Mike Sragow’s Academy Awards 2011 predictions

Best adapted screenplay

Will win/should win: Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network” 

The “West Wing” creator packed 163 pages worth of words into a two-hour movie. Not a single syllable is wasted. The instant-classic opening scene establishes the movie’s verbal style — a boobytrapped kind of banter — as Harvard whiz Zuckerberg repels a fresh-faced BU girl named Erica (Rooney Mara) with a toxic mixture of hubris and insecurity. And Sorkin sustains and deepens that style right up to the final shots of Zuckerberg staring enigmatically at Erica’s Facebook page.Michael Sragow

Best original screenplay

Will win/Should win: David Seidler, “The King’s Speech

Seidler’s eloquent and impassioned script brought to life a monarch surmounting personal obstacles to become every inch a king, and the complicated, moving bond between this proud, sensitive man and his demanding, unconventional speech therapist. But as Seidler told me in December, “This movie is also about something I’m very passionate about, which is the social contract — which is ignored at our peril, but is ignored continually right now. With privilege, with power, with wealth, comes responsibility and duty. [George VI] absolutely understood this and [Edward VIII] either didn’t or chose adamantly to deny it. His job was to be king and he quit his job. It’s like a certain recent governor of Alaska!”–Michael Sragow

Best cinematography

(AFP/Getty Images / February 10, 2011)

Will win: “True Grit” 

It imbued the wide-open spaces of the Choctaw Nation with palpable wintry textures and made the frontier night as bracing as the blaze of noon.–Michael Sragow

Best film editing

(Handout / February 10, 2011)

Will win/Should win:“The Social Network” 

Alternately sinuous and snappy, the cutting brought an elegant punch to scenes that could have been just punchy. It navigated past and present and multiple perspectives with sureness and lucidity while conjuring an improbable momentum from the charges and counter-charges thrown everywhere from dorms to deposition rooms.–Michael Sragow

Best cinematography

(Kevin Winter, Getty Images / January 7, 2011)

Should win: “The Social Network” 

It not only captures the ambience of Ivy League clubs and classrooms and Northern California start-ups. It also expresses the film’s “Rashomon”-like insistence on the unknowability of “the truth” with every evocative placement or turn of the camera. Michael Sragow

Pictured: Editor Kirk Baxter, composer Atticus Ross and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth

Best supporting actor

(Getty Images / February 8, 2011)

Will win/Should win: Geoffrey Rush 

Yes, Colin Firth is magnificent as stuttering King George VI, but his performance wouldn’t be possible without Rush’s superb and generous acting. Rush anchors the whole film with his rare capacity to express thought as well as emotion; he finds the full comic and dramatic range to his role as an eccentric speech therapist. .–Michael Sragow

Best actor

(Pascal Le Segretain, Getty Images / February 16, 2011)

Will win: Colin Firth 

As the stammering King George VI in “The King’s Speech,” who finds the British crown thrust upon him as fascism sweeps through Europe, Firth never goes for simple pathos or poignancy. He intermingles deep shyness, stubborn pride, and even a touch of in-grown arrogance.–Michael Sragow

Best actor

(Reuters / January 26, 2011)

Should win: Jesse Eisenberg 

As Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” Jesse Eisenberg is an electric combination of laser-like intellect and offbeat instinct. He conveys the hidden impulses and emotions in a character who can express himself only in code. He also suggests the vision, intellect and originality that make Zuckerberg a formidable force. And as a boy-man who can’t play well with others, Eisenberg plays well with everybody — especially Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake and Rooney Mara.–Michael Sragow

Best supporting actress

(Reuters / February 17, 2011)

Will win/Should win: Hailee Steinfeld 

When the Academy placed young Steinfeld in the best supporting actress category, she instantly overshadowed a field of strong competitors. To quote Donna Tartt’s terrific afterword to the 2004 edition of Charles Portis’ original novel, Steinfeld’s character, Mattie Ross, “is the perfect soldier, despite her sex. She is as tireless as a gun dog; and while we laugh at her single-mindedness, we also stand in awe of it.” Steinfeld embodied this heroine right down to the marrow. She extracted every bit of humor, nuance and rhythm from the complicated dialogue. To call Steinfeld a natural is to do her an injustice. Her skill set is uncanny. –Michael Sragow

Best actress

(Jason Merritt, Getty Images / January 31, 2011)

Will win: Natalie Portman 

In “Black Swan,” Portman is valiant — until you realize that her director is always shooting her from the waist up, she convinces you that she’s a superb dancer. But, off her toes, she can’t do much of anything here except act urgently confused, especially around her slimy-genius choreographer (Vincent Cassel) and her bitter, controlling mother (Barbara Hershey).–Michael Sragow

Best actress

(AFP/Getty Images / February 7, 2011)

Should win: Annette Bening 

Annette Bening is funny, tough and veracious as a devoted lesbian mom who’s enduring a marital mid-life crisis. When she sings a Joni Mitchell song a cappella, in character, unplugging wells of tenderness and yearning, for everyone in the theater, like the title of the song, she’s “All I Want.”–Michael Sragow

Best animated feature film

(Handout/Pixar / January 25, 2011)

Will win/Should win: “Toy Story 3” 

“Toy Story 3” is both a robust coming-of-age comedy-drama and a day care center version of a prison-break thriller. It’s full of giddy farce and heart-stopping climaxes: it puts passion and invention into rounding off a beloved series. –Michael Sragow

Best direction

(Reuters / January 22, 2009)

Will win/Should win: David Fincher 

Every step he took, every move he made — with the camera and his blocking and his actors — brought us closer to his characters. His visual dexterity imbued the tricky constructions of a hyper-verbal script with visceral force. Most important, he did what every great director must do: convince the audience that life was spilling out from the corners of the frame.–Michael Sragow

Best picture

(Reuters / January 25, 2011)

Will win/Should win: “The Social Network” 

Is Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg a heartless villain or a hero in disguise? Are the Winklevoss Twins lovable throwbacks to a gentlemanly era or semi-loathsome embodiments of Old School entitlement? You could read a half-dozen different answers to these questions on the opinion pages of the New York Times alone! With unbridled wit and vitality, “The Social Network” brought universal themes — the demands of friendship and decency, the privileges of genius — into a swift, volatile flow of action. It created a complex contemporary environment pressured by the need for speedy accomplishment and riddled with disconnected personalities. No movie this year had more to say about the way we were five (or 50) years ago and the way we live right now.–Michael Sragow

Source: http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/movies/zap-2011-oscar-nominees-winners-pics,0,3085155.photogallery

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