The 83rd Annual Academy Awards: Who will win?

Last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made the unexpected decision to expand the Best Picture category from five nominees to 10. Thankfully, 2010 has provided such an assortment of exceptional films that it would have been a travesty to limit the Best Picture race to a mere five nominees.

Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech” got a huge boost with 12 nominations, including Best Picture. As of now, it is the only Best Picture contender that could rival David Fincher’s award season favorite, “The Social Network,” which conjured eight nominations overall.

Other strong contenders to win the Best Picture prize include “The Fighter,” “Black Swan,” “Inception” and “True Grit.” Rounding out the 10 were also “Toy Story 3,” “The Kid’s Are All Right,” “127 Hours” and “Winter’s Bone,” all of which should just be happy to be nominated. No real surprises in the Best Picture category, although some thought Ben Affleck’s “The Town” might sneak in.

The real disappointment occurred in the Best Director category. The nominees consisted of Darren Aronofsky for “Black Swan,” David O. Russell for “The Fighter,” Tom Hooper for “The King’s Speech,” David Fincher for “The Social Network” and Joel and Ethan Coen for “True Grit.”

It is shocking to see the exclusion of Christopher Nolan, who created one of the most unique cinematic experiences of the year in “Inception,” a Best Picture nominee that primarily relied on the director’s vision. This is not the first time Nolan has been ignored in this category. In 2008, Nolan seemed like a lock for his sophisticated money-grosser “The Dark Knight.” Nolan was fortunately recognized this year in the Best Original Screenplay category, but to see him snubbed twice for Best Director feels like an enormous middle finger.

In the Best Actor category, Jeff Bridges in “True Grit,” Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network,” Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech” and James Franco in “127 Hours” were all nominated as predicted. While some were anticipating Robert Duvall in “Get Low” or Ryan Gosling in “Blue Valentine” to snag the fifth slot, the Academy went with Javier Bardem for his work in “Biutiful.”

One performer who was ignored all award season was Leonardo DiCaprio, who gave two excellent leading performances this year in “Inception” and Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” a film that failed to even receive a single technical nomination.

The easiest category to foresee was Best Actress, which included Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right,” Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole,” Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone,” Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” and Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine.” I just wish that the Academy could have found it in their hearts to nominate Noomi Rapace for her fiercely underappreciated performance in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

Christian Bale in “The Fighter,” John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone,” Jeremy Renner in “The Town,” Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right” and Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech” made up the Best Supporting Actor category. I was particularly delighted to see Hawkes recognized for his vital role in “Winter’s Bone.” Strangely absent from the list is Andrew Garfield for his breakthrough work as the naïve best friend in “The Social Network.”

Mila Kunis unfortunately failed to attain a Best Supporting Actress nomination, despite receiving much momentum over the past few weeks. With her out, the nominees consisted of Amy Adams in “The Fighter,” Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech,” Melissa Leo in “The Fighter,” Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit” and Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom.”

I still find it odd that Hailee Steinfeld is being considered a supporting actress seeing as how she was clearly the lead in “True Grit.”  This case is somewhat similar to Tatum O’Neal’s nomination for “Paper Moon” back in 1973.

Although O’Neal was the dominant force in that picture, the Academy labeled her as a supporting actress. Nevertheless, O’Neal went onto win the award, becoming the youngest person to win a competitive Oscar at the age of 10. By marketing herself as a supporting actress, Steinfeld will likely have a better chance at winning on Oscar night.

Making up the Best Animated Feature Category were “How to Train Your Dragon,” “The Illusionist” and “Toy Story 3,” which will undoubtedly win the award seeing as how it’s the only one also up for Best Picture. The charming “Despicable Me” and Disney’s wonderful “Tangled” were both shut out. Given the mighty current state of feature-length animation, I think it is only fair that the Academy expand this category to five nominees every year.

While “Tangled” might not have received a Best Animated Feature nomination, its musical number “I See the Light” was rightfully recognized in the Best Original Song category. The other nominees included “Coming Home” from “Country Strong,” “If I Rise” from “127 Hours” and “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3.” I was beyond content to see all of the songs from “Burlesque” excluded completely.

As of now “The Social Network” is still the Best Picture frontrunner with “The King’s Speech” not too far behind. If any other film were to win I would be amazed.

Be sure to watch the 83rd Annual Oscar ceremony on Feb. 27 to see if there are any major upsets and to embrace one incredible year for movies.

Reach the reporter at

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.