With the Hollywood Foreign Press and the Screen Actor Guild already pulling back the curtain on this year’s group of nominees, it will soon be time for the Academy of Arts & Sciences to do the same. This six part series will look at each of the main categories and break down the frontrunners and dark horses of this Oscar season.
David Fincher (“The Social Network”)
No movie so far in 2010 has been as well received as “The Social Network.” Fincher, his cast and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin have been collecting awards and nominations left and right. It would be a true shock not to see it be successful here as well.
David O’Russell (“The Fighter”)
Russell has had a few successful films to his credit, but never one with this much buzz behind it. “The Fighter” has a high talent pedigree and with so many strong performances being turned in, it would only seem logical that the director would be recognized for it.
Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech)
With his movie and his three leads seemingly locks for nomination, there is no reason to believe Hooper won’t be rewarded with his first nomination.
Danny Boyle (“127 Hours”)
Boyle is a former winner who struck gold with “Slumdog Millionaire,” and seems poised to return to the dance with this true story. While both Boyle and his lead, James Franco (also one of this telecast’s co-hosts) are heavy favorites, the trick is that the discussion around the film has been more about them and less about the movie itself, which could hamper its chances down the line.
Christopher Nolan (“Inception”)
Nolan has always been a talented visionary director, but it took “The Dark Knight” to get him into the mainstream spotlight. Now that the public is behind him, his supporters can use that to convince the Academy voters that his time to shine is now. “Inception” was based on an idea he created which was painstakingly thought out; if this year’s category wasn’t such a crowded field, he’d be a lock.
Darren Aronofksy (“Black Swan”)
Aronofsky scored a knockout with last year’s “The Wrestler.” The movie single handedly revived the careers of Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, both of who scored nominations, although in a shocking move, Aronofsky was shut out. While he once again has the hot “it” film, many wonder if he’ll once again be denied a chance at the big prize.
Lisa Chodolenko (“The Kids Are All Right”)
“The Kids Are Alright” has been a quiet success this season, but not many people know who directed it, which will hurt Chodolenko’s chances. While it’s not out of the realm she could snag a nomination, it would be a surprise.
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (“True Grit”)
The Coen brothers have won this category before, but “True Grit” is not gaining the buzz many expected, which could push them out of contention.
The Dark Horses:
Tim Burton (“Alice In Wonderland”)
Burton is known for his darker style, so it is fitting that this year he is a true dark horse in every way. “Wonderland” was well received both critically and financially, but it just doesn’t seem likely that will increase its odds.
Martin Scorsese (“Shutter Island”)
Scorsese shouldn’t be a dark horse, but with four of the five slots virtually locked up, the often nominated director (who finally won in 2007) may be left out. “Shutter Island” was the first big film of 2010, but it may get overshadowed by “Inception” since share the same lead actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and “Inception” is fresher in voters’ minds.
Ben Affleck (“The Town”)
The success of “The Town” surprised everybody and has thrust Affleck into many Oscar conversations. Although as with other contenders, he doesn't seem the most likely to earn the nomination.
Clint Eastwood (“Hereafter”)
Like Scorsese, Eastwood shouldn’t be a dark horse, but unlike Scorsese, his film “Hereafter” was met with less success and after being snubbed for last year’s “Invictus” (which was nominated for Best Picture), his odds aren’t going to be increased.