According to the pundits, there will be few, if any, surprises at next Monday’s Academy awards. 
22 Feb 2011 - 1:27 PM  UPDATED 6 Nov 2012 - 6:30 AM

After months of conjecture and speculation, the winners of most major categories at the 83rd annual Academy Awards to be presented next Monday Australia time are a foregone conclusion, according to numerous pundits.

The self-styled experts who claim to be able to read the minds of the Academy's 5,700 members, or, even more arrogantly, believe they can influence their votes, have proclaimed The King's Speech as the hot favourite to take home best picture and David Fincher as a shoe-in for the director prize for The Social Network.

The King's Speech's Colin Firth (pictured) is almost unbackable as best actor, Black Swan's Natalie Portman has a lock on best actress, The Fighter's Christian Bale should clear a space on his mantelpiece for the supporting actor trophy, Toy Story 3 is the unanimous choice for animated feature and Inside Job, Charles Ferguson's expose of the causes of the 2008 financial meltdown, is the hot tip for best documentary feature.

The only close-run races, according to the prognosticators, are for supporting actress – The Fighter's Melissa Leo vs True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld – and for the foreign language statue between Susanne Bier's In a Better World and Denis Villeneuve's Incendies.

Those are the pronouncements of the 'experts' polled by

Yet Awards Daily's Sasha Stone argues that neither Fincher nor The King's Speech's Tom Hooper is a certainty for best director, predicting, “There could be a split and a third unexpected director could emerge,” and she tips either The Fighter's David O. Russell or Black Swan's Darren Aronofsky.

Stone believes Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop could take the documentary prize, with João Jardim and Karen Harley's Waste Land as a dark horse.

A few commentators reckon Geoffrey Rush could nab the supporting actor gong for The King's Speech and Annette Bening is an outside chance to take best actress for The Kids Are All Right. Animal Kingdom's Jacki Weaver is rated as a 50/1 shot for supporting actress.

Several critics believe The Social Network should win best film but concede the momentum is with The King's Speech. Says Roger Ebert of the former, “It was not only the best film of 2010, but also one of those films that helps define a year.”

Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeff Wells has been relentlessly pushing the virtues of the Facebook saga for weeks but is resigned to the British upstart winning. Using twisted logic, Wells blames Academy voters. “All they want to do is vote for the movie they like the best,” he harrumphs. “That's all they care about. It doesn't bother them that they're about to contribute to a Great Historical Embarassment along the lines of the Academy's giving the Best Picture Oscar to Driving Miss Daisy, Chicago, The Greatest Show on Earth, Dances With Wolves and Around The World in Eighty Days.”

Memo to Wells: Academy voters can and should vote for the movie they judge to be the best. Just accept that and don't impugn their reasoning.