Here are the nominees, ladies and gentlemen. After months of speculation, we finally actually can get really serious in looking at these races and figuring out exactly who and what have legit shots at Oscar glory. My first reaction this morning was simply the watered down Best Picture race. I wasn't the only one, but I told you so. The Blind Side does not deserve a nomination. I don't care what you say. It doesn't belong there. Otherwise, somewhat predictable list. Nice to see a film like District 9 get nominated and as expected an animated film (Up) joined the ten nominees. Still at the end of the day how great would have the five nominees of Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, and Up in the Air looked all by themselves. It's quite possible the Academy would have screwed up and replaced one of the aforementioned films with The Blind Side, but still it's fun to think of how much stronger five nominees look. Not only that, it looks more prestigious. Now, we have to listen to commercials for the next month saying The Blind Side and Best Picture nominee in the same sentence. Oh well...
When you look at the Best Picture race though, it's still rather easy to get a real good idea of what actually has a chance. Automatically eliminate The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, A Serious Man, and Up. If you want to get really bold, then eliminate Precious and Up in the Air as well. Both films peaked way too early and the buzz is almost dead for them. It really comes down to a three way race of Avatar, Hurt Locker, and Basterds. With the preferential ballot (rank the films rather than choose one) this year, I could see either of these films winning. It's possible there could be a huge upset, but I'm not buying it right now. Basterds is the upset to me and I think it has a legit shot to win Picture. Though, most people will probably be debating between the two most dominate films this awards season. Each got nine nominations this morning, so throw out the theory that the film with the most nominations has the edge. It looked like Avatar was going to run away with this after the amazing box office and Golden Globe win, but The Hurt Locker has bounced back and is stronger than ever with the guild wins. For that reason, I have to go with Ms. Bigelow's film right now. It just feels right even though a war film does scare me a little.
Speaking of Ms. Bigelow, it's hard to also not go against the DGA and pick against her. Yes, she is a woman, but I think the Academy is ready to give it to her. I also think some people just find James Cameron pretentious and the guy already has an Oscar. The DGA is the best guild predictor and I don't see them being wrong. This is a two person race all the way in my mind and one of the more intriguing stories of the awards season considering the two of them were married for a short period of time in the late '80s.
The acting races are really boring this year as I feel like three out of the four are more or less locked up. Especially the supporting roles, which seem to be all about Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds and Mo'Nique in Precious. They have each been winning everything and I don't think that is going to change on Oscar night. The Supporting Actor race I personally think is even weaker than last year when the late Heath Ledger dominated the season. Would I love to see Anna Kendrick win an Oscar? Of course, but I'm going to have to wait another year. The Best Actor race has also turned out to be a boring one as Jeff Bridges just picked up steam and basically started to win everything. Early frontrunners such as Clooney and Freeman have done almost nothing this season. I'd make an argument that I think Jeremy Renner has a better shot at winning this than George and Morgan. Clearly, the Academy likes The Hurt Locker, so maybe it can pull off a huge upset and take an acting prize.
The only race on the acting side seems to be Best Actress, but even that is turning into the Sandra Bullock show. The Blind Side is well liked and Sandra Bullock is well liked. Due to a weak field, it just feels like a golden opportunity to give her the actress prize. Do I agree with it? Not really, but looking at the nominees, who else is there really? Both Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe peaked way too early. Mulligan couldn't even win the Globe for a British film, which is voted on by the Hollywood Foreign Press. Helen Mirren won too recent and The Last Station is not a very well known film. Or at least I haven't seen it yet. That leaves Streep as the person to take out Bullock. For some reason, people love nominating her, but she never wins. Her last win was Sophie's Choice back in '82. This could be a situation similar to 2006 when Alan Arkin lost to Eddie Murphy in every award show, but took home the Oscar. I could easily see that happening here. Meryl is due, but the biggest problem is that Julie & Julia is not that great of a film. Best Actress is the film's only nomination. That creates an immediate problem and that is my problem with going with Streep right now.
While Up in the Air may struggle to win Picture, Directing, and Acting, I do see it taking Best Adapted Screenplay. The WGA is in a couple weeks and that should shed further light on this situation. I have always seen these writing awards as a consolation prize. Ask Lost in Translation, Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, Milk, etc. Up in the Air could very well join that list of films. The only film that could give it a little trouble is Precious, but that film just peaked way too early (I know I've already said that). Original Screenplay is a little more interesting as this is going to be interesting between The Hurt Locker and Basterds. I want to go with Basterds as I think Tarantino deserves something, but The Hurt Locker is so strong right now. This early showdown could be an early indicator of whether or not, Hurt Locker will have a huge night. My heart says Basterds, but my brain says Locker. My brain managed to get 22 out of 24 categories correct last year. For that reason, I'm sticking to my brain.
I'm not going to get into individual initial thoughts on many of the other technical races yet. Though, expect a huge showing from Avatar. That will come soon with the Oscar Series. I'm not 100% sure when that will be launched. I'm also not sure when the Oscar contest will be launched. Stay tuned for that. Hopefully, I'll have it ready to go by the weekend. Here's a complete list of my predicted winners if I had to pick right now.
Complete Oscar Predictions:
Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
Best Actress: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique, Precious
Best Original Screenplay: The Hurt Locker
Best Adapted Screenplay: Up in the Air
Best Animated Feature: Up
Best Art Direction: Avatar
Best Cinematography: Avatar
Best Costume Design: The Young Victoria
Best Documentary - Feature: The Most Dangerous Man in America
Best Documentary - Short Subject: The Last Truck
Best Film Editing: The Hurt Locker
Best Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon
Best Makeup: Star Trek
Best Original Score: Avatar
Best Original Song: "The Weary Kind", Crazy Heart
Best Short - Animated: A Matter of Loaf and Death
Best Short - Live Action: The New Tenants
Best Sound Editing: Avatar
Best Sound Mixing: Avatar
Best Visual Effects: Avatar