OscarWatch: Best Picture predictions

Image credit: Stephen Vaughan

I recently put together my latest round of Oscar predictions and I’ll be exploring one major category at a time in the coming days on our new Inside Movies blog. Let’s start with Best Picture and look at the 15 movies I think are at the forefront of the race for the 10 available slots.

Inception Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending blockbuster boasts the perfect mix of brains and spectacle.
The Kids Are All Right The summer’s coolest indie is a showcase for stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore.
The King’s Speech One of this year’s most awarded festival darlings should have no problem appealing to voters of all generations.
The Social Network David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s morality tale will ride its zeitgeisty wave throughout the season.
Toy Story 3 In a fantastic year for animation, Pixar’s lovable threequel stands out.

127 Hours Director Danny Boyle’s graphic depiction of the real-life ordeal of hiker Aron Ralston (James Franco) has earned terrific reviews and box office.
Black Swan Natalie Portman’s tour de force performance could power director Darren Aronofsky’s twisted thriller to the big dance.
The Fighter A host of strong performances (notably from supporting players Christian Bale and Melissa Leo) highlight the true-life boxing story.
The Town As several late-year releases inevitably disappoint, look for director Ben Affleck’s respected thriller to bounce back.
True Grit No one’s seen the Coen brothers’ Western yet, but with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon on board, how can you count it out?

Another Year British auteur Mike Leigh is often a voters’ fave, and his latest London drama is already a festival hit.
Blue Valentine Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams star in an impeccably acted domestic drama — but will the gritty production be too tough for the Academy?
Get Low A dream cast (Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Bill Murray) paired with top-notch production values could do the trick.
How Do You Know Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd’s comedy screams Golden Globe contender. Big success there could propel it to the Kodak Theatre as well.
How to Train Your Dragon Two animated movies out of 10 may seem like a stretch. But the spring hit remains one of the best-reviewed films of the year.

So which films am I underestimating? Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter? Other dramas like The Ghost Writer or Winter’s Bone? Or a buzzy documentary like Waiting for Superman? Let me know what you’re rooting for. And follow me on Twitter (@davekarger) for Oscar news all season long.

Comments (177 total) Add your comment
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  • Jeremy

    I know it will never happen, but LET ME IN deserves to be one of the ten.

    • Daniel

      Agreed, I would love to see “LET ME IN” get some recognition with some form of nomination, especially for the performances, but I don’t see it happening.
      “NEVER LET ME GO” and “WINTER’S BONE” are other films I’d love to see get recognition from the academy, especially for the actors, but again, don’t see it happening.
      None of those movies had the box office pull, marquee names or financial muscle behind them like the other bigger movies that will be campaigning for academy votes.

      • Cordy

        Jennifer Lawrence I feel is pretty safely in the best actress field, and I would not be surprised to see Winter’s Bone get Best Picture, and adapted screenplay noms as well. I think it belongs in the long shots well before a film like How Do You Know, even if it has nto been seen and it is Jim Brooks.

        And Winter’s Bone does have a full campaign going. As far as I’m concerned John Hawkes is the only true long shot from that film that I hope gets in

      • Rashy

        Let Me In was so pale in comparison to Let The Right One In. I for one was not sold on the remake. It was good but far remarkable. It was released prematurely and made next too nothing. Ending with that cheesy. Now&Later song did help it either.

      • Brianna

        You forgot to add the movies City Island and Solitary Man on your possibilities list. I think they deserve a shot. I definitely think Andy Garcia and Michael Douglas should get nominated for best actor for those movies for sure.

      • Irf

        Yeah, LET ME IN was brilliant.

      • Jenna

        I thought Never Let Me Go was one of the best films of this year. Period. I’m sad it hasn’t gotten the recognition it deserves on the award circuit, but there are always a few that don’t. I appreciate someone else thinking it deserved a nod as well.

    • UncleWalty

      Let Me In? I too thought it paled in comparison to the original, but I’m glad somebody enjoyed it, if only because I think Chloe Moretz has a ton of potential.

      I went into it with an open mind, and…meh. It just didn’t do anything for me.

  • patar

    I feel this year there are so many great movies and performances, unlike these past few years. Lots of creativity from the film makers.

  • Larry

    You’re right on with most of your picks, but I do think Winter’s Bone will make the cut, as will Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress. Brilliant movie.

    • Mike

      Ha… Beat me to it.

    • Michelle

      Yes! Winter’s Bone and Jennifer Lawrence – and everyone else – was terrific. I’d like to see a Best Direction nod there as well – the combination of silence, dialogue, and setting was fantastic.

    • Sadie

      I’m not sure about the movie ITSELF getting a nod, although I hope it does (The Academy seems to neglect most indies…) but I can’t imagine Jennifer Lawrence NOT getting a nomination.

  • Mike

    Surprised to not see Winter’s Bone as one of your top 15. Pretty much everywhere else lists it as a contender. Jennifer Lawrence’s turn in it was great. Probably puts her in the race for best actress.

  • Terry

    INCEPTION??? Really? Just because a film is impenetrable and purposely labyrinthine does not make it “smart”.

    • Dol

      Just because a film is over your head does not make it ‘impenetrable’.

      It was over my head too on the first watch. The movie really starts to shine with repeat views.

      • Kate

        I agree. I really dislike this mentality of “I didn’t get it; it was stupid!”

      • Woot

        Every time I see it, the movie gets better and better. You miss so much the first time trying to figure it out.

    • John

      I’d have to agree with you. Creative yes, but smart?

    • Robert Singleton

      Count me in on the disappointment with Inception. Thought Nolan handcuffed himself with the requirement that the dreams be more-or-less realistic, in order to keep the subject from figuring out that he was dreaming. Meant that the movie couldn’t be as trippy as I hoped. Except for Ellen Page twisting the streets of Paris, everything else was kind of mundane. Sorry, but I never felt my mind was being more than modestly bent. And I’ll just say again, Terry Gilliam could have done wonders with this concept.

      • p

        totally agree! I was disappointed by how realistic the dreams were. so much more could have been done with this concept.

      • Sam

        This was also my feeling. Often in our dreams things defy reality yet we don’t always know we are dreaming. None of my dreams have ever been as mundane as the ones in this movie.

    • Angela

      It was smart. And regardless of what your personal opinion of the movie was, it doesn’t change the fact that it was one of the best-reviewed films of the year and, overall, it impressed both audiences and critics. Coupling that with the fact that it was probably one of the most noteworthy films of the year (if only because of the hype surrounding it and the amount of talk it generated), it seems like a pretty much guarenteed nomination, especially with ten slots. It’s more of a question of how high it will actually get and if Christopher Nolan can (finally) snag a director nomination.

  • Liz

    Toy Story 3 was so great. So was Inception. Hard to pick who I want to win!

  • yvan

    no ‘winter’s bone’? i’d consider it one of the few locks at this point.

  • paige

    i really hope Toy Story 3 wins Best Picture.

    • TV/Movie Fan

      I think Toy Story 3 should win Best Picture (although being an animated film makes it unlikely), because; a) It’s an excellent critical and commerical blockbuster. B) Pixar has released Eleven (11) great films and they deserve to have a Best Picture of the Year statue on their shelf. Name another studio that has released 11 consectutive critical and money making films.

      • Cordy


        Cars is good dreamworks level. Not pixar level

      • Woot

        Cordy, just because Cars wasn’t received as well as the others, in general it did get acclaim, and it was successful at the box office.

      • Macy

        eleven (11)? really? “thank good you put the number (#) in parantheses (()) or eles I would have been so confused.”

      • bkwrm

        As much as I loved TS3 and Pixar as a whole, How to Train Your Dragon deserves the nomination more. It was a much better movie and the best use of 3D all year.

    • Sarah

      An animated film will NEVER win Best Picture. There is no way that an animated film can out do a live action film, you just can not connect the same way and they don’t match up. That is why there is a separate category for animated films, so they do get recognition for being brilliant at what they are.

      • Chris P.

        Out of all the movies I’ve seen in my life (which is a lot of movies) the one I cried the most in was Toy Story 3. If that’s not an emotional connection then I don’t know what is. So yes, you can get emotionally connected to a film.

      • steph

        I completely disagree with you. All of the movies I’ve gotten emotional at have been animated. Toy Story 3 didn’t get to me emotionally, but How To Train Your Dragon sure did this year.

      • Rachel

        Animated movies are just as good as live-action movies. Some of the movies I’ve cried most at were animated. “The Lion King”, “Wall-E”, “Toy Story”, “Finding Nemo”, I cried at ALL of those.

  • Drew

    ‘Get Low’ benefitted from having a great cast, but the film itself is nothing special. I’m rooting for ‘The Ghost Writer’, a triumph of mood and suspense that was reminiscent of Hitchcock. Also, Winter’s Bone is definitely more deserving than ‘The Town,’ another movie that was well-made while not necessarily showing anything new.

  • AJ

    The Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the best movie I’ve seen all year. Perfect casting. Perfectly paced. Well-executed. It should get at least a mention here.

    • Shelly

      The Swedish version may very well be great, but since it’s Swedish, it doesn’t qualify for the Oscars (and thus wouldn’t be mentioned here).

      • Allison

        The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, as well as it’s two sequels, are Oscar eligible for Best Picture if they were released here within the year. They may not get a Foreign Film nod, but they could get a Best Picture nomination, although highly unlikely. Noomi Rapace deserves a nomination at the very least.

      • Lisa Simpson

        Foreign films do qualify if they are released in the US during the qualifying period, which The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was.

      • Nick T

        Cries and Whispers was nominated for for best pic back in the 70s. And it happened to be Swedish.

      • Woot

        So a foreign film can’t get nominated? Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon would beg to differ.

      • Albert

        “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” (Swedish version) most certainly does qualify for the Oscars. Several foreign-language films have been nominated for Best Picture, among them “Z” (1970) and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, which, in addition to getting a Best Picture nomination, also got a Best Foreign Language Film nomination – and won that award.

        I also hope “Dragon Tattoo” gets a Best Picture nomination, and that Noomi Rapace gets a Best Actress one.

      • David

        Incorrect. It would qualify for Foreign Language AND if they want, the can campaign for best picture. Life Is beautiful (la bita bella) did it in 2008 I think? and was nominated in both.

  • Sig

    Animal Kingdom should get a nomination.

    • Rashy

      Hell yeah. Animal Kingdom was by far the best movie of the year!

  • Derek

    What about THE WAY BACK with Colin Farrell & Ed Harris, or HEREAFTER (the Academy LOVES Clint, although they might be getting sick of rewarding him), or RABBIT HOLE???

    • Jose

      From what I understand despite the fact that the film The Way Back) has been receiving good reviews at film festivals since the film has an unfortunated release date it’sgoing to get lost in the competition, causing people to forget about it.

      Hereafter got several bad reviews and the deathly box office returns didn’t helpmuch.

      Not sure about Rabbit Holesince it seems like a lock for Best Actress and Supporting Actress but it might be to grim to be nominated for Best Picture.

      • Steve

        You think THE WAY BACK will get lost?! It’s Peter ‘Master & Commander/Witness/Truman Show/Dead Poets Society’ Weir. It will get nominated. I am amazed how few pwople have this one on their short lists.

  • Bo

    Bob and Harvey have started to throw fire on the coals again for The Company Men.

  • MrFord

    I think that most of these are pretty solid predictions. I feel as if Winter’s Bone is missing here, but on the other hand it may be too indie for Oscar voters. So excluding might not be so dumb.

  • James

    Let Me In is the best movie I’ve seen this year so far. I would hope lack of box office numbers doesn’t disqualify it.

    • Rob Grizzly

      I’ve got to back you up on Let Me In. I really liked the original, and was disappointed the Oscars overlooked it. Hopefully they pay attention to this equally good American version.
      Also, Black Swan and 127 Hours have got to be Best Bets.

      • Rashy

        I disagree, the remake Let Me In was no where near as good. The setting was all wrong, not even a single frame held the sparse beauty of nature that was prevailent in Let The Right One In, and it felt as though she was just using him, I for one was not sold on their love.

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