When you’re making Oscar predictions, it pays to use your head, not your heart.
But in these predictions of what’ll be nominated on Tuesday morning, I’m going to disregard my own advice a couple of times.
Case in point: I refuse to believe that the Academy’s actors branch won’t recognize the astonishing performance that Javier Bardem gave in “Biutiful.” I know he’s a longshot; I know that fifth slot is probably going to go to Robert Duvall or Ryan Gosling, both of whom are worthy choices. But I’m predicting a nomination for Bardem anyway – because, damnit, he deserves it and I think the Academy’s actors are a smart, sensible lot who take their votes seriously and will recognize Bardem.
Same thing in the Best Picture race. Conventional wisdom says that Ben Affleck’s “The Town” has all the momentum and will land one of the 10 spots. I’m fine with that. But conventional wisdom also says that Debra Granik’s “Winter’s Bone” is fading, and it’ll be the one pushed off the list by “The Town.”
Maybe the conventional wisdom is right, but my heart says that “Winter’s Bone” is too good not to make the list. So I’m sticking with it.
And while "Black Swan" may be my favorite of the major movies in contention, I love Jackie Weaver in "Animal Kingdom" and am sticking to my feeling that she'll get a nomination instead of Mila Kunis or Barbara Hershey.
Am I giving the Academy voters too much credit? (By which I probably mean, am I deluding myself into thinking that their opinions agree with mine?) Maybe. But as I said, I think that for the most part AMPAS membership are serious about their votes, and I’m sticking with my feeling that Bardem and “Winter’s Bone” are too strong to leave out.
With that said, here are my predictions for what we’ll be hearing in the 10 categories that’ll be announced on Tuesday morning.
“The Kids Are All Right”
“The King’s Speech”
“The Social Network”
“Toy Story 3”
What could happen instead: “The Town” gets the 10th slot, and “Winter’s Bone” falls out. Or “The Kids Are All Right” slips. Or too many voters refuse to see “127 Hours.” Or (and I know this is nuts, but it’s been nagging at me) “True Grit” turns out not to have the support most people think it has. In which case “Another Year” (unlikely) or “Blue Valentine” (unlikelier) or “Shutter Island” (unlikeliest) could be waiting in the wings.
Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”
David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
Christopher Nolan, “Inception”
David O Russell, “The Fighter”
What could happen instead: This is the same lineup as the DGA nominations; history suggests that the Academy will pick four out of the five and change the fifth. If so, the Coen Brothers could be in and Hooper Russell or Aronofsky out – but I think there’s way too much affection for “The King’s Speech” and “The Fighter” and “Black Swan” for that to happen. I think the DGA clearly identified the top five films in this race, and I suspect the Academy’s directors branch will agree.
Javier Bardem, “Biutiful”
Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”
Jesse Eisenberg, “The Social Network”
Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
James Franco, “127 Hours”
What could happen instead: Oscar voters don’t see “Biutiful,” and Bardem gets snubbed. Robert Duvall gets in for “Get Low,” or Ryan Gosling for “Blue Valentine,” or Mark Wahlberg for “The Fighter.” Or somebody bumps Jeff Bridges, who had his moment last year.
Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”
What could happen instead: Hailee Steinfeld gets into this category rather than Supporting Actress. Hilary Swank follows her SAG upset and slides in for “Conviction.” “The Kids Are All Right” has enough fans for Bening’s co-star Julianne Moore to make it, too. Voters do what I think they’ll do for Bardem, only they do it for Lesley Manville for “Another Year.” Williams slips out because “Blue Valentine” wasn’t widely seen enough.
Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Andrew Garfield, “The Social Network”
Jeremy Renner, “The Town”
Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right”
Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”
What could happen instead: Other “Social Network” candidates could dilute the vote for Garfield, with the well-liked Matt Damon sliding in. Or “Social Network” could be so strong that it’ll pull Justin Timberlake into the field as well. In the delicious-surprise category, John Hawkes could get a richly deserved nod for “Winter’s Bone.”
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, “The Fighter”
Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”
Jacki Weaver, “Animal Kingdom”
What could happen instead: This is one of the more fluid of the major categories, because some contenders (Steinfeld, Manville) could end up either here or in the lead category. Mila Kunis or Barbara Hershey could easily side in for “Black Swan.” Weaver is on the shakiest ground, given her small Australian movie. And Steinfeld could either land in Best Actress or split her vote between the two categories and get shut out of both.
Best Original Screenplay
“Another Year,” Mike Leigh
“Black Swan,” Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John J McLaughlin
“Inception,” Christopher Nolan
“The Kids Are All Right,” Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko
“The King’s Speech,” David Seidler
What could happen instead: The writers branch is one of the Academy’s most daring and unpredictable, so it wouldn’t be out of the question to see “Blue Valentine” or “Please Give” or “Get Low” in this field. But if they want to recognize the year’s dominant contenders, it’s even likelier that they’ll opt for “The Fighter” and drop Mike Leigh.
Best Adapted Screenplay
“127 Hours,” Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy
“The Social Network,” Aaron Sorkin
“Toy Story 3,” Michael Arndt
“True Grit,” Ethan and Joel Coen,
“Winter’s Bone,” Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini
What could happen instead: Ben Affleck won an Oscar for “Good Will Hunting,” and could be back (not as a winner, but as one of the four nominees who get to lose to Aaron Sorkin) for “The Town.” “The Ghost Writer” or “I Love You Phillip Morris” or any of a number of other wild cards could get in, if “True Grit” or “127 Hours” don’t have enough support.
Best Animated Feature
“How to Train Your Dragon”
“Toy Story 3”
What could happen instead: With “Dragon” and “Toy Story” locked in, the third spot could easily go more commercial with “Despicable Me” or "Tangled," or the committee could throw a real curveball like last year’s “The Secret of Kells.” “Summer Wars” or “My Dog Tulip,” anyone?
Best Foreign-Language Film
Denmark, “In a Better World”
South Africa, “Life, Above All”
What could happen instead: “Dogtooth,” which I know is a longshot, could prove to be way too weird, instead of standing out from the other eight shortlisted films because it’s so different. With Mexico, Canada and Denmark almost unassailable, the other two slots are up for grabs: Algeria, Spain and Japan all have shots. (I have my doubts about Sweden.)
Those are the 10 categories we'll hear about on the air; 14 others will also be announced, and some of my colleagues have taken it upon themselves to predict all of them. I don't have the stamina for that, so I'll just add a few random thoughts:
1) "The King's Speech" or "Inception" will receive the most nominations.
2) Rock icon Trent Reznor will be (deservedly) embraced by the Academy for his and Atticus Ross' score to "The Social Network," but techno icons Daft Punk will be (unjustly) overlooked for their score to "Tron: Legacy."
3) Randy Newman will receive his 20th nomination for his song from "Toy Story 3," but the Best Original Song category in general may well end up with fewer than five nominees.
4) "Burlesque," which brought scorn upon the Hollywood Foreign Press Association when it received three Golden Globe nominations, will land at least one Oscar nod.
5) And at some point on Tuesday, if I have a moment to look back on these nominations, I'll shrug and think that I should have gone with my head, not my heart.