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83rd Annual Academy Award Nominees

As those of you who know me are aware, I call the night of the Academy Awards telecast My High Holy Night of Television. I’ve liveblogged it the last two years, and will hopefully be able to liveblog it again this year. Instead of predicting who I think will win moments before the winner is announced, I decided this year to make my predictions the day the nominations came out. Below are some of the major categories, followed by my predictions.


Actor in a Leading Role

  • Javier Bardem in “Biutiful”
  • Jeff Bridges in “True Grit”
  • Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network”
  • Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech”
  • James Franco in “127 Hours”

Colin Firth: This is his Oscar to lose and it’s the Academy’s chance to award him when he should’ve won last year for A Single Man.

Dark horse: Jesse Eisenberg, for his most critically acclaimed performance ever and first-time nod.

Why the others won’t win: Bardem and Bridges are previous, recent winners; James Franco starred in a critically adored movie no one saw.

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Christian Bale in “The Fighter”
  • John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone”
  • Jeremy Renner in “The Town”
  • Mark Ruffalo in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Geoffrey Rush in “The King’s Speech”

Geoffrey Rush: The King’s Speech is beloved by pretty much everyone who’s seen it, moviegoers and critics alike. His last Oscar win was long enough ago that he stands a good chance to win for Supporting Role this time around.

Dark horses: Jeremy Renner, since he was such a strong contender for The Hurt Locker and some think he should’ve been the one to walk away with last year’s Leading Role Oscar. Christian Bale can be offputting with his, shall we say, intensity, but you can’t dismiss his acting chops and physical transformations for his roles.

Why the others won’t win: John Hawkes starred in a critically adored movie no one saw; Mark Ruffalo’s performance is secondary to costars Annette Bening’s and Julianne Moore’s showier, starring roles and Bening’s nomination.


Actress in a Leading Role

  • Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”
  • Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone”
  • Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”
  • Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine”

Natalie Portman: This is her Oscar to lose. She’s everywhere and on everyone’s minds; she’s the one to beat.

Dark horse: Annette Bening because the Academy snubbed her equally hyped costar, Julianne Moore, and might want to make up for that acting slight for their film.

Why the others won’t win: Nicole Kidman got raves for a movie too depressing for most of us to want to see; Jennifer Lawrence and Michelle Williams both starred in critically adored movies no one saw.


Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Amy Adams in “The Fighter”
  • Helena Bonham Carter in “The King’s Speech”
  • Melissa Leo in “The Fighter”
  • Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit”
  • Jacki Weaver in “Animal Kingdom”

Melissa Leo: She’s been adored by critics since her days on Homicide: Life on the Street, and has consistently delivered real, harrowing, utterly convincing performances in everything since (21 Grams, anyone?).

Dark horse: Helena Bonham Carter, because, again, everyone loves The King’s Speech, and crazy hair or no, Helena’s one hell of an actress.

Why the others won’t win: Amy Adams’ nomination is canceled out by her costar Melissa Leo’s nomination; Hailee Steinfeld’s buzz has dwindled to barely a hum; and how many of us outside of her native Australia have any idea who Jacki Weaver is at this point in time?


Animated Feature Film

  • “How to Train Your Dragon” Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
  • “The Illusionist” Sylvain Chomet
  • “Toy Story 3” Lee Unkrich

Toy Story 3: It provided a full-circle, emotional wrapup to the beloved series. Bonus points: It made grown men cry.

Dark horse: How to Train Your Dragon was pretty much as amazingly well-done, moving, and fun a movie as Toy Story 3. There might also be some voters who want someone other than Pixar to win this Oscar.

Why the other one won’t win: Because when I heard The Illusionist, I thought of the Edward Norton movie. I’ll be I’m not the only one.


  • “Black Swan” Darren Aronofsky
  • “The Fighter” David O. Russell
  • “The King’s Speech” Tom Hooper
  • “The Social Network” David Fincher
  • “True Grit” Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Tom Hooper: Have I mentioned that everyone on earth loves The King’s Speech?

Dark horses: David Fincher, David O. Russell, and Darren Aronofsky because the Academy owes them all some serious love at this point in their careers.

Why the other one won’t win: The Coen brothers’ movie received mixed reviews and may be seen by some as not being their best work. Also, this year’s competition is really stiff.


Best Picture

  • “Black Swan” Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver and Scott Franklin, Producers
  • “The Fighter” David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg, Producers
  • “Inception” Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
  • “The Kids Are All Right” Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte and Celine Rattray, Producers
  • “The King’s Speech” Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
  • “127 Hours” Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers
  • “The Social Network” Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
  • “Toy Story 3” Darla K. Anderson, Producer
  • “True Grit” Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers
  • “Winter’s Bone” Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers

The King’s Speech: See all the above comments. This is the one to beat, and there’s only one movie I think stands a chance to do that, which is …

Dark horse #1: The Social Network. Critics loved this one, but will the Academy want to award a movie seen by some as merely That Facebook Movie?

Dark horse #2: Black Swan. Overhyped? Possibly. Undeserving of that hype? Not necessarily. Easy to dismiss? Not so fast.

Why the others won’t win: Because it’s ridiculous to have expanded this field to 10 nominations from a more practical and far less crowded five. Inception won’t win since it didn’t get the Academy love it expected, Toy Story 3 was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film, and the others just crowd the field further.


Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • “127 Hours” Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
  • “The Social Network” Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin
  • “Toy Story 3” Screenplay by Michael Arndt; Story by John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich
  • “True Grit” Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  • “Winter’s Bone” Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

The Social Network: Aaron Sorkin’s script is largely credited with this film being more than just That Facebook Movie.

Dark horse: Toy Story 3, because the Academy (and moviegoers) loves Pixar.

Why the others won’t win: Because they’re up against The Social Network and Toy Story 3.


Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • “Another Year” Written by Mike Leigh
  • “The Fighter” Screenplay by Scott Silver and Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson;
    Story by Keith Dorrington & Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
  • “Inception” Written by Christopher Nolan
  • “The Kids Are All Right” Written by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
  • “The King’s Speech” Screenplay by David Seidler

The King’s Speech: Don’t make me say why again.

Dark horse: Inception, because confusing as some people found the movie, Christopher Nolan is a gifted writer of truly original movies and concepts.

Why the others won’t win: Because somebody has to go home empty-handed.

Now to wait and see how many I end up predicting correctly. I didn’t do too bad last year, so we’ll see if my streak continues.

Click here to see the complete list of nominees.

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