Here we go everybody. The title pretty much says it all. This is the final Oscar Power Rankings list before the nominations hit those screens behind the half-asleep presenters tomorrow morning. These haven’t been updated in awhile, so a lot has changed – including the addition of the screenplay categories!
So let’s not wait a second longer. Here are The Oscar Power Rankings’ final Oscar nominee predictions…
- (1) Colin Firth in The King’s Speech – While the buzz for his film has dwindled, the love for his performance has not. He’s the clear frontrunner in this category.
- (2) James Franco in 127 Hours – Pretty much the same story as Firth, except about 20% less.
- (3) Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network – Eisenberg has managed to keep precursor pace with chart toppers Franco and Firth the entire awards season. At the beginning of Oscar season it seemed like he’d be the forgotten man from his film, now he’s its most surefire nominee.
- (4) Jeff Bridges in True Grit – Screening the movie so late cost Bridges some early precursors (like a Golden Globe nomination), but he’s rebounded nicely since then. The SAG nomination sealed it for him.
- (6) Ryan Gosling in Blue Valentine – Buzz for this film is clicking at the right time and The Weinsteins are in full campaign stride with this and The King’s Speech. He’ll sneak into the fifth slot.
- (5) Robert Duvall in Get Low – Buzz for this movie and performance peaked very early in the Oscar race. Since then, we haven’t heard much about it at all. His SAG nomination gives him a good chance of taking the spot back from Gosling, but I think he’ll wind up just short.
- (7) Javier Bardem in Biutiful – Despite Julia Roberts’ best campaigning efforts, this doesn’t appear to be Bardem’s year.
- (8) Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter – Christian Bale pretty much said it all during his Golden Globes speech: Quiet performances that anchor movies just never seem to get recognized when they have to go up against flash competition. I’d call it the Matt Damon memorial snub.
- (10) Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception – Nobody’s talking about the actors for this film. But if anybody’s going to sneak in on a surprise, it’ll be DiCaprio.
- (NR) Paul Giamatti in Barney’s Version – He won the Golden Globe for Comedy. That’s gotta count for something, right?
- (1) Natalie Portman in Black Swan – The only thing that can derail her now is a Norbit-like reaction to No Strings Attached.
- (2) Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right – It doesn’t seem like she’s going to suffer from any vote-splitting as, down the line, the precursors have chose Bening while virtually ignoring her co-star. She’s a lock.
- (3) Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone – Her precursor total is nearly on par with Portman’s and the only important one she missed was the Golden Globes (in favor of an inexplicable nomination for Halle Berry). She won’t have to worry about Ms. Berry’s nipping at her heels going forward and won’t have any trouble securing a slot.
- (4) Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine – She missed out on a nomination for another small indie (Wendy and Lucy) but this one has a lot more momentum. She won’t end up empty-handed this time.
- (5) Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole – I don’t think anybody’s actually seen this movie, but that hasn’t stopped Kidman from comfortably making a comeback into the ranks of Oscar favorite. Her first nomination in 8 years seems like a certainty.
- (6) Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right – While her onscreen spouse has been raking in the precursors, Moore has been watching from the sidelines. She’s been ignored too often to think it will change at Oscar time.
- (NR) Hilary Swank in Conviction – She’s only gotten one precursor nomination but it was from the Screen Actor’s Guild. And that’s enough to get her this high on the list.
- (NR) Lesley Manville in Another Year – This movie’s insanely small and there’s questions as to whether she’s a lead or supporting performer. Acclaim has been mounting for it, so it’s not impossible, just highly unlikely.
- (7) Noomi Rapace in The Girl Who Played with Fire – Rapace just never got enough momentum to overcome the film’s being released so long ago and it being in Swedish. At least she got a role in the Sherlock Holmes sequel out of it. Not a bad consolation prize.
- (9) Anne Hathaway in Love and Other Drugs – She’s the host. She’s Catwoman. She’s in the news. And we need a tenth slot.
Best Supporting Actor
- (1) Christian Bale in The Fighter – This could actually be considered the most acclaimed performance of the year. Even more so than Natalie Portman’s. He’s a lock.
- (2) Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech – He gets this year’s “He was always a lock to get nominated, but there’s no chance he’s going to win” Award.
- (3) Andrew Garfield in The Social Network – He may have missed out on a SAG award, but that was really his only significant miss all season. The buzz for this film is so overwhelming that he almost has to be included.
- (4) Jeremy Renner – The Town – Critics absolutely adore this performance, and the buzz has building steadily all season, peaking with a SAG nomination. He’s popular enough now to seem like a near-lock.
- (6) John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone – This may be wishful thinking on my part, since I consider this to be the performance of the year (well, actually second to Portman’s, but she doesn’t need any help), but he does have the third most precursors in this category with a SAG nomination to boot. That’s enough to overcome the smallness of this film.
- (5) Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right – The buzz on this movie has gone so far down that it seems like Bening and that’s it at this point. This is a classic 6-for-5 category, and it looks like Ruffalo will be the unfortunate sixth man.
- (8) Matt Damon in True Grit - As stated before, this is a 6-for-5 category, meaning nobody else has a shot. If anyone has any chance of breaking that, it’ll be Damon in this blockbuster.
- (7) Sam Rockwell in Conviction – Rockwell seemed like he might have a chance if he got a SAG nomination, but he didn’t so he’s out.
- (10) Michael Douglas in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps – Thankfully, it looks like now we don’t have to give Michael Douglas a sympathy nomination.
- (NR) Jim Broadbent in Another Year – This film’s late release means the positive reviews are coming out right at Oscar time. Of course that means it also was unable to build any buzz. But it’s never wise to leave a past winner out of the top ten.
Dropping Out: Armie Hammer in The Social Network (9)
Best Supporting Actress
- (1) Melissa Leo in The Fighter – With a Golden Globe win the crown jewel of her impressive precursor haul, Leo is the biggest lock in this category.
- (2) Helena Bonham-Carter in The King’s Speech – Just when it seemed like her campaign was wavering, Carter rebounded with some late precursor love, sweeping the run of final-week precursor nominations. She’s a sure thing now.
- (5) Amy Adams in The Fighter – Like Supporting Actor, this is also a classic 6-for-5 race. Meaning there are a group of six people who have a shot for a nomination and that’s it. With two locks, it’s really a 4-for-3 race in that any of these next four have a near-equal shot at a nomination. Adams gets the third slot on the strength of the overall love for the film.
- (4) Hailiee Steinfeld in True Grit – Steinfeld feels like a lock, but it’s hard to put her above fourth. Not because of the lack of a Golden Globe nod (that’s meaningless), but because there is confusion as to whether she should be categorized as a lead or a supporting performer and that could lead to votes being split near in half. I imagine that most Academy members will follow the tradition of putting a teen in her first role in the supporting category (even if she is the film’s main character) and she’ll get enough votes to get in, but don’t be surprised by a Keisha Castle-Hughes-like last minute switch that finds her nominated as a lead in place of Nicole Kidman.
- (6) Mila Kunis in Black Swan – It’s boring, but I’ll give the last slot to the fifth SAG nominee in this category and predict an complete match. That hardly ever happens, but this year it looks like it will. And here’s why…
- (3) Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom - For this film, the studio employed a strategy of making it the first screener delivered to every Academy member and critic with a vote in a major precursor. That worked in spades when Weaver jumped out to an early lead in this category, but lately we’ve seen the buzz for the film and performance waver – as clearly evidenced by her missing out on a SAG nomination. If she’d gotten a guild nomination she would have been a lock, now it appears she’ll be just left out of the party unless there’s a Steinfeld switch.
- (7) Kristin Scott Thomas in Nowhere Boy – This is a real six-horse race: Nobody can break passed the sextet at the top of this list. So here’s your consolation prize, Kristin – the knowledge that you were the most lauded performance without a shot.
- (8) Barbara Hershey in Black Swan – The supporting love went entirely to Kunis for this film, leaving Hershey without a chance.
- (9) Juliette Lewis in Conviction – She won the award from the Boston Society of Film Critics and that’s the last of her awards this season.
- (10) Dianne Wiest in Rabbit Hole – Being a two-time Oscar winner in a film that’s likely to get at least one nomination at least gets you on the list.
- (1) David Fincher for The Social Network – With his Golden Globe win, Fincher has firmly asserted himself the king of this year’s director mountain.
- (2) Christopher Nolan for Inception – It took a heady dreamscape film with an ambiguous ending, but Nolan is finally going to get nominated in this category.
- (4) Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan – Quietly, Aronofsky has notched almost as many notices as the top two on this chart. He’s also quietly become a lock for his first Best Director nomination.
- (3) Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech – Hooper just keeps hanging on. Just when he needed a precursor, he got it. And just when I was ready to leave him out unless he got a DGA nomination, he got the Guild recognition he needed. Now he’s poised for a nomination.
- (6) Joel and Ethan Coen for True Grit – Like most things Grit, I have a hard time lending real credence to their missing a Guild nomination since some voters probably turned in their ballots before they got a chance to see this film. The miss hurts them, but not as much as it would have many other directors (see below). They’re so beloved by the Academy and this movie is such a mammoth hit, that they have a very slippery hold on this fifth slot.
- (8) David O. Russell for The Fighter – This is extremely close, but I see Russell’s reputation as the thing that causes him to barely miss a nomination here. Though his getting in makes just as much sense as anybody in the top five.
- (5) Danny Boyle for 127 Hours – Boyle was the guy who really needed a DGA nomination as this film is starting to fade into a distant early-awards season memory. He missed and now he’ll probably miss out on Oscar.
- (7) Debra Granik for Winter’s Bone – Another director that absolutely needed a DGA nomination. She was gaining buzz and precursors – enough so that a DGA would have probably shot her into the top five – but now she’s a darkhorse at best.
- (9) Ben Affleck for The Town – He hasn’t really received any attention, but the film has shown commendable staying power. And the Academy loves an actor/director.
- (10) Lisa Cholodenko for The Kids Are All Right - It’s just so hard for a small comedy’s director to get nominated, even if she has picked up some precursor nominations.
Best Original Screenplay
- Inception by Christopher Nolan – This race is heavy at the top, but this screenplay has distinguished itself by nearly doubling the second-highest precursor total in the category. It’s also the best chance for the Academy to give the film a major category win.
- The King’s Speech by David Seidler – This is one of many screenplays that missed on a WGA nod only because it’s ineligible for that award. It was solid through the rest of the precursors and won’t have any trouble with a nomination..
- The Kids Are All Right by Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg – Whenever a talkie comedy finds itself the subject of Oscar buzz, the biggest focus is always directed toward its screenplay. That’s definitely true here as Kids has picked up a Globe and WGA nod in this category and is poised to add an Oscar to that list.
- Black Swan by Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John Mclaughlin – This has mostly been deemed a director’s and actors’ showcase, but it’s also gotten an impressive precursor haul for its screenplay with a WGA and Critics Choice award nomination in its kitty.
- The Fighter by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson – The fifth slot is pretty wide open in this category. So when in doubt, pick the Best Picture contender with a WGA nomination.
- Another Year by Mike Leigh – This is the best chance for the Academy to give a nomination to one of its favorite filmmakers for one of his most acclaimed films. The Critics Choice nomination makes it a possibility.
- Four Lions by Jesse Armstron, Sam Bain and Chris Morris – Outside of the mainstream, this is easily the most acclaimed screenplay of the year. Too bad it’s so far out of the screenplay.
- Please Give by Nicole Holofcener – This got a surprise WGA nomination, but that’s really only because The King’s Speech was ineligible. Still, you can’t count it out.
- Biutiful by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone – We’re running out of room fast, and the residual buzz from Cannes at least makes this a longshot.
- Buried by Chris Sparling – There’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Best Adapted Screenplay
- The Social Network by Aaron Sorkin– Every single precursor that has awarded a Best Screenplay award so far this season has given it to Sorkin. Every single one.
- True Grit by Joel & Ethan Coen – And this has been the runner-up in just about every one of those precursors. In any other year, it would easily own the first spot.
- 127 Hours by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy – With this now on the fringes of the Best Picture race and all but out of Best Director, it looks like voters will choose to pour all their leftover love to its screenplay. As evidenced by the WGA nomination.
- Toy Story 3 by Michael Arndt – Recent rule changes mean this is now an adapted screenplay (it used to be that the adaptation had to come from another medium). But nothing should change with regards Pixar’s normal perfunctory screenplay nomination.
- Winter’s Bone by Debra Granik and Anne Roselini – This could go one of three ways, but I’ll pick the screenplay with the second most precursors in this category. It might’ve been made a lock by the WGAs if it weren’t for its being ineligible. I’ll count that as enough for a nomination.
- The Town by Ben Affleck, Peter Craign and Aaron Stockard – This picked up the all-important WGA nomination, but, again, that’s because both Toy Story 3 and Winter’s Bone were ineligible. It’s not quite enough to get it in for an Oscar.
- Scott Pilgrim vs. The World by Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright – This got a fair amount of love from the precursors, but not enough for it to overcome the heavyweights at the top – but don’t rule out the surprise, the Academy loves offbeat comedies in the fifth slot.
- The Ghost Writer by Robert Harris and Roman Polanski - Because you can never count out an Oscar titan and a critical darling.
- Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay Abaire – This was a surprising exclusion from the WGA list. And that miss pretty much doomed its chances.
- I Love You Phillip Morris by John Recqua and Glenn Ficarra – This picked up the surprise WGA nomination that came from the exclusion of two favorites. It was so surprising that the WGA is the only precursor that’s been thrown this screenplay’s way.
- (1) The Social Network – Golden Globe, check. Critics Awards near-sweep, check. Oscar nomination – go ahead and check that box too.
- (2) The King’s Speech – This one appeared to be slipping and then it picked up an upset win over The Social Network at the Producers Guild of America Awards. Looks like the Weinsteins still have some campaign tricks up their sleeves.
- (3) Inception – This sci-fi mindbender actually managed to announce the second-most precursors this awards season. This would have been a lock even with five nominations – very impressive.
- (6) True Grit – This missed everything early, but swept everything after everybody actually got to see the movie. The fact that it’s on pace to make over $150 million at the box office is that rare prestige success story that the Oscars latch on to.
- (5) Black Swan – Another nutty box office success. This movie is a lock to make over $100 million despite looking like nothing more than a tiny indie a few months ago. It’s got the precursors and the success of an Oscar lock.
- (9) The Fighter – This has the crowd-pleasing of Slumdog Millionaire to go along with the prestige cred of a Mike Leigh film. That rare combination makes it a surefire nominee. Did I mention this is also going to make $100 million?
- (4) Toy Story 3 – This is the last of the locks, and its hold is somewhat tenuous. Still, it’s hard to see how a $400 million behemoth with reviews better than any other film’s could miss on a nomination.
- (10) The Kids Are All Right – This is where it gets tricky. Three of the next four will get in, and they all have about a near-equal chance. I’ll put Kids at the top of the list on the strength of its Golden Globe comedy win and the fear Academy members might feel if they don’t vote for it.
- (8) Winter’s Bone – Missing the PGA takes it out of lock status. Being ineligible for a WGA means we don’t know how well the writers like it. But those two SAG nominations is enough to make this one look pretty safe.
- (7) 127 Hours – Falling fast, this is holding onto this slot by a thread. Its buzz just peaked way to early. Still, I think it has enough to squeak in over…
- (11) The Town – This held strong all through Oscar season, but there’s really nothing on its precursor list to suggest it’s on a pace to beat out either of the films at 8, 9 or 10. It does have almost as a good a shot, however.
- (12) Rabbit Hole – And now, the films that have no chance. Let’s see Rabbit Hole has a Best Actress nominee and some buzz – let’s put it twelfth!
- (13) Blue Valentine – This movie has two likely nominees and The Weinsteins! I smell upset! (Not really).
- (14) Shutter Island – Hey everyone, remember when Martin Scorsese directed a movie this year with Leonardo DiCaprio in it? Yeah, neither does the Academy.
- (NR) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – Wow, this movie got five precursor mentions. That’s definitely enough to make this list. An honor like no other, I’m sure.
Dropping Out: Never Let Me Go (15)