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I had kind of hoped that my last Oscar column before the nominations go out would feel more climactic, maybe that some huge shift had happened in the Oscar race to leave everything up for grabs, or that I would somehow make it a surprise as to what my final picks would be. But with the Critics Choice Awards and The Golden Globes having handed out their awards over the weekend and stood firmly in line with all the other Social Network love, the consensus has stayed exactly the same as it was a week ago when the final Oscar ballots were turned in. Even a random smear campaign saying that Colin Firth's The King's Speech character King George VI might have been a Nazi hasn't shifted things much one way or another.
Then again, the minute you say something is predictable or obvious in the Oscar world, something totally bizarre happens to prove you wrong. So really, who knows what might happen when the nominations are announced next Tuseday morning. We can all make some pretty safe assumptions-- The Social Network, The King's Speech and Inception (all those technical awards!) leading the nominations tally, the five directors nominated by the DGA (that's Fincher, Nolan, Hooper, Aronofsky and Russell, for the record) filling up that category, Colin Firth sitting atop a Best Actor category populated by also-rans. But for as many sure-thing winners as there seem to be, there's a lot of room for changes int he rest of the category. Who's going to get that fifth Best Actor slot-- Ryan Gosling, Robert Duvall, or maybe even Mark Wahlberg? Will Winter's Bone and The Town both get in for Best Picture, or will 127 Hours jump back in somehow? Even as predictable as so many things seem, all of these and more could totally surprise us come Tuesday.
But for now, it's time to give my best predictions based on what I've learned from following this race all year long. They're not perfect, but nobody's are. I'll be back Tuesday morning to see just how right or wrong I turned out to be, and give a vague sense of how to follow the race from there on out-- though I'll also be in the middle of the Sundance Film Festival, so it'll be a little while before I can stick my head back into the Oscar fishbowl full force. Thanks for taking a look at the nominations and for trusting me (or reading just to marvel at how wrong I am-- either way). See you on nomination morning!
Like virtually everybody else I'm tearing myself up over those last three slots, which seem capable of going to The Town, Winter's Bone or 127 Hours equally. Now, at the last possible moment, I'm going back to 127 Hours, partly because I love the movie, and partly because I think those who can make themselves watch it will love it too-- and those #1 votes count a lot on the preferential ballot. If it's The Town instead, though, don't say I didn't warn you.
Much as I love True Grit and the Coens too, no one in this line-up seems weak enough at the moment to be overtaken by them. They could possibly jump up and knock out Russell, but the DGA lineup seems so solid to me that it doesn't feel right to change it now.
This lineup of five seems steady if only because there's nobody below it gaining any steam to knock any of them out. If Lesley Manville somehow jumps up in there for Another Year I'll jump for joy, but for the time for that to be possible seems to have passed.
I'm changing my pick at the last minute for John Hawkes to jump in over both Andrew Garfield and Armie Hammer for a simple reason-- vote splitting. It's hard for me to decide which one of them I'd cast a ballot for, and in a year crowded with so many great supporting performances it's just as hard to imagine going for both. Truly either Hawkes or Renner could be replaced by Hammer, Garfield or even Damon, but forced to pick five, this feels like the only way to go.
Give or take Mila Kunis in Jacki Weaver's spot, this volatile category finally seems settled. It's when trying to figure out who will win that the really difficult decisions will have to be made.
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