Think what you will of awards shows but I love the Academy Awards for one simple reason: I derive great enjoyment in predicting the outcome. For me it’s the equivalent of making stock trades (which I average a 26% return for the years I’ve been trading and 33% this past year). It requires strategy, a compendium of knowledge, and an understanding for the human condition to do it well. The question is not who should win but who will win and the winning “formula” is a combination of who has won and been nominated for Oscars in the past, who has won at the Golden Globes and other awards ceremonies, the demographics of the voting members of the Academy (which is around 6,000 members and an average age of 50 years old), preferences of influential film critics and groups, unique qualities of the nominees (for example, in the past decade, 8 out of the 10 winning Leading Actresses have been between the ages of 26-40) and what I consider the “esprit de corps” or current public sentiment of the population (I think people genuinely wanted to see James Cameron lose to his ex-wife).
So without further adieu, the envelope please…
LEADING ACTOR: Colin Firth
No surprises here. Firth deserves it. He should have won for A Single Man.
LEADING ACTRESS: Natalie Portman
I loved The Black Swan despite it’s kooky and amateurish hallucinations. It was beautifully shot and kept me intrigued throughout it’s concise 108 minutes and although Annette Benning won Best Actress in a Comedy Film at the Golden Globes, Portman won for Drama, is preggers (I think this does factor in) and is younger (Hollywood decisively prefers younger over older Leading actresses, unless you’re Meryl Streep).
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christian Bale
He’s mesmerizing in The Fighter. No contest.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo
Out of the four prime acting categories, this is the one in which I’m least confident only because I haven’t seen True Grit nor Animal Kingdom, but Melissa Leo won the Golden Globe and I was genuinely surprised when I did an internet search on her (an image speaks a thousand words) to discover she’s not a working class, chain-smoking actress from Lowell, Massachusetts. I doubt another Precious/Monique “monster” character (Jackie Weaver in Animal Kingdom) who is the other favorite, will win here.
BEST DIRECTING and BEST PICTURE: David Fincher, The Social Network
This is the most hotly contested category. All indicators are pointing towards the Weinstein-produced, The King’s Speech, with Tom Hooper winning the Director’s Guild Award for outstanding directorial achievement in feature film which is the strongest predictor of Best Director winner at the Oscars. Best Direction and Best Picture historically go hand-in-hand and I believe the trend will continue this year. Even though Fincher and Network won at the Golden Globes, a light survey of Academy voters is favoring The King’s Speech and Hooper. I can’t blame them. The acting ensemble is impeccable: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter and Guy Pearce? All superb. If I was a safe betting woman, I’d go with The King’s Speech and Tom Hooper. But I’m not. The Academy is notorious for “the upset” – at least one category that shocks the populist view, aka the Black Swan Event (not to be confused with delusional, sexually curious ballerinas). Believe me, no one saw Shakespeare in Love beating out Saving Private Ryan, so this is my upset play. I obviously have a bias here, as evidence of the fact that I’ve written twice (here and here) about The Social Network. I’m expecting The King’s Speech to win but to bet on The King’s Speech is to play it safe and I believe the greatest rewards involve an element of risk so I’m going with the movie about a computer geek.
I won’t go into my other 18 predictions but will say a purple nurple is on the line between me and @robotchampion for the losing party. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts, methods and “algorithms” for predicting the winners. I’d also love to see Watson get into the awards-predicting game…