Friday, February 25, 2011

2011 Oscar Predictions: Directing and Picture

Oscar Week continues here at Please Welcome Your Judges with my predictions in the two top categories (and, incidentally, the two categories worth the most in my Oscar prediction contest): Best Directing and Best Picture.

These two categories are the most co-dependent of any in the Academy Awards. Just because you won Sound Editing doesn't mean you are going to win Sound Mixing, just because you win Original Score doesn't mean you are going to Original Song, but chances are if you win Best Directing you are on your way to a Best Picture Oscar.

There are, of course, exceptions to this "rule"—nine in Oscar history to be exact. And three of those instances happened in the last decade (2000, 2002, 2005), so the argument could be made that we are moving into a more "split happy" era of Oscardom. You also have to consider the way these awards are now voted on by the Academy members: Best Directing goes to the person with the most votes, while Best Picture is calculated by preferential voting. I'd go into it, but it'd probably take another 2000 words or so—check out Sasha Stone's latest article on the matter.

So will there be a split this year? Check out my predictions...

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

This is a fine group of directors who are all celebrated and very good at what they do. But I need to get one thing out of the way—Christopher Nolan's absence in this category is one of the most, if not the single most, shocking snubs. Inception was a brilliant work of directing and he deserved to be here.

As for those who were actually nominated, Tom Hooper is the clear front-runner—not only did he direct the future Best Picture of the Year (more on that later), but he also snagged the DGA award earlier this year. That being said, I am going to go ahead and predict a Picture/Directing split. The Social Network was long thought of as the front-runner for Best Picture, but even though it has shrunk into the shadow of The King's Speech I still think David Fincher is going to be acknowledged for his brilliant work.

Should & Will Win: David Fincher, The Social Network
Should Have Been Nominated: Christopher Nolan, Inception

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King's Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter's Bone 

Seven of these 10 movies were amongst my own Top 10 of 2010, and I struggled on whether to put True Grit in there. I didn't see 127 Hours until January, but it is certainly deserving of being in this category. As for Winter's Bone... ugh. It just sticks out like a sore thumb to me in this crop of 10. I'd much rather see Ben Affleck's cops-and-robbers blockbuster The Town nominated.

And while this is the second year of the return to a 10-nominee system, we are still down to two movies duking it out for the prize: The Social Network and The King's Speech. Social Network unprecedentedly won all the critics awards, as well as the Golden Globe and the National Board of Review; however, once King's Speech grabbed 12 Academy Award nominations, it quickly became the undeniable front-runner. I think it will ultimately come out on top, though it would certainly be a fun Oscar Night surprise for Social Network to win it all in the end.

Of course, if I had to pick the Best Picture it wouldn't be either of those two. It would be Toy Story 3. To quote myself: "We knew Andy would eventually grow up the same way we all did, but I don't think any of us predicted the send off would be so heartbreaking, beautiful and yet still rip-roaringly funny. 'To infinity and beyond' indeed." It would be the first animated feature to ever win Best Picture, and what better film is there to claim that distinction? 

Will Win: The King's Speech
Should Win: Toy Story 3
Should Have Been Nominated: The Town

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