With mere hours left until the announcement of the Oscar nominations, now is a good time to reflect on what a year it’s been for cinema. If my predictions, listed below, prove to be correct, then I think the Academy would pretty much have got it right this year, for I truly believe (excluding the titles I am yet to see, such as ‘Animal Kingdom’ and ‘Get Low’) that these films represent the very best of mainstream cinema in 2010. Now, of course, there are lower key releases and foreign films missing from the nominations, but such an injustice is always the case, and of the films most widely seen this year, this list is pleasing as a representation of the best of the bunch. There are, however, some films missing that, in my opinion, should have received more appreciation, and they sit just on the periphery of the awards race, and are all viable to cause an upset if the Academy decides to make a few unpredictable decisions. That is why, alongside my predictions, I have included the underdogs that deserve recognition. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but based on previous nominations, awards won (such as the Golden Globes) and aggregated critical opinion, I’m confident that the eventual list won’t differ drastically. Check Vulture on Tuesday afternoon for the full list of nominees and my commentary on them, and from then onwards I will predict the winners for each category.
Best Motion Picture:
The Social Network, The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Inception, Black Swan, True Grit, Toy Story 3, The Kids Are All Right, 127 Hours, Winter’s Bone
This category is more often than not populated by the directors of the five Best Picture frontrunners, so my predictions would follow like so:
David Fincher- The Social Network, Tom Hooper- The King’s Speech, David O’Russell- The Fighter, Darren Aronofsky- Black Swan, Christopher Nolan- Inception
Seeing as Hooper is not an established auteur in the same vein as the other four, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was bumped out in favour of the Coen Brothers for True Grit, previous Oscar favourites who tick the ‘visionary’ box.
Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Colin Firth- The King’s Speech, Jesse Eisenberg- The Social Network, Robert Duvall- Get Low, James Franco- 127 Hours, Jeff Bridges- True Grit
Best Actress in a Leading Role:
Natalie Portman- Black Swan, Annette Bening- The Kids Are All Right, Nicole Kidman- Rabbit Hole, Jennifer Lawrence- Winter’s Bone
The fifth spot is wide open for:
Hailee Steinfeld- True Grit, whose performance could be in either this or the Supporting category but will almost certainly feature in one of them, Hilary Swank- Conviction, Lesley Manville- Another Year
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Christian Bale- The Fighter, Geoffrey Rush- The King’s Speech, Jeremy Renner- The Town, Andrew Garfield- The Social Network, Mark Ruffalo- The Kids Are All Right
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Melissa Leo- The Fighter, Amy Adams- The Fighter, Helena Bonham Carter- The King’s Speech, Hailee Stanfield- True Grit, Jacki Weaver- Animal Kingdom
Mila Kunis- Black Swan, if Hailee Steinfeld is put in Leading.
The underdogs that should…
Blue Valentine for Best Picture, a brilliant, heartbreaking piece of cinema, my personal favourite of the year.
Another Year for Best Picture, classic Mike Leigh, a convincing, funny and tragic example of British filmmaking.
Ben Affleck- The Town for Best Director, the Academy love a comeback story, and with this powerful, personal piece of filmmaking, a Boston-set crime thriller, Affleck has proved to be more than washed up ex spouse of J-Lo.
Leonardo DiCaprio- Shutter Island for Best Actor, a committed and disturbing lead performance, proof that he is one of Hollywood’s finest actors.
Carey Mulligan- Never Let Me Go for Best Actress, having seen current hot property Mulligan in this film at the London Film Festival, I think it’s one of the year’s most subtle and effective.
Pete Postlehwaite- The Town, for Best Supporting Actor, the sad passing of this fine actor means that he may gain an honorary nomination for his final, effective performance. This was the case for Heath Ledger in 2008, and BAFTA have already nominated him in this category this year.
Rebecca Hall- Please Give, for Best Supporting Actress, maybe it’s cheating to mention former Cambridge student Hall’s naturalistic and engaging support here, as it has little chance of gaining a nomination, but it is worth a watch, as is the film itself, a New York comedy directed by the ‘female Woody Allen’ Nicole Holofcener.