OSCAR: Hammond Predicts Who Will Win

Oscar predictions are always a risky business. Problem is, too many pundits make the mistake of picking whom they want to win instead of who will actually win. Because the only choices that matter are Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences official ballots. Understanding those votes involves a mix of psychic hunches, historical patterns, and heartfelt favorites. Throw in conversations with actual members, results from precursor Hollywood Guilds’ awards shows, and a little showbiz logic, as well as luck — and the contents of those Oscar envelopes opening on the night of February 27th suddenly aren’t such a mystery. Now with all the ballots officially in to Price Waterhouse Coopers,  here are my category by category predictions (not necessarily my own choices) for what names will be in those newly-designed  envelopes at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards:

BEST PICTURE

The Nominees: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone.

Who Will Win: The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Company) – Although this race was looking like a runaway for The Social Network after it swept most of the marquee critics’ honors and Golden Globe awards, it was stopped fast in its tracks once the industry began its own ceremonies. The King’s Speech reigned at the Screen Actors, Directors, and Producers Guilds and immediately became the frontrunner. Now it’s poised to win based on its inspiring story and triumphant spirit. The Social Network has been making a bit of a comeback in the last few days winning at the ACE Eddies and some key awards at BAFTA including Best Director and Editing but it’s probably not enough to stop The King’s Speech. Possible spoiler is The Fighter, which has late-breaking support among voters and has been the most aggressive campaigner in the last couple of weeks.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

The Nominees: Javier Bardem, Biutiful; Jeff Bridges, True Grit; Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network; Colin Firth, The King’s Speech; James Franco, 127 Hours.

Who Will Win: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech – This one is a lock and has been all season long. Firth has swept most of the major precursor acting honors, including Critics’ Choice, SAG, Golden Globes and BAFTA, there doesn’t seem to be a chance he can lose. There is a groundswell inside the actors’ branch for Javier Bardem, but foreign language film performances rarely take this category. It’s doubtful anyone at this point can make up enough ground to overcome Firth’s large lead.

Oscar Predictions 2012 — Hammond’s Academy Award Predictions

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

The Nominees: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right; Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole; Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone; Natalie Portman, Black Swan; Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine.

Who Will Win: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right – This could end in a photo finish upset even though Portman is the smart bet according to most pundits. I agree, but I’m also getting a vibe within the Academy that it’s Bening’s turn despite Portman’s recent SAG and BAFTA wins. Interestingly I am picking up some significant support for Williams, Kidman and especially, Lawrence too which says to me it is no runaway for Portman as some pundits seem to think. Bening lost Best Actress twice to Hilary Swank and may be poised to lose again to another young actress in a transformative role. But I have a hunch the veteran squeaks out a win on her 4th try. She has been very visible on the campaign trail since nominations came out. Still, just a hunch. Don’t bet your life savings in the office pool on this one.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The Nominees: 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, The Fighter – Unless Rush is carried in with a King’s Speech sweep, which is very possible, this award will go to Bale who has been winning what essentially came down to just a two-man contest from the start of awards season. His loss to Rush at BAFTA was the only hiccup.  The general popularity of The Fighter among Academy voters won’t hurt, either, and this is a way to reward the film. Plus, Bale’s transformation is what insiders admire when leading men take juicy, supporting character roles.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The Nominees: 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: Melissa Leo, The Fighter – Weaver’s film was little seen, which spoils her chances, while Bonham Carter’s role was probably too small (unless a King’s Speech sweep happens). Steinfeld is a genuine threat with a bonafide leading role, which gives her an advantage even if her youth does not. Adams lost to co-star Leo at most of the precursor awards although it was she , not Leo who got a BAFTA nomination in this category. But Leo is the kind of vet whom Oscar voters love to reward despite her controversial, late-inning personal ad campaign which may have hurt a little, but not enough to deny her the prize. Still this category remains fluid.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING

The Nominees: Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, True Grit;  David Fincher, The Social Network; Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech; David O. Russell, The Fighter

Who Will Win: David Fincher, The Social Network - While Fincher has been away shooting on location, Hooper has been a constant presence on the awards circuit. Though common Oscar history and his recent DGA award (a very reliable indicator)  might indicate he will be swept in on the coattails of The King’s Speech, voters may still want to spread the wealth and reward Fincher (or even David O. Russell if The Fighter can mount an upset but that’s less likely). Overall results will probably be very close and I have been vacillating , but conversations with voters now lead me to think they will make a split and use this category to reward The Social Network  and its director.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The Nominees: 127 Hours, Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy; The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin; Toy Story 3, Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich; True Grit,  Joel Coen and Ethan Coen; Winter’s Bone, Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini

Who Will WinAaron Sorkin, The Social Network. If there is one certain win for The Social Network, it is in this category. The film’s screenplay recently won the same award from the Writers Guild, BAFTA and several other groups. It has been a lock here since it opened at the beginning of October. Although I said the same thing about this category last year before Precious pulled off a stunning upset over Up In The Air, I don’t see that kind of recent Oscar Screenplay history repeating itself here. The other nominees should just enjoy the show.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The NomineesAnother Year, Mike Leigh; The Fighter, Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson. Story by Keith Dorrington and Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson; Inception, Christopher Nolan; The Kids Are All Right, Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg; The King’s Speech, David Seidler.

Who Will Win: David Seidler, The King’s Speech – Although Nolan’s Inception won the WGA award for Original Screenplay, Seidler’s The King’s Speech was ineligible but he did win at BAFTA the next week.  So this will be their real showdown, with Seidler riding a wave of Academy goodwill for his movie.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The Nominees: Biutiful (Mexico); Dogtooth (Greece); In A Better World (Denmark); Incendies (Canada); Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) (Algeria)

Who Will Win: In a Better World (Denmark) – This is always a tough category to predict since Academy members must prove they have seen all five films in a theater to vote. The best known title is Biutiful, but the complex film may be too intense for some. Canada’s Incendies and Denmark’s Golden Globe winner  In A Better World make it a strong race, but the latter, beautifully directed by Susanne Bier, seems the most ‘Academy accessible.’ Among voters I have been talking to Biutiful is actually most oft-mentioned so it all comes down to who actually voted here.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

The Nominees: How to Train Your Dragon; The Illusionist; Toy Story 3

Who Will Win: Toy Story 3 - Disney/Pixar – It has dominated this category for the last three years and will definitely make it four with this Best Picture nominee that also happens to be the highest-grossing and best reviewed film of the year. You can bet the farm on this one.

THE OTHER CATEGORIES:

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The NomineesExit Through The Gift Shop; Gasland; Inside Job; Restrepo; Waste Land

Who Will Win: Inside Job – Already a much-honored documentary about the Wall Street meltdown, Charles Ferguson’s film benefits from the omission of presumed pre-nominations favorite, Waiting for ‘Superman’Exit Through the Gift Shop could be a spoiler.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN ART DIRECTION

The Nominees: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I; Inception; The King’s Speech; True Grit

Who Will Win: The King’s Speech – Far from a sure thing, but voters may embrace its regal, period look over its strongest competition, Inception and Alice In Wonderland.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Nominees: Black Swan, Inception, The King’s Speech, The Social Network, True Grit

Who Will Win: True Grit – Outdoor movies with sweeping vistas often have an advantage here, and Roger Deakins is overdue, even if Black Swan and Inception provided unique challenges.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN

The Nominees: Alice In Wonderland; I Am Love; The King’s Speech; The Tempest; True Grit

Who Will Win: Alice In Wonderland – This category almost always goes to period films. But with four to choose from, Oscar voters are likely to pick the one that screams costume design and that’s certainly this nominee, if only for the Red Queen’s frocks.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING

The Nominees: Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network

Who Will Win: The Social Network - Inexplicably, the presumed shoo-in Inception wasn’t even nominated. A look at Oscar history reveals that movies about boxers like Champion (1949), Rocky (1976), and Raging Bull (1980) have triumphed in this category but The Social Network’s recent wins in Editing at the ACE Eddies and BAFTA indicate Oscar will follow suit.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP

The Nominees: Barney’s Version, The Way Back, The Wolfman

Who Will Win: The Wolfman – I think if Alice In Wonderland had made the final cut, it would have won. The make-up branch has some explaining to do!  Among the nominees only Universal’s bomb, The Wolfman, was a major makeup achievement, so expect veteran Rick Baker to grab his 7th Oscar in this category.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

The Nominees: How to Train Your Dragon, Inception, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network

Who Will Win: The Social Network – Trent Reznor’s and Atticus Ross’ haunting score has been used in all of Sony’s TV spots for the film, giving it a familiarity advantage over Inception and The King’s Speech,which also are strong contenders.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

The Nominees: “Coming Home” (Country Strong); “I See the Light” (Tangled); “If I Rise”(127 Hours); “We Belong Together” (Toy Story 3)

Who Will Win: “We Belong Together” (Toy Story 3) – Randy Newman’s catchy tune is one reason why people loved the movie so TS3 fans may carry the day although there does seem to be growing support for A.R. Rahman and Dido’s haunting If I Rise.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING

The Nominees: Inception, Toy Story 3, Tron: Legacy; True Grit, Unstoppable

Who Will Win: Inception – Since the film is considered the technical triumph of the year, its sound team will benefit from the association.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING

The Nominees: Inception, The King’s Speech, Salt, The Social Network, True Grit

Who Will WinInception - Although True Grit won at CAS and The King’s Speech could win here as part of a sweep).

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS

The Nominees: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Hereafter, Inception, Iron Man 2

Who Will Win: Inception – The heavy favorite after winning four awards from the Visual Effects Society.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

The Nominees: Killing in the Name, Poster Girl, Strangers No More, Sun Come Up, The Warriors of Quigang

Who Will Win: Strangers No More From what I hear out of the screenings where voting takes place this was the most enthusiastically received although the filmmakers behind The Warriors of Quigang won in 2006 and lightning could strike twice for this follow-up.

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

The Nominees: The Confession, The Crush, God of Love, Na Wewe, Wish 143

Who Will Win: God Of Love – It will win because it’s the best of an only okay bunch.

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

The Nominees: Day & Night; The Gruffalo; Let’s Pollute; The Lost Thing; Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)

Who Will Win: The Gruffalo – This charmer could be eclipsed by Pixar’s Day & Night, which voters at the special screenings saw in 3D. Let’s Pollute is also drawing votes.

    1. No. Just one week ago he was predicting a King Speech sweep, including a win for Hooper. If you read correctly, he says that his “conversations with Oscar voters” is what changed his mind.

  1. Guys needs mentor. Guys resists mentor at first. Guy learns from mentor. Mentor learns from guy. Guy and mentor split up. Guy reveals learning in triumphant moment with mentor present.

    Clean. Boring. The King’s Speech.

    (Sorry, I just feel so out of sync with the love for this film that I’m feeling like there’s something wrong with me)

    1. Couldn’t agree more.

      Also, it’s a shame Animal Kingdom didn’t pick up more steam. Jacki Weaver’s performance was incredible.

    2. You can’t (objectively) deny that it’s a good film, but certainly not as creatively outgoing as, say, Black Swan.

      1. Are we talking about King’s Speech or Animal Kingdom? The latter being an Aussie film. They really should rename the Oscars and the American Oscar’s or the American Academy Awards. Foreign movies rarely make the popular lists which is a shame. So many brilliant movies and performances but never see the same audiences because American cinema highlight their own.

    3. It’s the British equivalent to “The Blind Side”, which is what I’ve been saying ever since I saw it.

  2. I doubt Bening will win, and I don’t even see it was that close. And Williams, Lawrence coming up? Nah, really? I also think Leo is far from a sure thing.

    1. But I do agree that Natalie Portman winning isn’t a sure thing. She’s the front-runner but its still wide open

    1. The King’s Speech was way too predictable for my taste. I personally don’t think it’s the best movie of the year, but it may be the most consensual.

  3. Two actresses over 50 years old winning on the same night what century is this guy living in. Hollywood loves hot young actresses with oscar in hand why do you think Leo did all those ads she knows what she is dealing with here. As for Bening i have not heard anyone doing cartwheels about her performance aside from a couple of great scenes its just typical Bening acting nothing surprising. Then again she is the chair of the acting branch so you never know Portman will win.

  4. I just saw “the fighter”. If leo doesn’t win, it will be on account of controversy and political bull. She was fantastic.

    1. Yeah, but The FIghter script blew cow balls. Lame committee-style too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen writing layered upon treacly cliche of family histrionics and over-the-top pathos. The script ruined what could have been a better movie than King’s Speech and Black Swan.

    2. I actually thought Amy Adams was far better, giving a much more honest and nuanced performance than Melissa Leo. But because Leo’s role was more showy and charactery and had more ACT-ING, Leo has been getting all the attention up until now. Here’s hoping Adams pulls off the upset, because she deserves it!

  5. “I doubt Bening will win, and I don’t even see it was that close. And Williams, Lawrence coming up? Nah, really? I also think Leo is far from a sure thing.”

    Why because the 4 Oscar bloggers you read (who all share the same opinions) told you so?

    1. Because as even Mr. Hammond indicated, (almost every) pundit sees Portman as the ‘smart bet.’ Who else is calling Bening?

  6. Bening is awesome and has totally been robbed in the past…BUT if she beats Natalie Portman, it will be the biggest crock of shit ever.

    1. Bening got robbed on American Beauty. That was her Oscar perf. Hard to imagine anyone beating Portman this year. She was spectacular.

  7. Yawnie, I agree. It’s an average script with average directing and really strong acting. I think people get confused by the good acting and think it makes it a good movie.

    1. Perhaps you don’t know how movies get made.

      And you certainly don’t know a thing about Tom Hooper. He directed every frame of this film.

    2. Yes! all of these things. (but let’s bump “average” up to “very good, just not best of the year by any means”)

  8. I work in the industry and I think his analysis is just about spot-on, except for maybe Annette Bening. But there could be some vote splitting in the categories of Best Actress, and both Best Supporting races, which could result in surprises and give us a reason to watch.

  9. I agree with most of your choices but not Annette Bening for Best Actress. If she wins, it would be a travesty and undermine the category. Natalie Portman will win which was clearly a Leading role and not some “one-note” performance. I also feel “Day & Night” will take it for Animated Short. I’m glad you finally came around and picked “The King’s Speech.” Cheers!

    1. While I agree Portman should win, If Annette does, I wouldn’t call it “a travesty and undermine the category.” That was last year, with Sandra Bullock’s win.

  10. Bening will come close but will not win. Portman’s extraordinary turn was classic screen acting with an immense dramatic arc that was epic in scope.

    Although Bening was very good, her role simply didn’t have the grand scale dimensions of Portman who verges on the astounding in almost every single frame.

    Without a doubt, a lock just like Firth.

  11. AGREED Yawnie! I’m hoping The Social Network pulls it out. Unlike the King’s Speech, that movie kept me engaged the entire time

  12. The most boring oscars ever because it is so predictable this year. I’m annoyed if kings speech wins for art direction — i guess what looks like an old rundown play theater counts as superb art direction over the fantastic Inception or any of the other nominees — would just show how blinded they are about the movie, although great, but come on — give the award in the category for the person in the category, not just because you want a sweep.

    as much as i want to believe you about annette bening, i have just resolved myself that the lesser actress will win — portman’s got the youth factor on her side, i just wish this wasn’t the movie she was winning for — it’s such a huge mess of a movie and not her best performance, and not the best performance of the year — that would be nicole kidman and annette bening.

  13. The third act of this Oscar race has been a noticeable shift away from quality and towards soulless campaigning. How many months will it take for the Academy to wake up from this Weinstein-induced Kings Speech hangover? This movie is fucking Oscar bait and will rival Crash as most widely regretted Best Picture since Goodfellas lost to Dances With Wolves.

    Here’s how to fix this (if its not too late already): The Social Network deservingly wins Best Picture, Portman for Black Swan, Lawrence for Winters Bone, Banksy wins Best Doc, anybody but Wahlberg for Supporting Actor, Dogtooth for Foreign, and now we’re warming up to what we should expect from THE MOST CULTURALLY RELEVANT AWARDS SHOW IN THE YEAR TWO-THOUSAND AND ELEVEN

  14. Someone should contact the Academy and ask why Alice was not nominated for makeup. Alice just won a BAFTA and the Critics Award. They vote for the best, unlike the Academy.
    It is so obvious that the makeup branch of the Academy deliberately kept Alice out the nominations selection because of political reasons.
    Before the movie came out there were so many articles published praising the genius of the makeup. It really does not make any sense as Pete Hammond wrote in Deadline a few weeks ago.
    Perhaps they are a group of bitter people who could never do the kind of magic that the makeup people achieved on Alice.
    They should know they are not fooling anyone. I would like to know who these so called peers are? Excuse me, it’s a sacrilege to call those people who voted out Alice peers.

  15. It was an okay film – far from a film I’d ever watch again. And far from a great film.

    Why am I the only person bothered by it’s cinematography- they would have the subject on the far left side, looking to the left – then cut to the other subject on the far right side, looking right – it was so jarring to watch as my eyes would drift the way eyes do (to the direction the subject is looking), only to then have to go all the way to the opposite of the screen. Terribly shot – Yet it gets an Oscar nomination…

  16. This column and the posts changes my mind – I had thought the awards were in locked mode, but now I believe most are up for grabs.

    The locks – we agree mostly – Firth and Bale and Sorkin.

    Best picture is a genuine contest between The Social Network and The King’s Speech (I’m rooting for TSN)

    Best actress is too close to call (rooting for Portman)

    I think Leo will win, but there were many strong female supporting performances this year and I honestly don’t think that her work should make her the obvious favorite. Adams was every bit as good in the same film.

    Hooper probably has the inside track, but I’m rooting for Fincher.

    I think you’re wrong about original screenplay. I’ll be shocked if Nolan doesn’t win, particularly as it would be the consolation prize to one of the year’s biggest critical and box office successes, plus he should have won for “Momento”.

    Hans Zimmer really deserves the original score oscar for “Inception”. It will be judged through the years as a classic film score. I believe it more sophisticated than the Reznor score, which I expect to win.

  17. The picks seem reasonable to me, as far as who’s likely to win.

    I haven’t seen all ten of the Best Picture nominees, but I’ve seen all of the front runners and liked them all. I think King’s Speech was well acted but not a hugely ambitious movie, Inception, hugely ambitious but (for me) didn’t hit it out of the park. Social Network, great script, editing but not as cinematic as say True Grit.

    As I was thinking about it the other day, for best all around movie, Toy Story 3 may well have been the best picture of the year. The script is unbelievably good for the third film in a series, and the work involved in making the Pixar films certainly rivals anything else. I’m sure it won’t win Best Picture, but maybe it should.

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