OscarWatch: Ranking the contenders

inception_levitt-dicaprioImage Credit: Stephen VaughanWe’re now only seven weeks away from the Academy Award nominations, and within in next seven days we’ll hear the New York and Los Angeles film critics’ prizewinners, the American Film Institute’s top 10, and the all-important nominees from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. So where do things stand right now? Here are my rankings in the top six categories. I’m including an extra five contenders for each category so you can see who, in my opinion, is “on the bubble.”

1. The King’s Speech
2. The Social Network
3. Inception
4. Toy Story 3
5. True Grit
6. 127 Hours
7. The Kids Are All Right
8. The Fighter
9. The Town
10. Winter’s Bone
11. Black Swan
12. Another Year
13. Get Low
14. Rabbit Hole
15. The Ghost Writer

Check out the rest of the categories after the jump.

1. David Fincher, The Social Network
2. Christopher Nolan, Inception
3. Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
4. Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit
5. Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
6. Ben Affleck, The Town
7. Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
8. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
9. David O. Russell, The Fighter
10. Mike Leigh, Another Year

1. Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
2. James Franco, 127 Hours
3. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
4. Jeff Bridges, True Grit
5. Robert Duvall, Get Low
6. Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine
7. Javier Bardem, Biutiful
8. Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole
9. Michael Douglas, Solitary Man
10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception

1. Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
2. Natalie Portman, Black Swan
3. Lesley Manville, Another Year
4. Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
5. Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
6. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
7. Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
8. Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice
9. Gwyneth Paltrow, Country Strong
10. Sally Hawkins, Made in Dagenham

1. Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech
2. Christian Bale, The Fighter
3. Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
4. Jeremy Renner, The Town
5. Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
6. Jim Broadbent, Another Year
7. Sam Rockwell, Conviction
8. Bill Murray, Get Low
9. Matt Damon, True Grit
10. John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone

1. Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
2. Melissa Leo, The Fighter
3. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
4. Amy Adams, The Fighter
5. Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole
6. Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
7. Sissy Spacek, Get Low
8. Ruth Sheen, Another Year
9. Barbara Hershey, Black Swan
10. Mila Kunis, Black Swan

I will post a new set of rankings every Tuesday from now until the Oscars on Feb. 27. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter (@davekarger) for all my Oscar news and updates.

Comments (194 total) Add your comment
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  • Mr. Holloway

    Haven’t seen “The Fighter” yet, but I see Christian Bale and Amy Adams as strong contenders for nominations.

    No Mark Wahlberg? Not even “on the bubble”? (And not even over DiCaprio, who I think was better in “Shutter Island” than “Inception”) I’d heard whispers about Wahlberg’s prospects, but I guess not.

    • Woot

      I think he has the fighter too high. Switch “The Fighter” with “Black Swan”

      • JohnJohn

        Agreed. And TOWN should be higher, it’s playing great to Academy members.

    • Evelyn

      Inception is soooo gonna disappoint when the nominations come around. The film was a huge success, and that will be its reward. But it was too self important and forcedly esoteric.

      • Mr. Holloway

        I don’t know about a disappointment. (And I REALLY don’t know about “forcedly esoteric.”)

        I feel like it’s a shoo-in for Best Picture (esp. since there are 10 slots) and it’s a strong contender for Best Director. Beyond that, I can see it picking up a Screenplay nom and a bunch of technical awards.

        That said, it feels like it’ll get shutout of the acting awards, but if it picks up the stuff I mentioned in the previous paragraph that’s by no means a disappointment.

    • Moviebuff74

      I saw “The Fighter” a few weeks ago (the final version, not a rough cut) and it is fantastic! It will definitely get nominated for Best Picture as well as Supporting Actor (Bale) and Supporting Actress (Leo and Adams). Wahlberg will not get nominated. He was good but his role was not “showy” enough and there were way too many other performances that were stronger this year (Franco, Bridges, Duvall, Gosling). I don’t think Firth should win but I think he will.

    • Lee

      I heard of comparisons between INCEPTION and SHUTTER ISLAND, and the similarities may cancel either one of them out. Between the two, I prefer SHUTTER ISLAND.

    • Collin

      It’s not that Wahlberg’s bad, he’s just not that interesting, particularly compared to his co-stars. And all the campaigning in the world and reminding us how long he fought to get this made and how much the trained isn’t going to change that.

  • Matt

    What about Marion Cotillard for Inception, i know the movie was 5 months ago but she SOOOO deserves a nomination!

    • Mr. Holloway

      Seconded. She certainly deserves to, at least, be in the top 10. (She IS a past winner, after all.)

      • TPK

        Not going to happen.

      • Mr. Holloway


        I know, but still…a guy can hope.

      • tracy bluth

        I really think she deserves it, but unfortunately I feel like Inception isn’t going to get the nominations it so deserves.

    • natalie portmenteau

      she and the film were terrible

      • Kevin

        You’re terrible. And dumb. And your name is stupid. See how annoying senseless comments are? Next time, have something to say before you comment; you’re allowed to have your opinions but you have to be able to back them up.

      • Tim

        She was the best part of an overrated film.

    • m1

      She gave the best acting performance of the entire film, which is saying something considering how big the cast is.

    • Nope

      No, she doesn’t. Not at all.

    • Nathan

      Inception was cool and all, but not really Oscar worthy, maybe a couple technical awards, but nothing major.

    • David

      I think she did a good job and so did Decaprio. However, her accent was bothering me too much…she’s an amazing actress no doubt.

    • Angela

      She definitely deserves one, at least based on what I’ve seen, but there’s not much of a chance for any of the actors in the movie, in part because it was so much about the ensemble; no particular person really stuck out. Also, it’s a blockbuster and acting nominations tend not to go to big special effects films.

  • Noelle

    I like the Best Picture list, but I hope to see Gosling and especially Michelle Williams move up the ranks when Blue Valentine is released.

    • James S.

      That’s if anybody gets to *see* the damned thing, thanks to the flywheels at the MPAA. Conservative d-bags.

  • Andrew

    I guess Justin Timberlake won’t be nominated.

    • Carly

      I don’t think from watching interviews with Timberlake he actually expects to be nominated. Page Six tabloid made up a story about him and all the blogs ran with it instead of listening to what Justin has said. He said he hopes the movie and all the others involved get nods but finds any talk about himself to be unfathomable and that he’s just happy to have been part of such a great movie.

      • steph

        and that’s why I love Justin Timberlake.

  • m1

    I think Rockwell has more of a chance than people think.

    • TPK

      I agree, I see Rockwell and Jacki Weaver making it in.

      • Reed

        The one nomination that must happen is Jacki Weaver.

  • Chloe

    Shutter island deserves some nods. Especailly for Leonardo DiCaprio. I honestly think that was one of the best performances of the year, and I think he still has a chance to be nominated for that. I would rather see him nominated for that than Inception, even though he was great in that as well, it wasn’t as emotionally intense of a character as Teddy Danials was. And Marian Colltiard deserves a nod for best supporting actress for inception. Also, lets not overlook Winona Ryder’s performance in black swan…simply daunting.

    • MsSuniDaze

      I agree. Shutter Island was fantastic. I would love if it got nominated. I think it’s off peoples radar because it came out so long ago. But I would love to see Leo finally get a Oscar for either movie.

      • Sara

        I completely agree. He’s amazing. But, the Academy has overlooked him so many times I would be shocked if he got nominated.

    • James S.

      Also agreed. DiCaprio’s performance in Shutter Island was kind of amazing.

      • Kelcie

        I agree as well. “Inception” was phenomenal, but DiCaprio’s performance In “Shutter Island” was much more intense. I felt for both chracters, but what Leo did with Teddy Daniels was incredible.

    • n2j

      Yes! I loved Inception but Shutter Island was incredible & he should be nominated for that movie.

  • Yabby

    Berry & Paltrow? Really? Please let it go. On the other hand, don’t count out Tilda Swinton (I AM LOVE).

  • rob

    im actually really, really shocked you put julianne moore at 5. ive heard she was great, and she has a shot but all the other predictions ive read lately dont put her in the top 5 (or top 7). moore is a fantstic actress but she has lost a LOT of momentum, and momentum is key for the oscars.

    • Hannah Lane

      Totally right about Julianne Moore. I really expect Nicole Kidman to push her out for a spot. Annette Bening’s performance was just so strong, it made Julianne’s seem lacking at moments.

      • MCS

        I didnt find Moore’s performance lacking at all. Perhaps it was the difference in roles they played, but I thought they were so close in the strength of their performances that I couldnt split them. Kids are All Right is without doubt the best film I have seen this year.

      • kimmy

        if they are both nominated for Best Actress, i think voters will be split and that will leave room open for Natalie Portman to swoop in for the win.

    • Angela

      Julianne Moore really should get in, but the fact that she’s being campaigned with Annette Bening in Lead means that she might miss out. I still think her chances are pretty good, but she’s by no means a guarantee.

    • rb

      I don’t get the “split the votes” argument of why they shouldn’t have Julianne Moore and Annette Bening in the Best Actress category. EVERY actress that is truly meant to be in that category “splits the votes” for any other actress that is meant to be in that category. It is called the “Best Actress”competition, not “Best Actress-when-odds-are-stacked-in-my-favor” award. If Bening can’t win the award because another actress was in the category with her (no matter if that other actress was in the same movie as her or not), then she DOESN’T deserve to win. She didn’t get the votes. It’s not hard.

      I still can’t get over the fact that Bening is finally actually going to promotional events for The Kids Are All Right now that she is campaigning hard for this nom… Maybe Moore can get some time off now…lol.

      Plus, the viewer ratings for the Oscars has been l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ow these past few years. I would think that the Oscars would want something as potentially exciting as having two actresses from the same movie competing in the same category.

      (I didn’t find Julianne Moore’s performance lacking at all. In fact, I felt next to Bening, I felt Bening overacted the scene at times. You don’t need to nod your head a million times or have a shrill voice to show anger, Bening!!)

  • rob

    I think either Michelle Williams or Nicole Kidman will take the Julianne Moore slot at 5. Love Julianne Moore but the best thing about “Kids” was Annette-

    • TPK

      Yes. Julianne was also not nominated for A Single Man last year (a performance I hated, though I like her a great deal) and I think she won’t get in this year either.

      • Adui

        I’m so with you on this. When I saw A Single Man, I disliked her performance so much, even though I love her. The accent was atrocious.

      • Woot

        yeah she wasn’t nominated…

      • m1

        I LOVED her in A Single Man :(.

  • Ali

    No Chloe Moretz?

    • Woot

      She doesn’t have a shot unfortunately… she deserves it though

      • Travis

        I am saddened by that as well… I loved her in Let Me In, but the movie was far from Oscar bait… I definitely see that little girl being up on that stage very soon.

  • nate

    no vincent cassel for supporting actor. he brought so much to his role in black swan and deserves some recognition for it. even natalie portman is saying he made the character way more complex than what was on the page. he was a bigger standout than hershey, who was also very good.

  • shdrew

    Where is Noomi Rapace for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” films????? Hands down, she’s given the best, most electrifying performance by an actress in years! Forget nominating any other actress and just give the award to her.

    Also, can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think Justin Timberlake really deserves a nod for “The Social Network”. I thought he more than held his own in his scenes. And although I agree with Rob (above), I really hope Julianne Moore gets a nod. She did a great job with a difficult role.

    • Adam

      Timberlake was fine, but I don’t think he really deserves a nomination over anyone else that was listed. And he certainly doesn’t deserve it more than Andrew Garfield, who was much better in The Social Network.

    • Hello Friend

      I feel like holding your own isn’t enough when it comes to the Oscars. Justin Timberlake did an “okay” job. His performance was adequate, and I feel like people are just praising him because he transitioned from music to film.

    • tony

      I have to agree. Justin Timberlake was just alright in The Social Network. Andrew Garfield was definitely the standout in terms of the supporting cast and deserves a nomination.

    • Angela

      I think Justin Timberlake would deserve a nom if he got one, but if any of the supporting actors from The Social Network get nominated, it’ll be Andrew Garfield. It sort of annoys me that people keep saying that JT’s getting praise just because he “proved he can act”, but frankly, I could tell he could act before The Social Network; he was great in Alpha Dog. To tell you the truth, I prefer him as an actor than a singer.

    • dave

      I couldn’t agree more about Rapace. And what about the movie? Where are the nominations?

  • dipshat

    I think The Social Network should be placed higher than The King’s Speech. It garnered better reviews and box office (granted The King’s Speech isn’t wide yet)and is the best film I’ve seen all year.

  • Corran

    I cannot believe there is no love for the box office and critical success, Shutter Island. Surely you cannot feel Dicaprio’s Inception performance was better than his Shutter Island one? Its going to be Blood Diamond over Departed all over again!

    • Ruby

      Agreed. I thought his acting in Shutter Island was Oscar-worthy. Much more than Inception at least!

    • davey

      DiCaprio was AMAZING in Shutter Island – a better performance than the one he gave in Inception (which was still very good).

    • Ry

      Love Inception, but I TOTALLY agree. Way to acknowledge the new Scorsese renaissance. S.I was better than many of his other movies that were nominated for best picture.

  • starr

    I think the one category this year that’s going to be very difficult to call/narrow down is Best Director. Most years, there a few very well directed films (3-5 that have a true shot at winning) and a handful of well qualified ones that are right on the bubble that fill out the nomination slots. However, this year, of your list of 10 directors, those who have had their films released were all exceptional and i have a hard time ranking those…then throw in the few that I have yet to see and then my head just starts hurting trying to compare them.

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