Dixon's Oscar Picks: The Kids Are A'ight

It's a little embarrassing. The Oscars are going out of their way to court younger viewers for this year's ceremony, snagging dewy lithe James Franco & Anne Hathaway and producing a series of cringe-worthy, pandering commercials (The kids like the hippety-hop, right? Let's use that one rap I remember my son listening to in 1994!). But despite all that mortifyingly silly Cool Dad posturing, the Academy is still set to give its big award to the fustiest, fuddy-duddiest movie in the pack, The King's Speech. But, for my money, the best picture of the year was literally for the kids.

In fact, my three favorite movies of the year -- Toy Story 3, The Social Network, and Inception -- were either explicitly targeted at the the young, told a story about young enterprise, or had a youthful edge and energy. But if there's one thing Oscar has a tough time ignoring, it's movies featuring a room with a view with a staircase and a pond.

BEST PICTURE

Much like our fearless ginger reviewer, Stephanie Zacharek, I tend to slip into a bit of panic come summer tentpole time: what if we just get crappy movies like this for the rest of the year? But this year, any worry I had was wiped away by Toy Story 3, which was, for me, hands down the best film of the year. Part musing on the necessarily painful pangs of the passage of time and part thrilling escape flick, more than any other movie it made me feel something, and stuck with me months after watching it. And while probable winner The King's Speech isn't a bad movie, I don't think it'll have the same kind of permanence in our collective memories. More likely, it'll go locked in the same curio cabinet where we keep The English Patient and Nana's hummel collectibles. And in about four or five years, we'll be trying to answer a trivia question where it's the answer, and while it's almost on the tip of our tongue, we just won't be able to recall its name.

Should win: Toy Story 3

Will win: The King's Speech

BEST ACTOR

I actually would be well satisfied if any of these five gentlemen took home the Oscar. For me, I marveled at James Franco's raw talent that kept eyes glued to the screen despite the stomach-churning grodiness that everyone was clenched and waiting for. But cosmic-lock Colin Firth's performance made me feel every ounce of frustration, embarassment and white-hot rage that coursed through each one of Bertie's stammered phrases. So, go on, boo; I ain't mad atcha.

Should win: James Franco

Will win: Colin Firth

BEST ACTRESS

Awards season in movieland turns into such a Bataan Death March that, by the end, you begin to see mirages of movement, just to pass the time. I don't know why or how some of the Oscar cognoscenti are now claiming Annette Bening is coming up from behind to wrest the award from Natalie's hands. Ain't gonna happen. Nor should it.

Should win: Natalie Portman

Will win: Natalie Portman

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

The smaller The Fighter gets in my rearview mirror, the less impressed I am with it as a whole, with the important exception of Christian Bale's Dicky Ecklund. More than just a collection of actorly tics and tricks, he was the movie's sole beating heart, wedged inbetween a somnambulant Mark Wahlburg and playing-to-the-outer-reaches-of-the-cosmos Melissa Leo. Besides, if any superhero was going to have an Oscar, wouldn't it be Batman?

Should win: Christian Bale

Will win: Christian Bale

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Oh, Melissa. Just when I figured would we have to start wrinkling our noses the same way we did when Renee Zewellger won an Oscar, you come out with the single-most wrong-headed Oscar ad in a generation. And for that, I say THANK YOU. Because now we might have a chance to reward Helena Bonham Carter's subtle, underplayed performance, or Hailee Steinfeld's explosive debut or Jacki Weaver's ferocious maternalism. Much like Santa, our presents this year might come courtesy of strange person wearing a big fur coat.

Should win: Hailee Steinfeld

Will win: Hailee Steinfeld

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Ten bucks says that the other nominees barely raise their heads from playing Angry Birds when they announce Aaron Sorkin's name.

Should win: The Social Network

Will win: The Social Network

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

I have a sinking feeling that the Academy is going to reward David Seidler's shoddy history and stilted flow (did Bertie & Logue HAVE to a sudden falling out before the coronation that was almost INSTANTLY resolved?). Better to reward the intricate latticework of storytelling bravado from Christoper Nolan's Inception.

Should win: Inception

Will win: The King's Speech

BEST DIRECTOR

Despite Tom Hooper's oddball win at the DGA's, this is David Fincher's to lose. And thank god that he deserves it this year with such a strong movie, as opposed to his nomination for Benjamin Button a few years back. Has there ever been such a precipitous drop in quality as there was from Fincher's Zodiac to Button? The former was a thrilling burst of pure moviemaking while the latter was stagnant and bloodless.

Should win: The Social Network

Will win: The Social Network

And then of course, the non-sexy, let's-get-another-drink-from-the-fridge categories:

BEST ANIMATED FILM: Toy Story 3

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Biutiful

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Roger Deakins, True Grit

BEST EDITING: The Social Network

BEST ART DIRECTION: The King's Speech

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: The King's Speech

BEST SCORE: Inception

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: "We Belong Together" Toy Story 3

BEST MAKEUP: The Wolfman

BEST SOUND EDITING: Inception

BEST SOUND MIXING: Inception

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Inception

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Inside Job

BEST DOCUMENTARY (short subject): Killing in the Name

BEST SHORT FILM (Animated): Day and Night

BEST SHORT FILM (Live action): God of Love



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