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Why Oscar Will Go for the Underdog This Year

Last week at the Grammys true underdogs Esperanza Spalding and the Arcade Fire both won mainstream awards; could it happen at the Oscars?

The air is thick with anticipation.

The campaigns for the Oscars are coming to a close and Twitter is a flutter with news of who's ahead minute to minute.

It is interesting that the two films most talked about for Best Picture, "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network" are representative of old and new, classic and irreverent.

The quiet yet strong speech-impaired King George and the socially awkward, but confidant Mark Zuckerberg are both anti-heroes who conquer and triumph.

Perhaps, we need to take this cue as a call to the underdog.

In fact, the indie films "Winter's Bone," " Blue Valentine" "the King's Speech" and "The Kids Are All Right" are underdogs themselves as they were developed and produced outside the studio system. 

The lesson in all this is that there is always room for the unexpected.

Last week at the Grammys true underdogs, Esperanza Spalding, who was barely on the radar, and indie loved Arcade Fire, both won mainstream awards.

Could this happen at the Oscars?

I don't believe so, but I do think that the indie spirit is what is driving the engine in film today — and it is entirely fueled by social media.

Amen to Facebook and Twitter for helping us reach the audiences who are thirsty for insider information, celebrity news and most importantly a way to find, nurture, and promote their heroes and heroines.

The independent films and their stars need audience support. Traditional print and advertising is not enough because it is just too damn expensive to do it that way nor is it necessarily progressing with new media.

The music industry blew up years ago when Napster first came onto the scene, and digital downloads and traditional labels have given way to DIY indie entrepreneurship.

Now the film industry is facing head on into a VOD revolution, and I say, people will always want to go to the cinema and share the experience.

And yet, we must also make room for other platforms that are both enticing to the artist and audience.

Time has now caught up and we live in the age of faster, cheaper, need it now. The good news is the indie spirit, the underdog and the innovator prevails when you take one look at the Oscar nominations. So power to the people, and let the games begin.

Heidi Levitt is a casting director whose credits include "Natural Born Killers," "The Joy Luck Club" and "Lakeview Terrace." At the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, she cast Mark Ruffalo’s directing debut, "Sympathy for Delicious" and Rodrigo Garcia’s "Mother and Child." She is the developer of an iPhone App called Actor Genie.