Oscar predictions: Did Melissa Leo torpedo her campaign?

Since my last round of predictions, two major Oscar-related events have taken place. The Writers Guild Awards were handed out to The Social Network and Inception, and Melissa Leo released her own (now controversial) campaign ads. Though Leo has been applauded by some for her chutzpah, I’ve talked to a few Academy members who now say they’re less likely to vote for her after the faux-fur-filled photos. I actually had True Grit‘s Hailee Steinfeld at the top of my supporting-actress rankings before the ads came out. At this point it could go either way. Here are my current predictions.

1. The King’s Speech (last week: 1)
2. The Social Network (last week: 2)
3. The Fighter (last week: 3)
4. True Grit (last week: 4)
5. Inception (last week: 5)
6. Toy Story 3 (last week: 7)
7. Black Swan (last week: 6)
8. 127 Hours (last week: 8 )
9. Winter’s Bone (last week: 10)
10. The Kids Are All Right (last week: 9)

1. David Fincher, The Social Network (last week: 1)
2. Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech (last week: 2)
3. David O. Russell, The Fighter (last week: 4)
4. Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit (last week: 3)
5. Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan (last week: 5)

1. Colin Firth, The King’s Speech (last week: 1)
2. Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network (last week: 2)
3. James Franco, 127 Hours (last week: 3)
4. Javier Bardem, Biutiful (last week: 4)
5. Jeff Bridges, True Grit (last week: 5)

1. Natalie Portman, Black Swan (last week: 1)
2. Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right (last week: 2)
3. Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone (last week: 3)
4. Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole (last week: 5)
5. Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine (last week: 4)

1. Christian Bale, The Fighter (last week: 1)
2. Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech (last week: 2)
3. Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right (last week: 3)
4. John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone (last week: 4)
5. Jeremy Renner, The Town (last week: 5)

1. Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit (last week: 1)
2. Melissa Leo, The Fighter (last week: 2)
3. Amy Adams, The Fighter (last week: 3)
4. Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech (last week: 4)
5. Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom (last week: 5)

1. The King’s Speech (last week: 1)
2. Inception (last week: 3)
3. The Kids Are All Right (last week: 2)
4. The Fighter (last week: 4)
5. Another Year (last week: 5)

1. The Social Network (last week: 1)
2. Toy Story 3 (last week: 2)
3. True Grit (last week: 3)
4. Winter’s Bone (last week: 4)
5. 127 Hours (last week: 5)

Want to try to beat my predictions? Check out our Battle of the Ballots Oscar prediction game. And follow me on Twitter (@davekarger) for Oscar updates.

Comments (141 total) Add your comment
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  • Armando

    I think so. Should have gone the Mo’nique way: let the performance do the walking.

    • Sally in Chicago

      No, she’s safe.

    • Jordan

      am i the only one hopelessly hoping that 127 hours manages to somehow win best picture? i loved the king’s speech and social network (in that order), but i thought the movie was a masterpiece in every aspect. the nice thing is, it’s going to be very unlikely that i’ll be extremely upset with any result of best picture..

      • Nadroj


      • Kate

        I’d like to see Franco win but he won’t beat Firth.

      • XSE Drake

        I’m with ya, Jordan. The King’s Speech and The Social Network were both fine films, but my heart belongs to 127 Hours and Franco’s brilliant performance.

        Too bad it won’t happen.

      • DGP

        I thought it was a great movie (although I liked True Grit the best of all of them), but 127 Hours is far far too intense for the average viewer, let alone Academy member.

      • dipshat

        Totally agree with Jordan.

      • Crystal

        The movie was a very stressful experience (I actually got dizzy when he finally walked out into the sun in the end). I don’t see it winning best picture (no directing nomination, didn’t do very well in the box office, subject matter, etc.), but I’m crossing my fingers that Franco makes an upset and wins best actor. Although, I’ll be happy with anyone winning except Jesse (don’t get the love).

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  • m1

    It’s really silly that people are making such a big deal about Leo’s ads. God forbid someone campaigning herself (eye roll).

    • Tye-Grr

      It’s the way she did it. Have you seen the ads? They have NOTHING to do with her performance. At all.

      • trent


      • Aaron

        I’m going to have to agree. The ads were tasteless and tacky. They had nothing to do with her performance, and it seemed like a desperate effort not only to win an Oscar, but to boost her whole “celebrity” profile…I just found it really oft-putting, and I know she’s probably a nice woman, but I think she just shot herself in the foot. Mo’Nique proved last year that you didn’t have to whore yourself out to win an Oscar…the performance can speak for itself.

      • sascha

        She’s a gorgeous woman. I like the pictures. The movie made her look ugly. The shows exhibit what she really is and how different she looked in the movie.

      • WhitneyD

        Sascha- the pictures are neat… but they don’t do much to remind voters of her performance. The Oscars aren’t a beauty pageant.

    • Jackson

      No kidding, as if self-promotion in Hollywood is suddenly gauche. I hope the ads work and Leo wins the pretty statue.

      • andy

        melissa is more actress than all the others combined..

  • LOL

    Leo made a big mistake. Kiss that Oscar goodbye.

    • Rowan

      Oh, please. Joan Crawford campaigned and took out ads and everyone said it was going to ruin her chance of winning for Mildred Pierce. She won anyway.

      • Beau

        Different times, different people. Leo’s no Joan Crawford.

      • Beau

        Different times, different people. Leo is no Crawford.

      • andy


    • Liz Lemon

      I was routing for Helena Bonham-Carter or Hailee Steinfeld anyways.

      • Lily

        I’m rooting for Helena Bonham-Carter. She’s been amazing for 20 years and was wonderful in The King’s Speech!

      • Liz Lemon

        She was brilliant in The King’s Speech.

  • Josh

    I think if Leo did ruin her chances(how weird was her campaign?) Adams is going to win it.

    • Rye

      Agreed. If she did ruin her chances Amy Adams seems to be the one to benefit.

    • Jobless

      I hope either Adams or Steinfeld can spring the “upset”. I’ve wanted one of those two to win from the beginning.

    • MCS

      They were just bizarre. What were they trying to say? “Look, I’m rich like you too, I wear furs and have an indoor swimming pool, vote for me”.

      • Jeb

        I think it was more ” I am not the character I played” situation /idea. As far as I know , ML has yet to portray anything close to a glam character.. and it’s been said , that despeite her earlier wins she couldn’t snag a magazine cover – in part because she’s over 50 …
        I say, more power to her. She ‘s showing people she can portray upper class and not just blue collar or working class … Don’t forget it’s not easy for actresses to distinguish themselves even in the best of times… What kind of dough do the producer spend promoting supporting actress nominees anyways? Not all that much, I’d say….

      • mkaffeine

        I agree, Jeb: I think the ads were as much about reminding people that she was playing a character much older than herself (in real life, Leo is only a decade older than Wahlberg & Bale) as they were a pitch for Oscar.

      • Aaron

        Ummm…yes, Melissa is over 50 but people are totally ignoring the fact that the reason she is not on magazine covers is because SHE IS NOT THAT FAMOUS! I’m sorry to be so blunt, but her female peers in her age range such as Annette Bening, Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton, Jodie Foster, Susan Sarandon, and Julianne Moore are often on the covers of magazines because they are established screen stars that people recognize and are willing to buy the magazine with their picture on it…yes, its scarce to find a magazine with someone over the age of 35 on it, but I think the main reason why Ms. Leo is bitter is because she is not as established/well-known to land a cover on a prominent magazine. She needs to quit whining.

    • natalie portmenteau

      Nope, Jackie Weaver is going to pull an upset similar to Marcia Gay Harden a few years back and win it.

      • paulie

        I wish. That was by far the performance of the year in this category.

      • stiffy

        Yes, I’m hoping for a Jackie Weaver victory too. She’s fantastic in ‘Animal Kingdom’! She’s more than outstanding in it.

    • sam

      I honestly cannot see what is so great about hailee steinfeld. Amy adams deserves it, she’s been nominated three times, they didn’t even nominate Leo at the British oscars. I love Leo, but Adams has long been overdue and I find it incredibly insulting that steinfeld would be the one to win in the face of amy adams.

      • meme

        The girl is only 14 years old and she gave a stunning performance opposite seasoned pros. She was fabulous.

      • BarbFlatt

        I completely agree. I found her to be annoying and a one-note character. Kim Darby gave a much more nuanced performance in the original and was very obviously a kid trying to be a grownup. I’m sure Hailee Stansfield has talent, I just don’t see how she has a prayer against the other four. There were other performances this year that blew her out of the water, in my opinion.

      • bootsycolumbia

        We must have been watching different movies, Sam. I thought Hailee Steinfeld was fantastic in the role and more than held her own against Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin. Kudos to her for the nomination, and I’d be more than happy if she wins (although Helena Bonham Carter was perfect in The King’s Speech).

      • Crystal

        “Kim Darby gave a much more nuanced performance in the original”

        That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. Over-the-top and cartoonish is the way to describe all of the acting in “the original.” (Do not understand how Wayne got an Oscar for that). Subtlety is a hard thing to portray, and Hailee deserves the Oscar.

  • Brian

    Why should that ruin her chances that should help boost her chances and if voters don’t vote for her for that reason, then there not voting for her performance in the film.

    • Renee

      Hello? It’s the Oscars. It’s all so bureaucratic anyway.

  • Beau

    When her ads first appeared, I thought she screwed up. I’m pretty certain there were voters who were on the fence about her (there always are fence sitters), and her ads just gave a few of them an out. Take it to the bank…she will not win supporting actress. Can’t say who will, probably either Hailie or Amy. Won’t break my heart either way.

  • CC

    So Hooper wins the DGA and his film wins the PGA and SAG ensemble (and is the favorite for the BAFTA) and Fincher’s still the frontrunner? I’d call it a toss-up at this point. Depending on how many BAFTAs TKS picks up, looks like it could tip the scale Hooper’s way. The Academy seems to have a somewhat tepid response to TSN…

    • Bobby’s Robot

      It could be a “Director’s film” vs a “Writer’s film” thing. The directors of Best Picture winners Shakespeare in Love and Driving Miss Daisy didn’t win or weren’t nominated.

    • Liz Lemon

      The King’s Speech SHOULD and WILL win Best Picture, so it will be really weird if Hooper doesn’t win for Best Director. I loved both films, so I will be happy if either win…it’s hard to choose a favorite.

  • Mr. Holloway

    Leo’s is one of two acting races that are still up for grabs (Firth and Bale are locks.) Portman will probably win out over Bening. Leo was getting to be as strong a probability as Portman, but this certainly didn’t help. It’s not so much the idea that she’s campaigning on her own behalf…it’s more that she’s chosen to do it in such an odd, tacky way.

    Obviously, the major factor for these awards should be the performances themselves…however, I think it would be extremely naive to think that outside forces (whose “turn” is it to win? who do voters like? which voter may potentially be a crazy person?) don’t come into play.

    • Armando

      Sadly, most of the time those ‘outside forces’ do come into play (especially the ‘overdue’ thing). Like Katherine Hepburn once said: “the right actors win Oscars, but for the wrong roles.”

      • Helen

        Right on, Armando. Miss Hepburn knew what she was talking about. She has 3 Oscars? I still think Christopher Nolan should have been nominated for Inception!

      • heights91

        So true

      • Cal

        Helen: actually Hepburn has 4 best actress oscars. “Morning Glory”, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”, “Lion in Winter” and “Golden Pond”

    • Alan Smithee

      Hey, Mr. Holloway or should I say, Clive Bixby? Me? I shall remain Anona Muss. Oh, jackpot.

      I have yet to see The Fighter but I kind of hope Steinfeld gets it. Although, it’s easy for the academy to reward multiple noms just to put that checkmark by their name.

      • Mr. Holloway

        Nice to see you outside the “Modern Family” board, Muss.

    • Just Sayin’

      God, I hope Christian Bale is not a lock for an Oscar. Ugh.

  • Adam

    Whether or not she truly deserves to win, it’s unfortunate that people will be swayed by something that has nothing to do with her performance. I hate Oscar politics.

    • Milo Camp

      Unfortunately that is a part of anything that is subjective. It should be based on the actor’s work, the script, the public’s acceptance of the work, etc. But, being the nature of life in our times, payback, bribery, and perceptions are all involved. It isn’t right, but it’s what we have.

  • Jalal

    I don’t understand why you keep bumping Black Swan down every single week. It should be in at least the fourth or fifth spot, and for director, Aronofsky would not be in last place. I mean Black Swan got two key nominations; director and editing along with cinematorgraphy. The only key nomination it did not get was screenplay.

  • Nick

    I’m hoping either Helena Bonham Carter or Amy Adams can swoop in and win.

  • Danny

    Kate Winslet did the same thing two years when she won for “Pedophile: Story of a Jew Killer,” er … “The Reader.” Meryl Streep doesn’t campaign, and it hurts her chances every time. Melissa Leo might be okay.

    • Lucy

      Of course Meryl campaigns. She’s all over talk shows, giving interviews, making acceptance speeches (yes, those are like mini-auditions), etc. If she didn’t campaign, then she would skip awards ceremonies, parties, and talk shows. She wants that third Oscar.

      • You’re Sadly Misinformed

        Meryl Streep has NEVER campaigned for an Academy Award. It’s disgusting when people try and disseminate this kind of erroneous information. Yes, she will go on talk shows to Promote a film but Never to campaign for an Award. Attending awards shows has nothing to do with campaigning since the winner has already been selected. Your comment was ludicrous.

    • natalie portmenteau

      “Pedophile: Story of a Jew Killer”. Classic!

    • godstoiletreader

      I’ll bet you think Palestinians are terrorists too.

  • Buffy Freak

    Leo has been turning me off with her acceptance speeches and talk show appearances. Now these ads? I can see why there would be some backlash.

    • Renee

      Oh my gosh I know! She needs to enlist the help of her publicist or something because her speeches are so awkward and rambling. i.e. at the Golden Globes when she told the nominees “you guys might should be up here, but here I am” or something like that

    • Carol

      Me too! She’s letting her lack of depth show when she’s on those shows. It’s weird. And I didn’t think she was that good. I voted for Mila Kunis for the SAG awards.

    • sam

      Too these awards are about ACTING and not speech-making.

      • Buffy Freak

        They are supposed to be about acting…but sometimes other things come in to play. Sometimes it’s a career achievement award. Somtimes it goes to the hot young ingenue. Some voters have their personal biases. If you look back at Oscar history you can see countless examples of the actual “best” performance doesn’t win the award. If it was soley about the acting then why would actors do these marketing campaigns if they have no impact?


    Speaking for myself, in her case, they should simply vote for her talent. If they like her most, then give it to her.

    – –

    It’s NOT a crime. I think people should stop treating her as if it was another controversial case a la A BEAUTIFUL MIND at BAFTA.

    – –

    I’ve never seen TRUE GRIT yet. But if it’s universally acknowledged that Steinfeld, if any, could have been nominated for ANOTHER category, then this alone, IMO, might justify her action, not to mention what else lies beneath.

    – –

    This (winning), she might think, means more offers to come her way in the future; so, she fights for it. It’s a fair deal.

    • Taylor

      I agree. It’s a silly ad but they should still be smart enough to vote for her performance. She deserves to win.

  • James

    I’m still completely shocked that Steinfeld is in the supporting category! She appears in True Grit more than Michelle Williams does in Blue Valentine! On the Leo controversy, she should still win. If not, I’m hoping Carter gets the upset.

    • anna

      Yeah, but I’m sure they realized Steinfeld wouldn’t have nearly as good of a shot in the lead actress category so they put her up for supporting.

    • bootsycolumbia

      That’s actually why I think Hailee Steinfeld is going to win Best Supporting Actress. Her role was the main character and it was her story being told. The fact that she gave a Best Actress performance caliber performance means that she’s a lock for Best Supporting Actress, imho, anyway!:)

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