UPDATE: Well the Oscars are over and we nailed it in all except two categories with our predictions. Check out the full list of Oscar Winners 2011.

This weekend movie fans will bear witness to the 83rd Academy Awards, and like in years past, the 2011 Oscar race is shaping up to be more a confirmation of what everybody already suspects, rather than a thrilling race between neck-and-neck films, actors, and directors who are all hoping to walk away basking in Oscar’s glory.

With films like Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, True Grit, The Social Network, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, Toy Story 3, and even Iron Man 2 up for nominations in different categories, the 2011 Oscars ceremony will offer something for arthouse, mainstream, and fanboy cinephiles alike.

In this 2011 Oscars prediction post, we will examine the top categories at this year’s Academy Awards (read: the categories you Screen Rant readers care most about) and offer our predictions regarding who the Academy will pick as winners (like we need a crystal ball for that). At the risk of having my head torn off in the comments section below, I will then offer an opinion on which actors, films, or filmmakers I believe SHOULD win in each category, and why I feel that particular person(s) or film warrants the highest recognition that Hollywood has to offer.

We have a lot of categories to cover, so best get started.

For more information on the films nominated, be sure to check out our tag list at the bottom of the post for links to our movie archives.

2011 Oscar Predictions

Achievement in visual effects

  • “Alice in Wonderland” Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1″ Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
  • “Hereafter” Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell
  • “Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
  • “Iron Man 2″ Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Who WILL Win: Inception

Harry Potter has only gotten better in terms of its visual effects and Deathly Hallows Part 1 certainly upped the ante with aerial wizard duels, giant snakes, elves, wand sparks galore and even seven Daniel Radcliffes sharing the screen. Iron Man 2 was no slouch in the effects department either, giving us some truly great (if seldom) moments of superhero action. However, Inception‘s hallway fight was an instant classic, and the work Nolan put in to realize this world of dreams (within dreams, within dreams, within dreams) was awe-inspiring. As usual, I believe the Academy will reward Nolan for his technical prowess rather than his vision.

Who SHOULD Win: Inception

Anybody but Hereafter. In all seriousness, though, the Inception team deserves this win, followed closely by the Harry Potter team.

Best foreign language film of the year

  • “Biutiful” – Mexico
  • “Dogtooth” – Greece
  • “In a Better World” – Denmark
  • “Incendies” – Canada
  • “Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi)” – Algeria

Who WILL Win: Outside the Law

This is always a tough category to call – I never seem to be able to gauge the Academy’s mindset when it comes to International films. The obvious choice would be Biutiful, but mostly because it’s the film that Americans are most familiar with. Dogtooth was a powerful film, but more shocking-powerful than moving-powerful – and the academy rarely rewards disturbing movies of that nature. In a Better World and Incendies are both films that explore human relationships in profound ways, but I’m going to go ahead and say that Outside the Law‘s mix of action, suspense, family and political drama will earn it the award – despite all the controversy over its historical inaccuracies.

Who SHOULD Win: Biutiful

I’m a big fan of Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel, 21 Grams), and I’m also a growing fan of Javier Bardem, so naturally I have a strong bias when it comes to Biutiful winning for Best Foreign Language Film. If I MUST be objective, I would say that Outside the Law is a worthy film for the win.

Best documentary feature

  • “Exit through the Gift Shop” Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz
  • “Gasland” Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic
  • “Inside Job” Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
  • “Restrepo” Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
  • “Waste Land” (Arthouse Films), An Almega Projects Production, Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley

Who WILL Win: Restrepo

Not too sure on this one – it’s always hard to tell which documentary burns itself deepest in the Academy members’ minds. This year we have three films exploring the (supposed) unraveling of America on the military and economic fronts (Restrepo, Inside Job and Gasland) – while on the more uplifting side of things, we have two films exploring the nature and power of art (Exit through the Gift Shop and Waste Land). Depending on the mood of the Academy members, I’d say either Gift Shop or Restrepo will get the award.

Who SHOULD Win: Waiting For Superman

Waiting For Superman. OK, OK… it’s not nominated but it damn well should’ve been. Even considering the nominees we do have: The human story at the center of Restrepo is certainly moving, and Exit through the Gift Shop is a rare and precious gem of a documentary that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Charles Ferguson’s damning look at the pattern of corruption shared between government, the financial services sector and academia is the most eye-opening slice of real-life on this list. But still, the winner SHOULD have been Waiting For Superman and it’s a damned shame it wasn’t nominated.

Continue for Best Animated Feature, plus Adapted and Original Screenplays

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