HCG's 2011 Oscar Picks

oscarThe Academy Awards air this Sunday, February 27 on ABC, and today we're making our official predictions of winners which predictions we know will be relied upon by millions of people hedging bets on the Oscars. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section! Best Picture: "The Fighter" We debated a bit between choosing "The Fighter" and "The Social Network" for Best Picture, and "The Fighter" won out simply because we loved it. Do we really think "The Fighter" will win Best Picture? Probably not. Odds show "The King's Speech" in the lead, and that makes no sense to us. Yes, Colin Firth was great, and Best Supporting Actor nominee Geoffrey Rush was wonderful as well. But we are choosing the film we thought packed the most talent and the most entertainment into one piece of work - not just the most British film that seems the smartest. Plus, HCG is a sucker for most underdog stories and neither King George VI nor Mark Zuckerberg fit that bill.

We really hate the new Academy Awards practice of nominating 10 films for Best Picture instead of the traditional five films. In our opinion, only five of the 10 films nominated are strong contenders: "Black Swan", "The Fighter", "Inception", "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network." While we're rooting for "The Fighter" and expect "The King's Speech" will win, who knows, maybe "The Social Network" will take the top prize and shock everyone (and inflate Mark Zuckerberg's ego even more. Is that possible?).

Best Actress: Natalie Portman in "Black Swan" Not surprisingly, we expect our beloved Natalie Portman will take home her first Oscar for her performance in "Black Swan" - one of our favorite films of 2010. Unlike the nominees in other categories, Best Actress is packed with intense talent. Michelle Williams was perfect in "Blue Valentine" and Annette Bening was moving in "The Kids Are All Right." We still don't know who Jennifer Lawrence is, and we didn't catch Nicole Kidman's performance in "Rabbit  Hole." Early congrats to NP!

Best Actor: Colin Firth in "The King's Speech" We like Colin Firth, but we'll admit we didn't really get all the hoopla surrounding his performance as King George VI in "The King's Speech" until we actually saw the film. The man was mesmerizing, and his stammer was profoundly authentic. It helps Firth's chances that there really aren't any other serious contenders in this category. We enjoyed Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg in "The Social Network" but we think Eisenberg just is a lot like Mark Zuckerberg, and we don't know playing someone so similar to yourself should be deserving of an Oscar (a theory which explains why Mark Wahlberg is missing from the Best Actor nominees). Jeff Bridges won last year, Javier Bardem has prostate cancer in "Biutiful" and James Franco cuts off his arm in "127 Hours." Colin Firth will win.

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo in "The Fighter" As much as we want Amy Adams to win for her role as Mark Wahlberg's girlfriend in "The Fighter", Melissa Leo deserves the award the most. Leo is practically unrecognizable as the mother of brothers Mickey and Dicky Eklund, and her accent is amazing. She reminds us of someone who is hard core Delco. If you're from Delaware County and you've seen this movie, you know what we mean.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale in "The Fighter" Hands down, no question, Christian Bale will win for his role as Lowell, Massachusetts boxer and brother of Mickey Eklund (played by Mark Wahlberg), Dicky Eklund. Like Natalie Portman, homeboy didn't get that skinny for nothing, and his dedication to his craft should be recognized. Say what you want about Christian Bale, the man played an incredibly convincing crack addict.

Documentary (Feature): "Exit Through the Gift Shop" Joe alerted me to this incredibly interesting documentary by notorious street artist Banksy, and the film is a fascinating portrayal of the world of street and graffiti art. HCG highly recommends it. We've heard great things about another nominated documentary "Waste Land" but since "Exit Through the Gift Shop" is the only film on this list we've seen, we're going with that one.

Click here to see the full list of nominees. Happy viewing!