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Who’ll take home the Oscars? Our picks for the 2011 Academy Awards

It’s that time of year again. On Sunday we’ll all find out who will take home the most Oscars at this year’s Academy Awards. Our resident film enthusiasts Ryan Fleming and Jeffrey Van Camp have seen all of the major films nominated and just about everything else that hit theaters this year, save for those pesky foreign film nominees. As such, we wanted to take the time to share our picks for this year’s show.

For a full list of all the categories and nominees, click here.

Best Picture

Black Swan

Nominees: Black SwanThe Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone

Ryan: For me, no other film had the impact that Black Swan had. It actually made me feel anxious watching Portman’s descent. Each film (except maybe The Fighter) deserves a spot. The Social Network and King’s Speech are winning all the early awards, which is fair, and  I won’t be surprised if anything from 127 Hours to True Grit wins—they all deserve it.

Jeffrey: Yeah, The King’s Speech is my pick to win, but Black Swan is my favorite film of the bunch. Aronofsky is a true auteur. Few movies use screen time so precisely, but Swan wraps you up in a feeling of uneasiness that just doesn’t let go even after the credits roll. However, most of these films are deserving, except The Fighter. I’m not sure how it got on this list. Good cast, boring plot. I’m also sad that Never Let Me Go wasn’t nominated.

Best Director

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

Jeffrey: Darren Aronofsky deserves a lot of recognition for Black Swan. He’s been perfecting the art of spiraling imperfection for years with films like The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream. I’d like to see him win. With that said, my official pick is Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech who also did a remarkable job.

Ryan: My choice would actually have been for Danny Boyle to win for 127 Hours–I thought he took a difficult subject and handled it masterfully–but of the nominees my choice would be Aronofsky, and if I were king of the world he would win. I thought the direction and Natalie Portman made Black Swan something special. That being said, if I were betting on it, my money would be on David Fincher to win. Call it a hunch, call it an opinion, but it just feels like the momentum for The Social Network is strong, and I will honestly be surprised if Fincher is not the one holding gold at the end of the night.

Jeffrey: Yeah, where is Danny Boyle? How the hell did The Fighter get all these nominations?

Best Actor


Nominees: Javier Bardem in Biutiful, Jeff Bridges in True Grit, Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network, Colin Firth in The King’s Speech, James Franco in 127 Hours

Ryan: This is the toughest category for me to pick.  I loved Bridges in True Grit, but he won last year. Franco was solid, but the competition is too fierce. Despite a supporting actor win, Bardem is still criminally underrated in America and deserves some Oscar bling, but I have to go with Firth, who not only killed it in The King’s Speech, has consistently turned in impressive performances over the years.

Jeffrey: Agreed. My vote goes to Colin Firth for The King’s Speech. He was an amazing contender last year in A Single Man and he knocked it out of the park again. I believe he’ll win this year. James Franco and Javier Bardem both gave superb perfomances as well.

Best Actress

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

Jeffrey: Natalie Portman should and will win for Black Swan. Anyone who can fall that deep into Aronofsky’s spiraling vision deserves an Oscar. Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Lawrence are worthy of watching in their respective roles as well.

Ryan: Even as I was watching Black Swan, I knew I was witnessing an amazing performance. Although all the actresses are at the top of their respective games, Portman owns this category.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Christian Bale in The Fighter, John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone, Jeremy Renner in The Town, Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right, Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech

Ryan: If Bale does not win this, it will be a crime.  All of the performances were impressive, but Bale helped to elevate The Fighter from a decent movie to an Oscar contender. Without his performance, the movie probably wouldn’t have gained the attention it has.

Jeffrey: That’s certainly true. I’m not sure The Fighter deserves the attention, but Christian Bale did put on an amazing performance as a drug addicted former boxer. He goes all out for these roles. Sometimes, I imagine him as the Black Swan of the acting world. This performance, it was perfect. He was perfect.

Best Supporting Actress


Nominees: Amy Adams in The Fighter, Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech, Melissa Leo in The Fighter, Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit, Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom

Jeffrey: Melissa Leo was fantastic as the over-involved mother in The Fighter, but Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit is my pick, I guess. I wasn’t blown away by any of these contenders. What do you think, Ryan?

Ryan: I agree that Steinfeld deserves the win, but it is something of a misnomer since technically she should have been in the “Best Actress” category, as she was the star of True Grit just as much as Bridges was. Leo also earned some respect, but Steinfeld was amazing.

Best Visual Effects

Nominees: Alice in Wonderland, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1HereafterInceptionIron Man 2

Ryan: Inception for the win. The scene with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the hallway fight was epic. Alice in Wonderland had its moments, but Inception deserves the win. And by the way, Iron Man 2 and Hereafter but no Tron: Legacy?

Jeffrey: Tron has gotten no love from the Academy. It was a great-sounding, great-looking film. But definitely, Inception is, hands down, my pick of the nominees. It isn’t all just computer generated effects either, as you pointed out. It should and will win. By the way, Herafter had some of the worst CGI I’ve seen all year. It was jarring.

Ryan: Tron: Legacy wasn’t the best film of the year by any means, but the Academy totally snubbed it, even in categories that seem like an obvious fit. Odd.

Best Animated Film


Nominees: How to Train Your Dragon, The IllusionistToy Story 3

Jeffrey: Toy Story 3 can’t really lose this category. Truth be told, I very much enjoyed How to Train Your Dragon as well. And where is Despicable Me? I never understood why there are only three contenders in this category.

Ryan: Not much debate here. If Toy Story 3 is the only animated film nominated for “Best Picture,” how can it not win “Best Animated Film”? Almost seems like a technicality to nominate anyone else.

Best Original Music Score

Nominees: John Powell for How to Train Your Dragon, Hans Zimmer for Inception, Alexandre Desplat for The King’s Speech, A.R. Rahman for 127 Hours, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for The Social Network

Ryan: I was shocked when I first read the official nominees for this category. It is a crime that Daft Punk was not nominated for Tron: Legacy, as no movie this year was as perfectly framed by a score. I can’t think of a film that was more deserving of a win but was snubbed so completely. The movie itself had its ups and downs, but it should have been at least nominated for visuals as well as score. My guess is that The Social Network will win, but my choice remains with Tron: Legacy. Maybe it can be the first write-in Oscar winner.

Jeffrey: While I share your remorse over the Academy snubbing Daft Punk, of the nominees, Inception gets my pick. No nominated score is as powerful or memorable as Inception by Hans Zimmer. The Social Network‘s score was good, but Inception‘s feels more connected to its actual premise.

Best Adapted Screenplay


Nominees: 127 Hours by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy, The Social Network by Aaron Sorkin, Toy Story 3 by Michael Arndt, True Grit by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Winter’s Bone by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Jeffrey: 127 Hours by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy gets my vote. Anyone who can adapt a real story about being stuck under a rock for five days and make it into one of the best films of the year deserves an Oscar.

Ryan: I personally agree with 127 Hours, which took a guy trapped in the same spot for five days and made it compelling, but I have a feeling The Social Network will win.

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Another Year by Mike Leigh, The Fighter by Scott Silver & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson, Inception by Christopher Nolan, The Kids Are All Right by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg, The King’s Speech by David Seidler

Jeffrey: Inception just because it’s the only screenplay here I’ve actually read part of, and it’s brilliant. Christopher Nolan pulled off a feat of filmmaking with Inception that will probably go unnoticed by the Academy. Another Year should get some credit though. Mike Leigh hasn’t gotten much attention in the States, but Another Year is probably the most daring of the films nominated simply because it doesn’t adhere to any norm or stereotype.

Ryan: Hollywood loves Nolan at the moment, and I suspect that they will reward him for their crush.  My guess is that Inception will win, but personally my pick would be for The Kids Are All Right just because it was a story that didn’t rely on history, sports or awesome visuals, and still managed to get Oscar attention for the film.

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