The Academy Award nominations come out on Tuesday morning, and they come on the heels of a surprising turn of events over the weekend that throws a wrinkle into this year’s developing “Oscar Buzz.”
“The King’s Speech” earned the top honor at the Producers’ Guild of America (PGA) Awards on Saturday, which may move that film ahead of the presumed frontrunner “The Social Network” in this year’s Best Picture race. The PGA awards don’t always predict Best Picture with the same degree of accuracy as the Directors’ Guild with Best Director and the Screen Actors’ Guild with the acting awards – but the victory by “The King’s Speech” at least slows some of the momentum that “The Social Network” had coming out of the Golden Globes.
The Academy Award nominations will be announced at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
In addition to “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network,” the Best Picture crowd will almost certainly include “Inception,” “Black Swan” and probably “The Fighter.” After that, as the Academy continues the practice established last year of nominating 10 fims instead of the traditional five, look for the Coen Brothers’ “True Grit” Pixar’s “Toy Story 3,” as well as a couple of highly respected dramas such as “Winter’s Bone” and “The Kids are Alright.”
Colin Firth is the clear favorite in the lead actor race for his performance as King George VI in “The King’s Speech,” and Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”) and James Franco (“127 Hours”) are pretty much locks to get nominations. Jeff Bridges, last year’s winner for “Crazy Heart,” is a good bet to get nominated again as the ever gritty Rooster Cogburn. The fifth spot is up in the air, but it could well go to Mark Wahlberg’s showy turn in “The Fighter.”
The lead actress race at this point appears to be between Natalie Portman’s troubled ballerina in “Black Swan” and Annette Bening’s lesbian mom in “The Kids Are Alright.” Nicole Kidman will likely get a nomination for her grieving mother in “Rabbit Hole,” and Jennifer Lawrence will almost certainly get nominated for her work in “Winter’s Bone.” The fifth spot depends on whether “True Grit’s” teen protagonist Hailee Steinfeld lands in the lead category (where she certainly belongs) or the supporting category (where the studio is promoting her). If Steinfeld goes to the supporting category, look for Bening’s co-star Julianne Moore to join the lead actress race.
All of the other awards ceremonies – the Globes, the critics, the various guilds – are just a buildup to the Oscars, and the Academy Award fun starts in earnest on Tuesday morning.
Mike Holtzclaw, a senior reporter at the Daily Press, loves the Academy Awards so much that he's one of the few people who doesn't complain that the ceremony is too long. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.