The nominations for the 83rd Academy Awards just came in. Here are the nominees with my added commentary.

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Javier Bardem, Biutiful
  • Jeff Bridges, True Grit
  • Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
  • Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
  • James Franco, 127 Hours

Though I haven’t yet been able to see Biutiful, I’ve no doubt that this is a very strong list of nominees. Still, Bardem and Bridges both have recent wins, so they’re not going to win.

Firth has been winning awards for The King’s Speech left and right and he’s coming off a nomination for last year’s The Single Man, so this really is his to lose. I personally think that Franco and Eisenberg did better work in their respective roles, but they’re both young rising stars. They’ll get their second chances if they keep playing their cards right.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Christian Bale, The Fighter
  • John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
  • Jeremy Renner, The Town
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Kids are All Right
  • Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

What is Renner doing here? He’s not going to win and it’s not like he did anything in The Town that he didn’t do in The Hurt Locker. That slot would have been much better-used if it went to Vincent Cassel (Black Swan), Armie Hammer (The Social Network) or Andrew Garfield (either The Social Network or Never Let Me Go).

Pleased as I am to see the actors of Winter’s Bone get some credit, there’s no way Hawkes will win. A win for Ruffalo would be a pleasant surprise, but the movie’s maltreatment of his character will probably take its toll in voter goodwill. This comes down to Rush and Bale, both of whom are in transparent awards-bait roles. The difference is that Rush carried his movie in a wonderful partnership with Firth, whereas The Fighter was essentially built around Bale’s character. This is why Rush deserves the award, but Bale is going to win it.

Best Actress in a Leading Role:

  • Annette Bening, The Kids are All Right
  • Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
  • Natalie Portman, Black Swan
  • Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Still haven’t seen Blue Valentine or Rabbit Hole, though I expect to do both very soon. Bening did some solid work and I’m pleased as punch to see Lawrence get a nomination, but Portman’s got this locked up. She’s already picked up several awards for the film and her crackerjack performance was a crucial part of what made Black Swan the amazing film it is. Pity there isn’t room in there for Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go), though.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

  • Amy Adams, The Fighter
  • Helena Bonham-Carter, The King’s Speech
  • Melissa Leo, The Fighter
  • Hailee Stansfield, True Grit
  • Jackie Weaver, Animal Kingdom

Poor Hailee Stansfield. She was so prominent and amazing in True Grit that she deserved a Best Actress nom, but the producers and studio execs apparently knew she couldn’t win against Portman. So they bumped her back to Best Supporting Actress, where she’s going to lose to Leo. I thought that Bonham-Carter was solid and I was very fond of Adams, in spite of the fact that her character was horribly written (I missed out on Animal Kingdom). Still, Leo has already won several awards for her poignant depiction of the film’s antagonist. Her character — an overbearing white trash mother who insists that she knows best despite all evidence to the contrary — was nothing new and I found her totally unlikable, though I’ll admit that Leo knocked it out of the park.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • 127 Hours
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone

What the hell is Toy Story 3 doing in there? Don’t get me wrong, I loved that movie, but the screenplay for it has no right to be among those other phenomenally-written movies. Seriously, if there was any justice, that slot would’ve gone to Never Let Me Go instead.

Winter’s Bone doesn’t have any juice behind it, the Coens already have a recent win and the Academy voters probably won’t go for a screenplay that had more monologuing than dialoguing. The Social Network is going to win this and rightly so.

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Another Year
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • The King’s Speech

Another Year — a film I haven’t seen — is apparently a British film about an elderly couple and their friends. Why that film got nominated instead of Black Swan, I don’t have a fucking clue.

The Fighter was loaded with cliched dialogue and half-assed character arcs. Inception had plot holes and bad exposition out the wazoo. The Kids Are All Right botched its ending horribly. The King’s Speech wins by default.

Best Art Direction:

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Inception
  • The King’s Speech
  • True Grit

I expect that the Academy voters will wait until Deathly Hallows Part 2 to start pouring on accolades, as they did with Lord of the Rings. I expect that Alice in Wonderland will win because it’s Tim Burton, but fuck that. No film deserves this award more than Inception does. Except maybe Black Swan, which strangely isn’t listed here.

Best Direction:

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

Such a pity there wasn’t room for Christopher Nolan, Danny Boyle or Mark Romanek on this list. Oh well.

Again, the Coens have recent trophies in this category and they’re going up against films with far more goodwill, so they’re not going to win. Other than that, this field is wide open and any one of them could win. I dearly wish that Aronofsky would take the statuette, but the other three have been getting so much more awards love. If I had to guess which one will win… I’d tell you to ask me again after the 29th, when the Directors’ Guild Award winners will be announced.

Best Picture:

  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids are All Right
  • The King’s Speech
  • 127 Hours
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone

It pleases me to see we’ve got such a good list of nominees this year. I only wish that The Kids Are All Right or The Fighter could’ve been bumped off to make room for Never Let Me Go (are you seeing a pattern yet? Seriously, go see that movie — apparently, the Academy hasn’t).

The awards wins so far haven’t been going in the favor of Black Swan and I consider that a shame. When push comes to shove, this award will either go to The Social Network or The King’s Speech. I’d consider the former to be more likely, but the latter pulled off an upset “Best Picture” win at the Producers’ Guild Awards and that carries a lot of weight. Again, which way the Directors’ Guild goes will be very telling.

And now, for some miscellany…

Best Cinematography: You’ll hear no complaining from me, no matter who wins this. Still, I’d bet on True Grit. Roger Deakins is pretty much unbeatable here.

Best Editing: Another no-lose situation, though I wish that there was room in here for Inception and Shutter Island as well. All signs point to 127 Hours for this one.

Best Visual Effects: I’ll be fuming if Inception loses to Alice in Wonderland in this category. Iron Man 2 is a pretty good dark horse candidate, though. But where are the nominations for Tron: Legacy or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World?

Best Animated Picture: Toy Story 3 is probably going to win, though I’d consider How to Train Your Dragon a strong dark horse.

Best Documentary Feature: I missed out on Restrepo and Exit Through the Gift Shop, though I’ve heard good things about both. My money’s on the latter for the win, though.

Best Costume Design: I wish The Tempest stood any chance in hell, but this will probably go to Alice in Wonderland. Why weren’t Black Swan or Tron: Legacy nominated here?

Best Makeup: I’m just grateful that Alice in Wonderland wasn’t nominated for this one as well. The only nominee that remotely deserves this award is The Wolf Man.

Best Original Score: This one just pisses me off. Daft Punk made the single greatest soundtrack of the year, so phenomenal and revolutionary that even those who hate Tron: Legacy with a fiery passion will admit that the score kicks ass, and the Academy didn’t grant it any recognition. Fuck that. The Social Network will win, and I won’t deny that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross deserved it, but not nearly as much as Daft Punk deserved that statuette instead.

Best Original Song: Scott Pilgrim didn’t get a nod? Then fuck it.

Best Sound Editing: So Unstoppable is now an Oscar-nominated film. My cup runneth over with joy. Inception will probably win this one, though I’d love to see Tron: Legacy get this instead. Pity Scott Pilgrim got snubbed here, though.

Best Sound Mixing: And Salt got an Oscar nomination too?! Seriously, WTF?! Again, Inception is the odds-on favorite, though I wouldn’t mind seeing a win for The King’s Speech or The Social Network. And again, Scott Pilgrim got nothing.

Basically, it boils down to this: Never Let Me Go and Shutter Island got snubbed and a whole bunch of technical noms that should’ve gone to Black Swan, Tron: Legacy and Scott Pilgrim went to inferior films, while True Grit got a bunch of nominations for awards it won’t win. The whole night is pretty much going to be a tug-of-war between The King’s Speech and The Social Network, and we’ve still got a few awards shows to go before then to provide clues as to which will win.

If anything happens to change my views between now and February 27th, I’ll be sure to post a follow-up. In the meantime, what are your thoughts and predictions?