Jack Giroux is our main reviewer here at The Film Stage and a member of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA).

When enough Critic Society winners are announced, you start to get a clear sense of what will or won’t perform come Oscar time. Most years, the Oscars can be a bit unexciting and dull. There’s usually shoe-ins in all the major categories. This year, that may not be the case. There’s undoubtedly a few no-brainers. Who doesn’t expect Toy Story 3 to win best animated feature? But when it comes to the rest of the main categories, it’s not easy to pin down the clear frontrunner. For Best Picture, the candidates are all the different types of films Oscar voters love to eat up; The King’s Speech, The Social Network, 127 Hours, and so on.

One thing these WAFCA winners do cast doubt on — in particular — is Black Swan‘s award season chances. While I personally think Black Swan is a tremendous film, and it certainly got plenty of backing from myself in this year’s WAFCA voting, it came out with nothing. The main issue with Black Swan is that it’s a B-movie, but an incredible B-movie. Did David Cronenberg‘s classic films ever get love from the Oscars? Sadly, no. This is the type of film that isn’t a crowd-pleaser, despite being incredibly fun. It’ll surely get Academy nominations in more than a couple of categories (especially for Portman), but I think the fact that it got 7 nominations and came out with not a single win is a bad sign.

When it comes to Inception, the Internet nerds will most likely be enraged, similarly to The Dark Knight, when it only gets its statues from the technical department. It’s got Best Original Screenplay here, and it could as well Oscar time. But the fact that only its technical side got love is an indicator that it most likely won’t come out as a winner in any big categories. With 10 slots available, it could achieve a nomination for Best Picture, but it’d be ludicrous to expect an actual win. Lets face it, it’s a refreshingly smart summer action film with some cool ideas, but not exactly the most emotionally-affecting film, something that is clearly important for Oscar voters. The same goes for The Town, a solid film but not one with great winning chances this season.

On the other hand, The Fighter is a real contender. It’ll get plenty of love. For one, Christian Bale is the clear frontrunner for every Best Supporting Actor nomination possible. It’s the showy and transformative performance critics love and rave about. The performances across the board in David O. Russell‘s excellent sports drama will get plenty of attention and acclaim over the next few months. Definitely expect nods for Amy Adams, Melissa Leo (who won best supporting actress in the WAFCA awards), and perhaps Mark Wahlberg as well. Hopefully, and most likely, it’ll get a few major category nominations too.

The Social Network is the one that came out with the big wins and nominations here, and expect the same results in the future. It’s a near-unanimously loved film, receiving both critical and audience acclaim.

On a sadder note, expect nothing for the excellent Fish Tank, which you’ve probably never heard of. IFC seems to be giving it no legitimate awards push, and I certainly never got a ‘For Your Consideration’ for it. It is the type of film that would have probably gotten no recognition to begin with, but with such great performances from newcomer Katie Jarivs and the newly in the spotlight Michael Fassbender, it’s a bit disappointing it’ll get little to none award recognition.

Here are the list of nominees and winners (bolded in italics) for this year’s WAFCA awards:

Best Film:
Black Swan
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3

Best Director:
Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
Danny Boyle (127 Hours)
Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Christopher Nolan (Inception)

Best Actor:
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Robert Duvall (Get Low)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
James Franco (127 Hours)

Best Actress:
Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Anne Hathaway (Love & Other Drugs)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)

Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale (The Fighter)
Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Sam Rockwell (Conviction)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

Best Supporting Actress:
Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

Best Acting Ensemble:
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The Social Network
The Town

Best Adapted Screenplay:
Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy (127 Hours)
Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network)
Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3)
Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit)
Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini (Winter’s Bone)

Best Original Screenplay:
Mike Leigh (Another Year)
Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin (Black Swan)
Christopher Nolan (Inception)
Stuart Blumberg and Lisa Cholodenko (The Kids Are All Right)
David Seidler (The King’s Speech)

Best Animated Feature:
Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragon
Toy Story 3

Best Documentary:
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
The Tillman Story
Waiting for ‘Superman’

Best Foreign Language Film:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I Am Love
White Material

Best Art Direction:
Alice in Wonderland
Black Swan
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
True Grit

Best Cinematography:
Black Swan
127 Hours
The Social Network
True Grit

Best Score:
Clint Mansell (Black Swan)
Hans Zimmer (Inception)
A.R. Rahman (127 Hours)
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network)
Carter Burwell (True Grit)

What are your Oscar predictions?

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