Can't believe we're here again, and this is my third year blogging my Oscar picks - usually my most laid pack post of the year. Quite a variety of films in the running this year, but as always it's most likely going to come down to essentially two films, The King's Speech and The Social Network. If the Academy Awards went on solely my review scores alone, then it would between Inception, Toy Story 3 and Black Swan - how exciting would that have been?
So like always I'm going to go through the top six categories, then quickly bullet point the rest. In the words of the late (Oscar winning) Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, "And here we go..."
The Social Network, Toy Story 3, The King's Speech, Black Swan, True Grit, Inception, Winter's Bone, The Kids Are All Right, The Fighter, 127 Hours.
I'm still not totally convinced of having 10 films in the running for this category now, but nevertheless it gives misplaced hope and the chance for a some lesser known films to get some much needed exposure, such as the excellent Winter's Bone or two summer blockbuster behemoths such as Inception and Toy Story 3. However if The Globes and The BAFTAs showed us, there's essentially two films battling it out for the honour and that's David Fincher's The Social Network and Tom Hooper's The King's Speech. Both excellent films in their own right, but I think the King's Speech has (in more ways than just its central character) a slightly more regal quality and thus would like to see it win. But then, the Academy do love the Coen Brothers' films...
Moore's choice: The King's Speech.
Dark horse: True Grit
Javier Bardem (Biutiful), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Colin Firth (The King's Speech), Jessie Eisenberg (The Social Network), James Franco (127 Hours)
If you're planning on betting the house on one category, probably best make it this one. Though I'd personally say Jeff Bridges' performance in True Grit overshadows his Oscar winning performance in Crazy Heart last year, nevertheless he's, cynically, had his turn. Colin Firth wowed audiences last year in, A Single Man. In The King's Speech he offered his heart and soul to the camera with the career defining role that isn't Mr Darcy. I can't comment on Bardem, but special mention must go to Eisenberg who was excellent in The Social Network, and it was only seeing it the second time I realised how excellent. But then, if you've seen his other films, you could argue he was only playing an even more warped version of himself. And in regards to Franco, if his time isn't now, it will be eventually.
Moore's choice: Colin Firth
Dark horse: Jeff Bridges
Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Admittedly I've not seen two of the performances listed here - Portman in Rabbit Hole and Bening in The Kids Are All Right - but like the previous category the likely winner is pointing towards Natalie Portman who frankly was bloody phenomenal in Black Swan. Yet I'd probably argue Jennifer Lawrence's visceral performance in Winter's Bone was that tiny bit better. Michelle Williams are probably the best part of a torturous experience watching Blue Valentine. The only real annoyance with this category is the absence of the breakthrough performance of Haliee Steinfeld in True Grit, who was been suspiciously relegated to the Best Supporting Actress category, yet carried most of the film herself and arguably featured in the film more than Jeff Bridges? Hmm... is The Academy being slightly ageist there?
Moore's choice: Natalie Portman
Dark Horse: Jennifer Lawrence
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)
If you'd asked me before the award season started, and having just walked out of The King's Speech I would have instantly said Rush, and frankly still do say that. The King's Speech simply wouldn't have been nearly as glorious without his contribution. Yet he's facing a lot of competition from Christian Bale, who was fantastic in The Fighter. My gut still says Rush deserves it but Bale's time will come I think. Maybe in 2013 he'll get the first Best Actor nod for a superhero role in The Dark Knight Rises (I can but hope)? I'm glad to see John Hawkes get the credit for his performance in Winter's Bone but I don't think he has the pull to see him over the finishing line. Still honestly can't fathom how Jeremy Renner got in the mix with The Town, which I did fully enjoy as a no nonsense crime caper, but hardly the work of Oscar gold.
Moore's choice: Geoffrey Rush
Dark horse: Christian Bale
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams (The Fighter), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom), Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
See the Best Actress blurb for my thoughts on Steinfeld, she's in the wrong category. Logic has been pointing towards Melissa Leo or Helena Bonham Carter, personally after seeing Animal Kingdom only just earlier in the week, I would have to say I'd love Jacki Weaver's bat-crazy granny, Janine to win. This category is a little contentious, for me, as frankly the best female supporting performance of 2010 didn't even get a mention and was cruelly overlooked at the BAFTAs and that was Lesley Manville's wonderfully eccentric and decisively tragic performance in Mike Leigh's Another Year.
Moore's choice: Melissa Leo
Dark horse: Helena Bonham Carter
Tom Hooper (The King's Speech), David Fincher (The Social Network), The Coen Brothers (True Grit), David O Russell (The Fighter), Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
With the exception of David O Russell, all the directors deserve acclaim for the films they crafted. Hooper gave a king his voice, the Coens brought westerns to the mainstream again (not to mention being quite chummy with the Academy off the back of past success), Aronofsky made one of the most challenging and dividing big budget films of the last five years and Fincher miraculously made a film about Facebook a totally engrossing experience. And after years of nearly being there, the time has come for Fincher to accept the award, I think. Even if the film doesn't win Best Picture, he's truly done an amazing thing. There were a few notably criminal snubs this year unfortunately, firstly Christopher Nolan for his ground-breaking work on Inception, Mike Leigh for Another Year, Lee Unkrich for making the greatest threequel of all time in Toy Story 3 and Debra Granik for her work in Winter's Bone.
Moore's choice: David Fincher
Dark horse: The Coen Brothers
And the rest...
Foreign Language Film: Dogtooth (though where's Of Gods and Men?!)
Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)
Original Screenplay: Christopher Nolan (Inception)
Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Art Direction: True Grit
Cinematography: True Grit
Sound Mixing: Inception
Sound Editing: Inception
Original Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network)
Original Song: I See The Light (Tangled)
Costume: Alice in Wonderland
Documentary: Exit Through The Gift Shop (c'mon everyone wants to see what Banksy will do...)
Film Editing: 127 Hours
Makeup: The Wolfman
Visual Effects: Inception
And for another award season, that's me signing off. If you have twitter be sure to tune in on the night for me tweeting nonsensical observations, and also be sure to watch out for the special Panic Shots Oscar Special with the fast talking Ross Thompson and the wonderfully articulate Laura Shearer and of course myself, which should hopefully surface before Sunday!