Career highs for wide-eyed Oscar hopefuls, acceptance for anxious newcomers and redemption for previous snubs are all riding on the paper envelopes that conceal the winners.
This year’s list of nominees are a diverse bunch and this is to the academy’s advantage; whether this was done on purpose or inadvertently, this will surely boost this year’s ratings. It seems the demographic the academy is trying most desperately to woo is the “Facebook Generation.”
Fittingly, the movie about the origins of this phenomenon, “The Social Network,” is leading the pack of nominees. This move to nominate “The Social Network” for all the major awards could not have come at a more opportune time.
It will be a battle between the portrayals of fast-talking Harvard royalty played by Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”) and stuttering British royalty by Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) in the race for this year’s best picture. “The King’s Speech” is likely to win, but “The Social Network” will by no means go home empty-handed.
Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”) mayonce again lose her career Oscar, this time to young ingénue Natalie Portman, whose work in “Black Swan” cannot be denied. Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”) is finally recognized for his directing, but he will likely lose to David Fincher (“The Social Network”).
In a category many may consider Geoffrey Rush’s (“The King’s Speech”) for the taking, Christian Bale’s (“The Fighter”) metamorphosis into a world-champion boxer facing his drug-addicted past is a career-defining performance. His salute to method acting will give him the win for best supporting actor.
Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”), Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech”) and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) are all deserving contenders for best supporting actress. However, the academy’s penchant for selecting first-timers to win best supporting actress (e.g. Mo’Nique in “Precious” and Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls”) will give Steinfeld the statuette over the other actresses, making her one of the youngest nominees in that category at 14 years old.
“Inception,” the movie that haunted dreams around America, is likely to sweep most of the production awards. Original screenplay, visual effects, sound editing and mixing are all categories this film is favored to win. The film’s originality is unprecedented and it is arguably just as visually stunning as last year’s juggernaut “Avatar.”
Although it is nominated for best picture, it cannot compete with “The King’s Speech” or “The Social Network,” and the film’s director Christopher Nolan (“Memento,” “The Dark Knight”) will be snubbed yet again. He is the only director this year who did not gain a best director nomination even though his film is nominated for best picture.
This year’s Oscars can go one of two ways, and it all depends on whether “The Social Network” or “The King’s Speech” wins best picture and whether or not the academy will allow one of the films to sweep more than three categories. Whatever the final outcome, different walks of life with different tastes in film, the computer-savvy and the computer illiterate, the old-school and the new-school will all find reasons to tune in Sunday on ABC.