Bridges, Bardem, Eisenberg, Franco also have supporters

JAVIER BARDEM
“Biutiful”

Why he’ll win: High-profile pals like Julia Roberts and Sean Penn have been trumpeting his work, with Penn calling it “the first on this level of soulful gravitas since Marlon Brando in ‘Last Tango in Paris.’ ” Added bonus: They happen to be right.
Maybe not: While Bardem is loved, his movie is not. And with its almost oppressive litany of desperation, it’s a film that tends to get placed near the bottom of Academy members’ stack of screeners.
Critic’s quote: “Bardem combines muscular, charismatic physicality with an almost delicate sensitivity, and this blend of the rough and the tender gives ‘Biutiful’ a measure of emotional credibility that it may not entirely deserve.” — A.O. Scott, New York Times

JEFF BRIDGES

“True Grit”
Why he’ll win: Made Rooster Cogburn his own, erasing (or at least putting aside) memories of John Wayne’s iconic 1969 performance. If Tom Hanks could win consecutive Oscars, why not the well-liked Bridges?
Maybe not: Very few people win consecutive Oscars in a category. Some see Bridges’ work here as a bit too reminiscent of last year’s Oscar-winning role — boozehound country singer Bad Blake.
Critic’s quote: “Bridges doesn’t have the archetypal stature of the Duke. Few ever have. But he has here, I believe, an equal screen presence. (He) occupies the character like a homeless squatter. I found myself wondering how young Mattie Ross could endure his body odor.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

JESSIE EISENBERG

“The Social Network”
Why he’ll win: What’s harder? Generating sympathy for a charmless, socially awkward character or handling pages upon pages of Aaron Sorkin’s rapid-fire dialogue? Eisenberg accomplished both with aplomb.
Maybe not: The “Mark Zuckerberg” character left some people cold. Also, it’s young Eisenberg’s first nomination in a career that should give voters other opportunities to recognize him.
Critic’s quote: “An actor who has nailed every discontented role he’s had, Eisenberg excels as someone whose success is fueled, in classic movie fashion, by resentments of all shapes and sizes. It’s a perfectly pitched performance.” — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

COLIN FIRTH

“The King’s Speech”
Why he’ll win: Firth didn’t triumph last year for his strong work in “A Single Man,” and many think he’s even better here. He has already won nearly every other org’s award for this category.
Maybe not: Some think the movie is a bit too tailored toward the Academy’s Anglophile tastes. Others still haven’t forgiven their wives’ obsession with Firth’s portrayal of Mr. Darcy.
Critic’s quote: “Firth is tremendously touching in the role without even once condescending to the audience. It would have been easy to sentimentalize Albert into a common-man-under-the-skin. But Firth gives us instead a portrait of a nowhere man suddenly thrust onto the world stage. His aloneness is palpable.” — Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

JAMES FRANCO

“127 Hours”
Why he’ll win: Essentially a one-man band in “127 Hours,” commanding nearly every minute of the movie’s running time. Helped turn what could have been a gimmick into a deeply satisfying film.
Maybe not: With his ubiquitous presence on college campuses, soap operas and the Internet, not to mention his upcoming Oscar telecast co-hosting gig, voters could be suffering from Franco fatigue. Then there’s the whole arm thing, and because of that many squeamish members still haven’t watched the movie.
Critic’s quote: “Franco was an inspired choice. What’s so valuable to his performance in is his very American cheerfulness, combined with quick intelligence. When Aron takes off for his fateful adventure, his high spirits, which the actor and his director convey brilliantly, are an expression of his heedlessness.” — Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal


Couples not always treated equally
The Nominees:
Lead Actor | Lead Actress | Supporting Actor | Supporting Actress

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