Awards season is by far the best time of year for a movie fan. Not only is it an opportunity to see stars and directors in their finest, it’s an opportunity to experience the best (popular) movies of 2009.
My first experience with Oscar was in 2005. Being an overly overt fan of Finding Neverland, I would slam front runner Million Dollar Baby amongst friends and family. Of course after seeing Million Dollar Baby, I admit my narrow mindedness as it is a far superior film.
This morning, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the nominations for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. I will try to pilot the major categories as best as I can to give an idea of what to expect on March 7th, 2010.
It is hard to gauge where voters will steer this ship. In an unexpected move, the Academy moved the nominee number to 10 this year. This pegs for a wide variety of material and target audience. Avatar and Inglorious Basterds should get pre-hype as they have captured other organization awards. Avatar took home the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Drama while Basterds received the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award from the Screen Actors Guild. In order to round out the top five, I would bet on The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, and The Blind Side being favorites.
On to who will win. As Hollywood loves money, Avatar would be the best pick. But as history shows, Hollywood doesn’t always love the hype (a la Brokeback Mountain). Avatar isn’t a great movie (it isn’t really even good) therefore I believe the field is open. A quirky comedy like Up in the Air could finally bring home an Oscar for Jason Reitman (missed on Juno and snubbed on Thank You For Smoking). The Hurt Lockercould potentially be this years Crash, an indie drama about bomb technicians in Iraq. The Blind Side has be known to be a motivating, tear jerking drama that showed the acting chops of notoriously bad Sandra Bullock. Even the animated (lovely) favorite from Pixar, Up, could potentially garner enough voters.
Who will win: I believe Hollywood rewards Avatar as it is the most popular choice
Who should win: Up in the Air or Inglorious Basterds were phenom films of 2009.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Subcategories are much easier to predict as the field is generally narrowed to four or five. Jeremy Renner was wonderful to watch in The Hurt Locker, a gung-ho American bomb technician in Iraq (although I couldn’t help draw comparisons to his military portrayal in 28 Weeks Later). Morgan Freeman was bland in Ivictus and for further explanation, my review of the movie can be found on this blog. I haven’t seen A Single Man (Colin Firth) and George Clooney (Up in the Air) is always the Oscar darling (received nominations in 2006 and 2007). With the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) as guidance, I believe it is safe to put money on Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart. Yes, I believe The Dude, Bridges character in The Big Lebowski, will win come March 7th.
Who Will Win: Jeff Bridges
Who Should Win: George Clooney. I haven’t seen Crazy Heart but Clooney was enjoyable in Up in the Air.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
It is a rarity to find an award that Meryl Streep is nominated for and not expected to win. Sandra Bullock’s sweep of the Golden Globe and SAG categories should propel her to Oscar stardom. I don’t believe Carey Mulligan will capture enough voters for her An Education performance and while Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) might be too fresh (first motion picture role) for the award. While Helen Mirren was rewarded for her role in The Queen, Bullock will prevail.
Who Will Win: Unfortunately, Keanu’s sidekick (Speed) will win this year.
Who Should Win: Probably Sandra Bullock. I haven’t seen The Blind Side and I will refrain from knocking it too hard, but it’s Sandra Bullock.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
The Lovely Bones failed to capture the hype it had a year ago. Peter Jackson’s followup to King Kong won’t bring him the record love LOTR: Return of the King did. I predict then that Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones) will rest at the bottom with Woody Harrelson (The Messenger) and Christopher Plummer (The Last Station). While Matt Damon was inspiring in Invictus, it’s still Invictus. All signals point to Christoph Waltz in Inglorious Basterds. Speaking four languages while taking on the controversial role of a rewarded Nazi SS was magnificent.
Who Will Win: Christoph Waltz
Who Should Win: No one other than Christoph Waltz
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
This category is a bit more muddled than Best Actress. The leading ladies of Up in the Air (Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick) will probably cancel each other out. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s nod was greeted as a surprise and that leaves Penelope Cruz (Nine) and Mo’nique (Precious) as the frontrunners. The Academy does like musicals which could propel Ms. Cruz above Mo’nique but, I expect that Mo’nique ultimately wins as she took home both Golden Globe and SAG awards.
Who Will Win: Mo’nique
Who Should Win: After staring in Phat Girlz and Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School, this is an unexpected turnaround.
Best Animated Feature Film
I enjoyed Fantastic Mr. Fox and the return to 2D animation by Disney was welcomed with The Princess and the Frog, an Up upset would be shocking.
Who Will Win: Up
Who Should Win: Up…again
Best Original Screenplay
This category should be decided between The Hurt Locker (Mark Boal) and Inglorious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino). Up deserves the recognition and any Coen Bros. work (A Serious Man) is sure to not disappoint. Rounding out the category is Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman for The Messenger. All in all, this one could go anywhere.
Who Will Win: I will go out on a limb and say Up. Moving and popular, this touched all ages.
Who Should Win: I enjoyed Hurt Locker but much of the movie was placed on acting and I believe the vulgarity of Inglorious Basterds might drive a few voters away.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner will almost surely win this category for their work in Up in the Air. Although An Education and Precious could prove to be dark horses, I suspect District 9 and In the Loop to provide little competion
Who Will Win: Up in the Air
Who Should WIn: Up in the Air
Interestingly enough James Cameron (Avatar) and Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) were former lovebirds. I believe Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) will be rewarded for screenplay instead of directing and Tarantino (Basterds) and Lee Daniels (Precious) should be on the outside looking in.
Who Will Win: James Cameron if voters want to see another “I’m the king of the world” proclamation (see Cameron’s Oscar acceptance speech for Titanic) or Bigelow if voters want to pick someone deserving of the award.
Who Should Win: Kathryn Bigelow
Odds and Ends
Since I have hit all of the major categories, I will offer some minor predictions for the smaller awards. I suspect Avatar to sweep Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, and Best Visual Effects. Sound mixing will likely be between Avatar and The Hurt Locker. Up and Avatar will compete for Best Original Score and I suspect Best Sound Mixing will be another dog fight between The Hurt Locker and Avatar.