‘Black Swan,’ ‘Social Network’ Lead Early Nominations

'Inception,' 'True Grit,' '127 Hours' and more are already being honored by critics associations.

With Golden Globe nominations on the way Tuesday, the 2010 awards season has officially kicked into high gear. But the Globe nods aren’t the first; the American Film Institute and a handful of critics groups have already released their faves.

In looking at overall Best Film/Picture categories, the AFI and the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards selected the same nine films: “Black Swan,” “The Fighter,” “Inception,” “127 Hours,” “The Social Network,” “The Town,” “Toy Story 3,” “True Grit” and “Winter’s Bone.” AFI recognized “The Kids Are All Right” as its 10th movie in the category, while the Broadcast Film Critics Association selected “The King’s Speech.” It’s worth mentioning that as has been custom for the past few years during awards season, independent films generally garner plenty of nomination love. “Black Swan,” “127 Hours,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “Winter’s Bone” and “Rabbit Hole” are the buzzy Indies this season.

With regard to regional critics’ picks in the same category, there are emerging patterns for awards-season front-runners. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Boston Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle all named “The Social Network” as the best film of the year, along with David Fincher as best director.

(For photos of the Golden Globe nominees, click here.)

Speaking of the directing category and the aforementioned critics groups, Fincher will likely compete with four of the following Best Director nominees from the BFCA: Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”; Christopher Nolan, “Inception”; Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”; Danny Boyle, “127 Hours”; and Ethan and Joel Coen, “True Grit.”

With regard to acting nods, the field has not been whittled down quite as specifically as the film and director categories. Standouts so far include Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech” — named Best Actor by the NY and L.A. critics, as well as a nominee from the BFCA along with Jesse Eisenberg (named Best Actor by the National Board of Review) for “The Social Network” and Jeff Bridges for “True Grit.” Other contenders include Aaron Eckhart in “Rabbit Hole,” James Franco in “127 Hours” and Ryan Gosling in “Blue Velvet.”

The Best Actress category is similarly conflicted thus far, with Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”), Annette Bening (“The Kids Are All Right”) and Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”) among the early favorites, but a front-runner has yet to emerge. Other ladies on the short lists: Nicole Kidman in “Rabbit Hole” and Michelle Williams in “Blue Valentine.”

These lists add to the recognition already announced by the National Board of Review, the Independent Spirit Awards, the European Film Awards (at which Roman Polanski’s “Ghost Writer” was the standout) and the British Independent film awards.

What do you think of this season’s awards darlings so far? Let us know your picks in the comments!

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