Oscar Predictions. Who Makes The Cut?

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dbde314f4d7a9d51386b73b5f0e7b0 Oscar Predictions.  Who Makes The Cut?

This morning we’ll see who has a shot at an Academy Award and who was left in the dark.

(Thanks to MSN)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Who Will Be Nominated:

Amy Adams, “The Fighter”
Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
These two deliver powerhouse, as they say, performances in the lower-depths boxing drama, with pretty, perky Adams breaking out of her cute ingénue box for something gritty, and grit veteran Leo delivering more … grit.

Mila Kunis, “Black Swan”
The once-considered-lightweight TV cutie from “That ’70s Show” brings the seductiveness in this idiosyncratic and widely acclaimed arts thriller. AND she can dance.

Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
Now that’s a supporting role. And with Lisa Cholodenko’s “The Kids Are All Right” losing the buzz luster that all but assured it multiple nominations back when it came out, this also-fading film, a prestige piece of the sort that used to be a real Oscar warhorse, has a shot at filling an odd slot or two.

Greta Gerwig, “Greenberg”
This is the part where you throw a glass at the computer screen and say, “This guy’s out of his mind.” Well, go ahead; it’s your computer. But before you do, hear me out: The Supporting Actress category can be said to almost thrive on oddball choices, which can be said to include quirky newcomers. That doesn’t just go for nominees, but for winners. Remember Marisa Tomei? Or Beatrice Straight winning for a performance that was less than five minutes of screen time? This is a slot where strange things can happen. I’m just saying this could be one of them.

Dark Horse: Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”
The Australian actress garnered raves (“sets the screen ablaze!”) for her work as a murderous, hatchet-faced criminal matriarch in the thriller “Animal Kingdom,” but while her champions considered her a lock for a while, she appears to have slipped dangerously down the, well, should we call it “food chain?”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Andrew Garfield, “The Social Network”
He’s young, he’s hot, he’s British, he’s classically trained (isn’t he?), he’s the next Spider-Man, his film is a front-runner. If he doesn’t get nominated, blame some form of industrial sabotage.

Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Yep, the Method man when he’s not playing Batman lost a ton of weight to play a tortured crackhead here. Has anybody found out whether he actually did crack, too? We hope not!

John Hawkes, “Winter’s Bone”
Hawkes is something of an actor’s actor, and in this raw indie favorite he knocked it out of the park playing a menacing drug sort-of-dealer whose moral compass is very hard to read.

Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”
It’s a supporting role because he’s not playing the king. Rush clearly is having the time of his life in this picture, playing the speech therapist who helps with the titular speech.

Matt Damon, “True Grit”
His sly comic turn as an inept but not entirely ignoble lawman is one of the most pleasurable, and amusingly self-effacing, performances of the year.

Dark Horse:
Mark Ruffalo, “Shutter Island”
His extremely nuanced (by necessity, as it happens) performance is a virtuoso acting job that went sadly unappreciated by those who understood this thriller as a one-trick film.

BEST ACTRESS

Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
She’s intense, she did all her own dance moves (at least that assertion has held true so far!), AND she shed 30 pounds to play the role of a perfectly normal ballet dancer with just one or two issues. So even if she wasn’t as good as she was (and she’s spectacular) she would still be eligible for a nomination under the “Raging Bull” Physical Self-Transformation Clause.

Lesley Manville, “Another Year”
Yes, “Year,” like all films from British director Mike Leigh, is an ensemble piece to the core, and, yes, Manville’s role is that of a friend of the old couple who are the film’s ostensible main focus. BUT, in terms of screen time, emotional force, and all that other kind of stuff, this is absolutely a lead performance, and the momentum of will-she-or-won’t-she buzz around it will, in this schmoe’s opinion, lead to a properly categorized nomination.

Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”
Just because her character’s the narrator doesn’t make hers the lead role — a similarly young Linda Manz narrated Terrence Malick’s “Days of Heaven,” remember — but young Mattie Ross is the engine that drives “True Grit,” and 14-year-old Steinfeld’s performance, alongside a slew of seasoned veterans, is a female lead turn through and through.

Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Inside-industry support and the sparks of waning buzz will pull this nomination through. Bening is indeed quite fine in this dramedy of alternative-lifestyle parenting, as is the rest of the cast — the film is a real actor’s showpiece. But the “It’s a Lifetime movie with big stars” naysayers are killing pretty much all of its other award chances.

Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Another feisty performance from a relative newbie. Like Steinfeld in “Grit,” Lawrence shows exemplary sturdiness battling both bad guys and bad weather.

Dark Horse:
Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”
Her work as a long-suffering young wife in this frank tale of a failed marriage is superb, but the part itself is arguably underdeveloped. We shall see.

BEST ACTOR

Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
Does the immortal, if unforgivably offensive, advice proffered to Ben Stiller by Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder” (which we shall not be so vulgar as to repeat here) go for speech impediments as well? I suppose we’ll find out. Firth’s rendition of a royal stammer here is hugely convincing, as is his portrayal of the emotional core of a shy man who has greatness, or something like it, thrust upon him.

Javier Bardem, “Biutiful”
The movie itself hasn’t gained much in the way of popular or critical traction, BUT everybody loves Javier, and he’s genuinely excellent and harrowing as a Barcelona hustler who, as Oscar just loves, is slowly dying of a wasting disease.

Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
He’s been pretty much a lock since the much-vaunted film’s fall release. If anything, Time magazine’s weird, tone-deaf naming of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who Eisenberg plays here as a tetchy genius antihero, Person of the Year probably hurt his buzz. But not enough for his undeniably superb performance to be denied.

Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”
Yes, he won last year for playing a different mush-mouthed drunk in “Crazy Heart.” So another win this year is highly unlikely. But a nomination? Why not. “Grit” is a critical fave that’s also a bona fide popular hit, and its buzz gains daily.

Ryan Gosling, “Blue Valentine”
Why do I think he’s a sure thing for his “Blue Valentine” role, while relegating his equally worthy co-star Michelle Williams to dark-horse status? Because Gosling’s is the more prominent (cynics would say “showy”) role. Also, he seems to be running a more aggressive campaign.

Dark Horse:
Edgar Ramirez, “Carlos”
Very dark, because as of this writing, the entire film isn’t eligible for any Academy Awards. But his was definitely the year’s most multifaceted, balls-to-the-wall performance, playing the title role in an epic biopic of a notorious real-life terrorist. This is the kind of work that it would be worth changing the rules for, in my opinion.

BEST DIRECTOR

Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
Remember when industry “experts” were going on about how the young Aronofsky (he’s only 41 at this writing) was going to be the next Kubrick? And then came the critical and box-office disaster of “The Fountain.” Yeah, me, too. Because I was the critic who LIKED “The Fountain.” In any event, “Black Swan,” in which the director channeled his craziness and ambition into something resembling a real cinematic conversation piece, almost completes his redemption narrative.

David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Another American cinematic virtuoso on the youngish side scores big. The conventional wisdom will be that if anyone can make an absorbing movie about Facebook, it’s the wizard-like (as in supernaturally gifted) Fincher. Of course the idea that it’s a movie about Facebook is impeachable, but still …

Joel and Ethan Coen, “True Grit”
They would seem to be a lock, given that many see this as the duo’s least smart-alecky picture, and it’s already their biggest moneymaker.

Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
He made a really big movie with big moviemaking chops and conception behind it. It’s one of those pictures that’s generally credited to its director for awards purposes. It’ll of course get a truckload of tech nominations as well.

Debra Granik, “Winter’s Bone”
A supposed slice of raw Midwestern life whose critical momentum continues to build where it counts. Nominating Granik not only puts a female director into the mix, but makes Hollywood look less inclined to honor its own self-involvement. That would NOT be the message a nomination for Lisa Cholodenko, the director of “The Kids Are All Right,” would send.

Dark Horse:
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarittu, “Biutiful”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the man makes the sort of, um, profound films that practically beg to be given statuettes of some sorts. In this case he would be riding in on Bardem’s coattails … which doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be happy to make the trip.

BEST PICTURE

“Black Swan”
One of the few big pictures of the year to pack true cross-generational appeal, it confounds certain viewers of all ages. But seriously … the ballet theme appeals to the oldsters, and the crazy sucks in everybody else.

“The Social Network”
Not so much a youth-vote thing (does that even exist in the Academy?) as a return of the real, meaty drama (that isn’t a tragedy or tearjerker) thing.

“The King’s Speech”
From the movie moguls who reaped a bunch of Oscars for other British-produced prestige pieces (see “Shakespeare in Love”). Harvey Weinstein’s still got nomination mojo, but this fare might just be too same-old same-old for the win.

“True Grit”
It stands to reason, for reasons mentioned above. As of this writing, the momentum it’s gained is such that people are wondering if Dick Cheney’s endorsement of it will hurt or help its chances; in any event, it means the picture’s entered the pop culture lingua franca to an extent that it’s an undeniable nominee.

“The Fighter”
Come-from-behind underdog boxing picture with an edge! All the heart-tugging of “Rocky”! All the profanity of “Raging Bull”! It can’t miss!

“Shutter Island”
Speaking of Martin Scorsese … the critically divisive but commercially successful thriller by the now-established Hollywood master director has sufficient juice to slide into an Oscars that allows for 10 Best Picture nominees.

“Inception”
Epic, twisty thriller that was hugely commercially successful in spite of cynical too-smart-for-the-multiplex arguments, which were pretty specious anyway.

“127 Hours”
Triumph-of-the-human-spirit saga from the Oscar-winning director of “Slumdog Millionaire.” Does the sawing-off-your-own-arm stuff make it a turnoff, or add to its perceived integrity? The question is still open enough that it will be begged in the form of a nomination.

“Winter’s Bone”
In addition to its other award-attractive virtues, detailed in entries above, it’s also a near-micro-budgeted movie that looks and sounds very good. So there’s that.

“Another Year”
Mike Leigh’s acute ensemble drama, full of both pleasure and pain, will fit right in to the slot that had previously seemed to be reserved for “The Kids Are All Right,” which needs a buzz transfusion to make a comeback. I’m not counting on it.

Dark Horse:
“Blue Valentine”
If Academy voters want to “buy American” as it were, this could also fit into the slot I’ve given to “Another Year,” a British picture.

Come Jan. 25, we shall see the extent to which I am insane, or a genius. Let’s grab coffee then, or something!

What should be nominated this year?

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