05 March 2010

Academy Award Predictions

I've taken one last look at the nominees and thought it through. I went seven for seven last year. Let's see how well I do here...

Best Picture
James Cameron and Jon Landau, Producers

“The Blind Side”
Gil Netter, Andrew A. Kosove and Broderick Johnson, Producers

“District 9”
Peter Jackson and Carolynne Cunningham, Producers

“An Education”
Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers

“The Hurt Locker”
Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Nicolas Chartier and Greg Shapiro, Producers

“Inglourious Basterds”
Lawrence Bender, Producer

Lee Daniels, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness, Producers

“A Serious Man”
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Producers

Jonas Rivera, Producer

“Up in the Air”
Daniel Dubiecki, Ivan Reitman and Jason Reitman, Producers
This category is actually more unpredictable than people think. In addition to changing the number of nominees from five to ten, the Academy also asked voters to rank their choices from 1 to 10 instead of voting for just one film, as they do with the rest of the categories. This new weighted vote count has the potential for a huge upset in the making.

That said, the front runners for the last two months have been "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker." The current conventional wisdom says "The Hurt Locker's" momentum was at its peak as Academy members voted. However, it seems one of the movie's producers ran an ad campaign that violated Academy rules and he has been banned from attending the ceremony. Did that change enough voters minds? Hard to tell.

In fact the entire category is hard to predict. I'll play it safe. "The Hurt Locker" wins, with "Avatar" or "Inglorious Basterds" having an outside chance.

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan in “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious”
Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”
Everyone and their mother (and father and grandmother and grandfather) are betting on a Sandra Bullock win here. Her comeback in 2009 is the sort of thing Hollywood loves. The thing is, Academy voters are going to give this year's "comeback" trophy in the Actor category (see below). I think that diminishes Bullock's chances.

Many movie pundits are saying Meryl Streep has a chance to win her "overdue" third Oscar, but I really don't think they would give it to her for "Julie and Julia." A fun movie, but a bit too light for an Oscar win.

No, almost every year the Academy like to throw us a curve ball, and if that happens this year it will be in this category. So, for the sake of shaking it up, I am going to buck the conventional wisdom and predict a win for Carey Mulligan.

Another likely upset could just as easily come from Gabourey Sidibe.

Best Actor
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”
As much as I would love to see Colin Firth win here for his role as a gay professor in 1960s Los Angeles, his chances are pretty close to zero following Sean Penn's victory last year for his portrayal of Harvey Milk. Jeff Bridges pretty much has this sewn up. Jeremy Renner might upset, but I doubt it.

Best Supporting Actress
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”
This used to be the category where upsets took place on a regular basis (Marissa Tomei, Marcia Gay Harden, Juliette Binoche), but lately the conventional wisdom seems to hold and this year will be no different. Mo'Nique wins.

Best Supporting Actor
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”
Oh, what a sweet night it would be if Stanley Tucci upset this category, if anything for his body of work to date. And based on that argument, don't count out Christopher Plummer.

But I'll stick with the experts: Christoph Waltz will win for "Inglorious Basterds."

Best Director
Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker"
James Cameron for "Avatar"
Lee Daniels for "Precious"
Jason Reitman for "Up in the Air"
Quentin Tarantino for "Inglorious Basterds"
The Academy loves drama, so the temptation to hand Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron's ex-wife, this Oscar as he watches from the front row will be too good to pass up. The fact that Cameron picked up three statuettes for "Titanic" (picture, director, editing) only increases Bigelow's chances here.

Best Animated Feature:
"Coraline," Henry Selick
"Fantastic Mr. Fox," Wes Anderson
"The Princess and the Frog," John Musker and Ron Clements
"The Secret of Kells,' Tomm Moore
"Up,' Pete Docter
"Up" wins. The other nominees are really just window dressing for this category.

There you go. I'll check back in Monday morning with a post-Oscar recap. Enjoy the ceremony on Sunday night.