In this bull’s-eye of a Western, a 14-year-old (Hailee Steinfeld) hires a drunk (Jeff Bridges) to find her father’s killer (Josh Brolin). The Coen Brothers (No Country For Old Men), who wrote and directed, jave delivered a deadplan yarn about a frontier girl’s mettle and power to affect men around her. Matt Damon delights as a lawman, but it’s Steinfeld who stands out. Not since Anna Paquin won an Oscar for The Piano has a girl shown such screen presence.
New Oscars predictions from 18 top experts
“The Social Network” has picked up a bit more support in the Best Picture race among the 18 experts predicting the Oscars for Gold Derby. According to our latest tally, six foresee it winning (up from five last week), while a majority (eight) say “The King’s Speech” will reign. Latest racetrack odds: 6 to 5 for “King’s Speech,” 8 to 5 for “Social Network.”
The 10 films cited by the pundits last week for Best Picture remain the same, but “127 Hours” dropped from third to sixth place, replaced by “Inception.”
Seventeen pundits back Colin Firth (“King’s Speech”) for Best Actor, giving him overwhelming odds of 1 to 4 over James Franco (“127 Hours”) and others. Updated odds for Best Actress: Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”) 6 to 5, Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”) 11 to 8.
Christian Bale (“The Fighter”) increased his lead enormously in his heavyweight bout over Best Supporting Actor. Last week he was backed by eight pundits; now he has 11, giving him 10 to 9 odds. The three defections came from Geoffrey Rush (“King’s Speech”), who still remains in second place with four seers picking him (15 to 8 odds).
The first big casualty of the Oscar season may be Ryan Gosling, and his chances for a best actor statuette this year. Gosling certainly deserves a shot for his raw, ingratiating, multi-faceted performance as Dean in Derek Cianfrance’s challenging NC-17 rated “Blue Valentine,” a contemporary scenes-from-a-marriage-on-the-verge-of-collapse. But Gosling is clearly the stepchild in the Weinstein Company’s stable, and Harvey is throwing every thing behind the front runner, Colin Firth in “The King’s Speech.” Firth or Gosling? Front-runner or risk-taker? The answer over in Harvey-wood is a foregone conclusion. A surprise winner in this clash may be Michelle Williams, Gosling’s leading lady, the blue in his valentine, since Harvey doesn’t have an actress competing in that category. Another plus for Williams? Oscar-winner – and fellow NY mum – Kate Winslet is in her corner.
A charming, personal period drama, The King’s Speech follows England’ King George VI (Colin Firth) as he struggles to get over a stuttering problem with the help of a speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) in 1936. A scene in which George — Queen Elizabeth II’s father — attempts to address a public crowd is heartbreaking as he gets caught on the consonants. Helena Bonham Carter sparkles as his wife (the future Queen Mum), and Firth’s already the frontrunner for the best actor Oscar.
This week, I’m joining Tom O’Neil in his relaunch of Goldderby.com under the auspices of the LA Times on November 4th. I was there at the beginning when Tom first approached me during an Oscar panel to come aboard the newborn Goldderby.com and I returned an emphatic “yes!” And I’m happy to be part of his current crew — even if he is a bit of a diva!
Here, then, are my early predictions in the top five categories. I’ve seen a majority of the movies in contention, but not all (The Fighter, Rabbit Hole, True Grit still to come). Please come back when I link to Tom’s site later in the week, and you can see how my predix align with my esteemed colleagues.
- “Black Swan”
- “The King’s Speech”
- “The Social Network”
- “Made in Dagenham”
- “The Kids Are All Right”
- “127 Hours “
- “Toy Story 3”
- “True Grit”
- “Winter’s Bone”
BEST LEAD ACTOR
- Colin Firth, “The King’s Speech”
- Michael Douglas, “Solitary Man”
- James Franco, “127 Hours”
- Ryan Gosling, “Blue Valentine”
- Leonardo DiCaprio, “Inception”
BEST LEAD ACTRESS
- Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
- Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
- Sally Hawkins, “Made in Dagenham”
- Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
- Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Christian Bale, “The Fighter”
- Geoffrey Rush, “The King’s Speech”
- Matt Damon, “True Grit”
- Mark Ruffalo, “The Kids Are All Right”
- Sam Rockwell, “Conviction”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Melissa Leo, “The Fighter”
- Miranda Richardson, “Made in Dagenham”
- Helena Bonham Carter, “The King’s Speech”
- Dianne Wiest “Rabbit Hole”
- Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit”