A week from now I will have retired Oscar Eye for another year, with the 2010 Academy Awards finally closing down and going away just long enough for us to forget everything we hate about the Oscars right now. I'll be liveblogging the awards along with the rest of the Cinema Blend crew on Sunday night, and I'm not going to lie, I'm looking forward to it. For all the things that wind up being frustrated during the big awards, from mindless fashion commentary to some poor sound designer whose speech gets cut off, it's a reward for making it this far into the season, even if that reward is just shouting "I totally called the Best Documentary Short winner!"
And on that note, below are my best predictions for all the categories, with a little bit of reasoning about how I chose them. On a lot of these I feel pretty confident, having followed the Oscar buzz all the way since last September and weighed the Academy's predilections for period films/giant costumes/loud movies/Rick Baker when appropriate. Other times-- and I'm acknowledging them-- I'm basically just hazarding a guess. Truth be told, so is everyone. For all the confidence we feel about The King's Speech winning this or Inception running away with that, it's all the same guesswork it's been since last year, just slightly more informed. Anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to beat you in their Oscar pool.
Check out the final predictions below, use them in your own Oscar pools if you so choose, and hopefully I'll see you all Sunday night when it comes time for the big show, and the inevitable gnashing of teeth when every single one of these predictions turns out to be wrong. Don't say I didn't warn you!
The King's Speech. The writing is on the wall, much as I have been rooting for The Social Network this season-- and I've still got a $10 bet saying it will win, so there's that. But between all the guild awards and the tally of nominations and the fact that nothing has stopped the film's momentum in the last few weeks, there's pretty much no reason not to believe in this outcome.
David Fincher, The Social Network. A lot of people think The King's Speech director Tom Hooper will take this as well, but I foresee a split, thanks to Fincher's virtuoso work and the fact that Hooper is simply too much of a newcomer.
Colin Firth, The King's Speech. It's been a foregone conclusion since the film premiered at festivals back in August. It's one prize pretty much everyone can agree on.
Natalie Portman, Black Swan. Annette Bening is waiting in the wings, and could easily steal this away, but all signs point to this being Portman's year after all.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale, The Fighter. Bale has kept quiet in his campaign, and there are people who think Geoffrey Rush could ride the King's Speech momentum to a win here. But anyone who sees The Fighter knows Bale owns the movie, and he can win this on the strength of the performance alone.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Melissa Leo, The Fighter. The toughest category by far, and any of the other four nominated women are viable dark horses. But Leo has won a slew of precursor prizes, and no single competitor has stepped up as a real challenger. I say she takes it by a hair.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
David Seidler, The King's Speech. There are much stronger screenplays here, but The King's Speech's huge tally of nominations indicates it's well-loved, and this is an easy place to hand it another win.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network. The one thing about The Social Network's buzz that hasn't cooled at all over the last few months. Plus there's nothing better in the category that could possibly merit an upset.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
In A Better World. There's also Biutiful, with the name recognition and the nod for Javier Bardem, but this movie seems to hit at lot of the familiar Academy buttons-- kids in peril, global consciousness, parental emotions-- with good filmmaking to boot.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Waste Land. I'm rooting for a Banksy Exit Through The Gift Shop win as hard as anyone, and there's an argument for the powerful pull of Restrepo or the zeitgeisty strength of Inside Job-- really, this is anyone's game. But those who see Waste Land come away loving it, and it seems like the right dark horse to step up from behind and sneak a win.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Toy Story 3. Foregone conclusion, and maybe the last year Pixar's choke hold on this category will last. Time for a victory lap.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
The Warriors of Quigang. This is a complete, utter shot in the dark. Make your own choices here.
BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT
Na Wewe. The only shorts category I've actually seen, and this one is the most socially conscious and also darkly funny in a very odd field. Hard to predict, as always.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
The Gruffalo. Based entirely on the fact that the well-loved Helena Bonham Carter provides a voice and it's based on a well-loved British children's book.
Roger Deakins, True Grit. The argument is that he's overdue after nine nominations and zero wins, but True Grit is also beautifully filmed, and a well-liked film after 10 nominations; this is it's best shot for a win, and I think people will take advantage of it.
BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)
Alexandre Desplat, The King's Speech. Kind of a default win for another well-liked veteran, representing a well-liked film in a category where there's no obvious big competitor. Plenty of room for upset here though.
BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
"I See The Light" by Alan Menken, Tangled. Simply because Menken is the long-running veteran, and Randy Newman's song for Toy Story 3 isn't nearly as memorable.
BEST ART DIRECTION
Eve Stewart, The King's Speech. Again, because the movie is well-liked and period films always do well here.
Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, The Social Network. With Inception not even nominated, this seems like a good spot for the next-most technically impressive Best Picture nominee to get a go-- especially with the famously exacting, 99-takes Fincher behind it.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Colleen Atwood, Alice Wonderland. Operating on the theory that "most costume design" = "best costume design," and there were some really impressive threads in the film that was otherwise a mess.
Rick Baker, The Wolf Man. Also sticking with the "more = best" thinking here, but Baker is also a longterm veteran who has won six times before. Plus the two other nominated films were seen by even fewer people, if you can believe it.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb, Inception. Finally, a category where Inception seems practically unbeatable, and able to snag a much-deserved win.
BEST SOUND EDITING
Richard King, Inception. Always insanely difficult to predict, but the movie is both loud and successful, which is usually a good formula for success here.
BEST SOUND MIXING
Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick, Inception. See above. No, I've still not learned to tell these two apart after all this time.