfeld to possibly upset, but Leo seems like a safe bet.


Animated Feature Film

* “How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois

* “The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet

* “Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

Art Direction

* “Alice in Wonderland” Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara

* “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan

* “Inception” Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas; Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat

* “The King’s Speech” Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Judy Farr

* “True Grit” Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh

OSCAR TRIVIA: No Tim Burton film nominated in this category has ever lost. Something to think about, but I think this’ll probably be the year it happens.



* “Black Swan” Matthew Libatique

* “Inception” Wally Pfister

* “The King’s Speech” Danny Cohen

* “The Social Network” Jeff Cronenweth

* “True Grit” Roger Deakins

Deakins will only lose to Wally Pfister, but if they didn’t like “Inception” enough to give it a Best Director nomination, how are they going to turn down Deakins’ work in “True Grit?”


Costume Design

* “Alice in Wonderland” Colleen Atwood

* “I Am Love” Antonella Cannarozzi

* “The King’s Speech” Jenny Beavan

* “The Tempest” Sandy Powell

* “True Grit” Mary Zophres

Nobody even saw “The Tempest,” but it’s hard to bet against Julie Taymor and last year’s winner Sandy Powell. “The King’s Speech” could win here, but for what?



* “Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky

* “The Fighter” David O. Russell

* “The King’s Speech” Tom Hooper

* “The Social Network” David Fincher

* “True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

It is far riskier, statistically, to predict a picture-director split than a Fincher-“Social Network” or Hooper-“King’s Speech” scenario, but that’s what I’m going with. They’ll feel like “The Social Network” was adequately rewarded with a Best Director win and feel warm and fuzzy with their Best Picture winner.


Documentary (Feature)

* “Exit through the Gift Shop” Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz

* “Gasland” Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic

* “Inside Job” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs

* “Restrepo” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger

* “Waste Land” Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

“Restrepo” could take this. All that talk about Banksy showing up or will he or what will he be disguised as will be irrelevant.


Documentary (Short Subject)

* “Killing in the Name” Jed Rothstein

* “Poster Girl” Sara Nesson and Mitchell W. Block

* “Strangers No More” Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon

* “Sun Come Up” Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger

* “The Warriors of Qiugang” Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

Who the hell knows?


Film Editing

* “Black Swan” Andrew Weisblum

* “The Fighter” Pamela Martin

* “The King’s Speech” Tariq Anwar

* “127 Hours” Jon Harris

* “The Social Network” Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter


Foreign Language Film

* “Biutiful” Mexico

* “Dogtooth” Greece

* “In a Better World” Denmark

* “Incendies” Canada

* “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria



* “Barney’s Version” Adrien Morot

* “The Way Back” Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng

* “The Wolfman” Rick Baker and Dave Elsey

I mean, it wins by virtue of having a lot of makeup, right?


Music (Original Score)

* “How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell

* “Inception” Hans Zimmer

* “The King’s Speech” Alexandre Desplat

* “127 Hours” A.R. Rahman

* “The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

A heartbreaker, but watch it happen.


Music (Original Song)

* “Coming Home” from “Country Strong” Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey

* “I See the Light” from “Tangled” Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater

* “If I Rise” from “127 Hours” Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong

* “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3″ Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Who knows?


Best Picture

* “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers

* “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers

* “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers

* “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers

* “The King’s Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers

* “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers

* “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers

* “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer

* “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers

* “Winter’s Bone” Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

A little voice keeps telling me, “Don’t give up on ‘The Social Network,’ ” but logic says otherwise.


Short Film (Animated)

* “Day & Night” Teddy Newton

* “The Gruffalo” Jakob Schuh and Max Lang

* “Let’s Pollute” Geefwee Boedoe

* “The Lost Thing” Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann

* “Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)” Bastien Dubois


Short Film (Live Action)

* “The Confession” Tanel Toom

* “The Crush” Michael Creagh

* “God of Love” Luke Matheny

* “Na Wewe” Ivan Goldschmidt

* “Wish 143” Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite


Sound Editing

* “Inception” Richard King

* “Toy Story 3” Tom Myers and Michael Silvers

* “Tron: Legacy” Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague

* “True Grit” Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey

* “Unstoppable” Mark P. Stoeckinger


Sound Mixing

* “Inception” Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick

* “The King’s Speech” Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley

* “Salt” Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin

* “The Social Network” Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten

* “True Grit” Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland


Visual Effects

* “Alice in Wonderland” Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips

* “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi

* “Hereafter” Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky and Joe Farrell

* “Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb

* “Iron Man 2” Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick


Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

* “127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy

* “The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin

* “Toy Story 3” Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich

* “True Grit” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen

* “Winter’s Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini


Writing (Original Screenplay)

* “Another Year” Written by Mike Leigh

* “The Fighter” Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson; Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson

* “Inception” Written by Christopher Nolan

* “The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg

* “The King’s Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler


Come visit the FilmNerds Blog on Sunday for a special live Twitter feed from all the FilmNerds contributors as we give our live thoughts on the ceremonies.