Oscar Talk: Final Predictions, PGA Implications, My Wish List & Preferential Vote Tallying

The Producers Guild of America (PGA) awarded The King's Speech over The Social Network last week, leaving a glimmer of hope for Firth, Hooper, the Weinsteins & Co., but probably not enough to start predicting a Best Picture spoiler... yet. A DGA (Directors Guild of America) upset would be a much more reassuring victory for The King's Speech, but the small bit of momentum it carries is probably too little, too late. It is interesting, however, that the PGA awarded The King's Speech, because I also feel that The Fighter is likely to win the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Best Ensemble award, which carries significance in its own right. One would think that The Social Network's dominance would be reflected in a sweep of the major guilds, but that doesn't seem to be happening. The DGA winner will be announced on Saturday, January 29. The Screen Actors Guild Awards will air on Sunday, January 30, and I believe you can catch that on TBS.

Oscar nominations are set to be announced tomorrow morning at 5:30 AM PT (8:30 AM ET). There will surely be a few snubs and surprises, as there always are, but I've got a feeling that consensus thinking is really going to leave its mark this year. The build-up towards nominations is probably as exciting as it gets for awards season, as there's always that glimmer of hope for movies that you'd really like to see make the cut.

Here's a list of some underdogs that I'd like to see grab a surprise nomination tomorrow morning...
  • 127 Hour's Danny Boyle for Best Director
  • The Ghost Writer for Best Picture
  • Biutiful's Javier Bardem for Best Actor
  • Shutter Island's Leonardo Dicaprio for Best Actor
  • Easy A's Emma Stone for Best Actress
  • Conviction's Sam Rockwell for Best Supporting Actor
  • The Ghost Writer for Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Greenberg for Best Original Screenplay
  • Winter's Bone for Cinematography
Final Predictions in major categories after the jump...

Best Picture:
  1. The Social Network: A no-brainer.
  2. The King's Speech: A PGA win gives this one new life.
  3. The Fighter: I still think this one will win the SAG's Best Ensemble award.
  4. Inception: A strong following and Dark Knight guilt ensure this one a spot close to the top.
  5. Black Swan: A divisive genre film, but also a masterful work that simply cannot be ignored by voters. It seems to have a strong core following.
  6. The Kids Are All Right: A strong acting ensemble elevates this one.
  7. True Grit: A box-office and critical powerhouse, but lacking severely in any significant awards. It's struggling to even get any substantial nominations. In terms of Oscar buzz, it's all talk and little action, though appealing to many of the Academy branches will help to score it a nomination.
  8. Toy Story 3: Most will want this to be nominated, but it will lack the necessary amount of high votes to put it in the top tier.
  9. 127 Hours: Poor box-office receipts and voters' hesitancy to see this one greatly diminish its chances of being one of the top elite (it once was considered a possible spoiler) but a strong core following and guild support should ensure it a nomination.
  10. The Town: A bubble film if there ever was one. It's liked, but not loved.
Alternates: Blue Valentine, Winter's Bone, Another Year, The Ghost Writer, Somewhere

Best Director:
  1. David Fincher, The Social Network
  2. Christopher Nolan, Inception
  3. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
  4. Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
  5. David O. Russell, The Fighter
Alternates: Danny Boyle (127 Hours), Joel & Ethan Coen (True Grit)

Best Actor:
  1. Colin Firth, The King's Speech
  2. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
  3. James Franco, 127 Hours
  4. Robert Duvall, Get Low
  5. Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Alternates: Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine), Jeff Bridges (True Grit)

Best Actress:
  1. Natalie Portman, Black Swan
  2. Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
  3. Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
  4. Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
  5. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
Alternates: Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right), Lesley Manville (Another Year)

Best Supporting Actor:
  1. Christian Bale, The Fighter
  2. Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
  3. Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
  4. Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
  5. Sam Rockwell, Conviction
Alternates: Matt Damon (True Grit), Jeremy Renner (The Town)

Best Supporting Actress:
  1. Melissa Leo, The Fighter
  2. Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
  3. Amy Adams, The Fighter
  4. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
  5. Helena Bonham Carter, The King's Speech
Alternates: Barbara Hershey (Black Swan), Marion Cotillard (Inception)

Best Adapted Screenplay:
  1. Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
  2. Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy, 127 Hours
  3. Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit
  4. Ben Affleck, Aaron Stockard & Peter Craig, The Town
  5. Debra Granik & Anne Rossellini, Winter's Bone
Alternates: Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island), Glenn Ficarra & John Requa (I Love You Phillip Morris)

Best Original Screenplay:
  1. Christopher Nolan, Inception
  2. David Seidler, The King's Speech
  3. Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz & John J. McLaughlin, Black Swan
  4. Stuart Blumberg & Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
  5. Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson, The Fighter
Alternates: Mike Leigh (Another Year), Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3)

Best Cinematography:
  1. Roger Deakins, True Grit
  2. Danny Cohen, The King's Speech
  3. Christopher Nolan, Inception
  4. Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
  5. Anthony Dod Mantle & Enrique Chediak, 127 Hours
Alternates: Jeff Crononweth (The Social Network), Robert Richardson (Shutter Island)

Best Editing:
  1. Lee Smith, Inception
  2. Angus Wall & Kirk Baxter, The Social Network
  3. Jon Harris, 127 Hours
  4. Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan
  5. Pamela Martin, The Fighter
Alternates: Roderick Jaynes (True Grit), Tariq Anwar (The King's Speech)

Best Score:
  1. Hans Zimmer, Inception
  2. Carter Burwell, True Grit
  3. Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, The Social Network
  4. Clint Mansell, Black Swan
  5. Alexandre Desplat, The King's Speech
Alternates: A.R. Rahman (127 Hours), Danny Elfman (Alice in Wonderland)

If you would like to know more about how the AMPAS determines its nominees, please visit this highly informative article at The Wrap. The process is actually more complex than what I imagined, and requires a decent amount of mathematical skill. The preferential system is interesting to me because a film is automatically eliminated from contention if it does not receive a first-place vote. Further, the films that are close to the top end of voters' ballots are really the only ones that make the cut. This type of system could spell trouble for certain films that are universally praised, but not generally loved. Toy Story 3 and The Town, to me, seem most likely to be potential victims of the preferential system.

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