So instead of making a list of predictions about what will/might/should win as everyone else on the internet has already done, I'll just mention briefly what I would like to see win and why it won't. Brace for extreme nerdery.
I'm not very worked up about this category since I've only seen three out of the ten nominees and found two of them to be pretty over-rated. Maybe I've been in a grumpy mood for the past three months but for the life of me I cannot understand the huge fuss over Inception and Toy Story 3. Yeah, you heard me, internet, I didn't think they were that great. They weren't awful but I failed to understand why so many people-- smart people, many of whom I know and am very fond of-- kept going on about how amazing they were. I'd want to watch them again because I feel like I missed something crucial, but frankly I don't really want to. The other one I saw was True Grit and while I did like it a great deal, I was left with that same feeling of empty calories after it was over. I wasn't as vaguely irritated while watching it because it entertained me more than the other two, but I was still left with a feeling of "yeah, and?" when it was over. Maybe it's me, I don't know. But it's pretty much a forgone conclusion that The King's Speech is going to take Best Picture, which makes this category even less interesting since there's really no debate. Does it deserve to win? Probably? I don't have an opinion because I haven't seen it or the other six nominees, so I have no idea what I consider to be the "best" amongst them. What would I like to see win? Winter's Bone would be fun just because it's so different from the rest of them, a true indy film that was a surprise nominee and which I've heard from darn near everyone is a really great film. No way it'll happen, but I'm really glad it's been nominated since it might entice people to actually see it.
If Colin Firth somehow doesn't win this it may be a sign of the apocalypse. I don't think there's any way that statue's going to anyone else, which frankly is okay with me. I like Firth a lot and I was absolutely blown away by his performance in A Single Man last year (if you haven't seen that movie, go watch it now). I knew he wouldn't win his nomination for that but I was still rooting for him anyway, so I'm glad he gets to take it this year. Having said that, I'm also a fan of Jeff Bridges (have been since the Fabulous Baker Boys so I'm glad he's getting recognized for the huge talent he is), Javier Bardem, and James Franco, so this is really a nice lineup for me. I wouldn't be disappointed with anyone winning, but this is definitely Firth's year.
Natalie Portman's all but got this one in the bag since she's swept darn near every awards ceremony for this role. I haven't seen Black Swan yet so I have no opinion on her performance in it, but I've always liked her so it's nice she's getting recognition for being more than just a pretty face. I suppose I should get snide about how anti-climactic the category is, and it is, but... that is just a damn fine lineup of really amazing actresses in interesting roles. I can't get grumpy about this category this year except that this sort of thing doesn't happen more often. Let's keep this caliber of work going, what do you say? (Also, I do sort of hope Anette Benning wins just because she's never won despite being a really great actress and Hillary Swank isn't up for anything this year. Curse you, Portman and your point shoes.)
Christian Bale's pretty much a lock for this one from what I've gleaned and I don't have anything against the guy, so eh, whatever. Once again I find myself in a limbo of indifference since I haven't seen any of the films these guys are in. I will say, however, that I absolutely adore Geoffrey Rush and wish he were in more things, so I wouldn't be a bit sad if he took the statue.
Once again, what a really fantastic lineup. Everyone says this is pretty much a toss up between Melissa Leo, Hailee Steinfeld, and Helena Bonham Carter which makes it officially the most exciting category of the evening. Since Steinfeld's is the only performance I've seen yet, and it was far and away my favorite thing about that movie, she's at the top of my list (and yes, like everyone else I agree that she is a lead actress, not a supporting one-- hell she's the main character of the movie which she also narrates). But Carter's been a perennial favorite of mine for a few years now too, so I'd be happy if she won. Frankly, I'm just happy that this category is brimming with such fantastic performances that it's hard to know who to root for. I can't say I'll be disappointed no matter who wins.
David Fincher is pretty universally tagged to win this one, especially since The Social Network was the frontrunner for the Best Picture category until The King's Speech came along, so this way they can still honor both films with pretty big awards. This is another category I don't feel very strongly about since it's pretty much a foregone conclusion and I've only seen the Coen Bother's film. Is there anyone who doesn't know they're good directors yet? So yeah, don't really care who wins it.
Toy Story 3, despite being over-rated and incredibly over-sentimentalized in my opinion, is going to win this by a mile. It's up for Best Picture and Best Screenplay for crying out loud. Would I love to see How to Train Your Dragon or The Illusionist cause an upset and take the prize? You bet I would. I'd probably do a cartwheel in the street if that happened and I'm privately cursing the incredibly poor timing that pitted these two films (especially Dragon) up against this juggernaut instead of the upcoming Cars 2 where they might actually stand a chance of winning a very richly deserved award. Could it happen? Ehhhh maybe. Dragon did sweep the Annie Awards (the animation industry's awards ceremony for those who don't know), and has been a classic underdog since it was released, and everyone loves an underdog. Plus, I don't know if I'm the only one who finds it rather tacky that Disney/Pixar made a big show about really pushing for the brass ring of Best Picture to make a statement about the viability of animation as a medium, but when it came down to it they weren't willing to pull out of the Best Animated Feature category. Despite their bluster about respecting the work, they just couldn't bear to put everything on the line for it and give up the sure thing in the animated category, leaving the other two very fine features without Best Picture nominations twisting in the wind. It's a dick move and cheapened an effort to gain respectability that I've been hoping for for a long time. I'm probably the only one that found it tacky for them to do that, but I did, and I'm realizing that I'm starting to edge closer into the Pixar Grinch arena than I thought I ever would. In my vindictive little heart, I'd dance with glee if Dragon took this and left Pixar with nothing for the year. It won't happen, but I can dream for now. In less petty arenas, I'm glad The Illusionist took the third spot in this category since it's a lesser-known film and people might actually watch it now and I'll get a DVD release, plus I always love to see traditional animation represented. It's also very different from the other two films, and from most films that make it into this category, and that too is always welcome. It's good to remind people that animation isn't a genre.
Wow, next to Supporting Actress this is the biggest toss up for me. I'm going to guess the King's Speech will probably take this, but what a fantastic variety here. Everything from traditional orchestra to Trent Reznor is in here and they all sound very unique, distinct, and some are downright experimental. That's really cool. Of course I'm rooting for John Powell and How to Train Your Dragon (in and of itself that's a score with a huge variety in it), since that's been on my playlist since the film was released and I'd like the poor thing to win something. But it's the underdog again, and pretty much anything else in the category is more likely to win than it is. Ah well, it's nice just to be nominated.
Anything else I'm not terribly concerned with, at least not enough to write about. So there you go, my much anticipated Oscar predictions. You may all resume your lives now.