As the 83rd Annual Academy Awards ceremony draws ever nearer, here's my candid opinion on who's going to make the cut tonight and why.
Best Picture: Toss-up between The Social Network and The King's Speech
Why The King's Speech: The Academy is a sucker for true stories that shows someone with a disability overcoming the odds. Just look at A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Forrest Gump (1994). Throw in a little bit of true history and a stunning performance by Colin Firth and you've got a strong contender.
Why The Social Network: The Academy also leans strongly toward films that touch on current social events and situations (just look at last year's Hurt Locker). It also happens to discuss something that has become very much a fabric of the daily existence for many Americans.
Best Actor: Colin Firth in The King's Speech
Why: Firth is the clear winner in this category. His consistent and believable stutter that never breaks for a moment throughout the film just blows everyone else out of the water. Plus, Jeff Bridges already got an Oscar last year, and entertaining as he was in True Grit, I think speech impediment trumps being wasted on a horse.
Best Actress: Natalie Portman in Black Swan
Why: The real question here should be, why not? Black Swan has no hope of being Best Picture given it's fellow contenders, but it is clearly deserving of recognition. And seeing how Portman mentally and physically gave herself up to the role of the tortured ballerina Nina, reshaping her body to that of a dancer and doing most of the complicated ballet sequences herself makes her a clear standout.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit
Why: I read in an interview in Entertainment Weekly (my Bible) that the Coen Brothers auditioned 15,000 girls for the lead role in True Grit. They said when Steinfeld came into the studio, they knew she was the one even before she said her lines - it was her presence that made them stop dead in their tracks. For a 14-year-old, Steinfeld brings a depth to the role that is far beyond her years and though she is hardly a "supporting" actress, if she had been put into the category of Best Actress Portman would have blown her out of the water. In this category, she has a much better chance of getting the recognition she so richly deserves.
However, had it not been for True Grit, I would totally root for Helena Bonham Carter as the long-suffering and always supportive wife of King George (Bertie) in The King's Speech.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:Toss-up between Christian Bale in The Fighter and Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right
Why: Christian Bale was born to play the rough-hewn role he portrays, and also he has been cast over once before by the Academy for his highly acclaimed role as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho (2001). Mark Ruffalo's turn as the fun-loving guy who haplessly turns a happy same-sex marriage's household upside down is not only the perfect role for him, but also gives The Kids Are All Right a place in the Oscar spotlight.
And the other awards:
Best Costume Design: Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland
Why: This film had precious little else going for it, but at least everyone looked awesome.
Best Cinematography: Black Swan
Why: The jarring camera angles, the artful use of filters, and the endless magical use of mirrors successfully sucks us into Nina's downspiral into madness.
Best Directing: I always find this to be synonymous with Best Picture, so my answer and why is the same as that.
That's all for now folks! We'll see how well our hosts, the sublime Anne Hathaway and James Franco do as hosts this year (how does that man host the Oscars, star in 127 Hours, and still manage to study for midterms at Yale?)