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For Your Consideration: Post-Toronto Oscar Predictions

For Your Consideration: Post-Toronto Oscar Predictions

It’s exhausting to even consider the extensive amount of awards season-related information Venice, Telluride and Toronto just gave folks to chew on. Just two weeks ago, very little was known about this year’s awards race. Now all of a sudden there’s a false sense that nearly everything is known about it. Save for just a few as-yet-unseen titles like David O. Russell’s “The Fighter” and Joel and Ethan Coen’s “True Grit,” the vast majority of films likely to end up in Oscar’s good graces have made their debuts. And that list includes David Fincher’s “The Social Network,” which might not officially debut until this Friday night at the New York Film Festival, but has been screened for enough critics and bloggers already that is might as well have. While things can and likely will change in terms of what seems like frontrunners (it is only September, after all), let’s try and digest the plethora of information that was just received.

On the eve of the Venice Film Festival, this column discussed ten things the fall fests might tell us award season. Not only did they tell us those ten things, they probably gave us another forty tidbits on top of it, from the rise of contenders like “The King’s Speech,” “Rabbit Hole,” “127 Hours” and “Black Swan” to the fall of hopefuls like “Brighton Rock,” “The Tempest,” “Conviction” and, for the most part at least, “Hereafter.” So perhaps in the interest of keeping organized, let’s attempt to dissect them in a category-by-category fashion (the “big 8” categories, at least for now):

Best Picture
Let’s start with the least surprising, and the most likely to hold steady: Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech” is the real deal. Winner of the Toronto audience award, a total critical daring, and featuring a bunch of things the Academy has historically eaten up (royal historical figures, disabilities, a perfect sprinkle of comedy amidst an affecting drama), it’s reasonable to suggest “Speech” is a certainty for a best picture nomination.

Its biggest competition seems to come from David Fincher’s aforementioned “Social Network,” which is just as much a best picture nomination assurance and probably an even likelier bet to actually win; and from Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours,” which could potentially prove a bit too intense for some voters (it certainly did for some Telluride and Toronto audience members), but will probably gain a following in the Academy voting membership strong enough to propel it to a nomination.

So take those three films and add them to pre-Toronto favorites “Inception,” “Another Year,” “The Kids Are All Right” and “Toy Story 3,” and seven of the ten best picture slots are all but sewn up. But then what happens? Beyond two potential (and likely, at this point at least) contenders in as-yet-unseens “The Fighter” and “True Grit,” Venice, Telluride and Toronto collectively gave three more genuine best picture contenders: Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” Nigel Cole’s “Made in Dagenham,” and John Cameron Mitchell’s “Rabbit Hole.” Arguments against all three can be made in the form of “too dark” (“Swan”), “too light” (“Dagenham”), and “too subtle” (“Rabbit”), but these films will all have their share of supporters, and should “True Grit” or “The Fighter” underwhelm, they will become much more sure things. And then there’s Ben Affleck’s “The Town,” which is proving a critical and financial success that could be more of a player than anyone saw coming.

The predicted ten (in alphabetical order):
127 Hours
Another Year
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit

Just behind (in order of likelihood of stepping up):
Rabbit Hole
Made in Dagenham
The Town
Winter’s Bone
Secretariat
Blue Valentine
Get Low

For the hell of it winner prediction:
The King’s Speech

A scene from Darren Arofonsky’s “Black Swan.”

Best Director
Back in, say, 2001, the suggestion that a best director category could have been filled with the likes of Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”), Danny Boyle (“127 Hours”), David Fincher (“The Social Network”), Christopher Nolan (“Inception”), and David O. Russell (“The Fighter”) would have just seemed too good to be true. At that point, all five were critical darlings with little in the way of Academy recognition. Today, they are each directing one of the year’s big Oscar hopefuls. Not to say they will end up being the five finalists. Not if Mike Leigh (“Another Year”), Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) and maybe even Lisa Cholodenko (“The Kids Are All Right”) have anything to say about it. But they are all definitely in the mix, with the past two weeks cementing that with regard to Aronofsky, Boyle and Fincher in particular.

The predicted five:
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
David Fincher, The Social Network
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
Mike Leigh, Another Year
Christopher Nolan, Inception

Just behind (in order of likelihood of stepping up):
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit
Ben Affleck, The Town

For the hell of it winner prediction:
David Fincher, The Social Network

Best Actor
One thing is for absolute certain in this category, and Telluride and Toronto are very much responsible for this information: Colin Firth and James Franco will be 2010 best actor nominees for their work in “The King’s Speech” and “127 Hours,” respectively. It’s also very likely one of them will win. Beyond that information, however, things are very murky. And for a category that’s usually pretty stacked with contenders, things look surprisingly weak. The chances that performances that people got a chance to see well before September make the cut – particularly “Biutiful”s Javier Bardem, “Blue Valentine”‘s Ryan Gosling, and “Get Low”s Robert Duvall – have all increased substantially in the wake of few breakouts from the past few weeks beyond Firth and Franco (the two closest examples being “The Social Network”‘s Jesse Eisenberg and “Barney’s Version”‘s Paul Giamatti, which are both definitely possible but far from sure things). That said, there’s two potentially major players in “True Grit”‘s Jeff Bridges and “The Fighter”‘s Mark Wahlberg that no one will get a chance to see for some time. But can anyone really see Bridges repeating or Wahlberg actually winning? Mr. Firth, consult Mr. Rush and start practicing that speech…

The predicted five:
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Robert Duvall, Get Low
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network

Just behind (in order of likelihood of stepping up):
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Paul Giamatti, Barney’s Version
Johnny Depp, The Tourist
Leonardo diCaprio, Shutter Island

For the hell of it winner prediction:
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Best Actress
This category is a very different story than its male counterpart. Even before Venice began, there were scores of contenders, as this column noted last month. And now we have a few more. Continuing to rain on what would have been a cakewalk parade to a nomination for “The Kids Are All Right”‘s Annette Bening and Julianne Moore or “Another Year”‘s Lesley Manville or “Winter’s Bone”‘s Jennifer Lawrence or “Blue Valentine”‘s Michelle Williams are three women who received enthusiastic raves for their recently premiered performances: “Black Swan”‘s Natalie Portman, “Rabbit Hole”‘s Nicole Kidman, and “Made in Dagenham”‘s Sally Hawkins (it could have been even tighter but “Conviction”‘s Hilary Swank, “Never Let Me Go”‘s Carey Mulligan and “Miral”‘s Frieda Pinto didn’t quite get the buzz they needed). Deciding who gets dropped is an impossible challenge, but for now it seems possible Lawrence, Williams and Moore might end up sitting out this category in favor of Kidman, Hawkins and Portman. But it could just as easily be the other around. And there’s still the likes of “Love and Other Drugs”‘s Anne Hathaway and “Secretariat”‘s Diane Lane around the corner.

The predicted five:
Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Lesley Manville, Another Year
Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Just behind (in order of likelihood of stepping up):
Sally Hawkins, Made in Dagenham
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
Diane Lane, Secretariat
Anne Hathaway, Love and Other Drugs
Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right
Carey Mulligan, Never Let Me Go

For the hell of it winner prediction:
Natalie Portman, Black Swan

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A scene from John Cameron Mitchell’s “Rabbit Hole.”

Best Supporting Actor
“The Kids Are All Right”‘s Mark Ruffalo was the lone major contender in this category for some time, but he’s all of a sudden got a lot of company. Geoffrey Rush’s performance in “The King’s Speech” won over everyone and is locked into this category without a doubt (had Rush not already won, he’d be a sure bet to do so here); Aaron Eckhart – if campaigned in this category – seems likely to join it for his affecting work in “Rabbit Hole”; and Andrew Garfield seems like the most likely of “The Social Network” cast to nab a nomination, particularly because he also had very well received work in “Never Let Me Go” (which just seems way to divisive to garner any nods itself). Beyond those three, “The Town”‘s Jeremy Renner, “Conviction”‘s Sam Rockwell (the only thing about that film that everyone seemed to enjoy), and “Barney’s Version”‘s Dustin Hoffman got boosts from Venice and/or Toronto, leaving this category with one final, giant question mark that could completely alter it: Christian Bale, whose form-altered work as Mark Wahlberg’s washed up boxer brother in “The Fighter” seems like a sure bet based on its trailer alone.

The predicted five:
Christian Bale, The Fighter
Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Just behind (in order of likelihood of stepping up):
Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole
Bill Murray, Get Low
John Malkovich, Secretariat
Sam Rockwell, Conviction
Dustin Hoffman, Barney’s Version
Vincent Cassel, Black Swan
John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone

For the hell of it winner prediction:
Christian Bale, The Fighter

Best Supporting Actress
Like supporting actor, this category was a huge question mark a few weeks ago. But then a slew of performances – refreshingly all by esteemed actresses over 40 – made the festival rounds. “Rabbit Hole”‘s Dianne Weist, “The King’s Speech”‘s Helena Bonham Carter, “Made in Dagenham”‘s Miranda Richardson and “Black Swan”‘s Barbara Hershey (all previous nominees, though Weist is the only previous winner, and a double one at that) all look like strong contenders in this category. They join a weak but lengthy list of pre-Toronto contenders, most notably “Animal Kingdom”‘s Jacki Weaver, “Nowhere Boy”‘s Kristin Scott Thomas, and “Get Low”‘s Sissy Spacek, as well as three big hopes from “The Fighter” and “True Grit”: Amy Adams, Melissa Leo and Hailee Steinfeld. Together, they make up the most challenging category to prognosticate, and it’s quite possible someone not listed below could come out of nowhere and be very much in this game.

The predicted five:
Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Miranda Richardson, Made in Dagenham
Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole

Just behind (in order of likelihood of stepping up):
Barbara Hershey, Black Swan
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
Sissy Spacek, Get Low
Mila Kunis, Black Swan
Kristin Scott Thomas, Nowhere Boy
Lucy Punch, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
Ruth Sheen, Another Year

For the hell of it winner prediction:
Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Director Lisa Cholodenko (middle) on the set of “The Kids Are All Right with stars Annette Benning and Julianne Moore. Image courtesy of Focus Features

Best Original and Adapted Screenplay
Likely to generally be an extension of the best picture category, there’s really nothing too notable here that hasn’t already been mentioned with regard to that category. Things look they could pretty tight with regard to both categories, with best picture contenders evenly distributed between them. Though this also could be the opportunity for smaller films like “Winter’s Bone,” “The Ghost Writer,” “Somewhere,” “Barney’s Version” and “Get Low” to get recognition they might not pull off in Oscar’s biggest category.

The predicted five original nominations:
Paul Attanasio, Lewis Colich, Eric Johnson, Scott Silver & Paul Tamasy, The Fighter
Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Mike Leigh, Another Year
Christopher Nolan, Inception
David Speidler, The King’s Speech

Just behind (in order of likelihood of stepping up):
Billy Ivory, Made in Dagenham
Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz & John J. McLaughlin, Black Swan
Derek Cianfrance, Joey Curtis & Cami Delavigne, Blue Valentine
Sofia Coppola, Somewhere
Chris Provenzano, C. Gaby Mitchell, Get Low

For the hell of it winner prediction:
David Speidler, The King’s Speech

The predicted five adapted nominations:
Michael Arndt, Toy Story 3
Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy, 127 Hours
Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, True Grit
David Lindsay-Abaire, Rabbit Hole
Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Just behind (in order of likelihood of stepping up):
Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini & Daniel Woodrell, Winter’s Bone
William Davies, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders, How To Train Your Dragon
Ben Affleck, Peter Craig & Aaron Stockard, The Town
Robert Harris & Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer
Michael Konyves, Barney’s Version

For the hell of it winner prediction:
Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

Click here for predictions in all the remaining categories.

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE’s Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog. And get the latest on this year’s award season at indieWIRE’s awards page.

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