Zap2it's Oscar predictions: 'King's Speech,' 'Social Network' and who will and should win

oscar-predictions-2011.jpgAs you may have heard, the Academy Awards are on Sunday (Feb. 27). We're looking forward to seeing how hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway do, what people will be wearing and all the usual Oscar-night trappings.

We're also curious to see how our pundit skills shape up. "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network" are the top picks for best picture, according to most awards watchers, but there are a raft of strong contenders from other films in the acting, writing and directing categories.

As for who should win? We've got opinions on that too. Read on for our picks for who will be taking home the little gold guy, and who really deserves to be. The Oscars air live at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 PT Sunday on ABC.

Best actress

Will win: Natalie Portman, "Black Swan." Though we wouldn't be (entirely) upset if Annette Bening did indeed throw pundits' Oscar ballots and office pools into overdrive, we're sticking with Portman as a safe bet. Academy members have traditionally favored choosing the younger female and even ingenue actresses such as Portman alongside a distinguished "Hollywood statesman" for best actor. As Goldderby's awards guru Tom O'Neil points out, acceptance speeches at awards prior to the Oscars are sometimes almost "rehearsals" in terms of who the Academy chooses. If this theory is true, then Portman scored major points for her entertaining, comedic and even slightly potty-mouthed speech moments. Plus on an entirely unrelated and vapid note, Portman has positively radiated on every red carpet this season and is quite possibly one of the most stunning pregnant women we've ever seen.

Should win: Natalie Portman. Oscars' conventional prognostication signs of wisdom all point to Natalie Portman completing her "Black Swan" Awards Season World Tour with a final performance at the podium for a best actress acceptance speech. Portman has pretty much swept all the pre-cursor awards (Golden Globes, SAG), which usually indicates Oscar is a sure thing. However, there has been an 11th hour groundswell among some experts and pundits in support of Annette Bening upsetting for her super-solid, yet more understated performance in "The Kids Are All Right"; Deadline Hollywood's Pete Hammond has picked Bening to win the Academy Award.

-- Joseph Anthony Kapsch

Best actor

Will win: There are a few inevitabilities in store at the 2011 show, and one of them is Colin Firth. His performance as stuttering King George VI in "The King's Speech" has already earned him a Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award. It's his Oscar. Sunday is just the coronation.

Should win: It's tempting to go with Javier Bardem on this one. He's an actor of the highest caliber, and his performance in "Biutiful" is one of the year's best ... but this really is Firth's year. Bardem already has an Oscar. And Penelope Cruz. He's still a winner.

-- Mikey O'Connell

hailee-steinfeld-true-grit-.jpgBest supporting actress

Will win: Melissa Leo has been getting the nod from just about every awards show so far (save the BAFTAs, which gave everything to "The King's Speech," including possibly some categories it wasn't even nominated for). Despite Leo's bonkers self-styled Oscar campaign, look for another wacky acceptance speech from this star of "The Fighter."

Should win: Hailee Steinfeld managed to own "True Grit" despite being surrounded by excellent male performances from Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper. Hailee should really be up for the best actress category, but since nobody can usurp Natalie Portman's reign this year, I'm glad she at least has a chance in the supporting category.

-- Andrea Reiher

Best supporting actor

Will win: Without a doubt, Christian Bale. This category is filled with amazing nominees, and while they all deserve some serious recognition for their roles, this is Bale's year. He's already taken home a slew of awards for his part in "The Fighter," and we don't see that stopping on Oscar night. Were Bale not a factor, we think Jeremy Renner ("The Town") and John Hawkes ("Winter's Bone") could certainly have a shot at the award, but we're confident that there will be no upsets here.

Should win: Without a doubt, Christian Bale. "The Fighter" was one of my favorite movies this year, and that's thanks in large part to Bale's incredible portrayal the washed up and drug addled but well-meaning big bro, Dicky Eklund. I even caught being taken out of the movie in a few instances with pure appreciation for the performance.

-- Sophie Schillaci

david-fincher-gi-320.jpgBest director

Will win: "The Social Network's" David Fincher. While "TSN" and "The King's Speech" are in a tight race for best picture, I'm pretty sure Tom Hooper won't pull off a surprise win a la Kathryn Bigelow last year.

Should win: First, let me just start off with this: Christopher Nolan SHOULD have at least been nominated for "Inception." His work was extraordinary, and he fully deserved recognition from the Academy. OK, now that that's out of the way, here's who should win on Hollywood's biggest night: David Fincher. He perfectly captured an entire generation in a single film, which is no small task.

-- Tierney Bricker

Best original screenplay

Will win: "The King's Speech" will take the prize, because, well, it deserves it. The screenplay about a bromance between stuttering King George VI and his speech therapist Lionel Logue (in a period long before the term "bromance" was coined) is at the same time a throwback to the British period pieces that dominated the early 2000s, yet it feels fast and laugh-out-loud funny at times, and it offers an intriguing look behind the crown. The fact that I went into the film because it was an Oscar favorite and thinking it would be stodgy and hard to relate to, but walked out surprised at how much I enjoyed it, is a testimony to the quality of the screenplay.
 
Should win: "The King's Speech," for all the reasons above. Of course, "Inception" is probably its biggest rival in this category, but still, the feat accomplished by "The King's Speech" writer David Seidler around a story that has heart and comedy amid dire circumstances should be rewarded.

-- Jethro Nededog

Best adapted screenplay

Will win: "The Social Network." It's a lock. Only Aaron Sorkin could make a movie about a bunch of privileged kids talking about themselves and turn it into a thrill ride.

Should win: "The Social Network." I saw the movie months ago and still quote it constantly. Plus, I want to see Sorkin make his acceptance speech.

-- Carina Adly MacKenzie

Best picture

Will win: It's pretty much a two-movie race between "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network." On the one hand, you have a traditional, uplifting historical biopic filled with Academy-pedigreed actors, and on the other, you have a less traditional, sharp-edged biopic filled with young up-and-comers. Both have weathered allegations that they play fast and loose with the facts, so that's not much of a factor. Given the Academy's usual penchant for the safe choice, the pick here is "The King's Speech."

Should win: In terms of technical achievement and storytelling prowess, "The Social Network" probably deserves it. But none of the other best picture contenders left me walking out the theater on a bigger high than the third biopic in the race, "The Fighter." There's an energy to David O. Russell's movie that is completely infectious, and while it's a huge underdog and incredibly unlikely to win, I'd love to see it happen.

-- Rick Porter

What are your Oscar picks? Let us know in the comments.
Photo/Video credit: The Weinstein Co., Columbia Pictures, Paramount, Getty Images
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