A year ago I was happy as anyone to scoff openly at the idea that David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin would waste their time on something as insignificant as a Facebook movie. This is proof, of course, that you probably ought to stop listening to me right now, because here we are a year later looking at their film The Social Network as nothing short of a masterpiece. I avoided that dreaded "M-word" in my review, but truly, it's hard to imagine a more assured, well-crafted and truly meaningful film will come out this year, or maybe for several years to come.

I'm not alone in my raves-- The Social Network boasts a perfect 100% Rotten Tomatoes score as I write this-- and there's no way the Academy won't take notice. Even after so many stellar films debuted at Toronto a few weeks ago, The Social Network is the only film any critic wants to talk about, and plenty of us are bullish enough to think audiences will feel the same way. On its merits alone The Social Network could well be the movie of the year, but if the box office reflects it too, we could have ourselves an undisputed Oscar frontrunner before the leaves on the trees start changing.

Of course, there's still The King's Speech, which everyone still loves and which I still have not seen, and the new teaser trailer for the Coen Brothers' True Grit is formidable, though there's no telling how that translates to Oscar. But with so much publicity around The Social Network and such a delicious real-life hook, I expect it to dominate conversations for weeks to come. Movies that hit this early with such force can fall victim to frontrunner syndrome in the Oscar race and fall apart later on (see Up in the Air for a recent case), but I think The Social Network has what it takes to keep it up.

Before we get on to the charts, a brief rundown of what I've seen this week and their possible Oscar fortunes:

  • The Social Network: Nominations for Picture, Director, Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg), Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay and at least one Best Supporting Actor (either Andrew Garfield or Justin Timberlake) seem guaranteed. Further success will determine possible wins (though Aaron Sorkin seems like a slam dunk screenplay winner) and more nominations, such Best Cinematography, Editing, or even Visual Effects for the amazing feat of turning Armie Hammer into two Winklevoss twins.

  • Inside Job: The hot-button topic of the financial crash and Wall Street hooligans makes it a significant Best Documentary contender, but it's also extremely political and unfriendly to the kind of rich people who, well, also vote for Oscars. Then again, Michael Moore won an Oscar once. Charles Ferguson's film also has stiff competition from Alex Gibney (Client 9), Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for Superman) and buzzy docs like Exit Through the Gift Shop and Catfish, so even a nomination may not be guaranteed.

  • Made in Dagenham: An uplifting and entirely predictable true-life story about women striking for equal pay at a British auto plant in the late 1960s, the movie itself is merely OK, but boasts as many excellent female performances as The Social Network boasts great male ones. Sally Hawkins, shunned mercilessly for Happy Go Lucky two years ago, seems a shoo-in Best Actress nominee for her unlikely Norma Rae-type character, but for the supporting actresses, there's almost too much good to choose from: Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike and Geraldine James could all make decent cases for a nomination. There's also Bob Hoskins, an anchor in the film and a possible Best Supporting Actor contender, especially in a weak field. The movie may struggle for viewers, but a strong campaign for Hawkins could keep it in viewers' eyes long enough to gain some traction.

Now, for the charts, with individual categories further explained and changes noted. There's not much changing right now-- I knew last week that The Social Network was a major contender, and nothing much has dropped out of the running-- and again, it's all early stages. Everything can and will change. In the next week I'll be seeing Julie Taymor's The Tempest, Doug Liman's Fair Game and Mike Leigh's Another Year, and will bring back some perspective accordingly.

oscar winner prediction

The Social Network has been bumped up to Mortal Lock, because it really is that good, and snubbing it would be ignoring one of the year's most significant films (a blunder the 10-wide category is deliberately trying to avoid). Everything else pretty much stays the same, including Made in Dagenham, which I still think is a long shot for Best Picture despite some pretty Academy friendly subject matter. We'll see how it plays as the months go on.
oscar winner prediction
The Social Network
Toy Story 3

oscar winner prediction
127 Hours
Another Year
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
True Grit
oscar winner prediction
Fair Game
Love and Other Drugs
Made in Dagenham
Never Let Me Go
Rabbit Hole
Shutter Island
The Tourist
The Way Back
Winter's Bone
oscar winner prediction
Blue Valentine
Brighton Rock
Country Strong
The Debt
For Colored Girls
Get Low
The Ghost Writer
How Do You Know?
Let Me In
Nowhere Boy
The Tempest
The Town
Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps

oscar winner prediction

Fincher remains a mortal lock, and if The King's Speech really is his biggest competition, he could be the favorite to win no matter how the film does-- Hooper is too new a director to curry enough favor for that one, Boyle and the Coens have won too recently to do it again, Aronofsky's movie is too weird, and Nolan hasn't quite genuflected enough to "highbrow" Academy taste this time. I'd love to see him win for The Social Network, but again, the road ahead is long.
oscar winner prediction
David Fincher, The Social Network
oscar winner prediction
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Mike Leigh, Another Year
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David O. Russell, The Fighter

oscar winner prediction
Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Sofia Coppola, Somewhere
Clint Eastwood, Hereafter
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Tourist
Mark Romanek, Never Let Me Go
Peter Weir, The Way Back

oscar winner prediction
Ben Affleck, The Town
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, Biuitiful
John Cameron Mitchell, Rabbit Hole
Tyler Perry, For Colored Girls
Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer
Matt Reeves, Let Me In
Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island
Oliver Stone, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps
Edward Zwick, Love and Other Drugs

oscar winner prediction
I want to bump Eisenberg up to Mortal Lock here, but there are too many other actors who are either more established (Bridges, Duvall, even Gosling) or doing showier work (Franco) who could bump him out of the running, and The Social Network is more of an ensemble anyway. As with everything, though, the movie's continued success could make it a much bigger possibility.
oscar winner prediction
Colin Firth, The King's Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

oscar winner prediction
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Robert Duvall, Get Low
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

oscar winner prediction
George Clooney, The American
Johnny Depp, The Tourist
Stephen Dorff, Somewhere
Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole
Aaron Johnson, Nowhere Boy
Ewan McGregor, Beginners
Sean Penn, Fair Game

oscar winner prediction
Jim Broadbent, Another Year
Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception
Jake Gyllenhaal, Love and Other Drugs
Kevin Spacey, Casino Jack
Ben Stiller, Greenberg

oscar winner prediction

Depriving Portman of a Mortal Lock spot feels wrong now, though nothing has changed, so I've bumped her up. Sally Hawkins is very, very close to that spot too, but the movie being so small and distinctly British, she could easily get swept under the rug, which would be a huge shame but not unprecedented (see, again, her Happy-Go-Lucky snub). I'm seeing Another Year next week and can't wait to see how Manville fits into this picture-- she's the only one of the Likely Contenders I haven't actually seen.
oscar winner prediction
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Natalie Portman, Black Swan
oscar winner prediction
Sally Hawkins, Made in Dagenham
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
Lesley Manville, Another Year
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
oscar winner prediction
Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs
Diane Lane, Secretariat
Hilary Swank, Conviction
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
Reese Witherspoon, How Do You Know?
oscar winner prediction
Helen Mirren, The Tempest
Carey Mulligan, Never Let Me Go
Gwyneth Paltrow, Country Strong
Tilda Swinton, I Am Love
Naomi Watts, Fair Game
Rachel Weisz, The Whistleblower

oscar winner prediction

The Social Network feels so strong right now that Sony could make Oscar claims for either Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake, and both could conceivably get in. Hell, they might get cocky and start campaigning for Armie Hammer too. The five Likely Contenders feel like a pretty solid nominations lineup to me, actually, but with The Fighter sight unseen, there's no telling. I also added Dagenham's Hoskins and bumped up Jeremy Renner, since after The Town's surprise box office success he could be a true dark horse threat.
oscar winner prediction
oscar winner prediction
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
Justin Timberlake, The Social Network
oscar winner prediction
Ed Harris, The Way Back
John Hawkes, Winter's Bone
Bob Hoskins, Made in Dagenham
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Sam Rockwell, Conviction
oscar winner prediction
Josh Brolin, True Grit
Vincent Cassel, Black Swan
Matt Damon, True Grit
Michael Douglas, Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps
Colin Farrell, The Way Back
Armie Hammer, The Social Network
Dustin Hoffman, Barney's Version
John Malkovich, Secretariat
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

oscar winner prediction

I added Rosamund Pike for Dagenham, though Richardson's role is showier and a likelier contender, and took out Knightley for Never Let Me Go, since everyone seems to have forgotten that movie already. Otherwise things are unchanged, and as fuzzy as ever to boot.
oscar winner prediction
oscar winner prediction
Helena Bonham-Carter, The King's Speech
Barbara Hershey, Black Swan
Miranda Richardson, Made in Dagenham
Kristin Scott Thomas, Nowhere Boy
Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole
oscar winner prediction
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Anne-Marie Duff, Nowhere Boy
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Rosamund Pike, Made in Dagenham
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
oscar winner prediction
Marion Cotillard, Inception
Elle Fanning, Somewhere
Rosamund Pike, Barney's Version
Saoirse Ronan, The Way Back
Sissy Spacek, Get Low
Mia Wasikowska, The Kids Are All Right

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