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Monday, February 28, 2011

Oscar Recap 2010 and In Defense of the Ten Best Picture Nominees

        The Oscars were on last night, did you hear? Hollywood's 83-year-old annual celebration of the best that cinema has to offer is still alive and strong, despite the ever-present group of people who would have you believe that the golden man has no taste at all. The ceremony survives because it actually does mean quite a bit to a lot of people. Without the Academy Awards, countless movies would get lost in the heap of time and excess, and even if you don't think that Oscar has the best nose for a good smaller movie, you have to be glad that he's at least trying. Most awards shows judge the quality of one's work on how marketable it is (Here's looking at you, Grammies), which makes it no surprise that people still tune into the Oscars even when they couldn't be made to care about any other golden statue out there. Even if you disagree with their choices, they're clearly a lot closer to being on the money than, say, The People's Choice Awards. You take the good with the bad on this one, and in today's post, I'm going to talk about just those two categories. Here it is: Hype Starts Here's list of the Good and the Bad of Oscar Night, 2011.
The Good:
Most of the Winners:
        There's not much use blaming Oscar for occasionally disagreeing with you, so long as you find his choices reasonable. In the acting category, for instance, Melissa Leo (Supporting Actress winner) might not be at the top of a lot of people's lists, but is anyone going to argue too hard against the performances of Christian Bale (The Fighter), Colin Firth (The King's Speech), or Natalie Portman (Black Swan) as being award-worthy? The night was full of similarly solid choices, and even if The King's Speech is nowhere near my top pick, it's a far cry from a Crash-type total mishap. Quality film-making won out last night, and you have to be grateful for that, even if you didn't check the same boxes on your ballot as the Academy.

Anne Hathaway:
        So, the youthful host experiment didn't go as well as hoped, but it wasn't for lack of effort on Hathaway's part. She and Franco had a pretty bum script to work with, but the youngest host in Oscar history wasn't about to let that tarnish her efforts. She didn't exactly set the place on fire, appearing both flustered and in awe just about every time that she took the stage, but her enthusiasm for the event more than made up for her jitters, her boisterous energy evident at every turn. Tack on some extra points for her killer singing voice.

Melissa Leo:
        Sure, I wouldn't have voted for her, but how could you not be won over by the genuine look of breathless amazement on Melissa Leo's face when she was announced as the winner? If that endearingly genuine reaction weren't enough for you, how about her dropping of the f-bomb in the middle of her acceptance speech? It was a foot-in-mouth moment that was immediately more lovable than offensive, and made me feel a little better about Hailee Steinfeld walking away empty handed.

The Love for Inception:
        Sure, Christopher Nolan's mega-grossing mind-bender never had much of a chance in the big categories, but it did walk away tied with The King's Speech for most Oscars on the night. Regardless of your feelings on the movie, Inception is a wonder of craft, and it was nice to see that Oscar wasn't oblivious to that fact. Similarly heartening were the many speeches given by the film's winners, all thanking Nolan for his unique vision, and for taking them along for the ride.

Nine Inch Nails Wins an Oscar:
        Hey, if Eminem has one, then why not Trent Reznor? The Nine Inch Nails frontman and partner Atticus Ross took home the prize for their Original Score for The Social Network, and though I don't have any statistics for you, one has to imagine that it's one of, if not the very first primarily electronic work to win the Oscar.

The Ceremony's Length:
        Being 83-years-old, one doesn't expect much from Oscar in the way of speed and agility, but he did his best last night. The King's Speech was announced the winner just over three hours after the show began, up to an hour shorter than these awards are sometimes capable of pressing on. Credit goes to the reduced use of montage, and the utilization of one presenter to hand out several awards at a time. For once, my butt wasn't numb by the time the Best Picture was handed out.
The Bad:
Being momentarily tricked into thinking The Social Network might just win:
         With only four awards left to hand out, The Social Network had a three (Score, Editing, and Adapted Screenplay) to one (Original Screenplay) lead on The King's Speech, two of the former's three wins coming in categories wherein the eventual Best Picture Winner was also nominated. Then Tom Hooper was announced Best Director, and it was all over. Sorry to belabor a point if you're not as attached to the Facebook movie as I am, but it was a pretty deflating moment, though it should be noted that Hooper's speech was among the best of the night.

James Franco:
        Unlike Hathaway, Franco did not seem the least bit shaken by the gravity of what he was doing, but it's hard not to wish that he was. James was in full on Pineapple Express mode, smirking instead of speaking, and allowing Hathaway to do just about all the leg work. It wasn't that Franco failed, but rather that it seemed like he never started trying. Blame those Yale course-loads all you want; If you're going to host the Oscars, you should at least appear invested.

My Predictions:
        To be quite honest, I thought that my predictions were the bees knees. I spent an embarrassing amount of time researching just about every variable that I could come up with, and where did all that hard work get me? To 15/24, that's where! Even if I give myself a pass for missing two out of those three pesky shorts categories, my total adds up to 14/21, for a whopping 66.6% accuracy. Receiving a D on the one test I thought I could ace? Not so good.

True Grit Going Home Empty-Handed:
        Since when does a movie with ten nominations not win a single one (Don't answer that, Martin Scorsese)? After receiving only the minimum amount of love for the whole season leading up to Oscar nomination morning, the double-digit notices dolled out to the Western had to make you think its awards prospects were looking up. Nearly half of my missed guesses in the feature film category come at the hands of over-estimating the Academy's love for this one.

Colleen Atwood's Acceptance Speech:
        Admittedly, picking on the speech of a Costume Designer is kind of rough, but that's only before you know all the facts. After hearing her name called, Atwood strode up to the stage, pulled out a piece of paper, and recited every last word scribbled on it in the most monotone of fashions. So what, right? Well, what if I told you that this was not only Atwood's Third Oscar victory, but also her NINTH (?!?!) nomination. You think that she would have learned to memorize a speech by now.

Having to Hear All of the Original Songs:
        It's almost always the low point of the night, but last night's Original Song nominees really brought the category to a new low. The winner of this one is usually a pretty good tune (The Weary Kind, Jai Ho, and Falling Slowly serving as the last three champs) surrounded by a slew of grating co-nominees. The only difference this year was that even the winner is something you would never choose to listen to in a million years.
In Defense of the Ten Best Picture Nominees:
        Two years into the Academy's experiment with nominating ten movies for Best Picture instead of five, the vast majority of the film-going community is still steadfast in their resistance to the change. Many who already saw the Oscars as a questionable judge of what makes a, 'good movie,' view the move as the nail in the coffin. And while one can't really deny that the decision is one largely born out of a desire to gain more viewers, and pump out more box office dollars, there's a great deal to be said in favor of the change, as well. 

        The first item that needs to be addressed is the common misconception that this change is unprecedented. From the year 1932 through 1944, the Academy would nominate between eight and twelve movies for the night's top prize, each year having a different number of entrants based on how many quality flicks there were. Watching Oscar cover all of his genre bases is nothing new to the ceremony, and really shouldn't be viewed as such.

        Many say that the expansion of the list to ten tarnishes the honor of receiving a nomination, as just about any movie can land one of ten slots. To that, I offer you this: If we are to assume that there are 250 movies released in a given year (and to be sure, there are way more), the chances of a movie being nominated for Best Picture among five nominees are 2%. In case math isn't really your thing, doubling that would mean that the ten nominees allow for 4% of the films from a specific year to be recognized among the best. By my estimation, that's not a whole lot, and yet again, I'm betting decidedly higher than 250.

        Another common complaint is that having this many movies just makes for more flicks that stand no chance of winning. Obviously, this is a simple truth, but if one really wanted only nominees who had a chance at being crowned the winner, then a better number of would be three at the most, if not two. Did you really think anything other than The King's Speech or The Social Network had a chance last night? How about any movies not named The Hurt Locker or Avatar the year before? There are even some years, such as 2008, where one movie (in this case, Slumdog Millionaire) doesn't really have any challengers. If we're looking to only recognize movies that have an actual chance to emerge victoriously, I can't help but think the show might turn out a bit boring. Do you really want only two or three nominees?

        One of the real problems with the change is that it has thus far been pretty clear which movies would make up the top five were the list to be shortened. It does make for a slightly un-even roster, but consider this. Assuming the five movies that would have made the shorter list are the ones who received a nomination for Best Director, here is a comparison between what would have made it anyways, and which ones have the expansion to thank (listed in parenthesis):

2010: Black Swan, The Fighter, The King's Speech, The Social Network, True Grit
(127 HoursInception, The Kids Are Alright, Toy Story 3, Winter's Bone)

2009: Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up in the Air
(A Serious Man, An Education, The Blind Side, District 9, Up)

        By my count, the difference in quality between the 'real' nominees and the 'fake' ones is minimal at most, especially in the case of the 2009 Oscars. What's more? Compare either of those lists of supposed B-Teamers to the five nominees that Oscar picked in the previous three years:

2008: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire

2007: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood

2006: Babel, The Departed, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen

        Does anyone of those lists strike you as being all that much better than either 2009 or 2010's 'extra' nominees? How about if we compare those lists to the five movies that *probably* would have made the cut had the rule of ten already in place.

2008: The Dark Knight, Doubt, Revolutionary Road (not as sure about this one as I am the other Four), Wall-e, The Wrestler

2007: Away From Her, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into the Wild, Ratatouille, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

2006: Children of Men, Dreamgirls, Notes on a Scandal, Pan's Labyrinth, United 93

        None of these lists strike me as being particularly inferior to the five that actually made the cut, and in some cases (2008, especially), I actually prefer the left-overs to the main course. Feel free to disagree, but I can't see much of a quality gap between numbers 1-5 and 6-10.

        How many 'Top Ten Movies of 2010' lists have you really read that didn't feature a Best Picture nominee as their top movie of the year? There are a few hold-outs, as there always will be, who would cast their vote for something like Enter the Void, Four Lions, or I Am Love, but by my count, a pretty sturdy majority of list-makers saw their top pick mentioned in the ten. It's an important thing to notice because it shows Oscar's preference towards movies that have real support behind them. Sure, The Town was a movie that a lot of people enjoyed, but no one in their right mind would call it the best of the year, and so it didn't make the list.
        The Fighter and True Grit serve as something of an exception to this rule, as neither has really seen the number one resting beside its name too often, but both movies boast of a quality that has seen them to countless mentions in numbers two through ten. I personally didn't think that either The Kids Are All Right or Toy Story 3 deserved a shot to play with the big boys, but my opinion didn't stop folks from all over the nation from listing them as their absolute favorite movies of the year (TS3, especially). If you haven't seen a list that called Black Swan, Winter's Bone, or Inception the year's top cinematic accomplishment, you probably haven't looked too hard.

        So there you have it; five reasons why having Ten Best Picture nominees is a good thing. Please feel free to comment below if you have anything to say on the matter.

List of Wins by Category and by Movie:
Complete List of Winners:

Best Picture: The King's Speech
Best Director: Tom Hooper---The King's Speech
Best Actress: Natalie Portman---Black Swan
Best Actor: Colin Firth---The King's Speech
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo---The Fighter
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale---The Fighter
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin---The Social Network
Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler---The King's Speech
Best Documentary: Inside Job
Best Foreign Language Feature: In a Better World
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Best Cinematography: Wally Pfister---Inception
Best Editing: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall---The Social Network
Best Art Direction: Robert Stromberg and Karen O'Hara---Alice in Wonderland
Best Original Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross---The Social Network
Best Original Song: "We Belong Together"---Toy Story 3
Best Visual Effects: Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin---Inception
Best Costume Design: Colleen Atwood---Alice in Wonderland
Best Make-Up: Rick Baker and Dave Elsey---The Wolfman
Best Sound Editing: Richard King---Inception
Best Sound Mixing: Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, and Ed Novick---Inception
Best Animated Short: The Lost Thing
Best Live Action Short: God of Love
Best Short Documentary: Strangers No More

Wins by Movie:
Inception: 4
The King's Speech: 4
The Social Network: 3
Alice in Wonderland: 2
The Fighter: 2
Toy Story 3: 2
Black Swan: 1
The Wolfman: 1

God of Love: 1
In a Better World: 1
Inside Job: 1
The Lost Thing: 1
Strangers No More: 1

Hype Starts Here's Top 40 Movies of 2010:

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Final Oscar Predictions 2010

        Here it is, the moment that me and at least six other people have been waiting for: The Oscars. The big show is this Sunday, and while a few of the winners seem pretty obvious already, much is still up in the air. Today, I will be doing my best to predict the winner of every category, putting aside my preferences to help you win your office pool. Let's get crackin'!

Best Picture:
And the nominees are...
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone

        I myself love the expansion of the field to 10 nominees, but one must admit that it does look like an awfully high number of them have not a chance at all. 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, and Toy Story 3 all seem to have reached their campaign goal just by being nominated, and are now content to just hear their names called out a few times at the big event. Inception and Black Swan are big fan favorites, both among the highest grossing movies on the list, but neither had a good enough showing on nomination morning (Inception missing on Best Director and all acting categories, Black Swan only managing five nominations) to merit serious consideration for the night's top prize.Winter's Bone has plenty of people who will give it a first place vote, which keeps it more in the race than people realize, but it's a pretty small flick, which normally don't come out on top. The Fighter has several nods in major categories, but it doesn't seem like it will be anyone's top choice. That leaves three movies, The King's Speech, The Social Network, and True Grit, with a real chance at nabbing the most treasured golden man.

        True Grit doesn't seem like it would be a real contender, but the movie's ten nominations, the second most of any film, show that it really resonated with the Academy. It's an underdog in every major category it's in, so picking True Grit is a bit too risky for my blood, but if we're looking for a big upset, I'm taking Rooster Cogburn and Mattie Ross. The Social Network was the critical darling of the season, which has really meant something to Oscar over the last few years (The Hurt Locker, No Country for Old Men). That being said, it did come home empty handed at the Directors, Producers, and Screen Actors Guilds. It lost all of those awards to The King's Speech, which would seem to indicate that the flick will be named the top movie, but the Academy hasn't been as into that flavor lately as in years past. The last film of the clich├ęd British-Period-Piece genre to win Best Picture was Shakespeare in Love eleven ceremonies ago. What followed, besides a bunch of hate for choosing Love over Saving Private Ryan, has been over a decade of gritty, rated R choices. King's Speech might have the precursors, but it's going against the grain of recent winners in a pretty obvious way.

Projected Winner: The King's Speech
        In the end, I believe the agreement of all of those guilds, as well as the movie's feel-good vibe, will push this one over the top.
Next in Line: The Social Network
The Dark Horse: True Grit

Best Director:
And the nominees are...
Darren Aronofsky---Black Swan
Joel and Ethan Coen---True Grit
David Fincher---The Social Network
Tom Hooper---The King's Speech
David O. Russell---The Fighter

       The thunderous hype surrounding Black Swan wouldn't allow Darren Aronofsky to miss out on a nomination, but a win for him would come as quite the shocker. Same goes for Russell, who guided some amazing performances, and was likely awarded just by being in the five. The Coen brothers, while the helmers of the night's big dark horse, were a surprise when they were nominated, and having just won a few years ago, have little to no chance of doing it again. So the showdown between The King's Speech and The Social Network continues. Hooper won the Director's Guild, a precursor that has predicted the Oscar winner a whopping 57 times during it's 63 year existence. That being said, the DGA was just about the only award that Hooper won all season, even the BAFTAs (essentially the British Oscars) opting to go with Fincher in the end.

Projected Winner: David Fincher---The Social Network
        The combination of Fincher's far more extensive resume, along with the Academy's need to make The Social Network feel special without giving it the top prize, should clear the way.
Next in Line: Tom Hooper---The King's Speech
The Dark Horse: Darren Aronofsky---Black Swan

Best Actress:
And the nominees are...
Annette Bening---The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman---Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence---Winter's Bone
Natalie Portman---Black Swan
Michelle Williams---Blue Valentine

        As great as all these performances are, at least two of them stand no chance at all. Williams and Kidman, both previous nominees and the latter a former winner, received the only nominations bestowed upon their respective movie, a kiss of death for two actresses that you have to think will have more chances down the road. Lawrence also seems unlikely, but the love for her movie surprised everyone on nomination morning, so she'll slide into the dark horse slot. There's plenty of love in the Academy for Bening, and the desire to give the actress her first Oscar may prove too much for some to resist, though an Oscar for Kids would look an awful lot like a Lifetime Achievement award for an actress who has tackled much more difficult material in the past. Then there's Portman, who gives the year's wildest and most eye-catching performance in a movie that the crowds flocked towards despite its endless oddity.

Projected Winner: Natalie Portman---Black Swan
        Hollywood's new 'it' girl simply cannot be denied for what will likely prove the role of a lifetime.
Next in Line: Annette Bening---The Kid's Are All Right
The Dark Horse: Jennifer Lawrence---Winter's Bone

Best Actor:
And the nominees are...
Javier Bardem---Biutiful
Jeff Bridges---True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg---The Social Network
Colin Firth---The King's Speech
James Franco---127 Hours

        In terms of Oscar predictions, I usually don't like to work in absolutes, but even to me, this one seems completely over. Bridges, having won his Oscar last year, has virtually no chance of a repeat. Bardem pulled off the surprise by being nominated, but I can't imagine enough Academy members have seen his movie. Giving it to Franco would make for a fun moment, as he is also hosting the show, but with no precursors in hand, it seems like a long shot. If The Social Network were to have a far greater showing than people anticipate, Eisenberg could be swept in with it, but that's not looking too likely. The obvious pick is Firth, whose never won despite being an extremely respected thespian, and who should have won for last year's A Single Man.

Projected Winner: Colin Firth---The King's Speech
        The biggest favorite of the night happens to anchor the likely Best Picture winner. I'm not betting against him.
Next in Line: Jesse Eisenberg---The Social Network
The Dark Horse: James Franco---127 Hours

Best Supporting Actress:
And the nominees are...
Amy Adams---The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter---The King's Speech
Melissa Leo---The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld---True Grit
Jacki Weaver---Animal Kingdom

        Without a doubt one of the year's hardest categories to predict. Leo has racked up one precursor after another, but the fact that she still doesn't seem to have it locked up makes one question her strength as a front-runner. She also has to worry about a voter split between her and fellow cast-mate Amy Adams, who might be the least likely to take it. The other longest shot is Weaver, who will likely get a few first place votes from her movie's avid fans, but general lack of awareness will likely be the end of her. Steinfeld has the advantage of being her movie's real main character, as well as being a fresh and exciting face. Carter, who took home the BAFTA, won't win unless The King's Speech starts to really clean up, but that's not the least bit out of the question.

Projected Winner: Hailee Steinfeld---True Grit
        Giving the award to young Steinfeld would make for a great moment at ceremony, as well as providing an excuse to hand a major award to True Grit, a movie that the voters obviously loved.
Next in Line: Melissa Leo---The Fighter
The Dark Horse: Helena Bonham Carter---The King's Speech

Best Supporting Actor:
And the nominees are...
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

        Not as up in the air as Supporting Actress, but just about as likely to feature an upset. Bale has been the victor all season, but his questionable reputation might get in the way. The opposite could be said for Ruffalo, who had somehow never previously been nominated, an oversight that might force the hand of an apologetic Academy member or two. The invite looks to be the reward for both Hawkes and Renner, the latter receiving his movie's only nod. Rush took home the BAFTA, and has been on Bale's heels all season. Just as with Carter, it all depends on how in love the Academy really is with The King's Speech.

Projected Winner: Christian Bale---The Figher
        He's been in the lead all season, and if Oscar doesn't reward Leo, you have to think he'll look for another way to pat The Fighter on the back.
Next in Line: Geoffrey Rush---The King's Speech
The Dark Horse: Mark Ruffalo---The Kids Are Alright

Best Adapted Screenplay:
And the nominees are...
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy---127 Hours
Aaron Sorkin---The Social Network
Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich---Toy Story 3
Joel and Ethan Coen---True Grit
Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini---Winter's Bone

       First and foremost, 127 Hours has no chance here, as it is surrounded by four movies who all have a better chance at taking home the top prize. The same could almost be said of both Toy Story 3 and Winter's Bone, but the fact that both of those films have their real advocates keeps their chances from being quite so dead in the water. The Social Network seems like the obvious choice, as many people consider it the best movie of the year, and its script is the primary reason for the belief. But don't count out True Grit, whose archaic language is the exact kind of fun-with-words that led Juno to the prize. If Social Network finds itself stumbling on Oscar night, Grit will be there to pick up the pieces.

Projected Winner: Aaron Sorkin---The Social Network
        The best aspect of a pretty amazing movie, I think Oscar has to hand the computer geeks this one.
Next in Line: Joel and Ethan Coen---True Grit
The Dark Horse: Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich---Toy Story 3

Best Original Screenplay:
And the nominees are...
Mike Leigh---Another Year
Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Keith Dorrington---The Fighter
Christopher Nolan---Inception
Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg---The Kids Are All Right
David Seidler---The King's Speech

        As the only film nominated in either screenplay category without a Best Picture nod to boot, Another Year seems pretty outmatched here. Same goes for The Fighter, as the success of the movie comes thanks to its actors, not its script. Inception doesn't really seem like the Academy's sort of movie, but Nolan's win at the Writers Guild gives him hope. Seidler's screenplay, for some reason I've thus far failed to look into, was disqualified from that event, though it's worth noting that the Best Picture winner hasn't failed to win in its respective writing category since 2005. The Kids script had all kinds of early-year buzz swirling around it, but the king will likely reign here.

Projected Winner: David Seidler---The King's Speech
        It's probably Oscar's favorite movie, why wouldn't it win here?
Next in Line: Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg---The Kids Are All Right
The Dark Horse: Christopher Nolan---Inception

Best Documentary
And the nominees are...

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land

Projected Winner: Inside Job
        In terms both commercial and critical, Inside Job is the documentary of the year.
Next in Line: Exit Through the Gift Shop
        Best Documentary is one of the categories that Oscar sometimes likes to have a little fun with (Man on Wire, March of the Penguins). If he's in a playful mood come Sunday, watch out for Banksy.
The Dark Horse: Restrepo
       It's about war, and if that weren't enough, plenty of people think it's the best of the bunch.

Best Foreign Language Feature:
And the nominees are...

In a Better World
Outside the Law

Projected Winner: Incendies
        The Academy loves nothing more than to surprise its viewers with a left-field pick in this category, and the fact that my Next in Line and Dark Horse are bigger names is the exact reason why I'm picking this serious-minded Canadian import.
Next in Line: In a Better World
        From a director that Oscar is familiar with comes a movie that has been lavished with praise. This is the real front-runner, but like I said, I think the only logic in this category is picking an upset.
The Dark Horse: Biutiful
        It's here for the same reasons as In a Better World, minus the fantastic reviews, but plus Javier Bardem.

Best Animated Feature:
And the nominees are...

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Projected Winner: Toy Story 3
        The Pixar entry into this category has only lost once, and TS3 is the only nominee also competing in the Best Picture race. This one seems obvious.
Next in Line: How to Train Your Dragon
        Sure, it has a better chance than The Illusionist, but that's not saying much.
The Dark Horse: The Illusionist
        This horse is so dark that no one in America has seen it.

Best Cinematography:
And the nominees are...

Danny Cohen---The King's Speech
Jeff Cronenweth---The Social Network
Roger Deakins---True Grit
Matthew Libatique---Black Swan
Wally Pfister---Inception

Pojected Winner: Roger Deakins---True Grit
        Deakins has shot countless beautiful movies through-out his career, and the fact that True Grit is no exception makes this the perfect time to reward the man for all his accomplishments over the years.
Next in Line: Wally Pfister---Inception
        Inception looks to hear its name on several occasions when it comes to tech awards, and Pfister's Cinematographer's Guild win has him right on Deakins' tail.
The Dark Horse: Danny Cohen---The King's Speech
        Count out the Best Picture front-runner in any category at your own peril.

Best Editing:
And the nominees are...

Tariq Anwar---The King's Speech
Jon Harris---127 Hours
Pamela Martin---The Fighter
Andrew Weisblum---Black Swan
Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall---The Social Network

Projected Winner: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall---The Social Network
        The winner of the Editors Guild wins this one every time, even when it's not the Best Picture champ. This years winners were named Baxter and Wall.
Next in Line: The King's Speech
        Repeat after me: Never count out the Best Picture front-runner
The Dark Horse: Jon Harris---127 Hours
        There really aren't any dark horses, but I'll let Harris and his flashy, stylized editing fill the slot.

Best Art Direction:
And the nominees are...

Robert Stromberg and Karen O'Hara---Alice in Wonderland
Stuart Craig and Stephenie McMillan---Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, and Douglas A. Mowat---Inception
Eve Stewart and Judy Farr---The King's Speech
Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh---True Grit

Projected Winner: Robert Stromberg and Karen O'Hara---Alice in Wonderland
        Unlike literally every other category at the show, Oscar tends to recognize the fantastical in this one, which gives guild winner Alice the upper hand.
Next in Line: Eve Stewart and Judy Farr---The King's Speech
        Same reason as every time before.
The Dark Horse: Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, and Douglas A. Mowat---Inception
        Really, all three of these movies have a great chance of taking the prize, as it's one of the most unpredictable of the night, but I give the other two a leg up because of my assumption that the Academy didn't really like Inception as much as the rest of the planet.

Best Original Score:
And the nominees are...

Alexandre Desplat---The King's Speech
John Powell---How to Train Your Dragon
A.R. Rahman---127 Hours
Hans Zimmer---Inception
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross---The Social Network

Projected Winner: Alexandre Desplat---The King's Speech
        The guy has never won before despite being nominated four times in the last five years... and his score is attached to The King's Speech.
Next in Line: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross---The Social Network
       Oscar's more progressive music taste tends to show itself in the Song category more often than Score, but Reznor and Ross have won plenty of precursors, and have more than a fighting chance here.
The Dark Horse: Hans Zimmer---Inception
        I'm feeling pretty certain about this one going to one of the two movies listed above, but it sure as hell isn't going to How to Train Your Dragon, and my money is against 127 Hours, so I might as well put Zimmer here.

Best Original Song:
And the nominees are...

"Coming Home"---Country Strong
"I See a Light"---Tangled
"If I Rise"---127 Hours
"We Belong Together"---Toy Story 3

Projected Winner: "We Belong Together"---Toy Story 3
        Not only is this one of the most difficult categories to care about on Oscar night, it's also one of the hardest to predict. The honor usually goes to a song that is either featured in a movie with a shot at winning the top prize, or goes against the grain in some way. As no nominees fit into either of these categories, I might as well go with Randy Newman, who has been nominated countless times and has somehow only won once, his losses including a song nominated from each of the first two Toy Story movies.
Next in Line: "If I Rise"---127 Hours
        The only other song to be part of a Best Picture nominee, and the only tune to truly enhance its respective movie.
The Dark Horse: "I See a Light"---Tangled
        Because no one wants to see Country Strong win an Oscar.

Best Visual Effects:
And the nominees are...

Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas, and Sean Phillips---Alice in Wonderland
Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, and Nicolas Aithadi---Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky, and Joe Farrell---Hereafter
Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin---Inception
Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright, Daniel Sudick---Iron Man 2

Projected Winner: Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin---Inception
        The only one of the bunch featured in the big race also happens to be the one with the best effects, shying away from CGI as often as possible, a fact that I imagine the Academy will be impressed by.
Next in Line: Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas, and Sean Phillips---Alice in Wonderland
        It seems to be Oscar's second favorite movie of the group, and limitless CGI is featured in just about every scene.
The Dark Horse: Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, and Nicolas Aithadi---Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
        The Harry Potter series has found its way into this category on a number of occasions, so it seems only fitting that one would eventually win.

Best Costume Design:
And the nominees are...

Colleen Atwood---Alice in Wonderland
Jenny Beaven---The King's Speech
Antonella Cannarrozzi---I Am Love
Sandy Powell---The Tempest
Mary Zophers---True Grit

Projected Winner: Jenny Beaven---The King's Speech
        A British period piece has won this award four years running, and with all the love surrounding The King's Speech, that trend seems unlikely to change.
Next in Line: Colleen Atwood---Alice in Wonderland
        Just because her movie has the most outlandish costumes in the category, along with...
The Dark Horse: Sandy Powell---The Tempest
        But seriously, this one belongs to The King's Speech.

Best Make-Up:
And the nominees are...

Adrien Morot---Barney's Version
Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, and Yolanda Toussieng---The Way Back
Rick Baker and Dave Elsey---The Wolfman

Projected Winner: Rick Baker and Dave Elsey---The Wolfman
        The Academy tends to love a creature-feature in this category.
Next in Line: Adrien Morot---Barney's Version
        When it's not a monster movie, Oscar usually sides with aging as opposed to war gore.
The Dark Horse: Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, and Yolanda Toussieng---The Way Back
        Because there were no other options for Dark Horse

Best Sound Editing:
And the nominees are...

Richard King---Inception
Tom Myers and Michael Silvers---Toy Story 3
Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague---Tron: Legacy
Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey---True Grit
Mark P. Stoeckinger---Unstoppable

Projected Winner: Richard King---Inception
        It was the winner of the guild, and does anyone know enough about what this category entails to question them? I sure don't.
Next in Line: Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey---True Grit
        As with all Coen movies, the sound in True Grit appears extremely fussed over and exacting, so it's still alive in the race.
The Dark Horse: Tom Myers and Michael Silvers---Toy Story 3
        Because am I really going to pick Unstoppable or Tron: Legacy?

Best Sound Mixing:
And the nominees are...

Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, and Ed Novick---Inception
Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, and John Midgley---The King's Speech
Jeffrey J. Haboush, William Sarokin, Scott Millan, and Greg P. Russell---Salt
Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, and Mark Weingarten---The Social Network
Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, and Peter F. Kurland---True Grit

Projected Winner: Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, and Peter F. Kurland---True Grit
        Yet again, winner of the guild, and that's enough for me.
Next in Line: Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, and Ed Novick---Inception
        They seem to be the two juggernauts of the Sound categories.
The Dark Horse: Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, and Mark Weingarten---The Social Network
        Because even the Academy must find The King's Speech's inclusion here a little humorous, and Salt isn't really Oscar material.

Best Animated Short:
And the nominees are...

Day and Knight
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, a Journey Diary

Projected Winner: Madagascar, a Journey Diary
        Oscar might like its foreign flavor and innovative mixture of animation styles.
Next in Line: Day and Night
        As the short playing in front of Toy Story 3, it's the only one the majority of America has seen, and you can't think the Academy is above pandering in a category like this. That said, Pixar has had a rough run in this group in the past.
The Dark Horse: The Gruffalo
        Another visual dazzler with celebrity voices to boot.

Best Live Action Short:
And the nominees are...

The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

Projected Winner: Na Wewe
        A trend is difficult to detect in the Academy's Live Action Short section, but serious-mindedness and ambition seem important. Genocide chronicle Na Wewe has both.
Next in Line: Wish 143
        It looks to be both the second most serious and the second most ambitious in the category.
The Dark Horse: God of Love
        Stylish, sleek, and most certainly has the funny vote in its favor.

Best Short Documentary:
And the nominees are...

Poster Girl
Killing in the Name
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

Projected Winner: Strangers No More
        This story of a wildly diverse public school in Tel Aviv is likely to warm the hearts of the voters.
Next in Line: The Warriors of Qiugang
        If not heartwarming, then why not extremely serious/heavy?
The Dark Horse: Killing in the Name
        Ditto above.

Complete List of Projected Winners:
Best Picture: The King's Speech
Best Director: David Fincher---The Social Network
Best Actress: Natalie Portman---Black Swan
Best Actor: Colin Firth---The King's Speech
Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld---True Grit
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale---The Fighter
Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin---The Social Network
Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler---The King's Speech
Best Documentary: Inside Job
Best Foreign Language Feature: Incendies
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins---True Grit
Best Editing: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall---The Social Network
Best Art Direction: Robert Stromberg and Karen O'Hara---Alice in Wonderland
Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat---The King's Speech
Best Original Song: "We Belong Together"---Toy Story 3
Best Visual Effects: Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin---Inception
Best Costume Design: Jenny Beaven---The King's Speech
Best Make-Up: Rick Baker and Dave Elsey---The Wolfman
Best Sound Editing: Richard King---Inception
Best Sound Mixing: Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, and Peter F. Kurland---True Grit
Best Animated Short: Madagascar, a Journey Diary
Best Live Action Short: Na Wewe
Best Short Documentary: Strangers No More

Projected Wins per Feature:
The King's Speech: 5
The Social Network: 3
True Grit: 3
Inception: 2
Toy Story 3: 2
Alice in Wonderland: 1
Black Swan: 1
The Fighter: 1
Incendies: 1
Inside Job: 1
The Wolfman: 1

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