Since its INCEPTION, the Oscars has always been a calculated and intense campaign to crown who is KING of Hollywood’s SOCIAL NETWORK. Every movie executive thinks he is a FIGHTER out to pick a BONE and nab the statuette with TRUE GRIT. In less than 127 HOURS, we will find out at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards.

We have arrived at the moment where Hollywood’s self-important social network of Academy voters, friends, colleagues and sleeping partners (for most) will superpoke one another at the champagne bar, practise winning speeches without stuttering and confer the coveted golden statuettes to the deserving victors at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards on Feb 27 (Feb 28 Singapore time).

But why should you care?

For starters, we are seduced by the drama surrounding the studio fat cats scrambling to outsmart one another in the alley with scare tactics (slighting emails), endorsements (“for your consideration” ads) and childish antics (read: Harvey Weinstein stormed out at the Golden Globes). It’s like watching another episode of Jersey Shore, albeit with lesser makeup and trailer trash talk.

And of course we are fixated on the Oscars because eye candy hosts Anne Hathaway and James Franco have been craftily picked to win younger audiences and stoke the flames of our desires. We can only hope Anne’s chemistry with James will be as good as the one she had with Jake Gyllenhaal in Love and Other Drugs where she pranced around naked half the time. But I digress.

It’s evident the Oscars show producers are doing their darnest to attract younger viewers and hence buzz has been building around the showdown between The Social Network, acclaimed as the hyper nerdy and hipster cool movie of the twenty-something generation and The King’s Speech, the old-fashioned against-all-odds British movie favoured by the older crowd, especially the geriatric folks in the Academy who can still cast a vote ably.

Will The King’s Speech have the last word? Or can the cool nerd in the college block lure the entire academy to “like” it? I guess we have to wait till the totem falls to find out.

Best Actor


We’re looking at a sequel to last year’s fight between Jeff Bridges and Colin Firth, the former who won for Crazy Heart. This year, Bridges’ gritty performance as a Western marshal in True Grit proves the Dude deserves the statuette won but we believe it’s Colin Firth’s year in a category brimming with wonderful performances from Javier Bardem (brutal), Jesse Eisenberg (geek cool) and James Franco (gripping). Firth’s tormented portrayal of a monarch overcoming his stutter has certainly found favours with the older establishment who loves a comeback kid. Long live the King.


The spotlight is on a delicate showdown between Natalie Portman and Annette Bening, the former who put on a physiological and psychological performance in Black Swan and the latter a nuanced and subdued act in The Kids Are All Right. It was frightening to watch Portman the ballet dancer self-destruct in the name of art compared to Bening who strikes a chord with her heartfelt display of anguish and love. In a particular scene where after finding out her partner (played by the equally excellent Julianne Moore) has cheated on her, Bening sat at the dinner table with the cheating partners looking on listless, terrified and angry all at the same time. It had Oscars written on that face alone but we’re guessing Portman will win Best Actress – by a tiptoe.


Is there even any fight (pun intended) in this race? It’s a lockdown on Christian Bale to win for an insane and knockout performance in The Fighter as a former champion boxer sliding into drug addiction and mental breakdown. Props to Geoffrey Rush for squaring off with Colin Firth in The King’s Speech and putting on an articulated performance but Bale will win on his first nomination by a wide margin.


The winning streak might just continue for the cast of The Fighter. Melissa Leo, who has picked up most of the awards leading up to the Oscars, is tipped to win in a category known to have unwittingly caused careers to falter for winning actresses (read: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Connelly). Co-star Amy Adams and Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit might just cause an upset but we think Leo will stick around and score for all the crazy mothers in the world.


As much as we think David Fincher should win for The Social Network, the movie benefited more from a strong screenplay than direction. Money’s on Tom Hooper to win thanks to his win at Directors Guild and besides, The King’s Speech has much more momentum. It’s too close to call but we’re going with the tried-and-tested narrative – Best Picture wins Best Director too.


There’s always a school of thought among pundits, water-cooler speculators and Hollywood insiders on naming the Best Picture – whichever movie has momentum and buzz, whichever movie wins. And what a difference a month or two makes. Just when The Social Network was sweeping the prizes at the critics’ circles, smarty pants began to update their Facebook statuses congratulating on its pending win.

But the victory speeches are being rewritten of late with um, um, The King’s Speech, the uplifting and inspiring tale of a King-in-waiting conquering his stutter and ascending a throne of a nation in a critical time of need. With awards won at the Guilds (Producers, Directors and Screen Actors), the momentum is certainly with the royalty.

We don’t mean to ignore the other contenders, which are all commendable but if anything, the showdown is really between the older establishment which favours a traditional storytelling of overcoming odds and an edgier crowd liking a movie that attests to the zeitgeist on greed, friendships and a disconnected world that seems to yearn and build towards more connections than ever.

All rise to hear The King’s Speech on the podium.

And the other awards…

Original Screenplay
The King’s Speech for its inspiring storytelling that warms the cockles of your heart. Inception should win but we bet some of the Academy voters are still confused by the dream sequences hence giving it a miss.

Adapted Screenplay
The diagoue is rich and the banter fast and furious in The Social Network thanks to Aaron Sorkin‘s wit and bite-sized pace. Everyone’s liking it!

My head tells me it will be The Social Network for its fragmented jumps in time-space but my heart goes to 127 Hours for its dynamic and quick cuts that portray the adrenaline rush apt for a action-driven and fast-forward movie.

The Western landscape can’t get as dark, gritty and dangerous as it gets in True Grit with the talented Roger Deakins helming it.

Art Direction
The set’s designed so delish everyone wants to be part of the tea party in Alice in Wonderland.

Costume Design
It takes a great vision to dress Johnny Depp (just look back at his pirated history) and Alice in Wonderland brings out the mad-cap in him with frilly frocks and hats.

I’m uncertain but I’ll go with the one with more hair – The Wolfman.

Visual Effects
blew our mind with the rotating corridors and shifting skyscrapers, parts of an elaborate dreamscape accented by the brilliant visual effects.

Sound Editing
, its cool sound editing matching with the trippy visual effects.

Sound Mixing
As if I can tell the difference with sound editing, but I’m going for The King’s Speech. The uncomfortable silences, the pace of the stutter, the tempermental shouts all add up to a wonderful sound mix if you ask me.

Original Score
The King’s Speech‘s deliberate score filled with painful silences and lifting notes should win.

Original Song
If I Rise‘ for 127 Hours by A.R. Rahman and the haunting Dido.

Animated Feature
Toy Story 3.

Illustrations courtesy of Valerie Chua.

Other Oscar features:

How the Oscars Nominees are Chosen

How to make a Best Picture

Franaway for Generation Social Network

Best Pictures According to The Zeitgeist