Oscar predictions

(Originally published in The California Aggie)

Inception, The Social Network, Black Swan, Toy Story 3 – even if you’ve only seen a couple of the films nominated at this Sunday’s Academy Awards, you have to admit 2010 was a pretty kick-ass year for cinema. Take it from the cinephile who saw all 10 Best Picture nominees (and no, I will never get tired of bragging about it).

But if you can’t tell True Grit from Winter’s Bone and think Geoffrey Rush must have been nominated for his work in Pirates of the Caribbean, save face at your Oscar viewing party by reading the predictions below and impress your friends with your astute knowledge of the movies everyone will be talking about.

Best Director – David Fincher’s bold direction of “the Facebook movie” The Social Network made guys typing on computers while talking extremely fast for two hours straight one of the most exciting films of the year. It’s a feat that will not go unnoticed by voters. The category is Fincher’s to lose at this point.

Best Supporting Actress – This is one of the most up-in-the-air categories of the year. Melissa Leo, whose funny and tough portrayal of boxer Micky Ward’s mother in The Fighter, has won most of the supporting-actress awards this year. She has serious competition in True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld. The 14-year-old, first-time actress held her own opposite Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon, all while speaking 19th-century dialogue. Leo will probably come out on top, but a surprise win by Steinfeld can’t be ruled out.

Best Supporting Actor – Christian Bale, The Fighter. Done.

Best Actress – Natalie Portman will follow up her Golden Globe win with first-time Oscar gold for her memorable performance in Black Swan. From her physical transformation into a ballet dancer to her mesmerizing portrayal of paranoia and madness, Portman is the stuff Best Actresses are made of.

Best Actor – Colin Firth didn’t deliver the flashiest performance of the year, but audiences embraced his restrained, honest interpretation of the stuttering King George VI in The King’s Speech. It’s the type of role Academy voters love, and it’ll give them a chance to reward Firth’s long career.

Best Picture – It’s a really tough call between front-runners The Social Network and The King’s Speech, but Academy voters will probably play it safe and pick The King’s Speech. It’s a historical drama, feel-good and inspiring, and features solid performances by respected actors – all qualities the Academy typically looks for in a Best Picture winner. While The Social Network is more culturally relevant, it belongs to a generation a bit too young for the Academy (average age: 57), and they may simply not connect to it as younger critics and audiences did.

But hey, in a year when Justin Timberlake is in a Best Picture contender, the most tear-jerking film was a kids’ movie about toys and James Franco is one of the ceremony’s hosts, anything is possible. You can take that prediction to the bank.

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