So, the Oscars are on Sunday. And for a reason I still find tough to define, I’m going to watch them. I expect hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway to do a passable job – Franco does have some comedic chops, evidenced by his SNL and 30 Rock guest spots. But after the way Ricky Gervais made celebrities squirm, gasp and complain at the Golden Globes, any attempt at humor is going to seem like a Dave Barry column. Guaranteed, neither host will make Robert Downey Jr. get up and call the event “hugely mean-spirited with mildly sinister undertones.” Which is too bad.
Anyhoo, here are my picks for who’s gonna win this silly thing that I care about:
Best Supporting Actor
Who Will Win: John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone. The safe money’s on Christian Bale, whose “I luv my bruddah!!!” histrionics are a hardware magnet. But while WB might be an underdog on Sunday, but it’s also the kind of underdog story that wins Oscars. And Hawkes’ performance as the bad-ass-with-a-heart-of-gold Teardrop is both beautifully fashioned and easy to adore.
Who I’m Rooting For: Hawkes. Though if Geoffrey Rush wins, I’ll be content – his crisp comedic performance got me through The King’s Speech.
Best Supporting Actress
Who Will Win: Melissa Leo, The Fighter. If Bale loses, this is the only other category in which the Academy can reward all the melodrama. Plus, Leo’s a hard-working, somewhat unsung character actor, which always makes for a good story.
Who I’m Rooting For: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom. Her performance as a sickly sweet matriarch was a high point of this well-crafted tale of an Australian crime family. Hailee Steinfeld’s turn as the bull-headed heroine Mattie Ross is also very much deserving.
Who Will Win: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech. While Firth approached this role with the respect and restraint it deserved, the end result just wasn’t all that compelling. Even Bridget Jones’s Diary made better use of his oozing good-naturedness. But, it’s a role that requires altering your vocal patterns (read: ACTING!), so he’ll win.
Who I’m Rooting For: Jeff Bridges, True Grit. It would be awesome if he could pull a Hanks. I’d also applaud if they honored Jesse Eisenberg’s cold, obnoxious turn in The Social Network.
Who Will Win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan. Did you hear that she trained to be a ballerina for this? (read: ACTING!)
Who I’m Rooting For: Annette Bening, The Kids are All Right. While this family dramedy was just all right, Bening’s performance was spot-on as usual, refusing to get all Oscar winner-y when her character gets cheated on, preferring to weather most of the storm on the inside – you know, like real people do.
Best Screenplay (Adapted)
Who Will Win: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network. Probably the only no-brainer of the night.
Who I’m Rooting For: Sorkin, but the Coens adaptive work is certainly worthy as well.
Best Screenplay (Original)
Who Will Win: Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg, The Kids are All Right. The Academy’s gonna want to throw a bone to this movie in some way, to show they support old-fashioned family-centered stories.
Who I’m Rooting For: Mike Leigh, Another Year. Haven’t seen this yet, but the guy’s in a league of his own.
Who Will Win: Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech. It’s between Hooper, whose feel-good period piece is certainly well-crafted, and David Fincher, whose steady hand made a cynical, dialogue-driven character study go down easy.
Who I’m Rooting For: Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit. If they hadn’t won a few years back, perhaps they’d be in the running, a la Scorsese’s compensatory win for The Departed. They did, though, which is too bad, because their vision of this simple American story is as stark, troubled and inspiring as the country itself.
Who Will Win: The Social Network. The Academy will let us know that they still adore light, drab, “important” fare like The King’s Speech, but by giving the big prize to the “Facebook movie,” they’ll also let us know that they’re “with it.”
Who I’m Rooting For: True Grit. My favorite of the bunch, by a lot. TSN’s backs-and-forths are electric, but stacked side by side with the Coens’ simple tale of redemption, it’s all too obvious that, at least in 2010, less was more.