Academy Awards Predictions, 2010


Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

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

Earlier in the season, this race could have been more interesting. Voters might have been split between Clooney’s movie-star role and Firth’s disappearance into his deeply wounded character, with Renner possibly playing new-guy spoiler. Than Jeff Bridges, who is so darn likable (even in a weak movie) and way overdue for an Oscar, showed up, and made this a done deal.

Will Win: Bridges
Should Win: Firth
They Forgot: Sharlto Copley in “District 9” – the movie simply doesn’t work without him.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Matt Damon in “Invictus”
Woody Harrelson in “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer in “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci in “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz in “Inglourious Basterds”

Considering this category lately has been going to the creepiest villain, it seems that this would be a race between Stanley Tucci and Christoph Waltz. But considering Tucci’s film was universally panned by critics, and Inglourious Basterds has turned into a dark horse Best Picture contender, it’s pretty obvious that Waltz can’t lose. It helps that he deserves it.

Will Win: Waltz
Should Win: Waltz
They Forgot: Anthony Mackie in “The Hurt Locker” – the quiet counterpoint to Jeremy Renner’s loose cannon.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”

This is probably the only exciting acting race of the night. I really believe the only non-factor is Helen Mirren. Mulligan was the early critical favorite, though she’s faded lately, and Sidibe gives the most nakedly emotional performance. Who knows how votes for Mulligan and Sidibe will affect the frontrunners, perpetual also-ran Meryl Streep (nominated a ton, but hasn’t won in 20+ years) and the oh-so-lovable Sandra Bullock. Both women starred in uneven movies, so it will really come down to who voters think is due.

Will Win: Bullock
Should Win: Mulligan
They Forgot: Can’t think of anyone. Sadly, this has been a weak category in recent years.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Penélope Cruz in “Nine”
Vera Farmiga in “Up in the Air”
Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Crazy Heart”
Anna Kendrick in “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Again, there’s no real contest here. Mo’Nique has won every award in the book for her Mommy Dearest performance in Precious. Her only possible spoilers are the ladies from Up in the Air, who will likely cancel each other out. Which is too bad, since Farmiga and Kendrick both steal the movie from the also-excellent Clooney.

Will Win – Mo’Nique
Should Win – Kendrick
They Forgot – Julianne Moore in “A Single Man” – for creating a layered character in two brief scenes with the brilliant Firth.

Adapted screenplay

“District 9”
“An Education”
“In the Loop”
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”
“Up in the Air”

I think In The Loop and An Education are too little-seen to make a dent here. This is really a contest between Precious and Up in the Air. Many perceive Precious as an actor’s showcase and are likely to ignore the screenplay. Up In The Air, long a favorite to win Best Picture, will probably take this as a consolation prize for its sharp dialogue and bold late-inning plot changes. Potential spoiler: The wholly original District 9. Sure it’s a splatter sci-fi film, but it’s genuinely clever.

Will Win: Up in the Air
Should Win: Up in the Air
They Forgot: The Informant! – a goofy intrigue spoof, or a meditation on the nature of the truth? Both.

Original screenplay

“The Hurt Locker
“Inglourious Basterds
“The Messenger
“A Serious Man

There are many that think Mark Boal will be swept along with a Hurt Locker wave, if that happens. I’m keen to doubt that. I think voters will (correctly) award The Hurt Locker as a directorial achievement, and honor Tarantino with a second Oscar for his brilliantly revisionist World War II action mélange, Inglourious Basterds. I actually think Basterd’s biggest threat comes from Up, but don’t count on it.

Will Win: Inglourious Basterds
Should Win: Inglourious Basterds
They Forgot: Adventureland – Greg Motolla’s miniature portrait of teens working at an amusement park in the 80s is neither as goofy or shallow as it sounds.

Best Director

“Avatar” — James Cameron
“The Hurt Locker” — Kathryn Bigelow
“Inglourious Basterds” — Quentin Tarantino
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” — Lee Daniels
“Up in the Air” – Jason Reitman

Looks like Daniels and Reitman will have to deal with consolation prizes for their movies – this is a three way race. After slowly gaining critical steam throughout the year, Tarantino’s “second wave” as an action/exploitation director seems to have peaked with Inglourious Basterds. That being said, no one can resist the Cameron/Bigelow contest, and one of them will win. Call me sentimental, but I think it will be hard not to give the first ever Oscar to a female director to Bigelow, especially since most people think that (gasp!) she actually deserves it. Me too.

Will Win: Bigelow – “The Hurt Locker”
Should Win: Bigelow – “The Hurt Locker”
They Forgot: Neil Blomkamp – the youngster managed to make a James Cameron/David Cronenberg/NBC’s The Office mash-up work like gangbusters.

Best motion picture of the year

“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”

Let’s reflect on the quality and diversity of these nominees – a crowd-pleaser (Blind Side), three small indie dramas (Serious Man, Precious and An Education), a studio produced romantic dramedy (Up in The Air), the second animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture (Up), a edgy Tarantino flick (Inglourious Basterds), two science fiction blockbusters (D9 and Avatar) and the most critically successful Iraq movie ever made (The Hurt Locker). Really, there’s something for everyone to root for here. As for who might win, I’m guessing District 9 will take just enough votes away from Avatar to clear the way for The Hurt Locker to make history as the lowest grossing Best Picture winner ever. That’d be great, but Basterds has an outside chance of being a real shocker.

Will Win: The Hurt Locker
Should Win: Inglourious Basterds
They Forgot: A Single Man – More than just the year’s best performance, A Single Man is the year’s most deeply felt movie.

Best animated feature film of the year

“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells”

In arguably the greatest year for animation in our era, this has unfortunately become an almost no-contest victory for Up, which was also nominated for Best Picture. Both Coraline and Fantastic Mr. Fox have small, but rabid, fan bases, but everyone seems to agree that Pixar’s latest is amongst its finest, and the studio’s roll will continue.

Will Win: Up
Should Win: Coraline
They Forgot: Ponyo

Best documentary feature

“Burma VJ”
“The Cove”
“Food, Inc.”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
“Which Way Home”

Huge upsets are not out of the question in this unpredictable category, but smart money is on The Cove, if only for its similarities to the previous year’s, also heist-film-structured Man on Wire. Food Inc. might just be too upsetting. The Most Dangerous Man may have late traction, but I doubt it.

Will Win: The Cove
Should Win: Sadly, I haven’t seen any of these
They Forgot: Slow year for me at documentary screenings. Didn’t see any.

Best Foreign Film

“El Secreto de Sus Ojos”
“The Milk of Sorrow”
“Un Prophète”
“The White Ribbon”

By all accounts, this is The White Ribbon’s prize to lose. And it might, if recent history is any indication. Potential spoiler is Un Prophete, which swept the French equivalent of the Oscars. Or one of the other, lesser-seen films could shock. I bet we see a surprise here.

Will Win: Un Prophete
Should Win: Haven’t seen em
They Forgot: Ponyo – Miyasaki’s latest is for little kids, but it’s enchanting


Achievement in art direction
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
“Sherlock Holmes”
“The Young Victoria”

Will Win: Avatar – even though it’s done with computers, it’s amazingly designed.
Should Win: Sherlock Holmes – sumptuous steam-punk wonderland
They Forgot: Coraline – made by hand, a miniature, perfect world

Achievement in cinematography

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The White Ribbon”

Will Win: Avatar – See “Art Direction”
Should Win: The Hurt Locker – it takes a lot of work to look this natural
They Forgot: Coraline – beautifully gothic, done one frame at a time

Achievement in costume design

“Bright Star”
“Coco before Chanel”
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“The Young Victoria”

Will Win: Nine – Never count out Colleen Atwood
Should Win: Imaginarium – Grungy and fantastical
They Forgot: Sherlock Holmes – Downey Jr. and Law have never looked better, and that says something

Achievement in film editing

“District 9”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire”

Will Win: The Hurt Locker – how do you deny the year’s most suspenseful film?
Should Win: The Hurt Locker – a no-brainer. The opening sequence alone should be taught in all film-school editing classes.
They Forgot: The Informant! – Soderbergh’s loony, hard to describe movie is all about pacing.

Achievement in makeup

“Il Divo”
“Star Trek”
“The Young Victoria”

Will Win: Star Trek – classic movie-movie make-up
Should Win: I’ve only seen Trek
They Forgot: District 9 – That arm! GROSS! Awesome.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

“Avatar” — James Horner
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” — Alexandre Desplat
“The Hurt Locker” — Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
“Sherlock Holmes” — Hans Zimmer
“Up” — Michael Giacchino

Will Win: Up – Goacchio’s score is an instant classic
Should Win: Fantastic Mr. Fox – brilliantly jaunty
They Forgot: Coraline – such strange choices (eerie boys choir?) for a kids movie gave Coraline it’s offbeat tone

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog”
“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36”
“Take It All” from Nine
“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart”

Will Win: Crazy Heart – Best song in a movie full of mostly dull songs
Should Win: Crazy Heart – The best of a weak crop
They Forgot: Don’t know

Achievement in sound editing

“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”

Will Win: The Hurt Locker – boom!
Should Win: Up – it’s ALL sound editing!
They Forgot: District 9 – so much splatter, so little time

Achievement in sound mixing

“The Hurt Locker
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Will Win: Avatar – the most sound mixing
Should Win: The Hurt Locker – the best sound mixing
They Forgot: Fantastic Mr. Fox – for the seamless handling of dialogue

Achievement in visual effects

“District 9”
“Star Trek”

Will Win: Avatar – a whole new world
Should Win: District 9 – call me traditional, but D9’s incredible mix of practical effects and CGI impressed me more than Cameron’s lava-lamp world
They Forgot: Where the Wild Things Are – those faces, that world, flawless.

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