1. Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 is one of, if not the most, highly praised movies of the year. The numbers alone speak for themselves: It has a 99 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a 92 on Metacritic. It’s also the end to a consistently well-reviewed trilogy (Lord of the Rings, anyone?). Add to this a dash of nostalgia and Pixar’s nearly infallible luck at the Oscars, and the Toy Story 3 team had better plan on bringing a wheelbarrow to carry home all their awards. A win for Best Animated Feature is obvious, and it very well may win Best Picture.
2. The King’s Speech
While it won’t be released in the States until later this month, this film already has so much Oscar buzz it’s practically deafening. The Academy might as well give Colin Firth his Oscar now, as his performance is basically the only thing being said about this movie (that and the relatively tame movie’s R-rating because of a few curse words). Many saw Firth’s turn in A Single Man as deserving of the Best Actor award last year, so all signs point to this year as being when he finally gets what he deserves.
If ever there was a film worthy of being called Oscar-bait, Inception is it. The all-star cast, the Academy-favorite director, the score, and, of course, the smart, imaginative screenplay all mean that this movie makes itself a strong contender in multiple categories. While the ensemble cast means that Inception likely won’t receive any acting awards, it’s safe to say it will bag Best Original Screenplay and probably Best Original Score.
4. The Social Network
No one expected The Social Network (or more commonly, Facebook: The Movie) to actually be good. Sure, it may be directed by David Fincher, but one of its stars is Justin Timberlake, of all people. But positive review after positive review came out, and the movie is now generally regarded as a success. The sheer factor of surprise could very well be what gets this film a few Oscar nominations. Since Fincher keeps getting shafted for Best Director (especially for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), this may be the year the Academy decides to hand it over.
5. True Grit
True Grit is a western starring Jeff Bridges and directed by the Coen brothers, who also re-wrote the screenplay from Charles Portis’s 1968 novel of the same name. That alone is worth a handful of Oscars, right? There’s little to no doubt that this movie will be good, but its late release date and the hype surrounding other films may deter this one from winning any of the major awards. Still, True Grit looks like it’ll be a fine example of the raw frontier atmosphere the Coen brothers are so good at creating, which could allow it to pick up some of the more artistic awards like Best Cinematography or Best Art Direction.