Final 2011 Oscar Predictions are Here

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Photo: AMPAS // RopeofSilicon.com

The Oscar voting period for the 2011 Oscars ended yesterday at 5 p.m. PST and the scramble for Oscar positioning continued up until the final bell, notably in the Art Direction race, which, if you haven’t heard yet, wait until we get to that category in this prediction piece. Things got a bit “steamy” in Lionel Logue’s office yesterday. This, of course, is on top of everything else The King’s Speech has been facing since it became the perceived front-runner shortly after it received 12 Oscar nominations, and even one day before.

But all that is in the past. The ballots have been turned in and there is no turning back. Now it’s our turn to predict who will win.

In this article I will give my predictions in all categories except for Documentary Short Subject, Live Action Short and Animated Short. I have not yet had a chance to watch those, but hope to before the ceremony. If you are using this article for your Oscar pool the online consensus for each category appears to be Strangers for Documentary Short, Day and Night for animated short and Na Wewe for Live Action Short. I hope that helps, now let’s get to the major categories.

UPDATE: It was asked in the comments how good I am at predicting these things and I thought I would repeat my reply here for those that don’t pay attention to comments. I have only been seriously predicting the Oscars for two years and in 2008 I didn’t track anything or pay any kind of attention to the awards race and my predictions were awful at 11 for 21.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the predictions.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

THE NOMINEES: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids are All Right, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone

PREDICTED WINNER: The King’s Speech – Early on it seemed as if The Social Network was going to run away with the 2011 Oscars, but when guild awards started to be handed out the critical acclaim didn’t carryover into unanimous industry acclaim. Once The King’s Speech racked up 12 Oscar nominations and won with the Producers Guild, Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild it was impossible not to notice the momentum switch. However, the strength of The Social Network remains elsewhere, particularly in categories such as Film Editing, Director and Screenplay. In the past only two films have been denied Best Picture after winning the Oscar for Screenplay, Director and Editing — A Place in the Sun (1951) and Traffic (2000). I don’t have The Social Network winning all three of those categories, but I almost do…

FIRST RUNNER-UP: The Social Network

Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

THE NOMINEES: Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

PREDICTED WINNER: Natalie Portman (Black Swan) – Recent chatter, as people search for Oscar talking points, has been to speculate over an Annette Bening upset as the “she’s due” comments begin to bubble up. This is a legitimate possibility, but with Portman’s dominance over the precursors I just can’t go any other way with this prediction. It’s looking like this will be Bening’s fourth trip to the Academy Awards as an Oscar nominee only to go home empty handed, but if her name were to be called I would be less than surprised.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: Annette Bening (The Kids are All Right)

Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

THE NOMINEES: Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech), James Franco (127 Hours), Jeff Bridges (True Grit)

PREDICTED WINNER: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) – This seems to be an all out lock at this point. If not because Firth is great in The King’s Speech, but because he deserved to win last year for A Single Man. If anyone, I think Jesse Eisenberg poses the greatest threat even though I think Javier Bardem gave the greatest performance of the year.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)

Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

THE NOMINEES: 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)

PREDICTED WINNER: Christian Bale (The Fighter) – Geoffrey Rush seemed like a sure thing when I saw The King’s Speech in Toronto and the fact that film holds the position of front-runner status does give me pause, but I can’t believe the Academy would overlook Bale’s performance in The Fighter at this point. Like Portman and Firth, Bale has dominated the precursors and at this point it seems like it’s all about deciding where will Bale put the statuette?

FIRST RUNNER-UP: Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

THE NOMINEES: Amy Adams (The Fighter), Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

PREDICTED WINNER: Melissa Leo (The Fighter) – If any of the acting categories are up in the air, it’s this one. Melissa Leo may have shot herself in the foot with her desire to win by taking out her own For Your Consideration ads and risking looking desperate. Additionally, there’s the whole King’s Speech juggernaut to consider with Bonham Carter and the growing love for Hailee Steinfeld’s True Grit performance. However, I don’t think Leo has lost as much traction as negative spin would lead you to believe. She gave a monstrous performance in The Fighter and I suspect she’ll win.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

THE NOMINEES: How to Train Your Dragon, The Illusionist, Toy Story 3

PREDICTED WINNER: Toy Story 3 – I’d say we’re looking at about a 95% chance Pixar takes home their sixth Best Animated Feature Oscar and based on polling results here on RopeofSilicon it appears Toy Story 3 is the most loved animated feature of the 34 that have been nominated over the last ten years. However, there is that small chance the Academy is interested in a change this year and will look in the direction of Dreamworks and How to Train Your Dragon, but chances are very slim.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: How to Train Your Dragon

Achievement in Art Direction

THE NOMINEES: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Inception, The King’s Speech, True Grit

PREDICTED WINNER: Alice in Wonderland – Oh boy, who would’ve thought with four days to go until the Oscar ceremony that Art Direction would be the most talked about category? If you haven’t heard, it was revealed only yesterday, and confirmed today that the set of Lionel Logue’s (Geoffrey Rush) office in The King’s Speech was in fact used for a gay porn movie a year earlier. It was also used to shoot the video for Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” (watch here) in 2006. What does this mean for the Oscar? Well, nothing when it comes to voting as votes were already turned in, but I’m sure it would stand for a bit of embarrassment for the Academy should the highlighted aspect of Eve Stewart and Judy Farr’s production design end up winning the Oscar even though it wasn’t as original as previously believed. Stewart is on record discussing the work put into the walls, but when comparing the old and the new, it doesn’t look much different.

Beyond that, Kris Tapley at InContention.com notes that no Tim Burton film nominated for Best Art Direction has ever lost. And while controversy brews around The King’s Speech it’s this stat, above all else, that had me switching my vote to Alice even though the Art Directors Guild went with The King’s Speech. After all, the ADG only has a 60% performance record over the last ten years and they award three separate films each year.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: The King’s Speech

Achievement in Cinematography

THE NOMINEES: Black Swan (Matthew Libatique), Inception (Wally Pfister), The King’s Speech (Danny Cohen), The Social Network (Jeff Cronenweth), True Grit (Roger Deakins)

PREDICTED WINNER: True Grit (Roger Deakins)Inception won with the American Society of Cinematographers, but those guys have agreed with the Academy only four times out of the last ten years so I’m not putting any stock in that win. This is a race between perceived love for The King’s Speech and the highly deserving Roger Deakins. This is Deakins’s ninth Oscar nomination. He has never won despite brilliant work on recent film such as No Country for Old Men, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and his first nominated feature The Shawshank Redemption. If you ask me, it’s finally his time and the only thing I see standing in his way is if The King’s Speech ends up sweeping the Oscars, which I don’t think it will.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: The King’s Speech (Danny Cohen)

Achievement in Costume Design

THE NOMINEES: Alice in Wonderland (Colleen Atwood), I Am Love (Antonella Cannarozzi), The King’s Speech (Jenny Beaven), The Tempest (Sandy Powell), True Grit (Mary Zophres)

PREDICTED WINNER: The King’s Speech (Jenny Beaven) – This was another terribly tough category to predict and again Tapley helps me out by noting no Tim Burton film has won here when nominated and only two true fantasies have ever won this award in the past – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Star Wars. This is a category that typically sticks to period pieces, which means I’m sticking to that idea. I previously had Mary Zophres’s work on True Grit as my number one pick, but after Jenny Beaven was recently awarded by the Costume Designers Guild for The King’s Speech I decided to go with the night’s front-runner. However, before I leave you, it was particularly interesting to look at the history books for a couple of this category’s nominees.

This year serves as the ninth time both Beaven and Atwood have been nominated for a Best Costume Design Oscar, but only once have they faced off against one another. Back in 2000 Beaven was nominated for Anna and the King and Atwood for Sleepy Hollow, but neither of them won that year. The Oscar went to first time Oscar nominee Lindy Hemming for Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy. Interesting enough, this is Zophres’s first Oscar nomination as well… Will history repeat itself?

FIRST RUNNER-UP: True Grit (Mary Zophres)

Achievement in Directing

THE NOMINEES: Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), David O. Russell (The Fighter), Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), David Fincher (The Social Network), Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit)

PREDICTED WINNER: Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) – When it comes to predicting the Oscars you have to rely on stats, history and gut instinct. All three of these factors tell me Tom Hooper is going to win Best Director. After Hooper won with the Directors Guild the stats tell us only six times since the DGA Awards began in 1948 has the winner not gone on to win Best Director. History tells us the Academy tends to traditionally go with the safer bet, and for those of you thinking Fincher is deserving of the Oscar, you have to remember Fincher hasn’t had the run Scorsese had when he was deserving after being snubbed several times. Fincher has a long time to go, and he will win, and probably, like Scorsese, will end up winning for a lesser project.

Finally, gut instinct, this is that feeling I mentioned yesterday. I tried to imagine Kathryn Bigelow stepping to the podium to announce the Best Picture winner and the confidence I would have in predicting Fincher… I didn’t have it. Hooper is the safe bet and as close as I came to going with Fincher, I couldn’t make the leap.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: David Fincher (The Social Network)

Best Documentary Feature

THE NOMINEES: Exit through the Gift Shop Banksy, director (Paranoid Pictures), Gasland Josh Fox, director (Gasland Productions, LLC), Inside Job Charles Ferguson, director (Representational Pictures), Restrepo Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, directors (Outpost Films), Waste Land Lucy Walker, director (Almega Projects)

PREDICTED WINNER: Inside Job Charles Ferguson, director (Representational Pictures) – I have only seen two of this year’s five Best Documentary nominees. Fortunately I think I’ve seen the two most likely to win, although I think Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger’s Restrepo also stands a good chance. Inside Job, however, just seems like the logical choice here. Of course, I would love to see what would happen should Banksy end up winning. After all, Banksy has gone from apparently not being allowed to attend the Oscars, to then being allowed to attend but not being allowed on stage, to then being allowed on stage but not in costume, to finally being allowed to do whatever he wants. You have to admit, there is now reason for all of us to want Exit Through the Gift Shop to win.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: Exit through the Gift Shop Banksy, director (Paranoid Pictures)

Achievement in Makeup

THE NOMINEES: Barney’s Version, The Way Back, The Wolfman

PREDICTED WINNER: The Wolfman – This is a category I always seem to end up getting wrong. Most memorable for me was the year The Curious Case of Benjamin Button won despite the knowledge much of the acclaimed “makeup” was CGI. Logic can work against you with these things, so this year I’ve switched my prediction from the masterful makeup in Barney’s Version to the big and robust makeup of The Wolfman.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: Barney’s Version

Achievement in Film Editing

THE NOMINEES: Black Swan (Andrew Weisblum), The Fighter (Pamela Martin), The King’s Speech (Tariq Anwar), 127 Hours (Jon Harris), The Social Network (Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall)

PREDICTED WINNER: The Social Network (Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall) – There are plenty of stats that show correlations between winning Best Film Editing and winning Best Picture. There are also a ton that say not being nominated for Best Editing means you won’t be winning Best Picture (sorry True Grit). Either way, The King’s Speech is nominated for Best Editing so I have no qualms with those stats and nothing I feel to explain further as far as that decision goes, or my decision to predict The Social Network for Best Editing and not for Best Picture. However, personal preference in a lot of these categories has me continuing to look at Black Swan as a contender that deserves more love, it’s just too bad it won’t be getting it.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: The King’s Speech (Tariq Anwar)

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

THE NOMINEES: Biutiful (Mexico), Dogtooth (Greece), In a Better World (Denmark), Incendies (Canada), Hors la Loi (Algeria)

PREDICTED WINNER: In a Better World (Denmark) – My initial prediction was to go with Canada’s Incendies. Reviews out of festivals had been glowing and it felt like I was one of the few to have actually seen Susanne Bier’s In a Better World and loved it at that point. However, since the nominations have been announced it seems buzz on Incendies as a film that could win the Oscar has not picked up while In a Better World seems to have moved to the top.

I’m sure Dogtooth will likely be the fan favorite as it is the one film of the five readily accessible, but it is too much of an “out there” film for the Academy to prop it up if you ask me. It’s great, but I just don’t see it happening.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: Incendies (Canada)

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)

THE NOMINEES: How to Train Your Dragon (John Powell), Inception (Hans Zimmer), The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat), 127 Hours (A.R. Rahman), The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)

PREDICTED WINNER: The King’s Speech (Alexandre Desplat) – Outside of A.R. Rahman’s score for 127 Hours, I pretty much love all of the scores nominated here. This makes predicting a winner even harder as I have to try and push aside preference and sort through the chatter to try and figure out which score will come out on top. It was not easy.

For the longest time I’ve had Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score for The Social Network at the top. It was my favorite of the year, but I just have this feeling the Academy is going to go the safe route. Thankfully, that won’t diminish the quality of Reznor and Ross’s score, the same it doesn’t diminish that of Daft Punk’s score for TRON: Legacy, or Carter Burwell’s score for True Grit or Clint Mansell’s score for Black Swan, all of which either weren’t nominated or were deemed ineligible. You can’t win ’em all.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: The Social Network (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)

Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)

THE NOMINEES: “Coming Home” from Country Strong Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey, “I See the Light” from Tangled Music and Lyric by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater, “If I Rise” from 127 Hours Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong, “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

PREDICTED WINNER: “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3 Music and Lyric by Randy Newman – I have no horse in this race other than to say that of the four nominees I thought “I See the Light” from Tangled was the most impressive in terms of connecting the story with the music. The way this category and music in movies has evolved over the years I’m beginning to think a new category needs to be added for previously existing songs used in movies. If that were a case Dennis de Laat’s “Sound of Violence” from The Social Network comes to mind as does Sigur Ros’s “Festival” from 127 Hours. One can dream.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: “I See the Light” from Tangled Music and Lyric by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater

Achievement in Sound Editing

THE NOMINEES: Inception, Toy Story 3, TRON: Legacy, True Grit, Unstoppable

PREDICTED WINNER: Inception – The sound categories are tricky. The fight in both Editing and Mixing appears to be between Inception and True Grit and if you’re interested in staying safe the pick would be to go for Inception for Editing and True Grit for Mixing. Only three times in the last ten years have both awards gone to the same film (The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Ultimatum, King Kong). My prediction is that it will happen for a fourth time in that last 11 years this year.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: True Grit

Achievement in Sound Mixing

THE NOMINEES: Inception, The King’s Speech, Salt, The Social Network, True Grit

PREDICTED WINNER: Inception – See above.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: True Grit

Achievement in Visual Effects

THE NOMINEES: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Hereafter, Inception, Iron Man 2

PREDICTED WINNER: Inception – Looking at the nominees I don’t see any other possibility although Alice does scare me a bit. If you’re interested in exploring the effects more, might I suggest checking out my compilation of effects reels for all five nominees right here.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: Alice in Wonderland

Adapted Screenplay

THE NOMINEES: 127 Hours (Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle), The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin), Toy Story 3 (Michael Arndt, story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich), True Grit (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen), Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini)

PREDICTED WINNER: The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin) – There seem to be very few locks this year. And I’m talking about those mortal locks where if something else won you’d do a spit take, “What!?!! No way!” Sorkin’s The Social Network script is one of those locks for me. No amount of hyperbole has been spared to describe this script and it also won with the WGA, an org that has matched the Academy in this category seven out of the last ten years.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: True Grit (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)

Original Screenplay

THE NOMINEES: Another Year (Mike Leigh), The Fighter (Paul Attanasio, Lewis Colich, Eric Johnson, Scott Silverand Paul Tamasy), Inception (Christopher Nolan), The Kids are All Right (Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko), The King’s Speech (David Seidler)

PREDICTED WINNER: The King’s Speech (David Seidler) – This one I am not so confident in. The WGA gave the nod to Christopher Nolan’s script for Inception and they have matched with the Academy eight out of the last ten years in this category, but the Academy isn’t as forward thinking as other groups and I can’t see them duplicating that decision. Everything tells me to go with Seidler’s script for The King’s Speech, although this is one of those categories I would love to end up being wrong.

FIRST RUNNER-UP: Inception (Christopher Nolan)

With all that said, here is my final winner’s tally:

  1. The King’s Speech – 6 wins
  2. Inception – 3 wins
  3. The Fighter – 2 wins
  4. The Social Network – 2 wins
  5. Toy Story 3 – 2 wins
  6. Alice in Wonderland – 1 win
  7. Black Swan – 1 win
  8. In a Better World – 1 win
  9. Inside Job – 1 win
  10. True Grit – 1 win
  11. The Wolfman – 1 win

Now it’s your turn. Comment away and also know I will be posting user polls starting tomorrow where you can vote for your winners and we’ll see what the RopeofSilicon user collective decides on. Also, this Sunday, the Oscars begin at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET and myself and Laremy Legel will be tag teaming the Oscar live-blog, probably starting around 3 PM PST so be sure to be here for that, it should be a lot of fun for you and a lot of work for us. Either way, we are almost done with the 2010 awards season…

If you’re interested in seeing my full prediction charts just click here and for the Oscar Overture you can click here.