Oscar ballots mailed: Where do things stand?

social-networkImage Credit: Merrick MortonThe ballots for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards have been mailed today, beginning the all-important three-week-long period before they’re due on Jan. 14. Not much has changed in the past week since my last round of predictions (I am now putting Natalie Portman above Annette Bening for Best Actress, though I think the race is still too close to call). But I have been interested to watch as many of my Oscar-prognosticator colleagues have changed their predicted Best Picture winner from The King’s Speech to The Social Network. Several of you have wondered in the comments why I haven’t switched my No. 1 and No. 2 rankings after Network‘s virtual clean sweep of the critics awards. Believe me, I’ve wavered back and forth over the last few weeks. But I keep reminding myself that Oscar voters are not critics. If they were, then L.A. Confidential would have beaten Titanic. And Brokeback Mountain would have won over Crash. (Of course, critics and Academy members line up sometimes too, as they did last year with The Hurt Locker.) The only group to announce so far with a voting body that overlaps with the Academy is the Screen Actors Guild, and I find it interesting that Network earned only two nominations compared to four for Speech or The Fighter. I keep hearing from many Academy members who absolutely adore The King’s Speech. Can The Social Network win Best Picture on Feb. 27? Of course it can. Particularly if voters decide they want an American film to win. But until it picks up significant guild support, I’m not ready to swap my rankings. 

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

BEST DIRECTOR
1. David Fincher, The Social Network (last week: 1)
2. Christopher Nolan, Inception (last week: 2)
3. Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech (last week: 3)
4. Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit (last week: 4)
5. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan (last week: 5)
6. David O. Russell, The Fighter (last week: 6)
7. Ben Affleck, The Town (last week: 7)
8. Danny Boyle, 127 Hours (last week: 8 )
9. Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone (last week: 9)
10. Mike Leigh, Another Year (last week: 10)

BEST ACTOR
1. Colin Firth, The King’s Speech (last week: 1)
2. James Franco, 127 Hours (last week: 2)
3. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network (last week: 3)
4. Jeff Bridges, True Grit (last week: 4)
5. Robert Duvall, Get Low (last week: 5)
6. Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine (last week: 6)
7. Javier Bardem, Biutiful (last week: 7)
8. Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter (last week: 8 )
9. Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole (last week: 9)
10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception (last week: 10)

BEST ACTRESS
1. Natalie Portman, Black Swan (last week: 2)
2. Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right (last week: 1)
3. Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone (last week: 3)
4. Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole (last week: 4)
5. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine (last week: 5)
6. Lesley Manville, Another Year (last week: 6)
7. Hilary Swank, Conviction (last week: 8 )
8. Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right (last week: 7)
9. Halle Berry, Frankie & Alice (last week: 9)
10. Noomi Rapace, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (last week: 10)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. Christian Bale, The Fighter (last week: 1)
2. Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech (last week: 2)
3. Jeremy Renner, The Town (last week: 3)
4. Andrew Garfield, The Social Network (last week: 4)
5. Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right (last week: 5)
6. Sam Rockwell, Conviction (last week: 6)
7. John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone (last week: 7)
8. Bill Murray, Get Low (last week: 9)
9. Michael Douglas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (last week: 10)
10. Jim Broadbent, Another Year (last week: 8 )

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

Comments (240 total) Add your comment
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  • Michael

    I still think 127 Hours will sneak in ahead of The Town. No best ensemble nomination from SAG really killed any momentum that The Town was starting to have and I think nominations from DGA and WGA are more likely for 127 Hours than The Town. I think too many people are trying to predict what this year’s Invictus will be (snub in BP) when I don’t think there will be any. The ten that we started with will be the 10 nominated (esp. when you take into account that Rabbit Hole, Another Year, and Blue Valentine haven’t been able to generate buzz beyond its actors).

    • DrewinKC

      The Town was SO good though. Definately one of the best movies of the year. Well shot, well acted and entertaining. I ended up watching it twice I enjoyed it so much.

      • Tom

        The Town while a decent movie ripped off whole scenes and sequences from a seventies movie called Friends of Eddie Coyle. The bank heist scene, the walking to the water scene and others are lifted shot for shot from that movie.

      • denise

        The Town is actually based on a book called Prince of Theives and that book had the walk to water scene.

      • Danny

        I actually didn’t think too much of The Town. It was entertaining, but sort of stopped at anything more than that, for me, though the acting was solid (but not remarkable). Gone Baby Gone, another Affleck movie with a similar vibe, is infinitely more compelling and powerful. This was just sort of average. I really hope it doesn’t get a BP nomination, especially over 127 Hours.

      • A-K87

        Danny, saying The Town was entertaining but ‘sort of stopped at anything more than that’ is a strange thing to say. Movie’s are meant to entertain, what more do you want? A massage?

      • jmaxrosen

        What is this endless “movies are meant to entertain” nonsense–reducing every interesting thought, meaningful observation, moment of reflection, or even, occasionally, “message” (though films can have complicated ones) to “entertainment.” Books are also meant to entertain, yes? Arguably few things, in the world, in general, are created to be boring? I suspect he means that “The Town” didn’t make him think, or didn’t feel original, or didn’t exhilarate him–a word I think that goes well beyond “entertain.”

      • Juneau

        I really liked The Town, but couldn’t stop comparing it to Heat while watching it. Too many similarities to really give it credit for being original and unique. Just saw True Grit. An instant classic, indeed. Can’t believe the utter shut-out by the Golden Globes.

    • dipshat

      Nominees: (In no particular order)
      PICTURE:
      The Social Network
      The King’s Speech
      The Kids are alright
      127 hours
      Toy Story 3
      The Town
      The Fighter
      Black Swan
      Inception
      True Grit

  • Joey

    Portman over Benning? No way. Maybe if she won before.

    • Michael

      After seeing Black Swam, I loved Portman and felt that she brought the right amount of innocence gone awry to the role. Still, I found myself saying that there will be no way the Academy (esp. the older members) will give the Oscar to Portman for that role. While I really liked it and appreciated it, I still think that Black Swan will prove to be too trippy for the Academy.

      • Joey

        Michael….100% agree with you.

      • Mac

        Women aged 50+ rarely win Best Actress. Only eight times has a woman aged 50+ won Best Actress, and three of the times it was Katherine Hepburn. Only ONCE has a fifty-something won. A woman is only a fresh as her uterus – the edge goes to Natalie Portman, over 54 year-old Annette Bening.

      • Beepela

        And with Portman announcing her engagement and pregnancy, keeping her name all over the news (with good news no less), I give her the edge.

      • Stacey Hearts

        I love Social Network and GeekPeopleMeet was Amazing

      • Alex

        But will conservative members of the Academy want to reward Bening? I really don’t think Bening will win, Portman seems to have the momentum and she gave the better performance. Still both will get nominations and we still have to see what happens with the upcoming awards.

    • shdrew

      When it comes to Best Actress, the Academy prefers youth over age; and they like to coronate a new leading lady (Charlize Theron, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon). That gives Portman the edge over Benning.

      • DrewinKC

        I think Jennifer Lawrence has a chance to sneak some votes away if we are crowning a new leading lady. Her performance was awesome.

      • Joey

        Yes Drew but Diane Keaton had won an Oscar who was up against Theron and Spacek one as well who was against Berry. Bening has NOT won yet. Get where I am coming from?

      • Javabookut

        Yes all good points. But the Academy also likes to make up for previous snubs. Bening lost twice to Swank and some will argue she was better in this role than those. So they could choose her over Portman because she’s “DUE” so to speak. Kind of like Scorcese winning for the Departed since he’d been snubbed for his better movies.

      • Jen

        They also love to give a long-time favorite the oscar that they deserved a long time ago (Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, etc.) which is why I think they might give it to Annette.

      • DrewinKC

        That is just frustrating though. Yes, Benning’s performance was very nuanced and understated but in that movie the best performance was Julianne Moore who is definately overdue for an oscar.

      • JC

        I don’t get why Bening is “due” and Moore is not. She’s been nominated more times than Annette and has never won, and in my opinion gives the better performance in The Kids Are All Right.
        Either way, Natalie Portman FTW!

      • monomatica

        I thought Benning was great, but didn’t give a performance as intense as Portman. Plus, Portman did all that ballet training. That goes far with Academy voters.

    • JP

      Duh!!! Did the lesbian home gimmick wow you THAT much. . . Acting like a strict parent isn’t that hard. Mackin on the same sex for a role is even less hard. Finally they got it right and put Portman ahead. Not only did she have to learn the dance, but tackle a riveting role where she has to good and bad duely break down in a performance that was much more emotionally evoking. . .

      • Teri

        I’m a big fan of Annette Benning, but I just saw The Kids are All Right, and I didn’t see anything special in her performance. I don’t get the nomination at all.

      • kayla

        i agree i saw The Kids are All Right and i thought it was kind of overrated.Even though it was a good movie the only one with a stand out role was Moore. I would also love for Rockwell to sneak in over Ruffalo.

      • kimmy

        i just rented it last week and thought the same thing! for me, the lone stand out was julianne moore.

      • A-K87

        What is all of this nonsense about being ‘Due’ an oscar??

        Oscars are for best performance in giving year. Anyone who think Bening was better than Swank’s Boy’s Don’t Cry or Million Dollar Baby is blind and deaf.

        Bening deserves NOTHING for missing out to a more deserving winner 11 and 6 years ago.

    • DrChocolate

      Who cares? Jennifer Lawrence from Winters Bone was better than Portman or Benning. By a country mile.

    • Jacquelyn

      I really could not believe that Benning could even be in the top three with her character in The Kids Are All Right. It was way too boring for her to get an Oscar. I will be so angry if she wins over Portman. Portman deserves that Oscar and I think (hope) the Academy will reward her for her flawless work.

  • Mark Johnson

    I think it’s time to stop considering Get Low and The Ghost Writer as B.P. candidates. Not gonna happen.

    • mike

      They certainly are filler titles, but what could replace them in slots 14 and 15?

    • TorontoTom

      The only time I hear or read about Get Low is in Karger’s Oscar column. When does it come out? Already released? Straight to DVD?

      • Jose

        It was released in theaters during the Summer and is already on DVD.

      • mike

        No, it is not on DVD. I think it may be out in March but no official date of DVD release has been announced, as far as I can tell.

    • Meier

      And as good as ‘Toy Story 3′ is, we’re really still convinced it will become the third ever animated feature to nab a Best Picture nomination? Don’t nobody make a movie like Pixar, but seriously, it’s the weakest of its own trilogy.

      • steph

        Since going to 10 nominees, I believe we’ll see an animated film in the top ten each year. I don’t think it should be Toy Story 3 though.

  • Woot

    The Fighter is ranked way too high. Yes it’s top ten, but top 3? Before Inception or Black Swan? It’s getting way more love for it’s acting then for the movie.

    • Thayer

      The Fighter is definetiley gaining momentum. The box office and the critic’s wins for Bale and Leo are definitely helping.

      Black Swan should be in the 4th place after “The Fighter”. The box office was unexpectedly huge. And Mila Kunis is getting nominated for various awards for a thankless role. There is support for this film.

      • v

        Thayer is right on the money here. I don’t get why “True Grit” is still being ranked so highly. A Globe snub, plus the “B-B+” critical reception, is not promising. Replace it with Black Swan in the top 5.

      • Jose

        V, despite the globe snub True Grit has 95% on rotten Tomatoes (much better than the 89% and 88% that The Fighter and Black Swan have)

        But, the top 5 here is kind of screwy.

      • Jose

        As for the golden globe snub, remember No Country for Old Men did not win the best picture and director award at the globes but ended up winning them at the Oscars. And True Grit was met with enthusiasm over the weekend. And I now how much you love The fighter but I honestly though True Grit was the better movie (not as great as Black Swan though)

    • PJ

      The Fighter is a great movie and deserves all its nominations, including Best Picture.

      • Howard Bowling

        The Fighter is an awesome movie. I got goosebumps in several scenes. You have to see this movie. I believe it deserves More attention than it’s getting, Best Pic and Director nods for sure.

    • Javabookut

      I will have to disagree. I wasn’t too excited about seeing The Fighter but was blown away. The story, the acting, the fighting sequences. I only feel bad for Wahlberg since his role is so understated next to Bale, Leo and Adams. Bale blew me away. He is going to kill himself one of these days with his method weight loss and gain routine but he was amazing. I never cheer during boxing movies and I couldn’t stay in my seat.

      • Taylor

        I agree. The Fighter was barely even on my radar but I have to say that after seeing it, it’s one of my favorite movies of the year. I thought that everything just worked like gangbusters. The acting, the direction, the screenplay. One of those movies where you forget you are watching a movie because everything seems so genuine. I hope it keeps gaining momentum.

  • Jose

    Duvall getting a nomination? I still don’t see it.

    And while I though that Portman was excellent (even better than Bening) I would not be surprised if Bening won for the reasons Micheal stated.

    And this is just me, but I think Steinfeld should get a best actress nomination, if not then she should be a lot higher than she is now in the supporting actress race.

    • Thayer

      The Best Actor category often likes to reward veteran actors. The SAG nomination definitley helepd Duvall.

      • mike

        I’m hoping Wahlberg or Gosling takes his spot.

      • Jose

        Thayer, I understand that, but I don’t think the film has made a big enough splash to guarantee him a nomination. I’d rather see the fifth slot go to to Bardem, Gosling, or Wahlberg.

    • JC

      Yeah Steinfeld is definitely a lead in True Grit. I know she’s a kid, but there’s no reason why she should be in supporting if you ask me.

      • RBloodworth

        I agree that her part is more of a lead role in that movie than Jeff Bridges’ is, but- fair or not- child actors rarely ever get nominated in the lead actor / actress category. Part of this probably has to do with the fact that the studios running Oscar campaigns will place actors in categories that they think have a better chance of winning (this is especially possible with an ensemble piece like “True Grit”). Let’s face facts here: there’s no chance in hell that Hailee Steinfeld is going to beat out Natalie Portman or Annette Bening for Best Actress, so the “True Grit” producers will place her in the more easily winnable Best Supporting Actress category (which- especially given the history of the award- she actually stands a good chance of winning).

  • Thayer

    In the Best Actress category, the Academy almost always favor the young/hot actress over the veteran (Annette). The fact that Natalie Portman is both young/hot and a veteran is hugely in her favor.

    The race remains tight between Annette and Natalie. But at this moment, Natalie has the Oscar in the bag.

  • dropper

    I just want to see Annette Benning’s face on Oscar night if she once again loses to a younger actress who starred in a dark, independent film.

    • Nan

      no kidding! I fear she may pull out a gun and start firing. . .poor annette. But i really hope Natatat gets the Oscar!

    • fancypants

      lol!
      Hilary Swank starred in Million Dollar Baby (a mainstream studio film) when she won over Bening for the 2nd time, but I get your point. I’m guessing Bening just hates Hilary Swank at this point. And Swank may pull an upset nom for Conviction this year! How funny.

      • BA

        I feel like Annette Bening must be thinking, “Thank GOD Hilary Swank’s movie tanked this year!”

      • Strepsi

        Boys Don’t Cry was an amazing performance by Swank, but there is just no way she should have 2 Best Actress Oscars at this point.
        Bening was Swanked.

      • Jacquelyn

        I think Swank deserved both Oscars. Boys Dont Cry and Million Dollar Baby are two of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. Add Black Swan to the mix and Benning will be losing to three much more entertaining movies and way better acting…thats not true…way more challenging acting. Nic was not a challenging character to play. Nina sure was and Natalie prepared herself for months. No way Benning deserves this Oscar nor did she deserve the other two!

  • Nick

    I hope the Academy gets it right and gives Best Actress to Natalie Portman. I love Annette Bening, but this award belongs to Portman. She owned her role. If Bening wins, it will be very clear that the Academy is awarding her not particularly for her role in The Kids Are All Right, but rather as a lifetime achievement type of thing. She was great in Kids, don’t get me wrong. But in no way was her performance more deserving than Portman’s in Black Swan. If Portman doesn’t win, then the Academy will just end up awarding her later on for a role that’s not as worthy in an attempt to make it up to her (which has been done so many times in the past, it needs to stop).

  • Kim

    Whta??? No Sex and the City 2 ??? Puh-Lease!!!

    • TorontoTom

      I know!?! Where is Liza in the Best Supporting Actress category??

      • PQilez

        and where’s Kim Cattrall in the best supporting actor category?!?

    • Jose

      Forget Sex and the City 2! Where is Eclipse for best Picture, director, adapted screenplay, and Kristin Stewart for Best Actress!?

  • Jason Scott

    Portman’s performance deserves the Oscar. It’s the best performance in that category.Although I admit I still have not seen Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole. If Portman loses just so they can give a de facto Life Acheivement award to Bening for what is arguably a supporting role, well, that might be the most frustrating thing the Academy has done in a long time.

    • mike

      Think news that Portman is pregnant will increase her chances?

    • Brian

      I can say the same about Nicole Kidman the year she won Best Actress for The Hours.

      • DrewinKC

        Nicole should’ve won for Moulin Rouge in my opinion.

      • Juan

        She deserved it thou. They only thing close that year was Julianne Moore for Far From Heaven.

      • Strepsi

        She was phenomenal, but the other 2 commenters are right, Kidman deserved it for Moulin Rouge and Moore deserved it for Far From Heaven (the best movie of the decade if you ask me).

    • PJ

      Agreed, Natalie Portman deserves the Oscar over most of the field. Still, I have a weird feeling that Jennifer Lawrence might win. But, if anything Julianne Moore is more “over due” for an Oscar than Annette Bening (Moore’s 4 nominations beats Bening’s 3), and she has a clear “Oscar moment.”

  • Thayer

    The fact that Annette bening won the New York Film Critics Circle (probably the most prestigious critic’s awards) legitimizes Annette’s win for an Oscar. I think Kids Are All Right is Annette’s best perfroamnce since The Grifters and her win would be greatly deserved.

    That said, I also believe Natalie would be deserving for a win. This is really an exciting two-way race between Annette and Natalie.

    • nancyD

      I’ve never been a big Bening fan, but I think she did her best work in Kids. That scene at the dinner table alone is brilliant, and for the first time, I find myself rooting for her.

      Portman was terrific in her performance, but I had trouble accepting this character – with her constant crying and fearful apologies – as the prima ballerina needed to do Odette/Odile. Sorry, but Nina was too weak. But Portman was fantastic playing Nina.

      • FrankT

        Agree 100% w NancyD. Bening’s performance was way more nuanced. She deserves Oscar for this role as well as for her career (Susan Sarandon won later in her career, as did Shirley MacLaine. I believe Bening is as much admired as they were).

  • Jose

    Anyone else think that Portman’s upcoming romantic comedy with Ashton Kutcher might hurt her chances. Like what happened to Eddie Murphy when Norbit was released in the middle of his Oscar campaign for Dreamgirls

    • DrewinKC

      I agree, that movie looks terrible. Though I honestly think that Natalie Portman is very hit and miss when it comes to her talent. Where the Heart Is vs. Closer anyone?

    • Woot

      Perhaps, but really I don’t blame the girl. After making Black Swan, I’m sure she wanted to do a light hearted romantic comedy before she did another dark independent film.

    • Nan

      Great point, but the ballots are due back Jan. 14 and NSA releases on the 11th. So three days out I don’t think it could do too much damage to her chances…

      • Woot

        That’s just for nominations though.

    • m1

      I don’t think the movie looks that terrible (I saw a trailer of it before Black Swan), and the cast outside of Ashton Kutcher actually looks promising. And she actually looks good in it, too.

      • fancypants

        Lesson #1: EVERY movie Ashton Kutcher in is horrible. It’s just a fact.

    • Pete

      Yeah, I thought she looks pretty solid in it–not too campy or romcom-ish in the trailer.

      Also, hit or miss: The Other Boleyn Girl was like Portman unrestraint and the performance turned a lot of people off

    • SC

      That movie looks mediocre, not straight-up terrible like “Norbit”, so I doubt it will.

    • Wes

      Yeah, but it didn’t hurt Sandra Bullock last year, with All About Steve. Even though any of the other four nominees deserved it more…..

  • jordan

    The Kings Speech was terrific. I have no problem if it beats The Social Network. They were both great movies. And Geoffrey Rush should win best supporting actor. He was brilliant.

    • Brian

      He could win but Christian Bale is likely to win at this point for The Fighter because Geoffrey Rush has already won an Oscar.

      • Javabookut

        And because Bale was insane perfection in that role. I was already in awe and then they showed a clip of the really Dickey at the end and I was blown away. He is the clear favorite and should be.

    • starbbycat

      Loved the King’s Speech – hope it takes all its categories – this film could have been a total disaster instead it was brilliant – very well done on all fronts – a classic.

      • Marilyn

        Agreed. Brilliant. Bravo!

    • v

      Haven’t seen “Speech” yet, but Rush would have to be unbelievably brilliant to take it from Bale. I almost think Bale coulda won “Best Actor” had he been submitted in that category.

      • Marilyn

        Rush did amazing!

  • DrewinKC

    I just watched Winter’s Bone last night and I thought the film was beautifully shot and extremely disturbing in a “get under your skin because it is getting so tense” kind of way. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing, and the fact that she is only 17 ensures her a long and illustrious career in the years to come. There is a scene in that movie that she deserves the oscar for. No dialogue, just raw emotion. Her performance was perfection.

    • m1

      The scene that she would deserve the Oscar for IMO would be her conversation w/her mother halfway through the film. It was stellar.

      • Kevin

        I have to add John Hawkes performance as Tear Drop. The scene when the cop pulls him over gave me chills…

      • Tom

        Right on the money with these comments. John Hawkes performance deserves to not get overlooked and Jennifer has a real shot of taking this. I think her performance was the best of the three mentioned.

    • Ted

      Jennifer Lawrence is 20

      • Anonymous

        They meant that she was seventeen when the movie was filmed.

  • Micheal

    All this Portman/Bening talk is nice, but if the award went to the person who deserved it most then Jennifer Lawrence would win for Winter’s Bone

    • DrewinKC

      TOTALLY AGREE!

    • Woot

      I would agree Jennifer Lawrence deserves it more than Annette Bening, but I still think Natalie Portman gave an amazing performance and deserves the oscar as well.

      • Joey

        I have heard nothing but good things about Kidman…but I do not see a black horse winning this race. If any…a Black Swan might win…hahaha. Get it?

      • Nan

        haha joey that was actually really funny.

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