We analyze the competition -- including the race for the 10 Best Picture slots

By Dave Karger
Updated November 12, 2010 at 05:00 AM EST

Best Picture

FRONT-RUNNERS
INCEPTION
Director Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending blockbuster boasts the perfect mix of brains and spectacle.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
The summer’s coolest indie is a showcase for stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore.

THE KING’S SPEECH
One of this year’s most awarded festival darlings should have no problem appealing to voters of all generations.

THE SOCIAL NETWORK
David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s morality tale will ride its zeitgeisty wave throughout the season.

TOY STORY 3
In a fantastic year for animation, Pixar’s lovable threequel (the second-highest-grossing animated film ever) stands out.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES
127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Town
True Grit

LONG SHOTS
Another Year
Blue Valentine
Get Low
How Do You Know
How to Train Your Dragon

Best Director

FRONT-RUNNERS
DAVID FINCHER
The Social Network

TOM HOOPER
The King’s Speech

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN
Inception

OTHER POSSIBILITIES
Ben Affleck, The Town
Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
Danny Boyle, 127 Hours
Lisa Cholodenko, The Kids Are All Right
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, True Grit

LONG SHOTS
James L. Brooks, How Do You Know
Mike Leigh, Another Year
Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Peter Weir, The Way Back

Best Actor

FRONT-RUNNERS
JESSE EISENBERG
The Social Network
Whether you pity Mark Zuckerberg or detest him, Eisenberg is riveting as the Facebook founder.

COLIN FIRTH
The King’s Speech
He’ll easily score a second consecutive nod (after A Single Man). Can he win this year? He’s the man to beat.

JAMES FRANCO
127 Hours
As trapped hiker Aron Ralston, Franco vividly embodies fear, despair, anger, and, ultimately, courage.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES
Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Michael Douglas, Solitary Man
Robert Duvall, Get Low
Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine

LONG SHOTS
Leonardo DiCaprio, Inception
Aaron Eckhart, Rabbit Hole
Jake Gyllenhaal, Love & Other Drugs
Paul Rudd, How Do You Know
Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter

Best Actress

FRONT-RUNNERS
ANNETTE BENING
The Kids Are All Right
She’s come close to winning before, but her fierce turn as a gay mom provides some of the best scenes of her career.

JULIANNE MOORE
The Kids Are All Right
As Bening’s cheating partner, Moore gets the most screen time in Kids — not to mention the most laughs.

NATALIE PORTMAN
Black Swan
The impressiveness of her ballet training is matched by the intensity of her acting as a mentally unstable dancer.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES
Halle Berry, Frankie & Alice
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Lesley Manville, Another Year
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

LONG SHOTS
Anne Hathaway, Love & Other Drugs
Sally Hawkins, Made in Dagenham
Diane Lane, Secretariat
Gwyneth Paltrow, Country Strong
Naomi Watts, Fair Game

Best Supporting Actor

FRONT-RUNNERS
CHRISTIAN BALE
The Fighter
The Dark Knight star is almost scarily gaunt as a drug-addled former boxer. His first nod seems likely.

ANDREW GARFIELD
The Social Network
Playing Facebook’s finance guru Eduardo Saverin, the British-American actor is the film’s moral center.

GEOFFREY RUSH
The King’s Speech
The 1996 Best Actor winner delightfully goes toe-to-toe with Colin Firth as an Aussie speech therapist.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES
Jim Broadbent, Another Year
Matt Damon, True Grit
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Sam Rockwell, Conviction
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

LONG SHOTS
Armie Hammer, The Social Network
Ed Harris, The Way Back
John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Bill Murray, Get Low
Sean Penn, Fair Game

Best Supporting Actress

FRONT-RUNNERS
HELENA BONHAM CARTER
The King’s Speech
She helps anchor Speech as the sweetly devoted future Queen Mum.

MELISSA LEO
The Fighter
Aided by a horrendous hairdo, the Frozen River Best Actress nominee makes a memorably villainous mom.

HAILEE STEINFELD
True Grit
At only 13, Steinfeld scored perhaps the most choice breakout role of the season, and is said to be revelatory.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES
Amy Adams, The Fighter Barbara Hershey, Black Swan Mila Kunis, Black Swan Sissy Spacek, Get Low Dianne Wiest, Rabbit Hole

LONG SHOTS
Marion Cotillard, Inception Kirsten Dunst, All Good Things Kristin Scott Thomas, Nowhere Boy Ruth Sheen, Another Year Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom

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