That said, it's so riddled with politics that it's relatively easy to predict the winners without ever having seen half the actual films (Documentary short subject? c'mon). So here we go. Same as last year, I've highlighted in BLUE are the nominees that WILL WIN. In RED are the noms that let's say in my own simple opinion SHOULD WIN. PURPLE means of course, they are one in the same. Let's get crackin:
Best Motion Picture of the Year
127 Hours (2010): Christian Colson, Danny Boyle, John Smithson
Black Swan (2010): Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin
The Fighter (2010): David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Mark Wahlberg
Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas
The Kids Are All Right (2010): Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray
The King's Speech (2010): Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
The Social Network (2010): Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Ceán ChaffinToy Story 3 (2010): Darla K. Anderson
True Grit (2010): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
Winter's Bone (2010): Anne Rosellini, Alix Madigan
By all accounts it seems this race is getting down between The Social Network and The King's Speech. Pundits may tout The King's Speech as typical "Oscar Bait," but really look at the best picture winners of the past five years - LA Racism Epic, Boston Crime Drama, Nihilistic Western, Ode to Bollywood and Iraq War Thriller. Where the hell is the "Oscar Bait" in that lot? I already picked The Social Network as the best film of the past year, and it's got tons of momentum. The King's Speech may pull an upset here, but unlikely.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem for Biutiful (2010)
Jeff Bridges for True Grit (2010)
Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network (2010)
Colin Firth for The King's Speech (2010)James Franco for 127 Hours (2010)
No Oscar for Mark this year. But Colin is all over this. Reigning BAFTA King, the King has got this by a mile, the Bridges nomination is cute but he's got little momentum, same with Bardem. Franco and Eisenberg don't have the history that Firth has and these have been rewarding bodies of work more often. Also I didn't really realise how many Terrible Romantic Comedies Colin Firth had been in before he became a seriously good actor. This will at least be his second BAFTA in a row, the Brits love their own. In general I don't think mimicry should warrant an Oscar, which Firth does very well, but out of this lot he's the best.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole (2010)
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone (2010)
Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010)Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (2010)
This is all Portman. Annette Bening, tho winning the Best Comedy Actress Golden Globe (who the hell says The Kids Are All Right is a comedy anyway?) will not supplant the little Israelite. I don't believe Your Highness (2011) or No Strings Attached (2011) will be her "Norbit," and she'll cruise through. Just don't laugh when you win, sweetheart.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale for The Fighter (2010)John Hawkes for Winter's Bone (2010)
Jeremy Renner for The Town (2010)
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech (2010)
This is actually pretty interesting, I think Renner and Rush are deserving, but this is Bale's race to lose. He disappears into this role the way he did repeatedly in pre-Batman movies and it's about time he was recognized for some insane method acting. I just want to see how well he packs on muscle to kick Bane's ass in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Or vice versa.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams for The Fighter (2010)
Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech (2010)
Melissa Leo for The Fighter (2010)Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit (2010)
Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (2010)
This is a pretty tough one. I went pretty safe with Melissa here, though seeing Amy or Hailee nab one would be wonderful. Coen actors really rarely win (besides Javier). Just for shear weirdness though, we should all board Team Jacki and cheer her on.
Best Achievement in Directing
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (2010)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen for True Grit (2010)
David Fincher for The Social Network (2010)Tom Hooper for The King's Speech (2010)
David O. Russell for The Fighter (2010)
Nolan whining aside (why don't more Blockbuster directors get nods here? Coordinating these huge projects and egos may be far more difficult), Fincher should wrap this up nicely. He's distinctive enough and has built a good enough resume to really earn this one. Aronofsky would be interesting, but The King's Speech and The Social Network are pretty primed to split most of these kinds of awards.
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Another Year (2010): Mike Leigh
The Fighter (2010): Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington
Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right (2010): Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart BlumbergThe King's Speech (2010): David Seidler
Screenplay is usually a quirky one and something like The Kids Are All Right fits that bill pretty nicely, especially one that may not win much else. Inception is like this as well, it's possible Chris gets some love after some snubbing in the other categories. That's also my favourite Screenplay of the year.
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
127 Hours (2010): Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network (2010): Aaron SorkinToy Story 3 (2010): Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
True Grit (2010): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone (2010): Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini
Sorkin's is the best script in years and a lack of a win here would be a tragedy.
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
How to Train Your Dragon (2010): Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
The Illusionist (2010): Sylvain Chomet
Toy Story 3 (2010): Lee Unkrich
C'mon. Tho a traditionally animated film win would be sweet. I still don't get how this works - Toy Story 3 is the only one of these also nominated for Best Picture...that basically means it's the Best Animated already, right?
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Biutiful (2010): Alejandro González Iñárritu(Mexico)
Dogtooth (2009): Giorgos Lanthimos(Greece)In a Better World (2010): Susanne Bier(Denmark)
Incendies (2010): Denis Villeneuve(Canada)
Outside the Law (2010): Rachid Bouchareb(Algeria)
I really like Dogtooth's nomination here but this is all Biutiful. Dogtooth was a weird fucking movie, I left it off my best-of list, which it might have earned more on uniqueness than good craft.
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Black Swan (2010): Matthew Libatique
Inception (2010): Wally PfisterThe King's Speech (2010): Danny Cohen
The Social Network (2010): Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit (2010): Roger Deakins
Yeah Wally. Get a win! But this is more likely to go to something like Black Swan. I'm too much of a fan of the technical aspects of Inception, even if the story and acting aren't really Best Picture caliber.
Best Achievement in Editing
127 Hours (2010): Jon Harris
Black Swan (2010): Andrew Weisblum
The Fighter (2010): Pamela Martin
The King's Speech (2010): Tariq Anwar
The Social Network (2010): Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall
The Race scene. Also a film that uses mostly editing to make typing lines of code seem not only interesting, but thrilling. Dude, send Kirk and Angus their Statue in the mail.
Best Achievement in Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Robert Stromberg, Karen O'Hara
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillanInception (2010): Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Douglas A. Mowat
The King's Speech (2010): Eve Stewart, Judy FarrTrue Grit (2010): Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh
It's possible The King's Speech gets dicked out of a few categories but its prestige will shine through here. Don't you think it would rule if we could finally call a Harry Pothead film "Academy Award Winning?" It won't happen, I don't even know why they nominate flicks like that that don't have a chance, however nice to see it is. The Art Direction from the other nominees isn't all that interesting, Alice in Wonderland and True Grit are made from similar existing material and Inception is full of classy if not exceptional art inspiration.
Best Achievement in Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Colleen Atwood
I Am Love (2009): Antonella Cannarozzi
The King's Speech (2010): Jenny BeavanThe Tempest (2010/II): Sandy Powell
True Grit (2010): Mary Zophres
Ditto. Tho it earns it here. Don't you wish that whoever designed that Bear Costume from True Grit wins though? Rooster and Matt Damon looked great, actually all the costumes in True Grit were fantastic. Especially those puffy cow pants. Gee I hope it wins now.
Best Achievement in Makeup
Barney's Version (2010): Adrien MorotThe Way Back (2010): Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, Yolanda Toussieng
The Wolfman (2010): Rick Baker, Dave Elsey
Because the fucking Wolfman can't win.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman
How to Train Your Dragon (2010): John Powell
Inception (2010): Hans ZimmerThe King's Speech (2010): Alexandre Desplat
The Social Network (2010): Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Zimmer's score is actually a bit more iconic and memorable but the achievement by these Nine Inch Nails dudes won't go unrecognized. I don't really think there's any better contenders here.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman, Rollo Armstrong, Dido("If I Rise")
Country Strong (2010): Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges("Coming Home")
Tangled (2010): Alan Menken, Glenn Slater("I See the Light")
Toy Story 3 (2010): Randy Newman("We Belong Together")
That was a sweet song playing at the end of Toy Story 3, but the team behind Tangled has three wins already and it's feel good enough to grab that win. I actually wouldn't count out A.R. Rahman, he has some recent history with the Academy and this is the kind of thing that 127 Hours can sneak in pretty easily.
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Inception (2010): Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick
The King's Speech (2010): Paul amblin, Martin Jensen, John Midgley
Salt (2010): Jeffrey J. Haboush, William Sarokin, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell
The Social Network (2010): Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Mark WeingartenTrue Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland
Tick tick tick on the keyboard, quick cuts in rooms and locales with different ambient noise (Burn After Reading  was incredible with this) and such quick sessions of sharp as shit dialogue delivery, TSN has its way with this category like Ben Roethlisberger at a Sorority Party.
Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Inception (2010): Richard KingToy Story 3 (2010): Tom Myers, Michael Silvers
TRON: Legacy (2010): Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Addison TeagueTrue Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey
Unstoppable (2010): Mark P. Stoeckinger
I love the nominees in this one. I legitimately think the sound creation in TRON: Legacy was pretty sweet but I think Inception can get this like The Dark Knight (2008) did a few years back. I'm surprised not more films shared the two Sound Categories, it's possible there's more blurring than this and either Inception nabs both or True Grit grabs both.
Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas, Sean Phillips
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, Nicolas Aithadi
Hereafter (2010): Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky, Joe Farrell
Inception (2010): Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. FranklinIron Man 2 (2010): Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright, Daniel Sudick
The inclusion of Hereafter is cool, that Tsunami was impressive, but for the first time in a while the Academy may award a film that truly adeptly combined practical and computer-generated effects to an incredible result.
Best Documentary, Features
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010): Banksy, Jaimie D'CruzGasLand (2010): Josh Fox, Trish Adlesic
Inside Job (2010): Charles Ferguson, Audrey MarrsRestrepo (2010): Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger
Waste Land (2010): Lucy Walker, Angus Aynsley
Will Banksy show up to collect his Statue?! That would be incredible but Inside Job is the much stronger favourite right now. And I say that thinking that Documentary isn't as hard to call as everyone thinks. Just watch these fucking movies.
Best Documentary, Short Subjects
Killing in the Name (2010): Nominees TBDPoster Girl (2010): Nominees TBD
Strangers No More (2010): Karen Goodman, Kirk Simon
Sun Come Up (2010): Jennifer Redfearn, Tim Metzger
The Warriors of Qiugang (2010): Ruby Yang, Thomas Lennon
Alright, who knows. That first one sounds pretty cool, what the hell.
Best Short Film, Animated
Day & Night (2010): Teddy NewtonThe Gruffalo (2009) (TV): Jakob Schuh, Max Lang
Let's Pollute (2009): Geefwee Boedoe
The Lost Thing (2010): Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruhemann
Madagascar, a Journey Diary (2010): Bastien Dubois
Did anyone else watch The Gruffalo on ABC Family? Man, that looked terrible. The animation in Day & Night was actually very cool and clever, there's a reason Pixar has such a good track record at these things. Actually this was one of their better shorts in quite some time, it earned this.
Best Short Film, Live Action
The Confession (2010/IV): Tanel Toom
The Crush (2009): Michael Creagh
God of Love (2010): Luke MathenyNa Wewe (2010): Ivan Goldschmidt
Wish 143 (2009): Ian Barnes, Samantha Waite
Mmmm wanna kiss about it?
So that's about it. We'll have to wait and see whether or not I'm full of horseshit. I probably didn't pick The King's Speech enough. There's been a trend of singular films just sweeping, either TKS or TSN is going to dominate. Here's to Zuckerberg!