Friday, March 5, 2010

"And The Oscar Goes To..." 2010 Academy Award Predictions

Three days from now, the scene outside the Kodak Theater will have more Hollywood stars than a trailer for Valentine's Day. Bulbs flashing, cameras rolling, fashionistas screaming - the 2010 Academy Awards will be underway.

This year's Oscars doesn't seem to be on track for any huge surprises, but I'm sure Brokeback Mountain thought the same before Crash grabbed Best Picture right from under its nose in 2006. Having 10 Best Picture nominees has certainly been the topic of much debate going into this awards season, and Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin promise to be an interesting hosting duo. And don't miss an increased amount of dance numbers, featuring many SYTYCD alumni thanks to Oscar producer and SYTYCD thought the same thing before judge Adam Shankman.

Here are my predictions and thoughts on the 2010 nominees in the major categories. And don't forget to check out Pop Culture, Politics and Everything In Between for a different take on who will be taking home an Oscar.

Best Picture
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire
A Serious Man
Up in the Air 
Will Win: The Hurt Locker 
Should Win: Precious
Thoughts: Even though the nominees were expanded from five to ten, we are still looking at a Best Picture race that is basically between two films: Avatar and The Hurt Locker. In the realm of reality, I choose The Hurt Locker for its incredible creation of constant suspense and original storytelling. Best when 'Push' comes to shove (get it?), I will remember Precious as the best and most important film of the year. It's a movie that everyone should see for its eye-opening story, a reflection of events that happen every day unnoticed.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart
George Clooney - Up in the Air
Colin Firth - A Single Man
Morgan Freeman - Invictus
Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker
Will Win: Jeff Bridges
Should Win: Colin Firth
Thoughts: Though I didn't see Invictus, I imagine any one of these fine actors could take the crown. I think Firth delivered the most thoughtful, emotional and profound performance of the year. That being said, Bridges was spectacular in Crazy Heart and, considering the roaring ovation he received at the Golden Globes, he seems like a sure bet.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Matt Damon - Invictus
Woody Harrelson - The Messenger
Christopher Plummer - The Last Station
Stanley Tucci - The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds
Will & Should Win: Christoph Waltz
Thoughts: Confession - I have only seen one of these films. But let's be honest, Waltz has this one in the bag. His portrayal of Col. Hans Landa was perfection from the very first frame.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side
Helen Mirren - The Last Station
Carey Mulligan - An Education
Gabourey Sidibe - Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Meryl Streep - Julie & Julia 
Will Win: Sandra Bullock 
Should Win: Meryl Streep 
Thoughts: Poor Carey, Gabby and Helen. Despite strong performances, they have barely been included in any sort of Lead Actress discussion. It's all about Meryl v. Sandra. Bullock has the most momentum going into Sunday's ceremony, but I think Streep's brilliant immersion into Julia Child elevated the role from the realm of cheesy caricature in which it could have easily fallen.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Penélope Cruz - Nine
Vera Farmiga - Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal - Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick - Up in the Air
Mo'Nique - Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire 
Will & Should Win: Mo'Nique 
Thoughts: Like the Supporting Actors race, this is a clear victory for Mo'Nique. Her performance stayed with me in the pit of my stomach for days after seeing Precious. From monstrous to pitiful, conquering a character like Mary Jones was no small feat.
Best Animated Feature Film 
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells 
Will & Should Win: Up 
Thoughts: Having only seen Up, it's hard for me to create a comparison in this category; however, the first 15 minutes of Pixar's latest masterpiece is arguably one of the best sequences of any film this year, animated or otherwise.
Best Directing
James Cameron - Avatar
Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds
Lee Daniels - Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Jason Reitman - Up in the Air 
Will & Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow 
Thoughts: Her ex-husband Cameron may have been King of the World over a decade ago, but this year it's Bigelow's time to shine. The Hurt Locker was a masterpiece of direction - each element, while brilliant in its own right, perfectly complimented the whole. Suspense and discomfort are not easy to maintain for two hours, and Bigelow pulled it off superbly.
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell - District 9
Nick Hornby - An Education
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche - In the Loop
Geoffrey Fletcher - Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner - Up in the Air 
Will & Should Win: Up in the Air 
Thoughts: This will probably be Up in the Air's only award on Sunday, and it's the one it deserves the most. No other movie this year rang so true in post-recession America.
Best Writing (Original Screenplay)
Mark Boal - The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino - Inglourious Basterds
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman - The Messenger
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen - A Serious Man
Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy - Up 
Will Win: The Hurt Locker 
Should Win: Inglourious Basterds   
Thoughts: Though Hurt Locker will deservedly take this award, no one writes a story like Tarantino. It takes serious moxie to completely rewrite history, especially history that still seems fairly recent. As I reviewed earlier, "The true history of World War II is well documented enough - Tarantino can certainly take artistic license. And if that artistic license allows him to blow up a bunch of Nazis and end the war early, I'm in. Bold, violent, grand and unapologetic, Inglourious Basterds just might be, in the crudest of ways, the feel good movie of the year."
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