Oscar Predictions: Can ‘King’s Speech’ Prevail Over ‘Social Network’?

Colin Firth with Helena Bonham Carter

Will The King’s Speech manage to win a kingly sized portion of the awards up for grabs this Sunday (February 27) at the Oscars? The British historical drama has been nominated for 12 gold statues, including Best Picture.

The movie, which tells how England’s King George VI overcame a debilitating stammer on the eve of WWII, has scored with critics and at the box office (grossing $250 million worldwide to date).  During the parade of award shows preceding the Academy Awards, it steadily scooped up prizes.

The Oscars, however, are the big enchilada. All those other awards (the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, the craft guilds, the critics’ groups, and the like) are nice, but an Academy Award is the one that counts. Oscar is the one that is remembered; it’s emblazoned across movie ads and DVD boxes and appears in the opening paragraph in obituaries.

Here’s a rundown on how the major Oscar races are shaping up, and who will win:

Best Picture

Nominated: Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit and Winter’s Bone

And the Winner Is: The King’s Speech. The race here is between Speech and Social Network, with The Fighter showing last minute muscle. But – break out the bevvys – the British film is going to be crowned with the big prize at the end of the night, with Academy voters responding to its old-fashioned storytelling and heart.

Best Actor

Nominated: Javier Bardem in Biutiful, Jeff Bridges in True Grit, Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network, Colin Firth in The King’s Speech, and James Franco in 127 Hours.

And the Winner Is: Colin Firth. If there’s a lock for Sunday night, it’s the British middle-aged heartthrob hearing his name called after the envelope is opened for his compelling performance as a monarch on a mission. In part, this is a career Oscar. Firth has been giving great performances for years, particularly in A Single Man, for which he was nominated for Best Actor last year.

Best Actress

Nominated: Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right, Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole, Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone, Natalie Portman in Black Swan, and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine.

And the Winner Is: Annette Bening. In a Brit-free category this year, the favorite is Natalie Portman, who has won every major prize leading up to the Oscars. But I’m sensing that the feeling in Hollywood may just be that Bening, who gave a virtuoso performance in Kids, is due. My advice: fill out two ballots for your betting pool, picking Bening in one and Portman in the other.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominated: Christian Bale in The Fighter, John Hawkes in Winter’s Bone, Jeremy Renner in The Town, Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right, and Geoffrey Rush in The King’s Speech.

And the Winner Is: Christian Bale. The Welsh-born star is the favorite going in, having won awards everywhere in the pre-Oscar contests except for at the BAFTAs, which went to Geoffrey Rush. Bale’s performance as a crack-addicted ex-boxer is exactly the kind of showy but impressive turn that Oscar loves to reward. Rush has a shot at winning; if his name is called early on, it means a Speech sweep is in the making.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominated: Amy Adams in The Fighter, Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech, Melissa Leo in The Fighter, Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit, and Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom.

And the Winner Is: Melissa Leo. There’s always a surprise at the Oscars and this category is where it’s most likely to come this year. Veteran actress Leo was the early favorite and still is, but she bought ads in industry trade publications featuring glamour shots of herself that turned off some voters, who felt her effort was too self-promotional. If there’s a Speech sweep, Bonham Carter could hear her name called. And if Leo and cast mate Adams split the Fighter vote, then teenager Steinfeld could sneak in to win for Grit.

Best Director

Nominated: Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan, David O. Russell for The Fighter, Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech, David Fincher for The Social Network, and Joel Coen and Ethan Coen for True Grit.

And the Winner Is: David Fincher for Social Network.  Most years, this award goes to the director of the Best Film winner, which would have Englishman Tom Hooper taking home the Oscar for Speech. He also won the Director’s Guild of America top prize earlier this month, another good indicator. But Academy voters are going to split the riches, and Fincher will win as a sort of consolation prize for Social Network missing out on Best Picture.

Tell us who you think will win.