Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oscar Predictions!

It's finally here -- the 82nd Academy Awards will honor the best in film for 2009 starting tonight at 8pm ET (on ABC). Having seen all the movies in the top categories and all the nominated performances, I offer up my predictions with some level of confidence.

Now keep in mind, I'd love to be right -- but I also love to be surprised. The best Oscar shows have always been the ones with surprises. With that said, I think we'll hear "and the winner is..." as follows:

Best Picture

The Blind Side

District 9

An Education

The Hurt Locker
- winner
Inglourious Basterds


A Serious Man


Up in the Air

If you believe the experts, the race is down to two films -- Avatar and The Hurt Locker. But honestly, all ten of the films in the category are worthy. In fact, all received a grade of B+ or better in my reviews (click the Film Reviews icon at left). I think we're going to see a split tonight -- with Avatar winning Best Picture and The Hurt Locker winning for its director. Because Avatar was such a huge undertaking -- and brought cinema to a completely different level unseen before, I think it will squeeze by with the top prize.

Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker - winner
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

It's the battle of the ex-spouses as it comes down to James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow. Cameron is such a groundbreaking force -- but he has won before for Titanic. While Bigelow just recently won the Directors Guild Award -- which almost always matches the result of the Academy. Both are deserving of the honor, but I think the Academy is finally ready to make this a milestone -- and honor a female director for the first time. And she deserves it -- for giving us a war film unlike any other in the genre.

Best Actor

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart - winner
George Clooney, Up in the Air
Colin Firth, A Single Man
Morgan Freeman, Invictus
Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Some may look at this award as honoring someone who is long overdue. But don't listen to that talk. Jeff Bridges truly gave the best performance among the five nominees -- and will walk away with the trophy for a terrific turn as a washed-up country singer -- and not for his overall career.

Best Actress

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side - winner
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Other than the Best Picture contest, this is the hottest race. When the awards season began, Carey Mulligan picked up most of the honors in a career-making role. Then the focus shifted to the most-nominated actor of all time -- Meryl Streep -- who channeled Julia Child in a terrific performance. But all the momentum seems to now be with Sandra Bullock -- who earned her first nomination for playing against her usual type. For years, we've watched Bullock mostly in lightweight comedic roles -- but in The Blind Side, she convincingly pulls off a great dramatic turn. Oscar loves the change-up, so I give the slight edge to Bullock.

Best Supporting Actor

Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds - winner

There is no race here. Virtually unknown in the U.S. before this role, Christoph Waltz does the impossible. He makes a vile Nazi officer likable and charming.

Best Supporting Actress

Penélope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Mo’Nique, Precious - winner

As with the other supporting category, there is no race here. Mo'Nique not only gives the best performance of the year in this category -- but across ALL acting categories. As with Bullock playing against type, the comedienne created the best villain in years as an abusive mother. A truly amazing performance.

Best Original Screenplay

Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker - winner
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy, Up
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

Quentin Tarantino has a gift for story-telling -- and Inglourious Basterds is so well done, it deserves to be honored for its writing. Don't be surprised if a strong wave carries The Hurt Locker to a win here though.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche, In the Loop
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious - winner
Nick Hornby, An Education
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air

An early front-runner for Best Picture, Up in the Air should instead receive this screenplay award. But don't think of it as a consolation prize; the film deserves the honor in giving us a timely look at the impact of recessionary fallout on human lives.

  • Look for my favorite movie of the year, Up, to win Best Animated Film and Best Score. - won both
  • Best Original Song should go to "The Weary Kind" from Crazy Heart -- it's a wonderful film that was made even better by great music. Click here to listen. - won
  • Avatar should clean up well in the technical categories -- which likely will push the film to the most overall wins. - nope; The Hurt Locker won 6, Avatar next with 3
  • A complete list of the 82nd Academy Award nominations can be found here. - updated with winners noted
  • Check back tomorrow -- the Oscars will then be over, but celebrating the best in 2009 film will not. FINALLY, Monday will mark the launch of EntertainmentBlogger's "Year in Movies" contest!
  • Enjoy the show!

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