Oscar Predictions 2011: Best Picture

Last Updated: December 9, 2010

The biggest question mark for Best Picture is still The Way Back. I could see it being right up Oscar’s alley, or being a flop (a la The Lovely Bones last year). Other big questions for the 8-10 spots (which, in my opinion, are the only three spots up for serious debate) is whether the Academy will favour crowd-pleasing blockbusters (The Town, The Fighter) or indie fare (Another Year, Winter’s Bone). And will Black Swan finally earn Aronofsky the respect he deserves, or will voters have no idea what to do with it?

Red = virtually guaranteed a nomination

Orange = good chance of nomination

Yellow = a strong contender

Green = in the mix

Blue = longshot

Oscar Predictions Home | Best Actor | Best Actress | Best Supporting Actor | Best Supporting Actress

1. The Social Network

There is no way that this film isn’t getting nominated. It won the National Board of Review, and it’s been getting raves across the board. It’s topical, and it’s gotten people talking.

Drawbacks: It’s not typical Oscar bait, and the subject could turn some voters off.

2. The King’s Speech

Again, The King’s Speech is definitely getting nominated. It’s shaping up to be one of the key contenders for awards season, and it’s maintained huge buzz since TIFF

Drawbacks: The subject, cast, and tone of the film is very classically “Oscar”, which seems to be turning some viewers off.

3. Toy Story 3

Massive critical and commercial success. With the field open to 10 nominees, animation is far more likely to be recognized.

Drawbacks: Last year’s Best Picture nomination for Up could be seen as sufficient recognition for children’s movies for the time being.

4. 127 Hours

The film is solidly gaining buzz and a wider release. It’s getting really strong reviews, and a generally good public response.

Drawbacks: Its claustrophobic atmosphere and apparently graphic moments may not go over well with the general public.

5. Inception

Some cited the new 10-nominee format as a direct response to the snubbing of The Dark Knight back in 2008.

Drawbacks: Hindsight may not treat the film so fondly. Summer action blockbusters are a tough sell to the Academy.

6. True Grit

Westerns have served the Coens well, and early reviews for True Grit are very promising. It could be a huge Christmas movie.

Drawbacks: It depends how it goes over once more people have seen it.

7. The Fighter

It’s a very Oscar-friendly biopic, and the reviews are backing it up, so far. A quartet (!) of acclaimed performances will only help.

Drawbacks: The Academy has never been huge David O. Russell fans, and there could be backlash.

8. The Kids Are All Right

A feel-good comedy with acclaimed performances. Academy is often seen as sympathetic to films with gay characters.

Drawbacks: Doesn’t have as wide of an appeal as films like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine. And the early release could cause it to be forgotten.

9. Black Swan

It’s been getting a mix of quite solid reviews and all-out raves. Aronofsky may be too established for The Academy to ignore any longer.

Drawbacks: If The Wrestler couldn’t get a Best Picture or Director nomination, will this substantially weirder movie be the one to break the Aronofsky snubbing?

10. Winter’s Bone

It got all sorts of love from the Golden Satellite Awards, and earned a heap of Independent Spirit Award nominations. It took a dip in buzz in the summer, but seems to be on the rise again.

Drawbacks: It’s still a very small film with an early release date. Sundance love doesn’t always translate to the Oscars.


Other Possibilities

11. The Way BackIt’s still a huge unknown at this point. It could be a last minute contender, but time is running out.

12. The Town – Audiences love this film, but it might be too standard of an action/crime blockbuster.

13. Another Year – Leslie Manville’s buzz (including an NBR win!) will help, but this film still seems very low-profile.

14. Rabbit Hole – It’s quietly earning good buzz, but if it gets recognition, it’s more likely to be for the performances.

15. Blue Valentine
– The scuffle over the rating will help (the proposed NC-17 got attention, but now that it’s R-rated, it will get a bigger release), but it still might be too small or performance-based.

16. Somewhere – Where’s the buzz? It won at the Venice Film Festival, but it doesn’t seem to have any awards momentum.


Previous Predictions

November 2010

1. The Social Network

2. The King’s Speech

3. Toy Story 3

4. Inception

5. 127 Hours

6. The Kids Are All Right

7. The Fighter

8. True Grit

9. Black Swan

10. Winter’s Bone



October 2010

1. The Social Network

2. The King’s Speech

3. Toy Story 3

4. Inception

5. 127 Hours

6. The Kids Are All Right

7. True Grit

8. Another Year

9. Black Swan

10. The Way Back


September 2010

1. Toy Story 3

2. The King’s Speech

3. 127 Hours

4. Inception

5. The Social Network

6. The Kids Are All Right

7. Another Year

8. The Way Back

9. True Grit

10. Black Swan


August 2010

1. Toy Story 3

2. Inception

3. The Kids Are All Right

4. Another Year

5. The Fighter

6. The Tree of Life

7. The Social Network

8. The Way Back

9. True Grit

10. Blue Valentine


July 2010

The Fighter




Never Let Me Go


Toy Story 3

The Tree of Life

True Grit

The Way Back


March 2010

The American

Black Swan

The Fighter



Love and Other Drugs

Never Let Me Go

The Social Network


The Tree of Life


Back to 2011 Oscar Predictions page

3 responses to “Oscar Predictions 2011: Best Picture

  1. What is that has caused “Miral” to drop off your radar? You’re not alone in this assessment from other Oscar prognosticators, I’m just curious. Also interested in your thoughts on Tree of Life (uncertain release date?), Barney’s Version, For Colored Girls (too indie?), Ghost Writer (too old?), Secretariat (though it’s box office results make that less likely) and even Shutter Island (too blandly commercial?).

    Personally I’m slightly doubtful of both Kids are Alright and a little of Another Year, but as I said, personal. This is a great blog – I hope you write for your campus paper.

    • Miral has dropped out of my predictions mainly because of the weak reviews it got at festivals like TIFF. I’m kind of surprised that it was pretty much panned from the blogs (considering it’s a Julian Schnabel film) but it would need to make a huge comeback.

      The Tree of Life got picked up Fox Searchlight, and is going to get a 2011 release date, I believe. As for the others:

      Barney’s Version – I think that Paul Giamatti could be a Best Actor darkhorse if he film gets a 2010 release date. It’s starting to get late for it to join the race, though.

      For Coloured Girls – No one seems to know which actress to predict at this point, so most are just leaving it out entirely (including me, unfortunately). Even though this is a much more serious film for Tyler Perry, I think it could still be a smaller hit and get some momentum.

      The Ghost Writer – I think you’re right that the early release date will kill it. I loved the film, but I don’t think it has a shot at getting much Oscar love.

      Secretariat – A lot of peope thought that audience reception would determine its chances, and as you said, the opening box office was unimpressive. I think it still has a shot for Best Picture (as does Lane for Actress), but not a great one.

      Shutter Island – Some are still predicting Leonardo DiCaprio or even the picture, but I don’t think it’s going to get any major nominations. It was fun and well-made, but it was basically a standard blockbuster thriller that just happened to have big names attached. And while it did well at the box office, it wasn’t the phenomenon that something like Inception was.

      And I wouldn’t be too surprised if Another Year or even The Kids Are All Right got left out of Best Picture, especially if something like The Fighter, Hereafter, or Conviction (more “standard” Oscar films) become hits.

      Thanks for reading and for the kind words. I do write for my university’s paper in the Arts & Entertainment section!

      • Interesting, I hadn’t seen those Miral reviews. Too bad, as the trailer made it look great.

        I was mainly looking at these films from a best picture perspective, rather than Oscars more generally, but I think your analysis is bang on. I’m surprised Giamanti has so few people guessing at him – beyond Firth and maybe Franco, there seem few “certain choices – but I’d likely agree that a Best Picture nom is out of reach for Barney. With Colored Girls I am somewhat less certain. Has anyone seen it? Is there a reason so few people are expecting it? It seems to fit neatly within the category Precious occupied, which could work for or against in my mind. Thoughts?

        Musing more generally, I feel there has to be at least one crowd pleasing and/or feel good movie, ideally a comedy though a Blindside style “triumph” film could suffice. I suppose Toy Story, and from a popularity perspective, Inception, somewhat fill this role, but my instinct would be that would want a more “standard” live action, heartfelt film as well. Conviction looks a little too heavy for this category (though if it’s very good, it could be Million Dollar Baby esque?). Likewise, Somewhere is too down-beat (though it could appear anyways). And I think Made in Dangeham is too British and unlikely to be popular enough to fullfil this category (though again, could squeze in other ways).

        Right now I think it’s filled relatively well by The Kids are Alright, but if that falls out and Secretariat doesn’t have legs, I think it’s down to either Country Strong or Love and Other Drugs. In my view, at least one of these films (or their ilk, if somehow Morning Glory or How Do You Know are less slight than the trailers suggest). The academy likely don’t want a list that is too bleak and art-house heavy, especially with 10 choices. There must be a few selections for the average film-goer, or “the masses.” Some might suggest Shutter Island, The Town or Fair Game for blockbuster appeal, but my sense is that these are all relatively routine affairs, and that another action flick isn’t required next to Inception (as you said re: Shutter).

        Of course, these are hardly hard-fast requirements – who knows how people vote – and it could even even be that if it were true, the “heartfelt/popular” quota gets spread across films, so that Toy Story 3 and Made in Dangeham and Somewhere in conjunction fulfill the allotment. Still, it’s fun/interesting to try and formulate a rationale for the selections, if only to see how the real list obeys or deviates from these assumptions.

        Thanks for your reply and continued insightful commentary. Sometimes the guessing is more fun that seeing the films! If it’s a UofT publication you write for, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for reviews.

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