BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Melissa Leo for The Fighter is basically a lock for a nomination with her Golden Globe win. Amy Adams will get one for the same flick. Helena Bonham Carter will get the nod for The King’s Speech because it’s British and good and the Academy loves it when things are British and good (and is often willing to overlook “good”). Those three are certain; that leaves two slots, which will go to some combination of Mila Kunis and/or Barbara Hershey for Black Swan, Hailee Stanfield for True Grit, and Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom. I’m going to bet on Hershey and Weaver; I think Hollywood will decide that Kunis’ work, while good, wasn’t really magnificent, and that Stanfield is perfectly solid but not amazing enough to get the “kid gets the nom” momentum. If I’m wrong, I think Stanfield is the one I’m wrong about.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christian Bale’s Fighter performance basically has this award set aside for him already, so it’s really a matter of filling out the other four slots here. Geoffrey Rush gets one for The King’s Speech for the same reason Ethan Hawke got one for Training Day – the movie is basically a two-person movie when all is said and done, and he’s the other person. I think John Hawkes’ turn in Winter’s Bone gets one, simply because he’s an underdog in an underdog film and everybody keeps talking about how he’s an underdog in an underdog film, and frankly I think he deserves the award more than Bale does anyway (and given that I thought Bale’s performance was superb, that should say something). The rest of the pack is Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right, Jeremy Renner for The Town, Justin Timberlake for The Social Network and Matt Damon for True Grit. (I think the Michael Douglas cancer sympathy train that led to him getting a Golden Globe nomination for Wall Street 2 is finally over.) Out of that pack, I pick Ruffalo and Renner; if I’m wrong about anything, I think it’s Timberlake, who probably snags either Ruffalo’s or Hawkes’ spot.
BEST ACTRESS: Natalie Portman for Black Swan, duh. Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right, also duh. Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone, obviously. They are locks. Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole seems to be an increasing consensus, although I haven’t seen it and can’t comment as to whether she deserves it. I think Michelle Williams snags the last spot for Blue Valentine, but it might be too racy (gasp) for Academy voters because she blows Ryan Gosling in it so the cynical thing is to say that instead Julianne Moore for Kids or Lesley Manville for Another Year sneak in. (Either of those could also replace Kidman, but I don’t think they will.)
BEST ACTOR: Colin Firth for The King’s Speech is again obvious, as is James Franco for 127 Hours (and I think this is probably the only big nomination the movie gets). Jesse Eisenberg should score a nom for The Social Network. That leaves one slot and there’s a lot of good options: Jeff Bridges for True Grit, Mark Wahlberg for The Fighter, Robert Duvall for Get Low, Ryan Gosling for Blue Valentine, Paul Giamatti for Barney’s Version, maybe even DiCaprio for Inception (although it’s unlikely). My money is on Duvall and Gosling, but Bridges or Wahlberg could upset, because after all Ryan Gosling did play in a movie where he got a blowjob and apparently that’s a big deal now, to admit that people get blowjobs. (Why didn’t this hurt Julia Roberts for Pretty Woman back in the day?)
BEST DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan for Inception, Tom Hooper for King’s Speech, Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan, and David Fincher for The Social Network are all givens. That leaves one slot and it should go to Debra Granik for Winter’s Bone, but instead will go to either the Coens for True Grit or David O. Russell for The Fighter. Probably the Coens. The Oscars love them some Coens.
BEST PICTURE: Black Swan, The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Inception, True Grit, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right. Every one of them is certain. The remaining three will come from these five: 127 Hours, Winter’s Bone, Animal Kingdom, Toy Story 3 and The Town. My guess is that Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone and 127 Hours are the nods here. Honestly, this category has gone from being the most fun to wager on to the least; the ten-picture rule kills the suspense because in any year there’s really only six or seven serious BP contenders.