This may be the biggest year for the Academy Awards, as some major Hollywood players are going up against some fresh newcomers. Eyeballs everywhere will be glued to ABC on Sunday, February 27th at 8PM E/5PM P when the awards show goes live. But before that, we decided to do some picking of our own with the staff’s predictions for each award.
For a full list of the nominees, check out our previous article on the subject. Now, on to the predictions.
Shannon Hood-The Social Network. It had early and consistent momentum all year, and the Academy appears to be trying to shake up their stodgy image. This would be the perfect film to put their money where their mouth is.
Matt Raub – True Grit. Not only are the Coens a regular in the “I Have an Oscar” club, but this testament to classic western films is definitely one for record books, between its all-star cast and gritty (no pun intended) visual style, this one definitely deserves the golden statue.
Chris Ullrich – True Grit. Even though this was a pretty great year for movies and there are many excellent choices in this category, True Grit stands on its own as my pick. As an example of pure movie storytelling, this Coen Brothers masterpiece excels on every level and delivers a pure entertainment experience you will want to revisit many more times in the future.
Cortney Zamm – The Social Network. There’s a lot of great films in this category, some of them from my favorite directors and starring my favorite people. But the one that combined all of the essential elements of filmmaking into a truly gorgeous, compelling, and memorable film was The Social Network.
Actor in a Leading Role
Shannon Hood-Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network). Eisenberg took a nerdy character and made him absolutely fascinating. No one could have delivered the lines with the same acerbity and contempt for everyone around him. Eisenberg draws you in from the first frame, and keeps you enthralled until the last one. Not bad for a 27 year-old.
Matt Raub – Jeff Bridges (True Grit). He may have been plastic in Tron: Legacy, but he’s 100% human in this one. Sure, Eisenberg and Franco both cut their teeth on some pretty meaty roles, but doing John Wayne while making you forget about John Wayne is a pretty tall mountain to climb, and Bridges is at the top.
Chris Ullrich – Colin Firth (The King’s Speech). As great as Jeff Bridges was in True Grit (and make no mistake, he was great) it’s Colin Firth’s year and you can’t argue with momentum. Plus, the Academy has always had a fascination with all things British, so that gives him the extra edge. Also, he was excellent in The Kings’ Speech and deserves all the accolades he’s been getting.
Cortney Zamm – James Franco (127 Hours). It’d be easy to say Bridges or Firth was the best performance this year, but I was really knocked out by Franco’s performance in 127 Hours. The film is pretty much a one-man show, and Franco makes the film incredible to watch from beginning to end.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Shannon Hood-I believe that Christian Bale will win for The Fighter, but I would like to see someone else win, because Bale can do this stuff in his sleep. How about throwing a bone to Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)? He does exactly what a supporting actor should do-supports the cast without taking the limelight. As a free-spirited restaurateur who finds out he is the birth father of two grown children, he is believable and charming.
Chris Ullrich – John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone). I know he probably won’t win and the Oscar will actually go to Christian Bale for The Fighter but Hawkes is a revelation in Winter’s Bone and plays the tough, deadly but ultimately compassionate character with more raw talent than I’ve seen in years.
Actress in a Leading Role
Shannon Hood-Natalie Portman (Black Swan). This is really Portman’s race to lose. This is her first really meaty role, and she prepared by training hours a day and dropping a good twenty pounds off of her already slight frame. She is completely convincing as a Ballerina who will go to any lengths to achieve perfection. She pretty much swept all the other major awards this season as well.
Matt Raub – Natalie Portman (Black Swan). An intense role, some hot action for the guys, and she’s the only real likable actress in this group.
Chris Ullrich – Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone). Newcomer Lawrence anchors the film and gives it the emotional center it needs. You believe her and in her from the moment she first appears on screen and that belief never leaves you throughout the film and for several hours and days afterward. She’s fantastic and deserves the award.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Shannon Hood-Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit). It’s astounding that a fourteen year-old (with no prior experience) delivered such an electrifying performance. Her character is one of the strongest heroines to grace the screen in years. I agree that she is going to be an exciting talent to watch.
Chris Ullrich – Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit). If you’ve seen the movie you know she takes it over and makes it her own. The fact she wasn’t nominated for Best Actress and instead Best Supporting is puzzling enough but for her not to win would be even more of an upset. I think she’s got this one locked. Let’s hope because she was amazing and a definite talent to watch.
Animated Feature Film
Shannon Hood-Toy Story 3. It made me laugh and cry, and was the perfect send-off for the beloved trilogy that began in 1995.
Matt Raub – Toy Story 3. Sure, The Illusionist may be an impressive piece of classic cell animation and How to Train Your Dragon may have broken the box office, but Toy Story has developed a legacy over it’s 16 years of theatrical dominance, and this swan song deserves a trophy.
Chris Ullrich – Toy Story 3. If it isn’t broken, don’t’ fix it. The formula works and works extremely well for this third and (presumably) final installment of the franchise. This film is one of those examples of something that “just works” and it deserves to go out with an award for accomplishing, with ease, what most films can’t and never will.
Cortney Zamm- How To Train Your Dragon. I’m probably the biggest Toy Story fan you’ll ever meet, but How To Train Your Dragon has just resonated more and more with me as time goes by. I can’t tell you guys how many times I’ve watched this movie since its release, but everytime it is entertaining, hilarious, and beautiful to watch.
Matt Raub – Inception. It’s a visually stunning film, and if it doesn’t deserve Best Picture, then it’s a shoe-in for Art Direction.
Shannon Hood-Inception. I’ll go with Matt here. Inception was not one of my favorite films this year, but I have to give the Art Direction major props.
Matt Raub – True Grit. This was tough. Inception may have Art Direction down, but the overall feel of Grit was one for history.
Shannon Hood-True Grit. The cinematography is crisp, clear and beautifully suited to the blue skies and rolling green hills in True Grit. Simply beautiful.
Matt Raub – The Tempest. This was more of a “lesser of 5 evils” situation. Wonderland looks like it was sponsored by Hot Topic, Grit is already dominating, and I’m really tired of British historical dramas winning this category.
Shannon Hood-Alice in Wonderland. Though I agree with Matt about the “Hot Topic” vibe of the costumes, I think Alice is the most likely and logical choice. Whether you like the costumes or not, you can’t really deny that they are creatively done.
Shannon Hood-David Fincher (The Social Network). Everyone thought he was nuts when he announced he was going to direct a movie about Facebook. Now he can laugh his way all the way to podium on Sunday night.
Matt Raub – David Fincher (The Social Network). Bringing together the Justice League of a film crew, he juggled Sorkin’s script and Reznor’s score like a magician, and it payed off.
Chris Ullrich – David Fincher (The Social Network). With this film Fincher manages to blend many elements and make the founding of Facebook not only compelling but imminently watchable and even fun. He’s a master at the technical art of filmmaking and with this film shows he knows how to tell a story as well.
Shannon Hood – 127 Hours. I’m gonna go with this film, because I thought that Danny Boyle did an amazing job of using unexpected cuts and edits to keep what could have been a really boring film fresh and invigorating.
Matt Raub – Black Swan. The fact that Scott Pilgrim didn’t make this category is a testament of how one-sided the selection process for this award is. Swan did manage to get an entire country to bite their nails for the final 20 minutes, which deserves an accolade.
Chris Ullrich – The Social Network. Blending footage and flashbacks and telling a compelling story from different vantage points makes this a well edited film indeed. Not to mention that it already won an ACE award for editing from the Editors Guild.
Shannon Hood-Barney’s Version. I thought the makeup was just fantastic in this film; I even mentioned it in my review. Paul Giamatti ages over four decades during the course of the film, and never once do you notice the makeup. It is impeccable.
Music (Original Score)
Shannon Hood-Inception. This was a truly magnificent score, and it stayed with me long after the film.
Matt Raub – The Social Network. Reznor for the win. He and Atticus Ross grabbed the Globe for this, rightfully so, and I think they’ll do it again on Sunday.
Chris Ullrich – Add me to the list of fans of The Social Network soundtrack. It complemented the movie perfectly and is truly an original score.
Cortney Zamm- Inception. Hans Zimmer always hits it out of the park when he works with Chris Nolan, and what he did with this soundtrack is just too good to be overlooked. This score is what really gives Inception the emotional core it needed for the film to be as successful as it is.
Music (Original Song)
Matt Raub – 127 Hours. Rahman walked away with this award once, and on a dramatic film like this, he very well could do it again.
Short Film (Animated)
Matt Raub – Day & Night. Done like a classic Disney film, this is the only short nominated that traps that wholesome spirit of classic animation, and doesn’t cheat by way of CGI.
Shannon Hood – Inception. It’s been a while, but I remember the sound editing as complimenting the visual wonderment quite well.
Matt Raub – Tron: Legacy. The script may have been garbage, but in a giant IMAX theater, you can’t help but be encompassed by the digitalized audio of the world around you.
Chris Ullrich – True Grit. Creating a believable on-screen world is not only the job of the visuals but the sounds as well. With this film the sound editors did a great job and contributed greatly to the cinematic reality.
Shannon Hood-Inception. No doubt if there is any category this film should win, this is it.
Matt Raub – Inception. Again, this category should have recognized Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim, but if one had to pick, Inception has the best mix of the “real world” and this malleable “dream world” ever seen in film.
Chris Ullrich – Inception. I have to agree with Matt and Shannon on this one. Inventive and amazing effects without the over-use of CG all to brilliant effect.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Shannon Hood-The Social Network. Sorkin is one of the huge reasons that the movie was so compelling. A lesser scribe would have rendered this film junk.
Matt Raub – Joel & Ethan Coen (True Grit). Taking a classic Western and making it appeal to an audience that is used to dancing high school kids and 7 movies about torture was an amazing feat.
Chris Ullrich – Aaaron Sorkin (The Social Network). Sorkin is a master worsdsmith and he shines here from the first moments of the film. You know what you’re getting with Sorkin and he doesn’t disappoint.
Cortney Zamm – The Social Network. Aaron Sorkin is one of my favorite writers in the business right now, and what he delivered for The Social Network is pretty great. Bringing the character of Mark Zuckerberg to life really couldn’t have been accomplished without Sorkin’s writing style.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Shannon Hood-Inception. Based on sheer originality alone, this is a shoo-in.
Matt Raub – Inception. You can tell you’re making a deep film in the science fiction world if almost a year later people are still trying to figure out the different layers of narrative and storytelling elements.
Chris Ullrich – Inception. You can’t argue with success when you see it and with Inception Christopher Nolan achieves it. An often complex and stimulating story which accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish and does it with style and gusto. One of the great testaments to this film is, as Matt pointed out, we are still talking about it almost a year later and people are still trying to figure out what it all means. That’s a great story and one we will still be talking about years from now.
Cortney Zamm- Inception. Out of all of the films nominated in this category, Inception is the one that stands out as the most original, not to mention my favorite.