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Oscar Predictions

Shane Steinberg | Friday, February 25, 2011

Best Picture: It’s no coincidence that this year’s best-reviewed film has gone home with almost all of this year’s Best Picture hardware. That trend should continue as “The Social Network” is likely to win this year’s Best Picture award (despite the fact that “The King’s Speech” has curiously become the favorite amongst experts).

Both impeccably made and engrossing from start to finish, “The Social Network” is a movie that years from now may be remembered as the best window into Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s origins that we might ever get. What the film does here is, for lack of a better comparison (although you can read into this as much as you want), tear down a man high up on a pedestal, strip him of all his fame and glory and tell a story about the real him; beyond everything that we know and everything that he cares to admit, quite like “Citizen Kane” told the story of William Randolph Hearst.

What Picture Should Win: It’s a battle between historical relevance and flash in deciding between “The Social Network” and “Black Swan.” While “Black Swan” is tied for my best film of the year, “The Social Network” is near flawless from top to bottom and add to that the relevance of it all with Facebook rising to new heights in 2010, Zuckerberg stepping into the spotlight for all to see and winning Time Magazine’s Person of the Year award and the possibility of Facebook’s IPO. The equation just adds up perfectly, and no stuttering king or swan queen is going to stop that.

Best Picture You’ve Never Heard of: “Exit Through the Gift Shop” tells the story of Theirry Guetta, an eccentric French shopkeeper who sets out to meet and film the greatest and most anonymous graffiti artist in the world — Banksy. Banksy’s work has earned him a global reputation, as his work can be seen on walls from post-hurricane New Orleans to the separation barrier on the Palestinian West Bank.

By sheer fate Guetta meets and befriends Banksy and is even granted permission to film the artists, however, Banksy soon turns the camera back on Guetta. What ensues is a thrilling hall-of-mirrors documentary about the nature of art, what is art and who the hell are we, or anyone for that matter, to say what can pass as art. As Banksy best put it, “It’s basically the story of how one man set out to film the un-filmable. And failed.”

This little Sundance favorite was released too early in the year too catch the attention that it deserves. However, it is likely to win, or at least should win, Best Documentary, and on top of that, it might just be the best film of the year.

Best Director: This award usually goes hand-in-hand with the Best Picture award and although it is time that the Academy pay recognition to the sheer brilliance of Darren Aronofsky, who will have his moment in the spotlight when his lead actress, Natalie Portman, accepts her Best Actress award for “Black Swan.” Instead, David Fincher will be the one giving the speech before he has to come back out again and join in accepting the Best Picture award for “The Social Network.”

Best Actor and Actress: Both of these awards are no-brainers since both Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) and Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) have won basically every award you can win. If you’re looking for a dark horse (and I mean really looking for one) then you might want to look out for Annette Bening, who gave a great performance in “The Kids Are Alright,” which was this year’s best reviewed comedy.

Best Supporting Actor and Actress: Melissa Leo and Christian Bale appear poised to give “The Fighter” a clean sweep of the supporting actor categories. Both outshined Mark Walberg and Amy Adams, and not to mention they’ve both had great careers thus far. Of the two, Bale’s performance is bar-none the best supporting performance this year, but Leo has the IOU factor going her way in that she’s very respected throughout the industry but doesn’t yet have an Oscar to show for it.

In the end though, Jacki Weaver, whose performance in the Australian gem of a crime thriller, “Animal Kingdom” was nothing short of spectacular. IOU’s often mean more than merit however, and Leo will probably get the golden statuette.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Shane Steinberg at ssteinb2@nd.edu