2011 Oscars roundup

The awards season centered on the Academy Awards seems to have morphed into one of those years in which the winners are all but guaranteed. It’s just as well that the winners this year are actually deserving, and that it isn’t one of those years in which the forecasted winners are rewarded for their entire careers but win for a lackluster performance.

The most exciting aspect seems to be predicting just how bad nominee James Franco and Anne Hathaway will be as co-hosts, or, perhaps more shockingly, if they are actually good (but I wouldn’t bet on that).

A betting person would put money on “The King’s Speech” for best picture since its phenomenal sweep of the major guild awards and the fact that any goodwill earned by “The Social Network” seems to be focused on screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s script.

“King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper, after winning the Directors Guild Award, seems to be the favorite for best director, though by no means a lock, but lead actor Colin Firth is by far the favorite for best leading actor. If anyone but Firth is crowned king that night, it’s going to be an upset of “Shakespeare in Love” beating “Saving Private Ryan” proportions.

Likewise, Natalie Portman is all but guaranteed to win for her role as the unstable prima donna of “Black Swan.” It looks like four-time-nominee Annette Bening will get good use out of the old “it’s an honor just to be nominated” adage.

While Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter should win for their supporting roles in “The King’s Speech” – and Mila Kunis “Black Swan” should be nominated, period – “The Fighter” actors Christian Bale and Melissa Leo are likely to emerge victorious.

The Oscars are on Sunday, February 27, on ABC at 8 p.m.