Performance by an actress in a supporting role

  • Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
  • Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”
  • Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
  • Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Who WILL Win: Melissa Leo – The Fighter

This is one of the only categories at this year’s Oscars where the competition feels too close to call; the only category that I feel offers the excitement of the unknown. Amy Adams and Melissa Leo were phenomenal in The Fighter as two hardened-nosed working-class gals, while Jacki Weaver was a dragon-lady on a whole other (criminal) level in Animal Kingdom. Young Hailee Steinfeld stole much of the show from her two Oscar-winning co-stars in True Grit, and is definitely deserving of recognition (though her nomination in the Best Actress category would’ve been more appropriate). Carter was her usual quirky/cute self in King’s Speech – but then, she is top-notch. Right now, I’d say the smart money is on Melissa Leo to win.

Who SHOULD Win: Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom

Jacki Weaver’s performance as a mother torn between maternal bonds and criminal logic is probably one of the more fresh and original female roles to come along in years and the actress pulled it off so well you easily believed that she could be soft and tender in one moment and utterly ruthless in the next. As much as I love the ladies of The Fighter, I can’t help but think that Weaver deserves this win.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

  • Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
  • John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone”
  • Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
  • Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”

Who WILL Win: Christian Bale – The Fighter

Christian Bale stole the show in The Fighter, and that’s really saying something, considering how strong the supporting cast of that film was (three acting nominations in total). However, as over-the-hill boxer/crack addict Dicky Eklund, the complexity Bale brought to his role was overshadowed by the electricity and liveliness of his performance. The man deserves the Oscar.

Who SHOULD win: Christian Bale – The Fighter

Geoffrey Rush was great in The King’s Speech but he already has an Oscar under his belt. Jeremy Renner was electric in The Town and is certainly worthy of some award (but not Oscar). In the end, I wholeheartedly believe that Bale will and should win for The Fighter – he was that good.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

  • Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”
  • Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
  • Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Who WILL Win: Natalie Portman – Black Swan

Expect to see a Twitter storm of Biblical proportions if anyone else besides Natalie Portman takes to the stage to accept the award for Best Actress this year. Fans of the petite actress were enamored by her tour de force performance in Darren Aronofsky’s film about the exacting cost of artistic perfection – from the physicality required of her to the slow-burning descent into madness, Portman certainly rose to the challenge of her character and Aronofsky’s vision. Black Swan is undoubtedly her best work to date.

Who SHOULD win: Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole

Truth be told, I have never been a big fan of Portman’s Black Swan performance. She didn’t actually do much of the ballet dancing pictured onscreen (digital face-overs get the thanks for that) and her dramatic performance was (to me) a rehash of her past performances (just watch our “Natalie Portman Cries Alot” mashup video to see what I mean). Personally, I would pick the fantastically layered and insightful roles of Nicole Kidman’s grieving mother in Rabbit Hole and Annette Bening’s overbearing father-mother in The Kids Are All Right as my top choices. Out of the two, I would have to give Kidman’s gut-wrenching (and strange) journey back from the abyss of grief the win – but I’m sure the Academy (and the public) is sick of showering her with kudos at this point.

Performance by an actor in a leading role

  • Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
  • Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
  • Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
  • Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”
  • James Franco in “127 Hours”

Who WILL win: Colin Firth – The King’s Speech

I don’t think I even have to write much about this: If Colin Firth doesn’t walk away with the Oscar for his portrayal of a stuttering King George VI, it would be one of the biggest upsets of the night (second only to Natalie Portman not winning Best Actress). Though I want to believe that the Academy is capable of causing that kind of uproar, I’m not hedging my bets – Firth is pretty much a lock for this one.

Who SHOULD win: Javier Bardem – Biutiful

Jesse Eisenberg made Mark Zuckerberg more famous than Facebook ever did (we’ve certainly seen more of “Zuck” in the public eye since Social Network came out), and although James Franco continued to prove himself a talented actor in 127 Hours, Danny Boyle’s stylish direction was the real star of that film. Jeff Bridges was more caricature than character in True Grit, which is why it’s easy for me to say that despite Colin Firth’s undeniably awesome performance, it is the poignant and deeply-layered performance turned in by Javier Bardem in Biutiful that probably deserves the ultimate recognition. Now, if only more people had seen that film…

Continue for our thoughts on Best Director and Best Picture

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