The announcement of Oscar nominations usually sparks controversy about who did and did not receive a nomination, and this year was no different. Even though the nominations largely played out as expected when they were announced on January 25, there were a few notable names missing from the list.
The King’s Speech leads the pack with 12 nominations, while True Grit received 10, and Inception and The Social Network received eight nominations each. Here’s a breakdown of some of the major categories, including who got snubbed, and my thoughts on who I think will win.
127 Hours; Black Swan; The Fighter; Inception; The Kids Are All Right; The King’s Speech; The Social Network; Toy Story 3; True Grit; Winter’s Bone
There weren’t any surprises in this category, as many pundits had been predicting for months that these 10 films would get nominated. Some thought Ben Affleck’s The Town might cut in ahead of Winter’s Bone, but with Winter’s Bone receiving a total of four nominations, and The Town only getting a Best Supporting Actor nod, it’s clear to which film the Academy responded more.
However, the final outcome in this category is still up in the air. A month ago, it seemed obvious that The Social Network would win Best Picture, and its big win at the Golden Globes a few weeks ago further suggested that an Academy win was lined up. But while The Social Network has a lot of critics on its side, The King’s Speech recently won top awards from three major industry guilds (the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, and the Screen Actors Guild). Furthermore, a lot of members from these guilds are Oscar voters. In the 16 years since SAG instituted its Best Ensemble Cast award (its equivalent to the Best Picture award), seven movies have managed to win the PGA, DGA, and SAG top awards in their year. Six of those films went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars (Apollo 13 managed to win all three guild awards but eventually lost the Best Picture category to Braveheart at the Oscars). So even though the race isn’t over yet, it seems likely that The King’s Speech will win big at the Oscars.
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)
Here we see the Oscar snub that arguably caused the biggest reaction. Christopher Nolan, whose mind-bending blockbuster, Inception, is nominated for a total of eight awards, was neglected in the directing category once again. He has a total of three nominations from the Directors Guild of America (he was recognized there for Inception, The Dark Knight, and Memento), but has yet to receive the seal of approval from the Academy for his direction.
The Academy usually awards Best Picture in conjunction with Best Director (the last time they split was in 2005, when Ang Lee won Best Director for Brokeback Mountain, while Crash infamously won for Best Picture). It’s possible that David Fincher could still win in this category if his peers want to recognize his overall body of work (his past films include Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the latter of which earned him his first Best Director nomination). But even though Tom Hooper may not have the director cred just yet (his only previous feature films are The Damned United and Red Dust) or visual flair of his competitors, he is still my prediction to win this category, and I think that the Oscar voters are going to go all out for The King’s Speech.
Javier Bardem (Biutiful); Jeff Bridges (True Grit); Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network); Colin Firth (The King’s Speech); James Franco (127 Hours)
Javier Bardem might be this year’s most surprising nominee. He was nominated for a BAFTA (Britain’s equivalent of the Oscars) a couple of weeks before the Oscar nominations, so it didn’t come out of nowhere, but it seemed like Get Low’s Robert Duvall and Blue Valentine’s Ryan Gosling were tough competition for the fifth spot in the category.
There is very little suspense in this category. Barring a major upset, Colin Firth will likely win. He’s already won the Golden Globe and the SAG award for his turn as a stuttering king, and he’s bound to pick up his second consecutive BAFTA award (he won for 2009’s A Single Man) and his first Oscar in the process.
Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right); Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole); Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone); Natalie Portman (Black Swan); Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)
The first four actresses were expected to get a nod, and it’s great to see Williams get recognized for her heartbreaking performance in Blue Valentine. Julianne Moore missed out on a nomination for the second year in a row for The Kids Are All Right (she was snubbed last year for A Single Man), but with four nominations and no victories, I’m guessing she’ll probably win her Oscar in the next few years.
As for the winner this year, Natalie Portman is likely to take the statuette home for her demanding performance as an unstable ballerina in Black Swan. Portman started training for her role a year in advance, and she performs her own ballet numbers on screen. Playing both innocent and dark sides of her character, Portman has earned accolades for this challenging performance. Annette Bening poses a possible upset for her role as a lesbian mother in The Kids Are All Right, but she’ll likely have to settle for her fourth loss at the Oscars this year.
Best Supporting Actor
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)
One of the more surprising snubs in the Best Supporting Actor category was Andrew Garfield for The Social Network. The young British actor (who will be playing Spider-Man in next year’s film reboot) may have been one of last year’s breakout stars, but it didn’t translate into Oscar recognition. However, there are also three other first-time nominees in this category: Ruffalo, Hawkes, and Bale.
The fact that this is Bale’s first nomination may actually help him win. He’s an actor that always takes on challenging roles, and he’s performed in a slew of punishing roles over the years (American Psycho, The Mechanist, and Rescue Dawn). Now that he’s in a more Oscar-friendly movie, and having won the Golden Globe and the SAG award for Best Supporting Actor, he’s likely to win. The possible—but unlikely—spoiler is Geoffrey Rush, who was initially thought to be the frontrunner in the category.
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams (The Fighter); Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech); Melissa Leo (The Fighter); Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit); Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)
Mila Kunis, previously best known as Jackie on That ’70s Show, was an unexpected contender for her turn as Natalie Portman’s alluring rival in Black Swan. But even though she received nominations from the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Critic’s Choice Awards (a feat which usually translates into an Oscar nomination), she was passed over in favour of Australian actress
Using the other award shows as a gauge, the safest bet for this somewhat lacklustre category is Melissa Leo. She won at the Golden Globes and the SAG awards, but I also wouldn’t count out young Hailee Steinfeld, who earned high praise for her performance as a spunky girl out for revenge in True Grit.
Black Swan (Matthew Libatique); Inception (Wally Pfister); The King’s Speech (Danny Cohen); The Social Network (Jeff Cronenweth); True Grit (Roger Deakins)
This is a tough category, and I could see it going to any of the nominees. But considering that True Grit’s director of photography, Roger Deakins, has been nominated in this category eight times (and twice in one year for No Country for Old Men and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) and never won, he seems like the most likely bet.
Best Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1; Inception; The King’s Speech; True Grit
With five entirely different-looking films, this is a difficult category to predict. But since the winning films in this category are often visually extravagant (the past four winners were Avatar, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Sweeney Todd, and Pan’s Labyrinth) my prediction would be for Alice in Wonderland. I think they’ll save Harry Potter’s “goodbye” win in this category for its final instalment next year.
Other Surprising Snubs
TRON: Legacy missed out on nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Score, while Waiting for “Superman”, originally thought by some to be the category frontrunner, was snubbed for Best Documentary. As well as a snub for Kunis, Black Swan also missed out in the Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Makeup categories. Christopher Nolan’s directing wasn’t the only Inception miss; the film was also ignored in the Best Editing category, while Tangled was left out for Best Animated Feature Film.
Exit Through the Gift Shop, a hugely entertaining and unconventional documentary, received a Best Documentary nomination, and I Am Love was nominated for Best Costume Design. The Wolfman, Barney’s Version, and The Way Back comprised the Best Makeup category—and in all three cases, that was their sole nomination, while The King’s Speech adds another nod to its repertoire, for Best Sound Mixing.