By Chris Beachum
Gold Derby Senior Editor


Now that Oscar nominations are out, what's next? Since 'The King's Speech' rules with the most nominations (12), does that mean it's stopped 'The Social Network' juggernaut? What will happen this weekend when awards are doled out by the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild? And will they matter? Here's an update on the state of the derby.

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After sweeping the Golden Globes and critics' awards, 'The Social Network' can still win Best Picture at the Oscars, but it's now the underdog. It has four less Oscar nominations than 'The King's Speech' -- and numbers matter. The movie with the most nominations tends to win Best Picture 75 percent of the time. And 'The King's Speech' has new momentum, having just pulled off a surprise Best Picture victory last Saturday at the Producers Guild awards. Over the past 20 years, PGA and the Oscars have agreed on Best Picture 13 times. Game on!

How do you narrow down that group of 10 films competing for Best Picture to only the ones with a realistic chance of winning? Champs usually need to have three key nominations in addition to Best Picture: Best Director, Screenplay and Film Editing. Only three contenders have that: 'The Fighter,' 'The King's Speech' and 'The Social Network.' Why is this important? It has been 21 years ('Driving Miss Daisy') since a film won Best Picture without a directing nomination. It has been 30 years ('Ordinary People') since a film won Best Picture without a Film Editing nomination. Being nominated in one of the screenplay categories is also crucial to success. Even with a much better than expected 10 nominations, the lack of a Film Editing nomination most likely kills the chances of 'True Grit' for Best Picture.

There are two big events this weekend that will help predict the Oscars: the Directors Guild Awards on Saturday and the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday. It is all about expectations. David Fincher is expected to win the DGA Award, so a win by anybody else spells possible doom for 'The Social Network' at the Oscars. On the other hand, 'The Social Network' is not expected to win the SAG ensemble category, with much more actor-friendly casts like 'The King's Speech,' 'The Fighter' and even 'The Kids Are All Right' competing). If TSN wins there, it is well on its way to an Oscar victory.

Also, the SAG Awards this weekend will be important in analyzing individual acting categories. The Golden Globes didn't help much on the Lead Actress race since Natalie Portman (drama) and Annette Bening (comedy) were both winners. A Natalie Portman SAG victory pretty much seals her race at the Oscars. An Annette Bening win doesn't lock up an Oscar for her (Bening also won in 2000 for 'American Beauty,' but still lost the Oscar to Hilary Swank) but might indicate a better battle on hand. In the Supporting Actress race, all eyes are on whether Melissa Leo can continue her recent winning streak or if newcomer Hailee Steinfeld (competing in this category with basically a leading role) can overtake her. Both Colin Firth and Christian Bale should have easy SAG wins (and Oscars as well).

In two weeks, the British Academy will have its BAFTA Awards ceremony and provide even more insight. Many voters in this group are also Oscar voters (about 500 out of the 5,700 academy members) and have tipped the scales in close races recently (Tilda Swinton, for example). British-themed 'The King's Speech' is expected to reign at these awards, of course, so if anything else prevails, it could speak volumes about the Academy Awards. Colin Firth just won the BAFTA last year (upsetting Jeff Bridges on his awards march), so will they want to go with Firth again so soon? Melissa Leo isn't even nominated at the BAFTAs, so who will they want to reward in that supporting category?

Looking at a few snubs: While Christopher Nolan easily deserves recognition as one of the most innovative directors of the past decade, it is hard to feel too bad for him since he did receive writing and producing Oscar nominations this week. The same goes for Mark Wahlberg, who probably deserved an acting nomination but will have to settle for the one he received for producing 'The Fighter' instead. Robert Duvall can be somewhat content with six previous nominations and one win. On the other hand, it is hard to be pleased when deserving contenders like Leonardo DiCaprio, Andrew Garfield, Paul Giamatti, Barbara Hershey, Mila Kunis, Lesley Manville and Julianne Moore were overlooked.

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CATEGORIES Oscars, Awards, Columns