There's a good two months left in this year, and things could very easily change in a heartbeat. True Grit may not turn out to be as great as people hope it will be. The Fighter may do better than I believe it will. My faith in Deathly Hallows: Part 1 may have been misplaced all along. Still, I'm going to keep to my guns and make my first predictions on who will win the races this year. It's a rather easy task at this point, because there are very clear winners in quite a few categories. Beginning with Best Picture, whose favor has drifted amongst a few before finally settling on the current frontrunner, The King's Speech. The film has been winning over audiences nearly unanimously, and I think it will ultimately come down to whether or not a film swoops in and steals the buzz from it.
I doubt that True Grit will be enough of a factor to make such a huge dent. It seems rather conventional for the Coen brothers, and that may indeed be their crux. I still have faith in Deathly Hallows: Part 1, but even I am not going to go ahead and push it as a sure fire win. The Way Back has been building steam, but it still seems a little too far out of place for people. Quite a few critics have received mild pleasure from it, but not much more. The only film out there right now that has anything close to a chance of beating is The King's Speech The Social Network, so I'm sure David Fincher's film will not go home empty handed. On the contrary, I believe Fincher will take home the award for Best Director. You can tell throughout the film that a lot of effort went into putting the film together, and Fincher is well overdue for some recognition.
Moving on into the acting categories, we're still in rather assured territory when it comes to choosing the winners. Best Actor is still having trouble fitting together a full list of contestants, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Duvall, and Jeff Bridges appearing and disappearing from the list almost every day. One of the only ones who is almost guaranteed a spot in this race is James Franco for 127 Hours. Still, I doubt that many will contest with the fact that Colin Firth is the man to root for in this race. He was close to winning last year, and may have if everyone wasn't so high on Jeff Bridges. This year, there is little to stand in his way from taking the prize for his role in The King's Speech.
The Best Actress race is almost the opposite of the Best Actor race, with so many fantastic female lead performances vying for a chance at the prize. The nominees are practically locked in, and if any of them is going to fall out, I'd expect it to be Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole) or Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone). Leslie Manville is still officially in the race for Another Year, but try not to expect her pull a surprise win out of the hat. Currently, the determination of who will win is a standoff between Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) and Natalie Portman (Black Swan). While Portman has a lot to work with psychologically, I think Bening will end up winning this one. She really went above and beyond for the role she was given, and that's what the Academy will be focusing on.
Finally getting into the supporting races, things become a little less clear cut. For Supporting Actor, a lot of the nominations seem solid, but there's always the chance they might waver and collapse. The only one who is a sure thing for a nomination at the moment is Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech, and that's why I believe he'll be the one to take it. His role is a clever contraption of comedy and drama, and his chemistry with Colin Firth should catapult the two into the spotlight. Then in the Supporting Actress race, things are simply not that impressive. More than once or twice I have had only four nominees because I didn't know who else to put in there. The person with the most chance of winning right now is Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech. Her performance is one of the less obviously fantastic ones in the film, but she still does a better job than anyone else in the running, so she's on top at the moment.
The screenplay races are as set in stone as the Picture and Director races. Aaron Sorkin should already be finding a place for his trophy, because he will definitely win for his adapted screenplay of The Social Network. David Seidler seems like a pretty safe bet to win in the Original Screenplay category for The King's Speech. I'll finish things off with two more predictions, the first of which in the Animated Feature race. Pixar has won before, and will win again this year for Toy Story 3. Perhaps if Dreamworks had a How to Train Your Dragon in 2011 they would've had a better shot against Cars 2. Finally, the biggest head-to-head race this year seems to be in Film Editing, where Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall (The Social Network) seem to be running right next to Lee Smith (Inception). I can't say which will win yet with confidence, but I'm going to go out on a limb and predict Inception to take it.