Oscar race’s last stretch

Oscar season is upon us, and the odds are almost set as the year’s performers, artists and films jockey for last-minute position.

Every year, it seems, we know with almost invariable certainty who is going to win the Academy Award in their respective category.

This year, we’ll take a shot at who will win the award, who should win the award, and who the long shots are who might have a shot if the Oscar voters were completely objective (which they never are).

Adapted Screenplay

Will win: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network

Should win: Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network

Long shot: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen for True Grit

Aaron Sorkin has written some of the best, most quick-witted and humorous scenes in recent film and television history as the creator of West Wing and writer of A Few Good Men, The American President and now The Social Network.

Everyone rants about the movie’s opening scene, and rightfully so. But that takes away from every other brilliantly conducted sequence following.

True Grit is just one of those movies that is funny and heartbreaking, which is a combination that the Coen brothers have perfected over the last two decades. If there were a second place, it would go to the bros.

Original Screenplay

Will win: David Seidler for The King’s Speech

Should win: Christopher Nolan for Inception

Long shot: Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg for The Kids Are All Right

The King’s Speech has the most momentum going into the final stretch, but it’s Inception that shines brightest to those who are concerned with originality in the category of original screenplay.

Christopher Nolan must have dived into a place of subconscious or unconscious that few dare go, but he embraces.

Never mind the naysayers who don’t understand the dream within a dream concept. If you paid attention, you’d understand the entire film and every little detail that Nolan lays out for you in new and exciting ways.

Luckily for The Kids Are All Right, the Independent Spirit awards are a week before the Oscars, and it will come away with the screenplay honour there.

Best Supporting Actress

Will win: Melissa Leo in The Fighter

Should win: Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit

Long shot: Amy Adams in The Fighter

Melissa Leo is a terrific actress who dulls her real-life beauty to play scarred and not very attractive characters. For that, I applaud her.

Her performance in The Fighter is a knock out, but there was someone this year that is better.

Hailee Steinfeld, in the first performance of her career, shows us why some of the most talented minds in Hollywood picked her to star in the biggest-budgeted (and most successful) movie of their career.

Hailee Steinfeld should be up for Best Actress because she is the true lead in True Grit. I cross my fingers that Oscar voters recognize this young talent and reward her spirited, spark plug performance – she’s the heart of the movie.

Best Supporting Actor

Will win: Christian Bale in The Fighter

Should win: Christian Bale in The Fighter

Long shot: Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech

Christian Bale is long overdue for winning a major performance award. He’s one of those actors that has gone from huge budget blockbusters (The Dark Knight, Terminator Salvation) to low-budget indies (The Machinist, American Psycho).

He gives his best performance to date in The Figher, losing impossible amounts of weight to play the drug-addicted, real-life character of Dicky Eklund.

If Oscar voters can’t break from the Weinstein spell over The King’s Speech, they’ll put forth Geoffrey Rush onto the stage as the winner. But if any category is a lock, it’s this one.

Best Actress

Will win: Natalie Portman in Black Swan

Should win: Natalie Portman in Black Swan

Long shot: Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right

Natalie Portman seems to have this eternal well of emotion that she can simply pluck from.

When a scene calls for crying, craziness, mania (which many scenes in Black Swan did), she just goes to her bag of tricks and produces.

Portman blossomed from a young actress who exploded onto the scene in Leon the Professional, and continued to give nuanced performances throughout her childhood and now as an adult.

She deserves this win, which promises to be only the first of many. She’s a terrific actress who will rack up a shelf-full of statues before it’s all said and done.

Likewise, Annette Bening gives a stripped naked performance as a lesbian alcoholic doctor in The Kids Are All Right. No Portman, and she’s accepting this award.

Best Actor

Will win: Colin Firth in The King’s Speech

Should win: Jeff Bridges in True Grit

Long shot: James Franco in 127 Hours

Colin Firth seems like a humble man who gives humble, quiet, and often tortured performances. Audiences got a glimpse of his potential as actor in 2009’s A Single Man.

He doesn’t disappoint in The King’s Speech, but it’s Jeff Bridges who gives the most well-rounded and perfect performance of the year.

If Bridges didn’t just win Best Actor for Crazy Heart, and John Wayne didn’t win for his performance in 1969’s True Grit, this award would go to the best actor of the year.

It’s too bad that Oscar voters don’t live in this objective world, sometimes too easily swayed one way or another.

Best Director

Will win: Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech

Should win: David Fincher for The Social Network

Long shot: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Tom Hooper directed a wonderful picture this year. The King’s Speech has more Academy Award nominations that any other film this year.

But that doesn’t mean he’s the best director, especially in a year when one of the most stylized and visually ground-breaking directors of all-time directed his career’s best.

Seven and Fight Club were amazing, but The Social Network showed the world that computer programming can be the most interesting topic of the year.

As much as Sorkin was quick with words, Fincher was perfect with his cameras, composition and casting.

Best Picture

Will win: The King’s Speech

Should win: The Social Network

Long shot: Inception

Harvey Weinstein pulled out all the stops this year with The King’s Speech. He spared no expense with the promotion of motion picture, showcasing all of his actors and crew at parties across the world.

He wants to reclaim the top spot as producer extraordinaire, after years of rebuilding his company (Miramax was lost, The Weinstein Company was born).

But this sell shouldn’t overshadow what the actual best picture of the year is.

The Social Network is filmmaking at its best, but it’s also the most poignant statement about society. It’s timely, visually stunning, and it moves the art of filmmaking into a new direction.

We can only hope that Oscar voters think the same way.

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