Six days of Oscar: Who will win this weekend?
Because we care about your financial well-being -- and because everyone else in town is doing it -- we decided to break down the Academy Awards ballot for all those readers laying down some cash in an Oscar pool this weekend. Whether you're in a generic office pool or one of those fancy point-allotment jobs, we'll give you our top two choices to win, in order, and a quick handicap of the category, based on conversations with consultants and other decidedly unscientific methods. (For full awards coverage, you can of course check out our Awards Tracker blog.)
We'll continue every day until most of the major and even many of the minor categories have been dissected. Balloting at the academy actually closes Tuesday, so you don't have to worry about the winds shifting between now and the big show. Just send a portion of your winnings to us here at The Times (but please direct accounts of penurious disgruntlement somewhere else).
Today, a look at the animated, cinematography and supporting actor categories.
For years, the conventional wisdom has been that an animated movie won't be nominated for best picture. Since the academy expanded the best picture category to 10 films last year, the wisdom has changed ... sort of. Now it's that an animated movie will be nominated for best picture, but never win. That won't change this year. But the lone animated best picture nominee will get a nice consolation prize.
1) "Toy Story 3"
2) "Toy Story 3"
One of the more intriguing categories. "True Grit" cinematographer Roger Deakins has been nominated for an Oscar a whopping nine times -- in 2008 he even landed two nominations -- but has never won. His well-regarded work in Joel and Ethan Coen's western remake should land him his first statuette, but there's also a feeling around town that some academy members wowed by "The King's Speech" could simply vote the ticket and give the cinematography prize to that film's Danny Cohen. A small chance, but it's there.
1) Roger Deakins
2) Danny Cohen
At this point, the question is less whether Christian Bale will win on Sunday for his portrayal of boxer Micky Ward in "The Fighter" than whether he'll continue his onstage likability streak that began at the Golden Globes. We'll refrain from making a prediction on that. But the category is a slam dunk.
1) Christian Bale
2) Christian Bale
A few weeks ago, it would have been a Bale-like no-brainer: Melissa Leo wins for her portrayal of a domineering mother in "The Fighter." But Leo's unusual decision to take out her own Oscar campaign ads, coupled with Hallie Steinfeld's charming and composed presence on the awards circuit, has put the "True Grit" ingenue into the race. It's still Leo's category to lose; there's just a slightly greater chance she could.
1) Melissa Leo
2) Hallie Steinfeld
Photo: Oscar statues await their big unveiling. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times