<p>Host Joel McHale ponders the meaning of the Independent Spirit Awards as they return to Santa Monica in a promo for IFC.</p>

Host Joel McHale ponders the meaning of the Independent Spirit Awards as they return to Santa Monica in a promo for IFC.

Credit: IFC

Independent Spirit Awards Preview: Predictions and a conversation with Dawn Hudson

Will 'Black Swan' or 'Winter's Bone' celebrate on the beach?

Most of the media is focusing on the Academy Awards on Sunday, but a majority of them will also be at the Santa Monica Pier Saturday as most of Hollywood turns out -- rain or shine -- for the 2011 Independent Spirit Awards.  This pundit will be there in person and share my thoughts on the show via twitter (follow me at @HitFixGregory) ahd in this blog immediately after.  HitFix's own Dan Fienberg will be live blogging the "taped" show hosted by Joel McHale that will air at 10 PM ET/PT on IFC.  The always irreverent event actually occurs at 2 PM PT, but there are promises the taped version will not be edited (fingers crossed).

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<p>&quot;The King's Speech&quot; is expected to dominate Oscar.</p>

"The King's Speech" is expected to dominate Oscar.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Final predictions for the 83rd Academy Awards: A 'King' shall lead them

Winners and upsets in all 24 categories

After six months of film festivals, pseudo award shows, real award shows, cocktail parties, Q&A's, repetitive profile pieces, millions spent in for your consideration ads, special events and enough red carpets to cover the globe 100 times, the 2010-2011 awards season will finally come to a close with the 83rd Academy Awards this Sunday.

Having chronicled the ups and downs of this awards season ad nauseum it's somewhat of a relief that there should still be some surprises Sunday night.  Is best supporting actress really up for grabs?  Can "The King's Speech" win best picture without winning editing or director? Will Annette Bening spoil Natalie Portman's expected best actress win?  Frankly, none of those interesting scenarios may come to pass and the show may be a bore.  And yet, every year, there are always upsets that make you realize, "Of course!  How could we not have realized everyone in town thinks Jason Reitman is a douche?"  Er, um, perhaps that was just last year after "Precious" upset "Up in the Air" for adapted screenplay, but you get the point.

So, without further delay, here's a rundown of my final predictions for all 24 categories for this year's 83rd Academy Awards. 

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<p>Your contenders:&nbsp;Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicole Kidman and Annette Bening.</p>

Your contenders: Natalie Portman, Michelle Williams, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicole Kidman and Annette Bening.

Credit: AMPAS

Oscar Predictions: Will a 'Black Swan' or Hollywood legend win best actress?

Is this an upset category or just a figment of the media's imagination?

2010 was actually a pretty impressive year for the leading ladies in the best actress category. Especially when you consider that acclaimed performances by Tilda Swinton, Leslie Manville, Carey Mulligan and Julianne Moore didn't make the cut.  Moreover, unlike best actor or best supporting actor, there is actually a chance for an upset.  Whether that possibility is being overinflated by the press remains to be seen, but it's certainly made the frontrunner's camp a tad nervous.  With that in mind, let's review this year's field shall we?

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<p>Your best actor nominees:&nbsp;Javier Bardem, James Franco, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth and Jeff Bridges.</p>

Your best actor nominees: Javier Bardem, James Franco, Jesse Eisenberg, Colin Firth and Jeff Bridges.

Credit: AMPAS

Oscar Predictions: A 'King' will be crowned best actor

The biggest slam dunk of the night

Every year there always seems to be one or two categories that is a foregone conclusion.  Now matter how some members of the media try to spin it, there is no drama, no suspense and even the other nominees know they aren't going to win the day the nominations were announced.  Those honorees are just dressing up and enjoying the show.  Welcome then, to the best actor race for the 83rd Academy Awards.  Before getting to the obvious winner, let's respect the other nominees and review the field, shall we?

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<p>Your nominees: Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Jacki Weaver, Hailee Steinfeld and Amy Adams.</p>

Your nominees: Helena Bonham Carter, Melissa Leo, Jacki Weaver, Hailee Steinfeld and Amy Adams.

Credit: AMPAS

Oscar Predictions: Get ready for a 'True' upset in best supporting actress

The most contentious category of them all

If you had asked any awards season consultant, publicist or pundit last month what the most competitive category was this year, very few would have said best supporting actress.  Two things changed all that and changed it quickly.  The first was Melissa Leo's increasingly odd behavior (more on that later) and the second was the growing praise for Hailee Steinfeld's performance in the unexpected blockbuster "True Grit."  Even Helen Bonham Cater started to be seen as potential benefactor of a potential "King's Speech" sweep.  So, in just a few weeks the race went from being a slamdunk for Leo to a wide open contest.  Yes, it's amazing how the tide turns in Oscar land.

Keeping that in mind, let's review this year's nominees, shall we?

You probably hadn't heard of her before the nominations were announced, but in Australia Jackie Weaver is an acting legend.  She counts famous Aussies such as Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette and Cate Blanchett as fans, but finally got her chance to shine for American moviegoers in the indie thriller "Animal Kingdom."  She won't win Oscar, but a consolation prize of finally appearing on Broadway -- a lifelong dream of Weaver's -- may be just around the corner.

It's been a long time between nominations for Helena Bonham Carter, but ditching all the makeup of Tim Burton's films and playing the Queen Mum in "The King's Speech" reminded Academy members just how talented she really is. This year - Carter is hoping to land her first Oscar by benefiting from a groundswell of support for Harvey Weinstein's Oscar friendly drama.

Most critic's felt newcomer Hailee Steinfeld stole the show from her more established co-stars Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon in "True Grit."  Of course, many competing publicists would snark that the 14-year-old's performance should be in the best actress category.  That may be true, but Steinfeld is poised to join Tatum O'neal and Anna Paquin as underage Academy Award winners.

As for Amy Adams, is the third time the charm? Previously nominated for "Junebug" and "Doubt," Adams gave an inspired turn as Micky Ward's future wife in "The Fighter," but has mostly been overshadowed by her co-star, Melissa Leo.

Leo is returning to the big dance after having been nominated in the best actress category for "Frozen River."  She's been the presumed frontrunner after winning the Golden Globe and SAG Award in this category, but had something of a public relations disaster after taking the unconventional route of running her own, non-studio sanctioned campaign ads.  The problem was amplified by Leo continuing to discuss the ads in interviews instead of simply letting the story fade away. Have a few glamour shots ruined Leo's chances at Oscar glory?

Amazingly, yes.

Winner: Haille Steinfeld for "True Grit." Not only is the young star deserving, but Leo's odd behavior may have just been too much for some voters.

Upset Contender: If Steinfeld doesn't win, don't be surprised to see either Amy Adams or Helena Bonham Carter accepting their first Academy Awards.

We'll find out the results when the 83rd Academy Awards are announced this Sunday at 8 PM ET/ 5 PM PT on ABC.  Visit HitFix for full coverage including red carpet galleries, a live blog of the show, best and worst, analysis, red carpet rewind and more.

Other Awards Campaign predictions:

Best Supporting Actor

Predict the Oscars and you can win a brand new iPad.  Check your picks against other players and more. Play today.

Click here for to download a printable version of the Oscar ballot.

<p>Halle Berry arrives at the 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards.</p>

Halle Berry arrives at the 13th Annual Costume Designers Guild Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

'Black Swan,' 'King's Speech' and 'Alice in Wonderland' wear Costume Designer Guild Awards well

'Glee,' 'Boardwalk Empire' and 'Temple Grandin' lead TV winners

The Academy Awards are only four days away, but one last guild award show had its moment in the spotlight Tuesday evening as the Costume Designers honored the best in their field in movies and television.  

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<p>The two top contenders to win the Oscar for best supporting actor:&nbsp;Geoffrey Rush and Christian Bale.</p>

The two top contenders to win the Oscar for best supporting actor: Geoffrey Rush and Christian Bale.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Oscar Predictions: A 'Dark Knight' rises for best supporting actor

Can an actor not campaign and still win?

The ballots for this year's Oscars are all in and being counted which means that after a long awards season its time to begin a rundown of final predictions.  First up is the best supporting actor category and a showdown that should bit "The Fighter's" Christian Bale versus "The King's Speech's" Geoffrey Rush.  That being said, let's take a quick look at all of this year's nominees, shall we?

[Note: You can also find watch a rundown of all the nominees with predictions and upsets in the video embedded at the top of this post.]

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<p>A shot taken outside the Kodak Theater as works prepare the red carpet for the 83rd Academy Awards.</p>

A shot taken outside the Kodak Theater as works prepare the red carpet for the 83rd Academy Awards.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

That's a wrap: Oscar voting is officially over

Now the real speculation begins

Aren't you glad that's over?  At 5 PM PT today, polls finally closed for the 83rd Academy Awards.  No more ads. No more Q&A's.  No more last minute calls to scrounge up votes.  The membership has cast their ballots with all to be revealed this Sunday night at the Kodak Theater. Now, publicists, nominees and the media can take a nice breather (well, not really) until the big show.

Perhaps it's just my perspective, but it feels like the drumbeat was growing louder than ever to move the whole process back a few weeks.  The Academy considered this over the past year but tabled it, partially waiting to see what happens with the NFL's hope of expanding their season by two games which might put the Super Bowl and Oscar on the same weekend.  Meanwhile, the process has just become too long for the aforementioned contenders, publicists and jouros who cover it on a daily basis.  The problem is, you can easily argue the two month January and February season is a boost at the box office (and arguably DVD and Blu-ray sales or earlier releases).

As of Monday, "The King's Speech" has grossed $104 million domestically and $235 million worldwide.  "Black Swan" has just hit $101 million and $199 million worldwide.  "The Fighter" is at $88 million and $105 million worldwide.  Even "Blue Valentine," in a story which is barely being reported, has hit $8.9 million in the U.S. (if you had predicted "Valentine" would gross $10 million after its Sundance premiere in 2010 people would have rolled their eyes at you).  No one would argue that these titles haven't benefited from being in the awards season game and their subsequent nominations.  As a quick example, on the day of the Oscar nominations, Jan. 25, "The King's Speech" had made just $59 million and had technically gone nationwide in over 1,500 theaters.  12 nominations later and it will have found another $50 million by Oscar Sunday.  And this isn't just the results this year.  Ever season finds at least three to five titles who benefit from playing the Oscar game.  So, if the NFL does move the Super Bowl close to Oscar's date and the Academy doesn't blink, remember, it's all about the Benjamins.

But, I digress…

With voting over we actually have some big questions to ponder before the big show (really).

Did Melissa Leo really blow her chances at a best supporting actress win?
Methinks yes.

Can Annette Bening make a last minute push to upset Natalie Portman for best actress?
Probably not, but it's not a reach.

Could Aaron Sorkin suffer Jason Reitman's fate last year and lose best adapted screenplay after winning every other prize?
No, he has enough friends in the building.

Will Banksy be in the building and accept best documentary if "Exit Through The Gift Shop" wins?
You can't convince us AMPAS and the producers have some weird deal in case he wins.  Perhaps he accepts by Skype or something.

Could "Inception" actually end the night with the most wins?
You betcha. Although, probably tied with "The King's Speech" though.

And most importantly…

Will James Franco sing?
After this recent rehearsal, let's hope not.

For some of my early predictions, check out HitFix's special Oscar promotion with Hulu here. I'll be going more indepth with predictions the major categories over the next few days.

T-minus five days and counting…

Predict the Oscars and you can win a brand new iPad.  Check your picks against other players and more. Play today.

Click here for to download a printable version of the Oscar ballot.

<p>James Franco's official or current Twitter image.</p>

James Franco's official or current Twitter image.

Credit: James Franco

Oscar Watch: James Franco sings Cher's 'You Haven't Seen The Last of Me'

Find out why the song gets cut from Sunday's show

It's no secret that this year's Academy Awards show will have some sort of musical number. How could it not with Anne Hathaway co-hosting and Hugh Jackman the first presenter announced?  The big question was whether co-host James Franco would show off his singing voice on the big show.  Technically, that question still has to be answered, but Franco revealed on Twitter this evening that one potential number has been cut.

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<p>Scarlett Johansson at the 77th Academy Awards in 2005.</p>

Scarlett Johansson at the 77th Academy Awards in 2005.

Credit: AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Russell Brand and Scarlett Johansson bring some youth to Oscar

Does that mean Katy Perry on the red carpet?

Somewhere an ABC executive is taking a huge sigh of relief.  After announcing one presenter after another who fall strictly in CBS' over 50 demo, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revealed today that both Russell Brand and Scarlett Johansson are also in the mix for the big show.

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