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For Your Consideration: A Guide To The Oscar Precursors

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire December 8, 2010 at 7:20AM

The Oscar precursors, an eclectic batch of awards that offer a considerable honor in their own right, are about to start coming at us fast and furious. They've actually already come in the form of the National Board of Review Gotham Awards, Spirit Awards, European Film Awards and British Independent Film Awards (and more...check out a full list of all announced awards here). But starting early next week with the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's annual awards, mid-December will be a daily onslaught of some of the biggest guns in pre-Oscar award giving, including the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the Critics' Choice, and the New York Film Critics Circle's awards. As a result, awards season will quickly turn from rather murky to nearly crystal clear. Each announcement will bring with it shifts in buzz and a new round of speculation regarding the alleged ultimate prize of them all: Oscar (check out an updated list of predictions for those awards here). So for all of you eager in anticipation, indieWIRE figured we'd offer this handy guide to next week's five big announcements.
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For Your Consideration: A Guide To The Oscar Precursors
A scene from David Fincher's "The Social Network."

The Oscar precursors, an eclectic batch of awards that offer a considerable honor in their own right, are about to start coming at us fast and furious. They've actually already come in the form of the National Board of Review Gotham Awards, Spirit Awards, European Film Awards and British Independent Film Awards (and more...check out a full list of all announced awards here). But starting early next week with the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's annual awards, mid-December will be a daily onslaught of some of the biggest guns in pre-Oscar award giving, including the Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, the Critics' Choice, and the New York Film Critics Circle's awards. As a result, awards season will quickly turn from rather murky to nearly crystal clear. Each announcement will bring with it shifts in buzz and a new round of speculation regarding the alleged ultimate prize of them all: Oscar (check out an updated list of predictions for those awards here). So for all of you eager in anticipation, indieWIRE figured we'd offer this handy guide to next week's five big announcements.

December 12 & 13: Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards and New York Film Critics Circle Awards - the Granddaddies of the critics group prizes.

Last Year's Big Winners Kathryn Bigelow's "The Hurt Locker" led both LA and NY, taking awards for both best picture and best director. That film would go on to win the same prizes at the Oscars, as would Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique, who took supporting prizes as both awards. Meryl Streep (New York) and Yolande Moreau (LA) were the actress winners, while Oscar winner Jeff Bridges won in LA, and Oscar nominee George Clooney took New York.

How This Year Could Shake Down: David Fincher's "The Social Network" is definitely the most-likely-to-succeed across all critics groups' best picture prizes, and a "Hurt Locker"-like sweep is not out of the question. So it would probably not be a good idea to bet against it with both of these critics groups, though potential spoilers for the top prize include "Toy Story 3," "Another Year," "The King's Speech," "Winter's Bone," and "True Grit."

As for the acting prizes, best actress will be the most interesting to watch. Lesley Manville could become the third Mike Leigh-directed actress in less than a decade to take both LA and New York prizes for "Another Year" (unless they put her in supporting, which could very well happen), though she faces incredibly strong (perhaps even unparalleled?) competition from the likes of "Winter's Bone"'s Jennifer Lawrence, "I Am Love"'s Tilda Swinton, "The Kids Are All Right"'s Annette Bening, "Blue Valentine"'s Michelle Williams, and "Black Swan"'s Natalie Portman.

Meanwhile, last year's LA winner Jeff Bridges is in the mix again for "True Grit," facing off against "The King's Speech"'s Colin Firth, "127 Hours"'s James Franco," "Blue Valentine"'s Ryan Gosling and perhaps most notably "The Social Network"'s Jesse Eisenberg. And while last year Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique together dominated every single supporting acting critics award, look for things to be a bit more spread out this time around...

Here's a full list of predictions for both groups:

Los Angeles:
Best Picture: The Social Network
Best Actor: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Actress: Tilda Swinton, I Am Love
Best Supporting Actor: Matt Damon, True Grit
Bes Supporting Actress: Dianne Weist, Rabbit Hole
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Screenplay: Mike Leigh, Another Year
Best Cinematography: Wally Pfister, Inception
Best Documentary: Exit Through The Gift Shop
Best Foreign Language Film: I Am Love
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3

New York:
Best Picture: The Social Network
Best Actor: Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Best Actress: Lesley Manville, Another Year
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Bes Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Best Cinematography: Roger Deakins, True Grit
Best Documentary: Inside Job
Best Foreign Language Film: White Material
Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3

A scene from Tom Hooper's "The King's Speech."

December 13: Broadcast Film Critics Awards - aka the Critics' Choice Awards, which are usually more Oscar pandering than the New York & LA critics and includes a much larger (and generally less esteemed) voting membership.

Last Year's Big Winners: Paralleling Oscar entirely, "The Hurt Locker," Bigelow, Bridges, Bullock (tied with Meryl Streep), Waltz and Mo'Nique all won here. The nominations, meanwhile saw a best picture lineup of "Avatar," "An Education," "The Hurt Locker," "Inglourious Basterds," "Invictus," "Nine," "Precious," "A Serious Man," "Up" and "Up In The Air." The Oscars would end up subbing out "Invictus" and "Nine" for "District 9" and "The Blind Side." The only eventual Oscar acting nominees not to get nominated here with "The Last Station"'s Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer, and "Crazy Heart"'s Maggie Gyllenhaal.

How This Year Could Shake Down: Considering there's 25 categories (including many technical ones), look for "Inception" to potentially take the most nominations, with "The King's Speech," "The Social Network," "127 Hours" and "True Grit" also all doing quite well. Films that might not do so well - but could still end up doing well with the Academy, include "Another Year" (they snubbed "Happy-Go-Lucky," and generally tend to be American-centric), "Blue Valentine," "Winter's Bone," and "Rabbit Hole" (they also tend to stray from smaller indie films, whereas the Academy is actually a bit more receptive to them). On the other hand, expect studio films "The Fighter" and "The Town" to both gain some traction here.

Here's some predictions in the main categories (which have 10 nominees for best picture, and 6 in the rest of the categories):

Best Picture: 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, The Town, True Grit

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, Robert Duvall, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth, James Franco, Ryan Gosling

Best Actress: Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Andrew Garfield, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Geoffrey Rush

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld, Jacki Weaver, Dianne Weist

Best Director: Darren Aronofsky, Danny Boyle, Joel & Ethan Coen, David Fincher, Tom Hooper, Christopher Nolan

Best Acting Ensemble: The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network True Grit, Winter's Bone

Best Original Screenplay: Black Swan, Blue Valentine, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech

Best Adapted Screenplay: 127 Hours, The Social Network, The Town, True Grit, Toy Story 3, Winter's Bone

-continue to page 2 for takes on the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards-

A scene from Darren Arofonsky's "Black Swan."

December 14th: Golden Globe Awards - arguably the most anticipated of all the precursors, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association's Globes are a major event in themselves.

Last Year's Big Winners: The one precursor where "The Hurt Locker" didn't dominate, the Globes gave "Avatar" its top prize, while "Up In The Air" led the nominations. Acting winners ended up being Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock in the drama lead categories, Meryl Streep and Robert Downey Jr (for "Sherlock Holmes") in the comedy or musical lead categories, and, of course, Mo'Nique and Christoph Waltz in supporting.

How This Year Could Shake Down: Divided into categories for "drama" and "comedy or musical," the Globes should offer a very eclectic mix of nominees, and characteristically as much starpower as they can manage (this is the organization that gave Tom Cruise a nomination for "Tropic Thunder" and Julia Roberts a nod for "Duplicity"). Perhaps more than ever, the "drama" side of things is ridiculously stacked, leaving "The Kids Are All Right" as essentially the only major Oscar contender in the "comedy or musical" section. That's great for "Kids" (and other designated comedies or musicals like "How Do You Know," "Made in Dagenham" and "Love and Other Drugs"), but bad for everyone else.

"The King's Speech," "The Social Network," and "Inception" are likely to lead on the drama side, but beyond them the snubs likely to occur are plentiful. "True Grit," "The Fighter," "Black Swan," "127 Hours," "Winter's Bone," "The Town," "Another Year" and "Rabbit Hole" will all be competing for the last two spots (unless the Globes expand it to 6 or 7 slots, which they have often times in the past). And then in the acting categories, likes of Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Lesley Manville, Jennifer Lawrence, and Hailee Steinfeld (especially since she's reportedly been designated in the "lead" category) are all far from sure bets for nominations, and at the mercy of "stars" like Leonardo diCaprio, Michael Douglas, Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow, and, yes, Justin Timberlake to swoop in and take their slots (only of which is predicted below, but all of which could very well happen). It should be interesting, to say the least. Especially in the comedy or musical categories, where folks that have absolutely zero chance of Oscar nominations (like red carpet ready quartet Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller, Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon) are all good bets to score nominations.

Here's some predictions in the main categories:

Best Picture - Drama: The Fighter, Inception, The King's Speech, The Social Network, True Grit

Best Picture - Comedy or Musical: Barney's Version, How Do You Know?, The Kids Are All Right, Love and Other Drugs, Made in Dagenham

Best Actor - Drama: Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, Robert Duvall, Colin Firth, James Franco

Best Actress - Drama: Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Lesley Manville, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams

Best Actor - Comedy or Musical: Jim Carrey, Johnny Depp, Paul Giamatti, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Stiller

Best Actress - Comedy or Musical: Annette Bening, Anne Hathaway, Sally Hawkins, Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Geoffrey Rush, Justin Timberlake

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Jacki Weaver, Dianne Weist

Best Director: Joel & Ethan Coen, David Fincher, Tom Hooper, Christopher Nolan, David O. Russell

Best Screenplay: Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, The Social Network, True Grit

Lesley Manville with Ruth Sheen in a scene from "Another Year."

December 15th: Screen Actors Guild Awards - the actors reward themselves in this very trustworthy prognosticator of Oscar's acting categories.

Last Year's Big Winners: The SAGS aligned perfectly with Oscar in their winners, while the nominations went 19/20 in predicting what Oscar would end up going for.

How This Year Could Shake Down: The Oscar acting races will seriously narrow come next Thursday, with on-the-bubble potential nominees seeing their Oscar chances reduced significantly if they don't make SAG's cut. Lesley Manville, Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams, and Julianne Moore are four lead actresses fighting for the two slots left over after Annette Bening, Natalie Portman and Nicole Kidman, while lead actor contenders Jesse Eisenberg, Ryan Gosling, Robert Duvall, Aaron Eckhart, Mark Wahlberg and Javier Bardem really need a nod here to boost themselves into a club that clearly enjoys James Franco, Colin Firth and Jeff Bridges as its principle members. As a result, predicting the lead categories is actually remarkably tough.

The SAG's unique-to-Oscar ensemble category could also give a few films a boost. If the SAG's were to honor "Black Swan," "Winter's Bone" or "Rabbit Hole," here for example, it would severely aid their chances in making Oscar's best picture top ten. Unfortunately at this point, competition from the heavy-hitters like the ensembles behind "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right," "The Social Network," "The King's Speech," "True Grit" and "The Fighter" (one of which would have to be left out as is), might make that problematic.

Here's some predictions in the main categories:

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, Robert Duvall, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth, James Franco

Best Actress: Annette Bening, Nicole Kidman, Lesley Manville, Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Andrew Garfield, Mark Ruffalo, Geoffrey Rush

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld, Dianne Weist

Best Cast Ensemble: The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King's Speech, The Social Network

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE's Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog. Check out his weekly Oscar prediction chart here.

Previous editions of this column:
For Your Consideration: The 10 Biggest Surprises of the Spirit Award Nominations
For Your Consideration: The 10 Worst Original Song Oscar Snubs of the Past 10 Years
For Your Consideration: A Mid-November Stab at Oscar Predictions
For Your Consideration: Gauging a Crowded and Female-Friendly Spirit Award Field
For Your Consideration: Could a Documentary Be Nominated For Best Picture?
For Your Consideration: Assessing Those Gotham Award Nominations
For Your Consideration: 10 Underdog Actors
For Your Consideration: 10 Underdog Actresses
For Your Consideration: Save For "Love" Snub, Foreign Language Submissions Uncontroversial
For Your Consideration: Post-Toronto Oscar Predictions
For Your Consideration: Updating Oscar Contenders In The Eye of The Storm
For Your Consideration: 10 Things The Fall Fests Should Say About Awards Season
For Your Consideration: Assessing Oscar In The Calm Before The Storm

This article is related to: Features, Golden Globes, Critics' Groups, Rabbit Hole





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