83rd Annual Academy Awards

This Sunday, it’s time to break out the ballots and turn on your television sets. You’re invited to the “biggest movie event of the year” – that’s right, it’s the 83rd Annual Academy Awards! Hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway (a choice of hosts obviously meant to attract younger audiences and boost ratings), the Oscars are coming to your home so that you can witness the celebration of 2010’s cinematic year.

I remember the first time I saw the Oscar ceremony on television. It was 2003, and it was the moment when Halle Berry announced that Adrien Brody had beaten the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis and Jack Nicholson for Best Actor in “The Pianist” (a deserving win, I might add). In that very same year, my mother began renting the previous 75 (okay, minus the ones she’d already seen) Best Picture winners from our local library. Imagine that — my first encounter with the Oscars led to an explosion of its rich history in a short matter of time.

I’ve been watching the Oscars — in their full three hour-plus duration — for the past four years now. Granted, when it comes to the winners, I’ve agreed with the Academy’s choices (Christoph Waltz’s winning Best Supporting Actor for “Inglourious Basterds” last year) as well as disagreed (“Slumdog Millionaire” taking home Best Picture in 2009). Nevertheless, in spite of how I feel about the results, I have fun every year watching the show simply because it pays tribute to the best films of the year.

Are the Oscars ultimately significant in the long run? Well, not necessarily so, though it depends on the way you look at it. Cinephiles often point out films like “Citizen Kane” and “Raging Bull,” which have never won the coveted statue for Best Picture, yet have stood the test of time far greater than the ones that did in the very same year (“How Green Was My Valley” and “Ordinary People” respectively). Plus, there are always those inglorious snubs that occur every year or so. In 1999, “Shakespeare in Love” triumphed over “Saving Private Ryan” and of course (not to mention more recently), who can ever forget Nicholson’s shocked expression when, upon opening the envelope, saw that “Crash” had defeated “Brokeback Mountain” in 2006?

Now the question is, which films will be the lucky ones when the envelope is opened and the names are called?

The race for Best Picture and Director is solely between two films. The fact that “The Social Network” opened to rave reviews (it’s currently the best reviewed film of 2010) and has won the majority of the critics’ awards led many (including yours truly) to declare it the favorite earlier in the year. However, “The King’s Speech” has proven to be the frontrunner and a force to be reckoned with. It has secured crucial wins from the Producers, Directors and Screen Actors Guild Awards, which indicates that the film has overwhelming support from the Academy voters. To predict against the film (in these categories and others) is a gutsy move and probably won’t win you the Oscar pool.

The acting categories are rather easy to call. Having won most of the awards this season, Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech” and Natalie Portman in “Black Swan” are locks for Best Actor and Actress respectively. The same can be said of Christian Bale in “The Fighter” for Supporting Actor, though Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech” is a potential spoiler. As much as I prefer Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit” for Supporting Actress, Melissa Leo in “The Fighter” has this in the bag.

“The Social Network” will definitely win Best Adapted Screenplay. “Inception” fanboys will be sorely disappointed when “The King’s Speech” takes home the Oscar for Original Screenplay.

One win to look forward to is “Toy Story 3” for Best Animated Feature. This particular category was first included in 2002, well before the first two “Toy Story” films were released. The third film will win because not only did it gross over $1 million worldwide, but because it closes a brilliant and memorable trilogy.

As for the rest of the categories, to predict “The King’s Speech” sweeping the majority of the remaining awards certainly isn’t a bad call. Given its relatively comfortable position as the frontrunner, chances are that it is capable of walking away with at least five or six Oscars come Sunday night.

Some of you may have noticed that I’m not fully predicting this sweep; while I am taking this into consideration, I base my predictions upon a variety of things: the number of precursors won, potential likability among the Academy, gut instinct and wishful thinking (which explains why I’m predicting David Fincher for “The Social Network” to win Best Director).

To be frank, I’m not expecting to correctly predict all 24 categories (as nice as it seems). Chances are, throughout the ceremony, there will be moments when I’ll pump my fist in joy and scream obscenities at the television as I find out how I did on my predictions. What matters, though, is that I’m just there to celebrate the movies.

*Predictions Below

  • Best Picture: The King’s Speech
  • Best Director: The Social Network
  • Best Leading Actor: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
  • Best Leading Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
  • Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
  • Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: The Social Network
  • Best Original Screenplay: The King’s Speech
  • Best Foreign Language Film: Incendies
  • Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
  • Best Documentary Feature: Inside Job
  • Best Film Editing: The Social Network
  • Best Cinematography: True Grit
  • Best Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland
  • Best Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
  • Best Makeup: The Wolfman
  • Best Original Score: The Social Network
  • Best Original Song: “We Belong Together,” Toy Story 3
  • Best Sound Editing: Inception
  • Best Sound Mixing: Inception
  • Best Visual Effects: Inception
  • Best Live Action Short Film: Na Wewe
  • Best Animated Short Film: The Gruffalo
  • Best Documentary Short: Poster Girl