And the Oscar will go to...

February 25, 2011

It is hard to grasp the fact that, after this year’s Oscars Sunday, Feb. 27, we could possibly use in a sentence, “Oscar-winner Trent Reznor,” or “Oscar-winner Banksy.”

While their names might not immediately be recognized by all, their legacy certainly is, and they are both known to eschew authority and glamour and opulence - pretty much exactly what the Academy Awards have come to represent. Reznor introduced mainstream audiences to gothic-industrial music in the ‘90s as Nine Inch Nails, and Banksy has been flipping the bird to society in the United Kingdom as a celebrated underground graffiti artist.
To see either of them take the stage and accept one of Hollywood’s highest honors would be nothing short of surreal. There are, of course, some other people up for other things as well. Here’s the list, with my typical predictions of who should walk away with the prize in the top categories.

Best Actor
• 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”
Who will win: This is Firth’s night, as Hollywood loves it when characters overcome disabilities. That’s not to say he’s not deserving, as “The King’s Speech” is an actor’s picture. And while Fanco is in virtually every scene of “Hours,” the film has failed to pick up steam in the weeks leading up to the big night.

Best Supporting Actor
• 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”
Who will win: Bale is astonishing as a crack-addled former boxer in “Fighter.” He’s far and away the front runner, and deservedly so.

Best Actress
• 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”
Who will win: Though Kidman delivered one of her best performances in years, Portman’s portrayal of a mental breakdown was the strongest aspect of the otherwise-forgettable “Black Swan.”

Best Supporting Actress
• 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”
Who will win: This is another victory for “The Fighter,” as Leo is a revelation as the Shakespearean-type matriarch of a Boston clan. Fiery, funny, fierce and tragically flawed, Leo makes you love to hate her.

Animated Feature Film
• “How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
• “The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
• “Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich
Who will win: “Toy Story 3” was easily one of the year’s best. Sadly, it will be thrown its bone here in the animated category.

Best Director
• “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
Who will win: Christopher Nolan for “Incep...” Oh, that’s right. He was not even nominated. Again. Fincher is a worthy successor for his fine work in “Social Network.”

Documentary (Feature)
• “Exit Through the Gift Shop”
• “Gasland”
• “Inside Job”
• “Restrepo”
• “Waste Land”
Who will win: Documentaries do not get any more trippy than “Exit,” which turns everything on its ear halfway through. Plus, Banksy’s acceptance speech is guaranteed to be insane.

Foreign Language Film
• “Biutiful” Mexico
• “Dogtooth” Greece
• “In a Better World” Denmark
• “Incendies” Canada
• “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” Algeria
Who will win: “Dogtooth” is one of the scariest non-horror films to come along in quite some time, and it shows the French aren’t the only ones who cornered the market on domestic terror.

Best Picture
• “Black Swan”
• “The Fighter”
• “Inception”
• “The Kids Are All Right”
• “The King’s Speech”
• “127 Hours”
• “The Social Network”
• “Toy Story 3”
• “True Grit”
• “Winter’s Bone”
Who will win: This is going to be the biggest upset of the night. A month ago, I would have said there is nothing on this list that would beat out “Social Network,” but “Speech” has been sweeping the Producers, Directors, Screen Actors Guild and the BAFTA awards. The prognosis for a come-from-behind victory is quite good here.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
• “127 Hours”
• “The Social Network”
• “Toy Story 3”
• “True Grit”
• “Winter’s Bone”
Who will win: Aaron Sorkin’s “Social Network” screenplay reads as good as any current novel. Sure, the delivery of the lines was spot-on, but the wordplay within was as sharp as any major release this year.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
• “Another Year”
• “The Fighter”
• “Inception”
• “The Kids Are All Right”
• “The King’s Speech”
Who will win: Since he was snubbed as a director, Christopher Nolan’s writing skills will garner gold here for “Inception.”

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