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Oscars 2011: Don't Expect Many Esperanza Spaldings

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THE KINGS SPEECH
AP

Watching this year's Academy Awards will be like starting a book after you've already skipped ahead to read the ending. Aside from a possible surprise or two (i.e. Bening over Portman; Steinfeld over Leo), the 83rd annual telecast should follow a predictable night with Colin Firth and The King's Speech crowned over The Social Network. Expect Speech to take home about five gold guys with Network close behind with four. Perhaps the most unpredictable aspect about this year's Oscars will be how well James Franco and Anne Hathaway host the event. I suspect the duo will rise to the occasion with a little song, a little dance, and a lot of humor. I also bet we'll see our fair share of celeb cameos engaging with them in planned bits and vignettes. As a whole, the night should be entertaining, drawn-out predictable fun. Here's my take on how the night will play out in all categories. One thing is clear this will be the first award show in some time that doesn't feature Betty White.

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

What to expect: This is seemingly a two-horse race between The King's Speech and The Social Network. While I think Speech will edge out Facebook, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if early favorite Network is "friended." The film really personifies this generation and the times in which we live in. The Fighter is the only dark horse here, but it's likely KO'd already.

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

What to expect: Firth, Firth, and Firth. It's his year... his time. He deserves it, and will get it.

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)

What to expect: Every time Bening is nominated, I think this will finally be her year. While Portman is the favorite (she delivered the finest performance last year in my book), it wouldn't surprise me if Bening nabs her "lifetime achievement" Oscar. Don't expect that to happen, but if any category this year has shock potential, it's this one.

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)

What to expect: Bale should be a lock, but if King's Speech sweeps, look for Rush to win his second Oscar. In my opinion, Rush gave the best performance of his career and his role is far less showy than Bale. That said, Bale's long overdue.

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)

What to expect: Early favorite Melissa Leo may have shot herself in the foot by campaigning for herself so I'm giving the edge to Steinfeld. It's been awhile since a youngen won got the gold, and it could happen here. A Steinfeld win would be the Academy's way of honoring True Grit. Adams could pull an upset here as well -- I'd vote for her -- but don't count on it.

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

What to expect: Even if King's Speech sweeps, I think Fincher will take home this award even though the DGA shut him out. Without his skillful direction, The Social Network might've been a long, talky bore.

Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours - Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network - Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 - Michael Arndt (screenplay); John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich (story)
True Grit - Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone - Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

What to expect: The Social Network's Sorkin will handily win here, and deservedly so. No one comes close.

Original Screenplay
Another Year - Mike Leigh
The Fighter - Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (screenplay); Keith Dorrington, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (story)
Inception - Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right - Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech - David Seidler

What to expect: The King's Speech will be crowned here as well, but I'm hopeful Nolan's complex epic scores the win here. I still can't believe he failed to get a directing nod.

Best Animated Film
How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

What to expect: Toy Story 3 easily. It's sort of a consolation prize in that it never had a chance for Best Picture. If it wins that category by the way (shocking the world of course), I'll smile ear to ear.

Best Foreign Language Film
Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) (Algeria)

What to expect: Have a Danish... In a Better World is the frontrunner and should edge out Biutiful.

Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Inception
The King's Speech
True Grit

What to expect: Alice in Wonderland seems to be the favorite, and I think it'll win (richly deserved), but this is the kind of award King's Speech could win in an Oscar sweep, so I'm predicting that.

Cinematography
Black Swan
Inception
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

What to expect: I can't believe Roger Deakins hasn't won one of these yet. His work on True Grit should break that habit.

Costume Design

Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King's Speech
The Tempest
True Grit

What to expect: Alice in Wonderland should easily take this prize. King's Speech had sort of a been there, done that vibe.

Best Documentary Feature
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Restrepo
Waste Land

What to expect: Inside Job has the inside track here.

Best Documentary Short Subject
Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Qiugang

What to expect: I honestly haven't seen any of these but I suspect Strangers No More will take this.

Editing
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

What to expect: The Social Network deserves this and should overtake King's Speech here. Having said that, the real deserved winner -- Inception -- wasn't even nominated. Sad.

Makeup
Barney's Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman

What to expect: I suspect The Wolfman will take this lame category home. The Way Back is the only real competition.

Best Original Score
How to Train Your Dragon
Inception
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

What to expect: While I'd love to see Trent Reznor take home an Oscar, I think his Network score along with Atticus Ross will come up second to The King's Speech's Alexander Desplat. For what it's worth, I would've voted for snubbed Clint Mansell for his spine-tingling Black Swan score.

Best Original Song
"Coming Home" (from Country Strong, music and lyrics by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey)
"I See the Light" (from Tangled, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater)
"If I Rise" (from 127 Hours, music by AR Rahman, lyrics by Dido and Rollo Armstrong)
"We Belong Together" (from Toy Story 3, music and lyrics by Randy Newman)

What to expect: I'd suspect another gold guy will go to Randy Newman. Toy Story 3 should be a multiple winner and aside from animated film, this stands as the best chance of that happening.

Best Animated Short Film

Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let's Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, a Journey Diary

What to expect: I didn't really dig Pixar's Day & Night and I'm a fan of rhyming Mark Ruffalo so I'm going to say The Gruffalo will win.

Best Live Action Short Film
The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143

What to expect: Gut tells Na Wewe because it's fun to say outloud.

Sound Editing
Inception
Toy Story 3
Tron: Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable

What to expect: Inception should and will win this. True Grit is the only real competition, and I just don't see it.

Sound Mixing
Inception
The King's Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit

What to expect: Inception should pick up this prize as well although King's Speech could surprise.

Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2

What to expect: Again, look for Inception to clean up on the technical awards. Easily the best visual effects of the year.