The Hurt Locker
At the beginning of the Oscar race, it seemed like it would be a battle between The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air. Until Avatar came out. Then the box office records started falling to the wayside. There were even articles in major entertainment magazines asking how any film could beat Avatar at the Oscars. And that was only 2 weeks ago. Now? Avatar has fallen by the wayside, as has Up in the Air. Sure, Avatar won the Golden Globe, but that becomes a less reliable indicator every year. The Hurt Locker, on the other hand, recently hit the trifecta: The Producers Guild, The Directors Guild and The American Cinema Editors awards. Slumdog Millionaire did it last year. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won all three. So did Chicago. And Gladiator. BUT, there has been ONE instance where a film won all three and lost Best Picture. In 1998, Saving Private Ryan. Coincidence, that both SPR and The Hurt Locker are war films? We'll see.
Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
There's some talk that Avatar may lose Best Picture, but James Cameron will win here. I would argue that the opposite is more likely. Avatar is no more extraordinary an achievement by a director than Jurassic Park was for Spielberg. Take away all the groundbreaking, 3-D special effects and you have a B-movie. And because so much of the film is CGI, I would argue that James Cameron deserves no more consideration for Best Director than Pete Docter would for Up. At least the performances in Up seemed natural.
Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
I'm giddy at the thought of this. Jeff Bridges has been one of my favorite actors since Starman. Even more so as Jack Lucas in The Fisher King. It's amazing that this is only his 5th nomination and only his 2nd in the last 25 years. AND, he's never won. His first nomination was for The Last Picture Show, where he lost to his costar, Ben Johnson. He was nominated again, four years later, when teamed up with Clint Eastwood in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. He lost to Robert De Niro in The Godfather Part II. Nomination number 3 was Starman. That was the year F. Murray Abraham won as Salieri in Amadeus. His fourth nomination came 16 years later for The Contender. Unfortunately, he was nominated against Benicio Del Toro for Traffic. After almost 30 years of being a bridesmaid, Bridges WILL be heading to the altar. If they took bets on the Oscars, this is about a sure thing as any category.
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
She's going to win here for several reasons and none having to do with her actual performance. One, she's very popular in Hollywood. Her sweet, nice girl roles are supposedly never far from her own personality. When she plays against that type, it's usually with horrific results. This year will be the proof as Sandra Bullock will likely have the distinction of winning the Oscar and the Golden Raspberry (for All About Steve) in the same year. And she's going to be there to accept both awards. Because she doesn't take herself that seriously. Which leads to point number two. Sandra Bullock rarely gives performances worthy of Oscar consideration. Lord knows she's tried. 28 Days, Crash, Infamous. Just didn't happen. There's a strong possibility this will be the only nomination of Sandra Bullock's career. Which leads to point number three. The other contenders. Meryl Streep was terrific in Julie & Julia. This is her SIXTEENTH nomination. Her fourth in the last 10 years. It's a pretty safe bet she'll be nominated again at some point. Then there's Carey Mulligan who gave a performance in An Education that I would equate to Audrey Hepburn's Oscar winning performance in Roman Holiday. It's one of those where you just know this girl will be around for a long while. It was that belief that cost Kate Winslet the Oscar for Sense and Sensibility. You just knew she would be nominated again soon enough.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
I haven't seen the statistic yet, but I'm guessing Christoph Waltz has about as much screen time in the movie as anyone else. But, with Tarantino flicks, who's the lead, who's supporting can be tough to tell. With Pulp Fiction, Samuel L. Jackson had more dialogue that John Travolta, but Travolta was on screen more. So who's the lead? The first 10-15 minutes of Basterds is almost entirely Waltz talking. But then he disappears for a long part of the film only to come back and take over the film again. So, basically, Inglourious Basterds has no lead. But the same could be said about Woody Harrelson. Calling him supporting is like calling Susan Sarandon supporting in Thelma & Louise. Technically she was since the film is a little more about Geena Davis' journey than hers, but they're almost always on screen together. Stanley Tucci is the next contender and the one traditional supporting role. The other two, Matt Damon and Christopher Plummer, are just lucky to be there. Damon sucked in Invictus.
EDIT: I did find the statistic and Christoph Waltz is on screen more than "lead" actor, Brad Pitt. Go figure.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
This is another lock. It goes to show you that you can't tell the actor by their role choices. Especially, if they don't have movie star looks and are black. At that point, you take the work you can get because they aren't going to look to you to star in Avatar. Mo'Nique previous three films? Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Beerfest and Phat Girlz. In Precious, she just owns the screen when she's on it. She makes you absolutely hate her and just when want her to just drop dead, she delivers one of the made-for-Oscar speeches that so rarely happens anymore because today's audiences know when they're being manipulated. But Mo'Nique pulls it off so well, that you actually feel sympathy for a character you've hated the whole film.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Of the Big Eight categories, this one is the toughest. The Academy likes to give an Oscar somewhere to all of the Best Picture nominees, but now that there's 10, it's a little tougher. Especially since the three top contenders will win in other categories. A Serious Man shouldn't be taken very seriously. It's nomination was surprising enough. The Messenger is a brilliant script, but don't expect it to win. That leaves The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds and Up. The Hurt Locker is a stellar film. It just doesn't have a flashy script, which was kind of the point. Up is going to win in other categories and is a brilliant piece from Pixar. I can't think of any film this year that rode that fine line of mixing humor and pathos. If any film beats out Tarantino, this will be it. I just don't think it will. Tarantino shows with this one that he's grown up a bit.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Up in the Air
Another case of "where else are we going to give it something?" This will be Up in the Air's only win all night. An Education is brilliant, but just doesn't carry a lot of excitement with it. Precious falters because an unwittingly racist Academy who probably had never heard of nor read the book and they'll write it off here. District 9 will be the "we were lucky to be nominated" film all night and won't win squat. This is In the Loop's only nomination and those films NEVER win here, despite the fact that it's actually the best script out of either writing category. Nope. It's Up in the Air's category, one hundred percent.
BEST FILM EDITING:
The Hurt Locker
I'm probably wrong here and therefore, defeating the purpose of the title of this blog entry. I'm strictly going with my gut that this will be the one tech category where it beats out Avatar. In my opinion, it's the one technical category where it's actually better than Avatar. The Hurt Locker became what it is in the editing room. The rest of the nominees (District 9, Basterds, Precious) are just filler. Mainly because of having 10 nominations, but this is one of the rare years where all Film Editing nominees are up for Picture. It's also worth mention that NO film has won Best Picture without an Editing nomination since 1980. So, you can rule out any upsets from A Serious Man, An Education, The Blind Side, Up in the Air or Up right here.
I'm just not sold on it. I think we could be reaching a point where CGI will actually starting hurting films come Oscar time. It's not like Mauro Fiore (Avatar's DP) had to figure out how to light the Home Tree. Come to think of it, how often was he even behind a camera? So how much is a DP actually doing in a film like this. It's not like there was a bunch of Na'vi standing around waiting for magic hour. So what did he actually do here? James Cameron's a cinematographer also so I don't think he'd want another one to help decide how to light a CGI rock. That said, I'll go with it anyway. I haven't seen The White Ribbon yet, but I've seen the other four nominees. It really should be The Hurt Locker.
BEST ART DIRECTION:
The Art Director, on the other hand, does play a big part, even when it's CGI. And they got so wildly inventive with Avatar that I can't imagine not giving it to them here. They deserve it.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
I haven't commented previously on Nine in any blog entry. I would like to say right now what an utter piece of crap it is. Or, what an utter piece of crap the first five minutes are since I turned it off during the opening credits. Or, at least, where the opening credits should have been since it would have justified taking so long to strut the entire cast out one by one. I may try and watch it again and skip those first few minutes. The costumes were nice though. And in large number and that's usually the best indicator of how the Academy will vote. Not by the best costumes, but the most.
Yeah. Let's go with that one.
BEST SOUND EDITING and BEST SOUND MIXING:
Some years, they just needn't bother nominating 5.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Could you imagine a bigger travesty in the history of the Academy Awards if Avater DIDN'T win here?
BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION):
Because that's what people who've seen them keep saying.
BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED):
A Matter of Loaf and Death
Two words: Nick Park. Three more words: Wallace and Gromit. Nick Park has only ever lost once at the Oscars. And who did he lose to? Nick Park.
BEST DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE LENGTH):
This is actually a tough category this year. Food, Inc. is very disturbing. I haven't seen The Most Dangerous Man in America, but it sounds fascinating, although how relevant is a Vietnam War documentary anymore. Burma VJ sounds like a documentary about making documentaries. Which Way Home follows the plight of illegal immigrants into America. The Cove is just one of those stand out films that transcends the documentary style of filmmaking and deserves it.
BEST DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT):
The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
Hell if I know. These categories are impossible to predict. The general rule of thumb is: If it sounds Jewish, it'll win. Otherwise, go with the most topical.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
The White Ribbon
It's supposed to be good? I have a hard enough time keeping up with American films.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
Because it's Up.
Because there's nothing ethnic for the Academy to vote for. I mean that seriously. Avatar's score was too derivative of Titanic's (further proof that James Horner sucks.) I remember the songs from The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Not so much the score. Hans Zimmer never wins unless it's for Disney. The Hurt Locker's score was just okay. Michael Giacchino's score for Up was outstanding. So was his score for Star Trek. Even his score for Land of the Lost was notable. Winning here will make up for not even nominating his electric score for The Incredibles and as a consolation for not awarding his score for Ratatoiulle because the score for Atonement was just that brilliant.
I care so little about this category, I can't even be bothered to look up the name of the song. The one category that usually adds nothing to a film. Okay, last year was an exception, but this decade has sucked as far as song nominees go. Thankfully, this year, it's a slam dunk. This will win.