Oscar predictions for big gay betting pools

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imageIt’s like Hollywood’s Super Bowl combined with a fashion show and rolled into one gay ol’ package. The Academy Awards are Sunday night, hosted by Anne Hathaway and James Franco.

Luckily, LGBT representation on the ballots is part of this year’s ceremony. That certainly includes “The Kids Are All Right’s” out Lisa Cholodenko (read our interview). She was excluded from the Best Director field, but she’s up for Best Original Screenplay.

And as far as predicted winners in the biggest categories, bets are good that Best Actress will go to a performer either playing a lesbian (Annette Bening in “The Kids Are All Right”) or an actress playing a sorta lesbian in her dreams (Natalie Portman in “Black Swan”).

The real drama of the night, though, is the battle brewing between the two heavyweights for Best Picture. Forget Team Jacob and Team Edward — they have nothing on the riff between Team “The King’s Speech” and Team “The Social Network.” Like the “Twilight” boys, each side has rabid supporters and bared fangs.

A month ago, “The Social Network” couldn’t lose an award; now it’s having trouble winning anything. Oscar land is apparently a lot like fashion — as Heidi Klum infamously coos, “One minute you’re in — and the next, you’re out.” Say what you want to about former Miramax head (and current Weinstein Company head honcho) Harvey Weinstein, but the man can run an Oscar campaign. He made Mira Sorvino and Robert Begnini matter long enough to win statues before they disappeared from sight. With him behind “The King’s Speech,” it is mowing down those poor little computer geeks of “The Social Network.” Unless some Oscar ballots get lost in the mail, our prediction is that Sunday will be “The King’s Speech’s” night.

Hosts Hathaway and Franco will try to cater to the younger crowd and make the notoriously long night hip again. They are both likable and talented and not above poking fun at themselves. Our hope is that Hathaway doesn’t don her upcoming “Catwoman” suit and act all Sean Young bat-shitty. And that James Franco will not re-enact his “127 Hours” knife stunt onstage — or tell us all yet again that he is a heterosexual.

For those racing to get their Oscar pools done, including the LGBT betting pool benefiting Out On Film that you can enter by Saturday at midnight for prizes, here are some quick predictions:

imageBEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
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”)

Preference and Prediction: Bale
With all the sudden momentum for “The King’s Speech,” Geoffrey Rush has a real chance. But the performance by Christian Bale (photo) was just too formidable to ignore – and Rush is a former winner.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams (“The Fighter”)
Helena Bonham Carter (“The King’s Speech”)
Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”)
Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”)
Jacki Weaver (“Animal Kingdom”)

Preference: Weaver; Prediction: Carter or Steinfeld
A legitimate case could be made for everyone except Weaver, which sucks since it’s a dynamite performance. Leo’s recent For Your Consideration ads (unauthorized by her studio) have been the talk of the industry the last few weeks, and not for the right reasons. Even without the ad controversy, this is a tight contest, especially since Leo and Adams—from the same film—are likely to split votes.

A betting man would still go with Leo, considering she has won everything but RuPaul’s Drag Race for her performance. Yet this is a category is known for upsets, and one could definitely happen here. Roll the dice and the fortunes say: Carter, part of the “King’s Speech” juggernaut and an MVP for her work in 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Ironically, hers is the weakest performance in the field. If not her, look for the charming Steinfeld to claim gold, although it’s really a lead role.

imageBEST ACTRESS
Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”)
Nicole Kidman (“Rabbit Hole”)
Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”)
Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”)
Michelle Williams (“Blue Valentine”)

Preference: Tie between Bening and Portman (photos); Prediction: Portman, in a squeaker
This is a dandy race. “Black Swan” has proven to be a box office success, but little separates it and “The Kids Are All Right” in terms of Oscar nominations. If there was any year for a tie, it should be this year. Bening is Hollywood royalty, and she is overdue. It would probably kill her to finally have Hilary Swank out of her category and then lose to another actress 20 years younger. Yet Portman is immensely talented and held her movie together almost single-handedly. It’s also a bigger, trickier performance, which should give her the edge.

BEST ACTOR
Javier Bardem (“Biutiful”)
Jeff Bridges (“True Grit”)
Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”)
Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”)
James Franco (“127 Hours”)

Preference and Prediction: Firth
This was a lock a month ago and nothing has changed. Bardem and Bridges have won before, and Eisenberg and Franco are first time nominees. Were it not for Bridges last year, Firth would have won for his role as a gay man in “A Single Man.” He’ll take home the trophy this year as he rightly should – and he won’t stutter giving this speech.

BEST DIRECTOR
Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”)
The Coen Brothers (“True Grit”)
David Fincher (“The Social Network”)
Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”)
David O. Russell (“The Fighter”)

Preference and Prediction: Fincher
For a while, this was a no-brainer. Fincher has been around a while and built a resume of fine, meticulously made films. Rumor is he’s not the most popular person around Hollywood backlots, however, and if a “King’s Speech” total sweep happens, Hooper will win. Yet even those who prefer “The King’s Speech” have to admit that it’s nowhere as complex as “The Social Network.” Go with Fincher for the win – and if Hooper steals the prize, may the ghost of Barbara Hershey’s crazed mother in “Black Swan” haunt him for the rest of his life.

imageBEST 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”

Preference: “The Social Network”; Prediction: “The King’s Speech” (bottom photos)
After the Golden Globes in January, folks were complaining that the Academy Awards were a foregone conclusion. That was before “The King’s Speech” went on its tear, winning the Producers Guild, Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild top awards. Sure, “Inception,” “True Grit,” “The Fighter,” “Toy Story 3” and “Black Swan” have their followers, but this is another two-man field.

Despite its acclaim, “The Social Network” simply peaked too early. “The King’s Speech” is a damn fine film, and it’s right up the Academy’s alley, at exactly the right time. It’s the one to beat. And for rabid Oscar trivia buffs: “The King’s Speech” may go down in history as the only Best Picture winner to have shared a set with a gay porn film. Yep, the same set was used for the XXX rated “Snookered,” in which the male lead had more than his speech adjusted.

The 83rd Academy Awards air Sunday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

imageJim Farmer is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and public relations professional specializing in film promotions. He has been a theater and pop-culture critic for more than a dozen years and is the director of Atlanta’s annual Out On Film gay and lesbian film festival.

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