Saturday, 26 February 2011

GOING FOR OSCAR GOLD: Predictions for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards

THE GOOD FIGHT: The Social Network versus The King's Speech for the grand prix at Sunday's Oscars.

One of the most meandering awards seasons in recent history comes to an end on Sunday night when the charming duo of James Franco and Anne Hathaway preside over Hollywood's biggest night, the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. Will The Social Network regain its vigour to fight off The King's Speech's late award-season surge to win the grand prix? Will Annette Bening pull an upset win over Best Actress frontrunner Natalie Portman? Will Melissa Leo's controversial campaign ads cost her the supporting-actress win? Obviously a lot has gone down since I last reported from the sidelines. And at this point, while Sunday’s winners include some surefire victors, beyond that it’s anyone’s guess. So how is the field looking at this point? Here’s my final rundown of who will go home with a trophy – and who truly deserves a lifetime with the little gold man.

Will win: In spite of the controversy she has invited upon herself within the past weeks, Melissa Leo is still the safe bet in this category for her thoroughly believable turn as matriarch Alice Ward in The Fighter. Also working in her favour are her important wins at the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards.
Should win: I’m not a supporter of self-promo campaigns when it comes to awards shows, so you can imagine my disappointment to learn that Leo had been “pimping herself” via glamour-shot ad campaigns to appeal to Academy voters to “consider” her. Tacky. (Sharon Stone’s stunt with her Casino nomination comes to mind). As such, an upset looms in this category, with Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) or The Fighter costar Amy Adams set to capitalize should Leo lose massive votes.

Will win and should win: With Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) out of contention, my vote falls unequivocally to Christian Bale, who has been cleaning up at pre-Oscar shows all season. As washed-up, drug-addicted boxer Dicky Ward in The Fighter, Bale is simply a knockout. It’s an utterly committed performance in the vein of his work in American Psycho and The Machinist.

Will win and should win: Very few acting performances can move me to tears, and Natalie Portman accomplished that very feat with her exquisite, out-of-this-world performance as unstable ballerina Nina Sayers in Black Swan. Devastating by circumstance and phenomenal in scope, Portman’s performance is unbeatable! Sorry (again), Annette.

Will win: In The King’s Speech, Colin Firth magnificently imbues the stammering King George VI with dignity, shades of vulnerablity and ultimately hopeful courage. It is very rare to feel sympathy for an individual so privileged, yet Firth’s monarch is someone you find yourself rooting for. Therein lies the true power of his performance.
Should Win: Still, for my money, Jeff Bridges (True Grit) gave the most engaging performance by any male lead on-screen last year. Humorous and unforgettable, his Rooster Cogburn is constructed from the stuff of legend.

Will win and should win: Deservingly heraled as the strongest contender in this category, Fincher (The Social Network) is indeed the obvious choice for masterfully helming the most talked-about film of the year, drawing amazing performances from a young cast, led by Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield.

Will win: The King’s Speech. The successful late surge this season has practically secured this simple British period-piece affair the grand prix. I still say this film earns much of its glory just for its excellent climax. The rest feels very TV-movie-ish.
Should win: The Social Network. A film with way more emotional heft and a far more appealing story, Network certainly deserves the win, but I fear it will go the way of Avatar.

WHAT ABOUT US? Here are my other picks in some minor categories:

Best Original Screenplay – The King’s Speech (David Seidler)
Best Adapted Screenplay – The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)
Best Animated Feature – Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich)
Best Original Score – The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
Best Original Song – “Coming Home” (Country Strong)

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