Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Preliminary Oscar Predictions I Will Pretend Never Happened In Three Months' Time

Welcome back to the show, folks. The name of the game is Oscar Predictions, and almost no one is good at playing it. Yet everyone tries to play and chances are you're watching intently. It's a little charade we love to play every year from October to February. Very few are good at it (Sasha Stone and Nathaniel Rogers are my personal favorites because they're in-depth and scary accurate, respectively), but really, anyone can play... Just get ready to get beat.

My first year on this blog, I didn't fare too badly at this game, getting a strong score for nomination predictions and only missing six winners. I actually did very well with nominations but utterly failing at predicting the winners. This year, I'm hoping to do better on the whole, taking fewer crazy risks and really listening to the buzz and the history.

This first round is based off of how I believe the trajectory will play out for the next few months. I preface these nomination predictions with a few disclaimers:

- If The Social Network cannot hold onto its buzz, it will hurt the film's overall performance, though not significantly.
- If Black Swan underwhelms, it will seriously hurt the film's performance in all categories other than Best Actress.
- Absolutely no one has seen Love and Other Drugs, The Fighter, or True Grit yet. I would say that the former could do a lot better than any of us are assuming, while the latter could do a lot worse than any of us are assuming. The Fighter, I think, we have pegged fairly well.

With those out of the way, let's get started with the screenplay categories. All picks are ranked by likelihood to be nominated, not to win.

Best Adapted Screenplay
(1) The Social Network
(2) Toy Story 3
(3) Rabbit Hole
(4) True Grit
(5) Winter's Bone

This is an interesting category, simply because with one exception (Rabbit Hole) the writers and genres of these are more known for their original work than their adapted work. Pixar is never known to adapt, but all sequels are automatically adapted works. I seriously thought Winter's Bone was original (and I gave it better odds of getting nominated there) because the oh-so-similar Frozen River was original. Joel and Ethan Coen are more well-known for their original works, but True Grit is actually an old Western they're remaking. Aaron Sorkin, who penned The Social Network, is almost purely an original screenwriter, and there are some circles that think this work is original as well. Sorkin, I pray, ignore them and submit into Adapted. You'll get nominated and win easily. I don't see a lot of room for movement here. I think this is one of the most secure sets--but then again, Adapted is usually my strongest category.

Best Original Screenplay
(1) The King's Speech
(2) The Kids Are All Right
(3) Inception
(4) The Fighter
(5) Black Swan

This is not the last time I'll mention Black Swan, a movie that has sent so many into hysteria and waves of praise but for some reason absolutely no one has any confidence in come Oscar time. Search me. I rank it low only because no one else has it ranked at all. Most have Mike Leigh's newest movie Another Year in that spot. Personally, I feel like the Academy has turned off of Leigh ever since Happy-Go-Lucky did so poorly, and I feel it's the type of movie that needed to be released in the summer to get good traction. But I might be greatly underestimating it. Otherwise, this category is pretty solid, with plenty of potential of being thrown into chaos.

Best Supporting Actor
(1) Geoffrey Rush, The King's Speech
(2) Christian Bale, The Fighter
(3) Andrew Garfield, The Social Network
(4) Ed Harris, The Way Back
(5) Josh Brolin, True Grit

I'd say only the top two are considered locks here. I've heard rumblings that Bale won't be nominated because of his reputation, but it's a super-baity role in what looks like a slam-dunk of a movie and can be used to reward his phenomenal work over the past decade from American Psycho to The Dark Knight. Garfield has a shot of winning this category if he can beat out the internal competition of überfamous Justin Timberlake and supposed scene stealer (though I don't see it) Armie Hammer, but they might get bogged down in each other if voters can't recognize that Garfield's performance is the superior one. Harris' film might not even make an impact on awards season simply because of the weak-ass release date, but who knows? Regardless, Harris has huge momentum from never winning (think Jeff Bridges and Kate Winslet "It's their time" buzz), so he's probably the film's best shot. And Brolin has to contend with Damon for the True Grit nomination, but I would bet a good amount of money that the former nominee for Milk will win out. If you're wondering why Mark Ruffalo isn't on my list for The Kids Are All Right, let me just say that he is not being discussed nearly as much as his female costars (not even as much as on-screen son Josh Hutcherson!), and the Academy has already proven that they don't really like him that much. He's gotta start campaigning to get the nod.

Best Supporting Actress
(1) Helena Bonham-Carter, The King's Speech
(2) Melissa Leo, The Fighter
(3) Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
(4) Amy Adams, The Fighter
(5) Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole

Bonham-Carter is a lock for a nomination, but I'd say her shot at winning is far, far lower. It all depends on who else gets in. Let me say first off that this is a weird, weird, WEIRD year for this category. Leo is obviously well-liked, getting a nomination for little-seen Frozen River two years ago (and, I'd suspect, almost winning that year), so she should get in. Adams is really well-loved by the Academy (what else could explain that nod for Doubt?), so she should get in no matter how good or bad the performance as long as the movie on the whole is favorably received. Weaver's performance is one of the best of the year in any category--the trick is getting nominated. Sony Classics is doing the right thing, sending out screeners first and trying to pull off another Leo-esque nomination (and hey, it worked last time), so I think this should work. Wiest is a pick I am completely lacking confidence in, but that might be because I'm lacking confidence in Rabbit Hole on the whole (almost a pun). She's easy to nominate, given her position in the industry, and I favor her over the other options (Miranda Richardson for Made in Dagenham, Rosamund Pike for either of her two films, Dagenham or Barney's Version, Sissy Spacek for Get Low), which all strike me as too obscure/British. Let me clarify that: I love British cinema. My number one and two for Best Picture last year were both British films. But they are unapproachable and a little cold at times, which is what I feel some of those performances divulge into. I will say this: if either Barbara Hershey or Mila Kunis can really get buzz going for Black Swan or any of the women can get singled out in For Colored Girls, Wiest's spot is theirs. But right now, there's a lot of internal competition going on in those two films.

Best Actress
(1) Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
(2) Natalie Portman, Black Swan
(3) Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone
(4) Lesley Manville, Another Year
(5) Sally Hawkins, Made in Dagenham

The top two are in. Done. Nothing can derail Bening and Portman at this point. They're set. Lawrence may not have Carey Mulligan-sized buzz around her, but she is very good in the role and already getting major recognition, so I bet she makes it in as well. Manville and Hawkins...I know, I know. I already contradicted myself by not putting Mike Leigh in the Screenplay category but putting them both in here. The fact is, Manville has super-sized buzz around her, though I fear her name may be a little too unknown this year (her competition includes Michelle Williams, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway, Nicole Kidman...) to make it in. And the Academy may just dislike Sally Hawkins. It's not unheard of. They hate the incredibly talented Peter Sarsgaard, after all. Honestly, I'm stopping myself from swapping Manville and Hawkins for Hathaway and Kidman as I write this, and I probably will soon enough, but hell, go with your gut, right? One thing: Julianne Moore cannot get nominated alongside Bening. It's just not gonna happen. There's only enough buzz to sustain one of them, and it's gonna be Bening. Plain and simple.

Best Actor
(1) Colin Firth, The King's Speech
(2) James Franco, 127 Hours
(3) Jeff Bridges, True Grit
(4) Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
(5) Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

I find it fascinating that this year is destined to be almost exactly like last year. Franco has a lot of buzz around him, but I don't think he can win, simply because he's so young. Still, he should get nominated easily. Wahlberg is an obvious favorite of the Academy, getting nominated for The Departed five years ago over Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Alec Baldwin all for the same film. That's a big group of superstars to beat as handily as he did. But the real story is around the three real competitors: last year's winner (Bridges), last year's wronged second-placer (Firth), and a young star who anchors a likely Best Picture winner (Eisenberg, recalling Jeremy Renner for The Hurt Locker). Unlike last year, I think Firth will win because of his momentum, but to those who don't think Bridges can win two years in a row, two words: Tom Hanks. It's happened before, and it could happen again. But nominations for the pair are likely.

Best Director
(1) Christopher Nolan, Inception
(2) David Fincher, The Social Network
(3) Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
(4) Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
(5) David O'Russell, The Fighter

Speaking of former match-ups, we actually have a repeat of the Best Director showdown from two years ago: Fincher vs. Boyle, formerly up for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire. Last time, Boyle had the edge, but I'd be surprised if either one wins this time. It's been posited several times by Sasha Stone at Awards Daily that there will be more Picture/Director splits now that Best Picture features ten nominees. I completely agree. I think that even if The Hurt Locker hadn't won Best Picture last year, Kathryn Bigelow would have won Best Director. And I'm not sure Fincher can do any better than second place this year. Nolan is so visionary and so uncompromising in his vision in Inception that it's hard to see another frontrunner. Sure, the direction of The Social Network is able, but it's mostly Aaron Sorkin's vision. Fincher doesn't seem to have that much impact. Hooper and O'Russell are here because I think there'll be great success for their films and they'll get coattail nominations.

Best Picture
(1) The King's Speech
(2) The Social Network
(3) 127 Hours
(4) The Fighter
(5) True Grit
(6) Inception
(7) Black Swan
(8) Toy Story 3
(9) The Kids Are All Right
(10) For Colored Girls

Starting from the bottom...

For Colored Girls isn't an Oscar film, really, but assume that there is now a Blind Side "spot" in the pool: a space for a heartwarming film that people can rally around as a pillar of good values. Wouldn't a racially diverse, adapted-from-an-award-winning-play film like this fill that spot quite well? Unless the reviews are vicious, I see this happening.

The Kids Are All Right is not a pick I'm super-confident about. But I think the buzz from the summer is good enough to grant a nomination.

Toy Story 3 will ride massive box office and golden reviews to a nomination.

Black Swan seems to be an absolutely phenomenal film, so forgive me if I can't understand others' resignation about granting this movie better positioning in their pools. I see it easily getting nominated in a field of ten.

Inception, like Toy Story 3, has the box office, reviews, and buzz to get nominated.

True Grit might be horrible, but I doubt it. I think it might be too similar to No Country for Old Men to win, though.

The Fighter may not be screened yet, but I think it looks golden for at least a nomination simply because it's so up the Academy's alley.

127 Hours is a triumphing story of the human spirit ZZZZZZZZ... Oh, sorry. It'll get nominated. Just forgive my absolute distaste for it sight unseen.

The Social Network would have to cause 10,000 seizures in China to not get nominated at this point.

The King's Speech isn't my prediction to win, but like The Social Network, it's ridiculous to think it won't get nominated.

Whew! That took a while! What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Little bit of both? Think I'm craycray? Take it to the comments!

It Gets Better

Today's a cool day for me, because it's the day I restart the Oscar Predictions portion of this site. I've been silently monitoring the race for a while (silent on the blog--my friends can tell you I haven't been silent at all) and now feel confident enough to start predicting what the nominees will look like come late January.

But first: I don't know how many of you have heard of the It Gets Better project, designed by columnist Dan Savage in the wake of the disturbing wave of suicides committed by gay teens these past few weeks. Plenty of both celebrities and real people straight, gay, and otherwise have filmed videos imparting messages of love and support to LGBT teens across the country struggling with their sexuality and constant bullying. (Tim Gunn's video, in particular, is incredibly affecting.)

The project is admirable and already being proven to be a source of great support for teens across the country. Though I do find it interesting that the country seems to have just realized now that gay teens have a hard time in their youth (trust me, that's been going on for a while now), the overall message is so profound that everyone should take note.

Check out the video project when you get a chance. It's a moving set of videos, definitely worth watching and even participating. And to anyone out there who might be struggling, just remember: it does get better.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Four is the New Three

Well, we have our final...four. Except the final part. Project Runway is playing like they can't count to three again, selecting four finalists to move onto preparing collections for Fashion Week. (Because hey, they might as well. They had to have all final ten prepare collections anyway as decoys.) The final elimination was, to be brutally frank, bullshit, and completely out of context with previous judging decisions. The final four is rather uninspiring, more focused on drama than design. It's been a season for the record books, but this finale is not shaping up to be a great one.

Episode Eleven: A Look in the Line
The challenge, to design three (originally one, then two more) looks for Heidi Klum's activewear line, wasn't the greatest challenge ever. But hey, at least three designers churned out interesting, innovative looks (winner Andy South, Mondo Guerra, and this week's eliminated designer), while the other three (Christopher, Gretchen, Michael C.) showed exactly how bland they really are.

Shoulda Won: Andy
Shoulda Gone Home: Michael C.

Episode Twelve: We're in a New York State of Mind
Blah. I did not like this episode. At all. It was full of crackpot judging decisions, was a complete and utter copout of choosing an actual final three (just like Season 5, as my theory about the correlation between seasons 5 and 8 grows even stronger). Michael Costello "won" (though there was no actual win awarded) for this tacky black gown that was over-inspired by the Statue of Liberty and had a slit that was borderline vulgar. But if the goal was to just eliminate one, I wouldn't have eliminated him. That honor goes to Miss Gretchen Jones, who is on par with Mychael Knight of Season 3, Kenley Collins of Season 5 (who is just as dramatic as Gretchen), and Christopher Straub of Season 6 for greatest designer burnouts: started off fantastic, grew increasingly awful over the course of the season. April Johnston was eliminated for having a point-of-view and a defined aesthetic, basically, which is utter crap. Mondo churned out yet another Mondo look, but probably deserved to win it. Oh, and Andy was there.

Shoulda Been the Final Three: Mondo, April, Andy
Shoulda Been Out: Gretchen (Michael C. if there were a second Out)

Next week's elimination will be really interesting. I doubt Gretchen gets eliminated, nor do I think we'll see Mondo go home. So it's down to Andy and Michael C. One is quiet and has a strong point-of-view. The other, weirdly enough, has been the judges' pet all season. It's sickening, but just as I predicted we wouldn't see April advance to the finals, I'm imagining Michael C. beating Andy into the finals as well.

It doesn't matter anyway. Mondo'll kick all their asses.

Mad Decisions

The following post will have spoilers of the final episode of this season of Mad Men. You have been warned. Though, really, if you're reading this, you should have watched it yet. It was so good.

Three years ago, the Mad Men finale involved a heartfelt monologue from Don Draper about family and how the Carousel projector from Kodak incorporated the idea of family. Most of the major action ("Mr. Campbell, who cares?") had taken place the previous episode, but it was a great episode emphasizing the family structure and set up the total tonal shift of the show to a focus on the women in season two.

The next year, the finale, set against the Cuban Missile Crisis, had an understandable air of chaos, but still made time for Don begging to get Betty back, Betty finding out she's pregnant and hooking up with a stranger in a bathroom, and Peggy delivering her legendary monologue to Pete about having his child. Lots of drama, not so much sentimentality.

Last year, Mad Men ended with its one and only purely fun hour, which felt like a reward to each and every one of it's fans. Great music, great character interactions, a great idea, great lines... One of the best episodes ever produced by this show. It left you wanting to see the next episode as soon as possible.

Last night, Mad Men took one of its characters to a place he should never have been, yet it made the ultimate sense that he was there. Don Draper became Roger Sterling last night. He officially became passé, ridiculous, an object of mockery from the women in the office. He made an impulsive and stupid decision with one woman, completely screwed over another, and made peace with the one who's been in his life all along.

I don't want to break down every element of the episode, but just for highlights:

-- Betty firing Carla was heartbreaking. Even though I've been a defender of Betty's despite her behavior this season, that was too much to handle. It was heinous. Don's anger was wholly and completely justified.

-- However, we then see Betty in a completely different light by episode's end. You see exactly how in love she is with Don and how not in love she is with Henry. You see how childish she still is. You see her rocking that incredibly fierce purple jacket. (Only I would notice that.) And you truly pity her because at the end of the day, she's not really at fault for how her life turned out. She's been screwed over by men (her father, Don, Henry) at every turn.

-- Don's been spiraling out of control all season, headed towards...something, but we could never figure out what. And then he impulsively proposed to his secretary (!) and screwed over a woman he's in an incredibly stable relationship with. In other words, he became Roger Sterling. And no one likes Roger Sterling anymore, so what's to be said for that?

-- GO PEGGY! What an amazing season for our girl. She got all her problems aired out in The Suitcase, got the recognition she needed, and proceeded to kick ass the rest of the season. Landing that account was a work of genius that proves that if Don is now the Roger Sterling, Peggy is the Don Draper. It felt so good to cheer for her, too.

-- The scene in the office with Joan and Peggy was honestly one of the best scenes in the show's history. From the first line ("What could possibly be on your mind?") to the shared laughter at the end was just beautifully acted, written, and one of the most empathetic scenes we've ever seen. But something to note: even when they're sympathizing with each other, Peggy still does not congratulate Joan on her new position. They may be closer than ever, but Peggy still sees herself as above Joan.

-- Dr. Faye Miller may be one of the best people to ever walk through the Mad Men, naturally, she'd get treated like utter crap. That phone call was heartwrenching to watch, because honestly, she did absolutely nothing wrong. She was exactly the right woman...and Don would never be with her. How incredibly sad.

-- Roger's reaction to the news of Don's engagement is fascinating. He went from "Who the hell is that?" to "Congratulations!" so quickly, and I wondered why. Then I realized: he saw Don's engagement as a validation of what he did with Jane three years ago. He wanted to be proven right after all this time.

-- I wouldn't be surprised if we have a bigger time leap next year. The one thing Mad Men has never done with a major character is show their wedding. I don't see how this would be any different. We'll see them again either when Don and Megan are married or when their engagement is over. No other option.

That's a lot more analysis than I planned on writing, but I hadn't quite realized how much there was to ponder. Now I'm wondering about you guys' feelings. What did you think of the episode? Where do you think we're headed next year? Is next year the show's last? (My opinion: yes, sadly.) Take it all to the comments!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Mean Girls

One of the best Oscar bloggers on the web, Nathaniel Rogers of The Film Experience (who really deserves more credit than he gets... come on, recently published Gurus of Gold, do the right thing and include Nathaniel!), has a great series ongoing called "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" wherein he invites everyone to pick one shot of a given film (or miniseries, as was the case with Angels in America) and explain why it's the one best shot of that movie.

This next Wednesday's movie of choice is a personal favorite of mine, Mean Girls. It's interesting, though, because as much as the dialogue from Tina Fey's expert script is quoted, the movie isn't one you remember for its visuals. No doubt, it's a phenomenal movie with expert acting (that script wasn't easy to pull off and that cast made it iconic), but it's just not one of it anyone immediately says, "Hey, remember that one shot in Mean Girls...?"

That being said, I skimmed over the screenshots and tried to find an appropriate shot that not only captured the insanely fun spirit of the film but also encapsulated the plot really well.

"See, Gretch? I told you she's not mad at you!"

This shot, which is taken from the first three-way call attack scene, is just after Regina George's duplicity has been revealed to our heroine, Cady Heron. After referring to Gretchen Weiners' need for attention, Cady finds out Gretchen has heard she and Regina's entire conversation, and in this moment, we see the three principal characters more clearly defined than anywhere else.

Let's start with Regina, so perfectly played by Rachel McAdams. She looks completely self-satisfied in this shot, thrilled that her plan has worked to such perfection. Of course, she's done this before: after all, she's Regina George. But Cady is just such a plaything to Regina, so easily corruptible that she can't possibly resist messing with her. When it works so well, she's like a cat that's just trapped a mouse, and she can't keep the grin off her face.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have the consummate follower, Gretchen, portrayed by Lacey Chabert. She's seriously hurt by Cady's suggestion that she's desperate for attention, not even happy she went through with Regina's plan to catch her saying something nasty. That's what's so interesting about Gretchen: she's not actually a mean girl, she just desperately wants to be. But ultimately, stuff like this really hurts her.

And finally, we have Lindsay Lohan, the Better Years, playing Cady, who is still "Africa Cady" as opposed to "Plastic Cady". Her bracelet that Regina makes a crack about is still in full view here, emphasizing her roots and exactly how out of place she is in a situation like this. Cady's face is also extremely telling: she's not exactly hurt or betrayed, she's more like a scientist thrown off by a new observation. What's so fascinating about how Cady is written and portrayed is that she starts like another redheaded heroine, Easy A's Olive Penderghast (played by Emma Stone, cue requisite picture of Emma Stone).


She is at first observing the social phenomena, attempting to remove herself from it slightly. But unlike Olive, who (for the most part) always stays above the fray, Cady gets involved, being approached from all sides by an exciting new lifestyle (notice how she's in the middle of this shot, not on one of the sides--she's surrounded by the Plastic way of things) and she becomes unable to resist. They may be bitchy, yes, but for a high school girl looking to make a name for herself for the first time, they're the ultimate.

And there's my analysis! It was really interesting to see how little I was impacted by the film visually, with all my favorite moments being entirely based on the script. But I did my best--what do you guys think? Any comments? Disagree with my analysis? Hit the comments, but make sure to visit The Film Experience and take a look at the other Hit Me With Your Best Shot submissions next Wednesday (the 20th)!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Truly Fantastic Season

It's shocking how good Project Runway has been all season. Truly, it's a marvel. Two seasons of bad should have immediately led into a third strike, death knell kind of season. Instead, what we got was amazing drama, incredibly compelling characters, and at least two designers who are really, really good. Like, they have something to say in the industry type good.

This week is a big episode, as it looks to be loaded with drama, but in particular, is the last regular elimination episode before the finale. (The final episode before the finale is a double elimination.) Who will comprise the top five of this season? Let's recap the past two weeks.

Episode Nine: Race to the Finish
And when we talk about how good the episodes were this season, we'll conveniently forget this one. The most "Lifetime"-y of any of the episodes this season, it was 'make a pretty dress' plus 'make another pretty dress'. Kind of a jerkass move, and no one was going to perform under these circumstances. I couldn't really choose one winner, as Mondo's ready-to-wear look was the clear winner, but Andy's avant garde look was a clear knockout. So I would split the win. As for the loser, it was clearly Ivy's time to go home. But I will say, I never hated her less than her final few episodes. She went out with dignity. (Which appears to have disappeared again when she comes back for this week's episode.)

Shoulda Won: Mondo/Andy
Shoulda Gone Home: Ivy

Episode Ten: There's a Pattern Here
Also to be known in the future as the "Mondo" episode. Seriously, this was one of the most heartwrenching episodes of television on air this year. Not just reality television, not just cable television, but television on the whole. Mondo's completely organic confession of being HIV+ was beautiful. I can't tell you one moment I found calculated or manipulated. Not only that, but the judging, which has been spotty this season, was almost dead on. All four judges, including the strikingly beautiful (and brutal) Rachel Roy as the guest judge, had their best episodes in a long time. If anyone wants to know why Runway has a Peabody Award for Excellence in Television, look no further than "There's a Pattern Here". Classic.

Shoulda Won: Mondo
Shoulda Been Out: Valerie

So, who should be out this week? You could make a serious argument for Christopher, and I'm pretty sure that will happen, but I don't think he's the worst left in the bunch. Mondo, April, and Andy are clearly the three stars here, but there is absolutely no drama in that final three. Michael Costello will have to go home, because he's actually just as boring with no Gretchen. And let's be real: Gretchen, the Emilio Sosa/Althea Harper/Rami Kashou/Mychael Knight/Daniel Vosovic of this season, is getting to New York Fashion Week no matter what. I propose that Michael Costello will go home this or next week, and whichever week he doesn't go home, Christopher will. As far as who from the Dream Three I would cut in favor of Gretchen? Probably April, unfortunately. I love her aesthetic and most of her looks (she's actually just slightly above Mondo in my estimation), but I feel like the chances of either Mondo or Andy missing the final three is a long shot.

But hell, whatever happens, it'll still have been one amazing season.

Monday, October 4, 2010

State of the Cinema 2010, Part II: All About The Social Network

The last time I posted my State of the Cinema report, things looked grim. There were barely any awards-worthy movies released in the first seven months of the year as we headed into August. And now? Well, things are absolutely no different.

That's harsh, actually. There have been a couple of great movies that will never be nominated for Oscars: Easy A and Catfish, and there's been exactly one stellar, Oscar-worthy movie released in the past two months: The Social Network, Aaron Sorkin's masterpiece about Facebook. It's an early frontrunner for Best Picture, and one that conforms nicely to the mold set forward by other best pictures in recent years (Slumdog Millionaire and The Hurt Locker in particular shattered the expectation of a Best Picture).

I fully expect The Social Network to win Best Picture. I really do. I know there are other movies coming out this year that have a chance, The King's Speech, 127 Hours and The Fighter in particular. But this movie is such a home run that it seems difficult to consider any other possible outcome.

Sorkin's script is superb. Jesse Eisenberg's interpretation of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is extremely unlikable yet completely lovable, a wonderful contradiction. Andrew Garfield steals the show as wounded friend and co-founder Eduardo Saverin. He's emotionally complex and makes the entire audience ache for his struggle. The entire cast is brilliant (though I'm not quite as in love with Justin Timberlake's performance as Napster founder Sean Parker as others seem to be), and the direction is better than capable, too. David Fincher edited himself for this film, and it's a marked improvement after his last effort, the sluggish The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It is truly the best film I've seen all year.

I see Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted (Original? it's unclear) Screenplay wins for the film, with Fincher losing out to Inception's Christopher Nolan for Best Director. Eisenberg will likely be nominated for Best Actor, as well, but Colin Firth is probably a dead lock for The King's Speech at this point. His goodwill from last year's A Single Man will continue to steamroll to the Oscar podium this year.

If Best Original Screenplay doesn't include Network, then Inception is probably locked for that Oscar as well. In the female acting categories, Best Actress probably belongs to Black Swan's Natalie Portman, and Best Supporting a gigantic question mark. No idea where that one is going. But hey, I've got solid ideas for seven out of the eight big categories! That's not bad! Then again, maybe the paucity of good films to make this more difficult is what is really bad.

At any rate, for The Social Network, I give it a straight-up A.