The Gurus of Gold are predicting the following 15, in this order:
(10 spots really does make the predicting part so much more interesting)
1. The King's Speech
2. The Social Network
4. Toy Story 3
5. 127 Hours
6. The Kids Are Alright
7. True Grit
8. Black Swan
9. The Fighter
10. Rabbit Hole
11. Another Year
12. The Way Back
13. Winter's Bone
The first five are definite locks, but I would rate True Grit 6. It has the power to upset & steal the Oscar from King's Speech or Social Network, unless it sucks. Which it won't. Because it is the Coen Brothers.
King's Speech is moving, historical, well-crafted old school drama. Two brilliant lead performances help.
Social Network is literate, detailed, well-crafted Gen X drama. A great script & cast help.
Social Network is more relevant. King's Speech's characters are easier to love.
Inception is the inventive, visionary blockbuster they cannot ignore. The will officially lose all viewership under 40 if they overlook this one. All round awesome production (set, score, costumes, cinematography) & almost Oscar-caliber performances (Leo, Marion - they will be on my year-end lists) help.
Toy Story 3 takes the 'Pixar slot' with a significant emotional wallop. A solid end to a much-loved trilogy. Solid screenplay from previous Oscar winner Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine) & score from good old Randy Newman helps
127 Hours is the new visceral, visionary film from recent Oscar winner Danny Boyle. He still has leftover love from Slumdog Millionaire and the reviews for 127 Hours are glowing - gripping, gruesome & deeply emotional. A breakout lead performance (James Franco, yes really), daring cinematography & at least one already-infamous scene ('How do I get free from this rock?') help
True Grit is a fresh adaptation of a classic novel by the Coen Brothers. The original adaptation did pretty well at the Oscars and was pretty right wing. The Coens are decidedly left-wing & left of centre. This is in the vein of No Country for Old Men and A Serious Man's nomination last year proves that the Academy appreciates them, no matter how weird they get. The trailer is awesome, and I think this is gonna kick ass.
The Kids Are Alright is this year's 'little indie that could' of choice. With politically-charged subject matter & three acclaimed lead performances by overdue actors (Anette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffallo), the comedy drama has got the heat to land the list.
Black Swan is having critics frothing at the mouth, either in a good or a bad way. My opinion - it will land nominations, but not Best Picture. Too darn weird & creepy for the Academy.
The Fighter. Unless I have missed the early reviews, this is mostly speculation based on story, genre, cast &, well, genre. It is a boxing story. It is an underdog story. & it looks well made. I'm not feeling it, but let's wait and see some reviews.
Rabbit Hole. Well, it's a drama about the grief of losing a child. Meaty performances guaranteed. What makes this interesting is the apparent wit & humanity, rather than melodrama. I'm feeling it for the actors, but not necessarily Best Picture. Then again, an acclaimed film about loss. How can it miss? Still not feeling it though. Too indie & all about the actors. Let the precursors prove me wrong.
Another Year is the wonderful and Academy-popular Mike Leigh's latest and, many claim, best. His last two films showed up, but missed Best Picture. This year, however, there are 10 slots, and I don't see anything in the charming / classy British Comedy / Drama slot. Lesley Manville's performance is bound to be a critics favourite, which should help this gain momentum. I'm feeling it/
The Way Back. Strong cast, Peter Weir. This almost qualifies for classy British Drama and I would not underestimate it. Peter Weir is a class act is all I'm saying.
Winter's Bone is the other little indie that could. The only reason why this is so low on the list is because no-one knew if it would still be remembered by year end. Well, it's year end and here it still is, so I would bump it up on the list above Black Swan (have a feeling I am underestimating that one, but I will trust my instincts). Great reviews, a breakout lead performances, all-round solid cast and a well-crafted story with kick. I'm feeling it.
Hereafter. This is surely on the list solely on the ethos that you can never underestimate the power of Clint Eastwood. And though that is hard to argue with, he did not land a nod out of 10 slots for the moving, if uneven, Invictus, and Hereafter with it's heavily mixed reviews, is not getting in. Not feeling it.
They left off Indie favourite Blue Valentine, presumably because it is reportedly to heavy &, well, depressing & won't be seen by enough people. Hold thumbs for Ryan Gosling & Michelle Williams not to be overlooked for their apparently lazingly brilliant, career-best performances. I think it has gotten enough attention & has picked up enough heat for the actors to show up in the race, maybe. But I guess BP is a stretch.
They also left off Sofia Coppolla's Somewhere. I'm not feeling the Academy feeling it, but wouldn't say it is dead in the water. Lost in Translation 2 it may be, but I have not yet read bad reviews, only low expectations. People are moved by it & it beat Black Swan at Venice Film Fest.
Get Low also seems to have lost all heat except for its actors.
Another classy British drama, Never Let Me Go, comes from great pedigree, but reviews are a bit mixed and reactions are that it is a bit cold. Bafta's & an adoring fanbase, yes. Oscar, I guess not. The only thing still with heat is Carey Mulligan & Adam Kimmel's cinematography (MAYBE Rachel Portman's score),and those all feel out of the race by now.
Lastly, they ignored a number of potential 'crowd-pleasers'. Let's not forget The Blind Side's slot last year:
The Town, Secretariat, Made in Dagenham could all make an impact in this slot, and let's not forget Shutter Island, which was being predicted for last year until the release date got moved to this year. Never underestimate Marty Scorsese.
The gurus are an MCN initiative - a 'collaboration of the 15 top Academy Awards analysts in the country'. Whatever that means.
Last year they predicted:
1. Up in the Air
3. The Hurt Locker
5. An Education
8. The Lovely Bones
9. Inglourious Basterds
10. A Serious Man
With Avatar at 11.
7 out of 10. Hmm. Well done for going with A Serious Man, though.
Their predictions were generally 4 out of 5 when there were only half as many slots. I'm surprised they rated Avatar so low, even though it was undeserving.