Predicting the Oscar Nominees: Part 1/3 (Director & Screenplays)
So with just five days left until AMPAS reveal their annual list of annointed folks (check the sidebar for a more accurate countdown, courtesy of Nathaniel) it's time for me to throw in some predictions. As ever, it's somewhat of a struggle to put aside personal feelings and plum for the more logical picks, but I feel like I've done better than usual this year at curbing that tendency.
"The Kids Are All Right"
"The King's Speech"
Alternate: "Another Year"
I Want: "Blue Valentine"
I don't think that "Inception" belongs here, despite the originality of its concept - the more expansive the concept gets, the more hazy everything becomes. It concerns me that this could make the list at the expense of Mike Leigh's "Another Year," which, despite some faults, helps its characters to become clearer and its themes richer, the further it goes.
"Inception" should make this five based on how novel its ideas are, but I still think that, along with "Black Swan," it's a little vulnerable. Perhaps it's because those two films seem less tame, and comparatively unconcerned about winning over its audience when you consider other category hopefuls like "The Kids Are All Right" and certainly "The King's Speech".
"Never Let Me Go"
"The Social Network"
"Toy Story 3"
Alternate: "127 Hours"
I Want: "How to Train Your Dragon"
"Never Let Me Go" didn't make much of an impact, but surely Kazuo Ishiguro has a lot of respect within the Academy for his distinguished career, the height of which saw his novel "The Remains of the Day" adapted and nominated in 1993's Best Picture lineup. It seems silly to go for this ahead of "127 Hours," or even "The Ghost Writer" which has populism and prestige going for it —— if significantly less buzz —— but I don't think either film is necessarily commanding attention in this extremely thin category.
Darren Aronofsky, "Black Swan" Ethan & Joel Coen, "True Grit"
David Fincher, "The Social Network"
Tom Hooper, "The King's Speech"
David O'Russell, "The Fighter"
Alternate: Chris Nolan, "Inception"
I Want: Debra Granik, "Winter's Bone"
If there's a snub it could be David O'Russell, who has a reputation of rubbing people up the wrong way, and the least flashy film of anyone that appears to be in the running. But lately I've began to wonder if "Inception" will be popular with the Academy, as it's difficult to process and definitely not traditional fare. History has proven that directors with popular films (regardless of how showy they are) are more likely to be nominated (Reitman for "Juno", Daldry for "The Reader" etc.) so I don't see why Chris Nolan is a sure thing when "The Fighter" and "True Grit" had much more clout around the time of balloting than his film did.
Danny Boyle will feature on many ballots but I'm praying against a nomination, given that he exercises even less patience for intuitive storytelling as he did on 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire".