This year's Oscar race is already being labelled "easy-to-predict" with the campaigns already running at full gallop, but for all the talk of The Social Network dominating the evening, and Black Swan plucking best actress honours for Natalie Portman, the Academy has a long-standing tradition of shocking the creatures from the red carpet at least once over the course of the ceremony. With an eye at forecasting the thunderclap, Postmedia's movie critics pull out their crystal balls and Doppler dishes to map out the potential scenarios.
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
JS: What a great list, even though 2010 didn't feel that good when I was sitting through it. Almost makes you forget The Last Airbender. There are several titles worthy of an Oscar, but I think it's going to come down to The King's Speech vs. The Social Network. In cases like this, the academy inevitably chooses crowd-pleasing sentiment, which means The King's Speech — which has picked up most of the important run-up awards — is going to be the winner. If I was voting, I think I'd go with The Social Network, for the sheer bravado of its intelligence. I might also give Black Swan something for audacity.
KM: Gee, you're awfully non-committal on this one. And I am sympathetic. I have a feeling The King's Speech could stammer its way to the top of the pile, but I think The Social Network is still the strongest movie of the year, and will find a way to befriend Academy voters. The other films are all decent — and it's nice to have a reason to talk about 127 Hours — a film that kind of felt overlooked this year, despite its incredible strengths and dramatic precision. Toy Story feels like a mandatory nod to the Disney Co. and Inception's nomination is a consolation prize for director Chris Nolan, not to mention a way to save face for the film being over-hyped out of the gate. But I'm sticking to my Social Network prediction. The film defined who we are right now — and surprise, it's not very pretty.
KM: I'm still not sure how I feel about the ten films for best picture. It really feels like a money grab from the Academy and the trades, who love "For your consideration" advertising. But with an increasingly international audience for the awards, we should be thankful there's some limit. Of course, the only prize I really care about this year is for best foreign film, and Canada's own Denis Villeneuve, who created one of the best films of the year (Incendies) — and still stands as a front-runner for the big prize.
JS: What, you're not hyped about the annual "What's the difference between sound mixing and sound editing?" debate? I agree that Incendies will take the foreign film Oscar, even though Biutiful has an Oscar nominated performance. That's certainly the big Canadian story this year, along with the makeup nomination for Barney's Version. Otherwise, Katherine, I'm with you: I have no passionate feelings about most of the choices. I'll be watching it like I watch hockey (now that the Senators are out of it): rooting for the underdogs.