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Tag: Oscar predictions (41-49 of 49)

'True Grit': Hailee Steinfeld for Best Actress?

Hailee-SteinfeldImage Credit: Wilson WebbThe fantastic box office performance of the Coen brothers’ True Grit only helps its Oscar chances. At this point I’d call the critically-acclaimed Western a great bet for nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The question mark for me is 14-year-old breakout Hailee Steinfeld, utterly delightful as the film’s precocious heroine, Mattie Ross. Steinfeld received Best Supporting Actress nominations from the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, but despite Paramount’s supporting campaign, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association put her in their Best Actress category, and she missed out on a Golden Globe nomination altogether. Now I’m hearing of more and more members of the Academy’s actors branch that plan to vote for Steinfeld in the lead category as well.

This of course has happened before: Two years ago, AMPAS ignored Kate Winslet’s supporting campaign for The Reader and nominated her in lead. And before that, another teen breakout, Whale Rider‘s Keisha Castle-Hughes, became the youngest Best Actress nominee in history after voters failed to heed her supporting campaign. When it comes to Steinfeld, I actually understand the arguments for placing her in either category. As the film progresses, True Grit does feel more like Jeff Bridges’ story with Steinfeld supporting him, but there’s no denying that Steinfeld dominates the first half.

Steinfeld actually could end up in the Best Actress race after all, since that category seems to have four sure things (Black Swan‘s Natalie Portman, The Kids Are All Right‘s Annette Bening, Winter’s Bone‘s Jennifer Lawrence, and Rabbit Hole‘s Nicole Kidman) and no clear contender for that fifth slot. There’s Michelle Williams from Blue Valentine, but some voters I’ve talked to are turned off by the film’s darkness. There’s Lesley Manville from Another Year, but not everyone has even seen that late-year release. And there’s Julianne Moore from The Kids Are All Right, who seems to have faded from the picture while her onscreen partner picks up all the accolades.

Could Steinfeld take advantage and steal that last spot? Quite possibly. We’ve seen in the past that no studio campaign (or Oscar blogger, for that matter) can really influence the Academy when it comes to voting for a performer in lead vs. supporting. My only fear is that Steinfeld will get as many votes as her competitors but that they’ll be so evenly divided between Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress that she’ll end up getting nominated for neither. In a letter accompanying their ballots, members of the actors branch are encouraged to vote a performance in both categories if they’re not sure where it belongs. Maybe Steinfeld’s Academy-member fans should do that just to be safe.

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.  READ FULL STORY

Oscar predictions: Post-SAG rankings

The Screen Actors Guild nominations were the big Oscar story of the past week. How did the SAG lists affect the overall awards races? Here are my updated predictions in the six major races.

1. The King’s Speech (last week: 1)
2. The Social Network (last week: 2)
3. Inception (last week: 3)
4. The Fighter (last week: 5)
5. True Grit (last week: 6)
6. Toy Story 3 (last week: 4)
7. Black Swan (last week: 7)
8. The Kids Are All Right (last week: 9)
9. Winter’s Bone (last week: 11)
10. The Town (last week: 8 )
11. 127 Hours (last week: 10)
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)

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: —)
10. Mike Leigh, Another Year (last week: 9)

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: 8 )
8. Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter (last week: 7)
9. Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole (last week: 9)
10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception (last week: 10)

1. Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right (last week: 1)
2. Natalie Portman, Black Swan (last week: 2)
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. Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right (last week: 7)
8. Hilary Swank, Conviction (last week: —)
9. Halle Berry, Frankie and Alice (last week: 8 )
10. Noomi Rapace, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (last week: 9)

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: 4)
4. Andrew Garfield, The Social Network (last week: 3)
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: 10)
8. Jim Broadbent, Another Year (last week: 7)
9. Bill Murray, Get Low (last week: 8 )
10. Michael Douglas, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (last week: 9)

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: 5)
5. Mila Kunis, Black Swan (last week: 6)
6. Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom (last week: 4)
7. Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole (last week: 7)
8. Sissy Spacek, Get Low (last week: 8 )
9. Ruth Sheen, Another Year (last week: 9)
10. Barbara Hershey, Black Swan (last week: 10)

OscarWatch: Post-Globes rankings

the-fighterImage Credit: Jojo WhildenSo now that we’ve got a bunch of critics awards and the Golden Globe nominations under our belts, how has the overall Oscar race changed? I always knew The Social Network would be the critical favorite this year, but I never expected it to completely sweep the first two weeks of critics prizes. Then The King’s Speech fought back, dominating today’s Golden Globe nominations. So I’m not quite ready yet to swap my No. 1 and No. 2 Best Picture contenders. But the week’s events have shifted things in several categories. Here’s how I see the race today.  READ FULL STORY

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. READ FULL STORY

'True Grit': Will it be an Oscar player?

true-gritImage Credit: Lorey SebastianEarlier this week I had the opportunity to see Joel and Ethan Coen’s eagerly awaited adaptation of True Grit, the last assumed major Oscar contender of the year. I’ll leave it to my esteemed colleague Lisa Schwarzbaum to provide a proper review in the coming days, but I’d say the Coen brothers have a second consecutive Best Picture nominee on their hands. The film is beautifully shot and—no surprise considering the cast—very well acted. It’s a hoot to see Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and a host of fascinating looking character actors act with their jowls and mutton chops amidst the Coens’ majestically shot 19th Century landscape.

So in which categories is True Grit most likely to be a major contender? I’d call it a sure thing for a Best Picture nod given that race’s 10 slots. And the Coens could certainly make it into the director and adapted screenplay hunts as well. As for the cast, Matt Damon makes the most of his one-liners but simply isn’t in the film enough to be a serious supporting actor contender. Ditto Josh Brolin, who doesn’t even appear until the last act. Jeff Bridges could end up scoring a Best Actor nomination thanks to his droll performance as marshal Rooster Cogburn, but I wouldn’t say Colin Firth needs to worry about losing to him again this year. In my mind the strongest acting candidate from the film is newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who knocks her large supporting role out of the park, exuding precociousness and confidence from her introductory scene. She had me smiling nearly the entire film and I’d imagine most Academy members will have the same reaction. READ FULL STORY

OscarWatch: Best Director predictions

Image credit: Jamie McCarthy/

Now that we’ve tackled the Best Picture race, let’s move on to the Best Director category and explore which filmmakers might hear their names called on nomination morning.

David Fincher, The Social Network (pictured)
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
Christopher Nolan, Inception

Ben Affleck, The Town
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, True Grit

James L. Brooks, How Do You Know
Mike Leigh, Another Year
Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Peter Weir, The Way Back

Among the directors I’ve left off: Toy Story 3‘s Lee Unkrich (who’d be the first director ever nominated for an animated film), Winter’s Bone‘s Debra Granik, and Shutter Island‘s Martin Scorsese. Do you think the Academy would include an animation guy or is that never going to happen?

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.

The 10 Best Picture nominees: my early guesses


Today my very early stab at guessing the 10 Best Picture nominees has been posted as part of Movie City News’ Gurus o’ Gold feature. There seems to be some consensus among the 14 of us Oscar predictors as to seven of the eventual nominees. After that it’s pretty much a field day of shot-in-the-dark prognostication. Here is my estimated list of 10 (ranked by probability of making the cut next January) with my reasoning for including each film. We’ll see how wrong I am in just a matter of months!

1. The King’s Speech As soon as I saw this British drama in early September I knew it had the potential to go all the way in at least one major category. Right now its star, Colin Firth, is the man to beat for Best Actor, and it’s an absolute lock for a Best Picture nomination as well.

2. True Grit Four of the 14 “Gurus” have the Coen brothers’ upcoming Western ranked first or second on their ballots. And no, none of us have actually seen it. This one is pure hunch on my part. Though strong trailers don’t always turn into great movies (I’m looking at you, Invictus.)

3. The Social Network The Facebook movie boasts the second-highest tally of No. 1 votes (behind The King’s Speech). After this week’s fantastic hold at the box office, it’s even more of a sure thing.

4. Inception There’s got to be one live-action blockbuster in there, and none has a better shot than Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending smash.

5. How Do You Know? Here’s the one case where I’m apparently the most alone in my thinking, as no other participant has the film on his or her list. But I have faith in the upcoming Reese Witherspoon romantic company based on writer/director James L. Brooks’ selected track record (Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment) and the positive buzz I’ve been hearing about costar Paul Rudd’s performance. Here’s hoping it’s not another Spanglish.

6. The Kids Are All Right The summer indie might not have sold out many theaters in the middle of the country, but on the coasts (where Oscar voters mainly live, of course) it was an unfettered hit.

7. Toy Story 3 Expect a lot of Lord of the Rings comparisons in the coming weeks. That trilogy did end up picking up a Best Picture trophy, but it was live-action. Still, there’s no denying Pixar’s latest achievement (the highest-grossing animated film of all time, by the way).

8. 127 Hours Here’s where the predictions start getting a little less sure-footed. Danny Boyle’s follow-up to Slumdog Millionaire impressed critics and audiences at Telluride and Toronto. But is the film too claustrophobic to go the distance?

9. Hereafter I totally fell for Clint Eastwood’s afterlife drama when I saw it at the Toronto film festival. Many critics are not fans. But I still feel like Eastwood’s ambitious work could be up the Academy’s alley.

10. Love and Other Drugs The Jake Gyllenhaal/Anne Hathaway comedic drama reminds me a lot of Up in the Air and Jerry Maguire (both past Best Picture nominees). And it’s perhaps the sexiest movie I’ve seen in years. It won’t be for everyone, but if most critics go for its blend of titillation and tragedy, then it’s a contender for one of the five “B-list slots.”

So what am I leaving out? Black Swan (probably a better shot at Best Actress)? Blue Valentine (my personal favorite, but likely too dark)? All arguments are encouraged. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@davekarger) for ongoing Oscar updates.

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