Oscars 2011 nominations and predictions

The awards season is in full swing as the 2011 Oscar nominations are now in. Last year the amount of films nominated for the awards doubled, to include ten rather than five films for the first time. This was a decision allegedly prompted by the lack of a nomination for The Dark Knight the previous year. So now films that the Academy might not have considered Oscar friendly are now allegeable for nominations. For the last two years, more films and their campaign managers can ride the crest of the wave that is Oscar favour and raise the profile of their films amongst audiences who might not have otherwise heard of the films. Every year their used to be some controversy as some wonderful film was overlooked and put in an invisible sixth place by the Academy as they were previously limited in their number of nominations.

With the change in the number of nominations, there is less opportunity to shake your fist in outrage at the clueless-ness of the Academy. Generally, this point aside, it is a good thing that the build-up for the prestigious golden statue is now a ten horse race. Post Oscar nomination discussions are not as heated though, as with ten nominations, the Academy isn’t really overlooking anything that could have been a contender. Having said that, last year they inexplicably omitted The Road.

This year, as you will see from the list, there isn’t really any glaring omissions, perhaps you could make a case for Ben Affleck’s The Town to be up for recognition, and the lack of nomination for Christopher Nolan for Inception in the director category is outrageous. But overall, the nominations could easily have been pre-empted. One upside of ten nominations is it really does look wide open this year; the awards could go anywhere. I don’t want to risk rambling like an award winner’s acceptance speech so I’ll wrap up the intro and crack open the golden envelope to get the discussion of the 2011 Oscar nominations started.

The Film Academy’s nominations for the 2011 Oscars are…

  • Black Swan – Director: Darren Aronofsky

The considerable filmmaking talent of Darren Aronofsky has been known to cult movie fans for years. Everything he has made, from his debut inventive psychological thriller Pi to his misunderstood masterpiece The Fountain – has been outstanding. It is great to see Aronofsky finally getting some recognition from the Academy. This dark psychological thriller about a disturbed ballerina takes something as seemingly innocuous and inoffensive as ballet and subverts it into something foreboding, gripping and unsettling. Along with a nomination for the film, Aronofsky is also in the running for the best director award and the safe money for best female actress is on Natalie Portman in the lead role. Black Swan is one of the favourites to take the top accolade.

  • Inception – Director: Christopher Nolan

Inception is one of the most original films in many years, so it is great to see that the Academy has acknowledged one of the most cleverly thought out and intelligent blockbusters of all time. Director Christopher Nolan has his critics, but the British director is passionate about film, and all his films so far, including his two Batman films, have shown that Nolan wants to create his own style, he wants to be inventive and he is striving to be creative in an industry favouring commerce. He is making big popular audience friendly films and he is doing it with oodles of invention. The mind-melting Inception is by far the most imaginative film he has come up with yet – it gets better with repeat viewing as you see Nolan’s plot is water-tight. He’s received a nomination for original screenplay but it’s totally bewildering that he didn’t get nominated for best director too. That is quite an outrageous snub by the Academy and the major talking point of the nominations. The film only works because Nolan has the skill to pull off the most ambitious of plots, it only works because of Nolan’s skillful direction, so how can you not nominate him? There are only five nominations for best director and inexplicably Nolan isn’t one of them. He should have been a dead cert to win. Does the lack of nomination for Nolan in the director category suggest Inception is a token nomination by the Academy and they are actually just considering the films made by the five nominated directors? Hopefully not as Inception should be in the fore-front of the voters minds in the coming weeks.

  • The Kings Speech – Director: Tom Hooper

American audiences sure love the British royals and the subject of this weighty but compelling drama is one of the most unique and interesting royals in the history of the family. King George VI of Britain is in profile in this British period piece and his quick rise to the throne was one of the most interesting stories in the history of the royals. He was an unlikely monarch as he was so uncertain of himself, introverted and he even had a speech problem. As Jerry Seinfeld once joked, ‘more people are more afraid of public speaking then death’, so watching a figure so uncertain of himself is bound to strike a chord with audiences. The role is brilliant and ideal material for Colin Firth to portray then – his introspective sensitive and compelling performance has earned him another Oscar nomination. Last year, Firth was overlooked for his highly lauded performance in A single man, this year he is odds on favourite to win the best Oscar award. The film is themed around preparing speeches of course so we are hoping Firth has a mighty impressive awards acceptance speech prepared – perhaps he will mirror the subject of his film and be nervous about his speech and have a life imitating art moment. It could be fitting. As for the film, will it be crowned the best film by the Academy? Time will tell.

  • The Social Network – Director: David Fincher

David Fincher and screenwriter Arron Sorkin did a great deal with very limited material in the story of the birth of Facebook. The film is essentially really just a bunch of rich brats squabbling over who owes money to whom but you never suspect that do to the style and substance Fincher and Sorkin supply. This was by far the most inventive courtroom drama for sometime and Fincher’s considerable style and Sorkin’s snappy, razor witted script made for a gripping movie that somehow made super-nerds with next to no social skills look edgy elicit, underground and the rock stars of tomorrow. The irony of a socially awkward web designer creating a system that has encouraged social interaction on a global scale made The social network an extraordinary film to watch. The characters are interesting but probably not compelling enough to move the Academy to bestow the film with the top award, but kudos to the Academy for nominating it and for recognizing Fincher with a directors nomination and therefore acknowledging just how much verve and guile he used to keep The social network gripping and lively throughout.

  • The Fighter – Director: David O Russell

Movies about boxing always seem to come in slugging it out as underdogs during the awards – fitting really. The Academy are always moved by a good boxing movie. Rocky famously won the award. Raging bull was nominated but infamously didn’t win the top award, Million Dollar baby won the best picture award and even boxing films like Ali and Cinderella man received nominations in some categories. The fighter follows in the footsteps of other boxing movies and receives a nomination. It’s the story of an Irish boxer played by Mark Wahlberg and his trainer and brother Christian Bale. Wahlberg was overlooked in the best actor category, but Bale, who not for the first time, lost a great deal of weight to show his commitment to the role – has received a nomination in the best supporting actor category. A win for Bale seems the films best chance of taking an award. Although director David O Russell – he made two really underrated films Three Kings and I heart Huckabees – is nominated in the best director category. Odds are this underdog won’t triumph. We will see.

  • True Grit – Director: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

The Coen brothers famously won the award for best film and director for their excellent film No country for old men in 2008. That was a film that suggested they would be great at directing a Western. With True Grit they prove that to be the case. This is a remake of a much cherished John Wayne film from 1969. Will the Coen brothers win for a second time in a few years? Well, the Academy generally like to share the awards out, so it seems unlikely that the Coen brothers will win again and perhaps the fact that this is a remake rather than an original may well count against it.

  • The kids are all right – Director: Lisa Cholodenko

The trailer for this comic drama makes it look a little on the frothy side for Oscar recognition but on closer inspection, it’s a screenplay that taps into a number of contentious issues involving same couple parenting and the paternal rights of sperm donors. Annette Benning nominated – for a best actress Oscar – and Julianne Moore play a lesbian couple whose family harmony is thrown into question when their sperm donor – played by the always likeable – and also Oscar nominated in the best supporting actor category – Mark Ruffalo comes a calling. It’s a thought-provoking film which is likely to prompt debates about the issues in America given the topics are so relevant in the modern world. Don’t bank on it winning though.

  • 127 Hours – Director: Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle won the best film and best director awards as recently as 2009 for Slumdog millionaire, so it would be extraordinary if his latest film scooped the top award again. The film is about an adventurer whose lust for thrills goes awry in spectacularly horrific style when he becomes trapped and has to work out a way of getting out of his awkward predicament. It was a test for the acting chops of James Franco in the lead role, but he has excelled at the challenge and earned himself a nomination in the best actor category this year. Franco is also the surprise choice to host the awards this year; he will co-host with another rising star, Anne Hathaway. It will make for pretty interesting viewing if Franco does win given he is on hosting duties. His star is definitely on the rise. Danny Boyle is one of the greatest British directors we have so I for one am happy another of his films has been nominated. I won’t be tempted to bet on this to win though – a distinct rank outsider.

  • Toy Story 3-D – Director Lee Unkrich

It is delightful to see the concluder of arguably the best trilogy of all time receive a nomination. The charming and moving animated feature becomes only the third animated feature to receive an award nomination. The other two were Up last year and Beauty and the beast. Pixar have spent a great deal of money getting their Oscar campaign under-way and given the unanimous warmth directed at the film from critics and audiences a like, it does stand a good chance at making history and becoming the first animated feature to ever win a best picture award. It would certainly make a wonderful story and also commemorate an outstanding trio of films, like the win for Lord of the rings; The return of the King did for that particular trilogy. A win for Toy story 3-D would be an acknowledgment for all the impeccable films Pixar have made so far.  You could even say it would be an award to commemorate all the wonderful timeless family favourites that Disney made which have endured through the years far longer than some of the films nominated in best picture awards in the years the following films were released: Snow white and the seven dwarves and Pinocchio. Will Toy Story 3-D enter the record books as the first animated feature to ever win the best picture award?

  • Winter’s bone – Director Debra Granik

This drama wowed audiences at The Sundance film festival over a year ago when it scooped the Grand jury prize at Sundance. Can the makers add an Oscar to sit alongside the Grand Jury prize? The film, adapted from Daniel Woodrill’s novel, is a gripping drama about an intense girl hunting down her drug-dealing father. It’s stirring subject matter and the film has clearly moved the Academy as they have given it four nominations including best adapted screenplay, but that’s an award surely going to The Social network.

It’s hard to say whether the amount of nominations each film has received is an indicator of what will win. British period drama The King’s Speech has received the most nominations. What will win the 2011 best film? The anticipation has begun.

A list of the films with the most nominations

The King’s Speech – 12

True Grit – 10

Inception – 8

The Social Network – 8

The Fighter – 7

127 Hours – 6

Black Swan – 5

Toy Story 3 – 5

The Kids Are All Right – 4

Winter’s Bone – 4

Alice in Wonderland – 3

Biutiful – 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – 2

How to Train Your Dragon – 2

Main nominations along with my hopes and predictions



My prediction: The King’s Speech

But I’d like to see Inception win.


THE FIGHTER – David O. Russell, BLACK SWAN – Darren Aronofsky, THE KING’S SPEECH – Tom Hooper, THE SOCIAL NETWORK – David Fincher, TRUE GRIT – Joel and Ethan Coen

My prediction: The Academy like to give awards to commemorate directors who consistently make great films, just look at the Oscar for Martin Scorsese for The departed. David Fincher consistently makes great films. He did great things with the Social network. I think the Academy will recognize that.

But I’d like to see Darren Aronofsky win. It’s about time the profile on one of the most exciting directing talents in contemporary cinema was lifted.


JAVIER BARDEM – Biutiful, JEFF BRIDGES – True Grit, JESSE EISENBERG – The Social Network, COLIN FIRTH – The King’s Speech, JAMES FRANCO – 127 Hours

My prediction: Jeff  Bridges won last year, and Javier Bardem has also won a supporting Oscar for No country for old men. Colin Firth for The King’s Speech is bound to get the honour.

I’d like to see: Colin Firth win. Colin Firth has a very interesting style of acting and his performance in The King’s Speech has moved people from many different backgrounds old and young.


ANNETTE BENING – The Kids Are All Right, NATALIE PORTMAN – Black Swan, MICHELLE WILLIAMS – Blue Valentine, NICOLE KIDMAN – Rabbit Hole, JENNIFER LAWRENCE – Winter’s Bone

My prediction: Natalie Portman Black Swan

I’d like to see Natalie Portman win. She is one of the most interesting and unique young actresses around, her time is here.


CHRISTIAN BALE – The Fighter, JOHN HAWKES -Winter’s Bone, MARK RUFFALO – The Kids Are All Right, GEOFFREY RUSH – The King’s Speech, JEREMY RENNER – The Town

My prediction: Geoffrey Rush The King’s speech

I’d like to see Christian Bale win – he has shown unbelievable commitment to the role and has done a method acting style De Niro yet again.


AMY ADAMS – The Fighter, HELENA BONHAM CARTER – The King’s Speech, HAILEE STEINFELD – True Grit, JACKI WEAVER – Animal Kingdom, MELISSA LEO – The Fighter

My prediction: Amy Adams The Fighter. She offended the Irish last year with the hideous Leap year but she has atoned herself this year for her performance in this Irish based drama.

I’d like to see Helena Bonham Carter win for The King’s speech. Helena is and has been one of the most watchable and mesmerizing actresses around. Who would begrudge her an award this year?


ANOTHER YEAR, THE FIGHTER – Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, INCEPTION – Christopher Nolan, THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT – Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg, THE KING’S SPEECH – David Seidler

My prediction: Christopher Nolan – Inception

I’d like to see Christopher Nolan – Inception. It won’t atone for his bemusing snub in the best category but it would at least be some acknowledgment of his contribution to one of the best films of last year.




My prediction: The Social Network

I’d like to see The Social Network win.

What do you think will win the top awards? Are there any films you would have liked to have seen nominated that aren’t? Have your say and comment or tweet me @filmfelladarren


About Filmfella Darren
Film critic, writer and long-time cinema appreciator. I write about cinema matters, because cinema matters. Like your clothes and your laptops, my articles were made in Taiwan.

One Response to Oscars 2011 nominations and predictions

  1. FilmFella Lozz to Filmfella Darren

    Do you not think that Shutter Island was worthy of nomination, including picture, director and actor?

    I agree that Christopher Nolan should’ve been recognised this year; I can’t imagine that making Inception completely coherant for the majority of the cinema-going public, all whilst allowing for personal interpretation was an easy feat at all. But that’s the Academy for you.

    We’ve mirrored each other’s comments regarding awarding a director (or actor) for a film (or role) that they didn’t deserve it for. Surely, the Oscar should go to a director for a particular film and an actor for a specific role. What’s this longevity of service shit all about. I don’t, however, agree, with your enthusiasm for The Social Network. Fincher does not deserve an Oscar for it. He’s done far better stuff, like Fight Club and Seven!

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