Oscar tactics

Our movie critic predicts the Academy Awards—who should win and who will win

The 83rd Academy Awards airs on ABC at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 27. For more information, visit oscar.go.com.

My favorite Oscar host is Steve Martin, and they saddled him with a lethargic, surprisingly unfunny Alec Baldwin last year. When it’s Golden Boy time, I want 100 percent Steve Martin weird-assed hosting lingo. They shouldn’t have partnered him up with the grouchy dude from 30 Rock.

So now we get two potentially funny performers sharing duties, James Franco and Anne Hathaway. They have both done well on Saturday Night Live, and perhaps they’ll share a song or a lively skit with Franco stuck under a big paper-mâché boulder for half the show. Still, I want my live Steve Martin fix.

Then again, I dug David Letterman’s Oscar night, so maybe I’m not the proper authority on the whole Oscar host thing.

This year’s list of nominees is pretty solid. Going through all of the categories, I don’t see any glaring stinko nominations. Oh, sure, some deserving folks got snubbed, and some nominated folks probably shouldn’t be in their categories, but I honestly like all of the films nominated for Best Picture and have no real problems with those nominated in performance and technical categories.

Well, except for any nominations doled out to Alice in Wonderland—F that noise.

Here’s a handy guide for Oscar night, with my predictions and wishes. Drink a bottle of tequila when I get a prediction right, and you are guaranteed to … well … actually … die. You would most certainly die if you drank a bottle of tequila each time I got something right, so scratch that. Drink a big chocolate milk in my name for all correct predictions. Actually, that could get messy, too. Eh, just drink a glass of water. It’s good for you.

Best Picture

The King’s Speech
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

OK, so Oscar is doing the whole 10 Best Picture nominees thing now. I will make this easy and declare eight of these films absent of any chance of winning the big prize. Those eight films are True Grit, Black Swan, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Fighter, Toy Story 3, Winter’s Bone and my personal 2010 fave, 127 Hours.

I like all of these movies. I like them a lot. That said, perhaps one of my least favorite of this lot would be The King’s Speech, and that’s the one that will probably take the prize. I’m just going on momentum here, and this rather enjoyable if not amazing film has been cleaning up this awards season. If King’s gets skunked, then The Social Network should be victorious.

If I had my druthers, Danny Boyle’s amazing 127 Hours would take the prize. It most certainly won’t.

Should Win: 127 Hours

Will Win: The King’s Speech

Best Actor

Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
James Franco (127 Hours)

Firth should have this one wrapped up, but a Javier Bardem upset wouldn’t shock me at all. Again, I must trumpet my favorite 2010 film and declare James Franco the one who deserves it the most. He will lose. Oh yes, he will lose.

Should Win: Franco

Will Win: Firth

Best Actress

Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

For me, this one is between Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams. Williams was so incredibly good as the defeated, sad wife in Blue Valentine. It’s truly a magnificent piece of work. But she delivered that piece of work in a year when Portman did it all physically and emotionally.

Bening was great, as was Lawrence. If this category has a crazy turn of events this year, Lawrence could sneak in and take the prize. Nobody cares about Kidman in Rabbit Hole.

All things considered, it will be the night’s biggest shocker if the award doesn’t go to Portman.

Should Win: Portman

Will Win: Portman

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale (The Fighter)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Jeremy Renner (The Town)
Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

Bale was great in The Fighter, and if he wins here, as he probably will, I’m OK with that. But Rush totally wowed me in Speech, even more than Firth. That said, I’m also a big fan of Hawkes in Winter’s Bone. Come to think of it, I’d be OK with anybody winning in this category, but I think Rush is the most deserving.

Should Win: Rush

Will Win: Bale

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams (The Fighter)<
Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

I hope it all stops here with the whole Melissa Leo thing. She won the SAG, she won the Golden Globe—enough already. She wasn’t even the Best Supporting Actress in The Fighter. That would be Amy Adams.

The winner here should and will be Hailee Steinfeld, who should’ve been nominated for Best Actress for her amazing turn in True Grit. There will be a dinner food of some sort being lobbed at the screen if she is not victorious.

Should Win: Steinfeld

Will Win: Steinfeld

Best Animated Feature Film

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

I’m going out on a limb here and predicting a minor upset in this category. If enough voters watched their The Illusionist DVD screeners, I think it has a shot at beating out the much deserving Toy Story 3. The Illusionist is based on an old screenplay by a much beloved, now dead film figure (Jacques Tati). If enough voters do their research and watch the movie, it could tip the scale.

Should Win: Toy Story 3

Will Win: The Illusionist

Best Director

Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
David O. Russell (The Fighter)
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit)

Perhaps this year’s biggest snub came in this category. Where is Christopher Nolan for Inception? The work he did on that film is comparable or better than anybody nominated in this category. Shame!

And while I’m at it, not nominating Danny Boyle for 127 Hours is an even bigger crime.

I think The King’s Speech train will keep rolling here, although my personal pick out of these nominees would be the Coens for True Grit.

Should Win: Coens

Will Win: Hooper

Predictions for other categories:

Best Original Screenplay: The King’s Speech

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network

Art Direction: Inception

Cinematography: True Grit (Oh, you better give this to Roger Deakins!)

Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland

Best Documentary: Inside Job

Film Editing: The Social Network

Best Foreign Language Film: Biutiful

Makeup: The Wolfman

Original Score: The Social Network

Original Song: “We Belong Together,” Toy Story 3

Sound Editing: Inception

Sound Mixing: Inception

Visual Effects: Inception

Short Animated Film: Day & Night