ARTICLE: 83rd Academy Awards Predictions

The official nominees are out! This year's slightly less schmaltzy "The Blind Side", "The King's Speech" leads the way with 12 nominations, but who's walking away with little golden men February 27th? Co-hosts Anne "Catwoman" Hathaway and James Franco, who is also nominated for his performance in Danny Boyle's "127 Hours", will help us find out (following, fingers crossed, a lively musical number). This is the part where a clever, politically correct quip is read from a teleprompter, and... the nominees in the most hotly discussed categories are:

Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale - "The Fighter"
John Hawkes - "Winter's Bone"
Jeremy Renner - "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo - "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush - "The King's Speech"

The first of the acting categories I suspect will follow suit with last week's Golden Globes, the Supporting Actor win is looking good for Christian Bale. He's deserved the attention for over a decade through dedication that, quite honestly, may be taking a toll on his life expectancy. Were it not for an undersung turn as a PTSD sufferer from South Central in "Harsh Times" I'd say his show-stealing portrayal of Dicky Eklund in "The Fighter" is his finest yet. It's nice to see a nod for John Hawkes and as far as I'm concerned Geoffrey Rush is ever welcome in these affairs, but Bale has this tied up with a shiny bow.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams - "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter - "The King's Speech"
Melissa Leo - "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld - "True Grit"
Jacki Weaver - "Animal Kingdom"

"The Fighter" features one of the best ensembles anyone is likely to see this season. For proof, look no further than this category. Against what could be better judgement I'm heading out on a limb to place Amy Adams just ahead of Melissa Leo, who took home the Golden Globe against her co-star in this category. Adams probably deserved a statue for her 2005 breakthrough in "Junebug" and unless she's about to become a Supporting Role version of Kate Winslet (who after six nominations finally won for "The Reader" - at least she's faring better than Peter O'Toole), I say her part in "The Fighter" - easily one of her best yet - stands a good chance.

Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem - "Biutiful"
Jeff Bridges - "True Grit"
Jesse Eisenberg - "The Social Network"
Colin Firth - "The King's Speech"
James Franco - "127 Hours"

One must wonder how James Franco might maneuver a win here, as he is of course co-hosting the event. Where his performance is widely lauded as the best aspect of "127 Hours" though, I foresee previous nominee Colin Firth taking the stage. You may insert an obligatory "speech" joke here. For some Javier Bardem love, watch for Mexico's "Biutiful" to take home the prize for Foreign Language Film unless Greece's "Dogtooth" upsets. Last year's winner Jeff Bridges, who may have seen the most successful year of his career in 2010? I won't be surprised if/when "True Grit" wins Roger Deakins a Cinematography trophy. And Jesse Eisenberg... well, his film has little to worry about.

Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening - "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman - "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence - "Winter's Bone"
Natalie Portman - "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams - "Blue Valentine"

This is the easiest pick of the bunch. Last year's Leading Actor winner Jeff Bridges is probably already practicing his delivery of "And the Oscar goes to Natalie Portman". If Portman doesn't bag this, expect a controversy the likes of 1992's Marisa Tomei fiasco. Congratulations, Ms. Portman!

Animated Feature Film
"How to Train Your Dragon" - Chris Sanders & Dean DuBlois
"The Illusionist" - Sylvain Chomet
"Toy Story 3" - Lee Unkrich

Though featuring its typically scant selection of only three nominees, this is one of this year's stronger categories overall. Each film is already widely and dearly beloved. But c'mon, you know it's going to Woody and Buzz!

Documentary (Feature)
Banksy & Jamie D'Cruz - "Exit through the Gift Shop"
Josh Fox & Trish Adlesic - "Gasland"
Charles Ferguson & Audrey Marrs - "Inside Job"
Tim Hetherington & Sebastian Junger - "Restrepo"
Lucy Walker & Angus Aynsley - "Waste Land"

What a pleasant surprise to see "Exit through the Gift Shop" pull through with a nomination in spite of speculation over its authenticity! Arguably akin to Casey Affleck's mockumentary about Joaquin Phoenix' Andy Kaufman-esque retirement stunt, "I'm Still Here", "Exit through the Gift Shop" transcends the is-it-real-or-not argument. As much as I'd like to see it win, the buzzworthy year-long examination of platoon camaraderie in Afghanistan, "Restrepo", is primed to take home this statue.

Darren Aronofsky - "Black Swan"
David O. Russell - "The Fighter"
Tom Hooper - "The King's Speech"
David Fincher - "The Social Network"
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen - "True Grit"

This is David Fincher's year. "The Social Network" got audiences talking (and "liking") as no other. Historically this category's outcome previews the Best Picture victor, but with last-minute rumblings about the just-quirky-and-inspirational-enough "The King's Speech" registering more and more, I could see a pity win sent Tom Hooper's way.

Best Picture
"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"The Kids Are All Right"
"The King's Speech"
"127 Hours"
"The Social Network"
"Toy Story 3"
"True Grit"
"Winter's Bone"

From where I'm sitting, "The Social Network" has this baby in the bag, and will likely win Aaron Sorkin a statue for Adapted Screenplay ("The Kids Are All Right", though I may unfortunately disagree, is looking good to pick up Original Screenplay). With one sneaking exception, the remaining contenders may as well be hearing, "That's cute, thanks for trying" (but expect some "Inception" love in the technical categories). Last year "The Hurt Locker" upset big favorite "Avatar" and from a political stance, another upset is not to be expected. The bigger question for me is what star they'll have presenting. Considering recent years who can forget Jack Nicholson's 2006 astonishment when he announced "Crash" over "Brokeback Mountain", or in 2010 Tom Hanks' no nonsense, let's-make-this-quick-I-have-after-parties-to-attend delivery?

To see if I'm right or just plain crazy, check out the 83rd Academy Awards live Sunday, February 27th on ABC at 8/5PST, preceded by the Red Carpet show at 6:30/3:30PST.

As published on Icon Magazine's blog.

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