It’s that time of year again…

Black Swan

Natalie Portman in 'Black Swan'

The nominations for the 83rd annual Academy Awards have been announced – and let’s be honest, there weren’t that many surprises. But there were one or two…

Most noticeably absent in the Best Director category was Inception helmsman Christopher Nolan. He was bumped out of the category by the much more Academy-friendly Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men, anyone?). Yup, it seems the Academy is allergic to all things science-fiction, and while Inception picked up eight nominations it’s hardly the runaway favourite in any of its categories.

Also absent – which was, in my opinion, a travesty – was a supporting actor nomination for The Social Network star Andrew Garfield. His on-screen chemistry with Jesse Eisenberg produced one of the stand-out partnerships of the year – and while Jesse scored the nod for his role as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg, Andrew was absent. [Note: My huge crush on Andrew Garfield aside, he’s ridiculously talented. Go rent Boy A. Now.]

I still think it’s a little too earlier in the season to start accurately predicting the winners, but I think Colin Firth has the best actor award in the bag. He’s simply astounding in The King’s Speech ­– which itself is nominated for 12 Oscars, despite its made-for-BBC feel.

Natalie Portman for Black Swan also seems a sure thing – I haven’t seen the film yet (our press preview is only tomorrow) but I’m chomping at the bit. She’s hands-down the strongest contender in the best actress category – Annette Bening was fabulous in The Kids Are All Right but the Academy tends to prefer darker roles for their leading ladies.

Best Picture I think is a clear three-horse race between The King’s Speech, The Social Network and True Grit. I haven’t seen True Grit yet (that preview is only in February) but the critics are simply raving about it – as well as 14-year-old star Hailee Steinfeld , who picked up a nod in the best supporting actress category.

My other, less certain predictions? Christian Bale for best supporting actor in The Fighter – he was sensational.  Best supporting actress nominees Melissa Leo and Amy Adams – Bale’s The Fighter co-stars – were fabulous, though everybody’s going crazy about Steinfeld’s performance – so I think this category’s pretty open, with Leo leading by a hair. In fact, the only person who wasn’t nominated in The Fighter was its leading man – Mark Wahlberg. I’m not Wahlberg’s biggest fan – I find him terribly bland at times – but he does play the unlikely hero so, so well.

And if Toy Story 3 doesn’t win the best animated feature film Oscar, I’ll march down to the Kodak Theatre with a pitchfork myself.

See the nominees in the other, more technical categories here.

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