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February 25, 2011  | by: Brandon Kirby

The Top 2011 Oscar Nominees

We’re just a few days away from the 83rd Annual Academy Awards. While you’re gearing up for the Sunday telecast by filling out your Oscar ballots, entering Oscar pools, and preparing your Oscar watching parties — or none of the above — here’s a rundown of who will win and, more importantly, who should win in some of the night’s biggest categories.

Best Picture

Who Will Win:

The King’s Speech — The historical period piece about the stammering King George VI still stands as the frontrunner to win Best Picture. It appears the academy will go back to awarding the more traditional Oscar-y film as opposed to remaining with the more edgy, critically-acclaimed option such as last year’s The Hurt Locker and 2008′s No Country for Old Men.

Who Should Win:

The Social Network – In terms of not only critical acclaim but smart social observation and sheer enthralling entertainment, David Fincher’s tale of Facebook is a winner. Its potential to dominate with Best Picture has pretty much diminished, but boy would I love to see an upset.

Best Director

King's Speech Director Tom Hooper

Who Will Win:

Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech – This Best Director race is definitely a close one to call. Some predictors are still placing David Fincher as the winner here; it’s true he has dominated most of the directing awards this year. Hooper, however, has the DGA win under his cap which places him as the Oscar frontrunner even if he hasn’t won as many awards as Fincher in the larger picture.

Who Should Win:

David Fincher, The Social Network – Fincher is a wildly talented director that has yet to receive recognition for many of his powerful and memorable films such as Fight Club and Zodiac. Apart from his nomination for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last year, he has not made anything quite as noteworthy as this year’s The Social Network. An award here would be a nice capstone to his extraordinary directorial work thus far.

Best Actor

Natalie Portman nominated for Best Actress

Who Will/Should Win:

Colin Firth, The King’s Speech — The British actor should have won last year for A Single Man, so a win this year for an excellent portrayal of the king with a crippling stutter is more than worthy. Truly the best male performance of the year.

Best Actress

Who Will/Should Win:

Natalie Portman, Black Swan — What a psychologically and physically demanding performance! Portman absolutely astounds here as a ballerina on the brink of losing her mind in pursuit of perfection. After witnessing her performance here, all I wanted to do was give the woman a hug. A win Sunday night is so deserved, even up against tough competition like the wonderful Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right.

Best Supporting Actor:

Who Will Win:

Christian Bale, The Fighter — Bale has already been dominating the awards circuit in this category, and the Oscars will follow suit.

Who Should Win:

Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech — There’s been talk of this “should win” becoming an actual “will win” in a surprise upset over Bale. The likelihood of this? I’m betting on not so much. It would be great, though, because Rush’s performance as the kind and humorous speech therapist who prepared a king for the greatest moment of his life is pitch-perfect.

Hailee Steinfeld nominated for Best Supporting Actress

Best Supporting Actress:

Who Will Win:

Melissa Leo, The Fighter — she is in the same realm of Christian Bale in terms of dominating her category; however, with Amy Adams nominated for the same film in the same category, there are rumblings of a potential upset. Which brings us to who “should win.”

Who Should Win:

Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit — Steinfeld’s performance in the Coen brothers western is a triumph. For such a young actress, she steals the screen and should have — in a perfect world — been placed in the Best Actress category. It seems older actors take priority, however, as her co-star Jeff Bridges was placed in the leading acting category. In any case, if the two Fighter actresses cancel each other out, then a win for the young Steinfeld here would be greatly deserved.

Tune in this Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC to watch this year’s Oscars and find out if your favorites take home the gold.

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