THE 82nd ACADEMY AWARDS – Nomination Reactions and First Official Award Predictions

So it’s taken me long enough, but they’re finally here! My official Oscar Predictions. They’re only in the major categories: Best Picture, Animated Picture, Director, Acting Awards and Writing Awards. I feel I have the knowledge and information to properly predict those. The other awards… Not so much. I could try, but frankly, I’m going to be lazy for the moment and just focus on the major ones. Maybe before the official Oscar telecast I’ll make predictions in other areas. Anyway, I hope you enjoy. Remember, if you want to see these predictions later, just check out the page at the top labeled “The Oscars.” That will take you right there. Or just click here.

BEST PICTURE
Avatar
The Blind Side
District 9
An Education
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
Precious
A Serious Man
Up
Up in the Air

There’s not much of a surprise here with, I think, the exception of The Blind Side. Where is Invictus? Given the fact that I haven’t seen either of those two films, I can’t really judge them on their merits, but aside from The Blind Side’s commercial success I’ve heard little worth praising it outside of Sandra Bullock’s performance. I’m glad to see District 9 get a Best Picture nomination, which became all the more likely in the past couple weeks. I’m also glad to see An Education get a nomination, which it definitely deserves. I would have liked to see Star Trek get a nomination, but hey, the Academy was never going to nominate three science fiction films, which it barely ever nominates one. And congrats to Up for landing a Best Picture nomination, only the second animated film in the Academy’s history with that distinction. Though frankly, it wouldn’t have been nominated without the expanded field of 10 nominees. As for my prediction, this has really become a race between Avatar and The Hurt Locker, and I’m going to go with The Hurt Locker. It won the Critics Choice Award, which has been I believe 80% correct this past decade in predicting the eventual Best Picture winner at the Oscars. It also won the Producers Guild Award. The Golden Globe doesn’t mean much, in my opinion, and though Avatar’s win there pushed it into contention, The Hurt Locker is still the favorite, if only slightly. The fact that Avatar didn’t get a screenplay nomination or an acting nomination spells bad news for it, as the last time a movie won Best Picture without a single acting nomination or a writing nomination was Grand Hotel in 1932. I guess the positive thing I can say for Avatar’s chances are “it has happened before…” But frankly, I just think The Hurt Locker has more momentum. It tied Avatar with 9 total Oscar nominations. For a film so small (in its budget, release, audience-viewing, etc.), that’s a huge feat, especially against Cameron’s juggernaut. That momentum just has to hold.

Winner: The Hurt Locker
Runner-Up: Avatar

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Coraline
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Princess and the Frog
The Secret of Kells
Up

Interesting seeing The Secret of Kells on here. I can’t help but wonder why The Academy chose it over films that are better known and more popular. Perhaps it was just that good at its Academy screening. But that doesn’t change the dynamic of this “race.” This is Up’s to lose. It was nominated for Best Picture, and it’s not going to win there. So if it loses here there’s going to be hell to pay. ‘Nuff said.

Winner: Up
Runner-Up: Fantastic Mr. Fox

BEST DIRECTOR
Avatar – James Cameron
The Hurt Locker – Kathryn Bigelow
Inglourious Basterds – Quentin Tarantino
Precious – Lee Daniels
Up in the Air – Jason Reitman

This was pretty expected. I find it a little unfortunate that Lee Daniels got nominated, as I think there were much more deserving people out there, like Duncan Jones for Moon, Neill Blomkamp for District 9 or Lone Sherfig for An Education. Despite that, congrats to Daniels for becoming only the second black filmmaker to get nominated for Best Director. The first and only other time was John Singleton for Boyz n the Hood back in 1991. As for my prediction of an eventual winner, this is all Bigelow’s. Even if The Hurt Locker doesn’t win for Best Picture, she’s going to win for Best Director. She won the Directors Guild Award, which has been correct in predicting the eventual Oscar winner 52/60 times. If she doesn’t win, it’ll truly be unfortunate, and one of Oscar’s biggest mistakes, not just in recent memory but period. If there’s one person who could unseat her it’s her ex-husband, James Cameron. But frankly, I just don’t think he has much to back him up. When even he seemed like Bigelow should have won when he got the Golden Globe, that doesn’t make his chances look good anywhere else. Bigelow is getting the attention she rightly deserves, and I don’t see that attention, or her momentum, slowing down soon.

Winner: Kathryn Bigelow
Runner-up: James Cameron

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

Absolutely no surprises in the nominations here whatsoever, not as I see it. I haven’t seen Crazy Heart, A Single Man, or Invictus, so I can’t comment on the performances, but I still think Sharlto Copley gave a very underrated performance in District 9. Also, I think it was very sad how little attention was paid to Sam Rockwell’s performance in Moon. That said, I think that Jeff Bridges has pretty much secured an Oscar this time around. He’s been nominated 4 times before, but never won, and he’s getting older. He’s loved by a great many people, and despite those 4 nominations is still considered an underrated actor to some people. Frankly, it’s about time Hollywood gave him his due. I haven’t seen Crazy Heart yet, so I can’t comment, but Bridges is the one to beat. I think his closest competition is George Clooney, who gave a wonderful performance, many people considering it his best work yet (I agree), but I still think he’s running behind. Jeremy Renner could potentially win, given the momentum of The Hurt Locker in general, but I highly doubt a win for him. It’s his first nomination, and a breakthrough performance, and given the choice between awarding Bridges, the veteran, and Renner, the newcomer, the veteran wins out.

Winner: Jeff Bridges
Runner-Up: George Clooney

BEST ACTRESS
Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side
Helen Mirren – The Last Station
Carey Mulligan – An Education
Gabourey Sidibe – Precious
Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia

Apparently Tilda Swinton gave one of the best performances of the year, period, for her work in Julia. I haven’t seen it, but it’s been hailed in certain circles (most notably by Roger Ebert), so although it’s not surprising that she wasn’t nominated, it is a little unfortunate. At least, if the performance is as good as I’ve heard it is. For a while, Meryl Streep was the clear frontrunner for this award, until Sandra Bullock came around and started shaking things up. Although I haven’t seen The Blind Side, my impression is that she’s the best thing about the movie, and many reviewers have noted how it elevates the film above its clichéd, tired plot. Yet frankly, I wish Carey Mulligan were receiving more attention. She’s won some critics awards, but honestly, she deserves more. I adores her in An Education. It’s a thoughtful, soulful performance, and it’s a difficult one, but she pulled it off beautifully. That’s why I find it unfortunate that Bullock will most likely win. She’s one of the only actresses in Hollywood who can make a movie a hit simply because it has her in it. Hollywood adores her, but they’ve never adored her critically until now. I don’t see The Academy really going against the grain. It’s all about the money, and Bullock brings it in. Perhaps Meryl Streep could win her third Oscar, but the way I see it, The Academy probably feels that since she gets nominated every other year, she’s bound to have another shot.

Winner: Sandra Bullock
Runner-up: Meryl Streep

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Matt Damon – Invictus
Woody Harrelson – The Messenger
Christopher Plummer – The Last Station
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz – Inglourious Basterds

There’s no real shocker here. All of these actors were getting attention for this award. Alfred Molina was also getting attention for An Education, and Christian McKay for Me & Orson Welles, but either way, I think it was going to be some combination of those seven. Frankly, this race was over long ago. If Christoph Waltz doesn’t win here, it’ll be a crime. His performance isn’t only the very best supporting performance of the year, but one of the best performances overall. The only person I could POSSIBLY see winning in his place is Woody Harrelson, but that seems like such an outside chance that really, I’m only saying it so I can be consistent and have a runner-up. But honestly, I think Waltz has it in the bag. Also, I doubt Inglourious Basterds is going to get many awards elsewhere, and an award for Waltz will be the Academy’s way of recognizing the movie.

Winner: Christoph Waltz
Runner-Up: Woody Harrelson

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Penelope Cruz – Nine
Vera Farmiga – Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal – Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air
Mo’Nique – Precious

If you take what I said above and just change Waltz to Mo’Nique, you have the state of Supporting Actress. That said, I’m a little surprised by Maggie Gyllenhaal getting a nomination. She wasn’t really on the radar at all from what I could tell. If I had actually made predictions, I would have predicted Diane Kruger or Melanie Laurent from Inglourious Basterds for that spot. In any event, this race ended long ago. Since I’m forcing myself to pick runners-up, I’m going to say Anna Kendrick. Although Vera Farmiga arguably gives a better performance in Up in the Air (and frankly, they’re both absolutely fantastic performances), Kendrick has received far more attention, and of all the nominees, she would be the only one I could see dethroning Mo’Nique. But Mo’Nique’s not going to get dethroned, and deservedly so.

Winner: Mo’Nique
Runner-Up: Anna Kendrick

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds
The Messenger
A Serious Man
Up

There’s not a very big surprise here (as with the rest of the nominations… notice a trend?). It’s nice to see Up get a nomination. The first 10 or so minutes of the film, combined with the well-written dialogue and characters, and Pixar’s usual refusal to pander to children really made this nomination deserved. I’m not in the least surprised that Avatar didn’t get a nomination. The WGA nominated it, but that’s probably because Inglourious Basterds and Up were ineligible. Some people thought Avatar might get a nomination, but I never did. A winner here is a little more unclear compared to some of the other races. I personally think it’s between The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds, with Inglourious Basterds taking a slight edge. The Messenger and A Serious Man just haven’t received the kind of attention by now that one would see in a winner here, and The Coen brothers just won a couple years ago for No Country For Old Men (though granted, in the Adapted Screenplay category), so it’s doubtful the Academy will award them again so soon. Basterds was extremely well written, and Tarantino is known for his flair with dialogue. He doesn’t disappoint here, and so it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he went home with the award. The Hurt Locker, for all its praise, hasn’t been receiving a ton of attention for its writing, but given the fact that it’s the first universally-praised drama about the Iraq War, I could see the Academy awarding it on that basis. Still, for the moment I’m going to go with Basterds.

Winner: Inglourious Basterds
Runner-Up: The Hurt Locker

BEST ADAPATED SCREENPLAY
District 9
An Education
In the Loop
Precious
Up in the Air

I’m happy with all these nominees, and I don’t consider any of them a shocker. Nice to see District 9 get nominated, especially considering the Academy’s aversion to sci-fi. But this is where the Academy is going to award Jason Reitman and Up in the Air. Seeing as it’s nominated for 6 Oscars, but doesn’t look like it will win in most, if any of the other categories it’s nominated in, this is where the Academy is going to reward it. And deservedly so. Although it’s not set in stone. If one movie could knock it from its current place, I think it would be Precious. An Education hasn’t been seen by a lot of people, and I get the feeling that the Academy feels, like with District 9 and In the Loop, its nomination is its reward. So this race comes down to Up in the Air versus Precious, with Up in the Air winning in the end.

Winner: Up in the Air
Runner-Up: Precious

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