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BEST PICTURE 

127 Hours 

Black Swan 

The Fighter 

Inception 

The Kids Are All Right 

The King’s Speech (WINNER) 

The Social Network 

Toy Story 3 

True Grit 

Winter’s Bone

Last year, the Academy doubled the number of Best Picture nominations to ten for the first time since 1943. The Oscars will take on the same format this season, yet once again, the fight for the night’s top prize is only a two-film bout. After dominating the critics’ awards season and picking up Best Picture at the Golden Globes, “The Social Network” looked to be the clear front runner come Oscar night. However, since then, “The King’s Speech” has swept the three major guild awards – the Directors, Producers and Screen Actors Guilds – whose voters closely parallel those of the Academy. In fact, since the introduction of the SAG Best Cast award in 1995, only six films have achieved the guild hat trick, and all but one of them went on to win Best Picture. Although an upset is possible, the odds certainly aren’t something “The Social Network” will “like.”

BEST DIRECTOR 

Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan 

Ethan Coen, Joel Coen – True Grit 

David Fincher – The Social Network (WINNER) 

Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech 

David O. Russell – The Fighter

When David Fincher announced he was going to make “The Social Network,” the general reaction was mockery at the idea of “a Facebook movie.” Looks like Fincher got the last laugh after all. Only two years after receiving his first directing nomination for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” the 48-year-old is poised to follow up his Golden Globe win with an Oscar for Best Director. Although he will face some stiff competition from the up-and-coming Hooper, the Directors Guild Award winner for “The King’s Speech,” the Academy will likely side with the more experienced Fincher for taking the bigger risk and a more against-the-grain approach. Although they won’t win, props go to Russell and Aronofsky, who ironically enough was originally pinned to direct “The Fighter,” for their well-deserved first Oscar nominations, as well as Joel and Ethan Coen, who pick up their third and second directing nods, respectively.

BEST ACTOR 

Javier Bardem – Biutiful 

Jeff Bridges – True Grit 

Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network 

Colin Firth – The King’s Speech (WINNER) 

James Franco – 127 Hours

For the second straight year, Bridges and Firth will duke it out in the Best Actor category. However, while the Dude took home the gold last year, he won’t repeat with his boozy, crusty reprise of the role that gave the legendary John Wayne his one and only Oscar in the original 1969 “True Grit.” In fact, it’s highly unlikely anyone will dethrone Firth, whose emotional and compelling turn as the stuttering King George VI earned him wins at the Golden Globe and SAG Awards. Although Franco’s desperate, awe-inspiring struggle to live as real-life mountain climber Aron Ralston was the best individual performance of the year, it’s tough to win this category when your supporting cast is predominantly an inanimate boulder – see Best Actor nominee Tom Hanks and Wilson in “Cast Away.” Joining Franco as a first-time nominee, Eisenberg also shines as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and the Oscar-winning Bardem gets some well-deserved respect for his heartrending performance in the little-seen Mexican indie “Biutiful.”

BEST ACTRESS 

Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right 

Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole 

Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone 

Natalie Portman – Black Swan (WINNER) 

Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine

Judging by the staggering amount of talent in this year’s Best Actress crop, you would never guess the budgets for the five films featured in this category average out at a meager $5 million. Yet, among this gifted group, Natalie Portman, who spent six months training before filming began in preparation for her role as an overly driven ballerina in the psychological thriller “Black Swan,” gave not only the best work of her career, but also the most memorable female performance this year. Now that she’s a Golden Globe and SAG winner for Best Actress and the Oscar front runner, there’s no denying it was time well spent. However, Portman isn’t without competition. Earning her fourth career nomination, Bening would love to bring home her first statue for her performance as the high-strung lesbian mother in “The Kids Are All Right.” But Portman’s momentum will be tough to stop, even more so for past Oscar nominees Kidman and Williams and 20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR 

Christian Bale – The Fighter (WINNER) 

John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone 

Jeremy Renner – The Town 

Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right 

Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech

Although Christian Bale has captivated audiences for years with a variety of noteworthy performances, the Academy has always failed to recognize his devoted work. Therefore, it seems fitting that this talented Englishman is not only a first-time nominee, but also the clear front runner to win the Oscar for his spot-on portrayal of a drug-addled ex-boxer in “The Fighter.” Having already won a Golden Globe and SAG Award, Bale pretty much has this one sealed, but Rush, a four-time Oscar nominee, comes in at a close second for his witty yet poignant portrayal of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue in “The King’s Speech.” Fellow first-time nominees Hawkes and Ruffalo, as well as Renner, who follows up last year’s Best Actor nod for “The Hurt Locker,” were brilliant as well in their respective roles, but no one is going to prevent Bale from completing the trifecta and taking home his first golden statue.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS 

Amy Adams – The Fighter 

Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech 

Melissa Leo – The Fighter (WINNER) 

Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit 

Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom

Out of the four acting categories, Best Supporting Actress will be the closest and ripest for an upset. Although Leo picked up the Golden Globe and SAG Award for her role as the domineering mother in “The Fighter,” she has recently received backlash for her unusual for-your-consideration ads and also is at risk of splitting votes with her equally talented costar Adams, who earned her third Oscar nomination by stepping out of her comfort zone to play a brash, outspoken girlfriend. Also in the mix is Steinfeld who, at 14 years old, has the potential to upend the veterans in this group with her debut performance as a precocious teen seeking to avenge her father in “True Grit.” On the other hand, Bonham Carter and Weaver’s performances don’t quite stand out enough to pull ahead in this gifted group. In the end, it should come down to Leo and Steinfeld, with Leo getting the Oscar for having the more dynamic performance and experience of the two.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY 

Another Year – Mike Leigh 

The Fighter – Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington 

Inception – Christopher Nolan 

The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg 

The King’s Speech – David Seidler (WINNER)

If this category was taken to mean original as in the most creative and unique, this award would go to “Inception” hands down for Nolan’s mind-bendingly imaginative screenplay. Unfortunately, original in this sense only means the screenplay was written directly for the screen. And while the award should still go to “Inception” regardless of how “original” is interpreted, the Academy will go with Seidler’s script for “The King’s Speech” because it’s exactly the kind of prestigious, emotionally driven Oscar-bait they love to acknowledge. Nonetheless, Seidler, a 73-year-old first-time nominee, is certainly deserving of the award – the back-and-forth dialogue between Firth and Rush is enthralling, and King George VI’s personal struggle is weaved perfectly within the looming turmoil of World War II. As far as the rest of the category goes, “The Fighter” and “The Kids Are All Right” don’t quite match up when it comes to originality, and the British drama “Another Year” doesn’t resonate as well with American voters.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY 

127 Hours – Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy 

The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin (WINNER) 

Toy Story 3 – Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich 

True Grit – Joel Coen, Ethan Coen 

Winter’s Bone – Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini

When it came to sharp, witty dialogue this year, “The Social Network” was the undisputed king. Although the film’s young cast deserves credit for its brilliant execution, what made this drama crackle and pop on the silver screen was Sorkin’s verbally explosive script, which entwined this modern tale with classic concepts of friendship, power and revenge. The writing team behind “Toy Story 3,” which includes the Oscar-winning scribe Arndt, certainly deserves credit as well for packing this storied franchise with fresh humor and emotional pull, but animated films historically don’t win writing Oscars – Pixar alone has failed to win despite six previous screenplay nominations, including the original “Toy Story” and last year’s “Up.” Rounding out the category are former Oscar winners Beaufoy and the Coen brothers, and the duo behind the Sundance favorite “Winter’s Bone,” who hope to follow the footsteps of Geoffrey Fletcher, last year’s winner in this category for Sundance favorite “Precious.”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE 

How to Train Your Dragon 

The Illusionist 

Toy Story 3 (WINNER)

Due to the Academy’s bizarre rule that requires 16 or more films be submitted for this category in order for there to be five nominees, only three animated flicks received nods this year. Though, to be honest, it doesn’t matter how many films were nominated – Golden Globe winner “Toy Story 3″ is still taking home this Oscar. The best film in this groundbreaking franchise – quite a statement in itself – “Toy Story 3″ continues Pixar’s remarkable run in this category, which includes eight nominations in the award’s 10-year history (the studio didn’t release a film the other two years) and five wins, including three straight victories. In other words, this one is a no-brainer. As for the other two films, the sweet, soaring adventure “How to Train Your Dragon” gives DreamWorks a respectable fifth Best Animated Feature nomination, and the little-known “The Illusionist” is the second film nominated in this category from French director Sylvain Chomet.

More predictions:

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM 

Biutiful

Dogtooth 

In a Better World (WINNER) 

Incendies 

Outside the Law

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Black Swan 

Inception 

The King’s Speech 

The Social Network 

True Grit (WINNER)

BEST EDITING 

127 Hours 

Black Swan 

The Fighter 

The King’s Speech 

The Social Network (WINNER)

BEST ART DIRECTION 

Alice in Wonderland (WINNER) 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 

Inception 

The King’s Speech 

True Grit

BEST COSTUME DESIGN 

Alice in Wonderland (WINNER) 

I Am Love 

The King’s Speech 

The Tempest 

True Grit

BEST MAKEUP 

Barney’s Version 

The Way Back 

The Wolfman (WINNER)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE 

127 Hours 

How to Train Your Dragon 

Inception 

The King’s Speech 

The Social Network (WINNER)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG 

127 Hours – “If I Rise” (WINNER) 

Country Strong – “Coming Home”

Tangled – “I See the Light” 

Toy Story 3 – “We Belong Together”

BEST SOUND MIXING 

Inception (WINNER) 

The King’s Speech 

Salt 

The Social Network 

True Grit

BEST SOUND EDITING 

Inception (WINNER) 

Toy Story 3 

TRON: Legacy 

True Grit 

Unstoppable

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS 

Alice in Wonderland 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 

Hereafter 

Inception (WINNER) 

Iron Man 2

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE 

Exit Through the Gift Shop 

GasLand 

Inside Job (WINNER) 

Restrepo 

Waste Land

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT 

Killing in the Name (WINNER) 

Poster Girl 

Strangers No More 

Sun Come Up 

The Warriors of Qiugang

BEST ANIMATED SHORT 

Day & Night (WINNER) 

The Gruffalo 

Let’s Pollute 

The Lost Thing 

Madagascar, a Journey Diary

BEST LIVE ACTION SHOR

The Confession (WINNER) 

The Crush 

God of Love 

Na Wewe 

Wish 143

BY THE NUMBERS 

$415 MILLION 

Domestic box office for “Toy Story 3″

63 YEARS OLD 

Age of oldest acting nominee, Jacki Weaver

40 NOMINATIONS 

Earned by Pixar feature films

18 NOMINATIONS 

Films featuring Helena Bonham Carter

14 YEARS OLD 

Age of youngest acting nominee, Hailee Steinfeld

12 NOMINATIONS


“The King’s Speech” reigns supreme

8 ACADEMY AWARDS 

Won by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen

2 HOSTS 

Anne Hathaway, James Franco take the stage

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