Post-SAG Oscar Predictions: 'The Fighter' Rises, '127 Hours' Falls

Christian Bale in 'The Fighter'
Paramount Pictures

Christian Bale lost 30 pounds to play real-life athlete Dicky Eklund, a professional boxer-turned-cocaine addict. Natural inclination is to compare the role to his 63 pound-weight loss for 2004's The Machinist, but the actor said at the Critics' Choice Awards, "It's nothing like it...It's Dicky, man, he's unlike any other character on the planet ... The physical stuff, it's just a beginning." Bale will soon be preparing to play the muscular Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises.


Like a guy plunging into a canyon, 127 Hours sank to No. 7 on my Oscar best picture prediction list, replaced by The Fighter at No. 3. But you want to know what's No. 1.

For my best picture prediction I've been agonizing between The Social Network and The King's Speech, like Pattie Boyd endlessly changing outfits back and forth before going out to Paul and Linda McCartney's 1976 Buddy Holly bash -- which inspired her exasperated date Eric Clapton to write the lyric, "You look wonderful tonight [so will you get dressed already before we miss the party?]."

This week, blogger Sasha Stone called Social Network's sweep of critics' awards a "landslide," and that was before it topped the 10-best lists of Roger Ebert, Lisa Schwarzbaum, Owen Gleiberman, and the Detroit, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Las Vegas critics' groups, and led the Chicago Film Critics nominations. OK, it was more of a sweep than originally expected, and maybe Time's Person of the Year issue with Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg on the cover might give voters a nudge. Social Network is only No. 2 on THR critics' top 10 lists (Todd McCarthy prefers Carlos, Kirk Honeycutt prefers Inception) and on Film Comment's 50 Best Films of 2010. They like Carlos best too.

I concur with the 15 pundits comprising the Gurus o'Gold, who still stubbornly think The King's Speech will win, for all the reasons you're sick of hearing about. It outscored its rival in SAG noms, and it fits Oscar formulas like a Savile Row bespoke suit. Voters aren't deferential to critics, and are likelier to be influenced by strong critical support of less famous contenders, which they otherwise might not have bothered to watch. Everybody's seen the top contenders.

But how about that boxing movie? The Fighter tied The King's Speech with four SAG noms, and it's a fresh gust of news in a stale contest. Like The King's Speech, it has that Rocky thing, a long inspiring struggle to get made. And it too adheres to some heartwarming Oscar cliches.

And so -- gulp -- here are my new predictions for the best picture Oscar:

1. The King's Speech

2. The Social Network

3. The Fighter

4. Black Swan

5. Toy Story 3

6. Inception

7. True Grit

8. The Kids Are All Right

9. 127 Hours

10. Winter's Bone