Thursday, February 10, 2011

My 2011 Academy Award Predictions - Part I

10 FAVORITES is taking a short break and will return in March. In the meantime, let's get ready for the Oscars!!! For the next three weeks, I will give you all my predictions for the six major categories at Hollywood's annual celebration. 2010 was a great year for movies and the 10 nominees for Best Picture were all on a lot of people's Top 10 lists. We'll get to Best Picture in a while, but for now we shall begin with the acting categories. First up, the categories for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

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

Who Will Win?:
Christian Bale seems to be the clear frontrunner for his gut-wrenching portrayal of the junkie brother of the title character in The Fighter. He has won most of the major awards (the Golden Globe, the Screen Actor's Guild, the Critics' Choice, etc.). Plus, thanks to his role in Christopher Nolan's Batman films, he is one of the more popular actors of today and has yet to receive a major acting award (this is his FIRST Oscar nod). He also lost a lot of weight to take on the role of the drug-addicted ex-con Dicky Eklund and actors have won in the past after changing their physical features dramatically (i.e. Robert De Niro, Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, etc.).

Would Not Be Surprised If...:
The only thing standing between Bale's chance at Oscar gold is the Hollywood community's clear embrace of The King's Seech. If it is in the fates for the British period drama to sweep the awards, then Geoffrey Rush could win for his enigmatic portrayal of King George VI's speech therapist Lionel Logue. Rush is a favorite with the Academy (this is his fourth nomination and he won Best Actor back in 1997 for Shine) and his work in The King's Speech has not gone unnoticed by critics and audiences alike.

What About the Other Nominees?:
While Mark Ruffalo is slowly becoming one of Hollywood's hardest working actors, his performance is not the emotional center of The Kids Are All Right (we'll get to that in Best Actress). Jeremy Renner's performance in The Town is gritty and thrilling, but his is the only nomination Ben Affleck's much hailed film received this year. And while Winter's Bone has been praised on the "Indie" circuit, it's four nominations (including John Hawke's supporting nod) is the reward.

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

Who Will Win?:
This is probably the toughest of all the acting categories to predict (and I am not the first to say so!). If one were going by the numbers and the amount of pre-Oscar awards collected, then Melissa Leo is in the best standing for her riveting performance as the tough, Machiavellian manager mother in The Fighter. Leo has long been considered one of the best character actresses on both TV and in independent films (she was previously nominated for Best Actress in 2009 for Frozen River). And tough-talking, ruthless mothers tend to do extremely well, especially in this category (see Mo'Nique last year!).

Would Not Be Surprised If...:
There are two other nominees that I could foresee spoiling Leo's chances: Hailee Steinfeld and Helena Bonham-Carter. Steinfeld, who is really the lead in the Coen brothers' remake of True Grit, gives one of the finest performances of the year and is also young. This category loves them young (see Patty Duke, Tatum O'Neal and Anna Paquin). But (as I said in the Supporting Actor category) if a sweep is inevitable for The King's Speech, then Helena Bonham-Carter (who showed a lot of versatility this year appearing in Speech, Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland and the seventh Harry Potter film) could benefit for her touching portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II's mother (a.k.a. Queen Elizabeth).

What About the Other Nominees?:
Amy Adams, who is enjoying her third Best Supporting Actress nomination, is really outshone by her co-stars Christian Bale and fellow nominee Melissa Leo. If voters went for her, she could cancel out Leo's chances and Steinfeld or Bonham-Carter would benefit. Australian character actress Jacki Weaver earned several early critics' prizes for her domineering performance, but the Aussie film is so low on the radar of many voters that the nomination is really reward enough.

So, those are my predictions for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Both of them, ironically, are from the same film (The Fighter), but I did give scenarios where neither Bale nor Leo could win (especially if The King's Speech sweeps). If both Bale and Leo win (or both Rush and Bonham-Carter win, for that matter), it will be the first time one film as won BOTH Supporting awards since 1987 (when Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest both won the first of their two Oscars for Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters). Next week, Part II of my Oscar predictions will go over the Best Leading Actor and Best Leading Actress categories (where the frontrunners might just be a little clearer).

Don't forget to vote in the poll on the side for the Best British Sitcom of All-Time!

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