My second favorite day of the year came this past Tuesday. On Jan. 25, the Academy Award nominations were released, which leads to handicapping the Oscars and an on up to my favorite day of the year, Feb. 27 – when they will hand out the golden statues.
Oscar nominees for best picture include "127 Hours" (Fox Searchlight), "The King's Speech" (The Weinstein Company) and "Black Swan" (Fox Searchlight).
"The King's Speech" led all with 12 nominations. This included best picture, best actor for Colin Firth, best supporting actor for Geoffery Rush and best supporting actress for Helena Bonham Carter.
Joining "The King's Speech" as best-picture nominees are the survival drama "127 Hours," the ballet/psycho-sexual drama "Black Swan," the boxing bio "The Fighter," the dream-based "Inception," the lesbian family comedy/drama "The Kids Are All Right," the Facebook movie "The Social Network," Pixar's "Toy Story 3," the Western "True Grit" and the neo-Southern gothic "Winter's Bone."
You may have noticed that's 10 nominees. Well that's the new number for best picture. Last year, the Academy added five more movies to the best-picture category so that more popular movies, such as "Toy Story 3," wouldn't be left out.
From these 10, many of the acting nominees come. To "The King's Speech" add Jesse Eisenberg from "The Social Network," Jeff Bridges (last year's best-actor winner) for "True Grit" and Natalie Portman from "Black Swan." In supporting roles there is Melissa Leo, Amy Adams and Christian Bale for "The Fighter."
Looking at handicapping for the awards, one can't rule out Firth as best actor. His role as a man who must overcome a handicap to be king is one that Oscar loves. Annette Bening looks to be the leader for best actress in her role as a lesbian mother in "The Kids Are All Right."
Bale should win for his role in "The Fighter." His performance as a drug-addicted brother to Mark Wahlberg is the stuff of Oscar greatness. His co-star, Leo, should win for best supporting actress in the same movie. She plays the controlling mother in the film.
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As for best picture, "The King's Speech" will be battling "The Social Network." But don't be surprised if "True Grit" isn't a dark-horse winner. The best director should be David Fincher, who helmed "The Social Network."
I'm very happy to see "Winter's Bone" get nominated for best picture and Jennifer Lawrence as the remarkable Ree Dolly for best actress in that movie. This is a situation in which the Academy did well in expanding the nominations for best picture.
I'm also glad to see "How to Train Your Dragon" get nominated for best animated feature.
In terms of disappointments, I wish the Academy had acknowledged "Get Low." Robert Duvall turned in a great performance, and Bill Murray is robbed again by not being nominated for best supporting actor.
I also feel they got it wrong when they nominated Hailee Steinfeld in the best supporting actress category for her role in "True Grit." She is a lead actress in her role as Mattie Ross. But to be honest, her best opportunity for an Oscar is in the supporting category.
Get the popcorn ready for Sunday, Feb. 27.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
See the complete list of nominees.