Final predictions for the 83rd Academy Awards: A ‘King’ shall lead them

After six months of film festivals, pseudo award shows, real award shows, cocktail parties, Q&A’s, repetitive profile pieces, millions spent in for your consideration ads, special events and enough red carpets to cover the globe 100 times, the 2010-2011 awards season will finally come to a close with the 83rd Academy Awards this Sunday.

Having chronicled the ups and downs of this awards season ad nauseum it’s somewhat of a relief that there should still be some surprises Sunday night.  Is best supporting actress really up for grabs?  Can “The King’s Speech” win best picture without winning editing or director? Will Annette Bening spoil Natalie Portman’s expected best actress win?  Frankly, none of those interesting scenarios may come to pass and the show may be a bore.  And yet, every year, there are always upsets that make you realize, “Of course!  How could we not have realized everyone in town thinks Jason Reitman is a douche?”  Er, um, perhaps that was just last year after “Precious” upset “Up in the Air” for adapted screenplay, but you get the point.

So, without further delay, here’s a rundown of my final predictions for all 24 categories for this year’s 83rd Academy Awards. 

[Make sure to check out my live blog during the show Sunday as we both discover who the 5,000 members of the Academy voted for.]


Winner: “I See The Light” from “Tangled”
Upset Contenders: “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3”
Lowdown: This year”s top tune prize comes down to a contest between two animated films and two previous Oscar winners: “I See the Light” from “Tangled” by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater and “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3” by Randy Newman. It”s a tough call, but this prognosticator is going with “I See the Light.”  Most of the Academy loves “Toy Story 3,” but I”m betting they want to reward another big hit by giving the Oscar to Menken and “Tangled.”


Winner: Alexander Desplat, “The King’s Speech”
Upset Contenders: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for “The Social Network” or Hans Zimmer for “Inception”
Lowdown: One of the closest races this year pits Hans Zimmer”s music in “Inception” versus Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross” compositions from “The Social Network” versus Alexandre Desplat”s score from “The King”s Speech.”  As forward thinking as the first two nominees are, Desplat and “Speech” should win for a number of reasons.  First, because the Academy loves “Speech” and tends to reward scores of best picture winners and second, because the incredibly talented Desplat has been nominated three times previously without a win.


“Toy Story 3”
Upset Contenders: You’re kidding right?
Lowdown: Next to Colin Firth”s expected win in the best actor race, the best animated film Oscar is such a lock for “Toy Story 3” it”s almost comical.  In fact, if “How To Train Your Dragon” or “The Illusionist” defeated the Pixar blockbuster it would be one of the biggest upsets in Academy Awards history.  But don”t fear Woody and Buzz Lightyear fans, it”s not going to happen.   In fact, director Lee Unkrich can start walking to the stage while they open the envelope.


Winner: “Inception”
Upset Contenders: “The King’s Speech” or “Alice in Wonderland”
Lowdown: Whoever wins the art direction Oscar will be determined by how much the Academy decides to spread the wealth this year.  If “The King”s Speech” is on track to dominate the night it should easily snag this honor.  However, this pundit predicts the Academy shares the love and the more deserving “Inception” takes the prize.  As for an upset contender, look out for another blockbuster the Academy may want to reward, “Alice in Wonderland.”


Winner: “The Wolfman”
Upset Contenders: Um…
Lowdown: This year”s nominees, “The Wolfman,” “Barney”s Version” and “The Way Back” are three of the least successful films at the box office on the Academy”s nomination list.  One name will seal the win for “The Wolfman” though: Rick Baker.  The legendary makeup artist has worked with almost everyone sitting in the Kodak Theater on Oscar night and that should be a big boost in helping Baker land his seventh Academy Award.


Winner: Roger Deakins, “True Grit”
Upset Contenders: Wally Pfister, “Inception”
Lowdown: Although it happens less often then you”d think, like other voting organizations the Academy occasionally rewards on lifetime achievement instead of this year”s accomplishments.  That”s why long overdue sentiment will find “True Grit”s” Roger Deakins winning this award.  This is Deakins ninth nomination and for him to lose again would be a huge embarrassment to the Academy.  That said, “Inception”s” Wally Pfister, who won the American Society of Cinematographer”s honor, could upset here.


Winner: Colleen Atwood, “Alice in Wonderland”
Upset Contenders: Jenny Beavan, “The King’s Speech”
Lowdown: This should be another category where the membership spreads the love.  Look for “Alice in Wonderland”s” Colleen Atwood, an icon in the field, to win what will be her third Academy Award.  The only true upset contender is Jenny Beavan for “The King”s Speech,” but that would be a big, big upset.


Winner: “The Social Network”
Upset Contenders: “The Kings Speech” or “127 Hours”
Lowdown: Perception is its rare for the best picture winner not to win the editing honor, but that”s simply not the case.  In fact, it”s occurred seven times over the past 20 years.  After 2011, you”ll be able to make it eight out of the last 20, as “The Social Network” should win this time around.  And if “Network” doesn”t snag the Oscar, look for “127 Hours” or “Black Swan” in the upset.  


Winner: Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network”
Upset Contenders: The multiple writers behind “Toy Story 3” or Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini for “Winter’s Bone”
Lowdown: Aaron Sorkin may ruffle feathers with his less than humble attitude, but the creator of “The West Wing” should easily win the best adapted screenplay Oscar for “The Social Network.”  It”s worth noting, however, that the screenplay categories are ripe for upsets and either “Toy Story 3” or “Winter”s Bone” taking the statue could be the big surprise of the night.


Winner: David Seidler, “The King’s Speech”
Upset Contenders: Christopher Nolan for “Inception” or Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg for “The Kids Are All Right”
Lowdown: Unlike the adapted category, there is little chance of upset here.  73-year-old writer David Seidler will win his first Academy Award for “The King”s Speech.”  Major upset players would be Christopher Nolan for “Inception” and Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg for “The Kids Are All Right,” but Seidler should win in the feel good story of the night.


Winner: “Inside Job”
Upset Contenders: “Restrepo” or “Exit Through the Gift Shop”
Lowdown: Many Academy members, the media and most likely Oscar show producers Don Misher and Bruce Cohen would like nothing more than for “Exit Through the Gift Shop” to win best documentary just to see if notorious graffiti artist Banksy would accept the award, but it”s not going to happen.  The Academy has strict rules that only members who have seen all five nominees get a chance to vote and that usually means an older demo who might not appreciate the critically acclaimed “Gift Shop.”  Instead, look for “Inside Job” to take this year”s Oscar.


Winner: “The Warriors of Quigang”
Upset Contenders: “Strangers No More”
Lowdown: Documentary short is always a tough category to predict, but few would argue the winner is going to come down between “Strangers No More” and “The Warriors of Qiugang.” “Strangers” focuses on a remarkable school in Tel Aviv where refugees from around the world are given an impressive education while “Warriors” tells the story of a Chinese villager who becomes a national environmental activist to save his town from a chemical factory.  Either could easily win, but we”re guessing “Warriors” will be more memorable and get the win.


Winner: “In A Better World” (Denmark)
Upset Contenders: “Biutiful” (Mexico) or “Incendies” (Canada)
Lowdown: Like the documentary field, members are required to watch all five nominees in order to vote in this category. And while Mexico”s “Biutiful” features former Academy Award winner Javier Bardem, it”s just too dark to win with this limited voting pool. Therefore, look for the more emotional Danish film “In A Better World,” from acclaimed director Susanne Bier, to win the Oscar.  


Winner: “Day & Night”
Upset Contenders: “The Lost Thing” or “Madagascar”
Lowdown: No pun intended, but it should be Pixar”s night as the company”s short, “Day & Night” wins this award.  “The Gruffalo” is sweet and beautiful, but it”s too long and repetitive.  “The Long Thing” is saddled by being told completely in voice over which makes its 15 minutes running time seem like an eternity.  That”s why “Day & Night” should win for its impressive layouts and clever storytelling.


Winner: “Na Wewe”
Upset Contenders: “God of Love” or “Wish 143”
Lowdown: Many are picking the funny and somewhat moving (emphasis on somewhat) “Wish 143” about 16-year-old cancer victim”s last wish in this category, but this pundit”s picking the gripping “Na Wewe” set in 1994 during the civil war in Burundi instead.  It”s a powerful short about the evils of ethnic cleansing told through the eyes of passengers traveling in a van who are stopped and interrogated by rebels. A dark horse in the race is the adorable “God of Love.”


Winner: “Inception”
Upset Contenders: “Toy Story 3” or “Unstoppable”
Lowdown: “Tron: Legacy,” “Toy Story 3” and “Unstoppable” all feature superb sound editing, but it”s hard to imagine “Inception” not winning this Oscar.  It”s worth noting “Inception”s” sound editor Richard King also won an Academy Award in the same category for Christopher Nolan”s last film, “The Dark Knight.”


Winner: “Inception”
Upset Contenders: “The Social Network”
Lowdown: “Inception” is the winner here.  No film did more with its sound design than Christopher Nolan”s blockbuster and the Academy should recognize its impressive accomplishments.  If you believe in upsets, however, “The Social Network” would be your surprise winner.


Winner: “Inception”
Upset Contenders: “Alice in Wonderland”
Lowdown: Even with five nominees for the first time in this category”s history, there isn”t much competition this year.  “Inception” should easily win the visual effects Oscar most notably for its amazing collapsing Paris scene.  “Alice in Wonderland” could pull off an upset, but it would be a big surprise and a controversial win considering the film was criticized for its 3D conversion.


Winner: Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
Upset Contenders: Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”
Lowdown: Read my complete breakdown of this category here.


Winner: Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”
Upset Contenders: Amy Adams, “The Fighter” or Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
Lowdown: Read my complete breakdown of this category here.


Winner: Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
Upset Contenders: None
Lowdown: Read my complete breakdown of this category here.


Winner: Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Upset Contenders: Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Lowdown: Read my complete breakdown of this category here.


Winner: David Fincher, “The Social Network”
Upset Contenders: Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”
Lowdown: Conventional wisdom would tell you that if “The King”s Speech” wins best picture and its director, Tom Hooper, is the Directors Guild winner for best director, than Hooper should easily win the same honor at the Oscars.  Not this year.  Instead, look for David Fincher to triumph for “The Social Network.”  Splits between picture and director are nothing new.  It most recently occurred in 2006 when Ang Lee won best director for “Brokeback Mountain,” but “Crash” took the best picture prize.


Winner: “The King’s Speech”
Upset Contenders: “The Social Network” or “The Fighter”
Lowdown: Among the ten nominees there are only three that are serious contenders to win best picture: “The King”s Speech,” “The Social Network” and “The Fighter.”  David Fincher”s “Network” was the frontrunner for most of December after sweeping the critics groups awards, but fell hard in January when it failed to win a Producers, Directors or Screen Actors guild award.  No recent film has ever won without at least one of those on its mantle.  This year, “The King”s Speech” won all three making it the clear favorite and this pundit”s pick.   However, Mark Wahlberg”s “The Fighter” has a growing number of admirers in the Academy and has waged an aggressive and expensive campaign since the nominations were announced.  Whether it can take down the “King,” remains to be seen.

Who do you think is going to dominate this year’s 83rd Academy Awards?  Share you thoughts below.

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