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Oscars 2011 Profiles: Best Picture Nominees

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It's that time of year: the nominations have been announced and the Academy Awards are drawing ever closer. But if you haven't quite gotten around to seeing all the contenders yet, or if you're not sure who the runners and riders are, we have the solution here: a perfect line-up of arguments for and against each and every nominee. Whatever point you're trying to make, this will help you out. First up: the 10 contenders for Best Picture...

Why It Will Win
It’s a strong dramatic story from a respected director, offering a look behind the scenes of a usually closed-off world. Whether real ballet dancers agree on its accuracy probably doesn’t matter much here: it feels authentic onscreen.It features great performances, particularly from Natalie Portman, and given that the biggest Academy voting block is comprised of actors, that always helps.

It tells a tale of obsession, the quest for perfection and the sacrifices involved – and those are themes that Hollywood’s massive population of Type-A professionals can identify with.

Why It Won't Win
While the film has had generally positive reviews, the people who dislike it REALLY dislike it, and they have been vocal in their criticisms.The lack of a Best Screenplay nomination may indicate that it’s not one of the frontrunners for the big prize, even though it’s up for Editing and Director.

This may be a little horrific for the Academy’s older and more traditional voters: the body horror stuff and the extensive use of handheld cameras could turn off those who prefer a more polished, actorly period piece – like The King’s Speech, say.

Why It Will Win
This is the black horse candidate that's been galloping faster and faster through awards season. It's sufficiently traditional in subject matter and execution for older voters, but has enough of an edge (the drug addiction subplot) for younger viewers.With three Acting nods in the Supporting categories, it boasts performances that can only help it connect with Oscar voters - and it has those all-important Screenplay, Directing and Editing nods.

Who doesn't love a boxing movie? Oscar sure does: Million Dollar Baby and Rocky both won.

Why It Won't Win
While this has three Supporting Actor and Actress nods and is heavily tipped in those categories, lead Mark Wahlberg missed out in his category, which doesn't bode well.Its subject matter is no guarantee: Raging Bull didn't take home the big prize, and it was Raging Bull.

Director David O. Russell is known to have been in a few barneys on-set with his stars, including George Clooney. Can a man who has traded fisticuffs with Gorgeous George really get anywhere in Hollywood?

Why It Will Win
Oscar generally respects box-office success, and Inception turned an unlikely subject into a barnstorming blockbuster - without much in the way of intellectual compromise.It has all the sheen and filmmaking craft you'd expect from an Oscar winner, and it's made by one of the most talented directors around.

There are perennial complaints that the Academy Awards risks alienating the youth market. What better way than to reconnect with the kidz than by awarding a film they actually went to see?

Why It Won't Win
The fact that the film missed out on Best Director and Best Editing is a very bad omen for its chances of taking home the big prize.Oscar lacks respect for summer blockbusters - even blockbusters as smart and genre-busting as this one.

The Academy has a famously short memory span. If you were released before September, forget about it.

Why It Will Win
It's about time we had a film about committed, loving lesbian parents winning an Oscar. If Kathryn Bigelow winning Best Director heralded a new era of equality, here's a way to build on that.Who doesn't love Mark Ruffalo?

It's one of the best-reviewed films of last year, was embraced by audience members to boot and features great performances from all the cast, always a good thing.

Why It Won't Win
It was branded with the Comedy / Musical label at the Globes, which is something of an Oscar handicap even if it did win that category.It lacks those all-important Best Director and Best Editing nominations.

Given the famed conservatism of Oscar voters, it might be a little (gasp!) daring in its view of modern relationships. Hey, they've only just gotten used to the sight onscreen of married women working and divorce; give them another year or two.

Why It Will Win
This couldn't be more Oscar-friendly if you stripped it naked and painted it gold: period drama, royal subject matter, towering performances, polished production and intelligent sheen. All the necessary ingredients are present and correct.It has loads of momentum going into the season, with wins at Toronto, a raft of critics groups and the all-important Producers Guild Awards, a major Best Picture indicator.

The King's Speech is the most-nominated film, which is at least indicative of some Academy love (even though it's not guarantee of a big win - just ask Dreamgirls).

Why It Won't Win
If the Academy really wants to make itself feel relevant to younger Americans, this is emphatically not the film to do it. That'd be The Social Network - and this Academy did favour Crash over Brokeback, so they do like a bit of contemporary sometimes.There's been a whispering smear campaign against the film on the basis that George VI was a Nazi sympathiser, which could hurt its votes. There's also the fact that Oscar doesn't particularly like "The British are coming!" moments, preferring home-grown talent.

Will Oscar split the love, and reward Colin Firth for his performance but give something else Best Picture? Also, will the voters be turned off by that potty-mouthed language?

Why It Will Win
It's based on a true story, is innovatively told and built around an astonishingly good performance. It's also directed by a previous winner.Both storytelling and cinematography are on top form here, to make what could have been a slog into a brilliantly entertaining film.

Danny Boyle is lovely. Who wouldn't want to give him an award?

Why It Won't Win
It hasn't had the buzz going into this season that The King's Speech, The Social Network and The Fighter have.It doesn't have a Best Director nod for Danny Boyle to match this nomination.

It hasn't got a "The" in front of its name, which appears to be a handicap this year.

Why It Will Win
It's the most 'important' film of the lot, the one most in touch with the zeitgeist and something that discusses a subject familiar to everyone in a way that felt fresh. Remember, this is the Academy that gave Crash an award, so they occasionally like to connect with the modern world.It comes from a well-respected director who's been winning kudos for years, and boasts a raft of great performances and a mindblowingly good script.

It made almost $100m in the US, which tends to give films an advantage in the race.

Why It Won't Win
It's not as traditionally Oscar-y as The King's Speech - and we wonder if Academy voters are really down with the kids on this whole "inter-webs" thing.It only has one acting nomination to The King's Speech's three: and with actors the biggest voting block, that could indicate that it's not as loved.

Older voters may be alienated by the ultra-modern, eerily atmospheric score. They tend to like their orchestras, this lot. That said, Eminem is an Oscar winner so who knows?

Why It Will Win
It's the best-reviewed film of last year, winning almost universal acclaim. It managed the titanic feat of being every bit as good as its illustrious predecessors.It is the highest-grossing film on the list, ahead of Inception. While that's no guarantee (cough cough Avatar cough) it doesn't hurt that every voter is likely to have seen it.

Pester power! Surely every voter's children and grandchildren will be campaigning for it.

Why It Won't Win
Animation doesn't win Best Picture. This is only the third animated film nominated.Seriously, animation really doesn't get a look-in. That's why neither of the previous Toy Stories made the list (back in the days when it was five films long).

It doesn't have those Editing and Directing nominations, which seem so essential if you want to take the big kahuna home.

Why It Will Win
It stars The Dude. Who doesn't love The Dude? And it's directed by the Coens. Who doesn't love the Coens? It's a Western, and the Academy still loves Westerns: see also Dances With Wolves, No Country For Old Men (also, the latter's a Coens. PROOF!).It's made over $100m at the box office, despite being a clear awards-season contender rather than a summer blockbuster. That's an important number, because Best Picture winners do tend to make that much as a minimum.

It's a magnificent do-over of a magnificent book. Mattie Ross is the most vibrant character of the year, closely followed by Rooster Cogburn, so someone give this the prize!

Why It Won't Win
It doesn't have that all-important Best Editing nod, which means that if it did win it would break a tradition stretching back 30 years.The film has underperformed, relatively speaking, in the rest of awards season: it missed out on a nod at the Director's Guild, and there was surprise at the Coens' directing nod here.

Given the short time since the Coen brothers cleaned up for a Western with No Country, the Academy may choose to spread the love.

Why It Will Win
This is exactly the sort of film that Oscar should reward to spur on the industry: a tiny-budgeted, fiercely independent-minded effort that tells a compelling story.The reviews were ecstatic, drawing praise for both Jennifer Lawrence's performance and Debra Granik's direction. Its female-focus in both production and story means that an award for this would build on that Kathryn Bigelow prize last year and show that Hollywood does value women as more than arm candy.

In these straitened economic climes, what could be more timely than a film about grinding poverty?

Why It Won't Win
It's a tiny-budgeted, fiercely independent-minded effort: when did one of those ever win?The Academy doesn't make big political statements.

Jennifer Lawrence's Ree Dolly is an inspiring character, but by god she goes through the wringer. Chances that all the voters watched it right through? Slim.

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