Oscars 2011 analysis: hits and misses

By Tim Masters
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

image captionWinter's Bone, with newcomer Jennifer Lawrence, has made its mark on the Oscars list

First things first. The King's Speech, as expected, has come out on top and been crowned with 12 Oscar nods, with Colin Firth almost certain to go on and win best actor.

Royal characters have a history of doing well at the Oscars - look at the success of The Queen and Shakespeare in Love.

The best picture showdown looks set to be between The King's Speech and The Social Network.

David Fincher's Facebook movie won best drama at the Golden Globes and has found favour with the main critics groups.

Yet The King's Speech caused an upset at the weekend by winning the top prize from the Producers Guild of America.

The PGA winner often goes on to claim best picture at the Oscars.

But let's not forget how much the Academy likes its boxing heroes. With seven nods, David O Russell's The Fighter could follow in the fancy footsteps of Million Dollar Baby and Rocky.

(Raging Bull won Robert De Niro best actor at the 1980 awards, but missed out on the best film prize.)

In terms of surprises, eyebrows have been raised at the exclusion of Christopher Nolan from the best director list for his mind-bending sci-fi action thriller Inception.

Nolan also missed out on a directing Oscar nomination for Batman film The Dark Knight.

But the film does have eight nominations, including best picture. Could this year be the one where a sci-fi film takes top prize, as Avatar failed to do last year?

One indie film that has elbowed its way onto the best picture list is Debra Granik's Winter's Bone.

The story of a girl's journey across a desolate American landscape in search of her father got a best adapted screenplay nomination and acting nods for Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes.

This year's best picture nominees, correctly predicted by the BBC News website three months ago, also include Toy Story 3, The Kids are All Right and 127 Hours.

The directing category is an all-male line-up, one year after Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the prize for her best picture winner The Hurt Locker.

In the supporting actress there's a competitive fight between Melissa Leo and Amy Adams, both for The Fighter.

Leo won a Golden Globe for her role as the matriarch of a boxing clan, but she missed out on a Bafta nod - which went instead to Adams for her role as fighter Micky Ward's girlfriend.

They face a strong challenge from 14-year-old newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who has been impressing the critics in the Coen brothers' True Grit.

The western comes second to The King's Speech with 10 nominations, which is no mean feat since it was completely snubbed at the Golden Globes.

The acting field also sees Spanish actor Javier Bardem, an Oscar winner in 2008 for his role in the Coens' No Country for Old Men, earn a nomination for his lead role in Mexican drama Biutiful.

Bardem appears to have pushed out acting hopefuls Robert Duvall (Get Low) and Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine).

However, Gosling's co-star in the marital break-up drama, Michelle Williams, has earned herself a best actress nomination, alongside Lawrence, Annette Bening and Nicole Kidman.

But they all have Natalie Portman to beat for her compelling role in ballet shocker Black Swan.

There are plenty of film awards ceremonies between now and the Oscars. Will The King's Speech keep up its head of steam?

All will be revealed when the Academy Awards are held on 27 February.

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