The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker
A Serious Man
Up In the Air
Will Win: Avatar. Highest grossing movie of all time, revolutionary special effects, James Cameron- though none of these factors qualify it in my book, the Academy went with Titanic, and it will go with this one to get a ratings boost.
Should Win: Up In the Air. Jason Reitman’s film is a movie that perfectly captures and analyzes the point we are at in this country’s history. With a pitch-perfect screenplay, cast, and production team, you can’t go wrong.
Left Out: Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. Kids movie my ass, this movie deserved recognition. Not only does it speak the truth, something watered down in The Blind Side, it looks and sounds great thanks to revolutionary production design and some of the best voice work ever recorded.
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. He’s been winning every major acting award at all the right ceremonies and has the underdog momentum that failed Rourke last year. However, Bridges doesn’t have any clear competition, so the trophy is all his.
Should Win: Jeremy Renner. As a bomb diffuser in Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, Renner is responsible for at least part of the unnerving suspense. Watch him, lost and confused, not at war but in a super market back home, to really get the gravity of his performance.
Left Out: Michael Stuhlbarg in A Serious Man. Giving one of the greatest performances ever in a Coen Brothers movie is a bold statement. Not here.
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Helen Mirren, The Last Station
Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
Will Win: Bullock. That it’s said Meryl Streep has a chance is pushing it. Bullock has won more awards, and Streep never wins the big prize. Do either deserve to win? No, but Bullock is the least capable of the 5, making this the most disappointing category of the night.
Should Win: Carey Mulligan. She gave the best performance of 2009, never mind that it was her first as lead. That she doesn’t have more momentum behind her speaks more to the box office standards of the Academy than anything.
Left Out: Zoe Saldana in Avatar. Yeah, you heard me. Her motion-captured performance ranks with that of Gollum’s. Benjamin Button gets a nomination, but not one that requires the performer to move like a different species? Please.
Best Supporting Actor
Matt Damon, Invictus
Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
Will Win: Waltz. Like Bridges, he’s won all the important awards, and there’s really no stopping him at this point.
Should Win: Waltz. Sometimes, they line up the way they should. As a Nazi layered with menace and a hidden agenda, he delivers Tarantino’s dialogue in 4 languages with creepy precision.
Left Out: Peter Sarsgaard in An Education. He takes a role that could’ve been that of a creepy pedophile and makes it into something more mysterious, but still dark.
Best Supporting Actress
Penélope Cruz, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Will Win: Mo’Nique. As an abusive mom in Precious, there’s no surer thing on Oscar night than an award for Mo’nique.
Should Win: Mo’Nique. Sometimes a performance deserves all the attention it gets. This is one of those times.
Left Out: Marion Cotillard in Public Enemies. As the love interest of Johnny Depp’s John Dillanger, Cotillard steals the spotlight in the scenes she’s in, bringing a magnetism and feeling that gives the movie part of it’s bruised soul.
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
James Cameron, Avatar
Lee Daniels, Precious
Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Will Win: It’s hard to say whether it will be Bigelow or Cameron, but I think Kathryn will edge out her ex-husband and become the first female to ever win the award.
Should Win: Bigelow. The directing is what makes the locker hurt so much. The bruised souls and the unnerving suspense come together to create master-class in film making.
Left Out: Spike Jonze. He directs Where the Wild Things Are with such vibrant creative energy and vision that it’s a shame nobody in the Academy seemed to notice. Also throw in Neil Blomkamp, who is responsible for the sleeper summer hit District 9.
Best Original Screenplay
Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman, The Messenger
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, A Serious Man
Pete Docter, Bob Peterson & Tom McCarthy, Up
Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
Will Win: Tarantino. It’s been awhile since Pulp Fiction, and this is one area where the Academy doesn’t mind acknowledging him.
Should Win: The Coen Brothers. They craft a script in A Serious Man that is so brusingly pitch black and hilarious that it will make you feel guiltier for laughing than Bruno did.
Left Out: (500) Days of Summer. If there’s one nomination this movie deserved, it was this one.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci & Tony Roche, In the Loop
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell, District 9
Geoffrey Fletcher, Precious
Nick Hornby, An Education
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up In the Air
Will Win: Up In the Air. Reitman and Turner have written a script that is filled with humor and gravity, and this is the one area where this movie will be acknowledged.
Should Win: Though I have no problem with UITA winning, Nick Hornby’s terrific adaptation of An Education is in my opinion superior.
Left Out: Again, Where the Wild Things Are. Who would have the audacity to adapt a 12-page children’s novel that’s mostly pictures? Jonze did, and he rocked it. For shame, Academy voters.