Who’s going to win big at this year’s Oscars? Will The King’s Speech be getting all the applause? Or will The Social Network be the Academy’s friend?

With the clock ticking down to Sunday night’s ceremony, we’re going to predict the major winners, sorting out the dead certs and the close calls … and revealing the films and stars who would win if we had our way.

Best Film
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

For the second year running the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expanded its shortlist of Best Film nominees to a 10-strong field  – but once again, as happened with Avatar and The Hurt Locker last year, the contest is very much a two-horse race.

The Social Network was the awards season’s early runner and appeared to be lengths ahead, but of late The King’s Speech has been coming up fast on the rail. The Social Network cleaned up at the Golden Globes; The King’s Speech ruled at the Baftas.

So will the Academy voters go for the new-media movie or the heritage film? The movie that reflects the way we live now, or the one that looks back to a bygone age? With big wins in recent weeks at the Producers’, Directors’ and Screen Actors’ Guild awards, The King’s Speech looks set for victory.

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Will win: The King’s Speech
Should win: The Social Network

Best Director
Darren Aronofsky  – Black Swan
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen  – True Grit
David Fincher  – The Social Network
Tom Hooper  – The King’s Speech
David O. Russell  – The Fighter

The Best Director Oscar customarily goes the winner of the Best Film award, but I still reckon this is David Fincher’s year.

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Will win: David Fincher
Should win: David Fincher

Best Actor
Javier Bardem  – Biutiful
Jeff Bridges  – True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg  – The Social Network
Colin Firth  – The King’s Speech
James Franco  – 127 Hours

Javier, Jeff, Jesse and James won’t have bothered preparing an acceptance speech, this Oscar already has Colin Firth’s name engraved on it.

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Will win: Colin Firth
Should win: Colin Firth

Best Actress
Annette Bening  – The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman  – Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence  – Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman  – Black Swan
Michelle Williams  – Blue Valentine

Annette Bening’s been nominated three times before and always narrowly missed out. Her performance in the widely liked The Kids Are All Right has lots of fans, so this could finally be her year.

But Oscar voters are always impressed when actors go that extra mile for their craft, and I’m sure many of them will have been swayed by the months of rigorous training that Natalie Portman underwent in preparation for her role as Black Swan’s tormented ballerina. She’s terrific too, and she’ll deserve the gong.  My vote, though, would go to Winter’s Bone’s Jennifer Lawrence.

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Will win: Natalie Portman
Should win: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale  – The Fighter
John Hawkes  – Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner  – The Town
Mark Ruffalo  – The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush  – The King’s Speech

Christian Bale is astonishing as crack-addicted ex-boxer Dicky Eklund in The Fighter, and he’ll be a worthy winner, but I’d like to see Geoffrey Rush share some of The King’s Speech’s Oscar-night glory for his witty, nuanced performance as Aussie speech therapist Lionel Logue.

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Will win: Christian Bale
Should win: Geoffrey Rush

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams  – The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter  – The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo  – The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld  – True Grit
Jacki Weaver  – Animal Kingdom

The smart money is on Melissa Leo’s bleach-blonde scrapper of a mother in The Fighter, but I have a sneaky feeling we’re going to see a repeat of 1994. That’s the year when 11-year-old Anna Paquin, playing Holly Hunter’s daughter in The Piano, defeated odds-on favourite Winona Ryder (The Age of Innocence) to become the second youngest award-winner in Oscar history (after Tatum O’Neal for Paper Moon).

So my money’s on 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld. She gives a remarkable performance in True Grit – but so does my should-win pick: Jacki Weaver as the terrifying crime family matriarch in Animal Kingdom.

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Will win: Hailee Steinfeld
Should win: Jacki Weaver

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