The Oscars: Tonight’s Best Bets

[prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future]

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Oscar. The only bald man in Hollywood chased by actresses.

I was going to predict a winner for the Superbowl but the Vegas spread was just too close to be confident about the winner.  This year’s Oscars are a bit different, several of the categories are a practical lock so you can look like a Hollywood big shot fairly simply.  So let’s get right down to it:

1)  Best Animated Feature: TOY STORY 3.  While this is not a major category for the Academy, the pick is so obvious I included it just to make sure I don’t get shut out.

2)  Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin (THE SOCIAL NETWORK).  When you can make geeks staring at a computer screen a fascinating story, you don’t just deserve one Oscar, you deserve two.

3)  Best Writing – Original Screenplay: David Seidler (THE KING’S SPEECH).  This year the media’s Best Picture horse race is between THE SOCIAL NETWORK and THE KING’S SPEECH which both tell great stories based on historical events.  The writing category will get to honor both, so don’t expect any surprises here.

4) Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo (THE FIGHTER).  If you want to find out about the mean streets of Boston, forget THE DEPARTED (sorry Mr. Scorsese) and check out THE FIGHTER.  Melissa Leo is a badder ass than Jack Nicholson.  And that is saying something considering that Jack pulled a real gun on Leonardo DiCaprio during filming.

5) Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (THE FIGHTER).  This is trickier than you’d think.  Bale is not particularly well-liked in Hollywood as he is known to pop-off every so often.  The Academy sees the Oscars as its calling card to the world and receiving an Oscar as the equivalent of getting knighted.  (This is just one of the reasons why Peter O’Toole has never won an Oscar – honorary Oscars don’t count! – and Tom Hanks has two of them.)  The Oscars are the only place in Hollywood where nice guys finish first.  But Bale won the SAG award and that’s a good indication that his peers recognized that both he and Melissa Leo were the best things about THE FIGHTER.

6) Best Actress: Natalie Portman (BLACK SWAN). This is a lock.  It was obvious for anyone who saw the film.  It’s not even about the dancing.  It’s about the being.  If you are an actor, that last sentence will make sense to you.  And there are a lot of actors in the Academy.

7) Best Actor: Colin Firth (THE KING’S SPEECH).  This is also a lock and my 3 faithful readers will remember when I predicted it way back before the 2011 awards season even started. (Yes, I used the words “I predicted it,” the same phrase I lampooned in a blog about Facebook recently. Why do I bring this up?  Just to have a link to my Facebook post.  Sneaky me.)

8)  Best Picture: THE KING’S SPEECH.  The media want to present this category as a horse race, but don’t you believe them.  Not only is THE KING’S SPEECH a film on a much larger stage than THE SOCIAL NETWORK (yes, Facebook has 500 million people on it, but World War II is still more important in terms of world history – shocking, I know), but it’s an uplifting film.  Hollywood likes uplifting films, particularly when they are well-made.  And have great acting.  And become both an art house and mainstream success.

9) Best Director: This is tougher to predict and the real horse race of the evening.  David Fincher (THE SOCIAL NETWORK), like Sorkin, made computer geeks fascinating for 2 hours.  No mean feat.  On the other hand, Tom Hooper (THE KING’S SPEECH) won the Directors Guild Award.  On the other hand, David Fincher has a solid body of film work behind him; modern classics like SE7EN and FIGHT CLUB.  On the other hand, Tom Hooper has a solid body of television work including the mini-series ELIZABETH I (for which he won an Emmy) and JOHN ADAMS.  On the other hand, David Fincher is an American.  On the other hand, Tom Hooper is British.  On the other hand, David Fincher is a towering 6 feet 1/2 inches tall.  On the other hand, Tom Hooper is taller still at 6 feet 3 inches.

Bottom line:  I can see this going either way.  There.  I’m covered.  But I will go out on a limb and say that Fincher wins here.  It is unusual for someone who won the Directors Guild Award to lose this category but that’s precisely why I’m going in this direction.

As Jack Nicholson has said: The academy is full of nuts.

Update (just after broadcast): 8-for-9. And the one miss (Best Director), I knew was a stretch. Told’ya it was easy this year!

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