Handicapping the Oscars for real

I engaged in some tomfoolery during my fall movie preview, assigning movies asinine Oscar odds that had no real bearing on anything since the movies weren’t out yet and I hadn’t seen most of them at that point. This marks my first effort at real handicapping. I’ll revisit this after the SAGs at some point and then do a final line right before the Oscars proper. I bet on these things. These odds—they’re how I’m placing my bets. So who I think WILL win and who I think SHOULD win are two different things. That’s why, in my final odds, I always post both options. For now, though, I’m sticking to the WILL wins, listed first, with odds decreasing after that. I’m also doing this without the input of my acquaintance who is a voting member of the Academy. He just texted to tell me he was bummed for Ryan Gosling, calling Blue Valentine a “duet” and saying he thought it was unfair to nominate Michelle Williams and not her on-screen partner. Oh well. It’s the Academy. Unfairness abounds.

As for the nominees overall, I like this list. I’m ecstatic for John Hawkes of Winter’s Bone—after 25 years in the business and 100+ credits to his name, his career will never be the same. Oscar nods for Melissa Leo and Jeremy Renner have recently wrought similar changes. This is the joy of Oscar—that among giants, sometimes a truly deserving little guy gets the kind of break that changes lives. Jacki Weaver of Australia’s Animal Kingdom is in for the same shift.

And on the topic of snubs…

I do think Gosling got screwed because Williams’ performance isn’t the same without him acting opposite her, and vice versa. They needed each other to be so good. This is why the Oscars need a “Best Ensemble” category like the SAGs, so we can nominate groups. I am not, however, for adding extra categories to an already-bloated telecast, so here’s my pitch: Combine the sound categories into one and call it “Best Sound Design”, nominating the mixer and editor together. There’s a precedent in the Best Art Direction category in which the art director and set decorator are nominated in pairs. Then you have a free spot to insert a Best Ensemble category.

As for Christopher Nolan—is he really snubbed if he’s up for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay? Inception got eight nominations. It’ll be a good night for Nolan, but I do think it’s kind of weird to nominate something for Best Picture and not nominate the director, too. Um…he made the movie…? That’s the problem with the ten-picture field, though. If there were only five Best Picture nominees, I wouldn’t pick Inception as one of them (I’d also drop 127 Hours, The Kids Are All Right, Winter’s Bone and The Fighter). Not that those aren’t good movies—they’re all very fine—but I think those are all performance-driven films. Remove the central actors and they’re not actually anything special. In this ten-picture universe, though, I’d drop Russell (The Fighter) from Best Director and give that spot to Nolan.

Best Picture

The Social Network

The King’s Speech

True Grit

Black Swan

The Fighter

The Kids Are All Right

127 Hours


Winter’s Bone

Toy Story 3

Best Director

David Fincher, The Social Network

Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit

David O. Russell, The Fighter

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

Best Actor

Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

James Franco, 127 Hours

Javier Bardem, Biutiful

Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network

Jeff Bridges, True Grit

Best Actress

Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right

Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole

Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone

Best Supporting Actor

John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone*

Christian Bale, The Fighter

Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Jeremy Renner, The Town

Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

*Upset alert—if any of the acting categories has a chance at a major upset, it’s this one.

Best Supporting Actress

Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Amy Adams, The Fighter

Best Animated Feature Film

Toy Story 3

How to Train Your Dragon

The Illusionist (L’Illusionniste)

Best Documentary

Exit through the Gift Shop, Banksy and Jaimie DCruz

Restrepo, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger

Inside Job, Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs

Gasland, Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic

Waste Land, Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Best Foreign Film

Mexico – Biutiful

Denmark – In a Better World

Canada – Incendies

Algeria – Outside the Law

Greece – Dogtooth

Best Original Screenplay

David Seidler, The King’s Speech

Christopher Nolan, Inception

Scott Silver and Paul Tamsay & Eric Johnson, The Fighter

Mike Leigh, Another Year

Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg, The Kids Are All Right

Best Adapted Screenplay

Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit

Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy, 127 Hours

Michael Arndt, Toy Story 3

Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini, Winter’s Bone

Best Cinematography

Wally Pfister, Inception

Roger Deakins, True Grit

Matthew Libatique, Black Swan

Danny Cohen, The King’s Speech

Jeff Cronenweth, The Social Network

Best Film Editing

Andrew Weisblum, Black Swan

Pamela Martin, The Fighter

Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, The Social Network

Jon Harris, 127 Hours

Tariq Anwar, The King’s Speech

Best Art Direction

Eve Stewart & Judy Farr, The King’s Speech

Jess Gonchor & Nany Haigh, True Grit

Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias & Doug Mowat, Inception

Stuart Craig & Stephenie McMillan, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

Robert Stromberg & Karen O’Hara, Alice in Wonderland

Best Costume Design

Jenny Beavan, The King’s Speech

Mary Zophres, True Grit

Colleen Atwood, Alice in Wonderland

Antonella Cannarozzi, I Am Love (Io sono l’amore)

Sandy Powell, The Tempest

Best Makeup

Adrien Morot, Barney’s Version

Rick Baker and Dave Elsey, The Wolfman

Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolando Toussieng, The Way Back

Best Original Score

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network

Hans Zimmer, Inception

Alexandre Desplat, The King’s Speech

John Powell, How to Train Your Dragon

A.R. Rahman, 127 Hours

Best Original Song

“We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3, Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

“I See the Light” from Tangled, Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater

“Coming Home” from Country Strong, Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey

“If I Rise” from 127 Hours, Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong

Best Sound Editing

Richard King, Inception

Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey, True Grit

Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague, TRON: Legacy

Tom Myers and Michael Silvers, Toy Story 3

Mark P. Stoeckinger, Unstoppable

Best Sound Mixing

Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick, Inception

Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland, True Grit

Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten, The Social Network

Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley, The King’s Speech

Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin, Salt

Visual Effects


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Alice in Wonderland

Iron Man 2


Best Short Film – Animated*

Day & Night, Teddy Newton

The Gruffalo, Jakob Schuh and Max Lang

Let’s Pollute, Geefwee Boedoe

The Lost Thing, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann

Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary), Bastien Dubois

Best Short Film – Live Action*

The Confession, Tanel Toom

The Crush, Michael Creagh

God of Love, Luke Matheny

Na Wewe, Ivan Goldschmidt

Wish 143, Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite

Best Documentary – Short Subject*

Killing in the Name, Nominees to be determined

Poster Girl, Nominees to be determined

Strangers No More, Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon

Sun Come Up, Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger

The Warriors of Qiugang, Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon

*I didn’t even bother with the Shorts categories. Without input from someone who’s seen them, I can’t even begin to guess.

One thought on “Handicapping the Oscars for real

  1. i like your list. i think you’re right. (about all of them) If you are I’ll make you popcorn.

    but as I was reading through it (and i read or at least heard the list earlier today) i was terribly bored (not by you!)

    it’s the same movies over and over again. the same winners as the golden globes (mostly) and while the movies (the ones I saw) were great- and I’ve heard wonderful things about the ones I haven’t…. I dunno. I’m just bored. Nothing is shocking. Nothing is surprising. I also had a very boring day, so maybe it’s just a feeling overall 🙂

    Either way- get ready for my world-famous pocorn

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