"King's Speech," "Social Network" lead Oscar picks

Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:29pm EST
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By Stephen Galloway

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Who will take home Oscar statuettes on Sunday. Based on behind-the-scenes info, The Hollywood Reporter picks the winners in the key races.

BEST PICTURE - "The King's Speech"

Three factors favor the Weinstein Co. film over its only serious rival, "The Social Network":

Precedent: "Speech" scored wins at the producers, directors and screen actors guild awards. True, it lost to "Social Network" at the Golden Globes, but the Globes are hardly a litmus test for the Oscars anymore.

Voters' Ages: Academy members average out at 57, meaning they're far more likely to identify with "Speech's" middle-aged heroes than "Social's" young cast.

The Voting System: In the Best Picture race, voters rank the 10 nominees in order of preference; if no movie gets more than 50 percent of first-place votes, the bottom vote-getters are eliminated and their votes transferred. So it's important to be placed second and third on lots of ballots, rather than just be No. 1. Being widely liked counts more than being deeply loved. And a whole lot of voters really like "Speech."

ACTOR - Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"

A year after he lost to Jeff Bridges (Firth was up for "A Single Man," Bridges for "Crazy Heart"), the two are in competition again. This time, Firth is a lock. He has scooped all the major awards so far, and there's little chance he'll lose when the Oscar envelope is opened. Among the other nominees, Javier Bardem is too dark in "Biutiful," Jesse Eisenberg too young in "Social Network" and James Franco's actions in "127 Hours" just too plain gruesome.   Continued...

<p>Actor Geoffrey Rush (L), best supporting actor nominee for his role in "The King's Speech" and Colin Firth, best actor nominee for his role in "The King's Speech" arrive at the nominees luncheon for the 83rd annual Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, California February 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>